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45. And he went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold therein, and them that bought;
46. Saying unto them, It is written, My house is the house of prayer: but ye have made it a den of thieves.
47. And he taught daily in the temple. But the chief priests and the scribes and the chief of the people sought to destroy him,
48. And could not find what they might do: for all the people were very attentive to hear him.
12. 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,
13. 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.
14. And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them.
15. And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the son of David; they were sore displeased,
16. And said unto him, Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?
Think in terms of the Lord being in Jerusalem. We talked last week about His coming into Jerusalem and what should have been the Triumphal Entry and then that triumph, which is like the coronation of the king, turned into one of great weeping and mourning of Jesus. We looked at what Jesus weeps over and it’s over people who miss and do not recognize their time of visitation, people who don’t know the things that belong to their peace. The people who have turned from God and it’s too late, they have missed out on it. As we continue then as He enters into the city, we have this great climactic turning point event in His life and ministry, what is called the purging of the temple.
As I’ve said here in the synoptic, Matthew, Mark and Luke, the purging of the temple is a tremendous turning point in the ministry of Jesus. When He finally comes to Jerusalem and makes Himself known very clearly and He draws attention to who He really is when He makes the triumphal entry. Then He enters into the temple for this purging and then He remains in the temple during the day for maybe a few days. There He is teaching and preaching and healing right in the environment of the temple itself. He is condemning the system of Judaism in the way it carries on its religious work in the temple. He is demonstrating what the temple really should be and how it should minister to others and what ought to be done there. The religious leaders in the temple grow more and more angry and upset and in turmoil. This is the turning point where they start to try to destroy Him absolutely. From this point, they really realize, or they consider, that He must be stopped. His voice must be silenced. That is the way with the old barren fig tree religion that tries to look good.
You know, Jesus went out from the temple and He saw this barren fig tree. Mark tells us about it. Matthew tells us about it. There was no fruit upon this fig tree although it looked full of leaves and looked like it ought to have fruit. He said, “No man will ever eat fruit from you from henceforth forever.” He meant simply in an acted parable that He performs in the presence of His disciples, He is showing that unfruitfulness is cursed. What He is really saying is that the temple of God that is unfruitful and is no longer a blessing to the people has the curse of God in it. He is saying that when the old wineskins of Judaistic religion is empty and it is just an encrusted over shell and it can no longer hold the new wine of Christianity or the Spirit of God, then it is good for nothing. It is only an empty shell that cannot be a blessing to anyone. He is showing that organized religion that leaves God out finally, in the final analysis, becomes a movement that has to be supported. It is not a movement that blesses people. It is a movement that is always calling and draining the people for its support. It cannot be a blessing anymore.
Jesus is going to strike very hard at this emptiness and barrenness of the old system. As a matter of fact, He is going to condemn it absolutely and completely. He comes in to purge the temple.
The first thing He did was come into the outer court, which is supposed to be dedicated for worship for Gentile people like you and me. If we had lived then in the time of Jesus, we could not have entered into the temple at all because the outer court was filled with little hutches and pens where they had animals of different sorts and fowl – doves and pigeons – and all this for the offering of sacrifices. They had tables to exchange money. It didn’t matter where you were from or how much money you had, when you came to offer a sacrifice in the temple, you had to change your money into the temple money. Even when you did that, they short-changed you. They stole from you and didn’t give you full value for your money even then.
This people literally short-changed you. They were cheating the people in the first place. Then they hiked up the prices for the sacrifices. The pigeons, the doves, the sheep, whatever people wanted to make sacrifices, they came to the temple. So there were these tables of money changers. Jesus drove them out! He took a whip and drove them out. He said, “My house should be a house of prayer and of purity.” First of all, He cleansed the temple letting us know that His house should be a house of purity where pure worship to God is carried on, not a place of commerce and certainly not a den of thieves.
I think you and I have looked in church history and every time we studies church history and the decline of some of the great denominations and churches of the past, they began to get in this kind of rut. They began to get to the place where they had very little to offer people. But they had a whole lot to try to demand and draw from the people. God help us never to come to the place where we only want to receive and we have nothing to give. If the time ever comes that people can come to the house of God and can’t be blessed and they can’t meet God and they can’t feel the Holy Spirit and there’s not freedom to worship and freedom for the power of God to move, then you can expect people to start to look elsewhere. People want to go where the fire of God falls. They want to go where there is liberty in the moving of the Spirit. They want to go where the power of God falls. I know some people had just as soon to pass through a service and every once in awhile clap their hands when somebody tells them to, but I like the kind of meetings where clapping your hands is spontaneous, and where the power of God falls on people and we don’t worry about whether they clap their hands or not, but the glory of God comes down! Amen!
These are days we need a touch from God and we need to hear from God and we need His healing power and He wants His house to be, first of all, a house of purity that has been purged. So, He purged the temple. He drove out the money changers. He drove out the cheaters. He drove out the people who had pushed out and made no room for the nations of the world, all the ethnic groups of the world. That word ‘nations’ comes from a Greek word that means literally ‘all ethnic groups, meaning all Gentiles.’
I say again, if you and I had gone to Jerusalem then, we couldn’t have gotten in. We couldn’t have had the advantage of worshipping in the temple of God. We would’ve had to go in a different direction, and gone a different route of God-fearer and gone through all kinds of ceremonies and rituals to become a Jew by religion. It may have taken years before we had really become accepted.
No wonder Paul had such wonderful success in His meetings when he went into the Jewish synagogues and he began to preach Christ and he would preach justification by faith, that you didn’t have to be a good Jew to be saved. They had to prove that in a meeting in Acts 15 by the Jerusalem council. No wonder he had so much success among the God-fearing Gentiles. Because, who wouldn’t turn to the Lord and believe when it says we are justified by believing on Christ. You don’t have to spend five years to become a good Jew and adopt all the food laws, the holy days, the ceremonies and rituals and go through the priesthood and so on. You could just come to the one High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ, you confess your sins, you are forgiven and you are brought into the kingdom of God by believing. No wonder he had such success among the God-fearing Gentiles. Not many Jewish people believed Paul. A few did. We have an account in Acts, but most of his converts were God-fearing Gentiles. Gentiles, at that time when Jesus purged the temple, couldn’t even get in. They were pushed out.
It was business as usual. Commerce had taken over. Friends, the church is never a business. It is always, now and forever, the Body of Jesus Christ and it functions in a dark, sinful world to bring Christ and His power to the hearts and lives of people who believe on Him. Hallelujah! If it ceases to do that, it has lost its vision and its mission.
In the next place, He said, “My house is to be a house of prayer for all nations.” Now God intends for His people to meet together and pray. He intends for us to pray in our daily lives and in our daily routines by ourselves or in our homes or wherever. But He also intends for us to meet together in the House of God and pray. I have seen miracles happen when the saints came together in prayer that would not have happened if they had not met together in the Name of Jesus Christ and put their hearts and unity with one mind and one accord and prayed and sought God and the glory of God came down. When the church gets in unity and gets in one mind and one accord in prayer, you can look out. Something great and beautiful and powerful is going to happen!
God intends for His house to be a house of prayer! Amen! Then He intends for it to be a house of power. It says that the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple and He healed them. Even the little children were touched. I would like for us to somehow pray and come to the place that we receive revival and renewal again and see the miracles of God in a most powerful way, that the house of God would be a house of power. Paul said to the Corinthians, “I came to you and I preached you the Word and I came in the demonstration of the Spirit and power so that your faith wouldn’t just stand in the words of men, but your faith would stand in the power of God.” Now if somehow or another we could get our generation to see the demonstration of God’s power so that their faith would stand in the miracle working power of God, there would be a lot of difference in this world now.
I feel the anointing of the Holy Ghost in this place tonight. The Lord is in this place to touch your life and to bless you. Just look to Him and believe Him tonight. He is here!
A church of power. There were hindrances. There were people who resisted the truth and resisted the power just like there have always been. You and I know about some. There are some who have always fought holiness and they have always fought real Pentecost, and there has always been somebody who has resisted the power of God. But I say in these last days when there is such a rise of demonic activity, God send the power that will stop the devil and rebuke the devil and get him on the move! Amen! Hallelujah!
Like Paul on that cold day when he was building a fire with sticks and gathered up a bundle and it was raining and he was trying to help and bring a warmth to the people who were cold because of the cold and the rain. There was a viper in there and as soon as it hit the fire, the viper came out. The fire will move Satan absolutely! It fastened on his hand and he shook it off and the people who saw it happen said, ‘Uh oh. He must be some great criminal and even though he has escaped the wrath of the sea, vengeance suffereth him not to live.’ But it says they kept looking and he kept standing. He shook it off. And when they saw him standing, they changed their minds, the Bible says and they said ‘This man must be of God.’ In fact, they thought he was a god. When people are stricken in misfortune and stricken in trouble and under the attack of Satan, and they keep on standing because of the power and grace of God, some people around change their minds and they say ‘They must have God. They’ve got something that I haven’t got.’ When the power of God falls, there are a lot of people in this world who are hungry to receive the power of God in their lives.
Finally, He wants a church of praise. We say a lot about praise and worship in these days. The charismatic people have taught us a lot about praise and worship, but they’ve also taught us a few other things. These other things come first, purity, prayer, power, and praise. Notice that praise is last. I like the idea of purity coming first, don’t you? They said ‘Listen at these kids. They are saying Hosanna to the Son of David.’ That’s king-talk. We talked about that last week – saying Hosanna. They said ‘Are you hearing them? These children are not supposed to be speaking out. They are not supposed to be dancing around. They are not supposed to be praising the Lord. They are not supposed to be involved in worship.’ I want to say something very, very carefully right here. Jesus said ‘Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou has perfected praise.’ Last Sunday night we saw a little program for some of our children. I hope the day never does come when our young children totally miss out on worship services and evangelistic services where they hear the Word of God preached and they see the Spirit fall and they see people pray through and receive the Baptism of the Holy Ghost. Jesus seemed to like it mighty well. I hope our younger generation of people do not miss seeing the outpouring of the Spirit. Don’t ever back up from praying for the children. When I was six years old, I received a touch of the Holy Spirit. I felt it and I knew what the power of God was for the first time in my life. I will never forget it. I will never forget the old tabernacle of Rocky Hill kneeling in the sawdust and some man came and he put his big old hands on my head and as he prayed for me, I felt the warmth of God’s love and I began to weep and I knew it was God. You can say what you want to, but young people know about the Spirit and power of God. Jesus said ‘Don’t you know that in the mouths of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise.’ You let them alone. I like it when the mothers brought the children to Him and the disciples rebuked them. He said ‘Let them alone, for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Allow them to come unto Me.’
Jesus took a look at that temple and it was not doing ministry to please the Father. He purged it and when He did, he cut across everything they were doing in those days and they sought to kill Him from then on. They felt they must destroy Him. There was resistance to the Word of God, to the Son of God and to the power of God itself.
I would like for us to join together in praying tonight that in our personal lives and in our church that God would help us, that our church would be maintained as a house of purity and a house of prayer and a house of power and a house of praise. Would you stand and join me for such a prayer?
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