And he went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold therein, and them that bought;…
I. Our first inquiry is — WHAT IS OUR LORD'S VIEW AS TO THE PURPOSE AND END WHICH HE DESIGNS HIS EARTHLY TEMPLES TO SERVE? And this is the answer — "My house is the house of prayer." He calls us here to pray. The work to which He sets us in the sanctuary is mainly devotional.
1. As first, that common or united prayer is needful for man. Prayer itself is almost an instinct of nature. Man must worship. And he must worship in company; he must pray with others.
2. Another observation which the Divine idea in regard to the earthly sanctuary suggests is, that common or united prayer is acceptable to God.
3. Common or united prayer is efficacious to obtain Divine gifts. Otherwise, God would not assign to it so foremost a position in the worship of the sanctuary.
II. MAN'S DEPARTURE FROM THIS DIVINE IDEA ABOUT THE HOUSE OF GOD ON EARTH. "Ye have made it a den of thieves." There is man's perversion of God's design. You know, of course, what the particular sin was which these words of our Lord were intended to reprove. It was the appropriation on the part of these Jews of a portion of the temple enclosure to purposes of worldly barter. This was the way in which the Jewish people lost sight of the Divine idea in regard to their temple. And though it is not possible for men now to commit precisely the same offence, I fear it would not be difficult to trace a corresponding sin, even in the present altered condition of the church. It is possible now to desecrate sacred places and offices to purposes of worldly gain. It is possible to make a traffic of spiritual functions and emoluments. But, my friends, these are not the only things in which a departure from God's idea about His sanctuary may be marked now. There are others, of another complexion and character, it is true, but not the less to be reprehended. It is to these that I would more especially call your attention.
1. Let me say, then, that some pervert God's idea by making the house of prayer a house of preaching. With them the sermon is almost everything. They are impatient of all else to get to that. Prayers, and lessons, and psalms, and creeds, are all just to be endured as a sort of preliminary to that.
2. I remark again, that some depart from God's intention with respect to the sanctuary by making the house of prayer "a house of mere Sunday resort." They must pass the day somewhere; they must get through it somehow, and so, as it is customary, and seemly, and respectable, they will go to church. They are as well there, they think, as anywhere else; but, alas! this is all.
3. I remark, in the next place, that some pervert this design by making the house of prayer "a house of formal service." Their service is no more than lip service.
(G. M. Merry.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And he went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold therein, and them that bought;