“…Then Jesus went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. And He would not allow anyone to carry wares through the temple. Then He taught, saying to them, ‘Is it not written, “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations?” But you have made it a ‘den of thieves.”—Mark 11.15-17
The Temple was intended to be a place where God could dwell amongst His people. It was a place where His people could come and worship Him—a place where their sacrifices and praises were offered up to the Father. It was the Holy Temple of the Most High God of Israel!
What moved Yeshua to take forceful action against the merchants in the outer courts? This was not His first visit to His Father’s House. This time God had a plan, not only to send His Son to the Temple as a teacher and prophet, but as a representative of His Father—as the King of kings.
Yeshua saw the Temple as a place of worship for His people, ordained by law and honored by thousands of devoted. It had been Israel’s place of worship for many generations. As far as Yeshua was concerned, the house was in need of restoration—to be brought back to a place of purity, a place where God’s people could come to worship and commune with Him. A House of Prayer for All Nations!
Would You Build a House for Me to Dwell in?
The Temple had a rich history. It was created as an extension of the Mishkan—the Tabernacle of Meeting—where God appeared to His people. The Mishkan became the first institutional representation of God’s presence—a place where God appeared and made His will known to His people (Ex. 33.7-11).
The construction of a permanent Temple, or House of God, began with David when God asked in 2 Samuel 7.5-7:“…Would you build a house for Me to dwell in?…” The first Temple was built by David’s son, Solomon who possessed an expanded knowledge of the overwhelming greatness of God:
“But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple which I have built!”—1 Kings 8.27
The Mishkan, and the first and second temples proved to be the fulcrum—the core—of Jewish religious life. This was the place where God’s presence dwelt among His people.
“This is My Father’s House!”
Yeshua Himself had made a number of pilgrimages to the Temple throughout His earthly life. The Gospels show that Yeshua participated fully in the practices of the Temple:
His birth was announced in the Temple (Lk. 1.17; 2.27-32). He was circumcised, and studied with the rabbis as a child in the Temple (Lk. 2.46). When Yeshua was tempted by Satan in the wilderness, He was brought to the pinnacle of the Temple (Mt. 4.5). He taught in the Temple (Jn. 7.14 & 37). He offered forgiveness to the woman caught in adultery at the Temple (Jn. 8.1-11). And more…
It was because the Temple was so valuable that He flung down His challenge to the priestly authorities who reaped profits from their exploitations in its courts.
Love was the motivation that drove Yeshua. Love for His Father, and love for His Temple. Love for the merchants and herdsmen who were trapped in sacrilege of greed and custom. Love for the helpless victims of extortion and greed. Love for the Temple authorities who had betrayed His trust.
The outer area that surrounded the actual Temple was considered to be the Court of the Gentiles. No restrictions were placed on access to it. This area was intended to serve as a symbol to the nations of the world that they were welcome, fulfilling the scripture of the prophet Isaiah that the Temple was to be a house of prayer for all nations (Is. 56.7).
Yeshua had seen the corruption, the graft and the extortion that took place in plain sight with the approval of the High Priest. He had seen it when He cleansed the Temple as recorded in John 2.13-16. They had been warned, but did not take heed. That was why Yeshua called it a “den of thieves” (Mt. 21.13; Mk. 11.17; Lk. 19.46), affirming what the prophet, Jeremiah spoke: “’Has this house, which is called by My name, become a den of thieves in your eyes? Behold I, even, I have seen it,’ says the Lord” (Jer. 7.11). The priests had hid behind the appearance of religion and devotion.
Yeshua affirmed His Son-ship authority when He declared the temple to be, “My Father’s House” (Jn. 2.16). Those who He drove out of the Temple did not lay a hand upon Him, nor did they try to reprove Him as if He was out of order. The justice of His condemnation as well as His authority to carry it out was recognized by all who His wrath fell upon.
Do You Not Know That You Are the Temple of God?
“God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands.”—Acts 17.24
In the new-covenant temple, the Church, it is our personal inner hearts that need the deep cleansing touch of Yeshua. It is in this place, this chamber of our deepest secrets, where the door to eternity is found. Not until our hearts are cleansed and purified will the Lord dwell within us in the fullness of His Spirit.
“Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.”—1 Corinthians 3.16-17
Today, Yeshua is grieved because of the sin and greed in the hearts of many of His people. The sin of convenience and extortion that took place in the Temple area nearly 2,000 years ago is the same sin that goes on in our hearts today. He saw it then, and He sees it now in many who call themselves His servants. Positions of honor are sold in ministries to people whose motives are not in-line with God. We must not defile the temple of God, lest we become destroyed!
Yeshua is coming to sanctify and cleanse His temple. He is coming to do the work of cleansing and purging sin and uncleanness of any kind. He is preparing His Church for His return. This Church must let Him cleanse her of all impurities.
“Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart…”—Psalm 24.3-4
The Church must embrace the cleansing Hand of the Master. We can be certain that with each step deeper into the presence of God, areas of our hearts will be revealed that need to be cleansed. Yeshua is purging the Church of its sin for the distinct purpose of bringing the House of God back in order—to its original purpose as a place of habitation. To make for Him a place where He can dwell and commune with His people!
In everything we do, we must be a sanctuary—a tabernacle—to the Lord… To our family, to our friends, to the people we meet on the streets, we must become a temple—that portal where Heaven and earth kiss—that He might dwell amongst us!
“Let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.”—Exodus 25.8