“On Your Mark”
Temple or Travesty? (Chapter 11 Verses 12-19)
The fig tree was obviously by the roadside and therefore ownerless (vv12-14), so no theft (scrumpying) involved. This tree in full leaf, offered the promise of fruit, though early for the time of year. But in spite of this grand display of leafage, there was not even the slightest sign of even the most immature fruit. Nothing but leaves (v13b)! Jesus simply states what the tree deserves (v14), because it is useless.
Meanwhile back in the Temple (v15-19), the second cleansing is taking place (John 2.13). This time no-one dares to confront or challenge him. Again here is fulfilment of prophecy (Malachi 3.1-5). It is approaching the Passover feast when Israel remembered their deliverance from Egypt (Exodus 12.12-13), so there would be lots of people around, and lots of business for the Temple traffickers. Altogether there were three Temples, the one Solomon built, the one re-built in Zerubbabel’s day, and the present one re-built with Herod’s money for political reasons to please the Jews. But when one thinks of Isaiah’s Temple (Isaiah 6.1), the glorious place of worship, and what is taking place here? A house of prayer (v17)? No says Jesus, a den of robbers! Degraded, a shambles, a common bazaar, business as usual. It was because of such corruption, apostasy even, that many turned away from the faith, disillusioned, without hope, and without God. What if some broken, repentant sinner walks into Church and we are not doing what we should be doing? How many people turn away from the Christian faith today because of the problems, the in-fighting, not to mention all the wrong teaching, or even no teaching at all in some Churches. Is it possible that there could be an indignant, even angry Jesus in the midst of some Churches today? If he is there at all (Revelation 3.20)? There is none of the gradual reformation that some speak of here, Jesus drives out with authority everything that should not be in God’s house. And what do you know? The people actually respect him for it (v18b). The Church will never get back the respect of the nation until it gets back to believing its own message, and implementing it in the Church. But religious, murderous unbelief (v18a), does not like the Holy Spirit’s powerful renovation work. Yet, God will not be mocked (Galatians 6.7), nor allow his Church to be used as a refuge for wickedness (Jeremiah 7.12-15). The Temple? It is coming down, every single stone of it (Matthew 23.28; 24.2). Are you listening good people?
(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1996)