Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Worship Jesus Despises - Part 2

And He said to them, "It is written, My house will be called a house of prayer. But you are making it a den of thieves!" The blind and lame came to Him in the temple complex, and He healed them." (Matthew 21:13-14)

The Jews had built the Temple and then had walled it in. They built a short wall around the outside of the Temple that was inscribed with threats to all nonJews. The inscriptions said that any nonJew who walked beyond the wall just to touch the outside of the Temple walls would be killed. So, the traditions of man made it impossible for nonJews to get close to God's presence.

This wall was not God's idea. It was a misinterpretation of God's command for holiness. They forgot that Isaiah wrote,"And the foreigners who convert to the Lord minister to Him, love the Lord's name, and are His servants, all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it, and who hold firmly to My covenant - I will bring them to My holy mountain and let them rejoice in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be acceptable on My altar, for My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations." (Isaiah 57:6-7) 

The Jews then filled this Court of the Gentiles with money-changers and vendors. This made it easier for the Jews to worship, but it moved the Gentiles farther away. Any of these outsiders who wanted to worship God were now even further from His presence and Jesus despised this. He was the One who had come to be near man, to bring all people who believed to His Father, and zeal for his Father's House filled Him to drive these vendors out.  Once He had done so, He began to heal the very people the Jews had excluded from their Holy Temple, "The blind and lame came to Him in the temple complex and He healed them." (Matt. 21:14)

The gospel is a separator. Faith in Christ alone will separate father from son, mother from daughter and life-long friends from one another. So, don't misinterpret Jesus. He was not advocating allowing nonbelievers into the Temple. He was not dumbing down His own requirements. He was fulfilling them. He was revealing the Father's heart, that whosoever will may come.

There are two places of worship in our lives. The first is our own hearts and lives. We are the tabernacle of the Lord. The second is our local church, where we come together to corporately worship the One. 

Is there anything in your heart that keeps others from hearing the gospel and coming near to God?  Is there anything in your church that keeps others from hearing the gospel and coming near to God?

Let the only thing in your heart and in your church that separates people from God be the gospel of Jesus Christ. Despise anything else that keeps people from God.