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Monday - Cleansing the Temple

 


"12 And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves. 13 And He *said to them, "It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’; but you are making it a robbersden."

14 And the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them. 15 But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that He had done, and the children who were shouting in the temple, "Hosanna to the Son of David," they became indignant 16 and said to Him, "Do You hear what these children are saying?" And Jesus *said to them, "Yes; have you never read, ‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies You have prepared praise for Yourself’?" 17 And He left them and went out of the city to Bethany, and spent the night there."
 
Good Morning my beloved,
 
We welcome you to worship in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. What a joy it is to be studying the Gospel of Matthew. It is a privilege and an honor to preach verse by verse. It is a joy to have all of you here with us today. We are trusting and believing God to do exciting new things this year, not only through this ministry in reaching the lost, but in and through the lives of His people,
not to subject men or his laws. May we seek to be where He wants us to be, so that hearts are turned to Christ. Let us continue to pray for God’s mercy on our church families, extended families, our community, our country, and our world.
 
Spring is a wonderful time of year, a time when the snow and cold weather is gone; birds are beginning to sing in abundance; the grass and flowers start growing. A time to tidy up our yards and our houses, preparing to do a bit of spring cleaning. Imagine Jesus Christ coming into the church to do a little spring cleaning of His own. I wonder what He would say we were doing wrong. One thing for sure, the Church is not perfectly under his control because we still desire to keep some of the control ourselves. If Jesus were actually the Head of the church, his disciples would be obedient. Obedience is the first rule of discipleship. 
 
I dare say, the Holy Spirit has left the majority of the churches today, and nobody has seemed to notice any difference. I believe Jesus would not be pleased with what His church is doing to impact our culture, that His command to preach the gospel to all the world is not being properly carried out. I believe in order to fulfill His command, we need to go to where the people are, in the same way Jesus went into Samaria to share the gospel message with the woman at the well.
 
In today’s passage, we’re going to see how Jesus brought correction to the religious leaders of Jerusalem, as you can imagine that they weren’t pleased when Jesus starts to really shake things up by doing a little cleaning in His house. And shake things up He does!

First, let us pray
 
Heavenly Father,
 
Father, thank You for Your Word, it is with grateful hearts, we humbly worship You today. Lord, grant us a hunger for Your Word, a love for the truth, love for others as we grow in knowledge.
Help us to be willing to receive it. Lord, protect these beloved people from the defilement of false teaching and religion. Open up Your Word to those who truly seek You, that they may have a clear, full understanding of the truth, Your truth. May our hearts be filled the joyful truth of salvation through Christ, let our rejoicing increase our worship and obedience.
In Jesus' name we ask and pray
Amen

Today's Message: Monday - Cleansing the Temple
 
This is one of those passages that a lot of people have trouble believing, it doesn’t fit the nature of One so loving and compassionate. There is the popular view today, that suggests truth is subjective, which is dependent upon our personal preferences and perspective rather than a universal, undeniable reality that presupposes the concept of ultimate absolute truth.

Truth is that is inviolable and consistent, it is unchangeable, settled in reality and cannot contradict itself. Truth and reality are always in perfect agreement in every respect. Truth, unlike philosophy, is not subject to the self-expression of one's opinion, interpretation or perspective.

Truth is the ultimate, unchanging reality of God, the author, source and final judge of truth. Truth is the eternal, infallible, standard by which all other truth must be measured. Because God is embodiment of all that is true, truth must be defined in terms of God.

Because Satan is the father of lies, the author of confusion, he seeks to deconstruct every claim to truth. Which if you have been paying attention to the world around us, has spawned a host of humanistic ideologies and worldviews with devastating repercussions.

The idea that nothing is certain is merely an illusion, incapable of asserting whether or not anything is actually true or good. If we are unable to know anything for certain, if truth is unknowable, how can we then judge what is right or wrong, good or evil, apart from a clear definition of truth? If right and wrong, good and evil are redefined in terms of subjective feelings and personal perspectives, is to suggest that nothing we know or might know, can ever be regarded as settled.

It is deeply disturbing this insanity has infiltrated the visible church, determined to adapt the gospel message to the rhetoric of the culture. It's no wonder why so many churches are dying, and have become a battleground. God is purging His Church by weeding out weak believers and the false church.

The clear and authoritative reliability of the Word of God does not reconcile well with the new evangelistic approach to biblical teaching, it has abandoned biblical truth by reading a few selective passages, then preach a message that contradicts everything else Scripture teaches. No lie is of the truth, regardless of who tells it.
 
Open your Bibles, to the twenty-first chapter in the Gospel of Matthew. Matthew chapter twenty-one, verses twelve through seventeen. Matthew 21:12-17. Follow along with me, if you will as I read these six verses to you. I invite you to open your hearts and your minds, to hear what God has for us today. 

And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves. And He *said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’; but you are making it a robbers’ den.”

"And the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them. But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that He had done, and the children who were shouting in the temple, "Hosanna to the Son of David," they became indignant and said to Him, "Do You hear what these children are saying?" And Jesus *said to them, "Yes; have you never read, ‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies You have prepared praise for Yourself’?" And He left them and went out of the city to Bethany, and spent the night there."

Let's look at verse 12, "And Jesus entered the temple of God and drove out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves." As Jesus goes into the temple of God, and stands in the Court of the Gentiles. He sees a horrifying but familiar scene, they had filled it with just about everything. I suppose they felt if Gentiles could be there, so could anything else. People were being extorted, because they would pay dearly, all in the name of religion. So, by overturning tables of the money changers, I believe Jesus is making a clear indictment to the chief priests and scribes, as to the nature of His kingdom is not as the kingdoms of this world.  
 
In order for us to really understand the significance of Jesus’ actions, we need to understand how important the Temple was in Jesus’ day. The temple was the center of everything, religiously, politically, culturally, and even economically. The growing number of walls pushing back of people from God, contrast God’s prescription in the tabernacle and in Solomon’s temple. It's as if they think they could live however they pleased, do whatever they wanted, and because they had the temple God to overlook their sin. Allow me to point out, that  God’s holiness was never intended to push people away, but rather to draw us to Him for forgiveness and salvation. As a footnote, some manuscripts that omit the "of God," others include it. However, when textual differences arise, I tend to want to leave them. Especially here, when you consider the text, I believe it makes that He would have affirmed the temple of God in contrast to the sheer ungodliness of its activities. The activities in the temple is the issue. As long the house of God had abandoned God, so would the nation be wrong. 1 Peter 4:17, "For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God," to demonstrate His vengeance against sin, and desecration, and blasphemy, and false religion. He is on a divine mission to show them again how God feels about the evils of men.
 
Then He makes a very bold statement, one that cannot be easily misunderstood in verse 13, "And He *said to them, "It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’; but you are making it a robbers’ den."
Jesus gets right to the point, the temple is to worship God. He's quoting from Isaiah 56, "For My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples." He didn't need to finish it, the religious leaders would have known the last three words. God’s desire was that all people would have opportunity to draw near to Him. Even the inscription on the inner wall was in contrast to God's desire: "No foreigner is to enter the barriers surrounding the sanctuary. He who is caught will have himself to blame for his death which will follow." 
 
Though Jesus doesn’t challenge the architecture, He does express indignation that this place, designed to allow people to worship God, has instead, become a marketplace. He is rejecting the entire enterprise system that had evolved around worship. Make no mistake, this was an enterprise, one that has sidetracked God's intended purpose of being a house of prayer and worship for all people. For those of you who think Jesus is always some meek, lowly, and gentle, think again. Mark adds "overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves; and He would not permit anyone to carry merchandise through the temple. There was no way to stop Him, He has divine authority! If you want to know how God feels about the prosperity gospel, He just threw everybody out that was involved in the enterprise disguised as worship. Can you imagine, tables, crates and stools over turned, money going everywhere, animals running all over the place, they've never seen anyone do anything like it. This is righteous anger, rejecting their pursuits of wealth and high status. And they are committing their blasphemous acts of extortion and robbery in God’s house

I believe that His willingness to upset the things characterize the lives of men, is a confrontational call to radical, hold-nothing back discipleship, threatening our own uncontrollable, sold-out, comfortable lives. If you consider the text in those spiritual terms, this is really an amazing picture of what is to come for many who have their own ideas of how things are to be done, who have lost the purpose for their existence, worshipping God. How might Christ come and cleanse your temple? I pray you don't miss the point.
 
So Jesus comes to Jerusalem, knowing full well He would face death and He enters the most public place in the city, makes a huge scene by visibly rejecting the entire social, cultural, and religious order of a corrupt system. Then, without missing a beat, in the midst all the debris, He perfectly illustrates a balance of God's holy vengeance and compassion, by performing a number of healing miracles on a group of people that were forbidden from entering the temple at all. Look at verse 14, "And the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them." I love that. 
 
Do you think they admired His compassion for those who were blind and lame being healed? No, they were blind to what Jesus was doing, they gave no thought for them, they became upset to see people healed because they had been making money! Verse 15, "But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that He had done, and the children who were shouting in the temple, "Hosanna to the Son of David," they became indignant." They were so furious they couldn't bear to hear children shouting praise. They had their own way of doing things in the temple, and Jesus was disrupting all of them. We should pity those today in the church whose personal goals and selfish ambitions take over overshadow God given direction, relying on human strength and management systems rather than the Holy Spirit and the spiritually discerned truth of God. They are ripe for judgement and cleansing!
 
You would those who claimed to be righteous, who know the Word of God, they would have recalled the words of Malachi 3, "I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come," says the Lord Almighty."

But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver."
 
Or Jeremiah 7:11, "Has this house, which bears my Name, become a den of robbers to you? But I have been watching! declares the Lord.

Jesus didn't recognize their piety, self-righteousness, self ascribed holiness, He confronted them as sinners, in need of something they did not possess, a Savior, but they rejected Him. They saw Him heal the sick, the blind and the lame, He raised the dead, He forgave sin, something they knew no man could ever do, He had divine power and they accused Him of having the power of Satan. You would think they would have gotten the message; instead they were furious and plotted to kill Him. Mark 11 tells us "The chief priests and the scribes...began seeking how to destroy Him; for they were afraid of Him, for the whole crowd was astonished at His teaching." 

 Verse 16, "And said to Him, "Do You hear what these children are saying?" And Jesus *said to them, "Yes; have you never read, ‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies You have prepared praise for Yourself’?" Can you believe that? You can commit robbery and extortion, heinous crimes against the poor in that place, but you can't worship the One True God? I believe it was pretty clear who He was. I cannot imagine what more they needed to recognize His credentials, His supernatural power, His divine authority, all that proves beyond all doubt that He was the Messiah. Yet, they rejected Him, over and over again.

That brings us to verse 17, "And He left them and went out of the city to Bethany, and spent the night there." That simple act speaks volumes. Genesis 6:3a says "Then the Lord said, "My Spirit will not contend with humans forever." And He left them, there comes a time when God leaves. This a huge demonstration, the evidence was overwhelming, but they were so spiritually blind, they couldn't see it. He didn’t fit their vision of the Messiah. How often do we reject something God is doing to bless us in our lives but because it doesn't look like what we would expect, we reject it? Or He comes to us in the form of someone else, telling us we're not worshiping Him as He wants? And we resent it. How often does He call us to show compassion on those in need and we have other plans for our money? Jesus has the authority to cleanse the temple, our temple, anyway that He wants. Or we put up our own walls in church, to keep certain people out, as though they're unworthy to praise God.
 
In Closing..
 
The world around is changing, and it's not for the better. Biblical values are not only being challenged, and condemned, unrighteous government leaders are attempting to removed from public view. During the covid-19 pandemic, they closed churches and forbid us to obey the clear command to assemble ourselves, making joyful noise unto the Lord. While liquor stores and strip clubs were deemed "essential businesses."
 
I believe we have a window of opportunity, like Jesus did, to effect change in they way things are being done in the world in which we live. Not by over turning tables, but by our radical discipleship. Perhaps God will never call us to change the entire world, the way Jesus and the disciples did, but I believe He does call each one of us to do something. There is a very real sense in which change must begin with us. In our text, we see Jesus over turning tables, disrupting the routines of the self-righteous, I believe today, He's shaking things up in the house of God because we have not shown Him proper worship.  Jesus cared about worship then, and He cares about worship today! I encourage you to pause for a few moments to let that sink in. Examine your own heart and your mind. Don't just settle for religious rituals and routines, praise Him, He is worthy.

May it be so..

And now may the Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make His face shine upon you,

And be gracious to you;

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.

Now and forever, in Jesus' name
Amen

 
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