John Tng (10 Apr 2006)
"The Four Miracles of Herod's Temple"

Four miracles took place in King Herod's Temple for 40 years be
fore its destruction in 70 AD. A passage in the Jerusalem Talmud states:

"Forty years before the destruction of the Temple, the western light went out, the crimson thread remained crimson, and the lot for the Lord always came up in the left hand. They would close the gates of the Temple by night and get up in the morning and find them wide open" (Jacob Neusner, The Yerushalmi, p.156-157). [the Temple was destroyed in 70 CE]

The Miracle of the Western Lamp

The Western Lamp is one of the seven lamps of the Menorah in the Holy Place. (Opinions differ as to which branch it sits on.) It is legendary because it never went out. The other six lamps were lit from it daily. This phenomenon went on for years since the First Temple. However, after the death of Simeon the Just, the high priest (third century BC), the Western Lamp did not burn continuously. Whenever it was extinguished, it would be re-lit with the fire taken from the Eternal Flame -- one of the three fires burning on the altar of the burnt offering outside of the Holy Place.

For 40 years from 30 AD to 70 AD, the Western Lamp went out every day! This is miraculous, given its past track record and 'perpetual fire' fame. It signifies a fundamental change since Temple worship began from King Solomon's time. It was as if the divine presence of God had left the Temple for 40 years before its eventual destruction in 70 AD.


The Miracle of the Temple Doors

The second miracle was so spooky it frightened the priests and people. The Temple doors would open by themselves every morning after they were shut the night before for 40 years! According to the Jerusalem Talmud:

"Said Rabban Yohanan Ben Zakkai to the Temple, 'O Temple, why do you frighten us? We know that you will end up destroyed. For it has been said, 'Open your doors, O Lebanon, that the fire may devour your cedars' " (Zechariah 11:1)' (Sota 6:3).

God certainly had the attention of the priests and people. But what could it possibly mean?

The Miracle of the "Lot"

The last two miracles took place every year for 40 years on the Day of Atonement -- the holiest day on the Hebrew calendar; the only day in a year when the high priest is allowed to enter into the Holy of Holies to atone for the sins of the people. The third miracle involves the drawing of lots, to determine which of two goats would be "for the Lord" and which goat would be the "Azazel" or "scapegoat." (Lev 16:8) The high priest would thrust both his hands into the urn that contained the two lots (black and white stones), take out both lots simultaneously, one in each hand, and place them on the heads of the two goats.

It was considered a good omen if the lot "for the Lord" fell on the goat to the right. This goat would be slain and the scapegoat, on the left, would be sent away into the wilderness. Probability governs that the white stone would be picked as frequently as the black stone on average.

However, for 40 years in a row the lot for the Lord always came up in the left hand! The odds of this happening is 1 in 1,099,511,628,000 or about 1.1 trillion to one! Interestingly, a similar miracle happened in which the lot for the Lord always came up in the right hand during the 40 years (coincidence!?) that Simeon the Just was the high priest!

One must be extremely dull in one's spiritual senses to miss the connection. Surely God was showing His displeasure towards the priests and people by giving them the miraculous sign of the "Lot".


The Miracle of the Scarlet Cloth

After the lots had been chosen, the high priest would tie a piece of scarlet cloth to the horn of the scapegoat and another round the throat of the goat for the Lord. During the priestly office of Simeon the Just, the scarlet cloth tied to the scapegoat would turn white miraculously after the sacrifice was fully accepted!

The 'scarlet cloth' miracle that happened between 30 AD and 70 AD was the exact opposite -- "the crimson thread remained crimson" (The Yerushalmi, p.156-157). The scarlet cloth did not turn white for 40 years!

It is also interesting to note that when Simeon officiated on the Day of Atonement for the 40th time, knowledge of his death came to him supernaturally. The personal scarlet thread he brought into the Holy of Holies failed to turn white unlike the previous 39 occasions! Seven days later Simeon went to be with the Lord.

Isaiah 1:8 teaches us the meaning of this miracle, "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool."

It appears God is shouting a message loud and clear through the life of Simeon, whose name means "hearing" in Hebrew. What message could that be? Whatever the message, it must be important enough to warrant God working 4 miracles for 40 years in a row.

He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.


Implications of the Four Miracles

The four miracles provide very strong evidence for the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ in 30 AD! (See link.) That is the most logical conclusion. Jesus said in John 2:19, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." Jesus is equating the Temple to His body as John testified two verses down. The Church is also the body of Christ (1 Cor 12:27) -- His representative on earth. When the Holy Spirit came 50 days after Christ's resurrection, the Church became the Temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:19) -- the Temple of God (1 Cor 3:16, 2 Cor 6:16)!

As a result, Herod's Temple became redundant the day Christ rose from the dead! The House of God can no longer be so called because God had left the building! The Temple became just a grand building and demarcation between the holy and the profane simply vanished! This explains the spooky phenomenon of the open doors of the Temple as holiness was no longer housed within its confines! The Holy of Holies was no holier than the outer court! It also means God has now graciously included the Gentiles in the commonwealth of Israel (Eph 2:12). Gentiles now enjoy equal and open access to God, for in Christ there is neither Jew nor Gentile (Gal 3:28).

Since the glory had departed from the Temple in 30 AD, the Western Lamp failed to burn miraculously. The Church now bears the light of the Menorah as evidenced by the words of Jesus in Rev 1:20. Christians ought to appreciate the immense privilege and honor conferred on them by the Lord as the new Menorah. Scripture further provides another proof of this association from the words of Jesus again. The Lord declares twice in John 8:12 and John 9:5 that He is the Light of the World. It is then no light matter for the Light of the World to pronounce that His disciples too are the light of the world (Matt 5:14)!

The crimson thread remained crimson because a new dispensation had dawned when Jesus rose from the dead. The old way gave way to the new and living way (Heb 10:20). Believers in the new dispensation of grace no longer depend on the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins (Heb 10:4), but on the precious blood of Jesus (1 Pet 1:19) that cleanses (1 John 1:7). God would have sent a wrong message had He continue to turn the crimson strip miraculously white.

The lot for the Lord always came up in the left hand because God "hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin" (2 Cor 5:21), and "set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places" (Eph 1:20). The testimony of Simeon the Just tells us the right hand lot is meant for the Lord just as Jesus' rightful position is on the right hand of God (Acts 2:34)! Jesus is now seated on the right hand of the Majesty on high (Heb 1:3) since the Ascension. He is the sin offering (goat) made once for all (Heb 10:10). God demonstrated this fact by ensuring that the lot for the Lord did not come up in the right hand on the Day of Atonement from 30 AD to 70 AD!

Each miracle was an impossible event in itself. When four impossible miracles conspired to take place in the same 40-year period, they prove true the words of Jesus in Matt 19:26, "With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible."

More importantly, they attest to the true Son of God, sent from Heaven by the Father, to redeem men from their sins and destruction.


The Four Miracles and the Four Eternal Symbols

A surprising consequence of the four miracles is the confirmation of the four eternal symbols the author discovered -- light, water, temple and throne! (See link.) These symbols are eternal as they represent the Triune God (light, water, temple) and the Kingdom of God (throne).

The miracle of the Temple doors points to the temple symbol. The light symbol is clearly pointed to by the miracle of the Western Lamp. The miracle of the crimson thread points to the water (blood) symbol. Lastly, the throne symbol is pointed to by the miracle of the "Lot" since Jesus' throne is on the right hand of the Father's throne.

Amazingly the subject of the four miracles is Jesus! Jesus is the Western Lamp since He is the Light of the World (John 8:12). Jesus is the Temple since He rose on the third day (John 2:19, 21). Jesus "came by water and blood." (1 John 5:6) Jesus is "set down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Heb 12:2)

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. Jesus is everything!