Verse of the Day Devotion. Matthew 21:13.
“He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.” Matthew 21:13
After Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, He entered the Temple and was not happy with what He saw. “And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the moneychangers and the seats of those who sold pigeons.” Matthew 21:12. The purpose was to drive out the merchants, who in cooperation with the priests cheated visitors to Jerusalem by forcing them to purchase approved sacrificial animals and currencies at high prices. What would happen is that people would be told their sacrifice was not worthy to be offered in the temple, and thus would be sold another deemed acceptable for a high price along with the offering brought to them, which many times they would sell to another at a high price. For example, it was not unusual for a dove to be sold in the temple for 15 to 20 times what could be purchased elsewhere. “
This was a serious issue for Jesus, which is shown by what He did. He drove out those who bought and sold wrongly in the temple and overturned the tables and chairs of those who cheated the people. And our focus verse clearly shows why He was angry. “He said to them, It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.” Matthew 21:13. He is quoting Isaiah here. “And the foreigners who join themselves to the LORD, to minister to him, to love the name of the LORD, and to be his servants, everyone who keeps the Sabbath and does not profane it and holds fast my covenant. these I will bring to my holy mountain and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” Isaiah 56:6-7. Isaiah calls the Temple a house of prayer for all people, not just Jews. However, the Jewish leadership used it as a place to cheat the people by stealing from those who came to give their sacrifice to God.
After this, many came to Jesus in the Temple. “And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them.” Matthew 21:14. The bold action of Jesus when He drove out the merchants and money changers from the temple courts did not discourage the needy from coming to Him. The blind and the lame were restricted to the court of the Gentiles; they could not go closer to the temple and could not go to the altar to sacrifice. After purging the court of the Gentiles of merchants and robbers, Jesus then ministered to the outcasts who congregated there. He did the work of the Messiah, a significant part of which was showing the power of God in the context of compassion and mercy to those who so needed this.
We do not have the temple today, but we do have Churches where the Body of Christ meet to praise God, hear needed teachings, pray together, and in all ways lifting each other up. We must never, whether we are leaders or not, take advantage of anyone for our own benefit. We should never limit good things and deeds to only those who donate up to certain expectation. And we should never deceive anyone into giving with promises we will or cannot deliver. God, in no way approves of this. Paul laid this our clearly. “and that no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you.” 1 Thessalonians 4:6. Today, church is a place for ‘the Church’ to honor God, giving Him praise and worship as well as growing our knowledge such that we build up our faith. It is not for anyone to take advantage of anyone for his/her own advantage and gain. I believe God abhors this, and will, as the above verse shows, avenge those who take part in these things.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries, Inc.