Bible Reading: Mark 11:1-19
All of us sin…at one time, or another. When we do, the Holy Spirit will convict us about what we have done. Then, we should confess that sin to God, ask Him to forgive us, and repent (not do it anymore). Unfortunately, because we don’t see the proverbial axe fall immediately after we sin…we sometimes think that we have gotten away with it. It is not uncommon for us to then just go about our life as usual…including our Christian life. We go to church. We sing. We do the things that we should do. We think that everything is just fine between us and God. We’ve gotten away with it. When we do that…we are trying to take advantage of the grace of God. But God knows what we have done and God will hold us accountable. In this passage, Jesus makes it clear that when we do that…not only did we sin the first time…but now, because of our obstinate attitude, we have sinned again. Just going to church doesn’t clear things up. It takes a heart broken and repentant because of sin…for there to be forgiveness.
Thoughts about God for My Grandkids:
Can you tell me what the following line is and what it says?
…. .. / – …. .. … / .. … / –. .-. .- -. -.. -.. .- -..
H __ __ __ __ __ __ s G __ __ __ d __ __ __
It is Morse Code and it says, “Hi this is Granddad”. Morse Code is a system of communication that uses a combination of dots (.) and dashes (–) to represent letters. For instance, 4 dots represents “h”, and two dashes and one dot represents “g”. Can you figure out the rest of the letters in the sentence above?
Not only can Morse Code be written, but it can also be used with light and sound. With a flashlight you could make the letter “h” by turning it on and then off, very quickly, 4 times (like 4 dots). You can also make an “h” with sound by making 4 quick beep sounds. A longer flash of light would be a dash and a longer beep would be a dash. Someone who is very good at Morse Code can understand up to 100 words per minute.
Samuel F. Morris developed the Morris Code in 1837. At first, it used electricity for long distance communication. An electrical wire had a device called a “key” connected to each end. When you pressed the key down…depending on how long you held it down…it made a dash, or a dot sound. A person on one end would press down the key to make a dot, or a dash. Then, on the other end, the key would repeat the exact same thing. On that end, a person would listen as the key made dot and dash sounds and translate them into letters. Later, when radios were first developed, they would send the dot and dash sounds through radio signals. This was very important for use with ships, airplanes, and over long distances.
Just like we have abbreviations in English (such as Dr for Doctor), there are abbreviations in Morse Code. One very important Morse Code abbreviation is the distress signal SOS (…—…). It is a call for help when there is danger. Because it was used by ships at sea it is popularly thought to mean, “Save Our Ship”. Other people say it means, “Save Our Souls”. During World War II, the Navy developed other abbreviations so that they could communicate quickly when there was immediate danger. Some of these abbreviations were: SSS (for a submarine attack), RRR (for a surface attack), AAA (for an air attack), and QQQ (for an unknown attacker). You could know Morse Code, but if you didn’t know what the abbreviations meant, you wouldn’t understand what was being communicated to you.
Sometimes, when we read the Bible there are words, or phrases, that are kind of like abbreviations. The Monday before Jesus was crucified (on Friday), He went to the Temple in Jerusalem. What He saw there upset Him very much. There in the Temple, people were buying and selling animals to be used for sacrifices. That wasn’t so bad, in itself. However, the people selling the animals were way overcharging for them. They were taking advantage of people who had traveled long distances to get there. They couldn’t bring their own sacrifice…so they had to buy one. And now, here at the Temple, was their last chance to buy an animal. And these people had raised the prices higher and higher…much more than what the animal was actually worth. There was a second problem. A special kind of money was used only at the Temple and nowhere else. You used this Temple money to make offerings. You had to exchange the money that you normally used…for the Temple money. And again, the people who were the money changers were charging way too much money to make the exchange. This made Jesus angry because they were cheating the people. They were using the Temple to rob people. Jesus said that the Temple was supposed to be a place where people from anywhere in the world could come to pray and worship. But, these people had made it into a “ROBBERS’ DEN”.
Did you notice that I put the words “ROBBERS’ DEN” in capital letters? That is the way it is in the Bible…and there is an important reason. Any time that you see words in the New Testament that are in all capital letters…it means that those words are a quote from the Old Testament. So, that means that Jesus had just quoted the Old Testament. Most Bibles have columns either down the sides or in the middle of the pages. In those columns it will show you where to find the quote in the Old Testament. The quote that Jesus mentioned came from Jeremiah 7:11. He didn’t quote the whole chapter, or even a large part of it. He only quoted one phrase. When He did that…it was sort of like using an abbreviation. When Jesus used those few words…He intended for it to bring the whole passage to mind. If we are going to understand what Jesus meant…then we have to know what the whole passage in Jeremiah meant. If we look at Jeremiah 7, we find out that God was telling the people of Israel that He was angry with them. They did all sorts of evil during the week…then they would come to the Temple for worship and say, “I’m safe. Nothing will happen now.” It was as if they thought there was some kind of magic at the Temple that made it okay for them to sin. All they had to do was come to the Temple…and nothing that they had done, none of the evil, none of the sin…mattered any more. They weren’t coming to the Temple to worship God. Instead, they were treating God like a good luck charm. God said, “Has this house, which is called by My name, become a den of robbers in your sight?” (Jeremiah 7:11). Robbers thought that they could steal and rob people…then run off to the wilderness and hide out in a cave. There they would be safe and could get away with the bad stuff that they had done. They called their hideout a “robbers’ den”.
Jesus was saying that the people at the Temple were doing the same thing. They were doing evil things…and then trying to use the Temple as a hideout, a “robbers’ den”. They thought it was okay…since they were at the Temple. And really, the attitude of these people who were selling animals and exchanging money at the Temple…was the same attitude that most of the people who were coming to the Temple had. They were not really coming to worship God. They were just coming to try to get out of trouble, to keep from being punished for something that they did. When they did that…it was like they were trying to rob God.
We should never do something that we know is wrong, something that is sinful. But when we do, we shouldn’t try to cover it up, or to get away with it. That’s what those people were doing. Instead, we should tell God what we have done and ask Him to forgive us. When we do, God sends us a communication in code…UR4GVN. Did you get it? You are forgiven.
Love you more than bunches and bunches, letters