July 7

Text: Matthew 21:12, 13

And Jesus entered the temple and cast out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the moneychangers 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." (NASB)

The only time the gospels record Jesus being angry at people and venting that anger was when religious leaders produced a money-making opportunity from God’s teachings.  Jesus was exploited, pursued unjustly, falsely accused, deliberately misrepresented, subjected to the ignorance of others, misunderstood by those who should have understood, survived traps, and shown no mercy, but he did not express anger.  However, when religious leaders misrepresented God, he did not endure that!

The Bible scripture used as a basis for selling animals in the temple area was Deuteronomy 14:24-27.  Pigeons (doves) were the offering of the poor (Leviticus 1:14; 5:7; 12:8).

Note three things.  (1) The opportunity to sell an offering at home and use the money at the site of worship to buy an offering existed as an accommodation to the worshipper who traveled a significant distance.  This provision did not exist to create a means to exploit the worshipper.  (Imagine the difficulties of taking an animal to the worship site when there were no trucks, no paved roads, and no wire fences—not to speak of food for the animal or the crowded paths!)

(2) The offering was to be a celebration.  The one who made the offering participated through a meal.  It was the declaration that God had blessed the worshipper.  He praised God for His blessings!  Thus, the worshipper focused on blessings and acknowledged God as the Source of blessings.

(3) A person living in the extreme southern or northern regions had a significant trip to make on foot or by donkey.  Though the Nation of Israel was a small country, walking to a national assembly would be a sizeable task for many.  (When is the last time you walked 50 miles?)

The temple was a place of prayer, not a site of commerce.  When time permits, read Solomon’s dedication of the temple in 1 Kings 8:27-54.  To pervert the temple’s purpose offended God—and Jesus.

Suggestion for reflection: When is praise of God transformed to commerce for people?  (Read Jeremiah 7:1-11.)

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