WISDOM FOR LIVING DAILY DEVOTIONAL
JULY 05, 2022
TOPIC: A HOUSE OF PRAYER OR A DEN OF THIEVES?
BY T. O. BANSO
“And He said to them, ‘It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves’” (Matthew 21:13 New King James Version).
During the time of the Prophet Jeremiah, the people of Jerusalem were committing great evil but erroneously believed that because the Temple of God was located there, no harm would come to them. But the LORD warned them to mend their ways and doings so that He would cause them to dwell in their land. He told them not to trust in the lying words that they had the Temple of the LORD (Jeremiah 7:3-4). Of what use was priding themselves on having the Temple but living a sinful life. That was mere religion.
The LORD said, “Behold, you trust in lying words that cannot profit. Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, burn incense to Baal, and walk after other gods whom you do not know, and then come and stand before Me in this house which is called by My name, and say, ‘We are delivered to do all these abominations’?” (Jeremiah 7:8-10 New King James Version).
We must not be deceived that God will be pleased with us while we live in sin and hide under our association with a place of worship. We should not think that we are safe in the church while we continue with our sinful lifestyle. We should not continue in sin and think that we can make the church our hideout.
The LORD said, through Jeremiah, “Has this house, which is called by My name, become a den of thieves in your eyes? Behold, I, even I, have seen it” (Jeremiah 7:11 New King James Version). This was an abuse of the house of God. The people put the Temple to the wrong use and gave it a bad image, which the LORD saw. He reminded them that He abandoned Shiloh where He had set His name at the first because of the wickedness of His people, the Israelites. He said because they refused to listen to Him, He would do to His house, which they trusted in, the same thing He did to Shiloh (verses 12-14).
Some people today are guilty of what God indicted the Israelites of. They have turned the house of God into a den of thieves or robbers just as it was in the day of the Lord Jesus Christ. Instead of the house of God being the house of prayer, it has become the den of thieves. Therefore, many people have been robbed in the church where they came for refuge.
The Bible records that Jesus entered the Temple and saw those who were buying and selling animals for sacrifice and the money-changers. He drove out all those who bought and sold in the Temple and overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold doves. This is recorded in Matthew 21:12-13, Mark 11:15-17; Luke 19:45-46; and John 2:12-16.
Those selling animals for sacrifice and the money changers operated in the Court of the Gentiles in the Temple. The animal sellers exploited worshippers by selling at exorbitant prices. Because the sellers would accept only the Temple coins, the worshippers must change their money from the money-changers. These money-changers often exploited them, using fraudulent exchange rates.
Driving out all those who bought and sold in the temple and overturning the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold doves, Jesus said, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves” (Matthew 21:13 New King James Version). Jesus referred to two scriptures in the Old Testament. He quoted the last part of Isaiah 56:7, which says, “For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations” (New King James version). He also quoted Jeremiah 7:11, which you have read earlier.
After Jesus had cleansed the Temple, Matthew 21:14 says the blind and the lame came to Him in the Temple, and He healed them. This is what should be going on in the house of God, not the exploitation of the people. Some people today are taking advantage of those who are deceived to think they are serving God or people who are cheated while trying to genuinely express their love for God.
John’s account of the cleansing of the Temple by Jesus is presented very early in His ministry (John 2:12-16) while Matthew, Mark, and Luke present it towards the end of His ministry. It has been suggested that probably Jesus cleansed the temple twice. However, some Bible scholars believe that the four books are talking about the same incident. Whatever the case, the house of God must not be turned into a den of thieves.
The church is not the place for those whose goal is to make money. The ministry is not the right place for those who crave to be rich. They should go into business, not engage in the Father’s business. The church must be rid of thieves. The church must be made safe for worshippers. People should not come to church to worship God and be duped or scammed by those who present themselves as the servants of God. Those in ministry who have the problem of greed or covetousness should repent and cry to God to deliver them before they end in hellfire.
1 Timothy 3:3 and Titus 1:7 specifically say a bishop/pastor/elder/overseer must, among other things, not be greedy for money. The Bible says the same things about deacons (1 Timothy 3:8). The focus of a minister should not be money. His service should not be motivated by the money he can get from it.
Paul wrote to the elders or leaders of the church, “Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away” (1 Peter 5:2-4 New King James Version).
The Christian ministry is not the right place for a man to have the ambition of being rich like the non-believers. There are so many causalities on this road – people who, pursuing this dangerous ambition lost their souls and destroyed the great ministries God has committed into their hands.
1 Timothy 6:6-10 says, “Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (New King James Version).
A minister of God must beware of the love of money, as he serves the Lord. The Bible says we cannot serve God and mammon (money) (Matthew 6:24; Luke 16:13). Indeed, the Bible says in Psalm 35:27 that God has pleasure in the prosperity of his servant. The Hebrew word for prosperity in this scripture is shalowm, which means completeness, soundness, welfare, or peace. Prosperity is more than money and a servant of God must not become a thief to enjoy prosperity!
A minister cannot pursue gold and glory at the same time! And that doesn’t mean that he will wallow in penury. God takes care of His servants. He is their shepherd and will provide for their needs. David said, “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1 New King James Version).
Is your church a house of prayer or a den of thieves? All forms of church abuse, including turning it into a den of thieves, must stop. The house of God must be a house of prayer and a place to teach His Word and worship Him.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit that you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and God raised Him on the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like a palm tree and grow like a cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: Father, thank You for Your presence with Your children on earth. I repent of every form of church abuse. I will not turn Your house into the den of thieves; it shall remain a house of prayer and a place to teach Your Word and worship You. Father, I pray that the thieves in Your house will repent. Drive out those who refuse to repent; overturn their tables.
(For over 800 in-depth and powerful messages by T. O. Banso, visit www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President of Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
Phone No: +2348155744752, +2348033113523
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