It has been said that Jesus’ coming as a thief in the night relates to this little-known aspect of the Temple service…. and the importance of us not being caught ‘asleep on our duty’ when He comes.
Quoting directly from the Orthodox Jewish group known as ‘the Temple Institute’:
“A DAY IN THE LIFE OF THE HOLY TEMPLE: THE NIGHT WATCH
But even before the new day began, the night-long task of guarding the honor of the Holy Temple was already underway. Kohanim and Levites were assigned guard duty in 24 different posts around the Temple Mount. They were guarding, not against intruders, but to show proper respect to G-d’s Chosen House. An Officer of the Temple Mount supervised the guard duty, and throughout the night visited the different guard posts to make certain that no kohen or Levite had drifted to sleep!
In the picture we see the supervisor coming upon a Levite who has fallen asleep on his watch.
The Mishna (Middot 1:2) describes the guard duty procedures: “The Officer of the Temple Mount would go round to every watch, with lighted torches before him. If any watcher did not rise [at his approach], he would say to him, ‘Peace upon you,’ – and if he did not answer, it was clear that he was asleep, he would hit him with his stick. He was also at liberty to singe his clothes!””
Enoch Lavender was born in Australia, raised in Norway, spent time living in China and is now based in Melbourne, Australia. He has been studying Hebrew and the Jewish roots of our faith for the past decade, and has a keen interest in the Middle East from a Bible prophecy perspective.