Does God Get Angry?
Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 And he found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves and the money changers doing business. 15 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. 16 And the said to those who sold doves, “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!” 17 Then His disciples remembered that it was written “Zeal of Your house has eaten Me up.”
18 So the Jews answered and said to Him, “What sign do You show to us since you do these things?”
19 Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple, and in three day I will raise it up.”
20 Then the Jews said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?”
21 But He was speaking of the temple of His body. 22 Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus has said.
In our last post, I mentioned my trip to the sheep barn at the Minnesota State fair that was by Divine appointment. I commented on the large amount of noise being generated by the sheep along with the crowd there for the judging and the announcer. I can only imagine how noisy it must have been as Jesus walked up the step to the temple and hearing the noise generated by animal, and trader and worshipper.
I can certainly upon hearing the deafening roar coming from within the sheep barn understand to some degree why Jesus reacted the way he did to the chaos in the Temple Courtyard. But yet it still leaves question on my mind. Was Christ acting out in righteous indignation? Just exactly what took place in the temple and is this a flashback to the God of the Old Testament?
All very good questions, but let me assure you, however you feel about the God of the Old Testament, rest assured he is the same yesterday today and forever (see Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8; James 1:17). Therefore, what is happening as Christ is gathering about himself a whip and turning over tables of money and commanding the keepers of the doves to take their things away. For the sheep and the oxen and those that owned them fled of their own accord. Does this then sound like one that came to show us the Father? So, why this seemly out of place event in the life of Christ?
Let me take just a moment to point out which court of the temple was involved. It was the court of the gentiles, this was the common court that was open to both Jew and Gentile, male and female to come and worship and pray. Jews themselves had another court which was separated for male and female and an area where a gentile was not supposed to go. This sale of animals and exchanging of coins also did not take place in the main building which housed the holy and most holy place.
When the Lord descended upon Mount Sinai, the place was consecrated by His presence. Moses was commanded to put bounds around the mount and sanctify it, and the word of the Lord was heard in warning: “Take heed to yourselves, that ye go not up into the mount, or touch the border of it: whosoever touches the mount shall be surely put to death: there shall not a hand touch it, but he shall surely be stoned or shot through; whether it be beast or man, it shall not live” (Exodus 19: 12, 13). Thus was taught the lesson that wherever God manifests His presence, the place is holy. The precincts of God’s temple should have been regarded as sacred. But in strife for gain, all this was lost sight of.
The priest and rulers were called to be the representatives of God to the nation; they should have corrected the abuses of the temple court. They should have given to the people an example of integrity and compassion. Instead of increasing their own profit they should have considered the situation and needs of the worshipers then being ready to assist those who were not able to buy the required sacrifices. But this they did not do. Their hearts which should have been full of Christlike love was hardened and calloused.
There came to this feast those who were suffering, those who were in want and distress. The blind, the lame, the deaf, were all there. Some where brought on beds. Many who came were too poor to purchase the humblest offerings for the Lord, too poor even to buy food with which to satisfy their own hunger. These were greatly distressed by the statements of the priests. The priests boasted of their piety; they claimed to be the guardians of the people; but they were without sympathy or compassion. The poor, the sick, the dying, made their vain plea for favor. Yet their suffering awakened no pity in the hearts of the priests.
The time of the Passover was to be a time for the priest to instruct the people in the great plan of salvation, which these services were all pointing to. Yet the worshippers having felt taken advantage of offered their sacrifices without understanding that they were typical of the only perfect Sacrifice which was Jesus Christ who now stood in their midst, unrecognized and without honor. It was Christ’s work to establish an altogether different worship.
I guess we didn’t establish the meaning of the whip or the words spoken by Jesus but perhaps we have a better understanding the conditions present, that warranted Jesus’ out burst when entering the temple. Perhaps this is also representative of what is taking place within our own hearts as well. Both are aspects we will further explore in our next post or two.