Israel’s first temple, known as Solomon’s temple, stood for 400 years before it was destroyed by the Babylonians. Israel’s second temple, known as Zerubbabel’s temple, stood for 500 years and served as the centerpiece of Jewish worship all during the 400-year gap that lies between the last page of the Old Testament and the first page of the New Testament. It was toward the end of that time period that an Idumean named Herod the Great became a major player in the history of Israel. By being a consummate politician, Herod convinced the Romans to place him in charge over Judea, which was the southern region of Israel. He then ruled over Judea for more than thirty years before dying not long after his infamous role in the story of the birth of Jesus.
Herod the Great was a very wicked man, but he was a tremendous builder, and perhaps his greatest building project was the redoing of Jerusalem’s temple. He understood that Zerubbabel’s temple was nowhere near as spectacular as Solomon’s had been, and so he made up his mind to correct that problem by not only reconstructing the temple but also expanding it greatly. Workers completed the bulk of the project in ten years, but the “detail work” continued on for many years afterwards. In John 2:20, the Jews even say, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple…” By the way, this was the temple that Jesus knew during His earthly life.
But, in the end, what happened to the temple that is now commonly referred to as “Herod’s temple” or “the third temple”? Would you believe that in 70 A.D., some 70 years or so after Herod’s death, the Romans completely destroyed it as a part of their efforts to reestablish their dominion over the Jews? Actually, the destruction of that temple was the fulfillment of a prophecy that Jesus had given. We read that prophecy in Matthew 24:1-2:
Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” (N.K.J.V.)
You say, “Okay, Russell, what’s your point?” My point is that Herod the Great poured untold time, wealth, energy, and manpower into a project that was destined to come to nothing, and if you and I aren’t careful we will make the same mistake. No, I don’t suppose that you will be building or renovating any temples anytime soon, but you can certainly pour your time, wealth, energy, and manpower into something that will not last. You can chase dreams that are unworthy dreams. You can spend your life in pursuit of futile accomplishments. You can lose years aiming at and firing at wrong targets.
Therefore, I guess right now would be a good time to look in the proverbial mirror and ask yourself, “Am I using my life to accomplish goals that are truly worthwhile or am I making the mistake that Herod made?” If you don’t know how to answer, ask God to show you what He thinks. And if He shows you that you need to change what you’re after, then do so immediately. After all, why kill yourself trying to build something that somebody else will just come along and knock down in the future?