Thursday, June 18, 2009

Hot Day in the Temple

“…for My house will be called a house of prayer for all the nations.” (Isaiah 56:7c)

Remember the cleansing of the temple incident? Jesus made a whip, turned over money changer tables, and drove all the vendors and their animals out of the temple. He said, “It is written, ‘My house will be a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves.” That was righteous indignation on display.

Many assume Jesus did not like all the animals and the trading going on in the temple, and that this was the motivation for His actions. That may be part of it, but a closer look shows us the real motivation. For that, we look to Isaiah.

Isaiah prophesied a time when the temple would have a place for the Gentiles. Following the exile, the Israelites followed up on that and added the “Court of the Gentiles” just outside the Court of the Women. Its purpose was to provide a place where the Gentiles, the “nations,” who want to worship God could go to pray and give their offerings and sacrifices. By the time of Jesus’ arrival on the scene, the Court of the Gentiles had been turned into a trading post. What incensed Jesus was that worship and prayer were being denied to the Gentiles, so that vendors could make their money. Worse, that was a clear statement that the Gentiles had zero worth. It was evidence that once again the Israelites missed the point: they were supposed to be a light to the Gentiles, so that the Gentiles too could enter into fellowship with God. This was the real issue in the heart of Jesus when He took this strong action.

The gospel of Jesus is for everyone or no one.

Lord, Help us to share the gospel with everyone who will listen, and help us to not make excuses for not sharing. Amen.

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