I can only begin to image the sights and the sounds that came from the vendors set up at the entrance to the temple with birds, lambs, sheep and an assortment of other livestock.
Dust from the feet of weary travelers adorn the stones of the temple along with scattered feathers. It must have smelled a bit like a stockyard, and the sounds of chirping, chattering, and lowing filled the air as did the sound of people speaking and money changing hands.
These sights and sounds were not what should have been surrounding the temple of our God.
The temple was to be a place of worship, a house of prayer.
Instead, vendors had set up shop in an attempt to make a profit as the parishioners made their way through the gates to lift praise and prayer to the Lord.
But Jesus arrived and would take action.
And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold, saying to them, “It is written, My house shall be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of robbers.” Luke 19:45-45 (ESV)
Jesus desired that the temple is utilized for its created purpose; to worship God. He demanded that those with only pure hearts and a devoted desire for pure worship enter the temple.
Pure hearts and worship were a concern thousands of years ago, and they remain a concern to this day. We spend much time in the modern church participating in the ritual and worshiping in a way to make ourselves feel good that we fail to remember what worship is genuinely about.
When will we realize that worship has nothing to do with our feeling good?
The reason for attending the temple back in the very beginning is no different than it is today. The temple was designed as a place to come and meet with God. It is a place where we can meet with like-minded believers to worship God.
It has nothing to do with whether we like the music, or what we wear. Worship has everything to do with putting ourselves and our desires aside and celebrating God for who He is.
It is all about God.
Worship and prayer are about meeting with God in a special place solely dedicated to Him. They about showing Him honor and lifting praises from our mouths to His ears in heaven.
It’s not about our feeling good, being happy, or putting on a performance. It is about coming before all mighty God with praise for all that He has done. It is about connecting with Him away from the hustle and bustle of the world around us. It’s all about Him.
God knows that He is the King of all. He knows that Jesus sits beside Him at His right hand. It is our purpose to know and worship Him for these things. He is to be the object of our desires, the center of our hearts, and the focus of our prayers.
Jesus cleansed the temple of money making and business transactions so that God the Father would be the focus of our affections. To this day that focus should remain the same.
Questions to ask yourself?
So the questions become when you attend church are you singing to God in celebration and worship of Him? Or are you singing to put on a show to those around you?
Are your prayers directed to God because He has been good and because you have faith that in and through the blood of Jesus Christ you can accomplish all things? Or are you praying to some sort of God vending machine, desiring that you can lift your prayer and then press a button to select exactly what you want?
Take time for reflection.
During this holy week, I encourage you to take time in reflection. Take time to consider all that our Savior endured during this week more than 2000 years ago. Are both your heart and your worship pure? Are you focused on God alone? Or do you have some desire to bring attention to or make yourself feel good?
The ultimate reality is, the blood of Jesus was shed because of God’s great love for us. He provided us a Messiah, a Savior for the anyone who would choose to be in Christ. The love of God and the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is why we pray and why we worship.
It indeed has nothing to do with what we desire, and everything to do with what He has done for us.