I met up with Alastair Roberts yesterday for a long conversation, during which he outlined to me his understanding of the spiritual significance of the destruction of The Temple in Jerusalem, in AD 70.
Alastair seems to have a deep and intuitive understanding of the Old Testament, and of the prophetic context - and he was able to paint a picture of the cataclysmic, end-of-dispensation, end-of-the-world impact of this event; the consequences of which continue to resonate.
In this article, some of the aspects Alastair described in our talk are covered; and here is an excerpt. The set-up is the apparent failure of Jesus's prophecies of imminent return:
"The earliest Church’s expectation of Christ’s imminent return has long been a source of theological discomfort and apologetic embarrassment for many Christians. The apparent failure of New Testament prophecy throws the reliability of Christ himself as a prophet into serious question. Christ and the apostles who bore witness to him declared firmly that he was coming soon, yet here we are, almost two thousand years later."
Alastair's understanding is that - understood in context of what was implied by Christ's return, Christ did indeed return and establish a 'new world order':
For [the Apostle] Peter, the destruction of the Temple would have closed a window of time in which the old covenant and new covenant orders overlapped and changes the way that God relates to humanity in general.
With the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in AD70, that route of access to God is completely closed off, leaving nothing but judgment for those who continue to rely upon it. This is the melting of the firmament and the elements, the removal of the protective cover that the Temple afforded the people of the land and their works.
With the decisive destruction of Jerusalem and its temple, the entire theo-political firmament is brought crashing down. In the internal Jewish and Jewish-Christian debate about the continuance of God’s special covenant with Israel, the destruction of the Temple marked a turning point. For these early Christians, there was no longer a nation with a special holy status or proximity to God, with the other nations ordered relative to it. The rule of the Messiah has been declared and all politics is now redefined relative to him. The kingdoms of the earth belong to our Lord and all rulers are but stewards, responsible to administer justice in submission to him until his kingdom is consummated.
AD70 introduces the de-sacralized time in which we now live. Israel no longer holds the status of a holy nation and no sacred polity has taken its place. All humanity and every ruler are now called to prepare themselves for the consummation of the kingdom of the Christ, for which the Church serves as an anticipatory sign and witness. All political idolatries that would usurp his right must be dethroned, all stewards of rule and authority must humble themselves and acknowledge his claim, and earth must prepare herself to receive her King.
After AD70, a new heavens and a new earth is established. God deals with people on different terms. A world order structured around the Temple in Jerusalem, marked for condemnation in Jesus’ ministry, death, and resurrection, is finally be torn down and a new world order structured around the New Jerusalem and the coming kingdom, where there is no longer Jew nor Gentile, is established in its place, one that will eventually grow to fill the entire earth, as Daniel foretold...
The Transfiguration of Christ has also an important relevance to the prophecies of return, as Alastair outlines here.
This interpretation seems to me to point-at an inspiring sense of how God works; then and, of course, now.
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