December 27

Text: Matthew 21:12, 13

And Jesus entered the temple and cast out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the moneychangers and the seats of those who were selling doves. And He *said to them, "It is written, 'MY HOUSE SHALL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER'; but you are making it a ROBBERS' DEN."  (NASB)

Matthew saw a man with total commitment to God’s holiness.  The basic definition of God begins with an understanding of holiness.  God is absolute purity.  He is “totally free” from evil.  He is so removed from evil, is so able to see evil for what it is, that He cannot be deceived (Galatians 6:7) and cannot be tempted (James 1:13).  Those qualities are far beyond human reality. We humans cannot comprehend them.  We can acknowledge that state of existence exists, but it is beyond our comprehension.

The Jewish temple is a fascinating study.  It existed because of the desire of King David (2 Samuel 7:1-6) and not by the command of the Lord—with God’s permission, but not by His command (2 Samuel 7:7, 12, 13).  It honored God’s holiness, as did the tabernacle (see Psalm 5:4-7; Isaiah 6:1-3)

The temple area served many purposes—assemblies in the courtyards, the services of priests, sacrifices on the altar, a representation of the 12 tribes of Israel to God, a place for Israel to appeal to God, etc.   Jesus was offended on God the Father’s behalf because the focus of the temple had changed.  It had become a place for business instead of a place to honor God’s holiness. 

Though Israel honored the site as a holy place, though Israel said that what occurred must occur in precisely the right way, they had become blind to the “why” of what they were doing.  In their efforts to honor God in “the proper way,” they were actually offending God.  Instead of drawing close to God, they were placing barriers between themselves and God.

To honor God’s holiness, more than doing the right things in the right way was involved.

Suggestion for reflection: When does an attempt to honor God become an offense against God?  (Read 1 Kings 8:22-53.)

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