April 11 I Monday
1 Samuel 17-18
“Jesus entered the Temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money-changers and the benches of those selling doves.” —Matthew 21:12
One of the first things that Jesus did, after He entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, was to clear out the Temple mount of money-changers and sellers. As Jesus was doing this, He said, “It is written, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’”
Quoting from the Old Testament, Jesus was giving us an indicator as to what He was doing. This was a common rabbi teaching strategy unique to the New Testament times. We could refer to it as “stringing pearls.” When people heard an Old Testament reference, they would go back to the Old Testament passage to get a deeper understanding of what was going on.
Part of Jesus’s statement quoted Isaiah 56:7, “for My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.” In greater context, Isaiah 56 talked about God welcoming all the nations into the Temple. In other words, the Temple was meant to be a place where all nations could gather to worship and experience the joy of who God is. But during Jesus’s time, the Temple had become a corrupt system in the court of the Gentiles. Instead of being a house of prayer, it had become a house of profit. How? For anyone travelling to worship the God of Israel in Jerusalem from distant nations, when they got to the Temple, they would have to exchange their currency. The money lenders would give them bad exchange rates. Also, a premium price was charged for animals sold on the Temple mount for sacrifice in the Temple. Where the nation of Israel was meant to be a light to the Gentiles, it had become a misrepresentation of who God is. They were exploiting the poor and taking advantage of the people.
By quoting from Isaiah 56:7, Jesus was embedding a message to the priests and religious leaders in charge of the Temple ground, as later in that chapter Isaiah wrote, “Israel’s watchmen are blind, they all lack knowledge; they are all mute dogs, they cannot bark; they lie around and dream, they love to sleep. They are dogs with mighty appetites; they never have enough. They are shepherds who lack understanding; they all turn to their own way, they seek their own gain” (Isaiah 56:10-11). Jesus was exposing the hypocrisy and sin of the priests and the religious leaders. It was as if Jesus was saying, “Stop pretending to be righteous. I know there is sin right under the surface of your life. Do you really think that you could escape God’s gaze?”
Is there something we need to confess and clear out of ourselves—”Our Temple”—today?
Prayer: Precious Jesus, I confess of times when I pretend to be righteous in front of others while walking in sin. Make me a true light and a representation of who You are to this broken world. Thank You, Lord.