The entire city of Jerusalem was in an uproar. Jesus the prophet from Nazareth had come to town.
However this man was no ordinary profit. Everywhere he went miracles happened. The sick were healed, the lamed walked and even the dead were risen.
He preached the Gospel as no had before reveling truths and fulfilling prophecy. This man Jesus proclaimed and was to all who saw him the Son of God sent to the earth from the Father to save mankind.
It was in this backdrop that soon after his triumphant entry into Jerusalem, Jesus made His way to the Temple. He was appalled by the site of a thriving business operation more efficient than Walmart.
In those days forgiveness of sin was granted through the sacrificing of an animal. The sacrifice was to show atonement; first via the pain, blood and death of an innocent for the guilty persons sin, and secondly the sacrifice of losing a valuable animal that could have been used for labor, clothing or food.
However, the clever folks of your friendly Jerusalem temple had a solution. Instead of losing a valuable member of your own flock buy your sacrifice from us!!!
Imagine this sales pitch from the clever folks in the Temple: “Committed a sin? Need to make a sacrifice but you don’t want to lose that prized calf? No worries we got a deal for you. Just arrived and especially for your atonement is a new shipment of sacrificial lambs! Sin is on the rise so get your lamb today because supplies are limited – and when these lambs are gone…they really are gone!
Seeing this vile, shameful and disrespectful act inside His Father’s house Jesus reacted by knocking over the tables of the money changers, he toppled the chairs of the dove sellers and then He declared: ‘“The Scriptures declare, My Temple will be called a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves! Matthew 21:13 (NLT)
The sacrifice of Jesus, the limb of God on the cross made it unnecessary for us to submit animals to death. It also make it unnecessary for the selling of livestock in the Temple. However, in 2015 at the start of Holy Week we should ask ourselves are we using “God’s Temple” more for economic purposes instead of for prayer? Let’s examine how we are using God’s Temple:
- The television preacher who delivers an inspiring, heartfelt and scripturally sound message, followed up with appeals to buy his new book or to join him on a cruise to Alaska.
- The connectional church trapped in a never ending cycle of money raising to support an enormous structure of elders, church leaders, and officials. While the local church that is required to raise the money lacks the funds to reach the lost or to serve an aging dwindling, and increasingly cash strapped congregation.
- The mega church with revenue streams so vast that even Warren Buffett is impressed. However, not even those funds are not enough for a Senior Pastor who needs more dollars so that the church can supply him with a new jet.
Without question the modern church needs money to carry out the commands of the Great Commission: Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Matthew 28:19 NLT With the downturn in the economy the tithes and free will offerings of members are still not enough to meet even the basic needs of the church.
As I start a ministry that I hope will be pleasing to God. I struggle with thoughts of what is the proper balance of economic activity necessary to support my efforts. Versus becoming as Jesus saw in the Temple a “money changer”. Purveying my “faith based products” to a spiritually starving and desperate flock who may believe that buying my “stuff” will bring them salvation.
With prayer, faith and reading of God Word, I have come to these conclusions:
- God Will Provide: Jesus said in Matthew 21:22, “If you pray for anything and if you have faith you will receive it.”
Therefore instead of selling my books and other materials for money, I will as God to make the funds available to publish and produce high quality content that will be given away freely to all.
- Prayer About Everything: Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4: 6-7 (NLT)
God has commanded me use my faith to become more resourceful rather than depending on money. With technology I can write blogs that reaches hundreds, produce podcasts that touches thousands, and shoot video’s that can reach millions. All of these medians can use for God’s glory at little or no cost.
- God Is In Control: Paul explains to us God’s plan in Ephesians 1:9-11 God has now revealed to us his mysterious plan regarding Christ, a plan to fulfill his own good pleasure. And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ everything in heaven and on earth. Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan.
Therefore, with God in control He will bring the people, the ideas and yes the money needed to execute God’s plan not my plan.
A House of Prayer
In a time where bundles of cash can be just a click away in exchange for our new “Six-Part CD Series on Salivation”. We church leaders, must resist the real and present temptation to use the power and prestige of the church to align ourselves with the “faith industrial complex” that could with ease turn God’s Temple “into a den of thieves” instead a “house of prayer”.