Thursday, April 24, 2014

No One Knows The Hour (part 11)

It’s worth reviewing what happened when Jesus entered the Temple.  He “drove out all those who were selling and buying in the Temple courts, and turned over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves.  And He said to them, ‘It is written, “My house will be called a house of prayer,” but you are turning it into a den of robbers!’” (Matthew 21:12b-13)  Then, “The blind and the lame came to Him in the Temple courts, and He healed them” (21:14).  This forces another look at Jeremiah, from which Jesus’ words of judgment are lifted, where one can see the Levitical parallels (and stand amazed at all that is going on in Jesus’ words and Matthew’s record) when reading “Change the way you have been living and do what is right.  If you do, I will allow you to continue to live in this land” (7:3b). 

Notice the connection here made by Jeremiah between land and Temple.  By quoting and re-enacting Jeremiah, Jesus would be making the same connection.  Jeremiah goes on to say (and Jesus intends to call to mind) “Stop putting your confidence in the false belief that says, ‘We are safe!  The Temple of the Lord is here!  The Temple of the Lord is here!  The temple of the Lord is here!’  You must change the way you have been living and do what is right.  You must treat one another fairly.  Stop oppressing foreigners who live in your land, children who have lost their fathers, and women who have lost their husbands.  Stop killing innocent people in this land.  Stop paying allegiance to other gods.  That will only bring about your ruin” (7:4-6).  Here, one should note that Jeremiah’s reference to Deuteronomy flows into a concern that Israel not fall into idolatry---worshiping the gods of the people of the land to which the Lord is bringing them. 

Continuing in Jeremiah, and continuing to connect land to Temple: “If you stop doing these things, I will allow you to continue to live in this land which I gave to your ancestors as a lasting possession,” as we note the land and Temple dynamic (7:7).  Jeremiah goes on to say (and again Jesus could just as well have said) “But just look at you!  Your are putting your confidence in a false belief that will not deliver you.  You steal.  Your murder.  You commit adultery.  You lie when you swear on oath.  You sacrifice to the god Baal.  You pay allegiance to other gods whom you have not previously known.  Then you come and stand in My presence in this Temple I have claimed as My own and say, ‘We are safe!’  You think you are so safe that you go on doing all those hateful sins!  Do you think this Temple I have claimed as My own is to be a hideout for robbers?” (7:8-11a) 

So not only has Jesus made reference to the whole of this section of Jeremiah’s seventh chapter while He dramatically acts in the Temple, but situated as it is within Israel’s history, its collective and active memory, and its understanding of past exiles and current subjugation to a foreign power, He calls this to mind again along with the Leviticus passage that Jeremiah seems to also have in mind when He speaks about the demand to love neighbor as self.  To clinch the argument that Jesus’ words are not to be disconnected from His ongoing and primary concern with the Temple as demonstrated in Matthew, it is necessary to point out that this section of Leviticus basically begins with “When you sacrifice a peace offering sacrifice to the Lord, you must sacrifice it so that it is accepted for you” (19:5).  The Temple, of course, was the place of sacrifice.

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