CURSING THAT WHICH IS BARREN AND CLEANSING THAT WHICH IS DEFILED

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel narrative of the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ as it was written and recorded by the apostle Matthew. More specifically today’s passage is found in verses twenty-three through forty-six of this New Testament book. “And when he was come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came unto him as he was teaching, and said, By what authority doest thou these things? And who gave thee this authority? And Jesus answered and said unto them, I also will ask you one thing, which if ye tell me, I in like wise will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, whence was it? From heaven, or of men? And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say unto us, Why did ye not then believe him? But if we shall say, Of men; we fear the people; for all hold John as a prophet. And they answered Jesus, and said, We cannot tell. And he said unto them, Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things. But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son go work to day in my vineyard. He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went. And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not. Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them. Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not; but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him” (Matthew 21:23-32).

 

            “Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country: and when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it. And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise. But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son. But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance. And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him. When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen? They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons. Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes? Therefore say. I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder. And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them. But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared the multitude, because they took him for a prophet” (Matthew 21:33-46).

            When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will find the Lord Jesus once more entering into the Temple of God in the midst of the city of Jerusalem. As you come to and read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you will find that this would not be the first time Jesus would enter into the Temple after coming unto and entering into the midst of the city of Jerusalem. The more you take the time to read the words found in this passage of Scripture the more you will be brought face to face with the absolutely incredible truth of the Lord Jesus entering into the city of Jerusalem during what would be the beginning of a period of time that would become known as the week of His passion. At the very beginning of this passage you will find the Lord Jesus entering into the midst of the city of Jerusalem meek and lowly riding on a donkey as the multitudes would spread out palm branches and garments in the way as He passed through the streets of the city. The disciples would place their coats on the donkey as they would undoubtedly lead Jesus into the city of Jerusalem and through the streets of the city. What’s more is that as you read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you will find that this very action within the life of Jesus would indeed fulfill the prophetic word of the ancient Hebrew prophet. The Lord Jesus would indeed send two of His disciples on an incredibly powerful and pivotal assignment as He would send them to loose a colt and the foal of an ass as He had need of them.

 

            I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and I am brought face to face with that which the Lord Jesus did for these two disciples whom He would send into a certain village over against the city. These two disciples would be invited to participate in an incredibly wonderful and powerful assignment as they would be invited of the Lord Jesus to help Him fulfill the prophetic word which was spoken by the prophet Zechariah centuries earlier while living in the southern kingdom of Judah. That which we find at the very outset and beginning of this passage of Scripture would indeed be a truly awesome and wonderful picture of the Lord Jesus calling and inviting two of His disciples into the place of helping to fulfill prophecy and the prophetic word which was spoken by the ancient Hebrew prophet. On this particular day these two disciples would be asked to do something they perhaps had absolutely no understanding what it would mean nor the significance of it. What we find here, however, is the Lord Jesus calling and inviting these two disciples to step into a place of helping to bring about and fulfill the prophetic word which had been spoken all those years and centuries before. Pause for a moment and consider that which the Lord Jesus calls and invites us to step into and walk in. Oh we might not be called, invited and used to fulfill prophecy as these two disciples did, however, we must needs recognize that we are indeed and are in fact living during prophetic times as we are living in the end of days and the Last Days. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous reality of the Lord Jesus calling and inviting us into the place where we are willing to step into the divine will and purpose of the living God for our lives.

 

            The more you read the words found within this passage of Scripture the more you can and will encounter the tremendous truth that Jesus would indeed enter into the Temple on two different occasions. We know and understand from the words in this passage of Scripture that the Lord Jesus would enter into the city of Jerusalem meek and lowly riding on a donkey as the multitudes would straw palm branches and their garments along the way where Jesus would journey. What’s more is that the multitudes which were present in Jerusalem on this particular day would indeed emphatically proclaim “Hosanna” and declare Jesus as being the Son of David who comes in the name of the LORD. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for I am sure there might have been countless men and women during those days who thought and perhaps even believed that Jesus would enter into the midst of the city of Jerusalem to establish an earthly kingdom, overthrow the Roman government and oppression and even sit upon a throne He would establish in the midst of the city. The truth of the matter, however, is the Lord Jesus would not enter into the city of Jerusalem to sit upon a throne nor even to sit upon the throne of His father David. Oh we do in fact know that the Lord Jesus was called to sit upon the throne of His father David, however, on this particular occasion Jesus would not come to set upon nor set up an earthly throne. That which Jesus would come unto Jerusalem to fulfill and to accomplish would be as the Lamb of God which would suffer and ultimately be killed and put to death. How absolutely incredible it is to read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and to consider how the Lord Jesus would indeed enter into the city of Jerusalem as a king and yet He would not sit upon a throne nor would He set up an earthly kingdom.

 

            I read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and I am absolutely captivated with and by the awesome and incredible truth of the Lord Jesus and how the Lord Jesus would enter into the midst of the city of Jerusalem and yet He would not journey unto a place where He would sit upon a throne and establish a kingdom and begin reigning upon the earth. Jesus would enter into the midst of the city of Jerusalem and the very first action the apostle Matthew writes and records Him undertaking and performing was to enter into the Temple and bring about a cleansing and purging. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it calls and draws our attention to just how provocative the Lord Jesus’ time in the midst of the city of Jerusalem truly was during these times. The Lord Jesus would indeed enter into the midst of the city of Jerusalem at this particular time and yet He would make the first order of business entering into the Temple that He might bring cleansing. Jesus would enter into the city of Jerusalem and would in fact seek to bring order and cleansing to the midst of it having seen and beheld those who bought and sold, the money changers and the tables of money and even those who sold doves. The Lord Jesus would indeed enter into the city of Jerusalem on this particular day and would make His first order of business bringing about a thorough cleansing of the Temple as He would not only drive out those who bought and sold, and would not only drive out the money changers but would also overturn the tables of money.

 

            I have to admit that as I read the words found in this passage of Scripture I am brought face to face with the incredibly awesome and powerful truth surrounding the Lord Jesus during this trip to the city of Jerusalem. What’s more is I can’t help but remember and recount the prophetic word and how the LORD would suddenly appear in the Temple as a refiner’s fire and as a fuller’s soap. I am reminded of the words which the apostle Peter wrote in the first epistle written unto the saints which were scattered and suffering concerning judgment beginning with and at the house of God. It’s incredibly interesting to think about and consider the fact that Jesus would indeed enter into the Temple to bring about a thorough and complete cleansing before two distinct actions would take place in the midst of it—the first taking place upon the death of Jesus and the second taking place less than forty years after. The Lord Jesus would enter into the midst of the Temple of the living God and would bring cleansing within it before the veil which separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies would be rent in twain from top to bottom. Not only this but the Lord Jesus would enter into the midst of the Temple of the living God and would bring cleansing unto it nearly four decades before the Temple itself would be destroyed. Oh for nearly forty years the Temple would still remain upon the Temple Mount within the city of Jerusalem before the Romans would invade Judaea and the city of Jerusalem and would destroy the Temple with fire.

 

            I have to admit there is a part of me that can’t help but think about and consider how Jesus’ entrance into the Temple of the living God was indeed a portent and symbol of that which would come upon and in the midst of it. Jesus would indeed appear in the Temple suddenly and without warning and advance notice and would completely and totally cleanse the house. What I can’t help but think about and consider is the fact that Jesus would indeed bring cleansing and order to the Temple before the judgment and wrath of the living God would be meted out against Judaea and against the city of Jerusalem. Nearly forty years after the death, resurrection and ascension of the Lord Jesus the Temple of the living God which would stand in the midst of the city of Jerusalem would be destroyed by the Roman Empire. What we must needs recognize and understand is that Jesus’ entrance into the Temple on this particular occasion would in fact be a powerful portent and warning of judgment against it. Jesus would enter into the midst of the Temple and bring order and cleansing to it as He would prepare it for an event that would take place at and upon His death. It would be at His death there would be a great earthquake and the veil which separated the Holy of Holies from the Holy Place would be rent in twain from top to bottom. A CLEANSED TEMPLE AND A TORN VEIL! Oh there is not a doubt in my mind when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture that the Lord Jesus would indeed enter into the Temple that He might bring order to it as He would drive out the money changers, those who bought and sold even those who sold doves in the midst thereof.

 

            The words which are found in this passage of Scripture call and draw our attention to the absolutely incredible truth of the Lord Jesus would in fact enter into the city of Jerusalem and would come unto the Temple suddenly and without warning. The Lord Jesus would enter into the Temple of the living God and would appear without advanced notice as He would bring order in the midst of the chaos and would thoroughly purge it. In all reality I can’t help but think about and consider Jesus’ entrance into the Temple of the living God and how His coming unto the Temple would indeed be a sign, and a witness and warning unto all those who were present in the midst of the city. In all reality I would dare say that Jesus’ entrance into the Temple of Jerusalem on this particular day would indeed be a powerful and clarion warning unto those within that generation—a warning of judgment that was to come. What’s more is I would dare say that Jesus’ entrance into the Temple would indeed be a powerful witness of and call to mercy during those days. As Jesus entered into the Temple His bringing about cleansing in the midst of it would stand and serve as a powerful and wonderful invitation to prepare oneself for the judgment and wrath which was to come as well as recognize the plea for mercy that would be issued at that time. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous and incredible truth surrounding the Lord Jesus and His entrance into the Temple of the living God. What’s more is I can’t help but read these words and think about the days of the prophet Jeremiah—and not only the days of the prophet Jeremiah but also the days of Josiah the king of Judah.

 

            If you turn and direct your attention to the Old Testament book of Second Kings you will find the days of Jeremiah the prophet as also being the days of Josiah the king of Judah which sat upon the throne of his father David. As you read the words which are found within this particular passage of Scripture you will find there were certain witnesses that would be present during those days in the midst of the land. There would be the initial witness of the discovery—or should I say the re-discovery—of the book of the Law of Moses within the Temple of the living God. During those days there would indeed be the tremendous and incredible witness of the book of the Law of God being found within the Temple—and not only the finding of the book of the Law of God but also the presenting of that book together with its words unto the king which sat upon the throne. It’s important to note that the king which sat upon the throne of David in the southern kingdom of Judah was one who walked in the ways of his father David and did that which was right in the sight of the Lord. With this being said we must needs understand that this king Josiah would indeed be sensitive to the work and words of God within his life as when he heard the words which were written and recorded in the book of the Law of Moses he would be pricked in his conscience and would rend his garments before the Lord. Not only this but he would proceed to send his servants unto the prophetess to inquire of the LORD concerning the words which he heard. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous truth of the witness of a humble and righteous king who would sit upon the throne of his father David in the midst of the city of Jerusalem.

 

            We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for it calls and draws our attention to the powerful prophetic witnesses which were present during those days.  There was indeed the prophetic witness of the re-discovery of the book of the Law of Moses within the Temple of the living God. In addition to this there would be the prophetic witness of the reading of the words contained within the book of the Law of Moses in the hearing and presence of the king. Not only this but what we find in this passage of Scripture is the king hearing the words which were present in the book of the Law of Moses and rending his garments in humility in the sight of the living God. As if this weren’t enough there would also be the prophetic witness of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah who would proclaim the word of the Lord faithfully for a number of years leading up to and even during and after the Babylonian invasion of the southern kingdom of Judah and subsequent captivity and exile of the people of God. What’s more is that during these days there would also be the witness of the cleansing of the Temple—and not only the cleansing of the Temple but also the cleansing of the land of all the idolatrous items and practices which were present therein. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous truth surrounding the days of Josiah and Jeremiah and how those days were indeed a powerful portent and prophetic symbol concerning days of judgment and wrath which were to come—and not only days of judgment and wrath but also days of tremendous mercy as Josiah would indeed be placed in a role of intercession and intervention between the judgment and wrath of the living God and the people of God. It is with this being said I invite you to consider the following words which are found in this passage of Scripture located within the book of Second Kings:

 

            “Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned thirty and one years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Jedidah, the daughter of Adaiah of Boscath. And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, and walked in all the way of David his father, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left. And it came to pass in the eighteenth year of king Josiah, that the king sent Shaphan the son of Azaliah, the son of Meshullam, the scribe, to the house of the LORD, saying, Go up to Hilkiah the high priest, that he may sum the silver which is brought into the house of the LORD, which the keepers of the door have gathered of the people: and let them deliver it into the hand of the doers of the work, that have the oversight of the house of the LORD: and let them give it to the doers of the work which is in the house of the LORD, to repair the breaches of the house, unto carpenters, and builders, and masons, and to buy timber and hewn stone to repair the house. Howbeit there was no reckoning made with them of the money that was delivered into their hand, because they dealt faithfully” (2 Kings 22:1-7).

 

            “And Hilkiah the high priest said unto Shaphan the scribe, I have found the book of the law in the house of the LORD. And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, and he read it. And Shaphan the scribe came to the king, and brought the king word again, and said, Thy servants have gathered the money that was found in the house, and have deliverd it into the hand of them that do the work, that have the oversight of the house of the LORD. And Shaphan the scribe shewed the king, saying, Hilkiah the priest hath delivered me a book. And Shaphan read it before the king. And it came to p ass, when the king had heard the words of the book of the law, that he rent his clothes. And the king commanded Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Achbor the son of Michaiah, and Shaphan the scribe, and Asahiah a servant of the king’s, saying, Go ye, inquire of the LORD for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that is found; for great is the wrath of the LORD that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not hearkened unto the words of this book, to do according unto all that which is written concerning us. So Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam, and Achbor, and Shaphan, and Asahiah, went unto Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe; (now she dwelt in Jerusalem in the college;) and they communed with her. And sha said unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Tell the man that sent you to me, Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will bring evil upon this place, and upon the inhabitants thereof, even all the words of the book which the king of Judah hath read: because they have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, that they might provoke me to anger with all the works of their hands; therefore my wrath shall be kindled against this place, and shall not be quenched. But to the king of Judah which sent you to inquire of the LORD, thus shall ye say to him, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, As touching the words which thou hast heard; Because thine heart was tender, and thou hast humbled thyself before the LORD, when thou heardest what I spake against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, that they should become a desolation and a curse, and hast rent thy clothes, and wept before me; I also have heard thee, saith the Lord. Behold therefore, I will gather thee unto thy fathers, and thou shalt be gathered into thy grave in peace; and thine eyes shall not see all the evil which I will bring upon this place. And they brought the king word again” (2 Kings 22:8-20).

 

            It is absolutely necessary and imperative we recognize and pay close attention to the words found in this passage of Scripture for they call and draw our attention to the wonderful reality of Josiah’s desire to repair the Temple of the living God which stood in the midst of the city of Jerusalem. Josiah would indeed send those who would give themselves to repairing the temple of the living God in the midst of the city of Jerusalem and it would be in the process of repairing the temple of the living God that the book of the Law of Moses would be found in the midst of the house of the LORD. What’s more is the book of the Law which was found in the Temple of the LORD would be found by Hilkiah who was the father of Jeremiah the prophet of the living God. Oh how absolutely wonderful and incredible this truly is for it calls and draws our attention to the wonderful and powerful witness that would be present during the days of both Jeremiah and Josiah—the days of the prophet of the LORD and the days of a righteous king. In addition to this we find that not only was the book of the Law of Moses found in the house of the LORD but it would also be read in the hearing of Josiah king of Judah. Upon hearing the words which were found in this passage of Scripture—not only would Josiah rend his garments having been pricked in his conscience but he would also send certain of his servants unto the prophetess to inquire of the LORD concerning the words he heard and how they ought to respond to the words within the book of the Law. What makes the response of the prophetess so incredibly unique and powerful is that not only would she speak of judgment and wrath that was inevitably to come during the days ahead—that wrath and judgment would not come during the days of Josiah. So long as Josiah was alive and sitting upon the throne of his father David in the midst of the city of Jerusalem the wrath and judgment of God would be stayed according to the prophetic word that was spoken unto the servants of the king when he sent them unto the prophetess.

 

            If you continue reading in the Old Testament book of Second Kings—specifically in the twenty-third chapter—you will find the response of Josiah to the words of the prophetess. The prophetess would not only provide Josiah with a powerful declaration concerning his humility and contrition but she would also declare concerning him that he would be an intermediary and indirect intercessor between the people of God and the judgment and wrath of the living God. As you read the words found in this passage of Scripture you will find the prophetess declaring unto Josiah that he would not live to see the judgment and wrath which the living God would pour out and release upon the land. It is absolutely necessary we recognize and understand this for it calls and draws our attention to Josiah and how he would be a vessel that would be placed between the judgment and wrath of God and the people of God. So long as Josiah sat upon the throne of David in the midst of the city of Jerusalem there would be no display of the judgment and wrath of the living God executed upon the people. Pause for a moment and consider how there would not only be a righteous king sitting upon the throne of David but also how this righteous king who would do that which was right in the sight of the LORD would stand between the wrath of God and the people of God. Josiah would indeed sit upon the throne of David in the city of Jerusalem and as a direct result of sitting upon that throne he would be placed in a unique place of intercession between the people of God and His wrath. What’s more is when you read the history of the Jewish people in the Old Testament you will find that Josiah was the last and final righteous king to sit upon the throne of David in the city of Jerusalem.

 

            In studying the history of the Jewish people in the Old Testament you will indeed encounter and come face to face with the absolutely incredible and tremendous truth surrounding the various righteous kings who did what was right and would sit upon the throne of David in the midst of the city of Jerusalem. There would be kings such as Jehoshaphat, Uzziah, Hezekiah and Josiah who would indeed do that which was right in the sight of the LORD and would be a conduit and vessel turning the hearts of the people back to the living God. What we must needs recognize concerning the days of Josiah is that these were days which were not only characterized by the prophetic voice of Jeremiah but they would also be days of the book of the Law of Moses, the righteousness of a king who would sit upon the throne of David and even a powerful cleansing that would take place throughout the land. What we must needs recognize concerning Josiah is that not only was he the final righteous king who would sit upon the throne of David in the midst of the city of Jerusalem but he would also help bring about a complete and utter cleansing of the land. Josiah’s cleansing of the land would be very much reminiscent of Jesus’ cleansing of the Temple of God in the midst of the city of Jerusalem. Josiah’s cleansing of the land would indeed be a powerful witness and testimony against the people of God calling them to repentance much like Jesus’ cleansing of the Temple of God within the city of Jerusalem would be a portent, sign and warning unto those who were present during those days. When we read the words which are found in the twenty-first chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew we must needs recognize the tremendous reality of Josiah the final righteous king who would sit upon the throne of David in the midst of the city of Jerusalem.

 

            Having said this I invite you to consider if you will the following words which are found in the twenty-third chapter of the Old Testament book of Second Kings. The words which we find here in this passage of Scripture call and draw our attention to the incredible truth of the reformation which Josiah would bring to the city of Jerusalem—and not only to the city of Jerusalem but also to the southern kingdom of Judah and the northern kingdom of Israel. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it calls and draws our attention to the incredible truth surrounding Josiah’s reformation during those days and Jesus’ reformation of the Temple of the living God in the midst of the city of Jerusalem. How incredibly unique and powerful this truly is for it helps us to understand the sign and warning of cleansing—and not only the sign and warning of cleansing but how cleansing more often than not points to something much greater in the coming days. It’s incredibly interesting to think about the fact that Josiah would bring order and cleansing to the land during his generation and yet the judgment and wrath would come upon the people, the land and the Temple. Josiah would help repair the Temple of the living God and would even cleanse the land and yet his actions would not prevent the judgment and wrath from coming upon the land, the people and the Temple. In fact Josiah’s actions during his generation would indeed be such that would almost appear to pave the way and set the stage for the judgment and wrath of the living God to be manifested in the midst of the land. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it brings us face to face with the absolutely wonderful and incredible truth surrounding Josiah and the reformation which would come in the midst of the land. With this in mind consider if you will the following words which are found in the twenty-third chapter of the Old Testament book of Second Kings beginning to read with and from the first and opening verse:

 

            “And the king sent, and they gathered unto him all the elders of Judah and of Jerusalem. And the king went up into the house of the LORD, and all the men of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem with him, and the priests, and the prophets, and all the people, both small and great: and he read in their ears all the words of the book of the covenant which was found in the house of the LORD> And the king stood by a pillar, and made a covenant before the LORD, to walk after the LORD, and to. Keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes with all their heart and with all their soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people stood to the covenant. And the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest, and the priests of the second order, and the keepers of the door, to bring forth out of the temple of the LORD all the vessels that were made for Baal, and for the grove, and for all the host of heaven: and he burned them without Jerusalem in the fields of Kidron, and carried the ashes of them unto Beth-el. And he put down the idolatrous preists whom the kings of Judah had ordained to burn incense in the high places in the cities of Judah, and in the places round about Jerusalem; them also that burned incense unto Baal, to the sun, and to the moon, and to the planets, and to all the host of heaven. And he brought out the grove from the house of the LORD, without Jerusalem, unto the brook Kidron, and burned it at the brook Kidron, and stamped it small to powder, and cast the powder thereof upon the graves of the children of the people. And he brake down the houses of the sodomites, that were by the house of the LORD, where the women wove hangings for the grove. And the he brought all the priests out of the cities of Judah, and defiled the high places where the priests had burned incense, from Geba to Beer-sheba, and brake down the high places of the gates that were in the entering in of the gate of Joshua the governor of the city, where were on a man’s left hand at the gate of the city. Nevertheless the priests of the high places came not up to the altar of the LORD in Jerusalem, but they did eat of the unleavened bread among their brethren. And he defiled Topheth, which is in the valley of the children of Hinnom, that no man might make his son or his daughter to pass through the fire to Molech. And he took away the horses that the kings of Judah had given to the sun, at the entering in of the house of the LORD, by the chamber of Nathan-melecth the chamberlain, which was in the suburbs, and burned the chariots of the sun with fire. And the altars that were on the top of the upper chamber of Ahaz, which the kings of Judah had made, and the altars which Manasseh had made in the two courts of the house of the LORD, did the king beat down, and brake them down from thence, and cast the dust of them into the brook Kidron. And the high places that were before Jerusalem, which were on the right hand of the mount of corruption, which Solomon the king of Israel had builded for Ashtoreth the abomination of the Zidonians, and for Chemosh the abomination of the Moabites, and for Milcom the abomination of the children of Ammon, did the king defile. And he brake in pieces the images, and cut down the groves, and filled their places with the bones of men” (2 Kings 23:1-14).

 

            “Moreover the altar that was at Beth-el, and the high place which Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, had made, both that altar and the high place he brake down, and burned the high place, and stamped it small to powder, and burned the grove. And as Josiah turned himself, he spied the sepulchures that were in the mount, and sent, and took the bones out of the sepulchres, and burned them upon the altar, and polluted it, according to the word of the LORD which the man of God proclaimed, who proclaimed these words. Then he said, What title is that that I see? And the men of the city told him, It is the sepulchre of the man of God, which came from Judah, and proclaimed these things that thou hast done against the altar of Beth-el. And he said, Let him alone; let no man move his bones. So they let his bones alone, with the bones of the prophet that came out of Samaria. And all the houses also of the high places that were in the cities of Samaria, which the kings of Israel had made to provoke the LORD to anger, Josiah took away, and did to them according to all the acts that he had done in Beth-el. And he slew all the priests of the high places that were there upon the altars, and burned men’s bones upon them, and returned to Jerusalem” (2 Kings 23:15-20).

 

            “And the king commanded all the people, saying, Keep the Passover unto the LORD your God, as it is written in the book of this covenant. Surely there was not holden such a Passover from the days of the judges that judged Israel, nor in all the days of the kings of Israel, nor of the kings of Judah; but in the eighteenth year of king Josiah, wherein this Passover was holden to the LORD in Jerusalem. Moreover the workers with familiar spirits, and the wizards, and the images, and the idols, and all the abominations that were spied in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, did Josiah put away, that he might perform the words of the law which were written in the book that Hilkiah the priest found in the house of the LORD. And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the LORD with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him” (2 Kings 23:21-25).

 

            “Notwithstanding the LORD turned not from the fierceness of his great wrath, wherewith his anger was kindled against Judah, because of all the provocations that Manasseh had provoked him withal. And the LORD said, I will remove Judah also out of my sight, as I have removed Israel, and will cast off this city Jerusalem which I have chosen, and the house of which I said, My name shall be there” (2 Kings 23:26-27).

 

            I am absolutely convinced we must needs recognize and pay close attention to the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for they call and draw our attention to the incredible truth surrounding the cleansing Josiah brought unto the land. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it calls and draws our attention to the truly wonderful reality of this king who not only humbled himself when hearing the words which were written in the book of the Law of Moses but who also ordered those words to be read in the hearing of the people. What’s more is that Josiah would call the people to covenant with the living God during those days and would call them to enter into righteousness and holiness in the sight of the living God. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of the words which are found here for the call and bring us face to face with a cleansing which would be brought during those days. There is something truly unique and powerful about the words which are found in this passage of Scripture as we behold and witness a wonderful and powerful cleansing of the land as brought about by Josiah the king of Judah. What’s more is that when we consider and compare this to the days of the Lord Jesus we must needs understand and acknowledge the absolutely powerful truth of His cleansing of the living God. Jesus would not bring cleansing to the land itself but within this particular chapter we find him cleansing the Temple land cursing the fig tree. CLEANSING THE TEMPLE AND CURSING THE FIG TREE!

 

The more I think about and consider the words which are found in the twenty-first chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew the more I am brought face to face with the truly astonishing reality that those who were present during those days undoubtedly had a similar perception concerning the Temple of the living God as those during the days of Jeremiah the prophet did. I can’t help but read the words which are found in the twenty-first chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew and be reminded of the words which are found in the seventh chapter of the Old Testament prophetic book of Jeremiah. It is in the seventh chapter of the Old Testament prophetic book of Jeremiah we find the living and eternal God instructing Jeremiah to stand in the gate of the house of the LORD and there proclaim a prophetic word concerning the Temple and the people alike. This is something we must needs recognize and pay close attention to for it calls and draws our attention to the amazing truth surrounding the prophetic word of the LORD which was released concerning the Temple of the LORD. The people of Jeremiah’s day presumed and thought that because the Temple of the living God was present in the midst of the land they were somehow immune from destruction, from the judgment and wrath of the living God and even the invasion of the enemy and adversary. Oh I am absolutely convinced the days of Jeremiah were a lot like the days of the Lord Jesus in that the people thought that because the Temple of the LORD stood in the midst of the land they were somehow immune and exempt from judgment, wrath and destruction. What makes this all the more intriguing is when you consider that Jesus would quote the prophet Jeremiah when He would cleanse the Temple and the same thing that happened to the Temple during the days of Jeremiah would take place during the days of the Lord Jesus.

 

I find it absolutely necessary to draw and call your attention to the absolutely wonderful and powerful truth surrounding the words which are found in the seventh chapter of the Old Testament prophetic book of Jeremiah. The words which we find here call and draws our attention to the undeniable truth of the days of Jeremiah and how the days of Jeremiah would indeed be days of powerful prophetic words and warning unto the people of the southern kingdom of Judah. What’s more is that within this passage of Scripture we find the word of the LORD coming unto Jeremiah concerning the Temple of the living God—and not only concerning the Temple but also concerning the people of God as well. With this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the seventh chapter of this Old Testament prophetic book beginning to read with and from the first verse:

 

The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, Stand in the gate of the LORD’s house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the LORD, all ye of Judah, that enter in at these gates to worship the LORD. Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place. Trust ye not in lying words, saying the Temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, The Temple of the LORD, are these. For if ye throughly amend your ways and your doings; if ye throughly execute judgment between a man and his neighbour; if ye oppress not the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and shed not innocent blood in this palce, neither walk after other gods to your hurt: Then will I cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers, for ever and ever” (Jeremiah 7:1-7).

 

Behold ye trust in lying words, that cannot profit. Will ye steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense unto Baal, and walk after other gods whom ye know not; and come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, We are delivered to do all these abominations? Is this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, even I have seen it, saith the LORD. But go ye now unto my place which was in Shiloh, where I set my name at the first, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of my people Israel. And now, because ye have done all these works, saith the LORD, and I spake unto you, rising up early and speaking, but ye heard not; and I called you, but ye answered not; Therefore will I do unto this house, which is called by my name, wherein ye trust, and unto the place which I gave to you and to your fathers, as I have done to Shiloh. And I will cast you out of my sight, as I have cast all your brethren, even the whole seed of Ephraim. Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up a cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to me: for I will not hear thee. Seest thou not what they do in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dought, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke me to anger. Do they provoke me to anger? Saith the LORD: do they not provoke themselves to the confusion of their own faces? Therefore thus saith the LORD God; Behold mine anger and my fury shall be poured out upon this place, upon. Man, and upon beast, and upon the trees of the field, and upon the fruit of the ground; and it shall burn, and shall not be quenched” (Jeremiah 7:8-20).

 

Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Put your burnt offerings unto your sacrifices, and eat flesh. For I spake not unto your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices: But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you. But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walk in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart, and went backward, and not forward. Since the day that your fathers came forth out of the land of Egypt unto this day I have even sent unto you all my servants the prophets, daily rising up early and sending them: Yet they have hearkened not unto me, nor inclined their ear, but hardened their neck: they did worse than their fathers. Therefore thou shalt speak all these words unto them; but they not hearken to thee: thou shalt also call unto them; but they will not answer thee. But thou shalt say unto them, This is a nation that obeyeth not the voice of the LORD their God, nor receiveth correction: truth is perished, and is cut off from their mouth” (Jeremiah 7:21-28).

 

I read the words which are found here in the prophetic book of Jeremiah and I can’t help but be reminded of the words which are found in the prophetic book of Isaiah concerning the Temple of the LORD—and not only the Temple of the LORD but also concerning the offerings, the sacrifices and the worship of the people. I am absolutely convinced there is a great need to consider the following words which are found in this passage of Scripture for it helps shine a greater amount of light—not only on to the words which we find in the prophetic book of Jeremiah but also the words which we find in the twenty-first chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew. What’s more is I believe we must needs consider the following words which are found in the first chapter of the Old Testament prophetic book of Malachi. Having said this I invite you to consider if you will the following words which are found in the Old Testament prophetic book of Isaiah as well as the prophetic book of Malachi:

 

Hear the word of the LORD, ye rulers of Sodom; Give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah. To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? Saith the LORD: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of goats. When ye come to appear before me, Who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts? Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me: the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them. And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood” (Isaiah 1:10-15).

 

A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master; If then I be a father, where is mine honour? And if I be a master, where is my fear? Saith the LORD of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name. And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name? YE offer polluted bread upon mine altar; and ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee? IN that ye say, The table of the LORD is contemptible. And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? And if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? Offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? Saith the LORD of hosts. And now, I pray you, beseech God that he will be gracious unto us: This hath been by your means: Will he regard your persons? Saith the LORD of hosts. Who is there even among you that would shut the doors for nought? Neither do ye kindle fire on mine altar for nought. I have no pleasure in you, saith the LORD of hosts, neither will I accept an offering at your hand. For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering: for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the LORD of hosts. But ye have profaned it, in that ye say, The table of the LORD is polluted; and the fruiti thereof, even his meat is contemptible. Ye said also, Behold, what a weariness is it! And ye have snuffed at it, saith the LORD of hosts; and ye brought that which was torn, and the lame, and the sick; thus ye brought an offering: Should I accept this of your hand? Saith the LORD. But cursed be the deceiver, which hath in his flock a male, and voweth, and sacrificeth unto the LORD a corrupt thing: For I am a great King, saith the LORD of hosts, and my name is dreadful among the heathen” (Malachi 1:6-14).

We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of the words which are found in these passages of Scripture for they describe a powerful reality that took place during the days of Isaiah as well as the days of Jeremiah and Malachi. The words which we find here all center around the Temple of the living God and the tremendous truth of a people who had the Temple among them in their midst and yet would not only offer polluted and defiled sacrifices unto the LORD but would also pollute and corrupt the Temple itself. What makes this all the more intriguing when you think about and consider it is when you read the words found in the prophetic book of Malachi for the LORD actually asked through the prophet who would shut the doors of the Temple that it might no longer be polluted and that the altar of the living God no longer be defiled. It’s quite astounding to think about the fact that on two different occasions the Temple of the LORD would be destroyed—the first time by the Babylonians around 586 BC and the second time by the Romans in 70 AD. There is something truly astonishing and powerful about this for there is not a doubt in my mind that there were those present in the midst of Judah and Judaea who thought and perceived the Temple would stand for ever in the midst of the land. The truth of the matter, however, is that the Temple of the living God would neither save the people themselves nor would it be preserved and protected. On two different occasions the living God would indeed allow the Temple to be destroyed by fire and its complete and utter removal from the land. What’s more is that after the Temple was destroyed in the year 70 AD it would remain absent from the land until this present day.

 

What I find all the more intriguing when I think about and consider the words which are found in the twenty-first chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew is that the same event is found in the New Testament gospels written by John Mark and Luke. Not only this but if you turn and direct your attention to the words which are found in the New Testament gospel narrative written by Luke you will find Jesus making two powerful declarations—each which would look back to two different times within Jewish history. If you read the words which are found in the nineteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by Luke you will not only find Jesus proclaiming His Father’s house was to be a house of prayer but you will also find Him referring to those of that generation making it a den of thieves. I am absolutely convinced we must needs pay close attention to the words which are found in the New Testament gospel narrative written by Luke for they call us to pay attention to the words were prophesied by the ancient Hebrew prophet Isaiah. There is not a doubt in my mind that we must needs recognize and consider the words which are found in the Old Testament prophetic book of Isaiah for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous truth which surrounds the Lord’s actions within the Temple. The Lord Jesus would indeed enter into the Temple of the living God shortly after entering into the city of Jerusalem during this week of His passion and would make His first action cleansing and purging the Temple of that which would pollute and defile it. It is with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the fifty-sixth chapter of the Old Testament prophetic book of Isaiah beginning to read with and from the first verse:

 

Thus saith the LORD, Keep ye judgment, and do justice: For my salvation is near to come, and my righteousness to be revealed. Blessed is the man that doeth this, and the son of man that layeth hold on it; that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and keepeth his hand from doing any evil. Neither let the son of the stranger, that hath joined himself to the LORD, speak, saying, The LORD hath utterly separated me from his people: Neither let the eunuch say, Behold, I am a dry tree. For thus saith the LORD unto the eunuchs that keep my sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant; even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off. Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the LORD, to serve him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be his servants, every one that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant; even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; For mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people. The LORD God which gathereth the outcasts of Israel saith, Yet will I gather others to him, beside those that are gathered unto him” (Isaiah 56:1-8).

 

As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I find it incredibly unique to think about and consider the fact that shortly after the Lord Jesus entered into the city of Jerusalem He would enter into the Temple. It would be there in the midst of the Temple He would proceed to bring about a powerful cleansing of that which would pollute and defile it. We know what defiled and polluted the Temple of the LORD during the days of Isaiah, Jeremiah and Malachi and now we find the days of the Son of man and that which caused Him to respond with a holy anger and frustration. What makes this all the more intriguing when you think about and consider it is when you realize that Jesus entered into the city of Jerusalem meek and lowly riding on a donkey as the people would proclaim “Hosanna” and declare Him to be the Son of David who came in the name of the LORD. This is something we have a great need of recognizing and paying close attention for instead of entering into the city of Jerusalem to set up and sit upon a throne as He restored the nation and kingdom of Israel He would enter into the Temple and bring about a wonderful and powerful cleansing. I continue to believe within my heart that Jesus’ entrance into the Temple and subsequent cleansing was not only a sign and warning against it during those days but also a wonderful and powerful portent of that which to come—namely the utter destruction of the Temple nearly forty years after by the Romans. Oh there is something truly unique about the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous truth surrounding the entrance into the Temple of the Lord Jesus and how He would indeed bring about a powerful cleansing. After entering into the city of Jerusalem His first order of business as He prepared to suffer and ultimately be put to death was to cleanse the Temple by overturning the tables of money, driving out the money changers, expelling those who bought and sold and those who were sellers of doves.

 

There is something truly unique and powerful about the words and language we find within this passage of Scripture for not only do we find the Lord Jesus bringing about a powerful cleansing of the Temple of the LORD during those days but we also find Him confronting the religious system and the religious elite during those days. Within this passage of Scripture we find the Lord Jesus cleansing the Temple because of the commerce and merchandise that was found within it as well as cursing the fig tree because when He looked for fruit upon it He found it to be barren and absent any fruit. What’s more is that as you read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you will find the Lord Jesus entering into the Temple a second time and being approached by the chief priests and elders of the people as He was teaching. The sole purpose and reason for the chief priests and elders of the people coming unto the Lord Jesus was to demand of Him by what authority He would engage in such behavior in the Temple of the living God. Not only this but these chief priests and the elders of the people would ask Jesus who gave Him this authority, thus demonstrating and realizing they still had absolutely no clue that He was the Son of the living God and that it was the Father who had indeed given Him this authority. It is incredibly unique when you consider the words found in this passage of Scripture for they demonstrate the tragic reality of religion and how it cannot recognize the authority of the living God and seeks to question it at every turn.

 

What we must needs recognize concerning the words which are found in this passage of Scripture is that not only did Jesus enter into the Temple to bring about a cleansing of that which would offend and anger His Father but He would also confront the religious leaders which were present during those days. It would be in this particular passage as it described Jesus’ actions within the city of Jerusalem during those days we find Jesus cursing that which does not bear and bring forth fruit and cleansing that which angers and offends His Father which was in heaven. CURSING THAT WHICH IS BARREN AND CLEANSING THAT WHICH IS DEFILED! It is absolutely necessary and imperative we recognize and pay close attention to the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for it must needs bring us to the place where we are open and willing to allow the Lord Jesus to enter into our lives and not only curse that which is barren and does not bear fruit but also cleanse that which is defiled and polluted. We must needs fully and completely allow the Lord Jesus to exercise His authority and His will in every area of our lives and bring cleansing where it is needed and curse that which does not bear fruit. We must acknowledge the actions of the Lord Jesus within this passage of Scripture for that which it demonstrates and reveals is how there is a great need for fruit to be produced within our hearts and lives—and not only fruit within our lives but also for our temple’s to be pure and holy in His sight. Oh that we would be a people who would indeed recognize and understand that we have indeed and have in fact been called to be those who have been called to bring forth fruit within our lives—and not only fruit but also righteousness, holiness, and obedience in the sight of the living God. Oh that we would be those who would willingly and deliberately allow the Lord Jesus to enter into our temples and overturn that which needs to be overturned and cast out that which needs to be cast out. Oh that we would be those who are willing to allow the Lord Jesus to confront the religion, the legalism and the hypocrisy that is present within our hearts and lives that we might be vessels of honor which are holy and pleasing in His sight.

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