Cleansing of the Temple

Cleansing of the Temple – Light out of the Shadows Chapter 4

The disciples looked at the Master with curiosity and amazement. They had never seen him like this before. What was he going to do? He stood in the great door of the Temple, feet spread apart, and breathing deeply as he surveyed the scene. He had climbed the steep paths of Mount Moriah with his disciples in great anticipation. They were approaching the house of God, the Temple of the most High, and the Spirit of God that rested upon him quickened his pulse as they came near to this great symbolic structure. He had just recently defeated Satan and returned from the wilderness in the power of the Spirit. Water had been turned into wine at Cana, and now it was the time of the Passover, and they had gone to Jerusalem to worship. The Passover lamb was to be offered, and this time was especially of much significance to Jesus. He had come to the Temple with great expectation in his heart.

What a disappointment as he stood in the doorway and looked around on this scene of confusion. Oxen were bawling, sheep were bleating, some doves had gotten loose and were flying wildly through the temple seeking a way out, and the stench of manure was nauseating. Men were arguing violently over money, tempers were flaring, and hard words were flying back and forth. Here and there pious pilgrims were vainly seeking a quiet place in which to pray. The Temple priests, oblivious to the confusion, were making a great show of religious form in their long robes and broad phylacteries. Proud Pharisees stood where they could be easily seen and loudly prayed their long and eloquent prayers.

The Purging Prophet

It was this scene that Jesus now surveyed. He looked just outside the door and saw a pile of small cords that had been discarded. Picking them up, he began to braid them into a whip until he had a good sized scourge. He did not speak to his disciples, in fact he seemed to have forgotten them. His jaw was set, and beads of sweat stood out on his forehead. He made a loop on the end of the scourge and looped it around his wrist, took a firm grip on it and stepped forward. A word of caution rose to Andrew’s lips, and he started to reach for the Master to stop him. But James pulled Andrew back and said: “Let him alone, I feel that God is in this.”

Suddenly he was striding among the sheep and cattle, untying them and shouting at them, wielding the scourge, driving them toward the main entrance of the temple. Each time he passed a cage full of doves, he opened the latch, turned it upside down and dumped the doves out. At first the temple merchants did not know what was happening, then there was complete confusion and chaos. Some ran to try to stop the beasts from running outside, but to no avail. Others finally saw who it was that was causing the commotion, and ran to stop him. One grabbed him by the arm and swung him around. There was an anointed glow on his face mixed with the dust and sweat as he turned to face them.

They reeled backward several steps in awe and fear as his voice sounded forth with authority: “Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise!” With that he began turning over the tables of the moneychangers, and piles of coins both foreign and Jewish began to scatter across the temple floor. As coins began rolling about, the merchants frantically chased them here and there, trying to gather up their profits. The multitudes that gathered began to jeer at the merchants on their hands and knees picking up their money, and applauded this courageous young man that had done what many knew should have been done long ago.

Jesus stood on a stairway and began to teach. Part of the disciples were busy helping to get the last of the sheep and doves out of the temple, while John, James, Peter, and a couple others gathered around Jesus as he taught. John whispered to his brother: “I heard the chief priests and scribes talking about killing the Master. We had better stick close to him in case there is trouble.” But there was no trouble. The power of his words held them at bay. “My house shall be called a house of prayer” he said, “but you have made it a den of thieves!,” and he looked boldly in the direction of the chief priests at the edge of the crows. The temple had never before seen such a day as this.

“The Zeal of Thine House”

“The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up!” This word spoken by the Psalmist and quoted again in John 2:17 referred to the Lord Jesus. He was very zealous for the House of the Lord. And why not? He was the one that God had promised David who would come and build the real Temple of God, the living Temple in which God would dwell. Therefore he was zealous also of the temple at Jerusalem, which was a type of that eternal house of God.

Of prime importance in the life and ministry of Jesus was the cleansing of the temple in Jerusalem. When he appeared on the scene, things were in an unclean filthy mess at the temple. Devout Jews were coming from many nations to make their offerings to God. The wicked priests, always ready to make a fast profit, hit on the idea of changing the visitors’ foreign money into Jewish currency at a big gain, telling them that God would not accept their foreign money as an offering. Then they began selling doves and oxen to the pilgrims, telling the pilgrims that God would only accept the “sanctified” animals bought in the temple for an offering. Thus, the priesthood was making merchandise of the house of God until it had truly become “a den of thieves.”

A Scourge of Small Cords

At such a time as this, Jesus made his appearance, and things began to happen. Twice Jesus cleansed the temple, and drove out the animals and money changers. Once in the beginning of his ministry, recorded in John 2:13-17, and again near the close (Mark 11:15, Luke 19:45, Matthew 21:12). It is interesting to note that he not only drove out those that sold, but also those that bought. This may seem strange, but beloved, let me warn you that not only the present day corrupt priesthood who are making merchandise of God’s people, but also those people who flock to them and give them the support to keep going, will be kept out of God’s living Temple.

John says that he made a scourge of small cords. Thank God for the “small cords” today that He is binding together to use as a ministry in His hand to cleanse His Temple. For all that took place in that time is a picture of what God is doing in these last days in the purifying of the house of God.

Ye Are the Temple of God

The Apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:19-22 that we are the true Temple of God, built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ being the Chief corner stone. We are builded together for a habitation of God through the Spirit. We read in 2 Corinthians 6:16 “For ye are the Temple of the living God.” And again in 1 Corinthians 3:16 “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” Verse 17 goes on to say: “If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.”

So we understand that the real Temple of God that Christ is building, is made of living stones, people like you and I. We are told in 1 Peter 2:5 “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” So in order to see the great work of cleansing that God is doing in the last days on His house, we will look at the cleansing of that natural temple, which is a shadow of the real.

“Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me; and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His temple.” (Malachi 3:1) Here the prophet promised a coming of the Lord to those who make the Temple company, those living stones that offer up spiritual sacrifices to God by the Spirit. But he goes on to warn them that his coming would be as a fire, and that he would purge them, and purify them, and they might come to a state of righteousness. His house needs a cleansing, and God is now raising up a Priesthood that shall be fully qualified to do the work. It will not operate under the power of the old order, but it shall have the power of an endless life. It is a Melchisedec order.

The King Priest Ministry

Melchisedec, King of Salem and Priest of the Most High God, is seldom mentioned in scripture. In Genesis, chapter 14 he is shown bringing bread and wine to Abraham after his victorious battle with his enemies. In Psalms chapter 110 we find a prophecy concerning Christ having a priesthood after the order of Melchisedec. And in chapters 5, 6, and 7 of Hebrews the Apostle shows how that this great man was a type of the endless priesthood of Christ. This is the only book in the New Testament that mentions Melchisedec, although the writer of Hebrews tells us that he has many things to say about this man, but hard to be uttered because they were dull of hearing. Truly there are many glorious things about this man’s ministry that the Spirit is bringing forth in these end times. But what was it that was so deep and such a mystery that the Jewish Christians could not understand? He tells them how that Christ Jesus was a priest forever after the order of Melchisedec, operating by the power of an endless life. He tells them that this priesthood does not come by natural birth, and that this priesthood operates beyond the Veil. Then what else is there to it? It sounds simple enough. Then what was the mystery those Jewish Christians could not receive because of their dull hearing? It was the mystery that Paul unveiled to the Gentiles, the mystery that had bee hidden from ages and from generations, of “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” The Jewish church knew that Jesus had ascended on high, and that He was now their High Priest. They could receive this teaching. But they knew little of Christ in His Body, the Church. The mystery of Melchisedec was that this ministry of King-Priest was to operate in a body of people, the complete and mature Body of Christ, the Overcomer who had eaten of the hidden manna, and entered into that beyond the Veil with Jesus the forerunner.

A Royal Priesthood

In Hebrews chapter 7 we read: “For this Melchisedec, King of Salem, Priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; to whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all;” It goes on to say that he was King of righteousness, and King of peace, and being “made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually.” Who is it that is made like unto the Son of God but “them that love God. who are the called according to his purpose,” even those whom God has predestinated to be his “brethren” (Romans 8:28-29), being conformed to the image of His Son. Praise God for this High Calling!

Notice that Melchisedec was both King and Priest. This was not true of the old order of Levi. Priests were never put in as kings, and kings were not allowed to minister in the priest’s office. The two were kept separate. But now we see a new order, a new ministry of never-ending life, a King-Priest ministry.

The Apostle Peter calls us “A chosen generation, a royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2:9). He says that this royal priesthood is a people who have been called out of darkness into His marvelous light, who in times past were not a people, but now are the people of God. There is no mistake as to who he is speaking of. Earlier in the chapter he says that these are the living stones which make up the house of God, and are a holy priesthood.

Kings and Priests unto God

The testimony is given in Revelation 1:6 that Jesus Christ has made us Kings and Priests unto God and His Father. And a new song is sung to the Lamb in Revelation 5:9-10. “Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our God Kings and Priests; and we shall reign on the earth.”

What is the value of a King-Priest ministry? We see a beautiful illustration of this in the Old Testament, which we shall examine in a few minutes. You see, many times Israel would have faithful priests, such as Ezekiel, who would desire to lead the people to God. But because of a wicked king on the throne, the priesthood had no power to function in their calling as they ought. The king dwelled on Mount Zion, and this is where the laws were made, and this is where the authority rested. The Temple was on Mount Moriah, and this is where the priesthood ministered. Zion was the highest hill in Jerusalem, higher than Moriah, and the word of the king was stronger than that of the priest. “Where the word of a king is, there is power; and who may say unto him, What doest thou?” (Ecclesiastes 8:4).

Without the king behind them, the priesthood was powerless to cleanse the Temple, clean up the worship of Israel and have lasting revival. Many kings built groves for themselves, and led the people into idol worship. Ahab and Jezebel, for instance, promoted the worship of Baal. The Levitical priests were powerless to hold back the tide of false religion, and it took a prophet like Elijah to break their stranglehold on Israel.

Hezekiah’s Revival

Now, if you have opportunity to do so, please stop reading this message right here and read 2 Chronicles chapter 29 in your Bible before going any further. Read the entire chapter to get the picture of what happened back there in the cleansing of the temple.

Now that you have read the chapter, I won’t have to quote the entire chapter, which would take up too much space here. But I want to point out some principles which will guide us in our spiritual application. Notice that the temple had fallen into terrible disrepair under King Ahaz, who was a wicked king. Chapter 28 tells us his abominations, and it says that “The Lord brought Judah low because of Ahaz king of Judah.” Ahaz sacrificed unto the gods of Damascus, he cut in pieces the vessels of the house of God, and shut up the doors of the house of the Lord, and made him altars in every corner of Jerusalem. He also made molten images for Baalim.

Now during the time Ahaz was doing this, his young son (Hezekiah) was growing up under the influence of a godly mother. The wife of Ahaz, Abijah, was the daughter of Zechariah. This was not the prophet of the book of Zechariah, as he came along more than a century later. Her father was probably the Zechariah of 2 Chronicles 26:5 who walked in the king’s court and had understanding in the visions of God. At any rate, Hezekiah grew up with a desire to see the house of God restored. But until he came to the throne himself, all he could do was to desire it, and make plans.

Beloved, I want to tell you that there is a people now who are making plans for the cleansing of God’s house. They are destined to sit on the Throne of God, and while yet now in their minority, they are being inspired by the Word of the Lord. Another still sits as the “prince of this world,” but they are getting ready to take over his throne. For his time is short, and he must surely go. Thus saith the Lord! This people have a burning desire to see that glorious church come into existence, without spot or wrinkle. They have seen the great need of God’s people, but have not had the authority needed to bring a full deliverance to creation.

Open the Doors

When Hezekiah came to the throne, he wasted no time. He did not say “Well, now that I am king, I will take a trip around the world, marry some wives, spend some of the money in the royal treasury, get my rewards and have a wonderful marriage supper in the sky.” No, as soon as he received his throneship power and authority, his first concern was for the house of God. He took no trips, and did not worry about rewards or a supper. Verse 3 says that in the FIRST year of his reign, in the FIRST month, he opened the doors of the house of the Lord, and repaired them. First things first. “Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.” (Psalms 24:4) Other places we find praise being the door or entrance into the house of the Lord. In Psalms 100:4 we read: “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise.” There is a real ministry needed to bring back true worship and praise to God’s people. Much form, rituals, and ceremonies (some of it Pentecostal form) have replaced real Spirit anointed praise and worship.

Notice that he opened the doors before the temple ever started getting cleaned out. Just because a church seems to have heavenly services, and Spirit led worship, with many gifts and manifestations in evidence, is no proof that there is no need for a cleansing work in that church. Some have stumbled when they have seen the glory of God manifested in the services, then found a lack of real Christian attributes in the lives of some of the saints. Stumble not. Just pray that God will hasten the breaking forth of this Melchisedec King-Priest ministry.

Into the East Street

The next thing Hezekiah did was to bring the priesthood together into the East street. East speaks of the dawning of a new day. And beloved, this is a new day! A glorious new day! A day when the Priesthood is being brought together to a Kingship authority. No doubt there were priests under Ahaz who had wanted to clean up the house of God, but they did not have the authority. It took the word of a king to make this thing work. Hallelujah!

Notice (verse 5) that first the priesthood had to be sanctified before the house could be sanctified. Yes, there is a work to be done on the ministry, before that ministry shall ever be able to fully cleanse the house of God. Then the command was given to “carry forth the filthiness out of the Holy Place.” Filthiness in the HOLY Place? Surely not! But it was so.

Oh, if we could only see ourselves as through the eyes of a holy God. None would ever be proud, nor vaunt himself arrogantly again. God help us to see that deep in our Holy Place we are full of the abominations of Babylon, and the accumulations of trash and dirt and earthly carnal thoughts and practices. Just as rats and roaches hide in trash and filth, so do evil spirits abide in the darkness of a temple that is full of earthly desires and lusts. All this must be cleaned out before divine order can be restored and the glory of the Lord manifested.

“The Lord hath Chosen You”

Verse 11 tells us that there has been a divine choosing for this work of cleansing. Yes, God is getting a body of Sons ready to move. A company of Kings and Priests are now groaning and travailing, and getting ready to come to the Throne. Goth hath chosen. It is His work. Praise our sovereign Lord! We are to minister unto Him in the Holiest Place, even as the sons of Zadok in chapter 44 of Ezekiel. There is a place not every one shall come to. There is a ministry not everyone shall know. It is for those who are “called, and chosen, and faithful.” It takes us behind the Veil, into the Presence of the Almighty.

But first the Temple must be cleansed. And notice the process, for this is important to us who are involved in this last day ministry, that we might know what is the pattern of the Word. Verse 16 gives us a key picture. Notice that there is a priesthood that goes right down into the Holy Place and digs out the filthiness, then a further ministry of the Levites that carries it from the court out to the brook Kidron.

Uncovering the Hidden Secrets

Yes, God is bringing forth a ministry that will uncover the secrets of men’s hearts, until there will be no hiding place from the face of him that sits upon the Throne. Not only will they have the ministry of the Priest to go right down into the Holy Place and uncover the filthiness, but they will have the authority of the King to deliver the house of that evil. This is the Melchisedec King-Priest order.

Jesus walked right into the holy place of men’s hearts, until no evil deeds or thoughts could be hidden from him. He exposed their secrets, ripped the cover off of their sins, and brought the filthiness to light. And he also had the authority and the life of God to deliver them and set them free. Praise God!

Since we are to be involved in this ministry, and since we are not dealing in this hour with a natural temple with physical dirt and trash, we need to take a practical look at how this ministry is going to operate. Notice that it took eight days to cleanse the house of the Lord. Eight is the number that speaks of the resurrection and a new beginning. Then eight more days and their work is finished. There is a new life and resurrection power behind this ministry. A new beginning for the house of God.

Does It Work?

I want you to see a local church where this ministry is operating. The people come together, and have come into a real spirit of worship and praise as the doors of the temple are opened in the Holy Ghost. But there is yet much to be cleansed from the hearts and lives of those who make up the temple of God. See them as the Holy Ghost begins to sweep over the congregation. Hearts are melting, tears are flowing, praise is going forth unto God.

Then God begins to move forth in a vision. The one God uses as a seer begins to move through the corridors of the life of one of the congregation. He begins to speak forth that which he is seeing, and secrets of the heart are made manifest. The filthiness is brought out of the “holy place” and exposed to the congregation in the outer court. As God speaks, suddenly someone breaks from their seat and falls in the altar, weeping and confessing that they are guilty. Then the evil is carried to “Kidron,” as several intercessors gather around one who has been exposed and lay hands upon him to bring deliverance and peace. Soon there is victory, and shouts of praise. God’s house is being cleansed.

I know that we have already seen a measure of just such as this. But it has only been a drop in the bucket. The need is great. We have needed the King-Priest ministry, a greater ministry than we have ever seen, one on the order of Melchisedec. Just such a ministry is scheduled to come to God’s house. There is to be a thorough cleansing. And it is to be real and definite, not just theological suppositions. It is to serve a practical purpose, and do a practical work in lives.

Get In or Get Out

Another illustration. Let us look at Brother Bob who has gotten involved in something that is not holy and clean. But he has hardened his heart against conviction, covers up his sin and goes on to church. During the service, Sister Mary goes to him with tears streaming down her face, and says: “Brother Bob, the Lord shows me that at such and such a time last evening you were involved in such and such activity. The Lord insists that it is imperative that you repent of this and be cleansed of this iniquity.” Well, friend, Brother Bob is going to do one of two things. he is either going to let the spiritual priesthood carry his sin to Kidron, or he is going to take his sin and leave the house of God. Either way, God is going to have a clean house.

Isaiah cried with a prophetic voice when he said: “Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; put on they beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city; for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean” (Isaiah 52:1). Too long have our churches been filled with the uncircumcised in heart, people who have never had a real born again experience. And far too long have unclean spirits run rampant in the most spiritual of churches. There is to be a cleansing. God will have a church without spot or wrinkle. Many cannot believe that this will ever happen on this earth, but I can tell you that right now God is preparing a ministry to bring this about. A King-Priest ministry. A royal priesthood. One that goes beyond the Veil, and comes forth in the power of an endless life.

True Worship Restored

Back to Hezekiah and 2 Chronicles 29. The house has been cleansed, and the vessels prepared and sanctified and put in their place. Divine order is restored. Then in verse 20 they begin to worship the Lord again. What a time! What a revival! Look at verse 27: “And Hezekiah commanded to offer the burnt-offering upon the altar. And when the burnt-offering began, the song of the Lord began also with the trumpets, and with the instruments ordained of David king of Israel.”

The burnt offering speaks of a total death to the flesh and self life. When the burnt offering begins, the song of the Lord begins. And the trumpets sound forth. Talk about preaching! Brother, we will have something to preach about! We will have a perfect church to present to the world, and God will bring them in by the thousands. Babylon will not hold her captives. They will flock to Zion by multitudes. They will find reality and truth, instead of sham and hypocrisy. They will find deliverance and a new life, instead of theological confusion and bondage. There will be singing and rejoicing.

Notice how many times in the rest of the chapter it tells how they praised God and bowed their heads and worshipped. “And they sang praises with gladness, and they bowed their heads and worshipped.” (verse 30) And finally in verse 35: “And also the burnt-offerings were in abundance, with the fat of the peace offerings, and the drink-offerings were in abundance, with the fat of the peace offerings, and the drink-offerings for every burnt-offering. So the service of the house of the Lord was set in order. And Hezekiah rejoiced, and all the people, that God had prepared the people: for the thing was done suddenly.”

Prepare For a Sudden Work

Yes, God will do a quick work. The time is at hand. Get ready. Be prepared. Don’t be caught building up Babylon. And don’t be found at home sulking, refusing to take your place with those people who are moving on in God in this hour. If you are in a place where you have no fellowship in your locality, and are unable to find such a ministry, don’t fret. Rest in God. He knows where you are, and He will take care of you. He will not count you out of His Temple program because of your geographical handicap. Just be yielded in your spirit, and submissive to His will. The Holy Ghost will lead you. But watch and pray. It is at hand.

Bill Britton

Bill Britton

Cleansing of the Temple