From Awe to Zeal: a sermon

Jackson Snyder June 9 – July 22, 2005

The classical meaning of “awe” as in “awful” is, “The power to inspire dread.”

For I am Yahweh: I love fair judgment; I hate robbery for a holocaust.[1] - Isaiah 61:8

The road to holiness necessarily passes through the world of action. - Dag Hammerskjold
A door closing always opens another of opportunity.

 

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Get Real: A Wake-up Call in the Eleventh Hour: Get Real by Pete SnyderWhat is real anymore in this world of false props and plastic personalities? Christianity at its root has never changed a bit, but WE have. Now it's time to return, GET ZEAL and GET REAL!   Pete Snyder has served in overseas education for the past 26 years - mostly in the western frontier of China.  In this remote area, far from the mainstream church, he presents his newest composition of Grace.

 

 

Gulf War Prayer: Father,

Lead us from death to life, from falsehood to truth.

Lead us from despair to hope, from fear to trust.

Lead us from hate to love, from war to peace.

Let peace fill our hearts, our world, our universe.  Amen.

 

New Literal Version, John 2:13 Now the Passover[2] of the Jews was near, and Yahshua went up into Jerusalem. 14 And in the temple he found those selling cattle and sheep and doves, and the coin-brokers sitting, 15 and having made a whip out of rushes, he cast them all out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle, and he poured out the coins of the cashiers and turned the desks upside down[3], 16 and to those selling the doves, he said, Take these away! Do not make my Father’s house a house of merchandise[4]. 17 His students remembered that it had been written, The zeal of your house will eat me through[5].

   18 So the Jews answered and said to him, What sign to us do you show for these you do? 19 Yahshua answered and said to them, Destroy this holy-place[6] and in three days I will raise it. 20 So the Jews said, In forty and six years this holy-place was built and you will raise it in three days?  21 But Yahshua[7] spoke about the holy-place of his body.

   22 So when he was raised from a corpse[8], the students of his remembered that he said this, and they believed the writings and the word that Yahshua spoke.

   23 Moreover, when he was in Jerusalem in the Passover at the feast, many believed into the name of him observing of him the signs that he was doing; yet Yahshua did not trust himself to them because he knows all;

   25 and because he had no need that anyone witness about people for he knew what was in people.

 

With “Jesus” instead of “Yahshua” - John 2:13 Now the Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up into Jerusalem. 14 And in the temple he found those selling cattle and sheep and doves, and the coin-brokers sitting, 15 and having made a whip out of rushes, he cast them all out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle, and he poured out the coins of the cashiers and turned the desks upside down, 16 and to those selling the doves, he said, Take these away! Do not make my Father’s house a house of merchandise. 17 His students remembered that it had been written, The zeal of your house will eat me through.

   18 So the Jews answered and said to him, What sign to us do you show for these you do? 19 Jesus answered and said to them, Destroy this holy-place and in three days I will raise it. 20 So the Jews said, In forty and six years this holy-place was built and you will raise it in three days?  21 But Jesus spoke about the holy-place of his body.

   22 So when he was raised from a corpse, the students of his remembered that he said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus spoke.

   23 Moreover, when he was in Jerusalem in the Passover at the feast, many believed into the name of him, observing of him the signs that he was doing; yet Jesus did not trust himself to them because he knows all; 25 and because he had no need that anyone witness about people for he knew what was in people. 

 

Psalms 69: For the choirmaster: 1. Save me, O El, for the waters have closed in on my very being. 2. I am sinking in the deepest swamp and there is no firm ground.  I have stepped into deep water and the waves are washing over me.  3. I am exhausted with calling out, my throat is hoarse, my eyes are worn out with searching for my god.  4. More numerous than the hairs of my head are those who hate me without reason.  Those who seek to get rid of me are powerful, my treacherous enemies.  (Must I give back what I have never stolen?)

   5. Elohim, you know how foolish I am, my offences are not hidden from you.  6. Those who hope in you must not be made fools of, Yahweh Sabaoth, because of me!  Those who seek you must not be disgraced, God of Israel, because of me!  7. It is for you I bear insults, my face is covered with shame, 8. I am estranged from my brothers, alienated from my own mother's sons; 9. for I am eaten up with zeal for your house, and insults directed against you fall on me. (NJB)

 

Jeremiah 7:21. Yahweh Sabaoth, the Elohim of Israel, says this, Add your burnt offerings to your sacrifices and eat all the meat. 22. For when I brought your ancestors out of Egypt, I said nothing to them, gave them no orders, about burnt offerings or sacrifices. 23. My one command to them was this: Listen to my voice, then I will be your God and you shall be my people. In everything, follow the way that I mark out for you, and you shall prosper.

   24. But they did not listen, they did not pay attention; they followed their own devices, their own stubborn and wicked inclinations, and got worse rather than better. 25. From the day your ancestors left Egypt until today, I have sent you all my servants the prophets, persistently sending them day after day.  26. But they have not listened to me, have not paid attention; they have deliberately resisted, behaving worse than their ancestors.  27. So you will tell them all this, but they will not listen to you; you will call them, but they will not answer you. 

   28. Then you are to say to them, This is the nation that will neither listen to the voice of Yahweh its Elohim nor take correction. Sincerity is no more: it has vanished from their mouths. (NJB)

  

                             A Beautiful Life

1. Each day I'll do a golden deed By helping those who are in need;

My life on earth is but a span, And so I'll do the best I can.

 

Refrain:

Life's evening sun is sinking low, A few more days and I must go

To meet the deeds that I have done, Where there will be no setting sun.

 

2. To be a child of God each day, My light must shine along the way;

I'll sing His praise while ages roll And strive to help some troubled soul.

 

3. The only life that will endure, Is one that's kind and good and pure;

And so for God I'll take my stand, Each day I'll lend a helping hand.

 

4. I'll help someone in time of need, And journey on with rapid speed;

I'll help the sick and poor and weak, And words of kindness to them speak.

 

5. While going down life's weary road I'll try to lift some trav'ler's load;

I'll try to turn the night to day, Make flowers bloom along the way.

- William M. Golden, 1918

 

The Savior! what a noble flame was kindled in his breast,

When hasting to Jerusalem, he march'd before the rest!

Goodwill to men and Father’s zeal, his ev'ry thought engross:

He longs to be baptiz'd with blood, he pants to reach the cross.

With all his suff'rings full in view, And woes, to us unknown,

Forth to the task his spirit flew, 'Twas love that urg'd him on.

Master, we give back what we can! Our hearts shall sound as One,

Salvation, to the dying Man, and to the rising Son!

And while thy bleeding glories here engage our wond'ring eyes;

We learn the lighter cross we bear, and hasten to the skies.

                                                    -- William Cowper, The Olney Hymns

 

Zeal in the Times

   This week I visited a lady who’d lived long enough to see the two great world wars, feel the depression in between and have all three significantly affect her life.  Further, she knew the Korean Conflict, the Cold War, the Gas Wars, the Redemption of Eastern Europe – and was now surviving the War on Terror in a spacious apartment.  She’s lived a long life, but not on the bleachers but in the trenches, keeping current on world affairs unto this day. 

   After telling about the places she’d been, our attention was drawn to current events.  Instead of reminiscing about the various wars and hardships of the past, she looked me in the eye and said in marked tones, “These are awe-full days.” 

  These are indeed the days of awe.  Consider the front page of the New York Times dated last Sunday (July 17, 2005):

  • Suicide Bomber Ignites Tanker, Killing 59.
  • Death toll from the July 7 bombings in London stands at 55. Blair Says ‘Evil Ideology’ Must Be Faced Directly.
  • Israel Responds to Attacks, Arresting 30 Militants.

And that’s just four headlines on one day.

   “Awe” was the term this lady used to describe it. The classical meaning of “awe” as in “awful” is, “The power to inspire dread.”  The lady was right.  Since the campaign of “Shock and Awe,” the entire world has held its breath for a Beast comprised of religious “zealots for terror” positioned around the globe.  This Beast’s gospel is “holy war” and method is “kill the infidel”; that is, anyone outside its homicidal little clique, children included. 

   {Swiftly}  The perpetrators of holy war seldom do their own dirty work.  They cannibalize children and disenfranchised young people, converting them into suicidal killers, promising money for the most naïve, pie in the sky for the most superstitious.  Religious zeal has literally consumed thousands of youth; their “righteousness” written in nonexistent heavenly tablets; the outcome of their soul sacrifices? Carnage, bloodshed, death. Indeed, this is an awe-full world.

 

A House of Prayer for All

   Have you ever been so zealous that you acted on principle?  Let me restate that.  Have you ever been so zealous for truth that you acted on principle?  Was your action premeditated?  Did you think carefully before you acted or did you act out of the hysteria of the moment?  Before you acted or spoke out, did you pray or consider the Heavenly Father’s will in a particular situation?  Did you consider that there might be casualties of your zeal?

   There’s nothing wrong with acting out of religious “zealousy”; in fact, we count upon the zealous in any church plan.  There’re many folks here who are zealous here– and some consumed by zeal in not so dissimilar ways from Yahshua – and religious terrorists.

   First, consider the similarity of Yahshua’s zeal and that of the terrorist – Yahshua did exactly what he saw the Father doing; and the terrorist does exactly what his father tells him to do.  Of course, these “fathers” are quite different: Yahshua’s father is the Creator and the terrorist’s father is the destroyer. 

   It’s pretty simple to tell the difference in the dispositions of these fathers by the outcomes of the zealotry they inspire.  For the terrorist, religious zeal manufactures blood, fire, death and destruction.  Yahshua’s violent zeal didn’t kill anyone, but was instead a sign to the impoverished, spiritually hungry masses, that Yahweh hadn’t forgotten them even though the sons of devils who ruled their religion had.

   What are the outcomes of our religious zealotry in this assembly?  Is it “shock and awe”?  Is it destruction?  Is it pain, hurt and dismay?  Is it spiritual homicide?  Does it take passive / aggressive forms?  Do your religious acts of enthusiasm build up or tear down?  Are you out to get someone?  Have you been “got” so many times your passion’s gone? 

   Look to the fruit of your zealotry and see your father.  Is your father the Creator or the Destroyer?  Is your father the spirit of selfishness, or poverty, or narcissism, or lust, and have you brought forth the deeds of your father in your homes and this church? 

   Or do your fruits include unity, diversity, good intentions, love and mercy, forward thinking, his will be done?  If the latter, you’re OK; HIS will be done through you.  But if the former things, all the inner intentions of your zealotry will become public knowledge in the judgment.  Church business is Heaven’s business.  One who tests the Creator’s mercy enough times may end up like Mullah Omar, in a spiritual prison facing a death sentence.

 

A Violent Man

   Yahshua could be a very violent man; he was a leader of violent men.  He taught peace and love, it’s true; but his fervent direction and deeds always originated in the mind of his Father Yahweh.  He didn’t trust the intentions of men and women, “for he knew what was in people,” and, that if people weren’t intentional and obedient to the Heavenly Father, their deeds couldn’t but betray those of the Destroyer.  It was to this destroyer that Yahshua framed his most famous rebuke: “Get thee behind me, Satan!”

   So Yahshua was committed to the zeal of reform because his Father was committed.  Yet he was never violent for the sake of violence, nor angry for anger’s sake.  He never lost control.  He never spoke any words in the heat of the moment that weren’t both true and measured.  He never shed the blood of man or animal.  He did only what he saw his Father doing; so we must see his violent action here in the Temple court through his Father’s righteous judgment. 

   You see, our Savior regarded all of Jerusalem as set apart unto the Creator – not just the Temple.[9]  All in that great city belonged to the Almighty and all might be ultimately saved if they would obey the ordinances of the Torah.  Yahshua also regarded the Temple to be the legitimate representation of his Father’s dwelling-place on earth.  However, he didn’t consider its corrupt leadership or idolatrous practices or compromising politics or despotic actions as pleasing to the Father.  Such flagrant disrespect of the Temple’s heavenly purpose caused him to be zealous for law.  Though he was the Lamb, he wasn’t ‘no’ sheep: he took the narrow road laid down through the prophets, and he demanded Scriptural holiness and reform – just as he still does in the awe-full day. 

   One of the most important reforms called for by the Almighty was in the matter of visitors and strangers who chose him over the devil as Father.  The prophet says of such:

Isaiah 56:6. Strangers who adhere to Yahweh, to love his name and become his servants, who observe the Sabbath and cling to the covenant: 7. these I shall lead to my holy mountain and make them joyful in my house of prayer … for my house will be called a house of prayer for all peoples. (This chapter should be studied in detail because it’s for our time.)

   The Temple was to be a house of prayer for all nationalities – not just for Hebrews.  No one was ever, ever, ever to be excluded if that one came into covenant.  This is made clear by the Temple’s design; the compound included three huge prayer courts.  One was set apart for men descended from the patriarch Jacob.  The second was set apart for women and children.  The third and largest, the “Court of the Nations,” was set apart for anyone of good will who wanted to pray: Foreigners, Gentiles – ANYONE - could enter there and pray whenever.  This Court was just as holy as the rest; just as sanctified – but for the all and not for just the few.  This court was built for religious zealots of any race or creed, so that they could enter the presence of the Holy Spirit.

   And shouldn’t our churches, built upon the smoking ruins of the Jerusalem Temple, be inviting and safe for “the nations” as well?  Yes, in the end, the Temple was destroyed, a fate in which many unfriendly sanctuaries in our day will share.

 

Convenience Costs

   But prayer wasn’t exactly what motivated the Administrative Council of the Temple; money for manipulating others was their thing, just like it is now for terror-mongers.  The Temple Council devised a new and morally objectionable fundraiser, you see.  The place of prayer in the Court of the Nations was appropriated for a livestock market.  Salesmen were given leave to set up offices and bring thousands of filthy animals into close quarters in the house of prayer.  This would make buying sacrifices so convenientfor their bunch who sacrificed.  Not all did, you know.

   Furthermore, “graven images” were prohibited.  Money with images – coins – had to be exchanged for money without faces before purchases could be made.  A door closed always opens a door of opportunity.  The Temple Council exacted a stiff fee for changing money.  It was a win-win situation: traditionalists had their conveniences and the rulers got richer. 

   There were only a couple of minor losers, inconsequential in comparison with the profitable innovation of the majority.  One loser was “strangers” and visitors, including Romans who became believers.  By law they couldn’t sacrifice; they didn’t care to.  They only came to pray, just as “Romans” like us do at the Wailing Wall today.  But that which Yahweh had set aside for all people was converted into a smutty sty by order of the status quo.

   Think about trying to assume an attitude of prayer with the hubbub of thousands of animals and the stench of tons of manure – and the sickening slime to kneel in – ¿how could anyone feel close to the Heavenly Father in that heat and stink?  Yet the Council kept to a skin of the Law by insisting that visitors still could pray – if they could stand it.  So besides convenience and profitability, the Council’s scheme served a third purpose – to get rid of visitors and strangers who dared follow the Commands without being in the Club.

   Our author records Yahshua crying to the pigeon salesmen, “Take them all away! Don’t make my Father’s house a house of merchandise.”  The first gospel has him saying, “My house will be called the house of prayer; but you’ve made it a den of thieves” (Matthew 21:13).  No person of good will and reverent heart was to be excluded for any reason.

   O yeah, the other loser was Yahweh, who usually gets robbed by a den of thieves – until he finally rises and shakes himself[10]. “Will a man rob G*d?” he says through the prophet Malachi. “Yet ye have robbed me.”

 

Judaisms

   “The Jews” are spoken of in derogatory terms throughout John’s gospel.  Not understanding which “Jews” are meant has led to hatred between the Jews, Christians, and later Moslems, ever since this gospel started circulating.  In Yahshua’s day, there were many “denominations” of Judaism.  (Bible scholars don’t speak of Judaism anymore, but Judaisms, of which Christianity is one.)  Our Savior wasn’t a member of the same Judaism that ruled Temple religion.  In fact, he and his were so frustrated with the corruption that the true Jew broke off from the false.  Shame leads to disintegration and disassociation.  Yahshua was the instrument of his Father’s shame – and his Father’s retribution.

   A Bible example of religious disassociation is found in Revelation 2:9 (RSV).  The Risen Savior addresses the Smyrna Assembly, saying: “I know your tribulation and your poverty and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.”  Disputes were ongoing in those days as to who were the “true Jews” and the false, the “true vine”[11] and the false, the “true light” and the false. 

   You see this now in church denominations.  Groups that hold essentially the same tenets will no longer stand each other, or even be called Christians[12], because those in authority are such wretched examples.  Ask the church dropout why he quite:  “Too many hypocrites!” “Too many bosses,” he’ll say. “Too zealous about the wrong things,” he’ll say.  And in many cases, he’s right.  Whatever’s being done to exclude, disenfranchise, impoverish or shame those who’re trying to come into the Covenant is not of G*d nor of Methodism, but of the Destroyer.  That which the Savior spoke to the church at Pergamum is valid in our day of misplaced zealotry.  Yahshua remarks:

Revelation 3:18.  I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.  19.  As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

   But, did you know, there are millions trying to live by the Scriptures who won’t accept labels because of what the institution has become.  The books of doctrine remain, and the institution claims their books, but they neither preach them nor follow them.  They hold their books up as infallible then nail them to a cross.  But those who are zealous for the law of liberty actually seek the Father in their activities, read the books and attempt to obey them! 

 

Reform Activists[13]

 

The Prayer Room: A True Story

   I knew a new minister who moved to a new assignment.  A trustee showed him around the church.  They came to a room packed to the ceiling with boxes, loose papers, junky old toys, broken furniture and all kinds of debris.  The paint was defaced with crayons.  The light overhead buzzed like a blue angel.  Evidence of vermin lay all around.  The minister said to the trustee, “What a messy storage room you have.”  Br. Bud said, “It’s not a storage room, Rev. Goober.  It’s a prayer room.  Pastor Soandso consecrated it, but when he left, nobody came in anymore.” 

   The new minister felt righteous zeal, and he went into action a few days later.  He started cleaning up the prayer room.  Around there, that was a bold act.  The trustee, Br. Bud, came by another day and said, “Rev. Goober, you hadn’t ought to do this.  Some folks aren’t going to like it.  You didn’t get Council approval to clean up this here room.”  Rev. Goober thought, “Since when does the Man of G*d need approval to clean up a prayer room.”  ¿Since when?  Since zealots for destruction took charge.  Rev. Goober said, “Br. Bud, you can tell those folks I’ve got a painter coming in tomorrow.” 

   In a week, that part of the church building was cleansed, painted and furnished.  Rev. Goober paid for it.  ¿Then do you know what happened?  Almost every day thereafter, strangers and visitors started stopping by that lovely little room for rest and prayer.  It was cool there; and the body and blood of our common Savior was offered to all who entered in.  Some of the church people started coming too, and Br. Bud came almost every day.  In a few months, a dozen zealous new members were received just because someone cleansed ONE LITTLE ROOM.

   Some folks still didn’t like it.  And they didn’t like outsiders coming into their church.  One lady said, “Those people are common and don’t pay the bills.”  She were happy when Rev. Goober moved a few years later.  Soon after that, the prayer room filled with debris again.  A few years later, the church closed.  {This story’s true and came to pass in Pensacola, Florida in 2004.}  The devil’s very zealous in his religion, and very faithful – he’s in church whenever someone will let him in the door.  More often than not, the devil’s not an outsider, but an insider.

 

Responding with Zeal

   There were mixed responses to Yahshua’s cleansing of the international prayer room located in the Jerusalem Temple mount.  First, his students remembered a passage from the Psalms; 69:9: “Zeal for your house has eaten me up; the reproaches of the complainers fell on me.”  In those days, the word “zeal” was nearly synonymous with rebellion.  The land was full of military “zealots” who advocated violent overthrow of the Temple Council and the government – they wreaked death everywhere.

   There was another breed of zealots too; those who had “zeal for law”; practicing the ancient faith authentically in spite of the institutional.  Among these “zealots” were Yahqov, Yahuda and Shimón, Yahshua’s brothers, among many other who continued in the Temple[14], zealots with whom we may still keep company. 

   In Acts 21:20-22.  James says,

“You see, brother, how many thousands are among the Jews who’ve believed; they’re all zealous for the Torah.”  {An expansion of this section is here.[15]}

   Of you’re a child of the Father who desires the truth – an unconventional thinker, an establishment reject – a zealot unwilling to endure the mask of falsehood and the practice of dead tradition – a stranger who desires nothing greater than to have favor with G*d and man and nothing more than authentic spirituality and is zealous for it, FEAR NOT.  YOU ARE NOT ALONE; and you’re not alone here.  You, whoever you are, have a powerful advocate in the Holy Spirit.  That Spirit wants the same as you, true worshipper, and will support you even if the institution closes its doors to you.

   Now for those who haven’t considered the underlying origin of your zeal, I urge you to think, or better, pray, before you speak or act, considering what’s best for the future – what’s the will of Yahweh for the congregation, then act from the conviction of the Spirit rather than from your own lusts or the devil’s design.  Allow “zeal for the Father’s house” to consume you rather than zeal for “your church.”  Know his will and do it, and he’ll set you free from your hard feelings.

   Attack the evil; leave the person alone – within both the public forum and your private clique.  Call your friends to prayer instead of to tales – now that’s an act of righteous zealotry.  And, if you feel offended in anything I’ve said this morning – please forgive me.  Much of what I’ve said has come forth from my own zeal.

 

 Awake, my soul, stretch every nerve, and press with vigor on;
A heavenly race demands thy zeal and an immortal crown.
A cloud of witnesses around hold thee in full survey:

Forget the steps already trod, and onward urge thy way.

'Tis Yah's all animating voice that calls thee from on high;

'Tis his own hand presents the prize to thine aspiring eye.

Then wake, my soul, stretch every nerve, and press with vigor on;

A heavenly race demands thy zeal, and an immortal crown. 
                            - Philip Doddridge (1702-1731)

 

Now your children can learn Hebrew



[1] holocaustburnt offering - B)lh (Free SLHebrew font needed - http://www.studylight.org/fonts/).

[2] PesachpaschaPassover following which is the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

[3] turned the desks upside downtrapezas anetrepsentables upturned.

[4] house of merchandiseoikon emporiouan emporium; cf. Jeremiah 7:11.

[5] eat through mekatafagetai mewill through-eat me: quoting Psalms 69:9; also translated figuratively as consumed me totally as with fire.  Young’s: For zeal for Thy house hath consumed me, And the reproaches of Thy reproachers Have fallen upon me.

[6] naonsanctuary or holy place, used by others to refer to the sacred inner courts of the temple, although Yahshua is here referring to himself.

[7] Yahshuaekeinosthat one, referring to Yahshua.

[8] a corpsenekrôn.

[9] This according to 4QMMT: Concerning that which it is written: anyone who slaughters in the camp or outside the camp an ox, a lamb, or a goat, that ... to the north of the camp. We have determined that the sanctuary is the tabernacle of the tent of meeting, that Jerusalem is the camp, and that outside the camp is outside of Jerusalem, in other words the camp of their cities. Outside the camp ... the sin offering and they take out the ashes of the altar and burn the sin offering there. For Jerusalem is the place which He chose from all the tribes of Israel to make His name to dwell. . . which they are not sacrificing in the sanctuary. http://jacksonsnyder.com/arc/Translations/4qmmt.htm

[10] Judges 16:20 – this is what Samson did to “shake off” Philistines.

[11]  true vine – John 15:1 – and true light – John 1:9.

[12] Christian - In fact, many understand that the term Christian was initially derogatory, meaning “one smeared” with manure.

[13] Reform Activists  It was the same in those days.  There were several groups who knew the Scriptures but disassociated.  They loved and worshipped Yahweh as Father but didn’t ascribe to either sacrificing animals or even eating meat.  Such groups would cite the terse words of Yahweh about the sacrificial system:

Amos 5:21.  I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies.  22.  Though ye offer me burnt offerings and your meat offerings, I will not accept them: neither will I regard the peace offerings of your fat beasts. 23.  Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols. 24.  But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream. (KJV)

   How could Yahweh hate what he himself instituted?  The fact is, he didn’t hate his won institution – the sacrificial system was absolutely essential if for no other reason than that the poor received the protein of the meat.  But he hated the disobedience of the leaders to his instructions as to how they should proceed – with prayer in his name and true repentance – and how they should end – with blessing, charity, and good will to all who kept covenant. 

   The opposing groups, including Yahshua’s sect, still revered the Temple area – Mount Zion or Moriah – as the holy place set apart by Yahweh no matter what abominations were taking place.  But they prayed against the evil, selfish and exclusive ways they were taking place.  Yahshua never meant to form a new religion.  He was a reformer; a dissident.  He was against the system, especially so flagrant a violation as to install a manure machine in the prayer room.  If the caretakers of your father’s house installed a pigsty in your family prayer closet, wouldn’t you burst into righteous anger and go into action on behalf of your Father in Heaven?  I certainly hope so.

[14] Acts 2:46 – Authentic believers “continued daily in the Temple.”

[15] James warns Paul about his followers – mislabeled by some as “Jewish Christians” – in Acts 21:20-22.  James says,

“You see, brother, how many thousands are among the Jews who’ve believed; they’re all zealous for the Torah, and they’ve been told that you teach Jews to forsake Moses.”

Paul didn’t heed James’ warning, but went into the Temple and was quickly recognized by zealots, beaten up, cast out and was almost stoned.  Paul was trying to make a statement and be a symbol of reform, but his detractors didn’t simply ask him, “What sign do you show us.”  Instead, they gave him a sign – “This is a restricted deed community.  Get out or get beat up.”

   Zealously, but with righteous zeal, is also the manner in which Yahweh brings his justice and will to bear.  This is especially so in connection with prophecies about his son, like the familiar word from Isaiah 9:6:

Isaiah 9:6.  For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty El, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.  7.  Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth – even forever. The zeal of Yahweh Sabaoth will perform this.

Yahweh Sabaoth, as you remember, means Yahweh the Commander of Armies.  One could express their zeal for a particular position quite persuasively if a commander of armies.  Bringing forth the Son was a very dangerous business, as Revelation 12 contends, and armies of zealous angels were necessary. 

   As Yahshua’s disciples’ minds were turned to the full meaning of zeal as they considered the manner in which their master responded to the desecration, we too should consider what it means to be zealous for what we believe, consider how we may act upon our convictions, and make our zeal evident to secret disciples.

 

Another Response to Violence

   The second response to Yahshua’s action isn’t arrest, as you might expect.  Instead, he’s asked a question.  “What sign can you show us to justify what you’ve just done?”  They may be asking in hopes that his violence might be justified.  It could be that those who didn’t profit from the venture might not like the idea of a livestock market set up the beautiful place. 

   Yahshua would give them their sign: “Destroy this holy place and I’ll raise it up in three days.”  Most Bibles have him saying, “Destroy this temple….”  However, the word here isn’t “temple” but “nave,” referring only to the inner chambers – the Holy and the Holy of Holies.  Yahshua was speaking of the holy place that was his body, and referring to its destruction and reconstruction after three days.  In the other gospels, this sign is referred to “the sign of the prophet Jonah,”[15] sought out by an idolatrous generation.  The idolatry of the day consisted in the name “Yahweh” being suppressed by the Temple leaders in favor of pagan names and titles – the same type of idolatry that pollutes Christianity and Judaism today.

   John already told us that Yahshua was Yahweh’s lamb, the sacrifice to end all.  When the day came that the Lamb went from being “a corpse” to “a body,” many responded, sins were eradicated, sacrificing was abandoned.  Yahweh gave “the Jews” one generation to respond to the sign.  When that time was up, the Temple and its leaders were utterly destroyed with fire in one day.  Still, Yahshua was later charged plotting to destroy the Temple, though he never said “Temple,” but “nave,” the sanctuary of the Holy Spirit that dwelt within the body of the Lamb.

   History records what may be yet another response to Yahshua’s violent act.  The historian tells us that a riot ensued thereafter in the Temple courts – and a rebellion had to be put down by force – many died as a result.  There was such a zeal for righteousness that it might be compared to a ton of dynamite awaiting a matchstick.