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Worship and the Whip

The Zeal of The Lord

Pastor Gary Buchman
Emmitsburg Community Bible Church

(2/20) Review. John has carefully (under the Holy Spirit?s leading) selected some photos from his smart phone and tells us the stories about the photos, for the singularly purpose that you and all people would believe that Jesus is the Christ, the manifestation of God in the flesh and that by believing you would have the life that God offers. (Look at John 20:30-31).

So, we looked at the Word that became flesh (Ch.1), The Witnesses of the Word (also Ch. 1), The Wedding and the Problem Solver (Ch. 2). And today, The Word and the Whip, (Ch. 2;13-25)

This is the first of 3 Passovers mentioned in John. At that time of year, Israel celebrated their deliverance from Egyptian slavery when God took the lives of all the first born in Egypt. The death angel passed over the homes of those who by faith slew a lamb and applied its blood to the doorposts and lentils. (Exodus 12-13). And God commanded Moses and Israel to keep this day and remember it every year (Ex. 13:10)

At that time of year (25 A.D.), Jews would come to Jerusalem from all over the world to keep the Passover. 2-2 1/2 million visitors to Jerusalem. (chi-ching!). Every available room in every home would be housing guests.

Two things had to be done at Passover.

1. All the males ages 20 and up had to pay a temple tax. The tax had to be paid in Jewish or Tyrian coin. (Ex. 30:13-14) People who traveled there would exchange their currency for this coin. Like when we went to Mexico, we had to exchange our dollars for pesos.

2. A spotless lamb would have to be sacrificed for each house or family. Those who traveled from distant places would often not bring their sacrifices but would purchase it when they arrived there. Even those who brought their own would have to have it inspected and approved, if it failed, another would have to be purchased. Josephus, the 1st century Jewish historian says million, 250,000 lambs would be slaughtered, along with many other offerings. Think of the magnitude of that and the amount of blood in the temple.

When our Lord came up for this Passover, as He did every year. He must have been aware of what would happen here in just 3 years. John the Baptizer had reminded his listeners that He (Jesus) is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world. He noticed at least 3 things that were wrong.

1. The money exchangers were charging outrageous prices for exchange.

It was like paying a dollar and getting 50 cents.

2. The same was true for the sacrifices. It?s kind of like the difference in buying two hot dogs and a coke at Sheets and paying maybe $3-4 total and buying the same at Oriole Park and paying $15 total. Instead of assisting the people to worship, it was a time of profiteering, probably for the High Priest and his cabinet.

3. The third thing was, that this was taking place in the temple. Outside of the temple is one thing, but for holidays, the temple had become a mini mall of sorts. And, most likely, in an area that was designated for non-Jews who believed in the One True God to come and worship. Thus, they could not worship, because the Court for the Gentiles in the Temple had become a mall of rented spaces where merchants sold their wares and on top of their rent gave a percentage of their profits and the religious leaders were lining their pockets.

Now it appears that this was the first of two times that our Lord drove out the merchants out of the Temple. Once, here in John at the beginning of His ministry, and once, as Matthew, Mark, and Luke, describe at the end of His ministry.

Notice, from rope that may have been everywhere because of the animals, He made a whip of cords and drove them out. The whip may have been primarily for the animals to move them out, but it worked well to drive out the merchants with their animals. He overthrew the moneychanger's tables.

When He would do this again 3 years later, He would say, ?It is written, my house shall be a house of prayer but you have made it a den of thieves.? (Matt. 21:13; Luke 19:46) Mark would add, ?For all nations.? (Isa.56:7; Jer. 7:11)

But, this first time He would say, ?Take these things away! Do not make my Father?s House a house of Merchandise!? (A Mall or Shopping Center.)

Let?s Watch ? from the Gospel of John

The Temple was supposed to be a place to meet God and to have communion with God, a place of worship, a place of reconciliation and grace, and a place of prayer, a place to learn, and offer sacrifices that would be pleasing to God.

Notice, that the disciples would remember what was written in Psalm 69:9, ?Zeal for your House has eaten me up.? Psalm 69 is a Psalm of David in which David expresses his emotions. Everyone seems to have turned against him because of His love for God and for the Word of God and the Worship of God. Let?s look at it for a second. (Read Psalm 69)

Listen carefully, the word ?Zeal,? is from the Greek word, ?zeloo? meaning, a passionate desire, strong emotions towards someone or something. Zealots, like one of the disciples named Simon Zealotes, were passionate patriots who were ready to kill and willing to give their lives to drive out the Roman occupants and restore Israel as an Independent Nation again.

And the word, Zeloo is often translated as Jealous.

Our Lord is passionate about His desire for people to be able to know and worship God in spirit and truth. He gave Moses and the Hebrews that left Egypt, a portable worship center called the Tabernacle. It was a place where His people could and feel His presence and worship Him, and get rid of their guilt and sins. Under Solomon, the Tabernacle was replaced with a permanent Temple. It was a place for people to connect with God and feel His presence.

Listen, God loves His people. His patience, His mercy, His grace, His compassion, His goodness are all evidences of His love and the length He would go to try to woo us into loving Him. He protected Israel from the plagues, brought them through the Red Sea, fed them with Manna, and water from the rock, quail for meat, and root beer from a bitter spring. He gave them rules for living well in their new lives and said this: ?You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; For I the Lord your God am a Jealous God? (Ex. 20:5) and again, ?You shall worship no other God, for the Lord your God whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.? (Ex. 34:14)

9 years ago, the queen of talk shows-Oprah Winfrey, said some things that rocked the faith of many and caused many to ask a lot of questions. No-it was not her political endorsements but her religious beliefs. Her on line course and promotion of New Age beliefs stunned many, especially when she said that having been raised Baptist, her beliefs changed when she heard a pastor speak about God being a jealous God. How could her God, a God who is perfect and a God of love, be jealous? She, therefore, in her own words, has forsaken the faith of her heritage and embraced New Age beliefs.

What does the Bible mean when it says, ?God is a Jealous God?? We usually think of the, ?green-eyed monster? and a destructive vice when we think of jealousy. So, how can a perfect God and a loving God be Jealous?

There are many more references to His jealousy in the Bible. Let me explain to you, what this means and what it doesn?t mean.

What It Doesn?t Mean

Man?s jealousy is often of a destructive nature and sinful. It often is envious, wanting what others have and not liking them because they have it. Sometimes it is suspicious and angry, and insecure which can lead to malicious actions. All of these are in opposition to God?s love. This is not God?s name or character.

What It Does Mean

The word, ?jealous? or, ?zealous? and ought to be understood as His passion for us. God?s jealousy is His zeal, His passion to protect a love relationship and to avenge it when it is broken. Any one in a love relationship with a spouse or children or otherwise understands this. Our love for another causes us to want to protect that relationship and is hurt and angered when the one we love is tempted or has forsaken the relationship for another person or thing. We are zealous for the ones we love and we want to protect that relationship.

David Crowder captured this with His song, How He Loves Us.

He is jealous for me, loves like a hurricane, I am a tree

Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy

When all of a sudden I am unaware of these afflictions

Eclipsed by glory and I realize just how beautiful You are

And how great Your affections are for me

And oh, how He loves us, oh

Oh, how He loves us, how He loves us all.

God is jealous for His relationship with us which is often spoken of in terms of a marriage. In fact, the very term-covenant- is a term implying promissory vows. God created us, loves us, pursued us, redeemed us, reconciled us, and pledged Himself, to us forever. ?I will never leave you nor forsake you.? (Heb. 13:5) He has pledged His fidelity and love when He also said, ?Nothing can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.? (Rom. 8:39)

He sacrificed His life because of His love for us. There is no greater way to say, ?I love you!?

In response to His fidelity and love, He wants us to love Him as He has revealed Himself to be in the Bible and NOT according to what we want Him to be, as implied in Exodus 20:4-5 and Romans 1:21-23.

So, let?s pause for a moment and consider a few things.

1. God?s House is Now in God?s People. Your Soul is Now the House of God. With great respect, I say that church buildings are dedicated to God and used as a central place to meet and worship as the synagogues and Temple were, but they are buildings and not God?s house. God does not dwell in buildings. He lives in you and I who have received Him and His grace.

1 Cor. 3:16-17; ?Don?t you know that you yourselves are God?s temple and that God?s Spirit dwells in your midst? 17 If anyone destroys God?s temple, God will destroy that person; for God?s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.

1 Cor. 6:19-20, ?Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.? We are wed, brought together in oneness with the living God.

2. God?s Greatest Desire if for us to Love Him

When we do not love Him with all our hearts (Deut. 6:4 and Matt. 22:37), but when we love the world and the things of the world and worship idols and attribute praise to ourselves and honor some idol, His anger and Jealousy are aroused. Just as ours would if the people we are in love with are unfaithful to us and/or have broken the Covenant Vows. This is a Spiritual Adultery. James 4:4 and throughout the O.T. refer to it as such. That?s why Romans 6:12-13; 19-20 and 12:1-2 tell us to pledge our bodies to Him.

3. God is passionate for us to connect with Him in Spiritual Worship and Truth. (John 4:23-24). He doesn?t want us to go through the motions of love any more than any married person wants their spouse to. The problem with the people in Ephesus (Rev. 2:1-7) is that they were busy but had forgotten the one they were busy for. The Church, the Doctrine, the Rules, had replaced the Love for Christ. The opposite is also true, when people come to worship but don?t. In Matthew 15:8-9 Jesus our Lord quotes Isaiah 29:13, ?These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. 9 And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.? They are as Matthew West sang, ?Just going through the motions.? He was passionate about people worshiping from their hearts and not just performing religious rituals. His heart burned with a desire for people to know and connect with God. And, He got angry when men perverted worship and took advantage of the poor and performed religion instead of pursuing a relationship with God. Look at Mark 3:1-6 (cp. Isa 1:11-19 Amos 5:21-24).

4. God is passionate about us trusting Him. (Prov. 3:5-6, Hebrews 11). He is the Good Shepherd, the CEO, The Vine, the Chief Cornerstone. Trusting and obeying Him is central to our faith. He doesn?t ask us to understand, just trust Him. Many times, He would say, ?Oh, you of little faith!?

5. God is angry when we use our connection with Him for personal gain. This was the problem with Eli?s sons in the book of 1 Samuel. And, this was one of the problems our Lord encountered in the Temple. History has been filled with hucksters, using people?s faith to line their pockets and teaching that God?s will is for wealth, health, and prosperity. Peter calls it filthy lucre. I was just asked about this last Friday.

6. God is passionate about Holiness. That is, that we not continue in the sins that caused Him to die and rise again for us. He said, ?Be Holy, because I Am holy,? (1 Peter 1:14-16; Lev.11:44). Holiness includes our pledge to be set apart to Him, as we did when we married our spouse (Romans 12:1-2)

7. God?s passion is for us to be passionate about the needs of others. We are to take on the heart and passion of our Lord and care for the poor and needy, the lost and the lonely. In the temple, those who were not Jewish could not worship, for their space had become a strip mall. Our Neighbor is the man beaten and in the gutter, the homeless, the jobless, the disaster victims, the hungry, the orphans, the elderly. We do not love God when we do not love the least of these, (James 2:14-16; 1 John 3:16; Matt. 25, Isa. 58).

8. God is passionate for us to be like Him. He wants to conform us into His image (Rom. 8:28-29). Humble, Gentle, merciful, compassionate, hospitable, forgiving, caring more about others than we do ourselves. Not using our freedom as a means of self-indulgence.

9. God is passionate about the Church living in Unity. Caring and ministering to each other than we do ourselves. Jesus made it the subject of His prayer in John 17 and Paul did as well in Romans 14 and Ephesians 4. But when we allow little things to become big things and are not willing to be humble and submissive to each other, the heart of our Lord is grieved. Is this not the basis of the New Commandment on John 13? To Love each other as Christ loved us and be willing to wash feet of those who will break our hearts?

10. God is passionate about us revealing His love to others and telling them about Jesus. It was the last thing He talked about before His ascension back into Heaven. It is our mission this side of heaven. It is one of the last things the Bible speaks about in Revelation 22:17.

He is jealous for me, loves like a hurricane, I am a tree

Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy

When all of a sudden I am unaware of these afflictions

Eclipsed by glory and I realize just how beautiful You are

And how great Your affections are for me

And oh, how He loves us, oh

Oh, how He loves us, how He loves us all.

Someone once said, ?I asked the Lord how much He loved me and He said, ?This much.? Then he stretched His arms out and died.? He passionately loves His house, His bride, His family.

I pray to God that faith, worship, and prayer, never become a means of self-righteousness, or personal gain for you. I pray that you never let pride overpower the humility of Jesus in you. I pray that others see you and see the real deal, because you care, and you care enough to sacrifice and let your heart be broken. I pray that when our Lord looks at you, He smiles and says, ?well done.?

Amen!

If this article has spoken to your heart, would you write to me at pastorgarybuchman@gmail.com and let me know or if you have any questions about following Jesus, I would be glad to try to answer them for you. May God bless you as you seek to do His will.

Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman