Purpose Matters

based on the LGG Study, From Broken to Restored / w6d1

Scripture: Nehemiah 13:1-14; Matthew 21:12-16 / SOAP: Matthew 21:13

Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. 13 “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’”

Matthew 21:12 and 13
A Look at Nehemiah

Our ongoing journey through Nehemiah is winding down this week and bears some close observation as we near the end. Today’s 14 verses deal with a time when one of the priest had repurposed a room that God had purposed for the the grain offering, the incense, and the vessels, along with the tithes of the grain, the new wine, and the olive oil. The priest didn’t just repurpose the room but made it a large storeroom for a relative to use. Nehemiah makes it clear that during this time he had gone back to serving the King and had not been in Jerusalem when the priest had taken over the storeroom. When Nehemiah found out what “evil” the priest had done he became very upset and threw everything out and gave instructions for the room to be purified. Once it was purified he restored it to its original purpose – including the “grain offering and the incense; he also made sure it would no longer be neglected. Because he did these things all of Judah once again brought the “tithe of the grain, the new wine, and the olive oil to the storerooms.”

Nehemiah’s Prayer Request

Following Nehemiah’s return and restoration project he makes a humble request of God to remember him for what he had done. At first glance this prayer may seem less than humble but he clarifies the intent of his heart’s purpose by specifically asking God to “not wipe out the kindness [Nehemiah had] done for the temple of [his] God and for its services!”

It wasn’t about what Nehemiah had done but why he had done it.

A New Testament Example

Today’s SOAP passage, Matthew 21:13, shows Jesus’ reaction to a similar situation as that of Nehemiah’s. We see Jesus, the one typically so full of love and compassion, “[driving] out all those who were selling and buying in the temple courts, and [turning] over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves.” However, as with Nehemiah, Jesus’ words that followed his actions clarified His intent and heart’s purpose. Quoting from the Old Testament, He said to those involved, “It is written, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are turning it into a den of robbers!”

Jesus’ anger was clearly ‘righteous anger’ aroused because the people were misusing the House of God, His Father. Not only were they cheating the people who had come to the temple for righteous purposes they were robbing God of the joy and glory and honor He received when the people sought Him in prayer and sacrifice. This explains the statement Jesus made when He boldly identified the guilty parties as “robbers!”

Jesus’ anger wasn’t just about Him not liking what they were doing. It was about His jealousy for God and what they were taking away from Him.

Make it Personal: Reflection

Today, God’s presence indwells our hearts through His Holy Spirit. As we look at the way the temple of God was supposed to be treated, what does that mean for our hearts?

Going Further

Today’s LGG Blog Post offers more insight

Read about the House of Prayer and Den of Robbers

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