Cleansing Temple

When David wrote this prophecy of the Messiah in the 69th Psalm, it was not clear what act would lead those who were present, to proclaim their great exuberance of the promised Savior. Here in John chapter 2, we see that it was Jesus in the Temple, taking authority over the structure and the purpose for which it was built, and declaring that this house is not for the merchandizing of God.

For many years, the people of Jerusalem has seen what was happening in the Court of the Gentiles. Sometimes it is easier to just say nothing and not make trouble when we see things that are not right. The people were in fear of the Roman soldiers who were nearby. Should any disturbance take place in the Temple, they might rush in to kill rather than subdue.

As Jesus comes into the Temple on the day that He allowed the people to proclaim Him; “The Son of David,” the Messiah, He wastes no time in showing His authority. This is precisely what we would expect from anyone who would claim to be the fulfillment of the hundreds of Hebrew prophecies of the Messiah. Jesus was making a public statement. He had authority over all the events of the Temple. It was because of Him that this structure was built in the first place. The prophets of old expected the Messiah to appear at the Temple, when He made Himself visible to the world.

Here David describes the Messiah’s zeal for God and a desire to see Him glorified, in all things, that will “eat Him u

Psalms 69:9 “Because zeal for Your house has eaten me up, And the reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on me.”

New Testament Fulfillment:

John 2:15-17 When Jesus had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables. And He said to those who sold doves, “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!” Then His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up.”

“Zeal For Your House”

The court of the Gentiles was an area of the temple that was reserved for the people of other nations who wanted to worship the God of Israel. It has always been the desire of God that all people everywhere could have access to Him and find the forgiveness of their sins and eternal life.

At the edge of the Court of the Gentiles there was a boundary called the Soreg wall where no Gentile could pass.

[1]
The Court of the Gentiles with the Soreg Wall in Red

Each side of the Court of the Gentiles was 750 feet x 750 feet. The Soreg Wall is described by the Jewish historian Josephus as being 5 feet tall. A sign along the center of the Soreg Wall warned each Gentile worshipper of the immediate consequences of passing this boundary.

The Sign above the Soreg Wall translated into English:

“No foreigner may enter within the barricade which surrounds the temple and enclosure. anyone who is caught doing so will have himself to thank for his ensuing death.”[2]
[3]
The “Soreg Wall and Warning”

Unfortunately, by the time that Jesus had come to Jerusalem, the leadership among the Jews had allowed the money changers and those who sold doves and lambs for the temple sacrifice, to inhabit this area that was reserved Gentiles to worship God. When Jesus came into His Father’s house and observed the place reserved for worship, as a place of merchandizing, He was greatly angered.

Jesus made a whip from leather cords and physically removed the sellers from the Court of the Gentiles. He overturned their tables and drove the sellers out, as He instructed and corrected their error. This was Jesus first act after declaring in Jerusalem that He was the Messiah.

John 2:15-17 When Jesus had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables. And He said to those who sold doves, “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!” Then His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up.”

The strength of mind and body that was required to carry out such an act is missing from the brief text of John Chapter 2:15-17. There were many powerful men who could have stood in opposition to Jesus or question His violent actions. No such opposition is recorded in the scriptures, though it is certain that all who observed Jesus—wondered at His power. The Lord of heaven and earth was making a statement, and no creature would oppose Him. Access to God is for all people, and He will not have it impeded by foolish men.

It is interesting that after this event took place, John writes in chapter 2 of his Gospel, that the disciples “remembered” that David had written of the Messiah: Zeal for your house has eaten me up.

John 2:15 …Then His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up.”

Where did John remember this had been written? Psalm 69:9:

Psalms 69:9 “Because zeal for Your house has eaten me up, And the reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on me.”

In this example, we learn that each Old Testament prophecy has a record of fulfillment in the New Testament to validate their application to the Messiah. We notice that it was not until some time after Jesus had accomplished many of these events, that the disciples remembered the Hebrew prophecies. These men had to go back to the words of the prophets and search for the prophecies which Jesus was now fulfilling. Much in the same way that we, today, are comparing what has been written in the Old Testament, hundreds of years before Jesus arrived on the earth—with what He said and did during the 3 1/2 years of His ministry.

Jesus’ Zeal, His passion, His fervor, and the intensity at which He loved His Father, is a clear fulfillment of the prophecy of Psalms 69:9. This is confirmed by this prophecy of David.

A secondary application for this text is found in the second part of Psalms 69:9, The reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on me.

Psalms 69:9 “Because zeal for Your house has eaten me up, And the reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on me.”

This is an interesting statement by David, because Paul quotes these words, in Romans Chapter 15, when speaking of the reproach that Jesus bore for us when He went to the cross.

Romans 15:3-4 For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me.” 4 For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.

We should notice that when attributing Psalms 69:9 to the reproach that Jesus bore for us, Paul states that whatever things were written before, such as this verse from Psalms 69:9, were written for our learning. The purpose of all of these Old Testament prophecies, in which we find their fulfillment in the record of the New Testament, is for the purpose of teaching us who Jesus is. This is so that we can place our complete trust in Him and obtain the forgiveness of our sins and eternal life.


[1] Graphic Illustration by Rob Robinson
[2] From F. F. Bruce. “The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable?” “Notices in Greek and Latin were fastened to the barricade separating the outer from the inner courts, warning Gentiles that death was the penalty for trespass. One of these Greek inscriptions, found at Jerusalem in 1871 by C. S. Clermont-Ganneau, is now housed in Istanbul.” Another, but imperfect, copy was found at Jerusalem some sixty years later; it is in the Rockefeller Museum in Jerusalem.”
[3] Graphic Illustration by Rob Robinson