REPOST Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought, first posted on July 23, 2016, is provided by Pastor Joshua Kim. Joshua, a graduate of Emory University, Columbia Theological Seminary (M.Div.) and Talbot Theological Seminary (Th.M.) just planted a church in Seattle called “Seattle Upper Room”.
Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend
“Were the Pharisees Always the Bad Guys?”
The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 And He found in the temple those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. 15 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 money changers and overturned their tables; 16 and to those who were selling the doves He said, “Take these things away; stop making My Father’s house a place of business.” 17 His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for Your house will consume me.”
When you study the history of the Jewish people, you might be surprised to find that the often criticized group of the New Testament called the Pharisees had God-honoring intentions when they were first formed. During what is called the intertestamental times (in between the Old and New Testament) or the 400 years of silence, the Pharisees began as a group that sought to maintain the purity of the Jewish faith, while the Jewish people were scattered and under foreign oppression. However, by the time Jesus enters the scene in the New Testament, what started as good intentions soon became religious stubbornness.
You see such effects in today’s passage. It can be argued that the reason why these merchants and money changers were there was to serve those who trekked long distances to pay homage at the temple during holiday seasons such as the Passover. What started as good intentions quickly turned evil and displeasing to the Lord as time passed. Perhaps a lack of checking their hearts or fighting against the temptation of even the smallest of compromises, whatever the reason may be, we see how quickly humans can taint good things.
How are you doing? Are there good practices or honorable ways of doing things that were originally meant for good but due to compromises, arrogance, or lack of reverence, these things have become ineffective or worse, self-serving than God serving?
Tomorrow is the Sabbath, where we gather together as a church body to worship the Lord and minister to each other. It is a good thing. But perhaps to the unchecked life, Sunday worship has become just a routine without the expectation of a true encounter with the living God. Especially for those who are serving, are your intentions pure before the Lord?
More than anything, we need the Holy Spirit’s examination of our hearts on a daily basis:
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts,” writes the psalmist. May this be our prayer today and every day.
Prayer: Father, thank You that You desire for me to be holy more than I do. Please reveal by Your Spirit areas that have become calloused and tainted in my heart, so that these things can be overturned and cleansed from me. And although that process may often be painful and require deep surrender, may I always trust that it is out of Your love for me that You do this. Thank You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Joshua 1-2