Matthew 21:12-13 (Jesus Cleanses the Temple, Part 2)

Consider again how the temple had become a religious marketplace that the puppet leaders of the Jews who were supported by Rome profited from; is there a similar way that some houses of worship today, that are supposed to be the temple of God (1Co 3:16), have also become religious marketplaces that puppet leaders of Christians who are supported by the world profit from?  What sorts of things are bought and sold in today’s religious marketplace?  What does the Scripture passage that Jesus quoted in cleansing the temple indicate the temple was supposed to be?  See Mat 21:13, Mar 11:17, Isa 56:6-8 and cf. 1Ti 2:1-8; note also that the buying and selling within the temple took place in the Court of the Gentiles.  In contrast to a quiet place of prayer marked by true holiness and piety, what sort of witness to the true God would the temple worship that was marred by an animal market and secular business transactions have had to the Gentile nations, especially as they perceived the hypocrisy of how such religion was being used to exploit people for the sake of financial gain?  How is that like today?  Think: does not the conscience of every person, pagan or pious, bear witness to them that such pretense is wrong, no matter how others might seek to justify it?  Throughout the history of mankind, what has happened to the polluted temples of God’s people at the hands of the Gentile nations to which they had ceased to be a witness, and what warning does this have for us today?  See Jer 7:11-15, Mat 24:1-2, Rev 17:1-5,16-18, 18:1-7.  Should it concern us that the mostly poor, uneducated people in the church of the first century that turned the world upside down marketed nothing to finance its operation and had no marketing strategy for church growth other than the simplicity and purity of their devotion to Christ and their obedience to proclaim the gospel?  Cf. Isa 55:1-2, Mat 11:28-30.  How is this different from the way many Christian organizations operate today?

As opposed to a house of prayer for all nations, what did Jesus say the temple had become?  See Mat 21:13, Mar 11:17.  From the words Jesus used, are we to understand that the merchandising that was going on wasn’t as bad as it might have seemed to some people because it was providing an important convenience that facilitated the temple worship?  Are we to suppose from His words that the guilt of those He confronted was mitigated by the greater good of making it easier for God’s people to worship Him and whatever pollution had happened in the temple was just a misfortunate consequence to a necessary expedience?  After all, didn’t Jesus know what the law required in regard to the temple worship and that the money to finance it had to come from somewhere?  What does this teach us about how our own justifications for things that defile God’s temple today would stand up if Jesus were to suddenly appear and perform a similar cleansing?  Is it conceivable that many of the upheavals churches experience in regard to their finances are in fact a similar sort of cleansing from the Lord?

What is the difference between a robber and a thief?  See Mat 26:55, 27:38, Luk 10:30, Joh 18:40, 2Co 11:26; Jer 2:26, Joe 2:9, Mat 24:43, Joh 12:6.  Notice that a robber is more associated with theft by open violence whereas a thief is more associated with theft done in secret; thus a robber is necessarily a thief, but a thief may or may not be a robber (cf. Joh 10:10).  What is the significance then of Jesus’ description of those He confronted as robbers?  What does such a description teach us about the violence God sees in such things?  What is the violence in such things?  Cf. Eze 22:26, 28:15-16, Mic 6:11-12, Zep 3:3-4.

What is the significance of Jesus’ description of the temple becoming a den or cave of robbers?  Think: for what purposes would a band of robbers retire to a cave?  Cf. Gen 19:30, Jos 10:16, Jdg 6:2, 1Sa 13:6, 22:1, 1Ki 18:4.  In what way had those whom Jesus confronted made the temple like a cave to protect them and their enterprise?  In what way do some make use of religion in the same way today?  Is God deceived when people seek protection from their crimes by hiding in a den of religion?  Are those whose faith is insincere and plot against their neighbors safe just because they attend church or put on a religious appearance?  Will a form of godliness even as great and beautiful as Herod’s temple protect them from God’s wrath in the day of His anger?  See again Jer 7:8-15, Mat 24:1-2, as well as Rom 2:16.

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