When Jesus cleansed the Temple, he angrily drove out the moneychangers and overturned the tables of those exploiting the poor by selling doves for offerings. “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers’” (Matt. 21:13).

In this dramatic scene, Jesus was quoting from Isaiah and Jeremiah. The “house of prayer” is from Isaiah 56:7, and the “den of robbers” is from today’s verse. Why? Because the same sin committed in Jesus’ presence had happened in Jeremiah’s time. What should have been happening at the Temple? Worship and repentance. As God said through Jeremiah: “Change your ways and your actions and deal with each other justly” (v. 5).

You may wonder: What was actually happening at the Temple? The short answer is: sin. Judah’s sins included stealing, murder, adultery, perjury, injustice, and idolatry (vv. 6, 9). They were oppressing the poor and worshiping false gods.

The main sin highlighted in this passage is hypocrisy. They were showing one face to the world and another to God (as if He wouldn’t know!). They acted one way in the Temple and another way in the world. They had the gall to worship idols and sin wantonly, then enter the house of God and think they were “safe.” They thought that being God’s “chosen people” was a lucky charm, keeping them safe from the consequences of their sin (v. 10). After all, that’s what the false prophets had told them, and they’d put their trust in their deceptive words (vv. 4, 8). God would never destroy His own Temple, right?

We know differently. God hates sin and is righteously angry when His people take advantage of their identity and His grace (see also Rom. 6:1–2).

In light of today’s text, we encourage you to prepare your hearts for next Sunday’s worship service. This is not just because it will be Palm Sunday but because worshiping God is serious business.

Extended reading: Jeremiah 7–8

Published by Intentional Faith

Devoted to a Faith that Thinks

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