Saying to them, It is written, My house is the house of prayer: but you have made it a den of thieves.
Our Lord was touched and troubled with a holy indignation as he saw the temple of Jehovah turned into a place of traffic; that which was intended for the approach of the human spirit to God made to serve the purpose of hard bargaining, and even, as we judge from the language of the text, of dishonest dealings. It was a shocking, an intolerable desecration, and, exerting the authority which always resided in him and which he occasionally put into exercise, he drove these hucksters from the sacred place which they were desecrating by their presence and their practices, What places are we now tempted to desecrate?
I. THE SANCTUARY. When, instead of making it a place of worship, of drawing near to God, of speaking to him or for him, of learning something more of his holy will, we make it a place for distinguishing ourselves, or for advertising our respectability, or for gaining enjoyment which is wholly unspiritual.
II. THE HOME. When that which should be the abode of peace, of love, of purity, of fellowship, of tenderness, of gracious ministry, of quiet growth and joy, is turned into a scene of bitterness, of recrimination, of estrangement, of deterioration, of unhappiness.
III. THE PLACE OF BUSINESS. That might be a sphere where valuable virtues and most acceptable graces are manifested and are strengthened - truth, equity, courtesy, honour, courage, sagacity; too often it is nothing better than a sphere in which deceit, low cunning, dishonesty, a mean and miserable selfishness, are sown and reaped bountifully.
IV. THE HUMAN BODY. In our treatment of this bodily frame, so skilfully and so wonderfully made, so nicely adjusted to receive and convey impressions from and to the outside world of man and nature, we may and we should act as if we were dealing with a very sacred thing. By cleanliness, by moderation, by purity; by entertaining through the ear and the eye God's own truth and wisdom; by employing the tongue to speak his love and to sing his praise; by letting the graces of Christian character write themselves, as they will, in lineaments of beauty upon our countenance; by letting our bodies be, as they may be, the very temples of the Holy Ghost (1 Corinthians 6:19), - we may make them worthy and sacred in the sight of God. But when we regard them as mere instruments of gratification, and make them the ministers of sinful and even shameful pleasure, how great is such desecration before God!
V. HUMAN LIFE. It is here that the Holy One most often sees with Divine regret a pitiful desecration. He gave us our life that it might be spent, through all its stages, in sacred service, in spiritual growth, in elevating joy, in excellent preparation for the larger and fuller life beyond. How grievously is it desecrated when it is turned into a time for mere pecuniary acquisition, or for mere fleshly enjoyment, or for mere emptiness and aimlessness of existence!
1. What a pitiful waste is this I and how it will one day be deplored as absolutely irreparable!
2. How perilous to form such evil habits of the soul, every day becoming more fixed l how wise to hear the Master's voice summoning us to noble service, "Why stand ye all the day idle? go, work in my vineyard"! - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: Saying unto them, It is written, My house is the house of prayer: but ye have made it a den of thieves.