What does this verse mean, “your house is left to you desolate”? 

Author: BibleAsk Team

Your House Is Left to You Desolate

The phrase “your house is left to you desolate” is mentioned in Matthew 23:38. This was the passage where Jesus was addressing the leaders of the Jewish nation towards the end of His ministry. He was responding to their rejection of His saving work on their behalf. The spiritual leaders refused His call for repentance, His acts of mercy, and the truths He presented.

So, in response, He said mournfully, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!” (Matthew 23:37). These very words are touching as they are filled with love. They reflect the tender compassion that Heaven has for all the lost (Luke 15:7). Jesus addressed Jerusalem because in it centered all the hopes of Israel as a nation. The city was the symbol of national power and glory and pride.

The Lord had always shown mercy and long-suffering towards unrepentant sinners (Ezekiel 18:23, 31, 32; 33:11; 1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9). The Bible declares, that no sinner will be lost because of insufficient redeeming grace on God’s part. But now it was Israel’s own choice not God’s that determined their fate (Daniel 4:17). For Jesus, it was time to respect Jews’ decision and leave them as His chosen people (Matthew 23:38). God leaves the choice to man to decide his own path (Joshua 24:15; Isaiah 55:1; Revelation 22:17).

The Destruction of Jerusalem 

In response to the Jew’s rejection, Jesus declared, “See! Your house is left to you desolate” (Matthew 23:38). The rent veil in the temple three days later was a clear sign that the Lord no longer accepted their senseless sanctuary rituals that were, for about 40 years longer, carried on there (Matthew 27:51). This time was the midst of the prophetic week of Daniel 9:27, and so far as Heaven was concerned the merit of sacrifices was about to end forever (Matthew 24:3, 15; Luke 21:20). 

Soon after saying the words “your house is left to you desolate,” Jesus departed forever from the precincts of the Temple. And just as the Lord predicted, Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 AD by the Romans. This was the end of the ancient Jewish nation. 

The Final Destruction of the World 

At the end of His discourse with the religious leaders of Israel, Jesus added, “For I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ” (Matthew 23:39). Here, the Lord referred to the literal destruction of Jerusalem that took place in 70 AD and also to the time when men—including those “also which pierced him” (Revelation 1:7)—would see Him “coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” at the end of the world (Matthew 24:30).

At that last great day, even scoffers would be compelled to acknowledge the glory of the One whom they so deliberately rejected (Philippians 2:9–11). The scribes and Pharisees to whom Jesus spoke would be in that throng. But to all that accepted the Lord, the day of His second coming will be a day of rejoicing, triumph and eternal peace (Revelation 22:20).

In His service,
BibleAsk Team 

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