"And the Passover, A Feast of the Jews, Was Nigh"
In John 6;4, and in John 7:2, we learn that the Passover and the other Feasts were now referred to as the feasts of the Jews, and not "the feasts of the Lord." After the rebuilding of the temple and the wall in Ezra and Nehemiah's time, ceremonialism, formalism, hypocrisy, corruption, and greed began their deadly rise in the observance of these feasts; and when Jesus came on the scene, these deadly things were fully and actively at work in the temple. Hence, "the Feasts of the Lord" had become the feasts of the Jews. "The Feasts of the Lord" were to be holy gatherings, they were to be times ordained by the Lord God, which were to prepare His people to receive His Son, The Christ, with a joyful heart; instead, these Feasts had become the feasts of the Jews, and the majority of God's people did not even recognize The One to Which these Feasts had pointed to, and prefigured, for so long.
The very first mention of the Passover in the Gospel of John (John 2:13-22) confirms this for us; for we are told that Jesus "found" in the temple "those" that were making His Father's House "an house of merchandise." 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 then He singled out those who sold doves, and He did this because the doves were supposed to be provided for the poor, either freely given or sold at a very low price. The Lord's own mother could not afford a lamb as an offering for her purification when they brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord (Luke 2:22-24; Lev. 12:8). And He said to them that sold doves, "Take these things hence; make not My Father's House an House of merchandise."
By singling out those who sold doves, the Lord Jesus was gravely saying that the merchandising in the temple had reached the peak of corruption, the cup of iniquity was full. The seriousness of this merchandising, and of all the merchandising among God's people, whether it was in the temple in Jerusalem, or as it is today in most of that which is called Christianity, can be understood only if we trace it back to its root. And that is because the root of merchandising is found in the evil heart of satan himself.
In the Word of God, when the word "merchandise" is used in an evil sense, as our Lord used it in John 2:17, it means to make gain of, to cheat, to use deceitful means and ways, it means unfair and unjust practices. In both the Old and New Testaments, these evil practices are usually taking place among God's people, and most of the time the religious leaders instigated these greedy practices. In 2 Peter 2:3, we find a clear and concise explanation of the word "merchandise," and of how it operates in and through the hearts of men. "... And in their greed, [in their covetousness] they will exploit you with false words ..." This is saying that in the sphere of covetousness, in the sphere of a greedy desire to have more for self, whether it is in the material or spiritual realm, "they" - the false teachers and false religious leaders of each and every age - will, with molded and fabricated false words, make merchandise of you. Second Peter 2:14 tells us that this sphere of covetousness, this sphere of a greedy desire to have more for self, is a heart condition: "having a heart having been exercised of (in) covetousness" (2 Peter 2:14).
Thus, we are led right into the satanic realm. If we look for the origin of this covetousness, the gain for self merchandising spirit that corrupts the heart of man, we will find it in the devilish heart of satan himself. We will find it in Ezekiel 28:11-19 where the prophetic Word of God reaches into the unseen realm of darkness and describes satan's heart as being iniquitous, prideful, full of corrupt wisdom and merchandising: "thou (anointed cherub) ... thou was perfect (spotless) in thy ways ... till iniquity was found in thee. By the multitude of thy merchandise they (thine iniquities) have filled thee with violence, and thou hast sinned ... by the abundance of your trades, your merchandising, you were internally filled with violence, and you sinned, therefore I have cast you out as profane." Second Peter two and Revelation eighteen reveals satan's profane goal in merchandising; HE WAS AND IS MAKING MERCHANDISE OF AND IN THE SOULS OF MEN.
Therefore, when the Lord Jesus, the True Lamb of God went into the temple that Passover season just as He was beginning His earthly journey that would ultimately lead Him to His Cross, He knew full well the evil origin and the ultimate goal behind the merchandising that was corrupting the House of God! He knew full well whose corrupting influence had turned he Feasts of the Lord into the feasts of the Jews. And He was stirred to His very depths: "The zeal of Thine house hath eaten Me up." And with consuming passion and jealously for His Father's House, "He drove them all out... and said: '... make not My Father's House an House of merchandise.' " And, fellow warriors, "let us hear what the Spirit saith," for our Lord's Words not only fell on the ears of the merchandisers, and on the ears of the religious leaders, but these Words registered upon the iniquitous heart of satan. And from that time forward, the deadly battle to stop God's Purpose in the Christ intensified, as satan moved to inspire the religious and political leaders of God's people to do their all to stop the Christ of God from fulfilling all that God had sent Him to accomplish - a deadly battle that would result in the crucifixion of our Lord.
But no matter what the enemy does, God's Purpose can never be stopped, it always proceeds exactly as God planned it would before the foundation of the world. God's True Passover had come, and in Him was "no fault at all" (John 18:38; 19:4, 6). Hence, all that satan inspired against Christ, whether it came through a priest or a scribe or a Pharisee or a Judas, only worked to further God's plan exactly as "It is Written." Now, beloved, we know that most of the religious leaders, and most of the people, did not hear nor heed the Words of our Lord Jesus when He drove out the merchandisers from His Father's House. They did not have "an ear to hear what the Spirit saith" (Matthew 13:14, 15), they continued in their evil merchandising, for if we look ahead to that last Passover season mentioned in the Word of God, we will find that our Lord again drove out the merchandisers from the temple because they had made the house of God "a den of thieves" instead of "the house of prayer" (Matthew 21;10-16).
(continued with # 6)