Jesus had been preaching and performing miracles in Galilee before
traveling to Jerusalem for the Passover. Going into the temple,
Jesus found that people had moved their businesses into the temple.
They were selling oxen, sheep, and doves. And the moneychangers
were selling their services of changing money.
John recorded Jesus' reaction saying: "When He had made a
whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep
and the oxen, and poured out the changers' money and overturned
the tables. And He said to those who sold doves, 'Take these things
away! Do not make My Father's house a house of merchandise!.' Then
His disciples remembered that it was written, 'Zeal for Your house
has eaten Me up'" (Jn. 2:15-17).
Why was it wrong for people to bring their businesses into the
temple? Weren't they providing a service for the people to worship
God? Why weren't the people satisfied with keeping their businesses
outside the temple?
We are reminded of a basic principle. God instructs us concerning
the things we are to do. And, He does not address all of the possible
"do nots." For example, God had not commanded them to
change money or sell animals for sacrifice in the temple; therefore,
they were not authorized to engage in those activities inside the
temple. Although it was lawful for them to engage in business and
provide these services outside the temple, it was not lawful to
bring their businesses into the temple.
People speak to each other in the same way that God has spoken
to us in His word. For example, a parent tells his child to go and
clean his room. The parent does not go through a list of forbidden
activities (e.g., go outside, eat a snack, watch TV, etc.). If the
child played outside instead of cleaning his room, he disobeyed
Many of us have had children offer an excuse for their disobedience
like: "You didn't say that I wasn't to . . ." The parent's
response is usually like: "I don't have to tell you everything
that you are not to do when I've told you what to do!"
Employers and governments communicate in the same way. Employers
set policies without listing all of the "do nots." And
governments make laws without listing all of the "do nots."
Think about the Old Testament for a minute. There are numerous
examples of people not obeying God by doing something about which
God was silent. Why did God kill Nadab and Abihu (Lev. 10:1-3)?
Because they offered profane fire before the Lord. The Lord had
specified which fire to use, but they offered fire about which He
had said nothing. Why did Uzzah die when He touched the ark (2 Sam.
6:1-6)? Wasn't he trying to save the ark from falling to the ground?
Although he was trying to do something good, he died because they
were transporting the ark on a cart rather than in the way commanded
Jesus was zealous for God's house. Men had defiled the temple by
transgressing God's command and bringing their businesses into the
Today, the house of God is the church (1 Tim. 3:15). And today,
there are people who have made their churches into houses of merchandise
by entering into all kinds of businesses. Some churches transact
business on their church property and some own businesses like restaurants
and software companies.
If Jesus were to come down to earth today, what do you think He