When they arrived back in Jerusalem, Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out the people buying and selling animals for sacrifices. He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves, and he stopped everyone from using the Temple as a marketplace. He said to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer for all nations,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves.”   Mark 11:15-17

A Den Of Thieves

I remembered hearing this story for the first time on a tape recorder for Sunday School sometime back, which seems just like yesterday.  Of course it only seems like yesterday because, erm…  who still uses a tape recorder nowadays, right? Ha!

I remembered admiring the boldness, the majesty and the authority of that character “Jesus”; to heroically do what was needed to be done. He smashed and overturned the money, wares and tables; chasing the godless people and filthy animals out of the Temple. With such rare controlled anger of power declaring about God and His house so bravely. I was somewhat impressed with the story-teller and all the noisy sound effects from the tiny tape recorder too. Those are sweet memories; I was about 9 years old then.

However, coming back to present, I felt that this “heroic” account of Jesus has been distastefully misused, misquoted and misunderstood. I was rather saddened and angry at how the our beloved accounts from the Bible have been so foolishly exploited. Ironically, I would think the indignation I was feeling would somewhat be similar to how Jesus might have felt when He went into the Temple to chase those mongers out.

Jesus controlled His anger the first time round when He first enter the Temple with all the chaos. He only returned the next day, and I would reckon, that was after soughting from the Father and much pondering before uprooting the entire Temple sacrificial system, see here; I too want to take a long while to ponder about this issue before erupting in this post, so please bear with me.

You see, people have been quoting this account from the Bible and blatantly conclude that the Church should not even remotely own or run or engage or involve or utilise or build (a place of worship) an entity that also contain other commercial interests. Granted that the primary function of the Church is to lead its people into meeting, worship and knowing God but this blanket deduction blindly condemns all who have such arrangements and made no concern about the situation, the problems, the feelings, the needs  or the nature and aspects of different churches and its members. Is it simply a misunderstanding or a self-righteous mindset and scheming attempt to rob and steal from God’s people of their peace, joy and their rights?

A Den Of Thieves

On the other hand, I also understand that this battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms; the devil knows how to use the Scriptures to his advantage too *wink*  So let’s put on the full amour of God and fight back with our sword of the Spirit that is God’s Word, see here.

So what went so wrong that made Jesus so angry when He went into the Temple?

To answer that, we need the divine guidance from the Holy Spirit to see beyond the superficial description of the biblical account. It is interesting to note that the curse of the barren fig tree is smacked right in the middle of this account of Jesus clearing the Temple. Coincidence? Hardly. Jesus was probably trying to make this fig-tree an example, not to tree per se, but to the people of that generation. It was a figurative condemnation upon the old church and it’s mentality, to which He came seeking fruit in a green-matured-full-bloom-tree, but found none. A symbolism of the big and established religious structure but were spiritually dead, see here. In addition, we see the evilness in the hearts of the leading priests and teachers of (their own) law as we know from the Bible that this is the first mention of how they had began plotting to kill Jesus; their apparent long awaited Messiah.

The ground where the buying and selling took place was probably in the Court of the Gentiles. So another reason Jesus got so angry was because these activities were taking place within the temple courts, a place where non-Jews could come and worship. This is shows that the people running the Temple, chief priest and teachers of the law had a complete disregard for other (Gentile) believers and no genuine reverence for God or His house. All these business activities made the temple court very crowded and noisy, giving very little room for devout Gentiles who went to the temple to worship God, see here.

But the biggest clue as to why Jesus was so angry was from His rebuke to the people quoting from the Old Testament of Jeremiah, which is rather self-explanatory:

“‘Don’t be fooled into thinking that you will never suffer because the Temple is here. It’s a lie! Do you really think you can steal, murder, commit adultery, lie, and burn incense to Baal and all those other new gods of yours, and then come here and stand before me in my Temple and chant, “We are safe!”—only to go right back to all those evils again? Don’t you yourselves admit that this Temple, which bears my name, has become a den of thieves? Surely I see all the evil going on there. I, the Lord, have spoken!   Jeremiah 7:8-11

So you see, Jesus was not angry because of the commercial transactions that were taking place for the Temple sacrifice, which was first instituted by Moses and down the generations, see here. Jesus was angry at the “unrepentant hearts” of the people and their false sense security in their deluded faith, not knowing and understanding their true God – their LORD – their Messiah – Jesus.

In addition, even Joseph and Mary bought a pair of doves to offer as a sacrifice when Jesus was first to be presented in the Temple, see here. Wouldn’t angels appear to forbid them if such transactions were a transgression against God? Then it would be really weird if Jesus was forbidding such dealings that even He was part of, right?

Therefore in summary, to take the account of Jesus driving out the mechants from the Temple in the gospels to support the view that “mixing church premises and commercial interest is a no go”, in my humble opinion, is an overly simplistic and ignorant view on the understanding of the beautiful passage. Suppose if that argument somehow holds true, then in modern context any bookshop, gift-shop, canteen, cafeteria, coffee-stand, and even the humble vending machine within the church compound will be “a den of thieves“!

Unbelievable, right?!?

A Den Of Thieves, St. Marys Church, Kraków

God first instituted those commercial businesses for the convenience of His worshippers when they travel to the Temple during Moses’ time, see here. Throughout history, God’s desire is for His children to come to Him and rejoice in His midst. As long as the believers can do that in the church without the interruptions and distractions from the commerical activities, that is housed outside the place of worship, and are able to fully enjoy His presence  in worship and adoration, then that is all that matters.

Anyway let’s not get distracted by the devil and his den of thieves to confuse and depress but focus unwaveringly on our hero, Jesus and His imminent return!   Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. Hebrews 10:23-25

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Comments
  1. Geri says:

    Thanks for the wonderful sharing =D

    It is important that we read the scripture in the right context with a full understanding. So many of us skim through, or read it without true understanding.

    Honestly, I’ve only come to really read and understand the scripture in depth after attending New Creation Church. Say what they want, many of us attend it not because of any other reason other than the fact that Christ is really glorified in that church. It’s not about Pastor Prince, not about the fact that it is a mega church… it is because of the biblical teaching and the way they teach us to feed ourselves on the Word of God. You can ask around and so many of us read beyond what our Pastor says. We don’t “follow him blindly” as some members of the public are likely to suppose based on heresay and imagination… Lol. I was guilty of that sort of thinking in the past until I came to witness for myself if the gospel being preached on that pulpit was a false or true one.

    May the LORD continue to bless you with His wisdom. =D God bless!

  2. King David says:

    Thanks for the encouragement Geri.

    You are right. It doesn’t matter where you came from. It doesn’t matter what people think of you. It doesn’t matter which church you attend. It doesn’t matter who your pastor is. It doesn’t matter how big or small your church is. It all didn’t matter.

    What matters is to know Who your God is. How great He is. How lovely and beautiful is He. How much He gave for us. How much He loves us. How much more He although as a God is willing because of us, His humble creation…

    It is all that matters…

    God bless!

  3. matt says:

    This blog’s great!! Thanks :).

  4. Good lesson. One other thing that I would like to add is that a lot of people use this Scripture to point out that Jesus reacted in anger. The truth is that he was acting righteously as he saw the Father doing.(Jesus said I only do what I see the Father doing)

    In the Old Testament, the Ark of the Convenant was made holy because the Spirit of God resided there. For that reason, when Uzzah went to steady the Ark that was about to fall from the cart, the LORD’s anger burned against him and he died just for touching the Ark which was holy! Now we go forward into the New Testament and Jesus. The people were defiling the temple which was made holy because the LORD would meet with them there in the Holy of Holies. But get this, I love this revelation…. Instead of God acting to put to death those who defiled his temple, his righteous anger was filtered through his Son Jesus in mercy and the people were just driven out instead! The Savior of this world saved a lot of people that day. They may have been angry about what Jesus did, but they did not realize that Jesus saved them from the wrath of his Father. In the same way, Christ death and resurrection saves those who believe from the wrath of God and eternity in hell. Jesus is truly the Savior of the world.

    http://www.mlordi.wordpress.com

  5. Действительно интересно. Автору, как говорится, респект.

  6. I really like your blog.. very nice colors & theme. Did you design this website yourself or did you hire someone to do it for you? Plz reply as I’m looking to design my own blog and would like to find out where u got this from. kudos

  7. King David says:

    Gerardo,
    the theme page is standard in wordpress… good luck in your blog

  8. maryfollowsthelamb says:

    You make some excellent points that I had never thought about at all until I read your post. My question would be: where do you draw the line then between church and commercialism?

    • King David says:

      religion has lines…
      Christdom has lines…
      legalism has lines…

      Christainity has no line, because its guided by the Holy Spirit… due to different groups, nations, locations and needs, as long the leaders are guided by the Holy Spirit, not greedy, as long as the name of our Lord Jesus is glorified… if that is considered a line…

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