“And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up” (John 2:17).
In this passage from John’s gospel, the Lord went up to Jerusalem and found merchants and moneychangers in the temple of God. They were selling livestock and exchanging currency inside the temple’s outer court. Can you imagine the noise, filth and stench coming from that herd animals in God’s house? Haven’t you ever been to a county fair or circus? But filthier still was the filthy lucre for which the religious leaders turned the house of prayer into a house of merchandise. Make no mistake, the chief priests and Levites were responsible for this ungodliness. Their aim was not the will of God, the glory of God, or the good of men’s souls. Their only objective was turning a profit from the Passover Festival. Filled with holy wrath, The Lord Jesus Christ came through with a scourge and drove them all out, saying, “Take these things hence; make not my Father's house an house of merchandise.”
GOD IS JEALOUS
Zeal is another term for jealousy. The Name of our God is Jealous, and He is a jealous God (Ex. 34:14). He said, “I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images” (Isa. 42:8). God is jealous for the glory of His Name in the Lord Jesus Christ. He is jealous for His spiritual house, which is the Church and kingdom of Christ. In our Lord’s day, the temple represented all the perfections of God in the salvation of His people. It symbolized God’s election of grace and the predestination of a people in Christ. It pictured the infinite merit and efficacy of the Savior’s one offering for sin. It showed forth in type His intercession before God as our Great High Priest. It was the only place in the world where sinners could come to worship and be accepted by the one true and living God. It represented the glorious Person and finished work of Jesus Christ our Lord. God is Jealous for the glory of His dear Son!
HOW DOES THIS APPLY TO US?
When God gave Moses the moral law and instructions for the tabernacle, He was giving Israel the gospel of Christ in shadows, the same gospel by which we’re saved. Paul tells us plainly, “For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it” (Heb. 4:2). After God gave them the precious gospel of Christ, He warned them, “Take heed to thyself, lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land whither thou goest, lest it be for a snare in the midst of thee: But ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves: For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God…” (Ex. 34:12-14). Let us take heed to ourselves, lest we mix and mingle with the wicked people of man-centered, free-will, works religion. God is Jealous for the precious doctrine of Christ. He that abides not in the doctrine of Christ, “Hath not God” (2 Jn. 1:9).
THE ZEAL OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST
While viewing the righteous anger of the Lord Jesus in action, the disciples remembered the words of David, who wrote by inspiration, “The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up” (Ps. 69:9). This chapter is clearly a Messianic psalm, setting before us the sufferings of Christ, the reproaches He bore, and the deep affection and zeal of His heart for the people of God and the Father’s glory. Isaiah tells us that our Messiah’s Name is Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. The government and peace of His kingdom of grace shall ever increase without end. Christ shall reign forever on the throne of David to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from henceforth even forever! How does He accomplish this mighty work? Isaiah said, “The zeal of the LORD of hosts shall perform this” (Isa. 9:7). The zeal of the Lord Jesus Christ is the cause of our salvation.
First, view the Savior’s zealous affection for those the Father gave Him in covenant love before the world began. He zealously became our Surety, as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoicing as a strong man to run a race (Ps. 19:5). See the dawning of the Sun of Righteousness in the eternal counsels of grace. He took full responsibility for the sins of God’s elect.
Second, view the Savior’s zeal in His humiliation for us. He willingly took upon Him the form of a servant and was made in the likeness of men. “And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Phil. 2:8). While we were sinners Christ died for us. When we were enemies we were reconciled to God through His death (Rom. 5:8-10). In the teeth of all our hatred, sin and reproach, the Son of God loved us and zealously gave Himself for us. “Father forgive them,” thus did He pray, even as His life’s blood flowed fast away. Praying for sinners, while in such woe, no one but Jesus, ever loved so!
Third, consider the unquenchable zeal of the Savior in His relentless pursuit of your sinful soul, dear child of God. How undaunted He is by all our sin, neglect, indifference and wandering! The bruised reed He will not break, and the smoking flax He will not quench. He revives our hearts with grace!
"His love has no limit, His grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men,
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus,
He giveth and giveth and giveth again."
"He Giveth More Grace" – Annie J. Flint
A WARNING AGAINST COMMERCE IN THE CHURCH
The Lord’s rebuke should serve to warn us against the commercialization of religion. If what we do here revolves around money to any degree, then it ceases to be the house of God, because we’ve made it a house of merchandise. The business of God’s Church is selling the truth without money and without price. False religion, the whore of Babylon, is the house of merchandise. She makes merchandise of men’s souls. God will destroy her in that final day of judgment, and all the merchants shall weep (Rev. 18:9-21).
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