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April 13, 2021 8:00 am
If it's true that actions speak louder than words. Then what happens when professing Christians turn out to be practical materialists on this broadcast of the Bible study hour with Dr. James Boyce will discover that God sees right through our hypocrisy.
He's not impressed when we speak of heaven, but live for earth and he won't tolerate the church replacing praise with production and welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet broadcast with Dr. James Bortz preparing you to think and act biblically.
What is true religion relatively defined in part by when it is not in today will learn that it is not about running a successful enterprise. Let's listening together here from Dr. Boyce were studying the 21st chapter of Matthew chapter that marks the beginning of the end of Jesus ministry. Below are only two thirds of the way the gospel and the reason for this is that it records a number of events leading to Jesus final break with Judaism.
We've already looked at the first of those that was his entrance into Jerusalem on what we call Palm Sunday was a deliberate presentation of himself as the Messiah on a militaristic Messiah who is going to drive out the Romans, but rather a Messiah and fulfillment of that prophecy in Zachariah with Matthew quotes now in the verses we come to this morning we come to a second such incident. It's the cleansing of the temple and has in mind exactly the same thing presents Jesus as the King and the Messiah, and it provokes a hostile reaction on the part of the Jewish leaders of 10 chapters before this in chapter 11 Matthew side of the verse in Malachi, as having been fulfilled in John the Baptist. It's in chapter 11 verse 10 in the verse. He is citing is Malachi 31 first describes the one who will be the forerunner of the Messiah and Matthew rightly relay sent to John how the significant thing is that that is not all those verses in Malachi say because that passage goes on to talk about God sending the Messiah following the forerunner in order to purchase temple versus go like this say I will send my messenger will prepare the way before me.
And suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come, says the Lord Almighty who can endure the day of his coming who can stand when he appears sure he will be like a refiner's fire, or laundry soap will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver able purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver then Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the Lord as in former years, those words were well known to the Jews of Jesus day as well as other texts that were like them and they had led to the belief that when the Messiah should, one of the things he would do is purchase temple or cleanse it. So when Jesus followed his triumphal entry by cleansing the temple. It was a way of saying quite clearly that he was the Messiah. Acting in this role he done it before he done it once at the beginning of his ministry is what John tells us about the moneychangers from those who sold the sacrificial animals all come back now here three years later at the end of his ministry.
Does it all again. You know something about what was happening understand the importance of all of this to begin with, we shouldn't recognize that the temple complex was a large area there in the city of Jerusalem. The temple itself is relatively small, but it was surrounded by a series of courts that extended over a wide area you are most was that a court of the priesthood, which only the Levites could go was recorded.
The man beyond that was the court for Jewish women and beyond that was the court of the Gentiles.
I was in this court of the Gentiles, always buying and selling was taking place were two kinds of transactions on was the changing of money.
People would come to Jerusalem with various national currencies, and they had to change that money in the temple coins with which the tax had to be paint that was an arbitrary decision. Of course, but it was very lucrative. It could be paid in the provinces earlier.
It's why the authorities had come to Peter and that occasion. Matthew reports earlier to ask whether his Matthew paid the temple tactically been paid. That wasn't paid that it had to be paid in Jerusalem and in the right way by the Hampshire tax. The other item of trade that went on was the sale of sacrificial animals now.
Again, the person could bring an animal up to Jerusalem from afar and sacrifice that that was allowable but it was inconvenient, particularly if you came from a long distance, and was always the problem that they sacrificial animal had to be without blemish. I was determined by the priests and it would be quite possible for you to bring an animal that would be rejected even though you brought it a long way, so there was this provision in the court of the Gentiles actually to sell these animals at the preset approve of the justification for those practices wasn't bad when thing expresses the holiness of God, to him in just any way offering any unworthy sacrifice had to be an acceptable one, but quite obviously it lent itself to abuse. One thing there were charges made for the changing of the money X percent change some currency into the temple; furthermore, the needed change in an additional 6% was charged for making change if you take 12% of the half shekel that amounted to a large part of what workman might get for days way so it was not an inexpensive thing and as far as animals are concerned, it would become a pattern where you can almost be sure that the priests were going to reject your offering but had to buy.
There is of the prices were highly inflated in the city. One of the ancient writers reports of the parent dogs purchased in Jerusalem in the court of the Gentiles could cost 50 times as much as a pair of doves that was purchased outside and put this together with the fact that this was the Passover and had lots of people in the city and you really have quite a commercial transaction going on normally. Jerusalem would have two or 3000 people went on the occasion of the Passover. All the news came up from the provinces and people were visiting from other places.
Josephus, on one occasion tells us that for the Passover. They took 256,500 lambs and that the setting any recognizable llamas for a household. You have two or three at least in every household. What you're talking about millions of people. What happened is a by the time of Jesus Christ, the temple of the comparables are is about Jesus supposed to bite and cleanse that driving out the money changers. Those were selling the animals and in justification of what he was doing.
He contrasted to phrases from the Old Testament. First was from Jeremiah from Isaiah 56 seven Isaiah had referred to the temple is a house of prayer and the second was from Jeremiah 711, which is the phrase den of robbers. Jeremiah is talking about hypocrisy and that's what he has in mind there, but Jesus uses this contrast essay that what should've been a house of prayer had become a den of robbers as people were just extorting money from those who actually come up to worship God so real problem.
There was the commercialization of religion, but we need to say at this point is it is a real problem today, especially today because we live in a commercial age, and the ethos of buying and selling impacts the church as well as any other part of modern life. Some years ago, the Canadian author by the name of John White wrote a book for inter-varsity press called the Golden calm materialism in the 20th century church was published in 1979. Haven't seen much of it lately.
And the reason of course is obvious. Books that speak to the sins of contemporary congregations don't hang around very long because nobody buys here is speaking of the commercialism of our time. There are three areas of abuse of the addresses for me to share them with your first of all he talks about an attachment to things above and made the point myself. Drawing on that famous address of Alexander Solzhenitsyn of Harvard University, after he had been released from the infamous Archipelago prisons in Russia and had come to this country that, as Solzhenitsyn says there are two kinds of materialism is a philosophical materialism which is what is been practiced by the communist nations, but there is also a very practical materialism, which is what we practice in the West Solzhenitsyn talked about it. He said I don't prefer yours better than what we have is medevac the kind of thing we have actually causes us to seek out something greater and deeper than mere matter. Communism in this philosophy says that matter is all that is buys the existence of natural and God. But I kind of practical materialism believes the matter is all that matters is way, way talks about it. He says no Christian would agree that is of the matter would put to him as an abstract proposition. The matter is all that matters very faith negates that assertion got our behavior as distinct from our verbal profession. If that's examined many of us who call ourselves Christians begin to look more like materialist. We talk of heaven, but we strive things only suggest some of the ways we see that in the church received in denominations where for example the only unforgivable sin is the one to leave and take your property can have a denomination which is filled with people teaching all kinds of heresies that's tolerated because after all, ours is a tolerant age deny the deity of Jesus Christ. That's all right you can still stand up and preach and get a salary from Christian people, but try to leave and take your property well then all of the weight of the denomination comes down upon you. I have a friend in Australia, describes the denominations. This way, says the denominations are nothing but real estate holding companies, but is not just liberals from large denominations or are enslaved to things many evangelical congregations are as well and the people.
Also, why is it that so many evangelical churches can talk about many things that had to do with money. I can talk about the budget and additions to the building abusive property, but if you try to talk to them about the character of God or grace of the gospel, you're often met with just blank stares. It's not that they contradict it, which is that they have nothing to contribute or not operating on that level follows from that of course it in many churches because they're thinking that way the ministry of the church becomes property bound they don't see themselves able to get out. Beyond that, it actually reached the needs are meet the needs of people who are nearby only think in terms of the property and the use of it. I know the church in the city that has had a wonderful opportunity to minister to university students that are nearby. They won't do it because the students don't treat the property with the same kind of respect that the older declining members of the church kind of materialism and it's a sad thing. Here's a second example, spoken of by John White evangelical advertising. We not only live in a materialistic age we live in an age of very sophisticated advertising and that is impacted the church as well ask the question we got all kinds of mail from Christian organizations like calls a Christian junk mail is in an easy subject to address and the difficulty is this, you see, if you have worldly people in the church is worldly people don't respond to spiritual needs in order to elicit the kind of support you need to run the organization you end up appealing to them in worldly terms, people who do this would justify it that way.
They say we don't do it that way the people and gather some truth to that of the problem with it is our hypocrisy we see. We talk about Edson Taylor and the way he started his faith, mission, and we admire that resale that's wonderful.
You know you you don't go around asking for money. You pray God provides what you need admire it, but we don't do it, so wanted gets around to our own practice. We act as if God is hampered unless we use the world's techniques for all God says John White. We don't do these things he be left to stumble along without his crutches was asking for money. Of course you have to do that on Kaiser is that it properly. Here he said look again at how the organization is ministering to women in need times of crisis pregnancy reading support is exactly the way to do it, but the wrong thing is to pretend that somehow we are trusting God of course in the and I just pray for us and know that you keep bombarding the people you know so they'll somehow give money like what is it well on the white horse and you listen to the white horse and my court has a great line there really proud of the way he does it he says toward the end of the program. I remember graciously that radio time is not a major money to stay on the station. Now that's exactly right.
But we fall away from that a lot in our practice to get one more example these get worse as I go along. Crass commercialism, my many laypeople have an opportunity to attend evangelical booksellers convention.
It's a great trade show is medevac is one of the biggest tradeshows in America, things that are only five cities have a convention center large enough to host and if you ever have an opportunity to go. This is my advice, don't do it is really a very disillusioning experience. It is true that they booksellers or their selling medications worthwhile bookplates all my books for example. But so are the hucksters promoting the worst Jesus jumped imaginable.
T-shirts and bumper stickers honk if you love Jesus, to hear a trumpet grabbed the wheel. I kind of stuff pencils in plaques and bookmarks with cheap religious sayings. The only way to survive that particular convention is to laugh because if you don't laugh, you cry. Let me give one recent example of this exploitation, it's the WWJ D that what WWJ D stands for. It stands for. What would Jesus do nothing wrong with that. Got a question we ought to be asking is wrong with that is the way it has been commercialized. I have been told that there was an older man. It was in one of the Christian bookstores some time ago, and as he was standing at the cash register to pay for his purchases. He saw Up there have to be worn with the initials WWJ D on it and it was 1295 and the he looked at that and he looked at the teller and he said to the teller. What this WWJ D stand for and she told him in a very sweet voice. Why that stands for what would look at that a little bit longer and he said I don't think Jesus would pay 1295 for that Well is nothing wrong with asking what would Jesus do this kind of question we ought to be asking that we might also want to ask questions like these. Who makes these items and why are they doing it is our goal really to help people live like Jesus or is it to make a quick large profit on the fan does it honor Jesus name or does it actually take the name of our Lord in vain. Here's what White says local bookstores would not suffer terribly. If we boycotted stupid items like honk if you love Jesus, bumper stickers, Jesus sweatshirts Jesus pencils bookmarks praying hands charismatic jewelry and such sacrilegious garbage and pastors, their congregations, for such a boycott of how about having a Sunday school class on subjects like money changers in our age and how to overturn their tables.
I mentioned Solzhenitsyn Solzhenitsyn says that the human spirit longs for things higher and purer than one of materialistic culture provides that if we sell out the commercialism of our time will actually be buying into what he calls a new dark ages is what John White says actually is coming the final dark ages are beginning judgment is falling on the west for the church. The best thing that could possibly happen to it is that Jesus would come again cleanse it as he did so long ago in the city of Jerusalem is not the end of the section we have learned as we studied Matthew that when Matthew puts various elements together in his structure of the gospel. He is not doing it on a random basis is not saying to himself all the was that little thing I left out and maybe this is where I can squeeze it in. Matthew has something there is always meaningful in here we have something that really answers the question raised by the cleansing of the temple. True religion is not making money is not being great successful commercial enterprises so our churches are filled and we have plenty on our coffers. What is it that gives the answer. He says it's two things. First of all the care of the needy see that because what he records here is that although Jesus had driven changers of money and the sellers of animals from the Temple. Verse 14 he welcomed the blind and the lame who came to him at the temple, and that he healed the Matthew was the only one to record that they came to him in the temple and did it on this occasion and then he makes the same point later because in the next chapter he talks about the wedding banquet to which all the important people of that day are invited, they refused, as did the religious leaders of Christ's day the king goes out and brings in all the halt and the lame from all the various alleyways of the city and so the banquet is complete, the joy of the king and his son are great James Lord's brother makes the same point.
He says religion that God our father accepts as pure and faultless is this to look after the orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. Most of the Jewish authorities in Jesus day for bad, lame, blind, deaf, or otherwise handicapped people from offering select vices at the temple I based it on the text and second Samuel, but here in striking contrast handicap come to Jesus and there accepted by him and healed by him first thing in the second thing Matthew puts into the story. Adding on to it is the praise of the children that we can understand how that happened on the natural level in the crowded company Jesus into the temple the day before.
This would've been lots of children they are running along with the others I would've heard the praises of the people recorded in verse nine of this very chapter hosanna to the son of David.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord of Zana and the highest on the following day they would remember that so late by themselves they are in the presence of Jesus might burst out into the same kind of prayers. But there's more to it than that. It's not just the historical event. You have to remember that two times earlier than this. In the gospel. Jesus is pointed to the children as models of the kind of humility and simple faith.
Everyone must have if he or she is to become a member of Christ's kingdom.
He said I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 18, three, and again, the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these. Matthew 1970. Remember that you can't miss understanding what Matthew is say saying this kind of religion God accepts is the kind that is illustrated by a child commercial success on something captivating enterprise but humbled genuine praise of Jesus as the son of God and the Savior contrast we have here you see the contrast is between the children were praising Christ and the chief priests and teachers of the law who should've been praising him but were actually indignant because of the noise that was being made. Maybe they would say well they were concerned with proper decorum in the temple. The house of God and all of that what they really hated was that Jesus was getting the attention they were not sent you here what these children are saying, Jesus replied. He quoted from Psalm eight of you never rent from the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise and answer in a number of things it provided a biblical basis for Jesus refusing to rebuke the children as a claim to deity because of the Psalm of praise being given is being given to God the father here.
It's been given to Jesus Christ and finally it reminded everyone that it's those who were willing to become like children who perceive the truth about Jesus on or say are several ways we could apply that one thing we can say is that a good church on a have a lot of people to let difficulties like the blind and the lame and handicap because they'll be welcome in the good church and are on the lot of children. You only have a church that is somber and pious and purer, with nobody that is upsetting you really living for a false kind of religion. A good church to reach out to everyone. More than that. It says this doesn't says that's what we need to be regardless of how we consider ourselves in the eyes of the world because of spiritual things. All of us are blind in spiritual things. All of us are parked in life we can come to God by our own efforts, he have to come to our city does so we look at these texts we say yes, that's what we are. So we, thinking about ourselves and our success.
Our money and all the black become thinking about the grace of God that reach out toward us and save us in our soon to come that way and recognize that's what you're like. Jesus came to say people just like that you do gospel is for you, Jesus, receive these people. He welcomed their praise and he healed those who needed healing, but if not it ends on the sobered out verse 17 says it's talking about these leaders that would not have them.
He left them out of the city to Bethany, where he spent the night to do that very night retiring to Bethany, one of the final withdrawal by him from those who don't really worship him in spirit and in truth. It's bright. Father, we thank you for this passage and for all that it tells us about the kind of worship you desire about what our churches easily become about our own materialism and about the kind of people that you receive those who recognize their need and come to you for healing and who praise you with the kind of humility and simple faith. The children have, we might be like that become increasingly like that Jesus you are listening to the Bible study hours with the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals. The alliance exists to promote a biblical understanding and worldview. Drawing upon the insight and wisdom of reformed theologians from decades and even centuries gone by. We seek to provide Christian teaching that will equip believers to understand and meet the challenges and opportunities of our time and place. Alliance broadcasting includes that Bible study hour with Dr. James Boyce every last word with Bible teacher, Dr. Philip Reich and and Dr. Barnhouse in the Bible featuring Donald Barnhouse. For more information on the alliance including a free introductory package for first-time callers or to make a contribution.
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