Matthew 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-18; Luke 19:45-46; Isaiah 56:7
Those doing business in the temple courts provided a necessary service. Money needed to be exchanged so foreigners could pay the temple tax; people needed animals to make sacrifices to God. This was a reasonable business. They provided a service—they were helping people to worship God better. These services were provided in the court of the Gentiles. This was a special place at the temple God designated for those who were not Israel to come and worship Him.
In His mercy, He made a way for those who were not His chosen people to come near. They were still separate from the Jews, but God created a space for them. With the buying and selling, the rumble of voices, the shuffling of people, the sounds of bird’s wings flapping in cages, the clinking of coins, how many Gentiles were able to worship God authentically? They tried to come near, but the commerce distracted them.
Through Jesus we learn that God desires compassion more than sacrifice (Matthew 9:13, 12:7). He had compassion on the crowds; He had mercy on those who were blind, lepers, dead, possessed and unclean. How it must have enraged Him when He saw people making money off of those who were simply trying to come near to Him. In the shuffle and busyness of life those who were “in” forgot compassion. The very purpose of this house was to pray for the nations, to pray for those who were lost, to be a light in the darkness that pointed to God so that all the nations would come to know God as the LORD their God.
How much of this behavior is true for us? Have we neglected compassion in order to do more for God? Is our attitude on Sunday one that encourages worship and interaction with God; or are we more interested in making an appearance, thereby adding to the general noisiness? Are we too busy in our day-to-day lives that we forget to be the light? Jesus compared us to a city on a hill that shines its light to all around. No longer do we need to travel to Jerusalem and enter the court of the Gentiles to draw near to God. He lives in us. We are the body of Christ. One thing we are called to do, individually and corporately, is to pray for the nations—to pray for those who are lost. That must be the heartbeat of our lives, because it is His.