v 17. He said to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer for all nations,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves.”
One of the most striking of all prophetic passages in the Old Testament is Isaiah 56, in which he looks forward to a time when people of all nations will converge in the Temple of God to worship. He sees the people of God as being more than just the Jews, a huge message for the Jews themselves.
I will also bless the foreigners who commit themselves to the Lord,
who serve him and love his name,
who worship him and do not desecrate the Sabbath day of rest,
and who hold fast to my covenant.
I will bring them to my holy mountain of Jerusalem
and will fill them with joy in my house of prayer.
I will accept their burnt offerings and sacrifices,
because my Temple will be called a house of prayer for all nations.
Within 120 years or so of Isaiah’s prophecy Jeremiah saw how things had changed and wrote in Jeremiah 7:11
‘Don’t you yourselves admit that this Temple, which bears my name, has become a den of thieves? Surely I see all the evil going on there. I, the Lord, have spoken! ‘
And in Jesus’ day it was just the same; far from being a place of worship and prayer, the Temple had become more of a marketplace. Trading – the economy – had become more important than worship. God had been moved out in order to make way for trading. Ring any bells about the way society lives today?
I’m not talking about Church buildings; they do not have the same significance as the Temple had in Jerusalem. It is more the Temple of Life that comes to mind. Has society, and I include myself, become so totally obsessed with money and the economy that spiritual values have been driven out of the equation of life?
As you watch the TV news, or read it online, what grabs the headlines? Crime and the economy seem to dominate the pages. How much space is devoted to commenting on the state of the nation and it’s values, and who is seen as trying to uphold honest living and justice in national life?
What might you do to bring about some small change in society’s values?
When Jesus encountered corruption in public life He dealt with it forcefully for He was a Man like no other, willing to confront evil practices.