Sunday, August 3, 2014

Cleansing His Temple - August 3, 2014

Isaiah 56:7 (GOD’S WORD Translation)
7Then I will bring them to my holy mountain and make them happy in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be acceptable on my altar, because my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.

Jeremiah 7:1-4;9-11 (New International Version, ©2011)
1 This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: 2 “Stand at the gate of the LORD’s house and there proclaim this message:

“‘Hear the word of the LORD, all you people of Judah who come through these gates to worship the LORD. 3 This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Reform your ways and your actions, and I will let you live in this place. 4 Do not trust in deceptive words and say, “This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD!”
9 “‘Will you steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury, burn incense to Baal and follow other gods you have not known, 10 and then come and stand before me in this house, which bears my Name, and say, “We are safe”—safe to do all these detestable things? 11 Has this house, which bears my Name, become a den of robbers to you? But I have been watching! declares the LORD.

Matthew 21:12-13 (New International Version, ©2011)
12 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. 13 “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’”

One of the iconic images depicting Jesus Christ, that has been rendered in paintings over the centuries, is the image of the cleansing of the Temple. All of the Gospels speak of the event, although the Gospel of John describes it a bit differently. The others describe the event as an act that occurred just after Jesus entered Jerusalem for the final time on the way to His crucifixion. Jesus quotes the prophecies found in Isaiah and Jeremiah as He was driving out those who were turning the Temple courts into a market, profiting from those who were seeking God in His house.

This event has been discussed over the years since it occurred, and many a theologian has sought to analyze why the event occurred. A fulfillment of prophecy? Yes, but most seem to think that what Jesus was doing was attempting to restore the true sense of holiness and worship within the house of God. By the very acts of those who participated in the buying and selling of sacrificial animals and exchanging coins for the Temple tax, the holy ritual of worship had became a mere "going through the motions" for many participants. Jesus was righteously indignant against those who did not have the "heart" of true worship for God.

In reading this account in Christ's life, it came to mind that today, many of us who call ourselves Christians might have the same issue. As a born-again believer, we are inhabited by the Holy Spirit of God, and our bodies become His Temple. That makes our bodies holy, and it is up to us to treat it as such. How many of us need to have Jesus cleanse our Temple? How many of us as believers, allow the things of this world, and ways of this world creep into our daily lives. Over time we allow so much garbage within, that we might find ourselves just going through the motions of worship.

Is it time to do a thorough check of the state of our Temple? He paid for all of our sins; in turn we need to be sure that we treat the Temple of God properly. As we look to the coming cross, let's take the time to clean up the garbage and allow Him to inhabit a holy place.

"Christ Cleansing the Temple" was painted in oil on canvas. Thus, it can be listed as an Early period artwork of Luca Giordano. It is part of the permanent exhibition of Bob Jones University Collection, Greenville, same as numerous other works of the Baroque Art period.

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