Verse of the Day Devotion Luke 19:45
“And He entered the temple and began to cast out those who were selling,” – Luke 19:45
When Jesus arrived in Jerusalem, He entered into the Temple. What He saw angered Him. “And He entered the temple and began to cast out those who were selling,” Luke 19:45. Jesus then cleansed the temple of the moneychangers and sellers of merchandise because of His disgust at what they had made of God’s house of prayer and His zeal to purify it from the abuse of ungodly men. Now, there were two basic areas where the moneychangers in Judea angered Him.
First was the conversion of money. Judea at this time was under the rule of the Romans, and the money in current use was Roman coin. However, the Jewish law required that every man should pay a tribute to the service of the sanctuary of “half a shekel”, a Jewish coin. This is found in the Book of Exodus.
“The LORD also spoke to Moses, saying, When you take a census of the sons of Israel to number them, then each one of them shall give a ransom for himself to the LORD, when you number them, that there may be no plague among them when you number them. This is what everyone who is numbered shall give: half a shekel according to the shekel of the sanctuary (the shekel is twenty gerahs), half a shekel as a contribution to the LORD. Everyone who is numbered, from twenty years old and over, shall give the contribution to the LORD. The rich shall not pay more, and the poor shall not pay less than the half a shekel when you give the contribution to the LORD to make atonement for yourselves.” Exodus 30:11-15.
It became, therefore, a matter of convenience to have a place where the Roman coin could be exchanged for the Jewish half shekel. The moneychangers provided this convenience but would demand a small sum for the exchange. Because so many thousands of people came up to the great feasts, changing money was a very profitable business and one that resulted in fraud and oppression of the poor.
The second was the selling of the needed sacrifices. According to the Law, at least two doves or pigeons were required to be offered in sacrifice.
“But if he is poor, and his means are insufficient, then he is to take one male lamb for a guilt offering as a wave offering to make atonement for him, and one-tenth of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil for a grain offering, and a log of oil, and two turtledoves or two young pigeons which are within his means, the one shall be a sin offering and the other a burnt offering.” Leviticus 14:21-22.
It was sometimes difficult to bring these birds from the distant parts of Judea, so a lucrative business selling the birds sprang up, with the sellers gouging the faithful by charging exorbitant prices. There were other merchants selling cattle and sheep for the temple sacrifices, as well as declaring an animal unfit for the sacrifice so they would trade them for a price, then sell them to another later.
Because of these sellers who preyed on the poor and because of His passion for the purity of His Father’s house, Jesus was filled with righteous indignation. As He overturned the tables of the moneychangers, He condemned them by saying, “It is written, My house shall be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of robbers.” Luke 19:46. Now there is an earlier time Jesus dealt with the moneychangers and the sellers. In the first one, He made a whip to get them to leave. “And He found in the temple those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the moneychangers seated. And He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the moneychangers and overturned their tables; and to those who were selling the doves He said, Take these things away; stop making My Father’s house a house of merchandise.” John 2:14-16. As you can see here, they did not learn but continued to make money off the poor.
The Temple was built for the worship of God, not to make the Jewish leadership wealthy. The same is true of the modern-day church. Our purpose is to spread the good news of the gospel throughout all the world. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20. I have no problem with paying a pastor a good salary. I do have a problem when it takes priority over the Church’s primary goal, or when they flaunt it at the expense of the truth. Christ is coming back soon, and there are millions who need to be reached. I pray that the Church realizes this and begins allotting the funds as God intended.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.