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."Matthew 21:13(NASB)
At the start of His ministry the Lord Jesus was introduced to Israel by John the Baptist as the Lamb of God - the King and Messiah of the Jews. And from then on the Lord Jesus presented Himself to the nation.. as the Shepherd of Israel, Who would save His people from their sins. Here, at the end of His earthly ministry we see Christ offer an official and final presentation of Himself to the people of Israel, as their God, their King and their promised Messiah.. for He rode into Jerusalem sitting on a donkey, in fulfilment of Zechariah's prophecy: behold, your King is coming to you...lowly and riding on a donkey.
Similarly.. at the start of His ministry we see Christ cleansing the Temple of God. But once again, only a day after the official, final and prophesised presentation of Himself to the people of Israel as their King and promised Messiah, we see Christ once again cleansing the House of the Lord, as He drove out those that bought and sold there. He overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those that sold doves, with scathing words from both Isaiah and Jeremiah: It is written, My house will be called a house of prayer - but you have made it a den of thieves.
The very first thing that the Lord Jesus did after entering Jerusalem as Israel's prophesised King was to cleanse His Father's house. Corrupt commercialism and excessive profiteering discredited this chosen nation of God, desecrated the Temple of God and poured distain on the lovely name and holy character of God.
Throughout His ministry the Lord Jesus had fulfilled multiple prophecies and the many signs, wonders and miracles. He performed many such signs over the years, which totally authenticated His Messianic authority and His many claims to Deity. And now as the path to the cross drew ever closer, Christ's ride into Jerusalem, the cleansing of the Temple and the cursing of the fig tree, which was to shortly take place.. all added weight to His authenticity as well as to His authority.
Christ was not sent into the world to judge the world, but that the world through Him might believe.. but He came to His own nation and was despised and rejected by His own people.. and His actions in the Temple, together with the cursing of the fig tree the following day.. demonstrated a nescessary judgement that had to fall on the nation of Israel at this time.. for they had been called to be God's witnesses to a lost and dying world. They had been chosen to be a light to lighten the gentiles.. but sadly they broke their covenant with God and disobeyed His commands. Their rejection of their Messiah caused Him to pass judgement on them as a nation.. until He finally proclaimed - you will not see Me again until you cry: blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord.
As we read of these shocking happenings at His first coming.. it is easy to look at the Jews of Christ's generation with a critical spirit and a holier-than-thou attitude. But not one of us has the right to murmur against this generation of Jews... for we see in ourselves and in our own day and age the Body of Christ, which is the Temple of God, following many ungodly pursuits and engaging in blasphemous behaviours.
We, as the Body of Christ, are the spiritual Temple of God and in many ways, both individually and corporately, we have allowed the world to be assimilated into our hearts and minds.. which is identified in corrupt carnality, which dishonours our God and Saviour. Both individually and collectively the Church, which is His body of Christ, needs to be cleansed - so that when Christ returns to take us to be with Himself we will be pure and chaste. May we take these warning to heart and seek to pursue holiness in our own lives and fellowships, so that we may be presented to Him as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but a holy and blameless bride - for His honour and glory.
Heavenly Father, search my heart and see if there is any carnality or wicked ways in me that is dishonouring to You. Help me to learn how to live for You and I pray that you would open my heart to greater understanding of Your Word, so that I may grow in grace and in a knowledge of You - this I ask in Jesus name, AMEN.