“Then He went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in it,” Luke 19:45
The entire temple complex was considered holy, but it became increasingly more holy as one entered farther in. Beyond Solomon’s Porch was the Outer Court or the Court of the Gentiles. All Gentiles could enter into this court but this was as far as they could go. They were forbidden to go any further. They were excluded from entering into any of the inner courts. Warning signs were posted in Greek and Latin giving notice that the penalty for trespassing was death. The Roman government permitted the Jewish authorities to carry out the execution of any Gentile who violated this law.
The creation and designation of the Court of the Gentiles was a miracle. The Jews permitted the Gentiles, known as “God-fearers,” to have a place in their most sacred building. Gentiles, who acknowledged and worshiped the God of the Jews, were allowed to come and practice their belief in this court. To the Gentiles, God was as real to them in their court as He was in the rest of the inner temple. However, it was easy to see the resentment the Gentiles felt as they considered how they were viewed as “unacceptable” in the eyes of the Jews. The Jews, who considered the people and practices of the Gentiles to be unacceptable, worshiped God in prideful futility. Therefore, God considered their worship to be unacceptable.
One of the practices of temple life was the offering of sacrifices for the restitution of sins. For decades, prior to the reign of King Herod, four markets were located around the Mount of Olives, where birds and other animals were sold to become a sacrifice during the feasts. As pilgrims journeyed to the temple, they would stop at one of these markets to purchase an animal sacrifice to take to the temple for the forgiveness of their sins. Around 30 A.D., Caiaphas, the High Priest, permitted the merchants of these markets to move their markets into the Court of the Gentiles. The Court of the Gentiles became a marketplace. The High Priest’s decision created a greater stumbling block between Jews and Gentiles. Not only were the Gentiles considered an “unacceptable” people to the Jews, the Gentiles felt this unacceptance as they were now inhibited in their ability to worship the God of the Jews. A place of prayer and worship for the Gentiles had become desecrated.
When Jesus made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem during Passover Week, He entered the Court of the Gentiles. This was the part of the temple that He cleansed. Jesus turned over the tables and drove out the merchants and the consumers who had made God’s House of Prayer a den of thieves. Racketeering in the temple was unacceptable to God. The inability of Gentiles to worship the Father could not be overlooked. In this action, Jesus made it perfectly clear that even the “least of these” were created to have access to Almighty God through prayer and devotion.
Are you guilty of finding people unacceptable to God? Do you make people feel they are not welcomed in His house of worship? Do you look at people who are different than you with disdain? Do you accept all people or do you wish certain people would not attend worship because they do not dress or act appropriately? Do you make it difficult for the “least of these” to approach God? If you consider certain people or their actions unacceptable to God, then please know that God finds your attitude and actions unacceptable to Him. Just as Jesus cleansed the temple of unholy practices, He wants to cleanse His people from their sins. If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, will you confess your sin and allow Jesus to cleanse you so you never think less of others as long as you live. The only worship that the Father can and will receive is the worship that comes from a pure heart.