| Enoch had
prophesied, saying, "Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy
ones." If Jesus had entered history like that, or had come on a dark night over
Jerusalem in a blazing chariot of fire (like Elijah went up to heaven), then the clamoring
crowds would have accepted and adored Him. But as the poet once said, "They were
looking for a king, to bring salvation nigh, He came a little infant thing, that made a
CLEANSING THE TEMPLE The local folk knew Jesus well. He was the best carpenter in the
nation. But now He had stepped out of bounds. He accepted the nomination of that wild
preacher John the Baptist as the Lamb of God. He had agreed to let the people mount Him on
an ass and enter the city amid cries of "Hosanna." Now He had stirred the city
by routing the moneychangers and cattle dealers from the temple. For almost thirty years
He had watched men desecrate the place. He was outraged at their insolence and greed. He
was disgusted that they had carpeted the temple courts with animal excrement and polluted
the place with the stench of urine.
Each of the Gospels tells of the whipping Christ. But Luke makes a very valuable
difference as he records the events in the life of Jesus. He says that before Jesus had
entered the temple, while He was still entering Jerusalem, He had stopped to weep over the
great city. So we have the "weeping" Christ before we had the
"whipping" Christ. Since He was about His Father's business at twelve years of
age, Jesus had trod the temple courts and had always been grieved and outraged that they
were defiled not just with animal dung, but with red-eyed extortioners, cheating
moneychangers, and cattle dealers.
For thirty years He had been growing in grace and in the knowledge of His Father -- now He
knew His mission! And His explanation for this one-man attack on the sacrilege and
defilement of the house of God is summed up in these words: "Zeal for thy house will
consume me." Zeal! What a baptism of this same zeal the weak and wilting Church of
this day needs. Zeal in this context is "love ablaze". Zeal without reason
becomes fanaticism. "Jesus was not a fanatic." Yes, His love was blind to all
the possible dangers of His mission. This love ignores personal safety, disregards the
odds against it, drops "sacrifice" from its vocabulary, requires no crutches,
ignores all danger, is intolerant of sin, but not fanatical. His was no sudden burst of
anger; He had contemplated it all His life, but now the hour had come and men fled before
His whip and holy anger.
SPIRITUAL ECOLOGY "Pollution! Pollution!" cry the ecologists about our food,
air, waters, and our auto emissions. But where, O where are the preachers crying out
against the pollution in the churches? The heart of Jesus was broken over a nation that
had the elect prophets of the Lord as its advisors. But who had heeded these prophets?
They had not dined at kings' tables; they, like their Master, were despised and rejected
of men. Some were men with scorching tongues; but they were also men with weeping eyes.
Ah! but tell me if you can, where are the weeping preachers today?
The cattle dealers in the temple were more interested in selling sacrifices than in
offering them. And so today there are Christians at this very hour fighting feverishly for
some political cause, and yet they are never heated over the wretched filth in their own
church. Will we crusade against uncleanness in the "Church"? If not, better tell
the sleepy saints again to eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we shall be raptured.
"But Jesus will not rapture a ruptured Church!"
THE WORST THING IN THE WORLD There are some frightful tragedies in the world at this
moment. When "wise" men swept aside the Bible, they told us that we would move
into a new freedom for men. These wise men have proved that they are otherwise. Other
smart men put their brains together to make a bomb so that we can turn a living city crisp
in seconds. Then think of the implication of Afghanistan and Iran, the daily bleeding of
millions in Kampuchea, and the masses waiting to leave Cuba. These are horrible things to
contemplate, and yet I think there is one thing infinitely worse. It is a "sick
Church in a dying world".
Never has the great U.S. ever been more broken than today. Broken marriages, leaving
millions of broken homes. Thousands and thousands of teenagers whose minds are broken with
drugs. The people's confidence and trust in the government is broken. The economy is
broken -- the once-mighty dollar is broken. All is broken except the hearts of the
believers. We need broken hearts to face this colossal mess. Weeping is not only in order
in the pulpit; it is commanded! "Let the priests weep between the porch and the
altar...let them howl" (Joel 2:17; 1:13). Jeremiah wept over the sin of Israel. David
wept. Paul wept. John wept. Shall we remain dry-eyed in the most crucial chapter in world
history and in our own?
COUNTERFEIT ZEAL The present lethargy in the Church is almost unpardonable. The Jehovah's
Witnesses have zeal. The Mormons claim they are gaining more people from the evangelicals
than we are gaining from them. The cultists zealously persist in getting a hearing in the
streets. Saul of Tarsus had fanatical zeal. He threw men and women in prison and broke up
their families, persecuting them from city to city. Miraculously God cleansed him,
baptized him with fire, and made him a model zealot for His Kingdom. It is not enough in
these days of such vast worldliness in the Church to say that we are fundamental or
uncompromising in "doctrine." We must be ablaze with Holy Spirit-born anger.
("Be angry, and yet do not sin" (Eph. 4:26).
We must feel the hurt of God over the devil's domination of this age. We must apologize to
the Almighty that we have turned to our own way, and have been more loyal to a man-made
theology than to the exceedingly sober words of our Master. Like Paul, we must be able to
say in His holy presence, "This "one" thing I do...." I bear a broken
heart over the coldness in the Church (including my own!). True, the zealous man of God
lives for one thing only: to please God. He is impervious to the opinions of others about
his zeal. He cares not what it costs him to burn out for God. In sickness or in health, in
poverty or in wealth, whether he is esteemed or despised, flattered or flattened,
considered a fool or a philosopher, through evil report or good report, kisses or curses,
"he is set to do the will of God!"
This man sees the Church today fouled with showmanship, bingo and bake sales, dances,
tinsel and trivia, "holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its
power" (2 Tim. 3:5). He sees the ministers condoning divorce in high places. Maybe
his minister is divorced and remarried himself. Jesus today sees His Church unclean with
disobedience "by a watered-down gospel". We do not obey His commandments to
"love one another," or rejoice to act out Matthew 23:11 - "But the greatest
among you shall be your servant." If there comes a man into the assembly with a gold
ring, we do give him honor (James 2:2). If he has great wealth but little spirituality, he
is still welcomed as a member of the board.
We do not insist that our young preacher boys tarry, (until they get a seminary
diploma? No!) Until they are endued with power from on high!
THE PHARISEE'S PRAYER: The Pharisee who prayed in the temple said, "God, I thank Thee
that I am not like other people: "swindlers, unjust, adulterers." "There
are many so-called Spirit-filled men today, who cannot even pray that prayer!"
"Unjust" they are for sure; they pay low wages and tell their workers that they
are "doing this sacrifice for Jesus." "Adulterers" - there are famous
preachers in this awful category. They, of course, have an explanation for their
infidelity, yet many are accepted at conferences as keynote speakers.
"Extortioners" - the radio preachers almost have this as a monopoly. A $25 Bible
(God's Holy Word) is offered for a $100 gift! Other books are offered at five times their
cost. "You are judging!" someone will say. Correct, I am "told" to
judge (John 7:24). Jesus says, "Judge with righteous judgment." Also I, along
with other true preachers of the Gospel, am a watchman and so have to warn others. Also,
judgment must begin at the house of the Lord."
This "bait" to get money is an abomination. Preachers whine for money over the
radio and television. "For this ministry" they say, and yet much of it is to
sustain their extravagant lifestyle, costly airplanes, and fixing up luxury Bible
conference grounds. And now they have joined the Pharisees who "rob widows'
houses." After emptying your pockets while you live, they ask for your house and
estate after you die. "What next?"
STEALING THE GLORY This is a day of the personality cult. Men on T V. gospel shows are
presented as having given up so much for the Lord. All they gave up with their retirement
from stardom was hell and eternal punishment. Let it be shouted from the housetops that no
man does God a favor. Elegant living, etc. for the rich evangelists proves nothing except
that they have not left all to follow Him. The Spirit-filled need no status symbols.
The flattering introduction for gospel preachers is another great piece of blockage to
revival. John 5:41 and 44 need soul-searching consideration. My heart is burdened and
burning. God's house is polluted. The sinners scoff and say of the rich preachers,
"Their creed is greed and their god is gold." We need a baptism of holy zeal to
get us back to holy indignation that the money grabbers are back in the temple, and that
God's heart is hurting.
The Church began in the Spirit; now She is operating in the flesh. There is no pillar of
fire over the sanctuary. There are no preachers who can hold the hell-bound spell-bound. I
am not sure that it can be proved that Nero fiddled while Rome burned. "It can be
proved that the Church is fiddling while the world is burning!" The one reason that
we do not have revival today is that we are content to live without it. "O for a
generation of believers who can honestly say, "Zeal for Thy house will consume