What The Bible Says About The Sins In The Jewish Temple;
And How Jesus Taught About Judgment And Predicted The Destruction Of The Temple And Jerusalem Again As Another Punishment From God


This is part of a series of selections of Bible passages, mainly about how the Jewish race developed and settled in ancient Israel, how they were given laws, and how it says they were severely punished by God because of the sinfulness of their society.

This is the last in the series, part 3 of 3 in section 14, 'The return of the Jews from exile in Babylon, and the rebuilding of their temple and Jerusalem'.

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In the Old Testament Book of Ezra, the Bible says:

Ezra chapter 1 (TEV)

1 In the first year that Cyrus of Persia was emperor, the Lord made what he had said through the prophet Jeremiah come true. He prompted Cyrus to issue the following command and send it out in writing to be read aloud everywhere in his empire:

2 "This is the command of Cyrus, Emperor of Persia.

The Lord, the God of Heaven, has made me ruler over the whole world and has given me the responsibility of building a temple for him in Jerusalem in Judah. 3 May God be with all of you who are his people. You are to go to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple of the Lord, the God of Israel, the God who is worshiped in Jerusalem. 4 If any of his people in exile need help to return, their neighbors are to give them this help. They are to provide them with silver and gold, supplies and pack animals, as well as offerings to present in the Temple of God in Jerusalem."

5 Then the heads of the clans of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, the priests and Levites, and everyone else whose heart God had moved got ready to go and rebuild the Lord's Temple in Jerusalem.

Ezra chapter 5 (TEV)

1 At that time two prophets, Haggai and Zechariah son of Iddo, began to speak in the name of the God of Israel to the Jews who lived in Judah and Jerusalem.


In the Book of Zechariah, the Bible says:

Zechariah chapter 7 (NLT)

1 On December 7 of the fourth year of King Darius's reign, another message came to Zechariah from the LORD. 2 The people of Bethel had sent Sharezer and Regemmelech, along with their men, to seek the LORD's favor. 3 They were to ask this question of the prophets and of the priests at the Temple of the LORD Almighty: "Should we continue to mourn and fast each summer on the anniversary of the Temple's destruction, as we have done for so many years?"

4 The LORD Almighty sent me this message: 5 "Say to all your people and your priests,

'During those seventy years of exile, when you fasted and mourned in the summer and at the festival in early autumn, was it really for me that you were fasting? 6 And even now in your holy festivals, you don't think about me but only of pleasing yourselves. 7 Isn't this the same message the LORD proclaimed through the prophets years ago when Jerusalem and the towns of Judah were bustling with people, and the Negev and the foothills of Judah were populated areas?'"

8 Then this message came to Zechariah from the LORD: 9 "This is what the LORD Almighty says:

Judge fairly and honestly, and show mercy and kindness to one another. 10 Do not oppress widows, orphans, foreigners, and poor people. And do not make evil plans to harm each other.

11 "Your ancestors would not listen to this message. They turned stubbornly away and put their fingers in their ears to keep from hearing. 12 They made their hearts as hard as stone, so they could not hear the law or the messages that the LORD Almighty had sent them by his Spirit through the earlier prophets. That is why the LORD Almighty was so angry with them.

13 "Since they refused to listen when I called to them, I would not listen when they called to me, says the LORD Almighty. 14 I scattered them as with a whirlwind among the distant nations, where they lived as strangers. Their land became so desolate that no one even traveled through it. The land that had been so pleasant became a desert."


In the Book of Ezra, the Bible says:

Ezra chapter 6 (NLT)

14 ... The Temple was finally finished, as had been commanded by the God of Israel and decreed by Cyrus, Darius, and Artaxerxes, the kings of Persia.


In the last book of the Old Testament, the Book of Malachi, the Bible says:

Malachi chapter 1 (NLT)

1 This is the message that the LORD gave to Israel through the prophet Malachi.

6 The LORD Almighty says to the priests: "A son honors his father, and a servant respects his master. I am your father and master, but where are the honor and respect I deserve? You have despised my name!"

But you ask, 'How have we ever despised your name?'

7 "You have despised my name by offering defiled sacrifices on my altar."

Then you ask, 'How have we defiled the sacrifices?'

"You defile them by saying the altar of the LORD deserves no respect. 8 When you give blind animals as sacrifices, isn't that wrong? And isn't it wrong to offer animals that are crippled and diseased? Try giving gifts like that to your governor, and see how pleased he is!" says the LORD Almighty. 9 "Go ahead, beg God to be merciful to you! But when you bring that kind of offering, why should he show you any favor at all?" asks the LORD Almighty. 10 "I wish that someone among you would shut the Temple doors so that these worthless sacrifices could not be offered! I am not at all pleased with you," says the LORD Almighty, "and I will not accept your offerings. 11 But my name is honored by people of other nations from morning till night. All around the world they offer sweet incense and pure offerings in honor of my name. For my name is great among the nations," says the LORD Almighty. 12 "But you dishonor my name with your actions. By bringing contemptible food, you are saying it's all right to defile the Lord's table. 13 You say, 'It's too hard to serve the LORD,' and you turn up your noses at his commands," says the LORD Almighty. "Think of it! Animals that are stolen and mutilated, crippled and sick - presented as offerings! Should I accept from you such offerings as these?" asks the LORD. 14 "Cursed is the cheat who promises to give a fine ram from his flock but then sacrifices a defective one to the Lord. For I am a great king," says the LORD Almighty, "and my name is feared among the nations!

Malachi chapter 2 (TEV)

1 The Lord Almighty says to the priests, "This command is for you: 2 You must honor me by what you do. If you will not listen to what I say, then I will bring a curse on you. I will put a curse on the things you receive for your support. In fact, I have already put a curse on them, because you do not take my command seriously. 3 I will punish your children and rub your faces in the dung of the animals you sacrifice - and you will be taken out to the dung heap. 4 Then you will know that I have given you this command, so that my covenant with the priests, the descendants of Levi, will not be broken.

5 "In my covenant I promised them life and well-being, and this is what I gave them, so that they might respect me. In those days they did respect and fear me. 6 They taught what was right, not what was wrong. They lived in harmony with me; they not only did what was right themselves, but they also helped many others to stop doing evil. 7 It is the duty of priests to teach the true knowledge of God. People should go to them to learn my will, because they are the messengers of the Lord Almighty.

8 "But now you priests have turned away from the right path. Your teaching has led many to do wrong. You have broken the covenant I made with you. 9 So I, in turn, will make the people of Israel despise you because you do not obey my will, and when you teach my people, you do not treat everyone alike."


Earlier in the Old Testament, the Bible had said:

Leviticus chapter 4 (TEV)

1 The Lord commanded Moses 2 to tell the people of Israel that anyone who sinned and broke any of the Lord's commands without intending to, would have to observe the following rules. 3 If it is the High Priest who sins and so brings guilt on the people, he shall present a young bull without any defects and sacrifice it to the Lord for his sin.


In the Letter to the Hebrews in the New Testament, the Bible says:

Hebrews chapter 9 (TEV)

22 According to the Law almost everything is purified by blood, and sins are forgiven only if blood is poured out.

Hebrews chapter 10 (TEV)

1 The Jewish Law is not a full and faithful model of the real things; it is only a faint outline of the good things to come. The same sacrifices are offered forever, year after year. How can the Law, then, by means of these sacrifices make perfect the people who come to God? 2 If the people worshiping God had really been purified from their sins, they would not feel guilty of sin any more, and all sacrifices would stop. 3 As it is, however, the sacrifices serve year after year to remind people of their sins. 4 For the blood of bulls and goats can never take away sins. 5 For this reason, when Christ was about to come into the world, he said to God: "You do not want sacrifices and offerings, but you have prepared a body for me. 6 You are not pleased with animals burned whole on the altar or with sacrifices to take away sins.

7 Then I said, "Here I am, to do your will, O God, just as it is written of me in the book of the Law.' "

8 First he said, "You neither want nor are you pleased with sacrifices and offerings or with animals burned on the altar and the sacrifices to take away sins." He said this even though all these sacrifices are offered according to the Law.

9 Then he said, "Here I am, O God, to do your will."

So God does away with all the old sacrifices and puts the sacrifice of Christ in their place. 10 Because Jesus Christ did what God wanted him to do, we are all purified from sin by the offering that he made of his own body once and for all. 11 Every Jewish priest performs his services every day and offers the same sacrifices many times; but these sacrifices can never take away sins. 12 Christ, however, offered one sacrifice for sins, an offering that is effective forever, and then he sat down at the right side of God. 13 There he now waits until God puts his enemies as a footstool under his feet.

Hebrews chapter 9 (TEV)

25 The Jewish high priest goes into the Most Holy Place every year with the blood of an animal. But Christ did not go in to offer himself many times, 26 for then he would have had to suffer many times ever since the creation of the world. Instead, now when all ages of time are nearing the end, he has appeared once and for all, to remove sin through the sacrifice of himself. 27 Everyone must die once, and after that be judged by God. 28 In the same manner Christ also was offered in sacrifice once to take away the sins of many. He will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to save those who are waiting for him.


The Old Testament prophet Isaiah had prophesied:

Isaiah chapter 56 (TEV)

1 The Lord says to his people, ... 2 ... I will bless those who do nothing evil. 7 "... My Temple will be called a house of prayer for the people of all nations."


In Psalm 69 in the Book of Psalms in the Old Testament, the Bible says:

Psalm 69 (TEV)

5 ... O God, ... 9 My devotion to your Temple burns in me like a fire; the insults which are hurled at you fall on me.


In the New Testament, written hundreds of years after the temple was destroyed by the Babylonians and then rebuilt, the Bible says in the gospels:

John chapter 2 (TEV)

13 ... Jesus went to Jerusalem. 14 There in the Temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and pigeons, and also the moneychangers sitting at their tables. 15 So he made a whip from cords and drove all the animals out of the Temple, both the sheep and the cattle; he overturned the tables of the moneychangers and scattered their coins; 16 and he ordered those who sold the pigeons, "Take them out of here! Stop making my Father's house a marketplace!" 17 His disciples remembered that the scripture says, "My devotion to your house, O God, burns in me like a fire."

18 The Jewish authorities came back at him with a question, "What miracle can you perform to show us that you have the right to do this?"

19 Jesus answered, "Tear down this Temple, and in three days I will build it again."

20 "Are you going to build it again in three days?" they asked him. "It has taken forty-six years to build this Temple!"

21 But the temple Jesus was speaking about was his body. 22 So when he was raised from death, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the scripture and what Jesus had said.

John chapter 12 (NLT)

44 Jesus shouted to the crowds, "If you trust me, you are really trusting God who sent me. 45 For when you see me, you are seeing the one who sent me. 46 I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the darkness. 47 If anyone hears me and doesn't obey me, I am not his judge - for I have come to save the world and not to judge it. 48 But all who reject me and my message will be judged at the day of judgment by the truth I have spoken. 49 I don't speak on my own authority. The Father who sent me gave me his own instructions as to what I should say. 50 And I know his instructions lead to eternal life; so I say whatever the Father tells me to say!"

Luke chapter 9 (CEV)

18 When Jesus was alone praying, his disciples came to him, and he asked them, "What do people say about me?"

19 They answered, "Some say that you are John the Baptist or Elijah or a prophet from long ago who has come back to life."

20 Jesus then asked them, "But who do you say I am?"

Peter answered, "You are the Messiah sent from God."

21 Jesus strictly warned his disciples not to tell anyone about this.

22 Jesus told his disciples, "The nation's leaders, the chief priests, and the teachers of the Law of Moses will make the Son of Man suffer terribly. They will reject him and kill him, but three days later he will rise to life."

John chapter 9 (NIV)

1 As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"

3 "Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.
4 As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. 5 While I am in the world, I am the light of the world."

6 Having said this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man's eyes. 7 "Go," he told him, "wash in the Pool of Siloam" (this word means Sent). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.

8 His neighbors and those who had formerly seen him begging asked, "Isn't this the same man who used to sit and beg?" 9 Some claimed that he was. Others said, "No, he only looks like him." But he himself insisted, "I am the man."

10 "How then were your eyes opened?" they demanded.

11 He replied, "The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see."

Matthew chapter 11 (NLT)

20 Jesus began to denounce the cities where he had done most of his miracles, because they hadn't turned from their sins and turned to God.

21 "What horrors await you, Korazin and Bethsaida! For if the miracles I did in you had been done in wicked Tyre and Sidon, their people would have sat in deep repentance long ago, clothed in sackcloth and throwing ashes on their heads to show their remorse. 22 I assure you, Tyre and Sidon will be better off on the judgment day than you! 23 And you people of Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? No, you will be brought down to the place of the dead. For if the miracles I did for you had been done in Sodom, it would still be here today. 24 I assure you, Sodom will be better off on the judgment day than you."

John chapter 10 (TEV)

1 Jesus said,

14 I am the good shepherd. As the Father knows me and I know the Father, in the same way I know my sheep and they know me. And I am willing to die for them.

17 "The Father loves me because I am willing to give up my life, in order that I may receive it back again. 18 No one takes my life away from me. I give it up of my own free will. I have the right to give it up, and I have the right to take it back. This is what my Father has commanded me to do."

27 "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never die. No one can snatch them away from me. 29 What my Father has given me is greater than everything, and no one can snatch them away from the Father's care. 30 The Father and I are one."

31 Then the people ... picked up stones to throw at him.

32 Jesus said to them, "I have done many good deeds in your presence which the Father gave me to do; for which one of these do you want to stone me?"

33 They answered, "We do not want to stone you because of any good deeds, but because of your blasphemy! You are only a man, but you are trying to make yourself God!"

34 Jesus answered, 36 As for me, the Father chose me and sent me into the world. How, then, can you say that I blaspheme because I said that I am the Son of God? ..."

39 Once more they tried to seize Jesus, but he slipped out of their hands. 40 Jesus then went back again across the Jordan River to the place where John had been baptizing, and he stayed there.

Luke chapter 13 (TEV)

22 Jesus went through towns and villages, teaching the people and making his way toward Jerusalem. 23 Someone asked him, "Sir, will just a few people be saved?"

Jesus answered them, 24 "Do your best to go in through the narrow door; because many people will surely try to go in but will not be able. 25 The master of the house will get up and close the door; then when you stand outside and begin to knock on the door and say, "Open the door for us, sir!' he will answer you, "I don't know where you come from!' 26 Then you will answer, "We ate and drank with you; you taught in our town!' 27 But he will say again, "I don't know where you come from. Get away from me, all you wicked people!' 28 How you will cry and gnash your teeth when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets in the Kingdom of God, while you are thrown out!

Luke chapter 19 (TEV)

41 He came closer to the city, and when he saw it, he wept over it, 42 saying, "If you only knew today what is needed for peace! But now you cannot see it! 43 The time will come when your enemies will surround you with barricades, blockade you, and close in on you from every side. 44 They will completely destroy you and the people within your walls; not a single stone will they leave in its place, because you did not recognize the time when God came to save you!"

45 Then Jesus went into the Temple and began to drive out the merchants, 46 saying to them, "It is written in the Scriptures that God said, "My Temple will be a house of prayer.' But you have turned it into a hideout for thieves!"


47 Every day Jesus taught in the Temple. The chief priests, the teachers of the Law, and the leaders of the people wanted to kill him, 48 but they could not find a way to do it, because all the people kept listening to him, not wanting to miss a single word.


The meaning of Jesus' regretful statement about how the temple would be destroyed because the people of Jerusalem didn't recognise the time when he came to save them appears starkly clear in the light of what's reported as actually having happened in AD 70, when the Romans marched against Jerusalem because a rebellion had been started by Jewish extremists over religious issues. (Among them was a large element of opportunist criminal troublemakers taking advantage of the situation to make trouble.) If Jewish extremism had died out in Jerusalem because the leaders set the example by either turning to follow Christ or becoming tolerant of Christians instead of persecuting them, then perhaps such a breed of extremist wouldn't have been around in large enough numbers to start and continue a rebellion, bringing the wrath of the Romans down on the Jews.


John chapter 8 (CEV)

12 Once again Jesus spoke to the people. This time he said,
"I am the light for the world! Follow me, and you won't be walking in the dark. You will have the light that gives life."

51 "I tell you for certain that if you obey my words, you will never die."

52 Then the people said, "Now we are sure that you have a demon. Abraham is dead, and so are the prophets. How can you say that no one who obeys your words will ever die? 53 Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?"

54 Jesus replied, 56 Your father Abraham was really glad to see me."

57 "You are not even fifty years old!" they said. "How could you have seen Abraham?"

58 Jesus answered, "I tell you for certain that even before Abraham was, I was, and I am."

59 The people picked up stones to kill Jesus, but he hid and left the temple.

Luke chapter 21 (CEV)

5 Some people were talking about the beautiful stones used to build the temple and about the gifts that had been placed in it. Jesus said,
6 "Do you see these stones? The time is coming when not one of them will be left in place. They will all be knocked down."

7 Some people asked, "Teacher, when will all this happen? How can we know when these things are about to take place?"

8 Jesus replied: "
12 Before all this happens, you will be arrested and punished. You will be tried in your meeting places and put in jail. Because of me you will be placed on trial before kings and governors. 13 But this will be your chance to tell about your faith. 14 Don't worry about what you will say to defend yourselves. 15 I will give you the wisdom to know what to say. None of your enemies will be able to oppose you or to say that you are wrong. 16 You will be betrayed by your own parents, brothers, family, and friends. Some of you will even be killed. 17 Because of me, you will be hated by everyone. 18 But don't worry! 19 You will be saved by being faithful to me.


20 When you see Jerusalem surrounded by soldiers, you will know that it will soon be destroyed. 21 If you are living in Judea at that time, run to the mountains. If you are in the city, leave it. And if you are out in the country, don't go back into the city. 22 This time of punishment is what is written about in the Scriptures. 23 It will be an awful time for women who are expecting babies or nursing young children! Everywhere in the land people will suffer horribly and be punished. 24 Some of them will be killed by swords. Others will be carried off to foreign countries. Jerusalem will be overrun by foreign nations until their time comes to an end."


An Account of the Jewish Revolt and the Destruction of the Temple by the Romans, from the Jewish Scholar and Eyewitness Josephus


The Bible says:

Luke chapter 13 (TEV)

1 At that time some people were there who told Jesus about the Galileans whom Pilate had killed while they were offering sacrifices to God. 2 Jesus answered them, "Because those Galileans were killed in that way, do you think it proves that they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? 3 No indeed! And I tell you that if you do not turn from your sins, you will all die as they did. 4 What about those eighteen people in Siloam who were killed when the tower fell on them? Do you suppose this proves that they were worse than all the other people living in Jerusalem? 5 No indeed! And I tell you that if you do not turn from your sins, you will all die as they did."

34 "Jerusalem, Jerusalem! You kill the prophets, you stone the messengers God has sent you! How many times I wanted to put my arms around all your people, just as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you would not let me! 35 And so your Temple will be abandoned. I assure you that you will not see me until the time comes when you say, "God bless him who comes in the name of the Lord.' "



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Or go to the first in the next New Testament series:
Honesty And The Love Of Money.


The selections of Bible quotations have been put together by Diana Holbourn.

Throughout this series, wherever the initials TEV appear, they stand for Today's English Version (The Good News Bible).

Other initials: