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Jesus entered Jerusalem and went to the temple.  He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, He went out to Bethany with the twelve.  It would appear that this happened after He did what was recorded in Matthew 21:12:  Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there.  He overturned the tables of the 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.’”

This was the second time Jesus was recorded as having been in the temple clearing out the money changers; the first time being recorded in John 2:13 when He first went up from Capernaum.  That time He said to those selling doves, “Get these out of here!  How dare you turn My Father’s house into a market!” 

The doves represented the lowest and cheapest form of animal sin offering allowed in Leviticus 5:7 for those who could not afford a lamb.  It represents the lowest common denominator of an offering for sin that is acceptable before a grain offering is permitted for someone who is poorer still.  Remember that it was Abel’s animal offering that was accepted and Cain’s offering of grain that was rejected.  Those doves represented the lowest form of offering that allowed a person some guarantee of righteousness, just like Abel’s offering was accepted.  For our context, it represents the most common denominator of the grace of God to all men, which is why John the Baptist saw the HolySpirit come down from Heaven as a dove and remain on Him.”

Twice the Lord Jesus specifically spoke to those selling doves with these warnings:  “Get these out of here!  How dare you turn My Father’s house into a market!”  And, “It is written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it a ‘den of robbers.’”  To Jesus, the sight of selling doves was like one of us selling the Holy Spirit.  Indeed in Acts 8, Peter and John encountered Simon the Sorcerer who offered them money and said, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”  In Peter and John’s days, Simon was prepared to buy, but thankfully Peter and John were not prepared to sell.  However, just as the Levitical practice deteriorated to where dove sellers were making a good living in the temple by the time of Jesus just over a millennium and a half from when the law was given, so now in two millenniums, the situation in the church has likewise deteriorated.

There are plenty of dove sellers in the temple of God, the church, men and women who are prepared to sell the revelations they have received or made up for a price, whereas in the days of Acts 8, it was the buyer who came to the apostles.  Now it is the so-called ‘anointed’ and ‘sent ones’ who are out there looking for buyers for their latest revelation on a sure-fire way of accessing God’s blessings, and they are touting it and blessing all who buy from them, whereas Peter cursed and rebuked the one who offered to buy from him.  How the situation is getting worse!

And as it is recorded in Matthew after Jesus got rid of the money changers and dove sellers:  The blind and the lame came to Him at the temple, and He healed them.    

Now be warned, do not sell the Dove; do not sell what He has given you even if they come to buy, but give freely, withholding only the pearls and what is sacred from the dogs and pigs.  The dogs are those that go back to their vomit, that is, those who go back to their old ways after they have had the command restored to them, and the pigs are those who will turn on you for showing them your pearls.  Now, the problem is how will you know who are dogs and who are pigs without exposing to them what is sacred and what is a pearl?  Simple, if you have the power to do what Jesus has been doing, you will be able to know what they are thinking in their hearts, so that before they speak, you will already know the thoughts and motives behind their fine words.  However, suppose you are not sure and you do not know how to read the thoughts of men’s hearts, what can you do?

When in doubt always do what Jesus did.  It is recorded:  He looked around at everything…  When you are dealing with those who come in the Name of Jesus, especially those who claim to be or are baptised with the Holy Spirit, you are in truth dealing with the temple of God, for their body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is God, and they are part of the temple of God that is the church.  Look at everything—look, watch and see, look at their approach to the word of God and the power of God, look at their willingness not to be ashamed of Jesus, look at everything in their life and see if the temple before you is set out, built and designed according to God’s plan, or is it like what Jesus found at the temple in Jerusalem when He looked at everything?

You see, when Jesus looked at everything in the temple, it meant He looked at all the rooms, porticos, porches, courtyards, it meant He looked at everything.  Now, why was Jesus looking at everything?  What was on His mind and what was He looking at and looking for?  Remember who He is—the Lamb of God who would be sacrificed.

Jesus was looking at everything in the temple to see if the temple was set up correctly the way it was meant to be set up for the sacrifice of the Lamb.  You see, just before the temple of Solomon was destroyed in Jerusalem, God showed Ezekiel the design for the temple that would replace it as written in Ezekiel 40-43, and after the Lord has shown Ezekiel the new design, He said to Ezekiel, “Son of man, describe the temple to the people of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their sins.  Let them consider the plan, and if they are ashamed of all they have done, make known to them the design of the temple—its arrangement, its exits and entrances—its whole design and all its regulations and laws.  Write these down before them so that they may be faithful to its design and follow all its regulations.”  In particular in the design:  In the portico of the gateway were two tables on each side, on which the burnt offerings, sin offerings and guilt offerings were slaughtered.  By the outside wall of the portico of the gateway, near the steps at the entrance to the north gateway were two tables, and on the other side of the steps were two tables.  So there were… eight tables in all on which the sacrifices were slaughtered.

However, the tables Jesus found as He entered the temple area were the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and that was why He overturned them.  Instead of tables for the burnt offerings, He found tables dedicated to Mammon.  He overturned them the first time in John 2:13, hoping they would not repeat the same mistake, but when He found them there again in Matthew 21:12, He overturned them again.  So what was Jesus doing there looking at everything?  What was Jesus looking at and what was He looking for?  You see, there were no tables there that final time ready for the slaughter of the sin offering.  There was literally no place in that temple for the slaughter of the Lamb of God, only places for doves to be bought and sold.

He then had a final look at everything in the temple to see if it, if any of it, conformed to the design shown to Ezekiel, for after all, that second temple would be built not by the will and desire of a man, David, but by the will and desire of God.  So in fact, the glory of the latter temple would be greater than the first temple.  Not because it was built with more gold and silver, but because the second temple was commissioned by God, unlike the first, which was commissioned by a man.  So when God said, “The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,” He wasn’t just speaking of the church, He was speaking of the second temple’s glory being greater because it is the one God commissioned to be prepared for His Lamb, Jesus.  For He said, “See, I will send My messenger, who will prepare the way before Me.  Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to His temple; the Messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come.”

Come to the temple, the Lamb of God.  There is only one thing, one fate awaiting the Lamb of God at the temple, and that is certain death at the altar to be sacrificed.  The second temple was to be the place He would have been slain as the Lamb of God if it had been built according to the design.  But it was not built accordingly, and neither was it functioning the way it was meant to, for instead of tables for the burnt offerings to be slaughtered, there were tables for exchange of money and the buying and selling of doves.

The first time He visited in Luke 2:46, He was already listening and questioning the teachers in the temple court.  When He visited in John 2:13 and found those money changers there, He said to those who challenged His authority, “Destroy this temple,” for after that second visit, He had already decided that it was not suitable at all for the purpose God had in mind, for they had not followed the details of the plans shown to Ezekiel.  You see, no one ever thought the second temple was for the Lamb of God, which was why the Ark of the Covenant was not needed for it, for the second temple was to house the Ark of the New Covenant, had it been built according to the plans given to Ezekiel.

When Jesus saw what He saw in John 2:13, He had already decided it is not what God had in mind, “Destroy this temple… and I will raise it again in three days.”  They did not listen to Jesus and in Matthew 21:12 it was still standing, still unsuitable for use, and this time after looking at everything, He made up His mind and decreed its destruction once He had finished healing the lame and blind, and finished His final teachings, appeals and warnings in its courts.  So when He left that temple with the disciples as the disciples were admiring the temple, He said to them, “As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down.”

He was done with it, it was useless for His purposes and He would go forth and find the new location for the third temple, the hill, not Zion, but Cavalry (Golgotha) where His blood would be shed.  And seventy years later, the Romans completely destroyed that temple, just like Nebuchadnezzar did almost half a millennium ago to the first.

So, you see, the early church had no business going back to that temple at all.  It was already condemned and ear-marked for destruction by the Lord Himself, and a new location had been picked.   The Holy Spirit tried to show them that, as John and Peter were going up to the temple at the time of prayer at three in the afternoon, at the precise hour when Jesus no more than a few months ago had shouted, “It is finished.  Father, into Your hands, I commit My spirit,” and the curtain in the temple was torn in two.  The earthquake hit the temple and tore the curtain at three in the afternoon on crucifixion day.  What were they doing going back there to pray at 3pm?  If indeed they wanted to go somewhere to pray, don’t you think it should have been 3pm at Golgotha?

You see, the presence of that temple and its idolatry was such that years later even Paul would be led astray going into the temple for purification.  You see, they loved the old wine, and in order to stop that contamination the Romans were used to destroy it in AD 70.  So what does this mean for us now?

What is the state of the current temple of God, the church?  Has it been built according to the original plan and is it suitable for habitation by the Lord Himself to return to?  What do you think?

 

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