It’s important to have the Holy Spirit with us when we’re saved, then we need the Spirit in us to cleanse our temple.

Romans 8:26-27 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

Prayer: communication with God, worship, our life line to God

Our attitude when we come to God in prayer needs to be humble and reverent. If pride is in our heart, we’ll be praying with ourself like the Pharisee in the temple with the publican (Luke 18:11). Pride comes between us and God so our prayer isn’t to God. Our prayer needs to be that God will search us and see if we have any wicked way in us.

Psalm 139:23-24 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

The devil wants to put little foxes in our life that hinder our life with God, but the Spirit helps our infirmities: weaknesses, needs, things that need taken care of. When the Spirit says to do something, we’ll be hindered if we don’t do it. We have to put everything on the altar and be willing to do whatever God wants. If it’s restitution (repaying or returning what we stole), we need to do it. Prayer will be hindered if we have an unforgiving spirit, arguing and problems between husband and wife.

In the beginning of Jesus ministry when he was 30 years old, he found money changers and merchants selling sheep oxen in the outer court of the temple. All the commotion kept the people from worshipping. The temple needed to be cleansed so the people could worship. Jesus made a whip and drove the money changers, merchants and livestock out of the temple. He said not to make his Father’s house a house of merchandise.

John 2:13-17 And the Jews’ passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem, And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables; And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise. And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.

Jesus wants our temple (I Corinthians 3:16) or our life to be a house of prayer so we have a prayer in our heart every day for souls that need help around us. God didn’t deliver us from sin to do evil but so we would be a house of prayer.

Jeremiah 7:8-10 Behold, ye trust in lying words, that cannot profit. Will ye steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense unto Baal, and walk after other gods whom ye know not; And come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, We are delivered to do all these abominations?

If our house is not a house of prayer, it’s because we’ve set up an idol in our house.

Ezekiel 14:3 Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their heart, and put the stumblingblock of their iniquity before their face: should I be enquired of at all by them?

The message is and always has been that we need to repent and turn away from our sins and idols.

Ezekiel 14:6…Repent, and turn yourselves from your idols; and turn away your faces from all your abominations.

On Palm Sunday during the last week of Jesus’ life at 33½ years old, he had to cleanse the temple again because it wasn’t a house of prayer. Jesus had to drive things out because the devil had made the temple a den of thieves.

Matthew 21:6-13 And the disciples…did as Jesus commanded them, And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon. And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches…and strawed them in the way. And the multitudes…cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest. And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this? And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee. And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought…and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and… that sold doves, And said…It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.

The devil wants to steal our joy and our prayer if we don’t drive out what he brings to us. Our testimony is hindered if our temple isn’t a house of prayer and we won’t be concerned about the souls around us that need salvation.

Matthew 21:14 And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them.

Jesus came to look at the temple the first day.

Mark 11:7-11 And they brought the colt to Jesus, and cast their garments on him; and he sat upon him. And many spread their garments in the way: and others cut down branches…and strawed them in the way. And they that went before, and …followed, cried, saying, Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord…Jesus entered into Jerusalem, and into the temple…looked round about upon all things, and…eventide was come, he went out unto Bethany with the twelve.

Jesus came back the next day to cleanse the temple and cast things out. God sometimes deals with us about getting rid of things. He wants to return and cleanse our temple. We have to make sure we don’t have any idols in our temple. Self is the biggest idol people can have. We have to deny self daily so self doesn’t become our idol.

Mark 11:15-17…they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple…to cast out them that sold and bought…overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and…that sold doves; And would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple. And he taught…My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves.

Jesus wept over Jerusalem because of his compassion for the people going about their business but who hadn’t repented.

Luke 19:33-41 And as they were loosing the colt, the owners thereof said…Why loose ye the colt? And they said, The Lord hath need of him. And they brought him to Jesus: and they cast their garments upon the colt, and they set Jesus thereon. And as he went, they spread their clothes in the way. And when he was come nigh…the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen; Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest. And some of the Pharisees…said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples. And he answered…I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out. And when…he beheld the city, and wept over it,

John shows Jesus cleansing the temple at the beginning of his ministry. Matthew, Mark, and Luke tell of the second cleansing. This shows two definite cleansing works: 1. cleansed of committed sins, 2. cleansed of the nature to sin.

Luke 19:45-48 And he went into the temple…to cast out them that sold therein, and them that bought; Saying…My house is the house of prayer: but ye have made it a den of thieves. And he taught daily in the temple. But the…chief of the people sought to destroy him, And could not find what they might do: for all the people were very attentive to hear him.

Ahab did more evil in God’s sight than any of the kings that were before him. He married Jezebel who worshipped Baal and Ashtoreth (male and female gods of rain, fire, sexuality, homosexuality, and fertility). Jezebel had prophets of God killed.

I Kings 16:30-33 And Ahab…did evil in the sight of the Lord above all that were before him. And…took to wife Jezebel …of the Zidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshipped him. And he reared up an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he had built…Ahab did more to provoke the Lord…to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him.

God sent Elijah to hide from Jezebel and made ravens feed him. The raven’s intelligence is comparable to chimpanzees and they can even learn to talk. They eat grains, fruit, fish, rodents, and other birds eggs.

I Kings 17:1-4 And Elijah…said unto Ahab…there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word. And the word of the Lord came…hide thyself by the brook Cherith…and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there.

Ahab had sent searchers to find him so when Elijah came after 3½ years; Obadiah didn’t want to go tell Ahab that he found Elijah. Obadiah was afraid Elijah would run away again but Elijah reassured him that he wouldn’t go away. It hadn’t rain for 3½ years. God wanted the people to see that he controlled the rain, not Baal.

I Kings 18:1…the word of the Lord came to Elijah…Go, shew thyself unto Ahab; and I will send rain upon the earth.

I Kings 18:16-22 So Obadiah went…and told him: and Ahab went to meet Elijah…Ahab said unto him, Art thou he that troubleth Israel? And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou…in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and thou hast followed Baalim. Now…gather to me all Israel unto mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the…four hundred, which eat at Jezebel’s table. So Ahab sent unto all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together unto mount Carmel. And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word. Then said Elijah…I, even I only, remain a prophet of the Lord; but Baal’s prophets are four hundred and fifty men.

Fire is red like blood so the people cut themselves thinking Baal was god of fire and would send fire. People won’t see the true God through us unless we’re a house of prayer. The prophets of Baal prayed from 9am to 3pm but got no answer. God won’t hear us no matter how long we pray if there’s sin in our life. Elijah had to repair the altar before he could use it.

I Kings 18:23-28 Let them therefore give us two bullocks…cut it in pieces, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under…And call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the Lord: and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God. And all the people…said, It is well spoken. And Elijah said unto the prophets of Baal, Choose you one bullock…And they took the bullock…dressed it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered. And they leaped upon the altar…Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked. And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out…

The people recognized that Baal had no power. Elijah only prayed once and the true God sent fire. Elijah had to pray 7 times for the rain to come and at first all the servant saw was a cloud the size of a man’s hand that was far off. That tells us that we need to keep praying even when we don’t see anything happening.

I Kings 18:29-39…Elijah said unto all the people, Come near unto me. And all the people came near unto him. And he repaired the altar of the Lord…put the wood in order, and cut the bullock in pieces, and laid him on the wood, and said, Fill four barrels with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice, and on the wood…And they did it the second time. And he said, Do it the third time…And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah…said, Lord …let it be known this day that thou art God…that I have done all these things at thy word. Hear me…that this people may know that thou art the Lord…that thou hast turned their heart back again. Then the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The Lord, he is the God; the Lord, he is the God.

 

(Notes from the Mature Class Bible Study, teacher Edith Tolbert)