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  • Henry Omotayo

A Den of Thieves?

Message No. 0716 | Twitter @GodandUs |

I am not a lawyer, but from watching court cases on television, I have concluded that the law has both letters and spirits. While the letter is the plain word written for all to see and read, the spirit is the interpretation of the letter, in order words, explaining what the law really intends. Two people may have committed murder, but they get different punishments because the spirit considers one person to have mistakenly killed, and the other person to have intentionally killed. Sometimes, the letter may have gone further to create smaller subsections, for example, in the case described here, the former would be seen as manslaughter, while the latter would be called murder in the first degree.

The foregoing paragraph certainly suggests that motive is a big factor in deciding cases. Though ignorance is no excuse in the court, if a lawyer can proof, beyond reasonable doubts, that an offence was not intentional, and if the offender shows remorse, the judgement is often milder than if the jury or the judge believes that the offence was premeditated.

In the Old Testament, it was the practice that some worshipers would come into the temple, and because they could not physically transport their sacrifices (for example, animals) to the temple location, they were permitted to sell the items, convert to cash, and come to the temple to buy those animals, in order to make their sacrifices and worship God. Similarly, it was possible that the temple tax needed to be paid and worshipers did not have exact amounts to do the payment, so they would bring their money to the church and change them to the units they needed.

Well, as with other measures and processes, over time, people abuse the system and begin to go beyond what the spirit of a rule or law is. In the temple that Jesus Christ met in His days, the Jews had certainly abused the spirit of buying and selling (of sacrifice animals) and changing of money (to have required fund units for the temple tax), buy making the whole show to become merchandise. They now were selling and changing money for profits, while the primary purpose of going to the temple, to worship God, had taken second position. With this practice, it was no wonder that Jesus got angry in Matthew 21:12-13, and took action:

Then Jesus went into the temple of God and drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. And He said to them, "It is written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer,' but you have made it a 'den of thieves.'"

As with other similar circumstances where we can draw parallels, the worshippers of those days are only a little different from the worshippers of today. There’s of course, no buying and selling of animals in today’s churches, but we have other merchandize that takes place in many church locations. While some business owners see churches as places where they can promote their businesses, others actually bring items to the church to sell.

Again, considering that rules have letters and spirits, we cannot dismiss all business activities in the church as sin, after all, there’s nothing wrong with telling a brother or sister that you are a businessman or woman and asking them to patronize you when possible. The problem begins when our motives begin to shift from coming to church to worship God to coming to advertise our businesses or even conduct sales. If you ordinarily would not have come to church except that you need to see that brother or sister and introduce to, or remind him or her of your business, then it might be easy to conclude that your reason for coming to church is not to worship God.

Our God is loving and caring, but He would not have us have any other god except Him. If our trades and businesses are becoming the object of worship, then we need to repent immediately and find ways to promote our businesses to church members in locations other than the church gatherings. When we come to church to worship God, we must avoid having other things occupy our minds, otherwise it would show that our priorities are somewhere else.

Let us remember that the primary reason believers gather in our churches is to worship and pray to God. If our merchandize begins to distract our fellow worshippers or if a brother or sister would choose to not come to church because they don’t want you to accost them to remind them that they have not patronized you, then you should be really concerned that you could be becoming an active contributor to making the House of God to become a den of thieves.


If you are yet to give your life to Christ, you do not have a covenant with God and His promises do not apply to you. To come under these promises, please surrender your life to Christ today, by praying this prayer:

Lord I know that I am a sinner and I am unable to save myself. I am sorry for my sins and I pray that you please forgive me. I am aware that Your Son Jesus died for my sins and I accept Him as my Lord and savior. I surrender my life unto you from this moment. Please take control of my entire being and help me to be obedient to your Word, going forward. Thank you, Lord, for hearing me. I have prayed in Jesus’ name. Amen.

If you prayed the foregoing prayer, you have just been born again. Please find a Bible believing church in your area and ask to see the pastor. Let him or her know that you have just given your life to Christ and s/he will guide you on next steps in your journey as a child of God. The Lord bless you!


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