Destroy This Temple . . .
A Preterist Commentary on Hebrews 9:7-8: Summary and Highlights
The first tabernacle or temple of v. 8 represents the Body of Christ which is Jesus and the saints. The part of the Temple called the Most Holy Place is an earthly symbol of heaven. According to Hebrews 9:8, it was not possible to enter the Most Holy Place, representing heaven, as long as Herod’s temple was still standing. Though this prediction was fulfilled in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, this prophecy was ultimately fulfilled in A.D. 70 when the Romans besieged Jerusalem and destroyed Herod’s Temple. Many spirits were confined to Sheol prior to the resurrection (Daniel 12:13). These spirits were not to be resurrected to heaven until the last trumpet (1 Corinthians 15:51-52). The last trumpet was presumably sounded at the siege of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. The destruction of the temple after the last trumpet was an omen of the resurrection of the saints to heaven. In fulfillment of Revelation 12:14 and 1 Corinthians 15:51-52, approximately forty two months before the siege of Jerusalem a multitude of spiritual bodies were seen rising out of the earth at the sound of a trumpet according to the Roman historians Cassius Dio and Suetonius.[iii] These spirits presumably did not finally enter heaven until the sounding of the last trumpet about 42 months later at the start of the Roman siege of Jerusalem on Passover of A.D. 70. Suggesting that the resurrection has already occurred, many near-death experiences testify that spirits enter heaven immediately after death.
The following may seem unbelievable. However, all information is taken from unbiased historical records and is easily verifiable. Sources listed at the end.
Destroy This Temple . . .
7But only the high priest entered the inner room [of the Temple], and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance. 8The Holy Spirit was showing by this that the way into the Most Holy Place had not yet been disclosed as long as the first tabernacle was still standing.
Hebrews 9:7-8 Commentary: Through Jesus’ Atoning Death and Resurrection the Way to Heaven, the Most Holy Place, is now Accessible.
Before the destruction of the temple, the high priest entered the Most Holy Place once a year to atone for the sins of the people. Verse 8 indicates that as long as the Temple stood it was not possible to enter the Most Holy Place. In order to understand the spiritual meaning behind this law, it is necessary to define what is meant by the Temple and the Most Holy Place.
According to John 2:21, the Temple is the Body of Christ. The Most Holy Place is heaven: “For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one [the Most Holy Place], he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence (Hebrews 9:24).” Therefore, part of what is suggested in v. 8 is that it is not possible to enter heaven while Jesus, the Temple, is still alive and present on earth. It is only through Jesus’ atoning death and resurrection that the way to heaven, the Most Holy Place, is now accessible to his people. However, there is more to the meaning of v. 8 than what has been stated above.
Hebrews 9:7-8 Commentary: Many Spirits had to sleep in Sheol prior to the Resurrection.
Before Jesus died for the remission of sins, the Old Covenant saints had no sacrifice for sin to purge them from the curse of spiritual death which is separation from God. Thus these saints were confined to Sheol, the dark underworld of death, after biological death. Sheol is spiritual death because it is a realm of darkness and separation from God in heaven.
The Book of Daniel closes with the words: “You [Daniel] will rest, and then at the end of the days you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance (Daniel 12:13).” Many times throughout the Bible the dead are said to sleep. Death is referred to in this way because many of the spirits of the departed are not immediately raised to life. These spirits are said to sleep in Sheol. In speaking of Sheol, David says, “No one remembers you [God] when he is dead. Who praises you from the grave?” (Psalm 6:5.) Prior to the resurrection, many spirits had to sleep before they could be raised to life in heaven.
1 Corinthians 15:51-52 states, “We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.” 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 suggests the fact that during and after the resurrection at the last trumpet, many people will no longer sleep in Sheol before resurrecting from the dead. Instead, the saints will be given their resurrection bodies immediately after death without being confined in the dark realm of Sheol first. That being said, is there any Biblical or historical evidence that the resurrection has already occurred? And if so, is there any evidence from near-death experiences that people are immediately raised to life after death as one would expect if the resurrection had already come to pass and the saints no longer have to sleep in Sheol before rising to heaven?
Hebrews 9:7-8 Commentary: Spirits were to enter Heaven at the Last Trumpet. The Last Trumpet was sounded at the Siege of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. Though this is true, the Resurrection may have begun approximately Forty-Two Months Earlier according to Revelation 12:14.
According to 1 Corinthians 15:51-52, the resurrection of the saints is expected to occur at the last trumpet. The last trumpet is the seventh trumpet of Revelation 11:15. As is implied in Revelation 15:8 and 1 Corinthians 15:51-52, the spirits of the departed do not finally enter heaven until the sounding of the seventh trumpet. The seventh trumpet was blown by the Roman army to signal the start of the siege of Jerusalem on Passover of A.D. 70.[vii] Though this is true, the resurrection largely began approximately forty-two months earlier at the start of the Jewish War.[viii] This forty-two month or three and a half year period is the time in which the woman of Revelation 12:14 is kept safe out of the serpent’s reach.
In Revelation 12:15, the serpent spews a river out of its mouth to sweep the woman away in a flood. It is interesting to note that the while the Israelites had revolted against Rome, Nero, the emperor of Rome and embodiment of Satan, was in Greece building a canal. This man-made river accounts for the river symbolism in Revelation 12:15. The flood caused by the river in Revelation 12:15 is a metaphor for the Roman army dispatched by Nero to crush the Jewish revolt. Floods often represent an invading army in the Bible as is the case in Daniel 11:10: “His sons will prepare for war and assemble a great army, which will sweep on like an irresistible flood and carry the battle as far as his fortress.”[ix] It was while he was in Greece building the canal that Nero ordered the Roman army to attack Israel with Vespasian in command.[x] Is there any historical evidence that the resurrection began approximately three and a half years before the start of the Roman assault on Jerusalem?
Hebrews 9:7-8 Commentary: Approximately Forty-Two Months before the Last Trumpet, Spirits were seen rising out of the Earth at the Sound of a Trumpet.
Yes. At the start of the construction of this canal, Cassius Dio writes, “[W]hen the first workers touched the earth, blood spouted from it, groans and bellowings were heard, and many phantoms appeared. Nero himself thereupon grasped a mattock and by throwing up some of the soil fairly compelled the rest to imitate him.”[xi] In recording this same event, Suetonius states that as Nero broke the ground, the sound of a trumpet was heard.[xii] The fact that a trumpet was heard at the time in which the dead were raised is clear fulfillment of 1 Corinthians 15:51-52: “For the trumpet will sound, [and] the dead will be raised imperishable. . . .” As already indicated, these spirits, however, do not finally enter heaven until the seven plagues are completed. I believe that these spirits resurrected at the start of the Jewish War are taken to a safe place away from Satan’s reach for 1260 days. This 1260 days, forty-two months or three and a half years is the time between the arrival of the Roman army during the month of Tishri in A.D. 66 until Passover of A.D. 70 when Titus began his attack on Jerusalem at the last trumpet in fulfillment of Revelation 12:14. See How the Resurrection Bodies of the Saints Perfectly Mirror Jesus’ Resurrection Body after His Ascension Into Heaven Fulfilling Philippians 3:20-21 and ALL Other Bible Verses on the Resurrection!!! and The Notion that the Resurrection is an Earthly Phenomenon whereby the Dead are raised as Perfected, Eternal Earthly Bodies is dispelled by 1 Corinthians 15:35-50 and Isaiah 65:20.
Hebrews 9:7-8 Commentary: Verse 8 suggests that as long as the Temple still stands, it is not possible to enter Heaven, the Most Holy Place. The Destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70 after the Last Trumpet Marked the Resurrection of the Saints to Heaven.
Four months after the Romans began their attack on Jerusalem at the seventh and last trumpet, the Temple was destroyed. Remember that according to 1 Corinthians 15:51-52, the resurrection is expected to occur at the seventh and last trumpet. That being said, there is another layer of meaning to v. 8: “[T]he way into the Most Holy Place had not yet been disclosed as long as the first tabernacle was still standing.” This verse suggests that as long as the Temple in Jerusalem still stands, it is not possible to enter heaven, the Most Holy Place. Thus in light of v. 8 it is perhaps not surprising that the destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70 as a result of the sounding of the seventh trumpet marked the resurrection of the saints to the heaven, the Most Holy Place.
Hebrews 9:7-8 Commentary: Verse 8 also implies that No One can enter Heaven until His or Her Earthly Body or Temple is Dead.
The fact that the resurrection occurs at the destruction of the Temple is highly symbolic. The Temple does not just represent Jesus, it also represents his people: “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16.) Thus verse 8 also allegorically states the obvious fact that no one can enter heaven until his or her earthly body or temple is destroyed. This fact is explicitly stated in 1 Corinthians 15:35-40:
But someone will say, “How are the dead raised? And with what kind of body do they come?” You fool! That which you sow does not come to life unless it dies; and that which you sow, you do not sow the body which is to be, but a bare grain, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body just as He wished, and to each of the seeds a body of its own. All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one flesh of men, and another flesh of beasts, and another flesh of birds, and another of fish. There are also heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one, and the glory of the earthly is another.
For a more detailed explanation of the resurrection see The Notion that the Resurrection is an Earthly Phenomenon whereby the Dead are raised as Perfected, Eternal Earthly Bodies is dispelled by 1 Corinthians 15:35-50 and Isaiah 65:20.
Hebrews 9:7-8 Commentary: The Saints could not enter Heaven until “the Number of Their Fellow Servants and Brothers Who were to be killed as They had been was Completed.” The Temple represents the Body of Christ. After the Temple fell, a Physical Sign of the Martyred Saints, the Church could finally enter Heaven.
It should also be noted that since, as stated in 1 Corinthians 3:16, the Temple represents the saints, the fall of the temple in Jerusalem in A.D. 70 is thus a tragic symbol of the deaths of the holy martyrs. Revelation 6:9-11 indicates that the saints could not enter heaven until “the number of their fellow servants and brothers who were to be killed as they had been was completed.”[xiv] Acts 8:1-3; 12:1-4; and 26:10 record the persecution the early church faced in Jerusalem soon after the death of Jesus. After the full number of believers had been executed, the Temple representing these people fell as an incorporeal manifestation of their deaths.
Hebrews 9:7-8 Commentary: Confirming that the Resurrection has already occurred, many Near-Death Experiences testify that Spirits enter Heaven immediately after Death.
In the above commentary, the symbolic meaning of v. 8 is addressed in addition to the historical and Biblical evidence in favor of the fact that the resurrection occurred at the destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70 during the last trumpet. Assuming that the resurrection at the last trumpet has already occurred, is there any evidence from near-death experiences that people now resurrect immediately after death as is implied in 1 Corinthians 15:51-52?
Yes. Many people who have miraculously survived clinical death often describe experiencing a beautiful afterlife. After a snowboarding accident, one survivor of clinical death recounted something very much like Paul’s description of the resurrection in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17.[xv] This young man is recorded to have said:
I recall in some of the most vivid detail that I was floating above the main sky lodge. It seemed like I was in a helicopter about 50-70 feet above the ground just hovering. There was either no noise or total silence. But I remember I could feel the warmth of the sun, but it wasn’t the sun it was much brighter and hurt to look directly at.[xvi]
Reports of floating up to heaven after clinical death are an exceedingly common near-death experience. Could this be the resurrection referred to by Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17? The above near-death experience is one of many examples in which people describe floating up to meet a loving light in the sky after suffering clinical death. In 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, Paul says that at the resurrection spirits will rise up to meet Christ in the sky. Is this light Jesus?
Often throughout the New Testament, Jesus identifies himself as the light of the world. Furthermore, in Acts 9 Paul is said to have encountered the resurrected Christ on his way to Damascus. Reporting this encounter, Luke writes, “As he [Paul] neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him (Acts 9:3).” This depiction of Christ as “a light from heaven” bears a striking resemblance to the light many people witness after surviving clinical death. In light of the Biblical similarities, it is not surprising that many people who have had near-death experiences identify the light as Jesus.
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Interested in PRETERISM or are you a PRETERIST struggling with a prophecy or verse? It DID happen just like the Bible says! If you liked this essay, see PRETERIST BIBLE COMMENTARY for a detailed explanation of the FULFILLMENT OF ALL MAJOR END TIME PROPHECIES IN THE BIBLE. The more unbelievable the prophecy, the more amazing and miraculous the fulfillment!
Also see Historical Evidence that Jesus was LITERALLY SEEN in the Clouds in the First Century. For an explanation of how the end of the age and its fulfillment during the Jewish War mirror Genesis 1-3; how the Bible teaches that the resurrection of the dead is a resurrection of heavenly bodies to heaven, not a resurrection of perfected earthly bodies; and how the resurrection is a mirror opposite of the fall see How the Jewish War and Resurrection to Heaven Mirror Genesis and the Fall; and How Preterism fixes the Age of the Earth Problem and unravels the Mysteries in Genesis.
[iii] Cassius Dio Roman History 63.16, 63:22; Suetonius Lives of the Twelve Caesars 6.19.
[vii] See the commentary on the Book of Revelation.
[viii] There is also a resurrection that occurred after Jesus’ resurrection according to Matthew 27:52-53.
[ix] Other examples include Daniel 11:40 and Nahum 1:8. The flood of Nahum 1:8 represents the allied armies of the Babylonians, Susianans, Scythians and Medes that destroyed Nineveh in 612 B.C. Similar imagery is found in Joel 2:9. Here an invading army is pictured breaking through a city like a tidal wave: “They rush upon the city; they run along the wall. They climb into the houses; like thieves they enter through the windows.”
[x] Cassius Dio Roman History 63.22.
[xi] Ibid., 63.16.
[xii] Suetonius Lives of the Twelve Caesars 6.19.
[xvi] http://www.nderf.org/josh_w_nde.htm (6/3/2009).