31 Then He went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and was teaching them on the Sabbaths. 32 And they were astonished at His teaching, for His word was with authority (Luke 4:31–32, NKJV).
Jesus taught in the synagogues of Galilee with the fellowship and endorsement of the Spirit of God (Luke 4:14, 18-21). His teaching so enraged the Nazarenes they tried to kill Him (Luke 4:23-29). Yet, those who heard Him testified and marveled at His “gracious words” (Luke 4:22). In Capernaum, people were astonished at the authority of His words (cf. Matt. 7:29). The Jewish leaders marveled when they heard Him teach in the temple. “How does this Man know letters, having never studied,” they said (John 7:14-15). Jesus spoke what the Father gave Him to teach (John 7:16). His words were authoritative because He spoke heaven’s words (John 12:49-50). Titus, the evangelist, was to teach the gospel “with all authority” (Titus 2:15). These men were not certified by the scribes and lawyers of the day. (The apostles were “uneducated and untrained,” Acts 4:13.) Yet, men presume to have the authority to maintain seminaries to certify a person as acceptable (having authority) to preach and minister the gospel. (Only credentialed preachers will do.) Sadly, some churches of Christ seem to trend in the same direction. (Only the credentialed preacher will do for their pulpits.) It makes you wonder whether a simple fisherman (like Peter) could stand in some pulpits today. The preacher’s authority does not come from himself, other men, or credentials earned from men. The gospel preacher speaks by heaven’s authority (1 Tim. 4:11; 5:7). We do well to remember that and humble ourselves before the authority of God and His word instead of men (Gal. 1:11-12; 1 Cor. 14:37).
4 So when the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” 5 Then He said, “Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground” (Exodus 3:4–5, NKJV).
There was no discernible difference between rocks and dirt on “the mountain of God” and the rest of the wilderness in which Moses tended his father-in-law’s flock (Exod. 3:1). So why was this place “holy ground?” Because God was there. His presence consecrated the ground, demanding reverent respect and obeisance of God from Moses. Later, God called Israel a “holy nation,” foreshadowing the church of Christ (Exod. 19:5-6; 1 Pet. 2:9). The “Most Holy” place of the tabernacle and temple was reserved for the ark of the covenant and mercy seat, and a veil separated it from the “holy place” (Exod. 26:33-34). The hope that anchors our souls is “both sure and steadfast” and “enters the Presence behind the veil” because Jesus our High Priest is in the holiest place (heaven), ministering over the house of God, His church (Heb. 4:14-16; 6:19-20; 8:1-2). God called Israel to holy living because He is holy (Lev. 11:44-45; 19:2). Under the law of Moses, this included distinguishing between what was clean and unclean, profane and holy (Lev. 20:7, 25-26). The gospel calls us to regard the presence and holiness of God our Father fearfully. As obedient children, we must be holy in all our conduct because our Father is holy (1 Pet. 1:13-17). Take off your sandals; The place you stand is holy ground (Eph. 2:21; 1 Pet. 2:5).
He shall judge between the nations, and rebuke many people; They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore” (Isaiah 2:4, NKJV).
Isaiah lifted his eyes above Jerusalem’s mountain (upon which sat Solomon’s temple) to visionary heights of “the mountain of the Lord’s house,” to which “all nations” would flow in the latter days (Isa. 2:2; Acts 2:16-17; Heb. 1:2). His prophecy of “the mountain of the Lord,” the “house of the God of Jacob,” foresees the church Jesus built (Isa. 2:3; Matt. 16:18; Eph. 2:19-22; Heb. 3:3-6). The “word of the Lord” would go into all the world from Jerusalem, which began on Pentecost after Jesus’s ascension (Isa. 2:3; Luke 24:46-47; Acts 1:8; 2:1ff). God’s house “shall walk in its path” as we “learn His ways” (Isa. 2:3). Today’s verse describes the effect of the gospel in hearts and lives. The good news of Christ replaces conflict with cooperation, animosity with amicability, and war with peace (cf. Isa. 11:6-9; Eph. 2:14-18). This verse does not describe a futuristic millennial kingdom on earth, far from it (John 18:36). It describes Mount Zion’s habitation of holiness, the heavenly Jerusalem, the “general assembly and church of the firstborn” (Heb. 12:22-23). Sowing the seed of the kingdom in hearts brings peace and advances the kingdom of Christ. Jesus is “our peace,” our King who has come with salvation and speaking “peace to the nations” (Eph. 2:14; Zech. 9:9-10). Learn His ways and walk in His path. You will have peace with God and with other like-minded souls “in one body through the cross,” His church (Eph. 2:16; 4:4).
37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! 38 See! Your house is left to you desolate; 39 for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ (Matthew 23:37–39, NKJV)
God longed to gather His people to Himself to give them refuge and blessings. But their rejection of Christ brought terrible judgment upon Jerusalem and Judea at the hands of the Roman army. Like vultures devouring their prey, the Romans squelched a Jewish rebellion when general Titus destroyed Jerusalem and the temple in A.D. 70 (Matt. 24:1-2). Historian Josephus estimated 1.1 million Jews perished (many who had come to the city for Passover). Tens of thousands were enslaved and dispersed throughout the empire. Jerusalem’s house was left desolate because she refused to receive the Messiah (Lk. 19:41-44; Jno. 1:11). We must learn from Jerusalem’s demise that God judges sin, including those of His people. When Christians turn away from the Lord and reject His truth and mercy, we face the righteous judgment of God for our sins (Rom. 2:1-6). The gospel calls on Christians to abandon sin through repentance and embrace the spiritual blessings that are in Christ (2 Cor. 12:20-21; Eph. 1:3). “Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men” (2 Cor. 5:11). Beware. Practicing sin will not go unpunished. Christian friend, if there is sin in your life, repent and turn to the Lord without delay (1 Jno. 1:8-9).
11 Then the word of the Lord came to Solomon, saying: 12 “Concerning this temple which you are building, if you walk in My statutes, execute My judgments, keep all My commandments, and walk in them, then I will perform My word with you, which I spoke to your father David. 13 And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will not forsake My people Israel.” 14 So Solomon built the temple and finished it. (1 Kings 6:11–14, NKJV)
King Solomon built the temple in Jerusalem following plans given to him by his father David and inspired by the Spirit of God (1 Chron. 28:11-12, 19). As Solomon was constructing the house of God, the Lord confirmed His blessings on him and His presence with Israel if Solomon followed His will by obeying His commandments. Solomon’s temple was a type or shadow of the temple God has built, the church of Christ (Acts 7:47-50; Matt. 16:18; Eph. 2:19-22; Heb. 3:3-6; 8:2). The temple of God (the church) is composed of redeemed souls (Acts 2:47). It is not built or remodeled according to the dictates, doctrines, and decisions of human beings, although men have tried to do so for centuries. The arrogance of changing the church to suit “present culture” rivals the pride that led the mob to reject the Son of God crying, “Crucify him!” because Jesus did not suit their ideas of what a Messiah and His kingdom should be. Christians are living stones comprising God’s spiritual house (1 Pet. 2:4-5). May we humbly submit our hearts and lives to Jesus to be His church and not a church built by men (1 Pet. 2:6-10).
Then early in the morning all the people came to Him in the temple to hear Him. (Luke 21:38, NKJV)
The excitement in Jerusalem had been building daily, ever since Jesus came into the city riding on a young donkey. Anticipating the deliverance of Israel from the oppression of her enemies, the people had lined His pathway with clothes and palm branches as He entered the city (Matt. 21:1-11; Lk. 19:36-40). Their king had arrived (Jno. 12:13)! People came early each morning and listened attentively to Jesus (Lk. 19:48). The crescendo was nearing its apex, but the climactic event would not be as the crowd envisioned. Soon, in frenzied dismay, they would cry out, ”Crucify Him!” Until then, Jesus kept teaching in the temple daily. “Why did He bother?” you ask? The Son was doing the work His Father gave Him (Jno. 12:27-36). Now, we have what He taught that week in the inspired Scriptures for our faith and salvation. I wonder, are we as eager to hear what Jesus says as they were? And if so, are we also eager to do what He says? We cannot correctly call Jesus our Lord if we believe what He says but do not obey Him (Lk. 6:46). Let us always listen to Jesus – early in the morning, late at night, and all through the day. May we believe Him, obey Him, and so be delivered from sin and death as citizens of His kingdom (Jno. 18:36-37; Col. 1:13-14).
45 Then He went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in it, 46 saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house is a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’” (Luke 19:45–46, NKJV)
The corruption of God’s house of prayer is on full display as Christ’s indignation raged against those who had turned temple worship into an oppressive and lucrative business enterprise (Matt. 21:12-13). Jesus used Isaiah 56:7 to expose and condemn their unholy treatment of God’s house and God’s people. Now, the church is God’s holy temple (Eph. 2:19-22). Despite Christ’s pointed warning against defiling God’s house, people continue to defile God’s house of prayer, the church. The reconfiguration of the church constitutes a departure from the faith the Spirit expressly warned would happen (1 Tim. 4:1-3; Gal. 1:6-10). Over time, the church’s worship became polluted with rites and rituals not found in the covenant of Christ. The church’s organization was turned into an ecclesiastical hierarchy ruling over independent congregations of saints. The church’s work became contaminated by material pursuits as people made merchandise of the gospel (2 Cor. 2:17). Jesus does not look on approvingly while the will and wisdom of men corrupt His church (Col. 2:8, 20-23). The church does not belong to us; it belongs to Christ. Christ’s gospel continues to disrupt the innovations that defile God’s house under the guise of progress and advancement (1 Tim. 6:20-21; 2 Jno. 9).
47 But Solomon built Him a house. 48 However, the Most High does not dwell in temples made with hands, as the prophet says: 49 ‘Heaven is My throne, And earth is My footstool. What house will you build for Me? says the Lord, Or what is the place of My rest? 50 Has My hand not made all these things?’ (Acts 7:47–50, NKJV)
Humans have invested untold blood and treasure to build, maintain, and secure temples, cathedrals, and sundry edifices as testimonies to their faith, zeal, and devotion to their deities. Under the guidance and approval of the Lord God, King Solomon built the temple in Jerusalem for Israel (1 Chron. 28:6, 11-13; 1 Kings 5-8). Yet, God was not contained by that temple built with hands, nor would that temple timelessly endure (Matt. 24:1-35). As Sovereign over heaven and earth, the Almighty is not defined or confined by structures of human art and design (Acts 17:24-25). Today, His temple is the church His Son built (Matt. 16:18; Eph. 2:19-22). The church is the “true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man,” over which Jesus Christ serves as High Priest at the right hand of God (Heb. 8:1-2). The church of Christ is not an afterthought of God. It is the fulfillment of His eternal purpose to redeem sinners in Christ Jesus our Lord (Eph. 3:10-11). Christians serve God as priests in God’s temple (1 Pet. 2:5). As such, we must be holy, as He is holy (1 Pet. 1:15-16; 2:9). Praise God for such a habitation of holiness!