The Purpose of the House of Prayer, Part 3 (Praying Through the Bible #143)

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 142 messages in this series.

This is message #143 titled, The Purpose of the House of Prayer (Part 3)

Jesus’ actions at the Temple came at a time in history when God was beginning to move the Temple aside as the primary representation of God’s presence on earth and set up the church as that representation. Jesus had predicted the destruction of Temple which occurred about 40 years later when the Romans destroyed the city in 70 AD. Jesus had also declared Peter as the “rock” upon which He would build His church. So, as we look at Jesus’ admonishments to those leading the services and rituals at the Temple, we can look at our place in the church and apply many of the same principles today.

Already we have seen that the house of prayer is a place for those who are separated from God to draw near to Him. Although the Temple was built for the Jews, it became a destination for those Gentiles who wanted to worship and serve the one, true God. The house of prayer is also a place where the supremacy of God should be evident. God declared that the Temple was His house, and as such, His will was to be carried out in it. The church is also God’s house, and we must ask ourselves if the will of God is being done in our churches today.

As we close out our look at this event from Jesus’ ministry, please notice that the “house of prayer” is also a place for people to receive spiritual and physical blessings from God. After Jesus cleans out the Temple and rebukes the religious leaders for making it a house of merchandise and a den of thieves, the Bible tells us that “the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them.” The fact that “the blind and the lame” are mentioned specifically is important because many Jews did not believe that anyone who had a physical defect should be allowed on the Temple property. Dr. John Nolland states, “Matthew makes a point of noting that this event also takes place in the temple. As with the disruption of the market, the location is the most public part of the temple, where even Gentiles were permitted.” The people who were traditionally cut off from the assembly of Israel were brought in by Jesus in a very public fashion. They were touched by God and were made whole.

Perhaps the greatest tragedy of the church today is that many people come to church but don’t come to meet God. People come to see and be seen, to keep the tradition of church attendance, to attract a potential spouse, to do a job as a church employee, to meet up with someone regarding a business deal, and a host of other reasons. Unfortunately, in many ways, the church has become more of a community get-together than a place where people gather to meet with God. A recent survey discovered that the number one reason new visitors decide to cease attending a church is due to the church’s “stand up and greet one another time during the worship service.” While that is a slightly humorous point, and it may not seem like a bad thing to do, it underlines the fact that the church ought to be a place where people go, not to meet other people, but to meet God, to receive new life from Him through the preaching of His Word, and to see positive changes come about in their lives for His glory. Just like the lives of the blind and lame were forever changed by their encounter with Jesus in the Temple, the church today must also be a place where people can meet God and be forever changed.

The Gospel of Luke provides us with further details of Jesus’ activity in the Temple after He cleaned it out. Luke 19:47-48 says, “And he taught daily in the temple. But the chief priests and the scribes and the chief of the people sought to destroy him, And could not find what they might do: for all the people were very attentive to hear him.”

Apparently, the Jewish religious leaders were more concerned about making money than about ministering to the spiritual needs of the people from the Word of God. So we see that when Jesus began to teach in the Temple, the people were “very attentive to hear him.” One way in which people meet with God is through the Holy Spirit-inspired teaching of His Word. Jesus’ teaching went on for several days. During this time, the chief priests and scribes, who were already upset over the loss of income during this critical time just before the Passover, began looking for a way in which they could destroy Jesus. However, they were afraid of how the people would react. It seemed as though with every hour Jesus spent teaching, the people loved Him even more.

The plain teaching of the Word will always make those who are determined to persist in sin angry. They do not want to hear what God has to say because they want to do what they want to do. We see this in the reaction of the Jewish religious leaders. However, the people who had been long deprived of true Biblical teaching were hungry for the Word of God and they gladly heard it from Jesus Christ.

As has been highlighted more and more in recent weeks, it appears as though the church in our society is experiencing a major decline: people are turning away from the faith and church membership is diminishing. Some would have us to believe that this is because of the church’s “outdated” teaching on certain issues. However, the opposite is actually true: Churches today are seeing decline because the church has tried to adapt its teaching to the world. According to a Charisma News article, a close look at the data reveals that “it is the liberal churches, those which embrace abortion and homosexual practice and which compromise biblical truth and biblical standards, which have experienced the steepest decline in membership.”

Forty years ago, a German theologian, Gerhard Meier, wrote a controversial book criticizing much of the teaching that was going on in Christian seminaries, especially those in Europe. In his day, young preachers were being taught the “historical critical” method of interpretation — being told that Moses didn’t write Genesis thru Deuteronomy, that the prophets couldn’t have predicted the coming of Jesus Christ, that Jesus didn’t really rise from the dead, and that the Bible was not infallible, among other things. These preachers would then go out and preach to their congregations based on what they had learned. The congregants came to church to find strength and guidance from God’s Word, to grow in faith and hope, and to learn how to deal with difficulties in their lives, but the pastors themselves were full of unbelief. And so, like we see today all across Europe, cathedrals that could seat 1,000 people now have less than 100 in attendance on Sunday morning. (The lack of clear Bible teaching has gotten so bad that, after Ireland voted to legalize homosexual marriage, a homosexual atheist wrote an article criticizing the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Church for not standing up against the so-called “social revolution.”)

Could it be that what has happened in Europe is happening in America today? People have stopped coming to church because many churches have stopped preaching uncompromised Biblical truth that is relevant to everyday life.

What Jesus does in the Temple in Jerusalem gives us an early glimpse of what should be the purpose of the church — the house of prayer. This passage is a reminder that God is calling us, as His people, to return to the original purpose of His house.

The house of prayer is to be a place where people who are far from God can draw close to God through His Son Jesus Christ. The house of prayer is to be a place where God’s supremacy is on display; He is to be first and foremost in our worship. And the house of prayer is to be a place where people get in touch with God and hear from God through the preaching of His Holy Word. I believe that we can see the church become more effective in its mission to reach the world and win souls to Christ. But it starts with returning to the original purpose of the church through prayer, and a commitment to doing God’s will no matter the cost.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

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 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.

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