Part 2: Temple of Prayer

Temple Of Prayer - Easter Series Daily Devotional Meditation On Matt 21:13
My house shall be called a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of robbers. Matt. 21:13

Jerusalem was overflowing with those preparing for Passover. The temple was humming. There was an endless stream of people coming to offer prayers, the appropriate sacrifices, and to purchase sacrificial animals.

This Temple site was holy and sacred. It was believed to be the place where God had asked Abraham to bring his firstborn, Isaac, to be sacrificed. It is also believed to be the same site that King Solomon built the first temple on. It was destroyed by the Babylonians some 500 years later, only to be rebuilt another 70 odd years after that. Herod made some renovations to the temple, and that’s where we find it in Jesus day. It was not a small structure by any means and was a central part of the community.

Under Roman occupation, the community used Roman coins to make purchases in the marketplace. However, certain temple traditions and practises required the use of traditional Jewish coins. So lenders and money changers were set up in the Temple to exchange Roman coins for the ones needed. They started selling sacrificial animals just incase people who travelled to Jerusalem couldn’t bring their own, and incase someone’s sacrifice was found to be unclean. All these practises started off with the motivation to help people, to make sure they weren’t stuck without sacrifice. But over time, it became polluted by greed. There was a fee charged to change money, and the price to buy a sacrifice continued to climb. It was becoming near impossible for the poor to keep sacrifice, all the while, the “money-lenders” and “sacrifice merchants” were lining their pockets with the devoutness of people who just purely wanted to please God.

Anyone could come to the temple. Even Gentiles could pray in the outer courts where the stalls had been set up. But the places for prayer had been turned into places of profit.

When Abraham climbed Mount Moriah all those years prior, leading his son to what he thought would be his death, it was for sacrifice, to please God, and be reconnected with him. It wasn’t an uncommon practise at the time – many different tribes had a tradition of human sacrifice. Abraham arrived at the spot. The place where he would have to kill his son, offer Isaac up to atone for his own sins. Genesis 22 tells us that as he prepared to do this, he

“looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of Isaac. So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”

On this mountain, God showed Abraham that He would provide even for the atonement of sin. He would make a way to reconnect humanity with the divine.Now, this same site had become a place where men were profiting from other people’s desire to connect with the Divine.

The house of prayer – a place of being open and connected to God, hearing from him and speaking to him – had become a place some people could not financially afford to go, where prices were argued and sacrifices were turned away.

Spiritual bankruptcy.

It’s no wonder that after teaching at the Temple Jesus drove out these people and their practises. He wanted to remind everyone of what had happened in that very place years ago… God provided. God made a way. He made a point, took action and declared what the Temple should be and would return to.

Just a few days later, the 4 inch thick curtain sectioning off the Holy of Holies within this very temple would be torn right down the middle. Ensuring that no one would have to barter or pay to be in the presence of God ever again.

Jesus is God’s providence for us all.

Now your house, your body, your whole life can be a prayer.

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