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Monday, February 29, 2016

Cleansing the Temple – Righteous Anger – John 2:16

     Malachi prophesied that the “messenger of the covenant” would come and cleanse the temple and the priests. (See Malachi 3:1-5) There were kings of old who cleansed God’s temple. Hezekiah was one of them.
             Jesus is fulfilling the prophecy of the cleansing of the temple. He is also dealing with the priests who are in cahoots with the merchandizers and moneychangers in fleecing God’s worshipers by charging exorbitant prices for God’s required sacrifices. Jesus has all authority over the temple of God because He is God.
     Judgment comes to the house of God first. 1 Peter 4:17

Whip of Cords
     So He made a whip out of cords, and drove them out of the temple area. V13

            Perhaps these cords were those used to tie the animals to a post or restrain them. Jesus set the animals free by loosening them from what bound them. Then He made a cord, cracked the whip and drove the animals, doves, buyers and sellers out of the temple court. John did not say that Jesus hit any animal or person with the whip. No doubt the anger and authority in Jesus’ voice and the cracking of the whip moved them to obey Him. Jesus is righteously angry over what is happening in the temple of God. It has been turned into a marketplace – a den of thieves.  The people from the leaders down had lost reverence for God’s temple and were taking advantage of God’s people. These leaders, merchandizers and moneychangers as well as the Romans were desecrating God’s temple. Jesus said to those who sold doves, “Get these out of here! How dare you turn My Father’s House into a market!” v16 Jesus who is God must have righteous indignation against sin or He wouldn’t be God. God hates sin and doesn’t want His temple defiled by it.
          Again, Jesus is fulfilling scripture. Hosea 9:15 speaks about the punishment of Israel for its wickedness. God says through Hosea, “I will drive them out of My House.” These religious leaders and priests well-schooled in the Older Testament scriptures should have remembered Hosea’s word of the Lord about driving the unholy out of His house. Jesus continually quoted Older Testament scripture to show those present that He was fulfilling these scriptures right in front of them.
            Jesus’ disciples had not yet seen this side of His nature –disciplinarian and Judge. Jesus is not only Savior; He is also the righteous Judge. Unlike the Jewish leaders and merchandizers, Jesus’ disciples did remember the scripture in Psalm 69:9: “Zeal for Your house will consume Me.” His disciples realized that Jesus was fulfilling this psalm in their seeing and in their hearing.

            Jesus had zeal for His Father’s House and exercised His authority over it. Jesus had the right to cleanse His Holy Father’s House because He is the Son of God who is holy and equal with God. Those who love and serve Jesus have authority through Him.
            Jesus had righteous indignation against these religious and secular leaders, but through His grace and truth, He draws sinners to Him with cords of love not judgment. Hosea 11:4: “I drew them with gentle cords, with bands of love, and I was to them as those who take the yoke from their neck. I stooped and fed them.” Jesus fulfilled this scripture for all. (See Matthew 11:29) He not only draws us with cords of love; He takes the yoke of the Law off of our necks and feeds us His grace and truth.

New Name for the Temple – My Father’s House
     Jesus used a “new” more intimate name for God’s temple. The Jews saw God as Father, but they did not call Him by that name. They thought God too holy and sacred to use such an intimate name for Him. Jesus, however, knew God as His Heavenly Father to whom He was closely bound as a father and a son as one, not one whom He must keep at a distance.  Jesus called God “My Father” many times in the Gospels.

            Jesus and the Holy Spirit will draw us into a closer and more intimate relationship with the Father as sons and daughters. Followers of Christ can fight sin and pursue holiness with the blessed assurance that the power of the Godhead will bring us to victory.
New Authority – New Temple

     The Jewish religious leaders question Jesus’ authority to cleanse the temple. They demanded a sign to prove His authority. Then the Jews demanded of Him, “What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this”” John 2:18  Jesus responded with a somewhat puzzling statement. “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” V19 The Jewish leaders were thinking about the physical temple made of stone, but Jesus is talking about the spiritual, eternal temple not built by man but by God. “But the temple He had spoken of was His body.” V21  Jesus is the Eternal, Living Temple of God – the very presence of God.   These leaders were looking with “natural” eyes, but Jesus was talking about the “spiritual” Temple of God – Jesus and His Body of believers.
            The ultimate sign will come when He is crucified and raised from the dead on the third day. When this happened, His disciples remembered His statement about the temple and believed the words Jesus had spoken. It took three years from the time Jesus said  this prophecy until they saw it happen with their very eyes. The Jews and Gentiles who rejected Jesus saw the sign but wouldn’t accept it. Instead, the Jews would use Jesus’ statement about the destruction of the temple to convict Him and send Him to the cross. (See Matthew 26:61) The earthly temple in Jerusalem will be destroyed, but Jesus who is the Eternal Temple of God will never be destroyed, nor will His spiritual Body.

New Priesthood
     Jesus will usher in a “new” order of the priesthood – the order of Melchizedek. God foreshadowed this in the priest-king Melchizedek in Genesis 14:18. (See also Psalm 110:4; Hebrews 5:6, 10-17) Under the order of Melchizedek, believers are a royal priesthood – both priests and kings – as our Savior is both God’s and our High Priest and King. God wanted the Israelites to be a royal priesthood, but they could not live up to God’s high and holy standards. So, God sent Jesus, His High Priest and King, to fulfill God’s requirements in the Older Testament. In the Older Testament, these two offices were separated, but in the New, the two become one in Christ and in His believers, just as the two testaments become One in Christ. Christ’s followers become priests and kings through His righteous work, not through our own.
            Once we are living in the eternal, spiritual, holy Jerusalem, a physical temple will not be necessary. Revelation 21:22: I did not see a temple in the City, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb is its lamp. Today, Christ’s Body of believers made up of Jews and Gentiles is to be the living temple and light of the world. Jesus will do what the Jews could not do as well as us because we are all sinners and not holy.
            Jesus came to earth to fulfill the requirements of the Word of God in the Older Testament and open the way to God through love, grace and truth. In Christ, there is to be no more outward ritual or manmade religion. It will come from the heart through love of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit and others. When we are “in Christ,” we are the temple of God connected to Him heart to heart and Spirit to Spirit. We are His royal priesthood in Him.

The Heart of Man
     John says that while Jesus was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, “many people saw the miraculous signs He was doing and believed in His name. But Jesus would not entrust Himself to them for He knew all men. He did not need man’s testimony about man, for He knew what was in a man." 2:22-25  Jesus knew that those who came to Him just because of His signs and wonders would not remain with Him when the miracles ceased. Jesus wasn’t after the masses who were attracted to His miracles. He wanted the small remnant who loved Him, were surrendered to Him and followed Him and His ways to the end. He knew the heart of man so He relied solely upon His Heavenly Father as He walked the earth to carry out God’s plan and purpose for His life.  Jesus would entrust His Truth to His chosen few who would begin the building of His Temple in the hearts of those who believed in and followed Him. Jesus indeed knows our hearts and is looking for those with surrendered, committed hearts who will follow Him to the end.

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