The Bible Edge
Everyone needs an Edge, Believers can have a Bible Edge
And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting:
Changers of money were individuals that exchanged money from foreign coins into the current coin of the Jews, for only Jewish coined money could be received into the temple treasury. In a sense it would be like someone from England changing their money to US dollars to give to a local church in the United States. Exchanging money, even for profit, was not wrong or illegal, in fact it was required, it was needed. But to make the temple a common marketplace for these items and services, well, that was not what the temple was for.
Twice Jesus cleansed the temple in Jerusalem. John records the first which took place in 26AD. Matthew, Mark and Luke record the second cleansing that took place in 29AD. In three short years the moneychangers and sellers of the elements of Jewish sacrifices were back at it. Probably even less time than that. Nonetheless, Jesus cleared them out of the temple twice. After all, the temple was His house, and it was supposed to be a house of prayer not a den of thieves (Matthew 21:13, Mark 11:17, Luke 19:46) What a man He was. What a sight that would have been to see.
Another aspect of these merchants setting up their businesses in the temple is the willingness of God’s people to accept such. Frankly, the merchants would not have been there if no customers were to be found. Notice, these thieves, as Jesus called them, were making money on the elements of sacrifice. Their customers desired convenience and a sort of easy out, making their sacrifices less arduous. In Exodus 12 the Passover is first mentioned. There God gave the requirements of the Passover lamb. It was supposed to be one lamb for a house (or one lamb for two households if the households were small), the lamb was to be without blemish, a male of the first year, and it was to be kept for four days (from the tenth day of the month to the 14th). During those four days the lamb was to be examined to make sure it was without blemish. This was an arduous task. It took time, patience, effort, and strict adherence to the Word of God.
Buying the lamb at the Temple from a merchant did not satisfy the individual nature of sacrifice that the Lord intended. But for ease sake, the people accepted the thieves in the Temple. Today, the word sacrifice seems to be largely forgotten. Of course in this church age there are no fleshly sacrifices for our one and only sacrifice for sin has already been offered, the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross. But numerous verses like Romans 12:1 teach that believers today are to make a willing sacrifice of various things. These sacrifices cost something or they are not sacrifices. The people in Jesus’ day seemed to want to sacrifice but not really sacrifice, so they allowed thieves in their temple. The Bible edge for today is this, to offer a sacrifice takes real sacrifice. Or rather, there is no such thing as an easy or convenient sacrifice of a person’s time, talent or treasure.
William T. Howe, Ph.D.