authority, contamination, death, discernment, hypocrisy, money, religion, temple, unclean, worship

Crooks and Robbers, #89

“Jesus Cleansing the Temple,” Jeffrey Weston

45 And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold, 46 saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of robbers.”

Luke 19:45-46

People detest hypocrisy. I’ve discovered that no matter who they are–pagan or devout believer, there is an awareness of this kind of religious evil. As I considered art for this post, I came across dozens, and dozens of different takes on this passage. One could open up a large gallery simply on “Jesus Cleansing the Temple.”

The priests and the merchants had a corner on the market. There was a need for pilgrim to have animals for sacrifices. But it was said that you could buy a pair of doves for 5 cents outside the temple, but once you entered they sold for 75 cents. The pilgrims also needed to change over their native currency to the temple money. That too, made a tidy little profit.

Jesus had visited the temple numerous times. He was dedicated there, and as a boy he taught the elders and priests. On his own pilgrimages 4 times a year, he witnessed the steady commerce that was done. Since the temple work went on 24 hours a day, the tables had to be constantly manned.

The issue here was authenticity. Keep in mind that this would be Jesus’ last visit. In a few days the authorities would publicly beat and then execute him. In some sense, Jesus was making a clear statement. Being fully God he had the right to declare the validity of what was going on. And it wasn’t good.

The temple was there for prayer. It was the place where God and man could meet each other. Every block laid, every pillar set, was a declaration of this idea. God and man reunited, with a sacrifice for sin. It was to be the official place where this would happen. And it would require a sacrifice for sin to open up a way to worship and pray.

“Of all bad men religious bad men are the worst.”

C.S. Lewis

Faith was hijacked by men who really didn’t believe. A flourishing industry had developed–religious language and ideas became the way to fleece those who really did believe. The greed of certain men had compromised real worship. Evil had worked its ugly way into the very core of the faith. It was an terrible thing.

The tables were located in the outer courts. These courts were as far as Gentiles could go–it was for them who wanted to pray. Jesus understood Isaiah, and quotes it in his rebuke, (Isa. 56:7). The religious evil that developed there was truly an abomination–and it had to stop.

We need to be aware that we’re definitely attracted to this kind of hypocrisy. We dare not point the finger too quickly –yes, we need to see it–not to pass judgement, but to understand the hatred God has for this sin. The temple of our bodies belong to him. He will enter our lives–he will flip our tables if he has to, he won’t tolerate our hypocrisy.

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authority, called, discernment, faith, hypocrisy, Kingdom of God, leadership, love, truth

God’s Sign Language, #47

“You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.”

Matthew 16:3, (context, vv. 1-12)

This disturbing union of Pharisee and Sadducee was telling–they were polar opposites. One group was ultra-conservative, and the other flaming liberal, the yin and the yang. They detested each other. To somehow unite these hated enemies must have taken someone with some flair!

Leadership could no longer discern between what was right and what was wrong. These men had gravitated into high office for selfish reasons. They were hypocrites; they loved the praise of men immensely, and would never dream of giving up the power and prestige.

Hypocrisy becomes my way of ensuring that I can retain all that honor. When our positions of oversight, direction and wisdom are taken over by confused leaders who haven’t the slightest idea of what God is speaking we are in critical danger. We need those who can interpret these things to us without caving into either the fear or praise of men.

The Jews of Jesus’ day had a saying that if all the hypocrites in the world were divided into ten parts, Jerusalem would contain nine of the ten parts. Jesus wasn’t the first one who saw the religious lies of His day. It was more or less understood by everyone.

Jesus the Messiah had truly come. He preached, taught and healed. He revealed Himself over and over to the Jewish people. He explained the Kingdom of God. The Jewish “leaders,” didn’t recognize Him, they refused to see. They were the hypocrites who gravitated to ministry for the prestige that was given; never for the responsibility of the office.

Truth is as critical to a church as love is.

We are to be known by our love, but we’re also to be understood as being people of truth. We must understand the difference between black and white. We need leadership who will look at these sticky issues and explain it to us. We need them to decipher the moment.

I don’t know what the future holds for the Church. Whatever it is, I’m sure it will be an adventure. Let’s keep listening to Jesus, reading the Word, and hearing each other. Let’s avoid hypocrisy as if it were the smallpox. Let’s pray for leadership that understands the moment, and that knows the dark evil of the praise of men.

“For not only does sound reason direct us to refuse the guidance of those who do or teach anything wrong, but it is by all means vital for the lover of truth, regardless of the threat of death, to choose to do and say what is right even before saving his own life.”

A.W. Tozer

  

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