Irresistible Book Discussion: Chapter 5 - The End of the Temple Era

irresistible

(SeanO) #1

This is a book discussion of Andy Stanley’s book ‘Irresistible’ prompted by @tabby68, @O_wretched_man, @Lakshmismehta and @andrew.bulin . There have been some accusations against the book and we would like to take the time to hear what Andy Stanley is really trying to say and to offer thoughtful, gracious critique. Below is a podcast interview with Andy Stanley you may find helpful as well as the original post that started the discussion.

To participate - read along with us and share your thoughts and opinions :slight_smile: My thoughts are here hopefully to prompt discussion - so please do join in with your observations / thoughts so that we can all benefit from your perspective. May the Lord Jesus guide our discussion.

Chapter V

Big Idea: Jesus’ life and teachings foretold the end of the old covenant God had made with Israel through Moses and the beginning of something entirely new. Jesus foretold the end of the temple era - the end of an age of salvation history - and the beginning of a new covenant, a new age, a new era.

Summary

The temple was central to Jewish identity in Jesus’ day. Jews from around the world paid tithes to the temple and travel long miles in order to visit it, so much so that Roman governors in other provinces passed laws to ban their citizens paying the temple tax to keep wealth in their province. The idea of Judaism without the temple was inconceivable. And yet Jesus both claimed that He was greater than the temple and that every stone of the temple would be destroyed. Jesus’ prophecy, one of the most well attested in history, came true, and the Romans literally threw done every stone of the temple.

One age of the world was passing - the age of the law and the temple - and another coming, the age of grace and truth through Christ. The old covenant had ended and a new had come. God’s covenant with Israel had served its purpose - it had prepared the way for Messiah. But now God was doing a new thing - a new age was upon the world.

Good Things

I think Stanley did a great job of pointing out how the temple had become the center of Jewish worship in Jesus’ day and the abuses that surrounded the temple in that time. Also, I like that he highlighted the fact that Jesus specifically predicted the destruction of the temple by the Romans as a sign of the end of an age - the end of the old covenant - and the beginning of a new. I think this is a theme that is not always understood when expounded upon in our day.

I also like how he pointed out that the old covenant, the law, is no longer in force. The author of Hebrews made it clear that the old covenant was about to disappear. If you read all of chapter 8 it is very clear he is referring to God’s covenant with Moses.

Hebrews 8:13 - By saying, a new covenant, He has declared that the first is old. And what is old and aging is about to disappear.

Critique

I think by saying ‘Israel was a means to an end’ Stanley is missing the compassion God had for His chosen nation before the old covenant ended. Jesus wept bitterly over how the people God had chosen forsook Him. While I think Stanley’s point is correct - I think his tone is wrong. God was not using Israel - He loved Israel. Of course God knew they would not be faithful, but He still longed for Israel, even as the apostle Paul did, to find new life in Christ.

Matthew 23:37 - Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.

I also think it may have helped if there had been some discussion of the fact that Jesus did not abolish, but rather fulfilled the law. Christians are now called to obey the heart of the law - a higher and holier calling than simply obeying the 613 laws of the OT. I liked the article from Ligonier on this topic. Stanley may address this idea later in his book.

Matthew 5:17-20 - “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

This does not mean Christians should have no concern to follow God’s law. Christ frees us to obey it. Jesus’ disciples are called to a genuine love of God and neighbor (22:37–40; see 7:21). This is a lofty calling, but Jesus Himself embodied it throughout His life. Through His obedience, Jesus releases us from the burden of trying to earn our salvation. We are to be merciful because of the mercy Jesus has shown to us (5:7; 9:13; 12:7; 23:23; see Hos. 6:6; Matt. 18:33). In sum, the law of God is an abiding witness to the person and work of Christ, and through Him we are able to call this law our delight.

Quotes

Temple leaders did not view Jesus as Judaism 2.0. They rightly understood Jesus to be a threat to everything they valued. Everything. If what he claimed was true, it signaled the end of, not a new version of, the world as they knew it.

During one of his many squabbles with religious leaders over what entailed a violation of the Sabbath, Jesus, referring to himself, stated: I tell you that something greater than the temple is here.

The temple was the epicenter of Jewish religious life. It was the official home of the official law. The temple was the presence of God on earth. To compare oneself to the temple or to suggest anything was greater than the temple reflected extraordinary arrogance, ignorance, or insanity.

They were especially adept at reinterpreting and dumbing down those portions of Moses’ law that would cost them financially. Consequently, those in the upper echelon of temple authority lived like kings.

The amount of wealth exported out of Roman provinces and shipped to Jerusalem was so large it caused Roman governors to propose laws banning Jews in their cities from paying the tax.

In Jesus’ day, the temple would only accept Tyrian coinage. That created a problem for taxpayers and an opportunity for tax collectors. Jews traveled from all over the world to visit the temple. Few of them would be carrying Tyrian coins. To remedy this “problem,” tables were set up in the temple courtyard where moneychangers exchanged whatever currency a worshipper happened to be carrying for a Tyrian shekel. And who do you suppose determined the exchange rate? Temple authorities, of course. Worshippers had little choice but to submit to the posted rate.

The end of the temple signaled the end of the world as they knew it. And nobody felt fine.

if the Gospels were written before AD 70, before the events described by Jesus occurred, it is impossible to avoid the conclusion that Jesus predicted, in extraordinary detail, the end of ancient Judaism. If he did, one would be a fool not to give careful consideration to everything else he had to say as well.

Titus, who was now in command in his father’s absence, ordered that every stone used in the construction of the temple be torn down, dragged to the edge of the plaza, and pushed off into the valley below. Some of those massive stones remain to this day where they landed almost two thousand years ago. Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.

The temple era was coming to an end. God’s covenant with the nation had served its purpose. It was no longer needed. Why? Because something greater than the temple had come.

Ancient Israel was a means to an end. The end had come. The new was just beginning.


(Isaiah J. Armstrong) #2

I enjoyed this chapter, especially his focus on the temple’s destruction. The only critique besides the one @SeanO brought up that i found is that i wish he could have listed more of his sources when it cma eto history. i know he refers to Josephus but there are a couple of historical references that we are to take his word on. here are a few: the assassination of Emperor Gaius Cagilula (p57), The temple’s use of the Tyrain coins (p60), and the throwing down of the temple’s stones (p65). Maybe because of my ignorance of Jewish history, I wish he explained why Herod the Great built the Temple because I haven’t heard that before. I could be nitpicking, but I’d like to know where he found those interesting facts.


(SeanO) #3

@O_wretched_man Good points - I enjoyed the history portions as well and I agree it is always nice to have references for further reading.


(Tabitha Gallman) #4

I agree with you both @SeanO and @O_wretched_man about Stanley giving all the history he does pertaining to the temple, taxes and the religious leaders.
At the beginning of chapter 5 Andy emphasizes the corruption of the religious leaders. The corruption is basic biblical knowledge, but as @O_wretched_man has mentioned about the other history references, Andy Stanley seems to be studied up on his history for this time period. (Not sure where to start with all that kind of historical reading he’s referenced in the back of the book.) It definitely helps to know basic historical facts when reading the Bible to better understand the corruption and the point Andy is making about why there was so much hatred toward Jesus.

I agree with you @SeanO with what you said:

I think it is so very important for all to read about the love God had for his chosen people in the OT. Otherwise, how would you really know?

Something I find very interesting is the personal influence on my belief of God and my interpretation of the Bible. I have been reading Ravi’s book “Why Jesus”, and he talks about television as was experienced around 20 years after World War II. On p. 23 Ravi writes,

“At the time, most people failed to understand the power of the media to change their views and reshape their thinking. Instead of viewing the world through the medium of television, they allowed the medium to define the world for them.”

And then on p. 24 Ravi asked the question:

“What is it about television and movies that makes them both attractive and dangerous?”

Hollywood has always produced Utopian and dystopian films (one in particular is based on the young adult novel by Lois Lowry called “The Giver”). I can definitely see why these films could influence young adults to begin to view Heaven or Eternal Life as a negative connotation. It definitely makes it nearly impossible to convince this generation that God is good with all his commands.

My point being that without reading the Bible all the way through, how can anyone in this generation begin to form an opinion of who God is, and interpret the New Testament as the Holy Spirit leads as the enemy tries to distract and mislead?

For instance, I am still in the book of Deuteronomy, and am understanding how important the laws and commands were for the Israelites for that particular time in history. God loved his people and wanted only good for them. The following verse would describe God as a game warden of sorts. (He had everything handled that they probably hadn’t even considered…if they would have just obeyed all his commands.)

In Deuteronomy ch. 7 v. 22 it reads: “The Lord your God will drive out those nations before you, little by little. You will not be allowed to eliminate them all at once, or the wild animals will multiply around you.”

Evidently, the ecosystem was different than it is today. I don’t believe the laws and commands were given arbitrarily. I may never know the exact reason for the commands and laws given on the way to and in while the Israelites were living in the land of Canaan. And I may never know why the Holy Spirit leads me to “do” or “not do” certain things in this generation. I do know that God is good and He would never ask me to do something He himself has never done.

It’s a wonderful thing to be able to read the OT, and I just don’t see it in a negative way at all. I don’t believe in things arbitrarily, but I also don’t believe you have to over simplify a message just to attract someone to a message that is about life itself.

And I don’t mind sounding a little weird when I’m sharing the gospel. If someone making fun of me is the only persecution I get out of this life, then it’s kinda like Mother Teresa said:

“In light of heaven, the worst suffering on earth, a life full of the most atrocious tortures on earth, will be seen to be no more serious than one night in an inconvenient hotel.”

I may never know the suffering that people like Mother Teresa and countless others have known, but none of it matters in light of eternity with God. I think sometimes there is too much emphasis put on us as Christians drawing people to Christ when it’s never us, but the Holy Spirit.


(SeanO) #5

@tabby68 You mentioned ‘The Giver’ by Lowry. Why do you think that this book would cause someone to have a negative view of eternal life?


(Tabitha Gallman) #6

@SeanO I think most Utopian/Dystopian themed movies that we watch contain a message of a broken society in pursuit of “fixing” their broken world themselves. The Utopian world never seems to hold together and the audience leaves feeling hopeless and looking within themselves to control their own destiny. Within these movies there are usually all these rules and regulations and you have a main character who usually “bucks” the system and decides he or she knows better than the people who are so desperately trying to hold the system together.

As a believer I know that without a good and perfect God, there will never be a Utopian society because the human heart is wicked. No amount of rules or regulations will help when the rules are given by wicked people. I already know my savior, and have hope for an eternal life in heaven, but in our culture most people equate rules with a loss of freedom.


(SeanO) #7

@tabby68 Thank you for that perspective on the Dystopian novel / movie. For me personally, I think movies, and even more so books, like ‘The Giver’ can point us to God because they remind us that the solution is not achievable by human engineering. Admittedly, Hollywood tends to spin these movies so that self-realization is the way out, but I think that the books themselves are not quite so clear cut. I still remember finishing ‘The Giver’ - it was a massive cliffhanger. Basically Jonas was carrying a child out into the snow covered wilderness and then finally saw a house and the book just ended. No closure.

I think endings like that are actually helpful because they make people think - what is really valuable? What is really worthwhile? What am I hungering for that I struggle to find in this world?


(Tabitha Gallman) #8

@SeanO I definitely don’t think Lois Lowry’s intentions are to draw people away from God. I just think that overall, this type of theme confirms the idea that to be happy you should do what you want like movies that advertently show people not only eschewing the rules, but breaking the rules like in the movie “The Bridges of Madison County”.


(Tabitha Gallman) #9

@SeanO, I’m just grateful that during my formative years we only had the three major networks, and my parents made me go outside and play instead of staying in to watch t.v. I never watched a lot of movies until I met my husband, lol. (My husband is the one helping me with my vocabulary tonight as we watch the Australian Open together…I had never used the word eschew before tonight :grinning: )


(SeanO) #10

@tabby68 It is true that many books / movies aimed at youth do seem to encourage breaking the rules as a means to adventure. However, I think that a book like ‘The Giver’ is more so pointing out that there are times when the rules are evil - and what do you do then? Christians like Bonhoffer wrestled with these questions when he considered how to behave in Germany when it was ruled by evil men.

So I think there are rules and then there are rules. Even Jesus criticized the rules put in place by the Pharisees that burdened the people and were self-promoting rather than glorifying God and freeing people to live abundant lives.

Rules are not good simply because they exist - it is God’s law that is beautiful, good and true.


(SeanO) #11

@tabby68 Haha, that’s wonderful that you’re learning new vocabulary as you guys hang out together :wink:


(Isaiah J. Armstrong) #12

I had to read The Giver in high school and I enjoyed it so much I read the whole series. I agree with @SeanO that these kinds of books can be helpful. They can cause the readers to raise questions and analyze their own surroundings to see if they are missing something. It provides a healthy little dose of introspection.

I never care for movies that are adapted from books though (except the newer Narnia movies, those were great!).


(SeanO) #13

@O_wretched_man I really enjoyed the the first Narnia film and I like the second one, though a little less. The third one I felt like it was basically written not as a movie script but as a video game script. It was good, but I really felt liked the first captured the spirit of Narnia better.

Of course, I actually like the old BBC Narnia movies - probably because I watched them as a kid. They are no high tech at all and the costumes are cheesy in some cases, but I liked the ‘feel’ of them. There is a certain gravity and wonder that I think the films ought to have and I think they captured it. Not unlike the first of the newer movies imho.


(Isaiah J. Armstrong) #14

@SeanO
I’ve never actually seen the older ones. Maybe I should check them out sometime. Even though the movies were great, I still believe that the books are way better no matter what. There’s just something about a book and one’s imagination that movies can never capture.

I’ve heard Ravi say that a good word is better than a thousand pictures because a picture forces the artist’s view of reality on the observers, while words let one’s imagination go to work. I’d agree (though I’m a book nerd, so I’m biased!).


(Tabitha Gallman) #15

@SeanO and @O_wretched_man
Sometimes as I read certain literature that tends to be dissecting the OT for the purpose of showing “innerrancy?”, I see Andy Stanley’s point in this book. I don’t see how it’s possible to have a sustaining faith before you believe in the cross. For me, that amount of love that Christ demonstrated (and not to mention the desciples dying to share that truth) surmounts any doubt that any philosophical argument can try to give. Is it normal to feel a little anger when I read certain literature that seem to cast away faith?


(SeanO) #16

@tabby68 Are you certain that this Christian literature is trying to cast away faith? When a very rational argument for the reliability of Scripture based on Old Testament prophecies is being presented, the goal is to encourage us to trust God more. And that is what faith is - trusting in the unseen God. I do not think that these rational arguments reduce faith, but rather support it or come alongside it.

We do not have a blind faith without any evidence, we have a faith - a trust - in a God who has shown Himself faithful and provided plenty of evidence that He exists and is faithful to those who call upon His name.

I think one example of where these logical arguments are helpful is when someone refuses to believe in Jesus’ death and resurrection because they believe Jesus never existed. Well, Jesus did exist and we can demonstrate that with historical evidence. That rational argument helps bring this person to a place where they can hopefully open their heart and mind to the historical Jesus who loved us enough to die for us.

Is that helpful or were you getting at something different?


(Tabitha Gallman) #17

Actually I had to go back and edit my initial post because I felt I was being insensitive since I was referring to a post here on this website. You guys get some very deep philosophical posts some times. I just feel like a few people post to arouse anger and confusion.


(SeanO) #18

@tabby68 Sometimes people are just confused themselves or struggle to clearly communicate their thoughts. The approach I try to take is in I Cor 13 - love ‘hopes all things, endures all things’. If they are trying to provoke anger, I love them in the hope they will change. If they are just confused themselves, which is generally more likely, I try to say something that might help them take a baby step towards thinking more clearly. And since I can’t know which it is, I just leave it in the Lord’s hands. It’s not always that easy, but I think with practice it gets easier.


(Tabitha Gallman) #19

@SeanO, God has definitely put you in the right place. I fear I’d not be the witness that would please God with my defensive attitude. I pray that I will always love others the way Christ intends in situations that call for my response. I’m just thankful to be able to read the replies you all give.


(SeanO) #20

@tabby68 Grateful you are here with us - you make some great points. We’re all on a journey towards Jesus. May He guide our conversations and lives :slight_smile: