GOD’S UNCONDITIONAL LOVE- I John 4.8-9

Motivational Words: God's Unconditional Love is the Source of our Worth Images: © 2009 Mary Fairchild and Darleen Araujo

Love came down at Christmas 2,000 years ago, in a stable and lay in a manger. He dwelt among men to reveal the Father, taught the will of His Father and, remained obedient unto death, even death on the cross so that you and I might be saved from sin.

It has been all because of love, an unconditional love. It is not because of anything good man has done or even can do; it’s all because God has loved us without any regret in spite of man’s willful sinning. It is a faithful love and is never changing in spite of man’s faithlessness and shortcomings.

In spite of all our sin and uncleanness, God had made a way for us to be redeemed through Christ, our salvation. If we have received Him in our hearts as our Lord and Savior, come judgment day, the Lord can then declare us not guilty of any sin.

Do you know what the innkeeper’s fault was? He did not provide accommodation to Mary and Joseph? If we will give him the benefit of the doubt, we can say that the inn was really full that time. Even if he wanted to give them space, there was no room for them in the inn. Besides, the text did not say that Mary and Joseph had no means to pay neither did it say that the innkeeper drove the couple away. There was just no room for them in the inn. Maybe, it could have been different if it was Herod’s son who wanted a room because he knew Herod definitely.

The problem was that he did not know who Mary was and who was the baby she was about to give birth to. Had he known, he could have opened the entire inn for the baby Jesus. The problem was he did not know. He did not know because his didn’t care to know. He didn’t give time to know. He was not attuned with the revelations of God unlike the shepherds who had made themselves available and were willing to leave everything, even their sheep, just to see God.

Jesus left His glory in heaven to become a man so he could save us from death. He loved us that much. How about us? What can we leave so we could show Him how important He is to us?

TO BE CONTINUED

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The Conclusion: Divine Indignation

We, too, must die to ourselves so that God can raise us up as God’s temple. As we die to the influence and power of sin, we will resurrect as tabernacles of God’s glorious presence. We become a living doxology of God’s power to save sinners from death and pestilence.

Then, we can stand on Christ’s authority and cast down erroneous ideas in the temple of man’s hearts and minds. Paul wrote,

2 Corinthians 10:4-5

“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ”  (2 Cor 10:4-5 King James Version).

Remember, the Lord has given us authority to trample on snakes and scorpions. They represent not only the handy works of the devil but his influences as well.

We need to die a deeper death so that we could live a life of genuine faith. We need to “put off concerning the former way of life, the old man which is corrupt…” (Eph 4:22), then, and only then can we live and “put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” (Eph 4:24).

The hour of reformation is not easy. It is often difficult and sometimes even painful.  Anyone who works for reformation faces opposition whether in society or within one’s self. The harder it must be if oppositions come from within one’s self. However, even if you do evil, you will still contend with opposition. If you do what is good, you will still struggle with great opposition. If in either way you will meet oppositions, it would be better to do the right thing.

Let us remind ourselves that we are stewards of God. We are stewards of His truth, His mysteries and His temple. We do not need to wait for Christ to come and clear our human temple; we can clear it even before He comes. Let us not be like the chief priests that allowed the moneychangers to defile the temple.

In First Corinthians 4:2, we can read one very important requirement for good stewardship- faithfulness. When the Lord comes, may He finds us all faithful.

Image Courtesy of:

http://www.faithclipart.com

The Lord’s Purpose for Showing Divine Indignation- John 2:16-22

a spiritual awakening

The Lord’s “scourge of small cords” was not merely for punishment but more so for Reformation. The Lord is interested more on a change of heart than flowing tears.

Let us examine ourselves. Is there any area in our lives that Christ needs to clear?

One good thing about God’s Divine Indignation is that He remains righteous and just even in anger. Note: Christ used the scourge of small cords on the animals to drive them out of the temple and not on people. He drove out the sheep and oxen so the owners might follow them. He overturned the tables and scattered their money on the floor, to make a statement of disapproval. Yet when He turned to the cages of doves, He just asked the sellers to put them away. If he had turned the doves flying, the owners would not have a way of retrieving them. Therefore, to them that sold doves he said, take these things away. God showed concern even if He was angry.

He was not saying that it was wrong to sell animals for sacrifices or change money but they should do it outside the temple. They might have rational needs but those were not enough excuses to defile the temple of God.

Note: Even if God hates the sin that He sees in the human temple, which is our body, He is still gracious enough to let us willfully respond.

Whenever we compromise our faith in favor of anything against the principles of Christ, God is saying, “Take these things away!” In the middle of all the worldly influences that surround us, we need to “take those things away”. Admittedly, it is easy to say. Yet we can stand with authority against these influences that find their way within us and take them away by virtue of Christ’s authority over the temple as Jesus said, “destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up”. The Jews did not understand His words because their focus was on carnal things thus, they could not grasp when they had heard something spiritual.

The Jews asked Him under what authority was He acting that way. He answered by speaking about His death and resurrection and by virtue of it; he would reveal Himself as God’s only Son, who had absolute authority over the Temple. He spoke by that authority and we should live by that authority.

Application of the Divine Indignation

The Bible says, “Know you not that you are the temple of God and the Holy Spirit dwells in you?” Apostle Paul stresses this point three times in his two letters to the Corinthian believers particularly in 1Cor. 3:16-17, 1Cor. 6:19 and 2Cor. 6:16-18.

remains of the corinthian temple dedicated to apollo

In the ancient world, the entire city of Corinth had the reputation of having a loose and permissive culture. There was even a temple in Corinth that honored the goddess Venus that employed 1,000 prostitutes. In fact, there was a Greek verb “to Corinthianize” which meant to live shamelessly and immorally.

Concisely, Paul taught the Corinthian believers that they were the temple of God and that they should keep themselves pure from whatever influence that defiles God’s temple- their bodies. The same message goes to all of us. In a commentary by Matthew Henry regarding this subject, he says,

“The temple was devoted and consecrated to God, and set apart from every common to a holy use, to the immediate service of God. So all Christians are separated from common uses, and set apart for God and his service. If we are the temples of God, we must do nothing that shall alienate ourselves from him, or corrupt and pollute ourselves, and thereby unfit ourselves for his use; and we must hearken to no doctrine that would seduce us to any such practices. Note, Christians are holy by profession, and should be pure and clean both in heart and conversation. We should heartily abhor, and carefully avoid, what will defile God’s temple.”

The Lord’s Action- John 2.13-16

it's time to clean up!

First, He made a scourge of small cords, which probably they had led their sheep and oxen with, and thrown them away upon the ground which, Jesus picked up then He drove out the sheep and oxen, and those that sold them, out of the temple. However, notice that He did not make a scourge to chastise the offenders but only to drive out the animals out of the Temple.

Secondly, He poured out the changers’ money. In pouring out the money, he showed his disapproval. He threw it to the ground. In overthrowing the tables, he showed his displeasure against those that make religion a matter of material gain. Moneychangers in the temple were guilty of such shame.

Thirdly, He told those who were selling doves (sacrifices for the poor) to take those away. Though the doves, occupied less space, and were fewer nuisances than the oxen and sheep still, they were not supposed to be there. The sparrows and swallows that seek refuge in the temple were welcome (Psalm 84:3) but not the doves that time, which had become symbols of man’s greed.

Fourthly, He gave them a good reason for what he did: “Make not my Father’s house a house of merchandise”. He reiterated that the purpose of the temple was worship. Making worship, a business enterprise is not acceptable to God.

The Corruption in the Temple- John 2.13-16

Jesus Clears the Temple

“Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business. When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables. And He said to those who sold doves, “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!” –John 2:13-16



What were the corruptions that the Lord had to purge?

First, they sold oxen, and sheep, and doves, for sacrifice. Evidently, it is for the convenience of the pilgrims who could not bring their sacrifices in kind along with them (see Deut. 14:24–26). This market perhaps had been reserved by the pool of Bethesda (see John 5:2), but the chief priests could have admitted it into the temple in exchange for rent. No doubt, the rents for standing there, and fees for examining the beasts sold there, and certifying that they were without blemish, would yield considerable revenue to them. Great corruptions indeed owe their rise to the love of money (1 Tim. 6:5, 10).

Secondly, they changed money, for the convenience of those who would pay a half-shekel temple tax. Under the Law of Moses, every male of Israel twenty years old and upward was required to redeem his soul by giving a half-shekel after the shekel of the sanctuary. No man was exempt, even the poor had to pay it (Ex. 30:12-14). The purpose of this money was for the maintenance of the tabernacle and later the Temple. (see Exo. 30:16 NIV). By tradition, the half-shekel became the Temple tax collected at the temple annually.

Due to its purity of silver, this was the only coin accepted for the payment of the Temple tax in Jerusalem. According to Alfred Edersheim’s book “The Temple”, the Pharisee sect made this tax mandatory and could seize property to pay it. According to the New Unger’s Bible Dictionary (referring to these moneychangers):

“The Bankers, who sat in the Court of the Gentiles (or in its porch), changed all foreign coins into those of the sanctuary for a fixed discount.… This tribute was in every case to be paid in the exact Hebrew half shekel. The moneychangers assessed a fixed charge for their services. This charge must have brought in large revenue, since not only many native Palestinians might come without the statutory coin, but also a vast number of foreign Jews presented themselves on such occasions in the Temple. In addition to the tribute, those who came to worship at the Temple needed money for other purposes. Most sacrifices for the feasts were bought within the Temple area. It was easier to get the right money from the authorized changers than to have disputes with the dealers. Thus, the immense offerings of foreign Jews and proselytes to the Temple passed through the hands of the moneychangers. Indeed, they probably transacted all business matters connected with the sanctuary.”

The Temple was the center for worship but they turned it into a center of their foreign exchange business!

to be continued

Divine Indignation- John 2.13-22 (a series)

a replica of the Temple in Jerusalem

present-day Waling Wall in Jerusalem

Above are pictures of the present time Israel Western Wall or the Wailing Wall and a replica of the Temple in Jerusalem.

The Wailing Wall is actually not a part of the Temple but what remains of the outer walls of the Temple that Herod the Great has rebuilt in 19BC in an attempt to perpetuate his name for eternity through massive construction projects. Historians consider this Temple his masterpiece that is why they call this Temple, Herod’s Temple.

Herod’s Temple was one of the biggest construction projects of the first century BC, comparable to some of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It was a massive expansion of the Second Temple, which Zerubbabel built in the 2nd year of Cyrus around 516BC, which was rather small in comparison. However, the Roman Empire under the command of Titus destroyed this magnificent marble temple in 70AD after crushing a revolt led by the Zealots.

Do you know that an Islamic shrine, the Dome of the Rock, has stood on the site of the Temple since the late 7th Century AD, and the al-Aqsa Mosque, from roughly the same period stands on the Temple courtyard?

It is fascinating to see a proof of the truthfulness of this account in the gospel of John- the existence of the Temple and what remains of it in this time and age. Indeed, we can rely on the truthfulness of the Bible not only because of faith but also of historical record.

We are going to try to go back approximately a little over 2,000 years in time, into the Temple in Jerusalem in all its brilliance and splendor, on a very busy Passover where we will see the Lord’s Divine Indignation.

In Exodus 34:6-7(NIV), God proclaimed Himself to be the God who is slow to anger. However, in this account of John, we can see the Lord Jesus angry.

What was it that angered the Messiah; the God who is supposed to be “slow to anger”? What was so bad about those who sold oxen, goats, sheep and doves and the moneychangers that Jesus had to drive them out of the Temple?