Tag Archives: Temple


In the fall of 1989, I moved from Champaign, Illinois to the Chicago suburbs, and through my contacts at the church I had begun attending (Willow Creek) I found a guy with an apartment looking for a roommate. His name was C.W., and he was an accountant for Arthur Anderson in Chicago.

I lived with C.W. for about a year or so, but the truth is that we never got along really well.  We didn’t argue that much.  We were just different, I guess.  He was a good guy, mind you.  He loved God and was excited about his involvement at Willow, so we had that in common.  But there were other areas where C.W. was just different than me.

The most obvious had to do with what C.W. was really into, what he was really fired up about. You see, C.W. loved Walt Disney.   I mean he really loved Walt Disney.  He’d been to Disney World a number of times and probably Disney land also.  As far as I can remember, he had most all of the movies.  He had pictures of Mickey and the gang around the apartment.  He loved all things Mickey.  And he talked about it.  Quite a bit.  And his long term goal?  He eventually wanted to work in Orlando for Disney world. You could say that C.W. had a zeal for Walt Disney.

There are a lot of different things that you and I can get enthused and zealous about. In fact, I would say that we were made to be a people of zeal.  But the question is, are we zealous over the right things?

John chapter 2 tells us something significant about the Lord Jesus – He too had a zeal, a powerful zeal.

The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” John 2:13-16 (ESV)

Six Flags and the Temple

If you’ve ever needed to buy an overpriced lunch at Six Flags, you know what the people were experiencing when they went to the temple. Prices for sacrificial animals were exorbitant, largely because merchants knew they had a captive audience. And when Jesus saw this, He was incensed – their high prices were keeping people from…worship.

So John wrote: His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” John 2:17 (ESV)

Step back and consider this: Jesus was zealous about the temple, because Jesus was zealous for worship. And Jesus was zealous for worship…because Jesus was zealous for God. And since John 1 has already told us Who Jesus is, it is no leap to say that God was zealous…for God. In fact, God is absolutely fired up about God.

So, if we are called to be imitators of God (Ephesians 5:1), then there is no question what you and me should be fired up about.


In His book, God is the Gospel, John Piper asks a haunting question which I paraphrase…if heaven meant all the food you would want to eat, all the best entertainment, all the beautiful sunrises and the best music, all your old friends gathered in one place…a constant, joyous party. If you could have all that, and yet God wasn’t there, would you still want to go?

You see, ultimately, to be fired up about God is to be fired up about being with Him. As one writer put it, “Forgiveness is good news because it opens the way to the enjoyment of God Himself…Eternal life is good news because it becomes the everlasting enjoyment of Christ.”

That’s what the Psalmist was saying when he wrote this:

For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. Psalm 84:10 (ESV)

Yep, just one day with Him, well, it’s even better than a thousand days…at Disney.


For tomorrow, Wednesday, October 7: John 3


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Posted by on October 6, 2015 in Uncategorized


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A House of Prayer?

When we think of the temple in ancient Israel, prayer isn’t the first thing that comes to our minds. The Lord Jesus, however, was different: “My House,” he said, quoting the prophet Isaiah, “shall be called a house of prayer.” (Matthew 21:13) But the question is why – why did Jesus (and Isaiah) identify prayer as the central focus of this place?

If you’ve been a Christian for some time and have read the Bible through at least once or twice, then you know what this meticulously constructed building was used for in ancient Israel:

It was for sacrifice…not prayer.

  • It was the place that Jesus’ parents brought a pair of turtle doves as a sacrifice for their firstborn.
  • It was the place where the drama of the Day of Atonement happened once a year.
  • And it was the place where throughout the year lambs and goats and bulls were brought to be offered for the sin of God’s people.

The temple was a place of blood, a place of substitution, where one would die so another would not need to.

And all for what?  For forgiveness of sins, of course – the punishment for sins placed on the innocent so the guilty would go free.  And yet, why did sin need to be forgiven?  Answer: because without forgiveness of sins, man could not approach God. Without forgiveness of sins, man could have no fellowship with Yahweh.  Without forgiveness of sins, man was guilty before God and there could be no…prayer.

Musing on this truth leads us to consider the great purpose of life: We are not forgiven simply so we can go to heaven and live in paradise.  We are not forgiven simply so we can spend eternity with loved ones.  No. We are forgiven so that we might come into His presence.  We are forgiven…so that we might experience the joy of prayer. “The chief end of man,” wrote the Westminster divines, “is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” And according to Jesus in John 17:3, Eternal life is not a great fiesta in the sky, but is to know the Father, and His Son whom He had sent.

And so it is no surprise that when our Lord looked at the temple, he called it the “House of Prayer.”  Prayer is what the temple was meant to bring about.

One last thought: There is no temple today, because the temple and the activities therein were never really able to do what many hoped they might finally do.  The writer of Hebrews explains why:

…In these sacrifices, there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Hebrews 10:3, 4 (ESV)

Repeatedly coming again and again to offer the various sacrifices, Israelites had a picture of the cleansing of a Substitute, without any final and complete cleansing.  What they really had was a constant reminder of their sinful lives.  And then Jesus went to the cross…

But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God…For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. Hebrews 10:12, 14 (ESV)

And now, praise God, perfected once and for all by His single sacrifice at Calvary…we truly can enjoy God.

And we truly can pray.


Tomorrow, Friday, January 30th: Matthew 22


Posted by on January 29, 2015 in Uncategorized


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