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Monday, September 1, 2014

Cleansing the Temple -- Newly Cleansed Temple -- John 12-24

    Jesus has been revealed as the Word, Light, Life who is God and has come in the fashion of man. He has been revealed as the One who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. Then He is revealed as the One who has transforming , miraculous power. Next Jesus will reveal His authority over His Father’s House by cleansing it. 
    Jesus cleansed the temple at the beginning of His ministry (John 2: 12-24) and at the end (Matthew 21:12-13). Jesus said He is the beginning and the end. (Revelation 1:8; 21:6; 22:13) Jesus had a Mary at His birth and Mary at His death. He had a Joseph at His birth and a Joseph (Arimathea) at His death. He is the Word of God in the beginning of scripture and the Word of God at the end of scripture. (Genesis 1:3; John 1:1-3; Revelation 19:13) God doesn’t change. Jesus doesn’t change and the Holy Spirit doesn’t change because they are God!
          When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. John 2:13 Jesus, his mother, brothers and disciples were in Capernaum. They left Capernaum and went “up” to Jerusalem during the time of the feast of Passover. Every male over the age of twenty according to the Law were commanded to go to Jerusalem for three of the seven feasts -- Passover/Unleavened Bread, Pentecost and Tabernacles. There would be several hundred thousand people in Jerusalem at this time. The streets and the courts of the temple would be full of people so any business would be lucrative including the buying and selling of animals for sacrifice and changing money.
          In the temple He found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. V14 The temple is a sacred place and is not to be used for merchandizing. God’s presence in His shekinah glory dwelt in the Most Holy Place in the temple. Wherever the presence of God dwells is sacred and holy and is to remain holy. When the Word and presence of God was speaking to Moses in the burning bush, He told Moses to remove his shoes because he was standing on holy ground. (Exodus 3:5) In another instance, God wouldn’t let the Israelites “go up the mountain or touch the foot of it. Whoever touches the mountain shall surely be put to death.” Exodus 19:12-13 God’s presence was going to be on the mountain so God told Moses to put boundaries around it that the people were not to cross. If a sinful man crossed the boundaries of God’s holy presence, he would surely die. It is wonderful that God sent His Son so sinful man can come boldly before God's presence simply because of Jesus' sacrifice.

The Temple
     The temple was the center of Jewish life. The Jews and converted gentiles would go to the temple to sacrifice for their sin and receive God’s forgiveness so eventually they could inherit eternal life. This eternal life would not come to the Older Testament saints until Jesus, the True Temple of God, sacrificed His life and blood on the cross and was resurrected. The Older Testament saints would follow behind Jesus into the heavenly sanctuary. 
       When Solomon was building the Temple of the Lord, the stones had to be prepared and cut to their dimension while still in the quarry so the temple would be built in silence The temple was too sacred for noise. The stones for Solomon’s temple were quarried from white limestone. Each one fit perfectly in place next to one another. Understanding this makes it easy to see why Jesus was upset at what He found going on in His Father’s House.
    The Older Testament temples had divisions. There was the court of the gentiles, a court for the Israelite women, a court for the Israelite males, and a court for the priests. The court of the priests was the closest to the Holy Place. Each of these courts had walls separating them from the other. The gentiles were not allowed to enter the inner courts. The penalty for doing so was death. Jesus came to break down the walls of division and establish one Body in Christ made up of Jews and Gentiles, males and females, bondservants and free. (see Ephesians 2:14-16) In Jesus’ eyes, there is no division or difference. He is no respecter of persons and sees each member of His Body as special and loved by Him whether Jew or Gentile, male or female, slave or free. 
     Believers are the living stones that build the temple of the Lord. Jesus, the Word and the Holy Spirit dwell within us and are preparing and building His temple silently in our hearts. As God told Moses to consecrate His people and wash their clothes because the presence of God would come down on the third day. God wants us to remain within the boundaries of His Word and allow it to cleanse us to prepare for the coming of the Lord Jesus. Moses was to consecrate God’s people before God’s presence came upon the mountain. God wants to set us apart as His by the boundaries of His Holy Word. We are to be held to a higher standard and not take God‘s boundaries lightly. Like the temple of Solomon, God will place us fittingly in His temple and all believers will be one temple of God. (1 Peter 2:5; Ephesians 2:20-22)
     Jesus was angered over what He found going on in the Temple. Jesus not only saw the outward unholy activity, He saw the attitude of the hearts of those who were defiling God’s holy House. 

Selling Sacrificial Animals
    The selling of the animals for sacrifice took place in the court around the inner sanctuary possibly in the court of the gentiles--the outermost and largest court. These vendors could have also reached beyond the temple to the grounds outside. No doubt there were both Jewish and gentile vendors. With the amount of people in the city of Jerusalem for the Passover Feast, this would be a very lucrative business and would require many vendors.     
    The court of the gentiles was for non-Jews to join Israel to pray and worship their God. These courts were placed in order of importance. After the gentile court came the court of the Israelite women; then the court of the Israelite men and finally the court of the priests. Jesus broke down these partitions and opened the way to the Father for all without divisions or status.
     For the Passover offering, the male Israelite was to offer an animal from their flock or herd without spot or blemish for his sins and that of his whole household. The poor could offer a dove or a young pigeon. These animals would be examined by a priest to see if they were worthy of sacrifice to the Lord. When one was found worthy, it was set apart for the Lord. The blood of the animal had to be shed and splashed at the base of the altar of sacrifice (brazen altar). The male Israelite would lay his hand upon the head of the sacrificial animal and confess his sin and the sin of his household. His sin would be transferred upon the substitute, sacrificial animal. Then the sinner must slay the animal and the priest would pour its blood at the base of the brazen altar of sacrifice.
           The slaying of the substitute lamb for the sinner is a picture of Jesus, God’s sacrificial Passover Lamb, who is without spot or blemish (no sin) and who took away the sins of the whole world by His shed blood. Jesus poured out His blood at the base of the cross to atone for the sin of the whole world.
    Because many Israelites lived outside of Israel and had to travel long distances to Jerusalem, it would be difficult for them to bring animals with them on the journey. Buying animals made it easier and convenient. Instead of just providing a service to help God’s people, these merchandisers charged exorbitant prices filling their own pockets and those of the Roman rulers and Jewish high priest both of whom got a percentage . They were exploiting the Jews and the Gentiles who had come to worship God in obedience to the Law. They had no regard for God or man! They wanted to fill their own pockets. They also preyed upon the poor and the weak who couldn’t afford these prices. God cares for the poor. The Older Testament is full of ways that God provided for the poor and the widow. He doesn’t take kindly to those who prey upon them.
     The temple court would be full of stench and noise with these animals defecating, bleating, baaing and mooing and the doves cooing, as well as the noise of the merchandisers bargaining with the buyers. God’s house is to be a quiet place of worship and prayer. These merchandisers and moneychangers had turned God’s house into a zoo and a robbers’ den! This angered Jesus.

     In order for you to fully understand the reason for moneychangers, I must take you back to the Law. In Exodus 30:12-15: “When you take a census of the Israelites to count them, each one must pay the Lord a ransom for his life at the time he is counted. Then no plague will come on them when you number them. Each one who crosses over to those already counted is to give a half shekel, according to the sanctuary shekel, which weighs twenty gerahs. This half shekel is an offering to the Lord. All who cross over, those twenty years old or more, are to give an offering to the Lord. The rich are not to give more than a half shekel and the poor are not to give less when you make the offering to the Lord to atone for your lives.” Every Israelite twenty years old and older had to pay ½ shekel of silver as a ransom for his sins and that of his household. The rich were to give no more and the poor no less. The price was the same for all. Ransom in Hebrew is kopher which means “price of life.” It is the same word used for atonement. Jesus became a ransom for all. God had promised the Israelites that He would ransom them from the power of the grave (death). (see Hosea 13:14) Jesus is the fulfillment and answer to that promise. “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45; 1 Timothy 2:6 Jesus paid the price for all -- rich and poor. He is God’s atoning sacrifice. God set Jesus apart for Himself so He could save humans who are created in God‘s image and likeness.     
     Only Jewish shekels could be used in the temple treasury. Other coins would have the face of their emperor on them (i.e Caesar) and would be considered idolatrous and, therefore, not allowed in God’s holy temple. At the time of Jesus, mostly Roman and Greek coins were used. So, the need for moneychangers arose. Unfortunately, these moneychangers also fleeced God’s people by charging exorbitant rates to exchange their money into the acceptable Jewish shekel. Both the animal sellers and the moneychangers were getting rich off of sincere worshipers who came to the temple to sacrifice and worship God. The Older Testament temple and the Church of Jesus Christ are sanctified by God to worship Him, pray and teach His Word. They are not to be a place to make dishonest money off of God’s people.
     The worshipers would also make freewill offerings. In the New Testament Jesus says that God loves a cheerful giver. Jesus doesn’t command any offering. It is to be given from the heart. All of the money collected for the temple tax was to be used for the maintenance of God’s temple. 

                Next week:  Jesus casts them all out of His Father's House; Jesus and the Temple Tax








































































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