October 10, 2016
Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. 2 “Do you see all these things?” he asked. “Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”
3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”
4 Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. 6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of birth pains.
Is it time for your temple to be demolished?
For Israel, the Temple was everything and yet it was nothing. Take the World Trade Center, the United States Capitol, the White House and the Pentagon (and don’t forget the Treasury), combine them into one institution and you get something of the way Israel saw the Temple. Unfortunately, it was not the way they related to God. Their faith was in the institution of it all, the history, the grandeur of the place, the symbol of its sovereignty and the system of religion which had long ago supplanted faith in God. Writing years before, the Prophet Jeremiah put it like this:
“‘Hear the word of the Lord, all you people of Judah who come through these gates to worship the Lord. 3 This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Reform your ways and your actions, and I will let you live in this place. 4 Do not trust in deceptive words and say, “This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord!” 5 If you really change your ways and your actions and deal with each other justly, 6 if you do not oppress the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not follow other gods to your own harm, 7 then I will let you live in this place, in the land I gave your ancestors for ever and ever. 8 But look, you are trusting in deceptive words that are worthless. . . .
11 Has this house, which bears my Name, become a den of robbers to you? But I have been watching! declares the Lord. Jeremiah 7:1-8, 11. (Read the whole discourse if you can- Jeremiah 7-10.
As his disciples came to him to share their awe at the magnificence of the Temple, Jesus had this to say:
“Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”
Because the Temple had become about the Temple and not about the God, the Temple had become a shadow of its former self and merely the shell of outward religious observance. The God (aka Jesus) was now standing within its magnificent structures and declaring they would be reduced to ruins—indeed, that they were already in fact ruins. The temple now only served as a place to baptize the status quo of their precious gods of personal and national security. In fact, their idea of a Messiah was someone who would come in and take their prosperity to the next level.
It’s amazing isn’t it? So often, the things which shine the brightest and which seem to shout out our security—as to the skies; these things turn out to be the external coverings that cloak the emptiness within. It’s all too easy to work, work, work for wealth, possessions and financial security, all the while saying, “the church, the church, the church!” as though God has been responsible for our well-being—that we have been “blessed.”
Permit me to say something really hard, friends. Many of you are going to think it’s wrong. Maybe it is, but I will stand by it until someone proves to me otherwise. Brace yourselves. Wait for it. . . . . Wealth is no more a sign of the blessing of God than poverty is a sign of the curse of God. Money is no more a sign of the favor of God than a building is the sign of the presence of God. If we believe our wealth is a sign that God has blessed us, it’s probably time for our temple to be demolished.
So what are the signs of the blessing of God? Two words: extravagant generosity. Show me a person who is extravagantly generous and I will show you a person who knows the blessing of God. The blessing of God is not signified by what is received but by what is given away. It’s why some of the most generous people on the planet are the poorest. Let’s give Jerry the last word today:
This is what the Lord says:
“Let not the wise boast of their wisdom
or the strong boast of their strength
or the rich boast of their riches,
24 but let the one who boasts boast about this:
that they have the understanding to know me,
that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness,
justice and righteousness on earth,
for in these I delight,”
declares the Lord.
1. True or False: “Wealth is no more a sign of the blessing of God than poverty is a sign of the curse of God.”
2. Why True? Why False? What is it about you that causes such a visceral reaction within you?
3. Respond to this assertion: “The blessing of God is not signified by what is received but by what is given away.”
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J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. firstname.lastname@example.org.