JUSTICE AND RIGHTEOUSNESS
Thank You, Lord, for Gentile inclusion into Your family.
Read LUKE 19:45–48
Jesus at the Temple
45 When Jesus entered the temple courts, he began to drive out those who were selling. 46 “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be a house of prayer’[a]; but you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’[b]”
47 Every day he was teaching at the temple. But the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the leaders among the people were trying to kill him. 48 Yet they could not find any way to do it, because all the people hung on his words.
a Luke 19:46 Isaiah 56:7
b Luke 19:46 Jer. 7:11
New International Version (NIV)
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“The LORD loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love.” (Psalm 33:5)
In Isaiah 56, the prophet envisions the temple as “a house of prayer for all nations.” (Isaiah 56:7) Foreigners may bind themselves to God in his love, covenant, and service. Isaiah’s compelling vision is coming to fruition as Jesus enters the temple. Jeremiah calls on the people to end idolatry and practice justice, not to trust in the safety of “the temple of the LORD,” (Jeremiah 7:4) for that same temple has become ‘a den of robbers,” (Jeremiah 7:11) rather than place of shalom for the broken. Sadly, Israel’s exile is imminent.
Remembering Isaiah’s hope, Jesus enters Jerusalem, not to cleanse the city of Gentile impurity but to retrace Jeremiah’s path. His target is those who fleece the Jewish pilgrims. The money-changers exchange the pilgrims’ “dirty” pagan coinage into “pure” Tyrian shekels to buy sacrifices and, like Zacchaeus, they take their cut. They also clog up the Court of the Gentiles. Isaiah’s vision of the nations at worship is being grossly violated. By cleansing the temple, Jesus prophetically enacts the opening of access to God for all people. This is accomplished when he dies and the curtain to the Holy Place is torn asunder. (Luke 23:45) His actions understandably infuriate his greedy opponents. His fate is sealed.
This reminds us that we from the nations are swept up into something God has conceived since creation – the vision of Isaiah. Whereas the physical temple is ruined and redundant, we can enter the temple of God, Father and Son; we can worship in Spirit and truth, anywhere, anytime. Nonetheless, we must beware of presuming on our privilege and using it as a pretext for injustice. If we do, we too will face God’s judgment. Instead, we must, “Keep justice, and do righteousness.” (Isaiah 56:1, ESV) We must reach to the margins and invite the world to be joined to God – this is for everyone.
Pray for the church: that it will turn aside from injustice and care for the marginalized. Ask: what needs to change in my life?
Lord, Your people do not take the worship of God lightly, and we recognize the gravity of its perversion.