25 February 2013

A PASSION FOR THE HOUSE OF GOD



John 2:13-22

God is very particular! Throughout the scriptures we see over and over again God’s plan, purposes, and commands to those who truly are His. For example in the Old Testament. We see the particular instructions to what He wanted in the Tabernacle. We see particular instructions to who was allowed in the holy of holies. We see particular instructions to how the people where to approach a holy God. In the The New Testament! We see the requirements of genuine worship "spirit and truth". We see God’s plan and desire for His bride throughout the age in the church. We see the passion for His word and to desire of practical holiness of His children. Sadly though as we are about to see this morning in John’s gospel, we see the same thing going on today in so many churches across Canada and the United States, and now is reaching other countries. I think it comes down to this fundamental question? The church has no passion or awe for God and His church. WHAT DO I MEAN BY THIS? The church today's tries so hard to impress and mislead people especially young children and teens. We try to make the church more hip and cool by dumbing down the message so that they can understand it; but all this is doing is treating our younger generation with contempt, disrespect for the ability to understand the severity of the gospel message. We even see this happening more and more with adults. The dangers of this is that the church isn't doing these people any favours…it’s only crippling them to what we call “genuine worship”

WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE CHURCH TODAY?
  • Entertainment and theatrics has taken over the house of God.
  • The message has been watered down to a 1o minute sermonette.
  • There is no mention of repentance or a turning away from sin.
  • Legalism and bondage set by men in the church
  • They only reach the surface of the flesh.
  • They are the images of men and not of God
  • They are man centered and not Christ centered.
  • Lifeless religion filled with carnal living.

Remember what Jesus said to the religious leaders? In Matt 23:27 Jesus said "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness.” They had no real, genuine passion or zeal for God’s house! But they thought they were genuinely saved……deceived by their own hearts. Psalm 69:1-13 “To the choirmaster: according to Lilies. Of David. Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck.  I sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me. I am weary with my crying out; my throat is parched. My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God. More in number than the hairs of my head are those who hate me without cause; mighty are those who would destroy me, those who attack me with lies. What I did not steal must I now restore? O God, you know my folly; the wrongs I have done are not hidden from you. Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me, O Lord GOD of hosts; let not those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me, O God of Israel. For it is for your sake that I have borne reproach, that dishonor has covered my face. I have become a stranger to my brothers, an alien to my mother's sons. For zeal for your house has consumed me, and the reproaches of those who reproach you have fallen on me. When I wept and humbled my soul with fasting, it became my reproach. When I made sackcloth my clothing, I became a byword to them. I am the talk of those who sit in the gate, and the drunkards make songs about me. But as for me, my prayer is to you, O LORD. At an acceptable time, O God, in the abundance of your steadfast love answer me in your saving faithfulness.”

David had a passion for God’s house, his passion was so evident that it became a reproach to his family and friends. It was a passion that ate at his soul continually though his life. Why was David so passionate about God’s house? He knew who he loved….the God of the bible. A God who is very particular! Especially when it came to worship…..His house. Which brings us to our portion of John’s letter this morning……What is happening? (v13)
  • It’s time of Passover where the Jews prepare, sacrifice and commemorated Israel’s deliverance from bondage in Egypt.
  • It was celebrated annually on the fourteenth day of Nisan [March/April]
  • It was to take place on that day between 3:00pm and 6:00pm
  • Lambs were slaughtered and the Passover meal was to be eaten.

So in obedience Jesus went to Jerusalem to observe the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread which immediately followed. So there is nothing unusual or uncommon that we see here from the opening remarks of John’s gospel! This would have attracted thousands, if not millions of Jews scattered around the region. So picture for yourself thousands of people scattering around trying to prepare for one of the biggest celebration in a sense to the Jewish nation. But something goes south rather quick as Jesus enters the court yard to the Temple. (v14) “in the temple”

LET’S STOP THERE! What’s wrong? What’s causing Jesus to be upset at this moment? Every person required a sacrifice [an animal] ok I get that! Men were selling animals to mostly people who lived far away, which made sense to get one in Jerusalem, instead of bringing one yourself from a faraway land. Not only that, there was also a Temple Tax that was required at this time. Money changers were set up so people could exchange there funds for the currency that was required at that time. And at this time silver was the Pharisee’s desired chose of currency because of its weight.

OK YOU’RE PROBABLY THINKING TO YOURSELF WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL? They were providing animals for the sacrifice and money changers were there to exchange currency for the people. They were doing a good service. NO, the problem wasn't what they were providing! The problem was that these men were robbing and extorting money from poor families and travellers that came a great distance to celebrate their freedom. The Pharisee’s and the merchants were robbing people of their hard earned money. John MacArthur says in his commentary………”the merchants sold them the animals required for the sacrifices at greatly inflated prices. The moneychangers also provided a necessary service. Every Jewish male twenty years of age or older had to pay the annual temple tax. But it could be paid only using Jewish or Tyrian coins [because of the purity of their silver content], so foreigners had to exchange their money for acceptable coinage. Because they had a monopoly [control] on the market, the money changers charges and exorbitant fee for their services [as high as 12.5 % according to FF Bruce].” They did this to make a buck for themselves, and to top it off they were doing in an area that the bible declared to be “holy ground.”

Why do I say this? (v15-v16) Jesus had a “zeal for His Father’s house” as David did when he wrote his psalm of adoration. Go outside the court yard in the merchant areas and do this …….not here in my House! This was the place that the LORD God established for His people to worship and pray. Just as the church today is the established place where we come together to worship and praise His name. Remember what the Pre-Incarnate Christ said to Moses…….Exo 3:4-5 “When the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, "Moses, Moses!" And he said, "Here I am." Then he said, "Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground." It wasn’t the ground that was holy it was the essence and presence of God that was holy. This place we come together and worship is to be a place where God has sanctified and set apart for His glory through corporate worship of His saved ones.

Think about for a moment! Do you know how hard it must have been for those who faithfully came to the temple to pray and worship? Especially, when you have the sounds of animals being slaughtered in the background by the Priests. This was going on in the background as some people were trying to worship God. And we need to understand! The temple was RESERVED for worship ONLYGod’s temple, His church is to be a place where we can find rest and peace as we [individually] prepare our hearts to worship. Jesus was extremely upset about how they were mistreating His Father’s house. (v15). This event, this wickedness was no different than Eli’s sons who were treating the Lord’s house in the same manner for their personal pleasure and gain. 1 Sam 2:12 “Now the sons of Eli were worthless men. They did not know the LORD. And it went on to say “Thus the sin of the young men was very great in the sight of the LORD, for the men treated the offering of the LORD with contempt.” 1 Sam 2:17

I truly believe the church of Jesus Christ is being used as a business or worse yet as a prostitute these last days by the devil and his schemes.....if you don’t believe me think about this statement by J. C. Ryle, in 1858 “The devil, that malicious spirit, is unwearied in his efforts to do us harm. He is ever watching for our stumbling, and seeking occasion to destroy our souls. But nowhere perhaps is the devil so active as in a congregation of Gospel hearers. Nowhere does he labour so hard to stop the progress of that which is good, and to prevent men and women being saved. From him come wandering thoughts; drifting imaginations; listless minds; dull memories; sleepy eyes; restless nerves; weary ears; and distracted attention. In all these things Satan has a great hand. People wonder where they come from, and marvel how it is that they find sermons so dull, and remember them so badly! They forget the devil. Let us take heed that we are not wayside hearers. Let us beware of the devil. We shall always find him at Church! He never stays away from public ordinances. Let us remember this, and be upon our guard. My question for us to think about is……..Would Jesus take a whip to the churches around the globe today? Sadly I think we all know the answer to that question!
  • The church is not treating His house as a place of worship….instead we have turned it into a house of entertainment
  • The church has turned His house into the local community center.
  • The church has turned His house into a place that would put Canada’s Wonderland to shame.
  • The church has turned His house into a place that really doesn`t know or demonstrate what they truly believe.

SEE! God is very particular about how we are to worship Him in this place. This is holy ground in a sense, set up for our adoration and praise towards a holy God, who is worthy of all our adoration and praise. This is our [my] Father’s house……..this is the house that he ordained for His worship through the word. This struck a chord with His disciples! (v17) as they remembered David’s psalm and passion for God. Zeal here means:  Jealousy or to be hot……In this case Jesus was passionately hot for the honor of God's house. It’s an extraordinary concern for the temple of God; passionate concern that the worship there should be pure, and such as God would approve. Jesus had a righteous indignation which stems from a commitment to God’s holiness. Jesus suffered as a result, personally feeling the pain when His Father was dishonoured. Jesus had a zeal for pure worship....and this is a great concern for me in the church of Jesus Christ. WHY DID JESUS DISPLAY HOSTILITY TOWARDS THESE MEN AND THE TEMPLE? So that He could speak these words of truth! (v18-v22) Jesus was speaking about His ultimate sacrifice and resurrection from the dead. Not the physical Temple that was still under construction. His death was the ultimate sacrifice which would render [supersede] the Jerusalem temple obsolete. His resurrection as triumphant Lord would lay down the new spiritual Temple in its place namely, the church. Where our true worship begins and ends with! The sinless Lamb of God who takes away our sins. LET ME ASK YOU A PERSONAL QUESTION THIS MORNING AS WE CLOSE! What would Jesus find if He opened the doors of our church?

WOULD HE FIND?
  • Religion (it’s something we are to do on Sunday’s)
  • Deception (looking to cheat others at any cost)
  • Ritual (we follow tradition because it’s what our parents did)
  • Personal gain (what’s in it for me because that’s all I care about)
  • Prosperity (A love for money...how can I profit from this)

OR WOULD HE FIND:
  • A heart that desires to glorify God and to magnify His precious Name.
  • A heart that desires to elevate Jesus above everything else.
  • A heart that desires to fall passionately in love with Jesus more and more each day.
  • A heart that desires to use His house as a place of reverence and worship.

We are to be obedient............We are to be loyal to our Master..........How? Its summed up in this one sentence! “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thess 5:16-18. A passion for my Father’s house because this is His will for me and you………Let’s Pray

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