The Lord Jesus entered Jerusalem to great exaltation, as superficial as it might have been. It was true. He was King. He was Lord. He had a royal agenda. He rejected the religion of the day. That night He stayed in Bethany, fully preparing to come back down to Jerusalem the two miles the next morning to cleanse the temple. The temple had become something other than its intended purpose.
When Jesus was twelve and in the temple, we heard that His purpose was His Father's business, which was in the temple. Jesus didn't come to attempt to disabuse Israel of Roman dominion. However, He did go to the temple to cleanse it. And what was the problem there?
The temple had moved away from its intended purpose, which was worship. No doubt they had a form of worship. They had a form, a kind of shell of God's intention. However, the temple had become a den for those not there to worship. What went on at the temple was called prayer. Everything up to prayer was to get to prayer. All of the sacrifices were to bring people to the point of fellowship with God, but the end was prayer, communion with God.
The way the religious leaders of Jesus' day perverted worship in the temple was not the only way it could be perverted. It was one of the forms that might replace true worship. Elijah met another kind on Mt. Carmel with the religious leaders there allowed in the land. Of course, Moses and Joshua came down from Mt. Sinai and heard and then saw another corrupt form.
The temple today is God's assembly. Paul says the church at Corinth was God's temple: ye are the temple of God. Paul said that the church at Ephesus was the "house of the living God." Can the sacrifices of the New Testament temple become perverted? Sure. Instead of a house of prayer, it becomes a den of entertainment and show and self-gratification and inordinate affection.
We can trace what occurred in history to see how it occurred. We can go back and see how that the temple in Jerusalem became a den of a different kind. We go back to the mid 19th century and praise became a new measure. Popular music, albeit more like carnival or circus music, became the draw of the unbelieving crowd in order to arouse them. Inserted in place of praise was a new measure. Forms were chosen that would attract and stimulate. Whether God was pleased wasn't the consideration. Men were not sinners who needed cleansing so much as they were sinners who needed kindling or instigation, the right bait, and music, a biblical element could suit that purpose.
You can keep following the path of the above technique or strategy and see how it created a new job set. Not moneychanging necessarily, but you'll still find money being changed. The church growth movement brings in the money for the books, the Christian music industry, the hit songs. It's a new kind of priesthood, the invention of an innovative new position to go with a whole new philosophy in the temple of God. It has perverted the temple of God.
And now we have rap and rock and grunge in church. Not only do we have the corruption and perversion, but we've changed the purpose of God's house. You hear the trap set and you have sensual styles and the blues chords. The attraction has changed. And people now think it's the spirit of God. They defend this stuff like a dog fights for the chow left in the bottom of his bowl. Don't touch this music. It's about God, ya know.
The people are now destroyed by this lack of knowledge. They get to the end, the point of the reconciliation, the death on the cross, and the advocacy, the worship, and they miss that for the bowl of pottage. We've turned the temple of God into a den. The defense is similar to what you see at the end of Luke 19, where the religious folk are angry. They want to keep it going. It's profitable. It's successful. Today it's entertaining. It replaces true spiritual worship with a feeling of passion that is very much akin to the arousal someone gets at any rock concert. You put in Christian words, which happens to be blasphemous to God's house and name, and the people think it's the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit doesn't accept that. He works, but it is more in the way of indignation, like Jesus had.
Have you noticed that Jesus' time in Jerusalem began in His ministry with cleansing the temple and ended with cleansing it? If we are to be transformed by the face of Jesus in the gospels, should the leadership of today's temple not also be cleansing it? What particular den has the temple become today? What corruption has been allowed into the worship?
So here we are. Who will turn over the tables? Who will man the whip?