Wednesday, January 13, 2016, 5:20 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Oh, To Be Like Thee.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Matthew 21:10-13 (NASB).
Who is This? (vv. 10-11)
When He had entered Jerusalem, all the city was stirred, saying, “Who is this?” And the crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth in Galilee.”
Jesus, the king of the Jews, had just entered Jerusalem riding on a donkey and a colt, as had been prophesied by the prophet Zechariah (9:9). A large group of people spread their cloaks on the road. Others spread branches from trees on the road. A group of people, who went ahead of him, shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” [See: Matt. 21:1-9.] The “Son of David” was a term meaning “Messiah.” So, the people of the city began to inquire as to who Jesus was. The response that came back from the crowds was that he was Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.
A lot of people today are talking about Jesus, too: Pope Francis, Barack Obama, Rick Warren, Joel Osteen, John Hagee, other pastors, teachers, Christians, Atheists, and people of other religions, etc. Each is giving his or her own idea of who Jesus is, but not all of these notions are true or biblical, even coming from those who call themselves ministers of the gospel and preachers of the Word of God. Many people, in fact, are willfully misrepresenting who Jesus is in order to deceive human minds and to turn people’s hearts away from the true Jesus to “another Jesus” that is not of scripture, but of their own imaginations.
It is a popular notion today to present Jesus as weak, soft, tolerant, accepting of all, and willing to compromise truth and morality for the sake of mercy. True, Jesus is merciful, loving, forgiving, compassionate, gracious, kind, and tenderhearted, etc. When he walked the face of this earth, he healed the sick and afflicted, raised the dead, comforted the sorrowful, encouraged the timid, delivered from demons, performed miracles, and fed the hungry, etc. Yet, Jesus is also truth, justice, holiness, righteousness, godliness, God the Son, all powerful, all knowing, omnipresent, our creator, sustainer, the giver of life, and Savior from bondage to sin. He does not accept our sin. He delivered us out of sin! He is eternal, completely sovereign over all things; over all powers in heaven and on earth. All things are subject to him and are under his control. And, he is judge of all humankind.
Jesus was/is also meek, but meek is not weak. “Biblical meekness is not weakness but rather refers to exercising God’s strength under His control – i.e. demonstrating power without undue harshness” (biblehub.com). And, Jesus knew how to do this.
A Holy Temple
And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves. And He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’; but you are making it a robbers’ den.”
This description here of Jesus’ words and actions does not fit with the popular notion of Jesus today. Here we see Jesus as the holy and righteous God that he is grieved over the idolatry, mishandling, mockery, and disrespect of God’s holy temple, his house of prayer. They had turned it into a marketplace; a den of robbers. And, so Jesus drove out of his temple those who had turned his house into a marketplace, and he overturned (toppled) their tables and chairs where they had conducted their crooked business dealings.
So, what is his temple, his house today? We are his temple, who have trusted in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives via dying with Christ to sin, and being resurrected with Christ to new lives in Christ, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. He now lives and dwells within each one of us in the person of the Holy Spirit, the third person of our triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We are his temple individually, and we are his temple collectively, i.e. we are his church. A building with a steeple on top is not the church, though it may be called “church.” When we enter such a building, we are not entering into God’s house or his holy presence, as many have taught for years. God does not dwell in a physical room in such a building called the “sanctuary,” either. Such a concept is based in the Jewish temple of the Old Testament before Christ’s death and resurrection.
So, how could this passage of scripture be applied to his temple today? In America, in particular? There are two applications, one to our lives individually, and one to us as the church collectively. Though we may not always be consciously aware of his presence, if we are in Christ by faith, even though we may have drifted from our pure devotion to Christ, he is still in us and with us, and he sees everything we do, and hears every thought we think and every word that proceeds out of our mouths. He knows us inside and out, even before a word is on our tongues he knows it. So, he doesn’t have to enter the temple, because he already dwells within us. And, he is well aware of all that we are going through.
So, is your temple a “house of prayer”? Or, is it a “den of robbers”? Is your mind set on things above or on things of this earth? Is Jesus truly your Lord and master? Or, are you still on the throne of your life and you have given Jesus a back seat? Or is he second in command? Do you sit at his feet each day, listening to him speak his words to your heart? Are you receptive to his messages or do you pick and choose what you will accept? Are you merely a hearer of the word, but not a doer? Do you think God does not require you to turn from sin or to obey him? And, so you think God’s grace gives you free license to continue in sin? Do you fill your minds with the junk and trash of this sinful world via TV, movies, video games, pornography, the internet, magazines, books, music and the like? And, think God is ok with that and that he smiles on you? And, so you dishonor and disrespect him?
And, what about the church, the body of Christ? What are your gatherings like? Have you partnered with the US government, an ungodly entity, via the 501c3? And, so the government is now head of your gatherings instead of Christ? Do you worship the government of the US via the pledge (vow) of allegiance (fidelity) to the flag and its republic? Do you sing songs of praise to the US government via patriotic hymns? Do you honor men of war and bloodshed as heroes in your meetings, and give them the honor due God alone as the ones keeping you safe? Do you really even know how your government was formed, and what their beliefs are, and what they are founded on? Look at our national symbols, and look at all the idols in Washington D.C. and in our government buildings and their structures. These are not modeled after or of the one true God, but they are of Roman, Greek and Egyptian gods and goddesses, the occult, witchcraft, freemasonry, and Satan.
So, what about your meetings? What about your leaders and their goals and objectives for the church? Where do they originate from? From God and his word? Or from Rick Warren and others like him who have written marketing books on how to grow your church? What is taught in your gatherings? The Bible? Or, books written by mere humans? What are you studying? Romans, I Corinthians, Ephesians? Or, The Purpose Driven Life, Radical, Wild at Heart, and the list goes on and on and on? What about your “worship service”? Where is the focus primarily? On the band, the stage production, entertainment, movie clips, having fun, making everyone feel good, appealing to the flesh of humans? Or, is it the simplicity of scripture, the conviction of the Holy Spirit, and lives turned from sin to obedience to Christ?
Jesus is in process of judging his church, his temple (See: Rev. 2-3, for example). He will drive out all those church leaders who have turned his church into a marketplace where they sell a good time, easy believism, entertainment, feel-good messages, non-judgmentalism, and acceptance of sin (including immorality) under the name of God and his grace, and where they promise people a free ride to heaven based on a lie (a false hope). He will judge those church leaders who have denied his name, rejected his messages and his messengers, and thrown out of their church gatherings those who are “deep” in their relationships with the Lord, while embracing those who are “soft,” i.e. who teach that God does not require repentance or obedience, and that he smiles on us when we sin; while embracing this sinful world and its practices; and while appealing to the flesh of humans in order to attract them to the “church,” i.e. to their marketed businesses of human-making.
As well, he will overturn their seats of power, influence and authority over the people and their governing board meetings, their church growth seminars, their goals and agendas, their purpose statements, and all their plans, etc. which are not of him, but are of human making, thinking and reasoning, even denying him and his word in the process.
His house, i.e. his temple, his church will no longer be called a “den of robbers,” but will once again be holy unto him, and be called “a house of prayer.” The true gospel will go throughout the earth and people from all nations will be saved. They will turn from their sins and obey Jesus Christ. Their blinded eyes will be opened, and now they will walk in the light of God’s truth and his love.
They will teach what is in accord with the truth of scripture instead of the slippery greasy gospel of human origin, which is intended to lead people away from the true Jesus, not to him. They will teach that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; that he died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. They will explain that Jesus died that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk, not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit, and that if we walk according to the flesh, we will die, but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live. Lies will be overturned and truth revealed. And, many will put their hope and trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of their lives before he returns.
This is who Jesus is and what he is about, and this is the Jesus we are to be like, not the one created in the imaginations of humans who teach half-truths in order to deceive.
Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer
Thomas O. Chisholm / W. J. Kirkpatrick
Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.
Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.
O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.
O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.
Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.