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Someone Cares Series
Christ Cleanses the Temple
In lesson 5 we leaned that Jesus has power to forgive and cleanse us. In this lesson we will learn about one aspect of our lives that Jesus wants to cleanse.
1. Why did God ask the Israelites to build Him a sanctuary?
"And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them" (Exodus 25:8).
God directed that a tabernacle should be built, where the Israelites during their wilderness journeying could worship Him. Orders from heaven were given that this tabernacle should be built without delay. Devotion to God and a spirit of sacrifice were the first requisites in preparing a dwelling place for the Most High.
2. What was one of the first things Jesus did after beginning His earthly ministry?
"And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables; And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father's house an house of merchandise. And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up" (John 2:14-17).
In the cleansing of the temple Jesus was announcing His mission as the Messiah, and entering upon His work. The temple, erected for the abode of the divine Presence, was designed to be an object lesson for Israel and for the world. From eternal ages it was God's purpose that every created being, from the bright and holy seraph to man, should be a temple for the indwelling of the Creator.
Because of sin humanity ceased to be a temple for God. Darkened and defiled by evil the heart of man no longer revealed the glory of the Divine One. But by the incarnation of the Son of God the purpose of heaven is fulfilled. God swells in humanity, and through saving grace the heart of man becomes again His temple. God designed that the temple at Jerusalem should be a continual witness to the high destiny open to every soul.
The courts of the temple at Jerusalem, filled with the tumult of unholy traffic, represented all too truly the temple of the heart defiled by the presence of sensual passion and unholy thoughts. In cleansing the temple from the world's buyers and sellers Jesus announced His mission to cleanse the heart from the defilement of sin.
3. At the end of Jesus' ministry He again cleansed the temple. But because the religious leaders and people refused to keep the temple spiritually clean God deserted it, and it was soon destroyed. Although that temple no longer exists, does God still have a sacred dwelling place on earth?
"What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's" (1 Corinthians 6:19, 20).
As regards our responsibility and influence we are amenable to God as deriving our life from Him. This we do not obtain from humanity, but from God only. We are His by creation and by redemption. Our very bodies are not our own to treat as we please, to cripple by habits that lead to decay, making it impossible to render to God perfect service. Our lives and all our faculties belong to Him. He is caring for us every moment. He keeps the living machinery in action; if we were left to run it for a moment we should die. We are absolutely dependent upon God.
4. In the New Testament the Christian church and the Christian himself are called temples because God desired to dwell within both, What will God do if we defile His temple?
"Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are" (1 Corinthians 3:16, 17).
Providence has been leading the people of God out from the extravagant habits of the world, away from the indulgence of appetite and passion, to take their stand upon the platform of self-denial and temperance in all things. The people whom God is leading will be peculiar. They will not be like the world. Christ will dwell in the heart. The temple of God will be holy.
Your body, says the apostle, is the temple of the Holy Ghost. God does not require His children to deny themselves to the injury of physical strength. He requires them to obey natural law in order to preserve physical health. Nature's path is the road He marks out, and it is broad enough for every Christian.
5. What is one way that Daniel believed his body-temple could be defiled?
"But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself. ... Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink" (Daniel 1:8, 12).
When Daniel was in Babylon he was beset with temptations of which we have never dreamed, and he realized he must keep his body undefiled. He purposed in his heart that he would not drink of the king's wine or eat of his dainties. He knew that to come off a victor he must have clear mental perceptions that he might discern between good and evil.
6. What was the original diet God created for human beings?
"And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat" (Genesis 1:29).
In order to know what are the best foods we must study God's original plan for man's diet. He who created man and understands his needs appointed Adam his food. God gave our first parents the food He designed that the race should eat. It was contrary to His plan to have the life of any creature taken. There was to be no death in Eden.
7. Man's original diet for the first 1656 years was of fruits, grains, nuts, and vegetables; and the average life span was 912 years! When vegetation was destroyed by the flood God gave permission for the people to eat animal flesh. He had made provision for this by bringing extra of the "clean" animals into the ark. Why did God prohibit the Israelites from eating "unclean" animals? What are some of these "unclean" creatures?
"For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth. Thou shalt not eat any abominable thing.
"These are the beasts which ye shall eat: the ox, the sheep, and the goat, The hart, and the roebuck, and the fallow deer, and the wild goat, and the pygarg, and the wild ox, and the chamois. And every beast that parteth the hoof, and cleaveth the cleft into two claws, and cheweth the cud among the beasts, that ye shall eat.
"Nevertheless these ye shall not eat of them that chew the cud, or of them that divide the cloven hoof; as the camel, and the hare, and the coney: for they chew the cud, but divide not the hoof; therefore they are unclean unto you. And the swine, because it divideth the hoof, yet cheweth not the cud, it is unclean unto you: ye shall not eat of their flesh, nor touch their dead carcase.
"These ye shall eat of all that are in the waters: all that have fins and scales shall ye eat: And whatsoever hath not fins and scales ye may not eat; it is unclean unto you. Of all clean birds ye shall eat.
"But these are they of which ye shall not eat: the eagle, and the ossifrage, and the osprey, And the glede, and the kite, and the vulture after his kind, And every raven after his kind, And the owl, and the night hawk, and the cuckoo, and the hawk after his kind, The little owl, and the great owl, and the swan, And the pelican, and the gier eagle, and the cormorant, And the stork, and the heron after her kind, and the lapwing, and the bat.
"And every creeping thing that flieth is unclean unto you: they shall not be eaten. But of all clean fowls ye may eat" (Deuteronomy 14:2-20).
The diet appointed man in the beginning did not include animal food. Not until after the flood, when every green thing on the earth was destroyed, did man receive permission to eat flesh. In choosing man's food in Eden the Lord showed what was the best diet; in the choice made for Israel He taught the same lesson.
He brought the Israelites out of Egypt, and undertook their training that they might be a people for His own possession. Through them He desired to bless and teach the world. Upon their settlement in Canaan the Israelites were permitted the use of animal food, but under careful restrictions which tended to lessen the evil results.
The use of swine's flesh was prohibited, as also of other animals and birds and fish whose flesh was pronounced unclean. Of the meats permitted, the eating of the fat and the blood was strictly forbidden.
8. Some people, by misapplying Scripture, have suggested that these health laws from our Creator were only for the Jews, though Gentile bodies are really no different! Paul's counsels on health were to the Gentiles (e.g. 1 Corinthians 6:10, 19, 20; 10:31). How, and when, will God judge those who rebel against Him by defying His health laws?
"For, behold, the LORD will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire. For by fire and by his sword will the LORD plead with all flesh: and the slain of the LORD shall be many. They that sanctify themselves, and purify themselves in the gardens behind one tree in the midst, eating swine's flesh, and the abomination, and the mouse, shall be consumed together, saith the LORD" (Isaiah 66:16-17).
Pork, although one of the most common articles of diet, is one of the most injurious. God did not prohibit the Hebrews from eating swine's flesh merely to show His authority, but because it is not a proper article of food for man. God never created the swine to be eaten under any circumstances. It is impossible for the flesh of any living creature to be healthful when filth is its natural element and when it feeds upon every detestable thing.
Will the people who are seeking to become holy, pure, refined, that they may be introduced into the society of heavenly angels, continue to take the life of God's creatures, and enjoy their flesh as a luxury?
9. Besides eating "unclean" meat, what is another way we can defile the body?
"Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things" (Proverbs 23:29-33).
The person who has formed the habit of drinking intoxicating liquor is in a desperate situation. He cannot be reasoned with or persuaded to deny himself the indulgence. His stomach and brain are diseased, his will power is weakened, and his appetite uncontrollable. The prince of the powers of darkness holds him in bondage that he has no power to break.
10. Although cigarettes were not yet "invented" in Bible times, does not tobacco defile the body?
"Lest there should be among you man, or woman, or family, or tribe, whose heart turneth away this day from the LORD our God, to go and serve the gods of these nations; lest there should be among you a root that beareth gall and wormwood;" (Deuteronomy 29:18).
Poisonous herbs are also forbidden by the Word of God. Tobacco and other drugs are likewise forbidden.
Tobacco is a slow, but most malignant poison. In whatever form it is used it tells upon the constitution; it is all the more dangerous because its effects are slow and at first hardly perceptible. It excites and then paralyses the nerves. it weakens and clouds the brain. Often it affects the nerves in a more powerful manner than does intoxicating drink. It is more subtle and its effects are difficult to eradicate from the system.
11. How does Paul summarize the way that we are to treat our body-temples?
"Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God" (1 Corinthians 10:31).
By the inspiration of the Spirit of God Paul the apostle writes that "whatsoever ye do," even the natural acts of eating and drinking, should be done not to gratify a perverted appetite, but under a sense of responsibility to "do all to the glory of God." Every part of man is to be guarded; we are to beware lest that which is taken into the stomach shall banish from the mind high and holy thoughts.
We are His by creation and by redemption. Our very bodies are not our own to treat as we please, to cripple by habits that lead to decay, making it impossible to render to God perfect service. Our lives and all our faculties belong to Him. He is caring for us every moment; He keeps the living machinery in action; if we were left to run it for one moment we should die. We are absolutely dependent upon God.
12. What has God promised to people who obey Him?
"And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee" (Exodus 15:26).
When God led the children of Israel out of Egypt it was His purpose to establish them in the land of Canaan as a pure, happy, healthy people. He subjected them to a course of discipline which, had it been cheerfully followed, would have resulted in good both to themselves and to their posterity. Had they been willing to deny appetite in obedience to His restrictions, feebleness and disease would have been unknown among them. Their descendants would have possessed physical and mental strength. They would have had clear perceptions of truth and duty, keen discrimination and sound judgment.
Today Jesus is asking us to respect our body-temples so that we may have clearer minds and better health, and may be able to render Him more faithful service. Will you ask Him to give you power over everything that tends to defile the body?
There are some texts which, when taken out of context, could be "twisted to our own destruction" (2 Peter 3:16). Jesus said that "not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth" (Matthew 15:11). But Jesus was not talking about food. He was not contradicting Scripture. The Pharisees He was addressing were not questioning food at all, but their human tradition of ritual washing before eating (verses 2, 20).
Peter certainly did not understand Jesus to be changing the health laws, for years later he was given a vision of "all kinks of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air. And a voice came to him, 'Rise, Peter; kill and eat.' But Peter said, 'Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean'" (Acts 10:12-14). Perhaps there were lizards, cats, tigers, vultures, snakes, dogs—we probably would have asked to be excused too!
But the vision was symbolic. Peter knew that. After the vision he "wondered within himself what the vision meant" (verse 17). And then He was "shown" that he "should not call any man common or unclean" (verse 28). The Jews call the Gentiles unclean dogs, but the time had come to take the gospel to these Gentiles. Read the whole account in Acts 10:9 to 11:18.
Romans 14:2 says that "He who is weak eats only vegetables." Meat was offered to idols, and those who were weak in the faith sill superstitiously avoided food offered to idols. See 1 Corinthians 8:4-11.
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Page created: 7/26/98 Updated: 11/24/02
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