IT’S SUPPOSED TO BE A HOUSE OF PRAYER!

Matt 21:12-14
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 money changers, 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.

(I guess this is sort of a sequel (or maybe prequel?) thought to yesterday’s post)

Do you know why Jesus drove the money-changers out of the temple?  Was it because He didn’t like the rich?  Or was it – perhaps more probably – because He loved the poor?

The practice, itself, seems bizarre to us – that there would be buying, and selling in the temple, where did the idea come from?  Why would the priesthood stoop so low as to allow such a practice to take place in the house of God?!  (Hind-sight is 20/20, isn’t it?)

Did you know that from the foundation of the temple ministry, the selling of sacrificial animals was NOT forbidden?  In fact, not only was the practice NOT FORBIDDEN, it was actually PRESCRIBED in the Torah?  I’ll say that again – the practice of buying and selling was not only ALLOWED, but Moses had given laws regarding it in Torah.  (See Leviticus 5:15 & 16  and Leviticus 27).

The buying and selling of sacrifices as according to the ‘sanctuary shekel’ was how those who didn’t own livestock, or cattle could sacrifice unto the Lord.  Not only was the buying and selling of sacrifices in the temple ALLOWED, but it was actually a LEGITIMATE MINISTRY.  Not everyone HAD livestock, but living sacrifices needed to be made for the atonement of sin – the people could, therefore, purchase an ox, or a dove, or a lamb, or goat, depending on the sacrifice they needed right there in the temple.

I have heard people speak of this story many times from the perspective that Jesus drove out the money changers because the priests were ‘exploiting’ the poor.  Is this True?  Actually no, not at all – in fact to a large degree we only think that way because we grew up in a culture where socialism, and capitalism have been at war with each other as long as we’ve been alive.  The selling of offerings was not exploiting the poor – how else were the poor (those without cattle) to have their sins atoned for?  Buying and selling sacrifices in the temple was a concession FOR the poor!

So… wait a minute… if what I am saying here is true, and this command was prescribed by Moses, I.e. it was a FULLY SCRIPTURAL, AND VALID MINISTRY, why WOULD Jesus drive the money changers out of the temple?!

This particular act had nothing to do with compassion for MAN per say.  Jesus did not drive the changers of money out of the temple for the sake of the poor, or ANY MAN.  He did what He did, in this case, EXCLUSIVELY FOR THE LOVE OF GOD.  After this happened, while the dust was settling, and everyone is staring in bewilderment at the usually calm and collected Messiah whose hands are trembling in rage – all wondering why the man of God would attack the church’s finance committee… His disciples remembered that it was written: ‘The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.‘  (John 2:17)

What did Jesus say when He drove the money changers out of the temple?  Was it, ‘You leave these poor people alone!’  No?  No!  He said: ‘It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.‘ (Matt 21:13; Mark 11:17; Luke 19:46)

Wow… this ought to tell us something.  It told the Jews something… it told the Disciples even more.  Why was Jesus upset about the money changers?  Was this ministry not prescribed by Moses?  Were they not making it possible for all, rich and poor alike, to make atonement for their sins?

Ah, but they had neglected the weightier matters of the law!  You know there are things more important, and things less important in God?  Yes, in Matthew 23:23 Jesus declared that there are WEIGHTIER MATTERS OF THE LAW.  Specifically, these weightier matters are: ‘judgment, mercy, and faith.’  (Again, see Matt 23:23).

So what was the problem?  Why did Jesus take the time to make a scourge of cords, and then let loose in anger against money changers?  The problem was that they had neglected THE PRINCIPAL PURPOSE OF THE TEMPLE!!!

Jesus came into the temple, and instead of seeing a few money changers booths off to one side, while the priests taught and prayed for the congregants, HE SAW THE PRIESTS DOING NOTHING BUT TRYING TO MAKE MONEY!  The finance team had become the principal ministry in the Temple of God!  Instead of preaching, teaching, and praying for the people, the priests were spending all their time in budget meetings – instead of doing the duties of the priest’s office, they had become SALESPEOPLE!

IT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE AN HOUSE OF PRAYER!  They were supposed to be HELPING THE PEOPLE, instead they were all wrapped up in their financial ‘ministry’ – but somebody’s got to keep the church afloat, right?

Notice the whole context of the passage, which I quoted at the beginning:

Matt 21:12-14
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 money changers, 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.

The account in Luke declares that after driving out the money changers, He TAUGHT DAILY in the temple (Luke 19:47).  What does that mean?  It means that JESUS started doing the PRIEST’S job!

Where was the priest to pray for the sick?  Where was the priest to direct those who were out of the way?  Where was the priest to TEACH the people?  That is what they were supposed to be doing in the temple – not spending all their time, turning a buck!

It is called the house of prayer for a reason!  Why did Jesus have to come into the temple and do the priest’s job for them?!  Why did Jesus have to heal the sick in the temple?  Where was the anointing that was supposed to be on the priests for that?  They hadn’t found it important enough to pursue!  Jesus had to do the most important ministry (the TEMPLE MINISTRY) Himself – and train some fishermen to take over because they priest’s weren’t doing the temple ministry.

How about us?  What does our ministry look like?  Have we made our house the house of prayer?  Do we spend the greater part of our time praying for the sick, and teaching the Word?  Or is there some other ministry that we give our time to?  This message wasn’t really just about money – it was a message about what is important, what is in the heart of God.  ‘The zeal for thine house hath eaten me up.’

Are you a Christian?  Then YOU ARE the temple – know ye not, know ye not YE are the temple (1 Cor 3:16)!  What is your primary focus, Christian?  Are we about the will of God – or business as usual?

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2 thoughts on “IT’S SUPPOSED TO BE A HOUSE OF PRAYER!

  1. Pingback: WHERE is the Israel of God? ‘Know ye not, ye are His Temple?’ – pnuematicrain

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