November 29, 2021
A House of Prayer
Matthew 21:12-13 (KJV) And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.
There is some controversy among biblical scholars as to the reason Jesus overturned the tables casting out those who were selling and buying in the temple. Some camps believe that Jesus removed the people who were commercializing the temple, like the practice of selling books and spiritual trinkets or coffee in some modern churches today. While the temple is primarily for meeting with God, for praying and serving Him, then and today, animals, such as doves, necessary to sacrifice to God for sin, and the practice of selling animals for sacrifice to God was common practice in that day. So, it was impossible to remove sellers from the temple area, for shed-blood sacrifices were a must for a sincere child of God in ancient times.
These tables in question, hastily turned over by Jesus Christ, were for selling animals for that purpose. However, not all ancient businesses used scruples in merchandising animals. Some of these sellers were deceitful and ran a crooked business inside God’s temple and fleecing the travelers who came back to the temple yearly for this ancient practice. It was not the selling mechanism inside the temple, which is necessary, but rather the underhanded methods that raised ire with Jesus.
The same thing happens today, maybe not within the church selling sacrificial animals (a shed-blood sacrifice is no longer necessary for sin – but, for example, a missionary couple traveling on the road has a car breakdown. Because they are far from home or among strangers who do not care for their welfare, they can be taken advantage of by unscrupulous people not looking out for their best interests and collectively the interests of God.
Indeed, you know that God hates deceitful practices, especially involving transactions taking place inside His temple. Jesus Christ’s anger here is directed to a “den of thieves” or points directly towards these unscrupulous ancient entrepreneurs. The latter takes advantage of the Old Testament directive for men to travel to the temple to sacrifice animals to God for sin. Today, offerings are no longer necessary, though God is undoubtedly never pleased with any unholy practices at work in His church.
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