the tentmaker

daily thoughts on the common lectionary

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Location: Sharpsburg, Georgia, United States

"...because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them, and they worked together — by trade they were tentmakers." Acts 18:3. Tentmaker is a title taken by bi-vocational pastors. As such, I am both a pastor and a project manager. I am a pastor of a local congregation of moderate, accepting and affirming people who worship in the Baptist tradition. We call our church "Hope Memorial Baptist" and we are about 40 in number. I am also a project manager of major construction projects for the State of Georgia. My home and church is in rural Coweta County, between Peachtree City and Newnan, with a mailing address of Sharpsburg, Georgia.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Sunday 3/19/06 Year B - Lent 3

Exodus 20:1-17
Psalm 19
1 Corinthians 1:18-25
John 2:13-22

The Destruction of the House of God

Related Scripture
Jeremiah 7:3-15
Mark 11:12-25

How are Jesus' actions in the Temple prophetic of his actions in the Church today?

Today our Gospel passage is John’s version of the purging of the Temple. We usually read this story from one of the synoptic Gospels. The passage from John differs from the synoptics in several ways:

1. John places the story at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry whereas, the synoptics place it at the end, and is the main reason the Scribes, Pharasees and Chief Priests seek to have him crucified.

2. John links the purging of the Temple with Jesus’ prediction that the Temple will be destroyed and rebuilt in three days. This is a prediction that is not on the lips of Jesus in the synoptics but on the lips of false witnesses at the trial.

3. In John’s telling, Jesus alludes to a passage from Psalm 69:9.
Psalm 69:8 I have become a stranger to my kindred, an alien to my mother's children. 9 It is zeal for your house that has consumed me; the insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.

In the synoptics, Jesus quotes a passage from Isaiah 56:7...
Isaiah 56:7...for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.

And one from Jeremiah 7:11...
Jeremiah 7:11 Has this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your sight?


Although tradition has called this passage “The cleansing of the Temple,” Jesus is not just cleansing it, he is shutting it down. By a symbolic action that reminds us of the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah, Jesus is destroying the Temple.
Why would God want to destroy his Temple? But He did, in fact, destroy it three times in history:
1. The Tabernacle at Shiloh at the hand of the Philistines.
2. Solomon’s Temple at the hand of the Babylonians.
3. Herod’s Temple at the hand of the Romans.

The passage Jesus quotes from Jeremiah is important for our consideration of what he is doing here in the Temple. It is important enough that we should take it in context. The context of Jeremiah 7:11 begins with verse 3 and ends with verse 15.
3 Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Amend your ways and your doings, and let me dwell with you in this place.

It is a common theme among the prophets to preach to the people “Amend your ways and your doings.” Even John the Baptist called for repentance. But here there is more. In this verse God is connecting His dwelling in the Temple, the House of God, with the ethical practices of the people.
4 Do not trust in these deceptive words: "This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD."
The people believed that because they possessed the Temple of the Most High God in their holy city, and because of that they had special privilege. That God would always bless them. Jeremiah taunts them by sarcastically repeating the phrase “The temple of the LORD. The temple of the LORD. The temple of the LORD.
Listen to his promise:
5 For if you truly amend your ways and your doings, if you truly act justly one with another,
6 if you do not oppress the alien, the orphan, and the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not go after other gods to your own hurt,
7 then I will dwell with you in this place, in the land that I gave of old to your ancestors forever and ever.

The conditions are simple and clearly stated:

1. Do not oppress the alien – the Gentiles.

2. Do not oppress the orphan or the widow – the marginal people of society.

3. Do not shed innocent blood.
Remember Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount:

Matthew 5:21 "You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, 'You shall not murder'; and 'whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.' 22But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, 'You fool,' you will be liable to the hell of fire. 23So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift.


4. Do not go after other gods to your own hurt.

In the days of the Prophets, the people of God were unfaithful to him, they worshipped Baal and Ashera along side the LORD.

While there are still other gods out there to worship, the god of most Americans is the god of materialism. The aquisition of material things that we believe will bring us comfort and peace. It is a false god.

The promise is equally simple and clear:
I will dwell in this place – the Temple – and in the land that I gave to your ancestors.

But listen to the indictment of Jeremiah:
8 Here you are, trusting in deceptive words to no avail.
9 Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, make offerings to Baal, and go after other gods that you have not known,
10 and then come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, "We are safe!"-- only to go on doing all these abominations?
11 Has this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your sight? You know, I too am watching, says the LORD.
Then God gives an example from how he acted in history:
12 Go now to my place that was in Shiloh, where I made my name dwell at first, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of my people Israel.


You may not remember Shiloh, except to know that there are many many churches named Shiloh. You remember the story of the little boy Samuel. His mother took him to the holy man Eli and gave him to God. This was at the semi-permanent location of the Tabernacle that the children of Israel carried with them in the wilderness.

You remember the story of how God called Samuel one night and how he thought it was Eli. In telling the story we always stop with the final acknowledgement of the young Samuel "Speak, LORD for thy servant is listening.”

We never tell the message that God had to give to Samuel. It was a prophecy of the destruction of Shiloh and with it the punishment of the family of Eli. This story was vivid in the mind of Jeremiah because being of the lineage of Eli, the story was told to him over and over as a small boy.

Now hear the judgement:
13 And now, because you have done all these things, says the LORD, and when I spoke to you persistently, you did not listen, and when I called you, you did not answer,
14 therefore I will do to the house that is called by my name, in which you trust, and to the place that I gave to you and to your ancestors, just what I did to Shiloh.
15 And I will cast you out of my sight, just as I cast out all your kinsfolk, all the offspring of Ephraim.


This prophecy was fulfilled in the year 587 BC when the Babylonians sacked Jerusalem, destroyed the Temple of Solomon and carried the Jews into captivity.

The temple was again destroyed in 70 AD when the Romans sacked jerusalem, destroyed the Temple of Herod and scattered the Jews to the four corners of the earth.

Today, there is no Temple and the site where the Temple stood is occupied by a Moslem Mosque. Temple worship is no more. Both Jews and Christians have had to learn to worship as the ancient Israelites did, in our hearts. God is not confined to the premises of a building, although many Christians, by their actions, would believe that He exists only inside the church building.

But God is in all the world. He is in our hearts. But let us not forget the covenant, its terms and conditions. For God sent not his Son to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

Let Us Pray...

Deliver Us:
Deliver us, Lord, from the evil of sin
and from our obstinate self-will
that refuses to listen to you
and to those you have given us as our guides.
Help us to free our brothers and sisters
from our hunger for power and wealth
and from the oppressive structures
that keep them from living as your children.
Help us to prepare in hope and freedom
for the final coming in glory
of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
For the Kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours,
now and for ever.
Amen.

1 Comments:

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7/03/2006 8:36 PM  

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