Wait on the LORD: be of good courage,
and he shall strengthen thine heart;
wait, I say, on the LORD.
- Psalm 27:14
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The Temple, The Temple, The Temple! 3/11/2012
Dear friends,

God's Peace to you!

As we continue our journey to the cross with Jesus, in today's sermon text from John 2:13-22, we encounter a not so gentle and nice Jesus. Last week Doug shared from the text in which Jesus spoke for the first time openly of His upcoming suffering, death and resurrection, an announcement which was not understood or received by the Apostle Peter or the other apostles. Jesus after rebuking Peter for thinking humanly, told him and the others that they too must follow Him in death so that they might live. They heard Jesus's words, but did not understand what He was talking about for it was entirely against their way of looking at the things of God. How well are we hearing what Jesus is saying?

Today we will consider an angry Jesus who cleared out the temple of sheep and oxen, poured out the changers' money, overthrew tables, and told them that sold doves, "Take these things hence; make not my Father's house an house of merchandise!" Wow! What was going on to cause Him
to react in that way? What was His purpose in doing what He did on that day? Does this have application to a house of prayer today? In our house of prayer? In our hearts?

May the Lord grant us insight by this Word through the power of His Spirit so that we may hear His voice speaking to us today.

Jesus is attending the annual Jewish passover feast and while there he looked in the temple and as a result he reacted quite authoritatively, decisively and violently.

John 2:13 And the Jews' passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem,
14 And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting:
15 And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables;
16 And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father's house an house of merchandise.

Where did this temple worship begin? Let us turn to Exodus, the second book of the Bible for that answer. As our worship of the Living God is rooted in history, it is important to tie our present day worship with that which God already established in the past. The problem that we have encountered in the past and yet do encounter is that our worship turns into ritual that loses is meaning and we begin to worship in a ritualistic manner: Do the practice and it will bring about the result as opposed to using the external to remind and refresh us of the inner and the spiritual.

After God gave Moses the Law on Mt. Sinai, He gave instructions concerning the building of a meeting place where He would "dwell, tabernacle" with His people.

KJV Exodus 25:1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
2 Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring me an offering: of every man that giveth it willingly with his heart ye shall take my offering.
3 And this is the offering which ye shall take of them; gold, and silver, and brass,
4 And blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and goats' hair,
5 And rams' skins dyed red, and badgers' skins, and shittim wood,
6 Oil for the light, spices for anointing oil, and for sweet incense,
7 Onyx stones, and stones to be set in the ephod, and in the breastplate.
8 And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.
9 According to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it.

The false fast and the true fast
KJV Isaiah 58:1 Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.
2 Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God: they ask of me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching to God.
3 Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not? wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours.
4 Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: ye shall not fast as ye do this day, to make your voice to be heard on high.
5 Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the LORD?

6 Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?
7 Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?
8 Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy rereward. (guard)
9 Then shalt thou call, and the LORD shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity;
10 And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday:
11 And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.

In Jeremiah's time, we see the over importance placed on the place, the temple and the lack of importance on the condition of the heart.

KJV Jeremiah 7:1 The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying,
2 Stand in the gate of the LORD'S house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the LORD, all ye of Judah, that enter in at these gates to worship the LORD.
3 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place.
4 Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, are these.
5 For if ye throughly amend your ways and your doings; if ye throughly execute judgment between a man and his neighbour;
6 If ye oppress not the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and shed not innocent blood in this place, neither walk after other gods to your hurt:
7 Then will I cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers, for ever and ever.
8 Behold, ye trust in lying words, that cannot profit.
9 Will ye steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense unto Baal, and walk after other gods whom ye know not;
10 And come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, We are delivered to do all these abominations?
11 Is this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, even I have seen it, saith the LORD.

What is Jesus' main point of cleaning out the temple? By putting the verses of 13-22 in context, can we not understand that He was not only addressing the wrong and false profession of the Church leaders, but He was also showing that the "shadow" of His coming was now being brought into focus through the fulfillment of prophecies concerning Himself. The Hebrew writer explains this quite clearly:

KJV Hebrews 9:1 Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary.
2 For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread; which is called the sanctuary.
3 And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all;
4 Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant;
5 And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat; of which we cannot now speak particularly.
6 Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God.
7 But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people:
8 The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing:
9 Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience;
10 Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation.
11 But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building;
12 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.
13 For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh:
14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

This was a time of transition from the external to the internal. God brought his plan of redemption forth in increments by beginning with one man, Abram, then through one family, Jacob, and then through one nation, the Jewish people. Abram, later Abraham, first worshipped God himself at an altar, the Tabernacle as a place of meeting was established, then the physical temple was built in Jerusalem which was a shadow of Christ, the True Temple. In John's writing today that temple is vanishing away, howbeit forcefully, so that the real can been seen and temporary can vanish away.

We recognize that the dwelling place of God today is not in a physical structure such as a church building, but He now dwells in the hearts of those who are united with Him in Christ Jesus. Paul wrote of this in his letter to the Ephesians, and brings it to this point in the latter part of chapter two. (John writes in his Gospel of this esp in chapter 17 in the High Priestly Prayer of Jesus in which the union of Father, Son and ourselves is spoken of)

Eph 2:11 Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands;
12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:
13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.
14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;
15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;
16 And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:
17 And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.
18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.
19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

We note that the progression of God's plan of drawing near to us goes from His "dwelling" in a physical place in the tabernacle (Exodus 25) to the spiritual dwelling in our hearts by faith. (Eph 2:21-22)

It is only through Jesus Christ that He is able to come and abide with us through His Spirit.

May we spend a few moments thinking of this in a practical manner as to what this text means for us today. We understand that Christ lives in us by His Spirit and that we are united with Him by faith. There is only one body of Jesus Christ which includes all those who are joined together through faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ. The Spirit gives witness with our spirit that we are the sons of God and this reality is evidenced in two ways: We love God because He first loved us and we love others because God dwells in us through His Holy Spirit.

We recognize that all external practices in and of themselves have no meaning outside of the person and finished work of Jesus Christ. Therefore, we understand that they are means of grace to us and for us by which the gifts of God are given to us. The preaching of the Word, Holy Baptism, Holy Communion, Absolution, and fellowship of the saints are all means by which Christ is ministered to us. They of themselves have no value, but they depend entirely upon that which God has said and done in His prophecies and fulfillment of His plan of redemption for all through Christ Jesus.

As we think of the two main thoughts of today's meditation, may we be refreshed in what God has done for us through Christ, who we are in Jesus Christ and of the certain future that God has decided for us.He loves us, cares for us and will never stop doing so.

May our fellowship continue to be a place where we care for one another, a place that we share with one another of the deeper concerns of our souls and may it be a place where we truly pray for one another. Lord, may the words that the Apostle Paul wrote in his first epistle to the Corinthians encourage us in our boasting of your greatness, which you have revealed through your Son Jesus Christ!!

1:26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:
27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:
29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.
30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:
31 That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

Today, Lord, we boast in You and in You alone!!!

In Christ alone we stand,

Pastor Orval Wirkkalal
Posted on 11 Mar 2012 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
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