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The Zeal of Thine House

“And the Jews' passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem, And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables; And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father's house an house of merchandise. And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.”

John 2:13-17

Let’s look at some of the basic elements of this passage: 

  • The time is the passover season. 

  • The place is the temple (the Father’s house). 

  • Some had made the Father’s house a house of merchandise.

If we understand the significance of these three things we will be able to understand why Jesus acted with such anger and zeal.

The Time:

The name “passover” comes from Exodus 12:13: “And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.” This blood (of a lamb) spoke prophetically of the blood of Jesus Christ (the Lamb of God) that saves us from destruction.

The Place:

The temple was the Father’s house – it belonged to him. Animal sacrifices took place there, symbolizing the sacrifice of the Messiah who was to come.

Making God’s House a House of Merchandise:

Those who had made God’s house a house of merchandise had corrupted his house for their own personal gain. How do I know this? Jesus cleared out the temple twice in his three-year ministry - once in the beginning of that ministry (as recorded in John 2:13-17) and again at the end of his ministry (see Matthew 21:12-13). In the book of Matthew it is recorded that he told these evil men that they had made God’s house a “den of thieves”.

The Method and the Message:

I has been wisely stated “When we change God’s method, we change his message.” God gives us Christian liberty in various areas, but he also wants some things to be done in specific ways (his method) so that people will clearly understand his message. When we take it upon ourselves to change his method (as the men in the temple had done) then the method no longer serves God’s purposes adequately. We have a present-day example of this in baptism, in which the message is the Gospel: the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. God says that we are “buried with him by baptism into death” (Romans 6:4) “wherein also ye are risen with him” (Colossians 2:12). Immersion (which is what the Greek word for baptism means) illustrates this perfectly and this method is clearly supported by scripture. The Roman Catholic church and Protestant churches have (almost exclusively) changed God’s method from immersion to sprinkling, a method which cannot portray the Gospel at all (the method is completely unrelated to the message). It is a frightening thing to change a method that God has given us to communicate his glorious Gospel.

What is God’s House Today?

The physical temple was destroyed in 70 A.D and has not been rebuilt to this day. Does God have a house today? God answers this question in I Timothy 3:15: “But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth”.

God owns this house. He bought it at the highest possible price and he will not allow thieves to pillage it forever:

“Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” Acts 20:28

If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.”

I Corinthians 3:17

The Greek word translated “zeal” literally means “heat”. In a spiritual sense, zeal is a fervent burning passion that manifests itself in bold action. Jesus’ zeal had “eaten him up” (consumed him). Today, Jesus’ zeal for his Church consumes him and there is coming a day when he will drive out those who dare defile his house. A Christian (one who follows Christ) should be zealous of God’s house and share God’s anger when it is corrupted by man’s methods.

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