SINNERS WITHIN THE TEMPLE
Matthew 21:12-16 (KJV)
12 And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves,
13 And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.
14 And the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple; and He healed them.
15 And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that He did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the Son of David; they were sore displeased,
16 And said unto Him, Hearest Thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?
And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves,
A half shekel was to be paid by all on the 15th of Adar (March). And regular offerings of tithes were collected there at the Temple. They were not allowed to give ‘foreign’ coins, or coins with Caesar, or some false god, imprinted upon them. Collectors received the money in every city, and transported it to the Temple for the people.
Moneychangers exchanged Jewish coins, for foreign coins, here in the outer realms of the Temple. It was not the exchange that bothered the Lord, but the fact that the people were being cheated by the moneychangers. Fair value for the foreign coins was not being done. Some took advantage, and were committing fraud, in order to enrich themselves.
Some sold ‘doves’, which refers to small birds, easily caught, and this ‘sacrifice’ rather than a ‘lamb’ was meant for those too poor to afford a spotless lamb. This was meant by God to be sure that no one could be too poor to sacrifice for their sins. These ‘doves’ could be caught in the countryside, with very little effort. Yet, here the doves were being sold, a price too high for all to be able to afford, and perhaps some were not sacrificing, due to the expense being too high.
Jesus saw these ‘moneychangers’ as a ‘den of thieves.’
My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves
The ‘thievery’ was being condoned by the priesthood, the getting rich off those who came to pray, to honor God, to sacrifice for sins, was a horrible crime. They were doing it in the very presence of the God that many came to worship. Some have used this passage to deny the selling of cds, tapes, books, etc in a church. It is not the selling that is wrong here, but the cheating of the people, the hindering of the true purpose of the site. If our purpose in selling music or teaching is to get rich, we should not do it in the church. If fair market value is charged, and the goal is the spiritual good of the buyers, there is nothing wrong with this.
And the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple; and He healed them.
Jesus not only showed the wrong use of a worship site, but here He shows the proper, the Godly purpose of a place of worship. God wants to deliver people. The blind, lame, that were there, needing help, but few were helping, were able to make their way to Jesus, obviously needing help of other non-infirmed worshippers, and Jesus gave them a miracle. This should have confirmed that He is the Messiah, but the ‘leaders’ were not impressed. They preferred moneychangers to miracle workers. They saw money as being more important to the Temple than the Messiah’s arrival, the healing of the sick, the worship of the Lord.
Having condemned the sin of the place of worship, He now demonstrated the proper use of it.
In many places of worship today, we see ‘money’ being the main emphasis. Promises are made that are not from God, people are told to purchase their blessings by enriching the minister, and God is still not pleased with those moneychangers.
God does not sell the salvation of your loved ones, for that is their choice, and God will not take away their choice for money. God does not give blanket blessings, blessing all who give a certain amount, whether they be saved or not, whether they repent of their sins or not, whether they seek to find out if what they want is what God wills for them. Yet, moneychangers today will promise, claim God spoke this ‘deal’ to them, and then cheat the buyers, for they cannot force God to do what they promised to be done.
If Jesus visited that service, He would use a whip and chase them out today, as He did then. He is currently avoiding giving His presence, He is at the door knocking, but the moneychangers are sensing that they had better not invite Him into the site, for He is still angry at cheating moneychangers.
And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that He did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the Son of David; they were sore displeased,
The spiritual leaders of that day, saw the ‘wonderful things’ and thought they were horrible, for they were not profiting from the miracles, and attention was shifted to their evil ways there, and the accepting of a Messiah that was not one of their group, not of their denominational beliefs.
This was Jesus’ further evidence of what He had proclaimed at and since the Good Shepherd sermon, that He is the Messiah, He has the power to do signs and wonders to prove it. His love for the worshippers, was not bought with a price, was of grace and mercy, and it was given freely.
The enemies translated those wonderful miracles to be horrible and displeasing. How can mankind become so hard hearted, so evil, that their only concern becomes self centered? They were rejecting the Savior, the Messiah, because they suddenly had been removed from their ways of gaining riches.
Hearest thou what these say? ... have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?
They heard ‘praise’ of Jesus to be evil. They saw proof that day of His Messiahship, they saw wonders performed, they saw people blessed. They also had in their doctrines that a Messiah Who would be ‘God with us’ (Emmanuel), would someday come. Yet, He had come not praising them, not allowing them to make money off worshipers of God. So, they saw this all as evil.
True praise and worship can come from little children, who have no ulterior motive for their worship. We see many in our day, whose main goal in their ministry is the wealth they get from those thinking they are doing what the minister said God commanded. God wants worship. He is not hard up for money, but will accept some if it is ‘cheerfully given’. The money is to support the work of winning souls, of discipling more witnesses, of equipping more saints to be miracle workers for those who can’t afford to pay. Too often today, we see that the lame, blind, poor, and downtrodden are forgotten, while the widow’s purse is being robbed, and givers are cheated from the promised blessings of the minister, who is unable to do what he/she said God would do if they paid them the bribery money.
THIS WAS NOT THE ONLY TIME
THAT JESUS CHASED OUT MONEYCHANGERS
Following this triumphal entry, Jesus went to the Temple, and rebuked the moneychangers, chief priests, and scribes. John 2:14 reports a similar visit at the beginning of Jesus' ministry. Probably, Jesus did this each year when He visited the Temple at Passover time.
These moneychangers exchanged Jewish coins for foreign ones. Dishonest moneychanger would give less for a foreign coin that they should, and the greed of the moneychangers was evil. Jesus rebuked such moneychangers for their dishonesty. He likely did this every time He visited the Temple. Too much dishonesty, deceit in raising money, and false pretense in financial affairs has made many a religious group to be a den of robbers. The Lord is very angry even today at the making of worship sites to be no more than a place where some take advantage of others financially.
This is another reason some thought Jesus might be a return of ‘Jeremiah’, for he had a similar message in the Temple. Jeremiah was given revelation from God even back then, that God was angered at the ‘den of robbers’ using His place where He was to be worshipped as a place to rob worshippers of their money. God saw it back then, and now Jesus (One of the Trinity) was personally expressing that same anger that had been on-going for all that time. It is still an on-going anger of the Lord, to see so called ‘ministers’ of the gospel message to cheat, rob, and falsely pay out for money given to them. God wanted a way for even the poorest of people to be blessed and to worship.
"Is this house, which is called by My name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, even I have seen it, saith the Lord."
Previously, Jesus had told the people not to say that He was the Messiah. Now He rebuked the Pharisees' objections and commanded their shouts. The formerly lame, the formerly blind, the witnesses of His miracle power, done freely and with grace, all worshipped Him. The hard hearted, money seeking religious ones were critical and displeased with His kind of ministry.
"And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto Him, Master, rebuke Thy disciples. And He answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out."
They could not shout the praises of Jesus, for they had hatred and jealousy. The followers of Jesus backed down from their praises when they met the agitated ones in Jerusalem. But the recipients of His grace, His free blessings and miracles were praising the Lord, called Him to be the "Son of David" and meant it. Some there that day realized that Jesus is the Messiah. Some there continued their plot to kill Jesus.
The children in the Temple began to call out that Jesus was the "Son of David". Jesus says that these "babes and sucklings" were "perfecting praise." He is quoting from Psalms 8:2, and the last, unquoted part of the verse says that the children praise the Lord in order to drown out the voices of the enemies, and to prevent the enemies from being able to kill Him.
Psalm 8:2 (KJV)
2 Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.
While all the religious leaders were inconsistent, wavering, and unfaithful, there were some new converts to the faith, some new beneficiaries of God’s wonders, some spiritual children who had heard the earlier shouts of faith, and were enbravened now with this further proof, to believe that this One truly is the Messiah. Jesus had one group which made Him proud that day.
GOD WANTS PLACES OF WORSHIP,
PLACES WE GO TO HONOR HIS NAME,
AND DO IT AS A GROUP.
In the Old Testament, when God was having a place built, where He could have His shekinah glory rest, and mankind could approach Him, God had them cleanse that Temple. The cleansing of the Temple in O.T. was done so God’s presence could dwell there. We are the Temple now, and we need to keep ourselves cleansed so that God can give us the full presence of His Person.
We are to ‘gather together’ so the Temples of today, can jointly praise and worship our wonderful Savior.
Jesus expelled the moneychangers from Temple. He did this more than once. We find it during the passion week, but we also find He did it in His first year of His three year ministry.
John 2:12-16 (KJV)
12 After this He went down to Capernaum, He, and His mother, and His brethren, and His disciples: and they continued there not many days.
13 And the Jews' Passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem,
14 And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting:
15 And when He had made a scourge of small cords, He drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables;
16 And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not My Father's house an house of merchandise.
After this He went down to Capernaum, He, and His mother, and His brethren, and His disciples... And the Jews' Passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem
Jesus had been in Cana, 700 feet higher than Capernaum, which was next to the Sea of Galilee. This was a separate time Jesus cleansed the Temple, a time in His first year of ministry, not His last, a time after coming from Capernaum, not this later time of having come from Ephriam.
Notice it calls it the Jew's Passover. It originally was called "the Lord's Passover" (Ex. 12:11,27; Lev. 23:5; Num. 28:16). It had degenerated due to the sins, due to the defiling of the purpose of the holy days to be the ‘Jews' Passover’. The worship days, the worship sites were being invalidated, and nullified by sins of the leaders of their religion.
And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting:
Sheep, oxen, and doves were suitable for sacrifice. But the ‘changers of money’ were selling lambs with spot, oxen that were old and useless now, and doves that were not to be sold at all, but freely given to the poor, so even they could sacrifice. Jesus saw this in His first ministerial trip to Jerusalem.
According to Josephus, 256,500 animals were sacrificed on Passover. The priests sold licenses to the moneychangers, and to those who brought animals to sell, so they were co-conspirators in the fraud.
And when He had made a scourge of small cords, He drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables;
Jesus made a whip of small cords. Interwoven rush-ropes were made into something, not deadly, but something that would make the fraudulent thieves flee, rather than being struck with it. These moneychangers, and sellers were unpopular due to their extortion. The people were conscious that these people were cheating them, inside the place of worship.
And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not My Father's house an house of merchandise
Note that it is to the ones that ‘sold doves’ that Jesus makes this final decree. They were the ones that were selling what was to be given the poorest freely. There are many who could not purchase blessings today. Yet, they starve, do not pay their electric bill, or suffer in some other way to pay some ‘minister’ his demanded amount of money, thinking God told Him to demand it to pay for the blessings, the miracles needed by the poor person. All of God’s gifts are from grace, unmerited favor. Nothing needs purchased. ‘By His stripes’ they can be healed. Jesus has already paid the price. No offering should ever be collected with the purpose of being payment for what Jesus already paid.
Jesus calls this Temple, wherein were all these sins, to be ‘My Father's house’. Jesus used that term, ‘Father’, 60 times of God. We are to have a ‘Father’ -child relationship with God. We come to Him as children, able to ask and freely be given, due to our relationship of now being His family.
WE NEED CLEANSING,
WE NEED TO REMEMBER WE ARE THE TEMPLES,
WE ARE THE DWELLING PLACE OF GOD.
The House of God, which we now are, needs to be pure, cleansed. The devil assaults in many ways, just as the devil assaulted the Temple there in Jerusalem, defiling it, angering the Lord. The devil assaults with many things. When we accept the Lord, we are made into ‘new creations’. As a new creation, we have all the fruit of the Spirit.
Galatians 5:22-23 (KJV)
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law .
Those were in me, in you, in all of the saved. Yet, what has happened? Why do some Christians have no ‘joy’, little ‘love’, fleeting ‘peace’? We find that happens in most Christians, and few have those fruit of the Spirit continuing on and on. We are supposed to have them.
The devil assaults Christians. His attacks are merciless. Other times, he is sly and cunningly slips in attacks. Yet, all these attacks are assaults on our spirits, on our bodies, on our persons.
The television programs glorify selfishness, lusts, greed, avarice, and perversions. We walk through a shopping mall, and hear words that assault our spirit. We see attitudes in the neighborhood which shake our faith, our temperance. We are confronted by the angry, by the ones upset in life, and our meekness and longsuffering are assaulted. The curse upon this world assures that weather chaos, job insecurity, personality conflicts, physical weaknesses, etc cause us to feel assaulted, and battered.
The assaults upon mankind are against our bodies, our souls, and our spirits.
The food we eat has been genetically changed and who knows what we eat. . Society demands prepared, processed foods for ease of meal preparation. Yet, the processing removes the necessary vitamins, nutrients. Society demands lessen our sleep and our rest is not sufficient. Our modern conveniences make exercise to be optional. The body is assaulted by non-nutrient food, insufficient rest, insufficient exercise. The pills mankind has devised to counter those, are full of side effects, requiring more pills with more side effects. The assaults against our bodies are all encouraged by the devil, and seldom fought by the Christians.
The assaults against our soul involves the pornographic world that has filled the magazines, the television programs, the bill boards, the theaters, and the most every venue out there. The soul is also attacked by the language, the vocabulary of the society. The words include blasphemy, cursing, insults, vile humor, insults, and anger. The words fill our ears, pass through our mind. Even when disdained, the words have become so common, our minds are tainted by them. The soul is flooded with the news events reported on television, internet, and in newsprint. The violence, vile and evil actions of man against man, fill the news.
The assaults against our spirit are ‘other gods’ that try to take place of real Lord and Savior. Sports, athletics, education, money, power, fame, in all their forms, are vying for the number one position in your life. Jesus wants and demands to be our only "Lord" in our lives, but other things, many are socially and politically correct, seek to be our lord.
The assaults come daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, to all of us. We wonder why the Lord is not as real to us, we wonder why we have physical and spiritual trials. The assaults need identified, and fought.
Instead, many come to times of fear and loss of control. There is sometimes not even time to figure out what is happening. We may panic, we may lose focus of what is important. We can grow cold and calloused, we can feel physical and mental changes in our person. Yet, we are saved, but still assaulted. In some ways we are helpless, we cannot leave this world yet. The assaults are going to continue till we meet Jesus in heaven.
The curse upon this world, the oppression by devils, the weakness of our flesh all bring assaults on the love, joy, peace, longsuffering, etc. that we had the moment of salvation. We need to have catharsis of our spirit to cleanse out the assault damages. These are not random events, but a daily confrontation, impossible to totally avoid. If we don’t want to live a Christian life that is missing much love and joy, we need to face these troublesome ravishments of our spirit.
When facing the assaults of the devil, our heart rate may quicken, our blood pressure may rise, our throat may choke, and our hands and feet may tingle. The assaults on our spirit are no laughing matter. We may feel like we are unsaved, or we may feel this is really what the Christian life is. Both those are incorrect. God wants us to be ‘more than conquerors through Christ.’ The Lord wants us to have ‘life abundantly’. We are told to ‘walk in the Spirit’. It is time we get a handle on the kind of daily healing we need to face the ‘facts’ of life on a cursed world.
The devil would like to make us feel as though we are helpless, and that impending trouble and its resulting effect on the fruit of the Spirit in our lives is inevitable. The assault may be inevitable, the loss of joy, peace, love, etc is not inevitable. We do not need to awaken every morning in a state of fear and stress.
Some Christians have resorted to prescription drugs and alcohol to settle their stress. That adds another assault to our lives. Emotions get out of control, with anger, depression, stress, panic attacks, and sullenness to be where joy in the Lord should be. Some, if not most, begin to live a worldly life, feeling the joy they thought they would have when becoming a Christian. Drugs and alcohol never help. In fact, they are a big part of the devil’s plan for his assault on us.
The assaults cause many to live in disregard to what God wants for us. God still wants His Temples, i.e we the saints, to be places of worship, of love and adoration. He wants us to be filled with a life of miracles.
We are Christians. We are different. We are not citizens of this world anymore. We are sojourners here, waiting for our Father to call us home to heaven. We are His Temples, where worship, honor, gospel speaking, and miracles are to be.
The world should notice a difference in us. Our whole life should reflect Jesus. We should not watch the lustful movies, speak the curse words heard from others, think the angry and selfish ways the world does. Anything that separates us from Jesus’ presence is an assault. Anything that defiles His Temples angers Him. He wants to chase the moneychangers, the fraudulent things from us.
"Be not conformed to the world..."
Some want to be a little like the world, and a little like the Lord. They try to be on both sides. Their escape from the assaults of the devil, is to join his ranks, allow sin to be a normal in their lives. They let worldliness be their way of life.
The awful truth, that new converts must be forewarned, is that in churches, in places where the Temples of the Lord are to gather and worship together, there are some who make a profession of Christianity who no longer, or who never did, have a real relationship with Jesus. Some maintain the outward profession. Some hold high positions in the church. Some have much Bible knowledge. Somewhere in their Christian life, they lost the real relationship with Jesus. The actions of these persons are often an assault. Christianity is not a church membership, it is a relationship with the eternal God. Some in the churches, living worldly, carnal lives, assault verbally, socially, the saints in the church. There are modern day ‘moneychangers’. There are modern day Pharisees, and scribes who preach a defiled message.
We, as the Temples of God, are to ‘cast all our cares upon God.’
1 Peter 5:7 (KJV)
Casting all your care upon him; for He careth for you.
Then we are to ‘make our requests known to God.’
Philippians 4:6-7 (KJV)
Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
The moneychangers of today are to be chased form our places of joint worship, we the Temples of God are to freely enjoy the blessings of being in God’s grace and mercy.
We need to do as did the Lord, and take a ‘whip’, a spiritual whip, and ‘assault’ the devil. The praise, the worship, the thinking of good thoughts about the mercy of God, all assault the devil. He wants to discourage us with bad thoughts, we discourage him with good thoughts.
Philippians 4:7-8 (KJV)
And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
Matthew 6:25-26 (KJV)
Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?
Jesus took a whip, and chased from the Temple the moneychangers. We are now the Temples of the Lord. We need to chase from ourselves the doctrines, the evil money grabbing schemes of frauds in the churches, frauds on television and radio, and frauds in the mailings we receive. We need not heed their extortions of selling blessings they do not possess, nor can truly provide. We need to clean up our Temples, and our places where the Temples gather to worship together.