TEXT: Matthew 21:10-14
10 And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this?
11 And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.
12 And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves,
13 And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.
14 And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them.
We are in a series of messages titled “Praying Through the Bible: A Series on Every Passage and Verse Regarding Prayer in the Bible.” The purpose of this series is to encourage and motivate you to pray to the God of the Bible. We highlighted each of these over 500 verses and passages in the Prayer Motivator Devotional Bible. So far, we have completed 141 messages in this series.
This is message #142 titled, The Purpose of the House of Prayer (Part 2)
What do people think of when they think of the church? Some people think of the church as merely a cultural institution that has no real consequence in everyday life. Some people think of the church as a community outreach center — it only exists to be of assistance to the community, especially when disaster strikes. Others think of the church as the place you go for funerals, weddings, and baby dedications. But what should people think of when they think of the church?
In our passage, Jesus Christ says that His house should be called “a house of prayer.” Last week, we saw that this entails being a place where people who do not have a relationship with God can draw near to Him. Unfortunately, the Temple — the place which symbolized the presence of God on earth during Jesus’ day — was being defiled by those who were using it as a place of merchandise — a source of income to fill their coffers. Jesus rebukes these people and clears the Temple of the merchants and their wares for the second time in His ministry career. The constant buying and selling going on in the Temple was a hindrance to those who were trying to get to God.
Today, we see that the house of prayer is not only a place for those who are separated from God, but it is also a place for the supremacy of God. “Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.”
No doubt, the Jewish leaders were surprised and shocked that Jesus, who in their minds was just a traveling preacher and miracle-worker, had the boldness to turn things upside down in the Temple. They likely thought to themselves, “Who does this man think He is?” They had turned the Temple into the capital of their little religious empire. They enforced strict traditions not found in the Mosaic law which oppressed the people rather than liberated them. Besides providing money for their families, the buying, selling, and money changing in the Temple was devised to keep the masses of people who were sincerely trying to do the right thing beholden to the Jewish leaders.
Despite the corruption going on in the Temple, God still considered it His house. The Gospels read that “Jesus went into the temple of God.” Because of our sinful, human nature, people often corrupt what God has set up. But God does not abandon His original purposes. The Temple was still the house of God; it was a place where the supremacy of God was supposed to be evident. Warren Wiersbe said, “When Jesus called the temple ‘My house,’ He was affirming that He is God. When He called it “My house of prayer,” He was quoting Isaiah 56:7. The entire 56th chapter of Isaiah denounces the unfaithful leaders of Israel. The phrase “den of robbers” comes from Jeremiah 7:11 and is part of a long sermon that Jeremiah delivered in the gate of the temple, rebuking the people for the same sins that Jesus saw and judged in His day. What does God want in His house? God wants prayer among His people, for true prayer is an evidence of our dependence on God and our faith in His Word. He also wants people being helped. The needy should feel welcome and should find the kind of help they need. There should be power in God’s house, the power of God working to change people.”
Churches today can learn from Jesus’ response to what was going on in the Temple. Even though some pastors and ministry leaders have unfortunately turned their focus from the main purpose of the church, the church still belongs to God. Such things as the prosperity gospel, preachers who attempt to please the people with their messages, and teachers who stray from Biblical doctrine have sidetracked, and in some cases, hijacked local congregations. Churches have abandoned their purpose and are not fulfilling the Great Commission. And we wonder why young people are leaving the church, why baptisms are declining, and why active church members are few and far between.
The reason is simple: many local churches have become houses of everything else but prayer. If you go to McDonald’s expecting hamburgers and french fries and McDonald’s is serving dog food, you will eventually stop going to McDonald’s. The same is true for the church. People come to the church expecting to meet with God and to be in a place where the supremacy of God is evident. They come expecting life transformation and Biblical teaching that addresses the problems they face in life. If that is not what they find, they will leave.
The only way for the church to get back to what it should be is the way Jesus proposed at the Temple: “My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer.” Jesus told those in the Temple, ‘Stop all this selling and buying and get back to the main thing. Get back to prayer. Get back to communication with God. That should be the focus of gathering here. God should be supreme.’ That is the only way the church can and will rise again in our postmodern world.
In 1986, churches in Bemidji, Minnesota, were dying. Spirituality was perfunctory. New souls were not being saved. And church attendance was dwindling. The pastors of the city got together and began a crusade for spiritual awakening. For four years, a small group met in united prayer and asked God for a spiritual breakthrough. During this campaign, one of the pastors realized that the midweek prayer meeting had actually become a Bible study. He decided to give the whole service over to prayer, and almost immediately, attendance at the prayer meeting — now that it was not just a prayer meeting in name only — shot up. This pastor’s wife said, “We have seen marriages restored, restitution made, and people walking in victory. We have had a church revival you would dream about.” The pastors agreed that the secret of their success was “the Holy Spirit working in answer to prayer.”
What Jesus Christ did in the Temple is probably what He would do in many churches today if He decided to pay us a visit. It is most certainly what He would have us to do ourselves — to get back to prayer, the true purpose of the house of God, so that the power and supremacy of God will once again be manifest in the lives of His people.
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Now, if you are with us today, and you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, your first prayer needs to be what we call the Sinner’s Prayer. First, please understand that you are a sinner, just as I am, and that you have broken God’s laws. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”
Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”
Now this is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.
Romans 10:9 & 13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved… For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I now believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.
If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! Congratulations on trusting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. You have done the most important thing in life. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door”. Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door, by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.