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    15 THE SANCTUARY REBUILT

    WHEN the seventy years of Israel’s captivity were expired, and the land of Judea had lain desolate and thus enjoyed her sabbaths, of which the wickedness of the people had deprived it, the Lord, in fulfillment of his word, stirred up the spirit of Cyrus, king of Persia, to make a proclamation throughout all the kingdom, that of all the people of the God of Heaven dwelling therein, whosoever would might return to Jerusalem. Two tribes only, as tribes, Judah and Benjamin, acknowledged the heavenly token, and availed themselves of the opportunity offered. The majority of the other tribes chose to remain in their iniquity, and to abide still in the land of the heathen. But some of all the tribes joined themselves to the returning company, so that all Israel was represented, and all the tribes were perpetuated in Judea after the captivity. Hence the idea sometimes advanced that there are ten lost tribes which are to be restored at some time in the future, is a figment of the imagination.STTHD 167.1

    Forty-two thousand three hundred and sixty persons, enough to people quite a respectable city, returned, under the proclamation of Cyrus, to the site of Jerusalem, to rebuild the house of the Lord. And the sacred vessels which had been taken away were also restored. Fifty-two years after the complete destruction of the first temple, the foundation of the second was laid by Zerubbabel. The prophets, Haggai and Zechariah, encouraged the builders. Ezra 5:1; 6:14. Hindered fifteen years through the influence of the Samaritans and others, it was at length finished and dedicated in the sixth year of Darius Hystaspes, B.C. 515, twenty-one years after its commencement.STTHD 168.1

    Though this temple was not, in some respects, equal to the first, yet the Lord promised that the glory should be greater, because to it, in the fullness of time, should come the Desire of all nations. Haggai 2.STTHD 168.2

    What was wanting in the second temple? It was not with respect to size that the first house surpassed the latter; for this was of the same dimensions as the former, being built upon the same foundations. But those marks of the divine favor which were the main glory of the first temple, were wholly wanting in this. These the Jews reckon up in five particulars; namely, 1. The ark, and the mercy-seat which was upon it. 2. The shekinah, or divine presence. 3. The Urim and Thummim. 4. The holy fire upon the altar. 5. The spirit of prophecy.STTHD 168.3

    What had become of the ark? Upon this question there has been expended much conjecture. That it was not carried to Babylon is generally admitted; as, if it had been, it would have been brought back with the other sacred treasures which had been carried thither. Ezra 1:8-11. It is supposed by some that it was hid away and preserved by Jeremiah. To sustain this view, reference is made to the book of Maccabees, which contains the following account of the matter:—STTHD 169.1

    Jeremy the prophet, “being warned of God, commanded the tabernacle and the ark to go with him, as he went forth into the mountain where Moses climbed up, and saw the heritage of God. And when Jeremy came thither he found an hollow cave, wherein he laid the tabernacle and the ark, and the altar of incense, and so stopped the door. And some of those that followed him came to mark the way, but they could not find it. Which when Jeremy perceived, he blamed them, saying, As for this place it shall be unknown until the time that God gather his people again together, and receive them unto mercy.” 2Mac.2:4-7. And from this latter expression some have inferred that it is to be discovered and brought forth again before the end.STTHD 169.2

    “Most of the Jews will have it,” says Prideaux, “that King Josiah, being foretold by Huldah the prophetess that the temple, speedily after his death, would be destroyed, caused the ark to be put in a vault underground, which Solomon, foreseeing this destruction, had caused of purpose to be built for the preserving of it.” For proof, they produce 2 Chronicles 35:3. But Prideaux argues that “these words import no more than that Manasseh or Ammon having removed the ark from where it ought to have stood, Josiah commanded it again to be restored to its proper place.”STTHD 170.1

    These are, perhaps, but little more than conjectures. And while there seems to be improbability that God would permit any work of his own hands, like the writing on the tables of the decalogue, to be destroyed by the hands of wicked men, there does not appear any positive proof that the ark and its contents were not destroyed with the temple, as were, probably, the show-bread table and the golden candlestick.STTHD 170.2

    The want of the ark was, however, supplied as to the outward form; for an ark was made of the same shape and dimensions as the first, and placed in its appropriate position in the second temple (“Lightfoot on the Temple,” c. 15, s. 4); but it contained no tables of the law, there was no appearance of the divine glory over it, and no oracular answers were given from it.STTHD 171.1

    The Urim and Thummim. These were the third object specified as wanting in the second temple. What were they? Prideaux concludes that the words meant “only the divine virtue and power given to the breastplate in its consecration of obtaining an oracular answer from God, whenever counsel was asked of him by the high priest with it on, in such manner as his word did direct; and that the names Urim and Thummim were given hereto, only to denote the clearness and perfection which these oracular answers always carried with them; for these answers were not, like the heathen oracles, enigmatical and ambiguous, but always clear and manifest; not such as did ever fall short of perfection, either of fullness in the answer, or certainty in the truth of it. And hence it is that the Septuagint translate Urim and Thummim by the words delosin kai aletheian, i.e., manifestation and truth, because all these oracular answers given by Urim and Thummim were always clear and manifest, and their truth ever certain and infallible. As to the use which was made of the Urim and Thummim, it was to ask counsel of God in difficult and momentous cases relating to the whole state of Israel.”—Connexion, vol. i. p. 156.STTHD 171.2

    Five hundred years elapse. The temple, as might well be supposed, became, during this time, in many respects sadly in need of repairs. Whereupon Herod the Great, to ingratiate himself with the Jews, conceived the idea of rebuilding it throughout. The old temple was pulled down to its foundation, and the building of the new one commenced B.C. 19. It was this temple to which the Jews referred when they said to the Saviour at his first passover, in the spring of A.D. 28, “Forty and six years was this temple in building.” John 2:20. It had been completed the year before, A.D. 27, the very year in which Christ commenced his public ministry. To this temple, according to the prophecy of Haggai, the Desire of all nations had now come. Happy would it have been for the Jews, if, knowing the time of their visitation, they had received him as their Lord, and owned his mission.STTHD 172.1

    Externally, this building was at once the admiration and envy of the world. “Its appearance,” says Josephus, “had everything that could strike the mind and astonish the sight; for it was on every side covered with solid plates of gold, so that when the sun rose upon it, it reflected such a dazzling effulgence that the eye of the beholder was obliged to turn away from it; being no more able to sustain its radiance than the splendor of the sun.” “It appeared at a distance like a huge mountain covered with snow; for where it was not decorated with plates of gold, it was extremely white and glistening.”STTHD 173.1

    Thus we are brought to the time of our Saviour. That covenant which had its ordinance of divine service in connection with “a worldly sanctuary,” was drawing to a close. The great Sacrifice, to which the offerings of the sanctuary pointed, was about to be offered. The Lord was engaged in his solemn mission of love to man. Often would he have gathered them, to enlighten their blindness, heal their backslidings, and save from destruction. But they would not. Their incorrigible resistance at length wrung from him the mournful lamentation, “Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.” Matthew 23:37, 38. Yes their beautiful house, theSTTHD 173.2

    Spirit and presence of God driven therefrom, had become only a tomb of darkness and death. And as Christ departed with sad and lingering footsteps from the temple, the fearful doom which he saw awaiting that people obliged him to declare, not in anger, but in sorrow, that the temple should be thrown down, so that not one stone should be left upon another.STTHD 174.1

    In the purpose of God, the services of this worldly sanctuary were now at an end. And when, amid the startling scenes, the darkness and the earthquake, that attended the crucifixion of the Son of God, unseen hands violently rent in twain the magnificent vail that hung before the holy of holies, its services came really to an end; for they were no longer of any virtue.STTHD 174.2

    A few short years sufficed to bring the literal fulfillment of our Lord’s prediction. The armies of Rome environed Jerusalem. The city fell. Titus desired to spare so gorgeous a trophy as the temple, but a Roman soldier, impelled by a blind spirit of infatuation, or perhaps by a divine impulse, climbing upon the shoulders of his comrade, thrust a blazing firebrand into the gilded lattice of the porch. The flames at once sprang up. No power could then save it. This scene has been so well described by Smith in hisSTTHD 174.3

    “History of the World,” vol. iii. p. 578, that we cannot forbear introducing a paragraph from his graphic picture:—STTHD 175.1

    “The battering-rams began their work upon the defenses of the second court; but the massive stones withstood their shock; the scaling parties were dashed down upon the pavement and their standards taken; and on the 8th of Ab (August), Titus gave orders to set fire to the great gates which he had attempted in vain to undermine. The flames spread to the cloisters, and blazed during all that day and night. On the second day the defenders burst out of the fiery circle and were hardly forced back by a cavalry charge led by Titus himself. The Roman now called a council of war to decide whether the temple should be saved. Though opinions were divided, he ordered the flames to be extinguished, and, having fixed the assault for the morrow, retired to rest. But another decree had long been registered by the Supreme Ruler; and the infuriated combatants were the instruments of his will. The indefatigable defenders, who had renewed their attacks on the soldiers engaged in putting out the fire, were driven back into the inner court, and pursued to the very gates of the temple. By one of those impulses which defy all discipline, a soldier, mounting on the shoulders of a comrade, threw a blazing torch into the gilded lattice of the porch. ‘The flames sprang up at once. The Jews uttered one simultaneous shriek, and grasped their swords, with a furious determination of revenging and perishing in the ruins of the temple. Titus rushed down with the utmost speed; he shouted; he made signs to his soldiers to quench the fire: his voice was drowned, and his signs unnoticed in the blind confusion. The legionaries either could not or would not hear. They rushed on, trampling each other down in their furious haste, or, stumbling over the crumbling ruins, perished with the enemy. Each exhorted the other, and each hurled his blazing brand into the inner edifice, and then hurried to the work of carnage. The unarmed and defenseless people were slain in thousands; they lay heaped like sacrifices round the altar; the steps of the temple ran with streams of blood, which washed down the bodies which lay upon it.’STTHD 175.2

    “The flames had not reached the sanctuary itself, when Titus entered the holy of holies. Admiration of its riches and splendor impelled him to a last effort for its preservation; but in his very presence, and in the midst of his earnest exhortations, a soldier thrust a lighted torch between the hinges of the door, and the building was presently in flames. This defiance of the sacred laws of Roman discipline is a most emphatic sign of the presence of a higher power than even the Caesar.... Such was the resistance opposed by the immense and well-fitted stones to the work of destruction, that Titus is reported to have exclaimed, ‘God has been my helper! God it was that pulled down the Jews from those formidable walls; for what could the hands of men or their engines have availed against them?’”STTHD 176.1

    The date of this destruction, in A.D. 70, falls upon the same month, and the same day of the month, as the destruction of Solomon’s temple by Nebuchadnezzar, six hundred and fifty-eight years before.STTHD 177.1

    Standing here at the conclusion of its earthly history, it remains to inquire why this arrangement was ever instituted. What was the object of this earthly sanctuary and the services connected therewith?STTHD 177.2

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