￼Consider the words of Malachi as he tells us about the arrival of the Messiah. He will come suddenly to the Temple at Jerusalem. Imagine that you are there. It is a day, like any other, and suddenly; you hear the sound of voices as they begin to rise. You turn your head and look into the Court of the Gentiles and you see a man walking from one table to the next, overturning the contents that are upon each stand. The people are frozen in astonishment as they are seeing an event that is unimaginable. No person would dare go into the Temple area in such a manner. To do so would mean arrest and very likely, death.
The presence of Jesus here on this day, was a moment that was predicted in several different Hebrew prophecies. This sudden and violent act by the Carpenter from Nazareth was meant as a sign to those who see it that the arrival of the Messiah was at hand.
When the Messiah comes, He will arrive suddenly at the Temple.
Malachi 3:1b “Behold, I send My messenger, And he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, Will suddenly come to His temple, Even the Messenger of the covenant, In whom you delight. Behold, He is coming,” Says the LORD of hosts
New Testament Fulfillment:
Jesus first Arrival at the Temple:
Luke 2:25-30 And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. So he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said: “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, According to Your word; For my eyes have seen Your salvation…”
Jesus second Arrival at the Temple:
Luke 2:45-47 So when they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking Him. Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers.
Jesus third Arrival at the Temple:
Matthew 21:12-13 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.’ ”
The Arrival of Messiah
It is really unclear which arrival at the temple is being described by Malachi’s prophecy. The likely candidate is Jesus third appearance at the temple, seen in Matthew 21:12-13 when He overturned the tables of the moneychangers. This incident occurred just after His arrival at Jerusalem when He is proclaimed as the Messiah, four days before He was crucified and died for the sins of the world.
Matthew 21:7-11 They brought the donkey and the colt, laid their clothes on them, and set Him on them. And a very great multitude spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: “Hosanna to the Son of David! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’ Hosanna in the highest!” And when He had come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, “Who is this?” So the multitudes said, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee.”
The first act that Jesus performs after He allows Himself to be proclaimed as the Messiah, is to cleanse the Temple.
Matthew 21:12-13 Then Jesus went into the temple of God and drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple…
The other two appearances at the Temple took place before His introduction as the Messiah, which significantly limits the possibility that either of these occasions are the fulfillment of this prophecy of Malachi.
Consider the immensity of this event:
Jesus enters the Court of the Gentiles to find the money changers and sellers of animals for a sacrifice—filling up this section of the temple that had been set aside—specifically for Gentiles to worship God.
Jesus was a strong and powerful man, who had worked with His hands for much of His life in Nazareth as a carpenter. Without pause, He lifts one table after another, overturning the coins, the cages, and the clutter that has filled the House of the Lord. Not a soul stands in opposition—His authority is ominous—His determination absolute.
In this, His first act after the fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy as the Son of Man; Jesus asserts His right as the Messiah to cleanse the House of the Lord and instruct the people in the correct manner in which God is to be honored and worshipped.
From this point in the outer court, no Gentile could safely travel any closer to the Temple itself, without exposing himself to certain death. The Soreg wall separated the Court of the Gentiles from the Inner Court, and Holy of Holies, by an ominous sign—warning any trespasser of the consequences of breaching this barrier.
A sign posted on the Soreg Wall stated:
“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.”
The presence of the moneychangers in this location of the Temple meant that there was little space in the court of the Gentiles to worship God. Added to this serious problem was the tremendous distractions caused by all of the noise and confusion of vendors converting currency and selling animals for the sacrifices that would be brought to the priests.
Often, when foreigners who had traveled great distances, finally arrived at the temple, they would bring their animals to the Court of the Gentiles, where they were met by priests who would evaluate their animals for flaws. If one hair was the wrong color or any feature even slightly irregular, the animal they had brought for their sacrifice would be rejected.
Here in the Court of the Gentiles, merchants had set up tables, where unacceptable animals could be exchanged for those which met the strict requirements for perfection—at a greatly inflated price, of course.
See “Cleansing the Temple,” for more details.
The merchandizing of God’s House; the distractions that were caused by the selling of good; the making of profit from people who simply came to worship God, was totally unacceptable to Jesus. Those who seek to enrich themselves by taking advantage of God’s people are an abomination to the Lord.
Today, in many churches located throughout the United States, there are coffee shops, book stores, a bowling alley, amusement centers, and in some cases, a movie theater. Personally, I have enjoyed having a good cup of coffee in some of the larger churches that I have visited. As long as the focus is on giving people the word of God, and these added features to the church are not a distraction to those who come to hear God’s word, I see nothing wrong with enhancing the wonderful experience of church with the purchase of a latte or good book, before, or after service.
There are, however, some houses of worship where there is a clear intent to merchandise and take advantage of God’s people by offering goods and services at a profit, to those who attend.
Jesus’ concern was in the massive distractions that were occurring in the court of the Gentiles: the high cost of animals for the sacrifice, the large fees associated with converting foreign currency, and the unavailability of space to simply come and worship God.
In fulfillment of Malachi’s prophecy, Jesus comes suddenly to the temple and immediately cleanses it of those who were inappropriately preventing others from having the important experience of worship in the House of the Lord.
 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.”
 Illustration created by Rob Robinson
 “Church keeps the faith with four-lane bowling alley,” By Katie Drews January 22, 2012 8:02PMhttp://www.suntimes.com/news/metro/10171407-418/church-keeps-the-faith-with-four-lane-bowling-alley.html
 The Movie Theater Church, http://www.indymtc.com/#/the-name