One of our readers asked why God did not destroy the Temple immediately after Jesus’ crucifixion if He was the final Lamb of God and the sacrifice of animals ceased? Why did it take 40 years (it happened in 70 AD), if it signified the end of the Old Covenant?
God as Ruler decides on times and seasons. Before Jesus’s ascension, the disciples asked Him, ‘Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?’ 1 Jesus answered, ‘It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by His own authority.’ 2 The meaning is clear: as the God of history, He is in command. For example,
# 400 year periods
- God told Abraham around 2000 BC, that his descendants would be slaves in Egypt for 400 years (to give the Amorites time to mend their ways). 3 Galatians 3:8 &14 says, ”The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: ‘All nations will be blessed through you.’” The blessing referred to Jesus, the Saviour. 4 Jesus Christ was born in 6 BC. So it took nearly 2000 years for God to fulfil the promise to Abraham. Yet Jesus’ ministry lasted only about 3 years.
- Between the last book of the Old Testament, Malachi, and the first book of the New Testament, Matthew, there is 400 years of silence. God did not speak. Those were the turbulent years of the Greek conquests under Alexander the Great, the wars between his generals, and Israel’s suffering under their influence. It can almost be compared to the 400 years of suffering as slaves in Egypt.
# 40 year & 40 day periods
- The 12 spies investigated the Promised Land of Canaan for 40 days, but because they doubted God’s power to help them conquer it, they spent 40 years wandering in the desert.
- Jesus fasted for 40 days in the wilderness of Judea, where the Holy Spirit prepared Him for His ministry to lead us to the new ‘Canaan.’ 5
- From the time Jesus predicted that the Temple would be destroyed, it took about 40 years before it happened.
- Historical events in the New Testament, from the active ministry of Jesus to the end of Acts, took about 40 years.
The Bible is unique with its definite time periods. God set a date when, ‘The kingdom of the world [will] become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He will reign for ever and ever.’ 6 Then the God of history will become the eternal God of peace and happiness.
- Acts 1:6
- Acts 1:7
- Genesis 15:16
- See also Genesis 3:15
- Matthew 4:1-2; Mark 1:12; Luke 4:1-2
- Revelation 11:15