Chapter 9 -


Jesus was and is the Messenger of God's covenant with man. He is the promised Messiah of Israel, a nation which came into being by the codified implementation of the Abrahamic Covenant at Sinai. The gospels proclaim the Messiah's work as the Messenger, Husband and Enabler of God's eternal promise to man in His Body and Bride, the Church.

This is the Gospel of John's record regarding the beginning of Jesus' public ministry in Jerusalem:

And the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And He found in the temple those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the moneychangers seated.

And He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the moneychang­ers, and overturned their tables; and to those who were selling the doves He said, “Take these things away; stop making My Father's house a house of merchandise.” (John 2:13-16)

John did not open Jesus' public ministry with purging the temple in Jerusalem from moneychangers and merchants of sacrifice just to con­demn hypocritical and avaricious religious leaders. There is a much deeper message which is introduced in the following verses.

His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for Thy house will consume Me.” The Jews therefore answered and said to Him, “What sign do You show to us, seeing that You do these things?” (17-18)

Jesus' actions were not those of an ordinary man. Even non-believing Jews present at the time recognized Jesus' purification of the temple as a proclamation of Messiahship.

Jesus claimed the right to purge "His Father's house" so declaring God His Father. The actual amount of purification of the physical building was secondary in importance to the message it proclaimed because the temple of His body was itself housing the Holy Spirit of the Father.

Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it Up.” The Jews therefore said, “It took forty-six years to build this tem­ple, and will You raise it up in three days?”

But He was speaking of the temple of His body. When therefore He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had spoken. (19-22)

The play on the Greek words is also revealing. The temple Jesus purged is the Greek hieron, which is a sacred, priestly edifice while the reference to the temple of His body is the Greek naos, which is the dwelling place or inner sanctuary, the Holy of Holies. (Young's Analytical Concordance to the Bible)

Jesus purged the stone edifice of the moneychangers and merchan­disers. These men sought material profit from trading in others' sin­cere spiritual service to God by selling over-priced religious-authorities-certified sacrificial animals and marked up coins permit­ted by temple authorities to be used as offerings. (i.e. Jewish coins without the image of Caesar or of some pagan god on them)

Jesus objected to the priests using the power of their religious monopoly to artificially inflate the price of a common person’s obligations in fulfilling the Law. As mentioned above, the religious leaders were committed to mate­rial gain to the point that their traditions ignored the Law's purpose in order to increase the deposits in the temple treasury from which they were paid. (Matthew 15:1-9)

No Tithes for Jesus

Merchandising trade is the spiritual foundation of Babylon, the great false religious-economic-political system which deceives the world. Babylon rein­terprets God's commands and truth for the purpose of physical expedi­ency or survival. The presence of the attitudes or practices of Babylon, even in small amounts, will inevitably corrupt the wor­ship of God to that of mammon. (Revelation 17 and 18.)

But the temple Jesus was going to raise up was the actual dwelling place of God the Father: His body. This is why the veil to the Holy of Holies (naos = temple) was torn open at His death in Luke 23:45.

Since therefore, brethren, we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. (Hebrews 10: 19-22)

But I say to you, that something greater than the temple is here. But if you had known what this means, “I desire compassion, and not a sacrifice,'” you would not have condemned the innocent. (Matthew 12:6-7)

Curiously, Jesus declared Himself greater than the temple, but with His awareness of this superiority He does not command the people to pay Him any tithes due Him by virtue of His office. Jesus knew He was the Messiah and the Son of God. Who could possibly have had a better right to the tithes and offerings of the people? Who else could change the Law? But He didn't.

There is no mention in the gospels of Jesus asking for money. He did accept dinner invitations, gifts of loving labor, and by inference funds, but He never claimed the right to the Levites’ tithe or the Aaronic Priests’ offerings. He did not create a new tithe.

Jesus did support the practice of tithing to the Temple as will be shown below. From Hebrews 7:14 we know that He never claimed to be a priest of Levite, nor did His followers ever consid­er Him a Levite or qualified to receive the tithes of Israel. In Matthew 5:17-20 Jesus states His position clearly: He did not change or re­interpret the Law to provide for His own material needs, unlike too many who claim to be His ministers.

Spiritual Sacrifices More Important

God is chiefly interested in spiritual sacrifices, not material ones. These are the sacrifices Jesus encouraged without dis­couraging the established system of animal offerings. The material gifts are only important in so far as they signify the spiritual heart of man. They are the works that testify of true faith. (James 2:17-26)

Jesus taught that God, His Father, was not interested in the material value of an offering or the glory of a building of gold and stone, but in true righteousness founded on loving mercy and total dedication. To illustrate how the attitude of the giver is more important than the amount given, Mark 12:41-44 records the following:

And He sat down opposite the treasury, and began observing how the multitude were putting money into the treasury; and many rich people were putting in large sums.

And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent. And calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, ”Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury, for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on."

This Jewish widow could have given only one coin, but she gave both of them - all her living. Jesus' point is that we must give all our being, all our life to God. He was not teaching that we should all go about penniless. He was teaching commitment to God's will and purpose.

Where would humanity be if Jesus had only given half of His life? What the Father asked of His only begotten Son, He also asks of all who would be His adopted sons - who would be born again:

I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. (Romans 12:1)

Jesus the Messiah came to the earth in fulfillment of the prophecy in Malachi 3:1-6 as proclaimed by John the Baptist.

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. And it is written in Isaiah the prophet, “Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, who will prepare Your way; the voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make ready the way of the Lord, make His paths straight.’" (Mark 1:1-3)

“And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming,” says the LORD of hosts. (Malachi 3:1)

Remember that the mes­senger is a purifying fire. Jesus as Messiah had a right to purify the temple He came to. In this case John's passage is recording a dual coming. When Jesus anciently came to the temple in Jerusalem, His presence all by itself delivered a spiritual message that revealed a deep truth about God's plan for humanity.

It was not only Jesus who came to that temple, but God the Father. He came in two ways: First, He came, through the Holy Spirit, in the body of Jesus. Secondly, Jesus' body, itself the dwelling place of God, brought that indwelling Holy Spirit to the building of stone in Jerusalem. The Bible records the first time the Holy Spirit came to the temple of stone in Jerusalem:

Now when Solomon had finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the LORD filled the house, and the priests could not enter into the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD had filled the LORD's house. (II Chronicles 7:1-2)

A temple is a structure or house where God dwells:

But the LORD is in His holy temple. (Habakkuk 2:20)

The LORD is in His holy temple; the LORD's throne is in heav­en. (Psalms 11:4)

This is why Jesus could say that He was greater than the tem­ple: the Father was alive and active in Him because He was the Son of God as well as being the Son of Man.He was greater because through Jesus the Holy Spirit which dwelt in the temple and in Him would come to dwell in all men, thereby fulfilling the Promise.

He was the promised Son of David, the Messiah, the King of Israel and the future King of Kings. Jesus worked and spoke as He "saw" His Father work and "heard" His Father speak. (John 5:17-19, 30)

Promises Extended to All Believers

Jesus' sacrificial death opened the Holy of Holies to all mankind. Just as the Father dwelt in Jesus through the Holy Spirit, now that same Spirit would dwell in all those who would repent and believe. This is what the Gospel of John goes on to discuss in chapter 3, right after publicly introducing Jesus to Jerusalem by purging the temple:

Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3)

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him.

He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil. (16-19)

Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called "Uncircumcision" by the so-called "Circumcision," which is performed in the flesh by human hands -

Remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.

But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. (Ephesians 2:11-13)

Jesus does not purify to judge but to save. He came and gave His life that all men might be born of the Spirit just as He was the Spirit templed in flesh. His Father sent Him that all men might be adopted as His sons into His eternal Kingdom and inherit the promises made to Israel.

Purification of the Believer

But as the temple of His Holy Spirit, the believing Christian must be purified by Christ just as Jesus cleansed the temple in Jerusalem by driving out the moneychangers. Our bodies must come under the rule of the will of God, accepted as our own, instead of the rule of the flesh which is caught in sin and death. This is done through the indwelling of His Spirit which also imparts eternal life.

But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who indwells you. So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh – for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption, as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself bears witness with OUT spirit that we are the children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs' of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him. (Romans 8:11-17)

Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are. (I Corinthians 3:16-17)

Flee immorality. (porneia in Greek) Every other sin that a man com­mits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body. (I Corinthians 6:18-20)

Abraham was a type of the Father. The promise or covenant upon which the eternal lives of the saints are based was originally made to him, and so, in faith we become Abraham's sons as well. Abraham's covenant becomes new in that it is born within us through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. We are joined to Christ the covenant of marriage:

And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 3:29)

Jesus closed His ministry by purging the temple again just prior to His crucifixion. This was symbolic of His prophesied second coming as well as proof of His continual concern and effort to purify the church as the temple of God, His own collective body of spirit born believers.

And Jesus entered the temple and cast out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the moneychangers and seats of those who were selling doves. And He said to them,

“It is written, ‘My House shall be called a house of prayer’; but you are making it a robbers den." (Matthew 21:12-13)

As each Christian is a temple of the Holy Spirit, so the Church collectively is the temple of the Spirit. As the spiritual temple of God, the Church is cleansed by the Son, the Messiah and Savior of the Body in preparation for the wedding feast at His second coming.

The Marriage Supper

The Church must be without sin, for God will not dwell in a temple polluted by merchandising nor will the Messiah claim as His Body a wife of Babylonian harlotry.

For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also in Christ. For Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many. (I Corinthians 12:12-14)

And coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected by men, but choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (I Peter 2:4-5)

For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her; that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless. (Ephesians 5:23, 25-27)

Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the mar­riage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready. And it was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. And he said to me, “Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” (Revelation 19:7-9)

As we have seen earlier in this book, when Jesus returns He will restore the physical temple in Jerusalem with animal sacrifices and the Levitical priesthood. Tithing will be restored to support that priesthood and building. This restoration of the temple is a monumen­tal step in the restoration of all things. It also pictures or foreshadows God's ultimate goal; therefore, Jesus' primary work today is the build­ing of the spiritual temple of His Body, the Church.

A vital part of that construction is the purification of the building materials. The Holy Spirit can only dwell in undefiled sanctuary. Therefore, judgment is continually on the house of God as it reaches towards perfection in faith. This process of purifying the Church is being intensified now as Jesus prepares to return. Once again He is driving the moneychangers out of His Father's house, the Church of God.

When Jesus comes again to His Bride, there will be a great mar­riage supper to celebrate the unity of all believers in the one Kingdom of God. This ultimate goal is prophesied in Revelation 21:22 where the Father, the only Begotten Son, and all the adopted-born sons of God - compose one spiritual temple, which is heaven on earth forever.

Jesus Supported by Free Offerings

While on the earth Jesus supported the payment of tithes to the Levitical priesthood. For His own work, Jesus accepted donations. He accepted them in the form of money, goods and/or services. The money was looked upon as being for Jesus and all of the disciples who traveled with Him: it was for their collective benefit and not just Jesus' money. This is attested by their reaction to Jesus' acceptance of the costly oil used to anoint His head and/or feet.

Now when Jesus was in Bethany, at the home of Simon the leper, a woman came to Him with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume, and she poured it upon His head as He reclined at the table, but the disciples were indignant when they saw this, and said, “Why this waste? For this perfume might have been sold for a high price and the money given to the poor.”

But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you bother the woman? For she has done a good deed to Me. For the poor you have with you always; but you do not always have me. For when she poured this perfume upon my body, she did it to prepare Me for burial.” (Matthew 26:6-12)

Mary therefore took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of His disciples, who was intending to betray Him, said, “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii, and given to the poor (people)?” [This word is added by translators.]

Now he said this, not because he was concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box, he used to pilfer what was put into it.

Jesus therefore said, “Let her alone, in order that she may keep it for the day of My burial. For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have Me.” (John 12:3-8)

Some scholars think that some of the references to the "poor" men­tioned in the gospels actually are referring to wandering groups of religious teachers like Jesus and the disciples. They think it was the name used for the disciples other than the twelve. But there is no doubt that many of the references are to the impoverished and not the followers of Jesus.

Nonetheless, the money Judas held was considered to belong to the entire group. This is evidenced by the disciples' reaction to how the money was spent. Judas had physical possession of the money box which meant that he kept Jesus' and the disciple's collective, as opposed to personal funds.

Out of that money box supplies were bought for their festival observances and other collective needs. This communal practice was continued in the first months of the Church's existence in Jerusalem where the saints had "all things in common." (Acts 2:41-47; 4:32-37)

For some were supposing, because Judas had the money box, that Jesus was saying to him, “Buy the things we have need of for the feast,” or else, that he should give something to the poor. (John 13:29).

Festival expenses were supposed to be covered by the tithe, or "sec­ond" tithe according to some. Were the disciples tithing? If so, on what? They wandered about with no home, and no opportunity to seriously harvest produce. Only occasionally did they even fish. There is nothing in the Bible about tithing on fish caught. Since Jesus did not receive tithes, donations from the public are a probable source of these funds.

When He sent out the twelve and the seventy, Jesus sent them eco­nomically dependent on the support of the community they would serve. This was to teach a spiritual dependence on God who was the source of their power and would supply all their need. This was the instruction that stuck in the minds of the disciples when they began their own ministries in the name of Jesus. They remembered His example, as well, for that was a vital part their primary instruction. Jesus taught in word and in deed.

And He called the twelve together, and gave them power and authority over all the demons, and to heal diseases. And He sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God, and to perform healing.

And He said to them, “Take nothing for your journey, neither a staff, nor a bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not even have two tunics apiece. And whatever house you enter, stay there, and take your leave from there. And as for those who do not receive you, as you go out from that city, shake off the dust from your feet as a testimony against them.”

And departing, they began going about among the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere. (Luke 9:1-6)

Now after this the Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them two ahead of Him to every city and place where He Himself was going to come. And He was saying to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. Go your ways; behold, I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves.” (Luke 10:1-3)

All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:18-20)

Yet with all authority in heaven and earth, Jesus did not take tithes to Himself or command them to His disciples. Neither does He command them to His ministers today.

What was good enough for Him is good enough for His servants. (Compare John 15:20 and Philippians 1:1.) They are to be supported by freewill donations just as He was. It is miserably weak to claim that Jesus' example is not pertinent to this case because He was "under the Law" and the Christian is not. Grace does not make void the Law but establishes it. (Romans 3:31)

The New Testament is the same covenant that was confirmed at Sinai, given to Abraham. (Galatians 3:29) Therefore, Paul taught that the believer follows Jesus' example knowing that he shall be judged by Him according to it:

Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ. (I Corinthians 11:1)

For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suf­fered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps. (I Peter 2:21)

For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, in order that all may honor the Son; even as' they honor the Father. (John 5:22-23)

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