Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Mark 11:15-19 Jesus Cleanses the Temple

15 So they came to Jerusalem. Then Jesus went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. 16 And He would not allow anyone to carry wares through the temple. 17 Then He taught, saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’ ” 18 And the scribes and chief priests heard it and sought how they might destroy Him; for they feared Him, because all the people were astonished at His teaching. 19 When evening had come, He went out of the city.

After Jesus cursed the fig tree He now goes on and re-enters Jerusalem with the twelve (not the throng of multitudes as He had the previous day for His public declaration or unveiling as the Messiah to Jerusalem). Therefore what transpires today is Jesus Christ’s work as the Messiah (before His crucifixion death) in cleansing His Father’s house, the Temple, that was to be a place of prayer for all nations, but instead under the auspices of the Sanhedrin counsel, the religious counsel headed up by the high priest; and thus the counsel at that time over saw all the religious affairs of Israel. Though their primary influence lay in Jerusalem, and specifically the Temple and its ministry, where the chief priests of the sons of Levi ministered, yet they had allowed God’s House to become a den of thieves.
Nonetheless God’s House, the Temple, which symbolized God’s Presence amongst His people was to be a sacred place; a place where all people’s who sought God and His mercies, could come and find Him (1 Kings 8:22-52). That is what King Solomon prayed at his dedication of the original Temple, after God Himself filled the Temple with the glory of His Presence, after both Solomon and people consecrated it to Him (1 Kings 8:1-21). Therefore God’s House which bears His Name to all peoples was to be a place where anyone could seek Him and find His mercies, (Isaiah 56:1-7). Instead it had become a “den of thieves.” And as the Old Testament prophets reveal, when that happens, God’s response is unequivocal (See Jeremiah 7:1-11).
Now we know how it became a den of thieves; by allowing the buying and selling of goods in the Temple courts required for God’s commanded offerings, and thus worship of God became a means for profiteering; which the Lord Jesus upon visiting the Temple; twice took great offense at. And in this most evil practice, they made those foreigners who were seeking God exchange their money through currency exchangers, that they allowed in the Temple courts and through these charged an extremely unjust rate for the Temple coinage, which they required of the worshippers (Consider Micah 6:8-11).

It also became a den thieves in that they were profiteering off their own who were commanded by God; that is all males over twenty years of age; who were three times a year under the law to appear before Him (Ex.34:21-24) and bring their offerings to Him on their yearly Feasts, the principal one being the Passover. And since some could not make the journey by bringing their sacrifices with them, they allowed sellers of these things to set up a market in court of the Gentiles, where these could be purchased, of course at a profit for the sellers; all which is contrary to God’s Holiness and purposes for both His House and His sacrifices revealed in both the Law and prophets. And which the Lord Jesus thoroughly rebuked, when seeing these practices at His first Temple visitation, He said of these things: …“Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!” John 2:16

While in Jesus’ second visitation, just before His betrayal and crucifixion death He says that they have made His Father’s House “a den of thieves”. For the first always precedes the second. Since the peddling of “wares” in God’s House inevitably leads to an environment where the thieves will find a sanctuary for themselves (2 Cor. 2:17; 1 Tim. 6:5-10; 2 Peter 2; Jude 3-19). Therefore Jesus’ cleansing the Temple was clearly to fulfill prophecy in opposing all such practices amongst the sons of Levi and in God’s House (Malachi 3:1-3; Psalm 69:9). Because God’s house is to be as Jesus said “a house of prayer for all nations”, not a place where thieves, as Jesus calls them, can profiteer or peddle their goods, since God’s house, and distinctly God’s people are to be called out from the abominations of the world around us (Rev. 18:3-4). For when one reads Revelations chapter eighteen, one sees a real connection between evil and those who for love of profit align themselves with it (Consider Luke 16:13-15; 1 John 2:15-17).

Now upon cleansing God’s house Jesus will heal those who were blind and lame in the Temple. Which would cause praise to rise up to God in the Temple by the children there, thus fulfilling the Word of God Yet this would only bring about the indignation of the chief priests and scribes there (Matt. 21:10-17). For Mark’s gospel declares that upon hearing Jesus’ Words the scribes and chief priests wanted to destroy Him. Yet they feared the people and thus they refrained, for the people were astonished with His teaching.

Now Jesus’ cleansing of Temple also reveals Himself as not only Lord of the Temple, but also that God’s house is His Body; that is where John’s gospel picks up on Jesus’ first Temple cleaning (See John 2:19-22). In sense this the Temple is His literal Body as He said, in another Christ’s Body of believers is God’s Temple in that it is through His Spirit He indwells all who believe in Him making each individual believer the Temple of the Lord (John 14:23; Acts 7:48-50; 17:24-25; 1 Cor. 3:16-17; 2 Cor. 6:16-18). For after the Holy Spirit’s outpouring it’s not the Temple made with human hands that sanctifies the worshipper, it is the presence of the Lord indwelling the worshipper. Therefore Jesus Christ the Lord is the true Temple of God for all who believe in God, for only those who believe in Jesus Christ the Lord will enter His Eternal Temple, of both Jews and Gentiles, having their names written in the Lamb’s Book of life (See Rev. 21:1-8, 21:22-27). For it is God in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ who took on human flesh so that He could come and dwell inside all believing men and women (Gal. 2:20) by the Holy Spirit (John 14:23); for it pleased God that in Christ all the fullness of God should dwell (Col. 1:19 paraphrase). For it is by Jesus’ Christ’s death on a cross that God has paid the penalty for all our sins which had separated us from God. Therefore with our sins permanently atoned for God can restore to us what we lost when Adam and Eve sinned and that is life; through the Holy Spirit God restores us to a holy union with Himself when we come to Him by faith in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:13-14).

For salvation from start to finish is purely a work of God, being born out of His love for all people to spare from the judgment to come regardless of their sins. For God rejects no one! Only those who reject His offer to pardon all their sins through His Son Jesus Christ’s crucifixion death will He reject if they choose to carry on in their sins and own ways rather than accept His grace and life transformation for them. Therefore God invites everyone to partake of His life by believing in His Son. For the Lord Jesus Christ’s invitation to new and everlasting life is to all: "And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely." Rev. 22:17

Scripture Quotations
The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

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