It was clear they had accorded little importance to its image and status as a house of prayer. King Solomon in dedicating the temple had prayed: “May your eyes be open towards this temple night and day, this place of which you said, ‘My Name shall be there,’ so that you will hear the prayer your servant prays toward this place. hear the supplication of your servant and of your people Israel when they pray toward this place.” (1 Kings 8:29-30)
What was uppermost in the minds of those merchants was how much profit they could have made. That they were desecrating the house of the Lord without anyone raising eyebrows made it look like a seemingly normal and inoffensive activity - not until our Lord Jesus protested vehemently. “He overturned the tables of money changers and the benches of those selling doves. “It is written,” He said to them, “My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’ “ (Matthew 21:12-13) “He would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts.” (Mark 11:16)
Imagine how upset those merchants would have been. Guess they would have called Him all sorts of names as He scattered their wares. Whose comportment was wrong and unacceptable at the time? Jesus or the merchants? Afterall were they not meeting the demands of the worshippers, facilitating life for them by making sacrificial material within reach and within reach.
Record has it that this was not the first time our Lord Jesus had flushed the temple of filth. “When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts He found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at table exchanging money. So He made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; He scattered the coins of the moneychangers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves He said, ‘Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!’ “ (John 2:13-15) Where money is the driving force little regard is given to norms and practices. Our appetite for profit becomes a blindfold: we see, hear and question nothing. To what extent do we trample under feet what is sacred and what is of God motivated by gain and fame. Our Lord Jesus took His stand and manifested his contempt for the practices that were being perpetrated in God’s house.
If we look closely at some of the on-going deep-bedded practices with relation to funeral rites and the accompanying traditions that have infiltrated Christendom in our midst, we also should begin to question whether they glorify God. We also need to show holy anger and thrust them out of the window for good.
Notice that it was our Lord Jesus alone who took offense and singlehandedly sought to put an end to this malpractice. Otherwise for the temple authorities it was business as usual. No eyebrows were raised. In their eyes there could not be any offense. There was nothing to write him about. However something had to be done and our Lord acted instantly. The cleansing process was necessary as commercialisation in God’s house interfered with the worship for which the temple was built.
Was this an exaggeration on our Lord’s part? Did He overreact? Far be it. We need to call a spade a spade and mete out the correct measure of digust for things that we know are wrong and should not be tolerated. Zero tolerance should govern our every action.
There is another temple the Bible refers to that does carry a lot of filth to match the Augean stables that needs cleansing also. We hardly think across these lines, having grown up to believe that it is our personal property and therefore can be used the way we deem fit. That our bodies are the temples of God may not go down well with many. If it did, then a lot is required of us to make it so. “Do you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you? “ (1 Corinthians 6:19) When we accept our Lord Jesus Christ, the Spirit of God comes and indwells us; He makes His habitation in us. We become spiritual beings, we hook up with God and become sensitive to His Word, through His Spirit. A transformation takes place and ‘the old man’ gives way to the new. We become born again.
If we are to take stock of what we do with our bodies, we will observe that we litterally dump everything in it - from alcohol to illicit substances, tatooing and all. We use our bodies indecently promoting prostitution, entertaining pornography, indulging in adultery; the list is long. Paul the apostle exhorts us in these terms. “Therefore, I urge you brothers, in view of God’s mercy to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual act of worship.” (Romans 12:1)
If our Lord Jesus is to come and clean our bodies which are the temples of God what would He find inside them? What tables would He have to overturn? How lofty a task would He have to undertake? Paul asks us ‘to offer our bodies.’ Henceforth we should see our bodies differently and treat them as a place of worship not as a dumping ground. “You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your body.” (Romans 12:20)
The thought could strike you as novel but it is true. “The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body....Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.” (Romans 6:18) We need to come to terms with the infallible Word of God and look at our bodies with a new set of spectacles, lest we grieve the Holy Spirit that has taken residence therein.
“Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as the instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body as to Him as instruments of righteousness.” (Romans 6:13)It may seem like a long shot, but remember we serve a God who is faithful and for whom nothing is impossible. Call on Him for help to overcome and He will deliver and assist you. Give it your best shot. Do not forget: My body, a temple.