Sabbath, October 5, 2013

“God calls upon His people to come into line. There is a great work to be done in a short time, and there is no time for hesitation. Plead with God, saying, ‘I make an entire surrender. I give myself away to Thee.’ Then be joyful. The Word is in you, purifying and cleaning your character. God does not want His children to go about with anxiety and sorrow expressed in their faces. He wants the lovely expression of His countenance to be revealed in every one of us who are partakers of the divine nature, for we have power to escape the corruptions of the world.” –Sermons and Talks, vol. 2, pp. 297, 298.

A clean temple

1. What unpleasant scenes met Jesus as He entered the temple’s outer court at the end of His mission? In the face of such unholy traffic, what did He undertake without hesitation?

Luke 19:45 And he went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold therein, and them that bought.

Mark 11:15 And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves.

“At the beginning of His ministry, Christ had driven from the temple those who defiled it by their unholy traffic; and His stern and godlike demeanor had struck terror to the hearts of the scheming traders. At the close of His mission He came again to the temple, and found it still desecrated as before. The condition of things was even worse than before. The outer court of the temple was like a vast cattle yard. With the cries of the animals and the sharp chinking of coin was mingled the sound of angry altercation between traffickers, and among them were heard the voices of men in sacred office. The dignitaries of the temple were themselves engaged in buying and selling and the exchange of money. So completely were they controlled by their greed of gain that in the sight of God they were no better than thieves.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 589.

2. What was God’s wonderful purpose for the temple? What happened in the house of prayer where God’s presence was supposed to abide and bless the people?

Matthew 21:13 And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.

Luke 19:46 Saying unto them, It is written, My house is the house of prayer: but ye have made it a den of thieves.

Mark 11:17 And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves.

“Again the piercing look of Jesus swept over the desecrated court of the temple. All eyes were turned toward Him. Priest and ruler, Pharisee and Gentile, looked with astonishment and awe upon Him who stood before them with the majesty of heaven’s King. Divinity flashed through humanity, investing Christ with a dignity and glory He had never manifested before. Those standing nearest Him drew as far away as the crowd would permit. Except for a few of His disciples, the Saviour stood alone. Every sound was hushed. The deep silence seemed unbearable. Christ spoke with a power that swayed the people like a mighty tempest: ‘It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.’ His voice sounded like a trumpet through the temple. The displeasure of His countenance seemed like consuming fire. With authority He commanded, ‘Take these things hence.’ John 2:16….

“Jesus had taken His position as guardian of the temple. Never before had He assumed such kingly authority. Never before had His words and works possessed so great power. He had done marvelous works throughout Jerusalem, but never before in a manner so solemn and impressive.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 590, 591, 593.

Cleansing the temple

3. What did the Master stop with His decided action? Do we know what is permitted in God’s house and what is forbidden?

Mark 11:16 And would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple.

Malachi 3:1-3 The Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, He shall come, saith the Lord of hosts. But who may abide the day of His coming? and who shall stand when He appeareth? for He is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap: and He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver. 

“That temple, erected for the abode of the divine Presence, was designed to be an object lesson for Israel and for the world. From eternal ages it was God’s purpose that every created being … should be a temple for the indwelling of the Creator. Because of sin, humanity ceased to be a temple for God…. God designed that the temple at Jerusalem should be a continual witness to the high destiny open to every soul. But the Jews had not understood the significance of the building they regarded with so much pride. They did not yield themselves as holy temples for the Divine Spirit. The courts of the temple at Jerusalem, filled with the tumult of unholy traffic, represented all too truly the temple of the heart, defiled by the presence of sensual passion and unholy thoughts. In cleansing the temple from the world’s buyers and sellers, Jesus announced His mission to cleanse the heart from the defilement of sin–from the earthly desires, the selfish lusts, the evil habits, that corrupt the soul….

“… Only Christ can cleanse the soul temple. But He will not force an entrance. He comes not into the heart as to the temple of old; but He says, ‘Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him.’ Revelation 3:20.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 161.

Thought question: What should we do to remove every strange and defiling thing from our hearts, our minds, and God’s house of prayer?

A completely different image

4. While some people and their merchandise were not welcome there, who entered the temple court and received great blessing?

Matthew 21:14 And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them.

“On the way from the temple they were met by a throng who came with their sick inquiring for the Great Healer. The report given by the fleeing people caused some of these to turn back. They feared to meet One so powerful, whose very look had driven the priests and rulers from His presence. But a large number pressed through the hurrying crowd, eager to reach Him who was their only hope. When the multitude fled from the temple, many had remained behind. These were now joined by the newcomers. Again the temple court was filled by the sick and the dying, and once more Jesus ministered to them.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 592.

5. What innocent voices were heard in the holy court after the Master had cleansed it?

Matthew 21:15 And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the son of David; they were sore displeased.

“After a season the priests and rulers ventured back to the temple. When the panic had abated, they were seized with anxiety to know what would be the next movement of Jesus. They expected Him to take the throne of David. Quietly returning to the temple, they heard the voices of men, women, and children praising God. Upon entering, they stood transfixed before the wonderful scene. They saw the sick healed, the blind restored to sight, and deaf receive their hearing, and the crippled leap for joy. The children were foremost in the rejoicing. Jesus had healed their maladies; He had clasped them in His arms, received their kisses of grateful affection, and some of them had fallen asleep upon His breast as He was teaching the people. Now with glad voices the children sounded His praise. They repeated the hosannas of the day before, and waved palm branches triumphantly before the Saviour. The temple echoed and re-echoed with their acclamations….” –The Desire of Ages, p. 592.

6. What blessed work did Jesus constantly do in that place that the Jews had contaminated with their commerce? What religion leads to God?

Luke 19:47 And he taught daily in the temple. But the chief priests and the scribes and the chief of the people sought to destroy him.

Luke 20:1 And it came to pass, that on one of those days, as he taught the people in the temple, and preached the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes came upon him with the elders.

Luke 21:37 And in the day time he was teaching in the temple; and at night he went out, and abode in the mount that is called the mount of Olives.

Mark 14:49 I was daily with you in the temple teaching,…

“Let Jesus into the soul temple to preside there, and all things will then be after the order of God.” –Daughters of God, p. 168.

“The religion that comes from God is the only religion that will lead to God. In order to serve Him aright, we must be born of the divine Spirit. This will purify the heart and renew the mind, giving us a new capacity for knowing and loving God. It will give us a willing obedience to all His requirements. This is true worship. It is the fruit of the working of the Holy Spirit. By the Spirit every sincere prayer is indited, and such prayer is acceptable to God. Wherever a soul reaches out after God, there the Spirit’s working is manifest, and God will reveal Himself to that soul. For such worshipers He is seeking. He waits to receive them, and to make them His sons and daughters.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 189.

Willingness to accept God’s work in us

7. While the priests and rulers were not offended by the crying and selling of speculators, what was disturbing to them? Were they willing to hear the purifying teaching of Jesus?

Matthew 21:16 And said unto him, Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?

Matthew 23:37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!

“The priests tried to stop them. They declared that these children were defiling the temple, and they turned to Jesus to demand the reason of the manifestation he had called forth. They asked him, ‘Hearest thou what these say?’ And Jesus turned to them with the question, ‘Have ye never read, Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise’?” –Review and Herald, April 9, 1889.

“The Jews knew that the act of Jesus in purging the temple of its sacrilegious speculators, was not the exhibition of human power. The divine authority that inspired Jesus, and lifted Him above humanity, was felt and realized by them, and should have been sufficient to bring them as worshipers at His feet. But they were determined to disbelieve Him.” –Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 2, p. 120.

Thought question: For what purpose was this account recorded?

For meditation

“There is a work to be done that has not yet been done. The temple courts are not yet cleansed as they must be before the work which Christ did after the cleansing of the temple can be done. Then all the sick were brought to Him, and He laid His hands upon them, and healed them all.” –Spalding and Magan Collection, p. 139; see also General Conference Daily Bulletin, February 24, 1899.