I recently read in the March/April issue of Biblical Archaeology Review about an inscription that was discovered on a stone block in the wall around the temple mount in Jerusalem. Written in Hebrew, it read, "When you see this, your hearts will rejoice, and their bones will flourish like grass". This is obviously a quotation from Isaiah 66:14 with the words "your bones" modified to read "their bones". It is believed that this inscription referred to some nearby ancient Jewish graves which were discovered about the same time. It is suggested that this inscription dates to about the 4th century A.D. during the reign of Julian, an anti-Christian ruler who gave the Jews permission to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. This inscription looks to the rebuilding of the Temple as bringing in the messianic age leading to the resurrection of the dead. So, those who rebuilt the temple would see the inscription, rejoice and the dead would rise again. However, Julian died soon after he gave permission to rebuil, and the project was never started.
How sad and tragic. What was thought to be a great restoration to the new Messianic Kingdom never materialized. If only they had heeded the words of the true Messiah and his kingdom which they rejected: "The Kingdom of God is at Hand" (Mark 1:15) ; "My Kingdom is not of this world" (John 18:36).
Instead of being a "memorial" to a living hope, this "memorial" inscription shows the utter rejection of a people who rejected their one and only hope, Jesus Christ, the Messiah. It is no different for us today. Rejecting Jesus the Messiah would seal our doom just as it did the Jews and their rejected "temple".
Christ living in us is the "hope of glory" (Colossians 1:27) and the source of eternal life if we truly believe (John 14:1-6). The Jews endured so much for a dead hope. I wonder how much we would be willing to endure for a living hope?