When Herod the Great became king of Judea in 63 B.C. Zerubbabel's House had stood for about 500 years and had deteriorated from natural causes and bore the scars of many wars. (In 168 B.C. Antiochus IV, one of the Seleucid rulers, desecrated the temple by making a sacrifice to one of his gods). Herod attempted to gain the favor of the people by restoring it.
The major part of this "restoration" began in 29 B.C. and was completed in ten years. However outer courts and embellishments went on during Jesus' lifetime and were completed in 65 A.D..
The Advent of Jesus and Herod's Temple
"In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there came into being a priest named Zechariah... and he had a wife... named Elizabeth. And they were both righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord. And they had no child... and they were both advanced in days.
Now it came about, while he was performing his priestly service before God in the appointed order of his division, according to the custom of the priestly office, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And the whole multitude of the people were in prayer outside at the hour of the incense offering. And an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the altar of incense. And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said to him, 'Do not be afraid... for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and... he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother's womb. And it is he who will go as a forerunner before Him, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous; so as to make a people prepared for the Lord.'"
Luke 1:5-15, 17
Jesus' Early Appearances
"And when eight days were complete before His circumcision, His name was then called Jesus, the name given by the angel... And when the days for their purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, 'Every first-born male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord.') and to offer a sacrifice according to what was said in the Law of the Lord, 'A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.'
And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to carry out for Him the custom of the Law, and he took Him into his arms, and blessed God, and said, 'Now Lord, Thou dost let Thy bond-servant depart in peace, according to Thy word; for mine eyes have see Thy salvation...'"
"And when He became twelve, they went up (to Jerusalem) according to the custom of the Feast; and when they were returning... the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem...
And it came about that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them, and asking questions. And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding, and His answers...
And when they saw Him they were astonished, and His mother said to Him... 'Your father and I have been anxiously looking for You.' And He said to them, 'Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in the house of My Father?' And they did not understand the statement which He had spoken.'"
Luke 2:42, 46-50
Jesus spoke of the final days of Herod's Temple; the final days of "God's House" on the earth.
"And while they were talking about the temple; that it was adorned with beautiful stone, He said, 'As for these things you are looking at, the days will come in which there will not be left one stone upon another which will not be torn down.'"
Luke 21:5, 6"And when He approached, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, 'if you had known in this day, even you the things that make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes. For the days shall come upon you when your enemies will throw up a dirt wall before you, and surround you, and hem you in on every side, and will level you to the ground and your children with you, and they will not leave one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.'
And He entered the temple and began to cast out those who were selling, saying to them, 'It is written, And My house shall be a house of prayer, but you have made it a robber's den.'"
"Jesus said to them, 'Did you never read in the Scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, this became the chief corner stone... Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you, and given to a nation producing the fruit of it. And he who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust.' And when the chief priests and the Pharisees heard His parables, they understood that He was speaking about them."
"Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! For I say to you, from now on you shall not shall not see Me until you say, 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!'"
Matthew 23:38, 39
"Thou art the Lord God, who chose Abram and brought him out from the Ur of Chaldees, and gave him the name Abraham. And Thou didst find his heart faithful before Thee; and didst make a covenant with him to give him the land of the Canaanite... to give to his descendants. And Thou hast fulfilled Thy promise, for Thou art righteous..."
Nehemiah 9:7, 8
"And Thou didst tell them to enter in order to possess their land which Thou didst lift up Thy hand to give them...
But they became disobedient and rebelled against Thee, and cast Thy law behind their backs and killed Thy prophets who had admonished them so that they might return to Thee, and they committed great blasphemies (Lit. acts of contempt). Therefore Thou didst deliver them into the hand of their oppressors who oppressed them, but when they cried to Thee in the times of distress, Thou didst hear from heaven, and according to Thy great compassion Thou didst give them deliverers who delivered them from the hand of their oppressors.
But as soon as they had rest, they did evil again before Thee; therefore Thou didst abandon them to the hand of their enemies, so that they ruled over them... And many times Thou didst rescue them according to Thy compassion and admonished them in order to turn them back to Thy law... Yet they acted arrogantly... However, Thou did bear with them for many years, and admonished them by Thy Spirit through Thy prophets... therefore Thou didst give them into the hand of the peoples of the lands... from the days of the king of Assyria to this day."
Nehemiah 9:15, 26-32
"...to this day...?"
Was the return of the Jewish people and the formation of the state of Israel the fulfillment of God's promise to His people through the prophets?
"And there shall be no more for the house of Israel a prickling brier or a painful thorn from any round about them who scorned them; then they will know that I am the Lord God.
Thus says the Lord God, 'When I gather the house of Israel from the peoples among whom they are scattered, and shall manifest My holiness in them in the sight of the nations, then they will live in their ground which I gave to My servant Jacob. And they will live in it securely; and they will build houses, plant vineyards, and live securely, when I execute judgments upon all who scorn them round about them. Then they will know that I am the Lord their God.'"
Consider the spiritual status of the city of Jerusalem, Israel:
Jesus speaks of the earthly city of Jerusalem in no uncertain terms yet the Christian world, contrary to His words, builds denominational headquarters on its hillsides, flocks to its altars, treads its ancient ways, "even worships at the remaining wall of Herod's temple," hoping for spiritual inspiration and renewal.
Listen to His words again for we must bring our thoughts of this city "captive to Christ."
"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings but you would were unwilling.
Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! For I say to you, from now on you shall not see Me until you say, 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!'"
And John in the Book of Revelation:
"And there was given me a measuring rod like a staff; and someone said, 'Rise and measure the sanctuary of God, and the altar. And those who worship in it. And leave out the court which is outside the sanctuary and do not measure it, for it has been given to the nations; and they will tread underfoot the holy city for 42 months. And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for twelve hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees and the two lamp stands that stand before the Lord of the earth... And when they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up out of the abyss will make war with them; and overcome them and kill them.
And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt where also their Lord was crucified."
Revelation 11:1-4, 7, 8
Scripture tells us Jerusalem above is our mother.
"For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the bondwoman and one by the free woman. But the son by the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and the son by the free woman through the promise.
This contains an allegory: for these women are two covenants, one proceeding from Mount Sinai bearing children into slavery; she is Hagar. Now this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children.
But the Jerusalem above is free; she is our mother... And you brethren, like Isaac, are children of the promise."
Galatians 4:22-26, 28
"Because you have kept the word of My steadfastness, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole inhabited earth, to test those who dwell upon the earth. I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, in order that no one take your crown.
He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write upon him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."
"By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive as an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow-heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city which has foundations whose architect and builder is God...
...they desire a better country, that is a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them."
Hebrews 8-11, 16
And God's House, the kingdom, the Jewish priesthood no longer had an observable, visible presence on the face of the earth for the world to see! Behold, new things have come!
"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God... Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."
John 3:3, 5
"My kingdom is not of this world... of this realm."
"...The kingdom is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, 'Look, here it is!' or 'There it is!' For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst (or within you)."
Luke 17:20, 21