A Den of Thieves


When the Prophet Jeremiah and Jesus talked about the house of God as being a place of robbers or thieves, one commentator said this: “The Hebrew word translated most commonly as “robbers” actually has a more violent meaning to it. It is more akin to “destroyer” and is often used to describe a wild animal. So, when Jeremiah says that the temple has become a den of “robbers,” he is saying that it has become a place full of “violent people.”

When you look at a robber or a thief as a violent person, it suddenly changes the way we see these people in the temple. According to God, their attitudes violently opposed the reason God wanted people to come into the temple to worship and pray.

Matthew 21:13 He said to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves!”

So, is this why Jesus was so upset over the money changers? They charged a fee for people to exchange a Roman coin for money that did not have the image of Caesar on it. Then, that money was used to buy an animal for sacrifice. In all of this exchange, God was being used as a means to use money at the expense of others. The essence of prayer and worship was lost in the steps of this transaction, which was the whole reason people were to gather in the Temple … to worship, pray, and ask God for forgiveness.

We all know that money is at the heart of most crimes and schemes. You have heard it said, “Follow the money” and you will get to the source of almost any issue. Was Jesus against money? No, He used money like everyone else to do commerce in the marketplace, but in the place of worship it was a different matter. Money buys services and products, but God is not impressed by people who use Him to make money.

This has always been a mystery for me as it concerns people who use God for profit. First of all, we are all plagiarists who uses God’s Word to show that we are either smart or clever to sell books or ideas with His Words in it. If any literature quotes the Bible and expands on the ideas that God has already laid out in His Word, are we not profiting from plagiarism? I have always felt, for example, that all Christian authors should say, “the following book is not mine, it is His. It is God’s ideas, God’s concepts, God’s truth, and all I am doing is telling you about Him and His ideas.” That may be a silly idea to you, but for me, I know I have little to be credited for in writing this blog. I use God’s Word as my foundation so there is nothing original with anything I write. When some of the prosperity gospel preachers want more money for their ministries, it’s not because they want to sacrifice more prosperity to feed the poor or to reach the unreached people groups … no, they want to spend more money on their lavish lifestyles. Sell the mansions, jets, and big headquarters and give to the poor and come and follow Me. Isn’t that what Jesus said to the Rich Young Ruler?

Matthew 19:21 Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

These are the words I hear when I see and hear people profiting from being a minister of the gospel. I know that God rewards those who sacrifice here on earth for the opportunity to be able to share the gospel with the unreached. Our lives are not about what we get, but are defined by what we give and sacrifice for Him.

Mark 10 29“Yes,” Jesus replied, “and I assure you that everyone who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or property, for my sake and for the Good News, 30will receive now in return a hundred times as many houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and property—along with persecution. And in the world to come that person will have eternal life. 31But many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then.”

The point Jesus was making is that our lives are not lived for ourselves, but they are lived to honor Him. We honor Him by obeying Him, even if it takes sacrifice to do it:

Matthew 10:39 If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.

I have often wondered if God ever sees our churches as ‘Dens of Thieves.’ Do we only want from God and rarely view ourselves as giving to God? Are we seen as violent people who use God in a scheme to better our lives? Does our Gospel message spend more time in telling people how to get from God rather than giving to Him?

It is a sobering to think about the meaning behind the Den of Thieves … the Hebrew word translated most commonly as “robbers” actually has a more violent meaning to it. It is more akin to “destroyer” and is often used to describe a wild animal. So, when Jeremiah says that the temple has become a den of “robbers,” he is saying that it has become a place full of “violent people.

I leave you with this thought.

Challenging the Culture with Truth … Larry Kutzler


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