Big Brothers can be so mean.
Because I trusted him, I agreed. He was older, and obviously knew more about the vast potato chip world that I.
The deal was, every time I found one of the lacking potato chips (the doubled over, crunchy, awesome ones) I would pull it out and save it for him so we could trade. He explained with a sigh since he loved me he would eat the lesser appealing ones and give me the pretty flat ones.
I think I’m still bitter about it.
I didn’t figure out the truth until five years ago.
Siblings didn’t invent unfair trade, although we may have perfected it. Uneven deals have been made since Jacob and Esau. And for the record, Jesus doesn’t like unfair trading either.
My last blog showed the cleansing of the Temple was not a temper tantrum by Jesus. He may have been angry, but he wasn’t out of control. He was cleaning house, and preparing the temple for the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
To catch you up, here is the story again: And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.” And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them. But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant, and they said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?”
“Yes,” Jesus replied. “Haven’t you ever read the scriptures? For they say, ‘You have taught children and infants to give you praise.”
(Matthew 21: 12-16)
The Bible says Jesus quoted scripture after he overturned tables. The money changers heard him. The animal dealers heard him. And you know the chief priests ran over during the ruckus and heard him too.
Jesus is referring to Isaiah 56:7. However, in context of the chapter, we learn even more. Isaiah 56:1 says, “Be just and fair to all. Do what is good, for I am coming soon to rescue you and to display my righteousness among you”.
The money-changers weren’t being just or fair. And Jesus was about to display the ultimate righteousness on the cross. Remember, the crowd had just been yelling Hosanna (meaning save or deliver) in honor of Jesus. He was indeed about to rescue, just not the way the people were expecting.
The salesmen would cheat people with an unfair exchange rate. They had a monopoly on the temple money. And contrary to what you have been taught, changing money in the temple wasn’t the problem.
It was HOW they were changing it that was the issue.
The money had to be changed from Roman (or other) currency to Jewish currency for it to be allowed in the temple at all.
Roman coins were a “graven image” because they had a picture of Caesar on them.
The Jews saw this as an idol. Idols were not allowed in the temple.
Coins from other lands could have been made with impure metals.
This also was unacceptable to God for worship, as the temple coins had to be of pure metal.
Had there been a fair exchange rate of these items, things would have been fine.
But it wasn’t.
The sellers were cheating.
Jesus’ point continues in Isaiah 56:6-7, “And foreigners who bind themselves to the Lord to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord, and to be his servants, all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it and who hold fast to my covenant— these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.”
The money-changers and animal dealers were taking up valuable space in the Court of the Gentiles. It was the only place in the temple Gentiles were allowed to worship.
I imagine it smelled like animals. It was loud. The site was more barn-like than church-like. And the “business men” were lying, stealing, and taking advantage of everyone.
The atmosphere wasn’t in line for a “holy” place of worship.
The temple had been altered from a House of Prayer for all nations to a “Den of Robbers”.
Jeremiah 7:8-11 says this: “But look, you are trusting in deceptive words that are worthless. ‘Will you steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury,burn incense to Baal and follow other gods you have not known, 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? Has this house, which bears my Name, become a den of robbers to you? But I have been watching!’ declares the Lord.”
What they were doing was detestable. It showed no regard for God, or His people.
When Jesus cleansed the temple, he made his actions and reasoning known. The story concludes with the chief priests and scribes asking Jesus if he was going to put up with people praising him for being the Messiah.
Jesus, without missing a beat, basically says Yep boys… what they are saying is true.
He quotes Psalm 8:1-2 which says, “Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens. Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.
And that was Jesus getting the last word that day.
Unfortunately, some use today’s main passage as a rally cry against youth car washes or church fundraisers. That is not the point… at all.
Our body is the temple of God. We are to seek after Him with all our hearts.
If there is something in your temple that needs to be tipped over, trashed, or cleaned up, allow God to take over that area of your life.
We are to love God, and love others. Treating others fairly is one way we show our love for God. It puts others first, ourselves second. Forgetting whom God made us to be is dangerous. Trading integrity for wealth, power, or importance is useless and empty.
So don’t forget what you are created for. Or who you were created to be.