Mick Mooney writes a blog post for the Huffington Post where he describes what a modern day Jesus would do. It is written with all the scholarly Biblical knowledge of a high school student. If he wanted accuracy or honesty, he would do well to have his posts checked by competent non-Christians such as Atheist Bart Ehrman or Muslim Reza Aslan (Ehrman styles Jesus as an apocalyptic prophet and Aslan styles him as a Zealot).
One section, though, deserves comment. This section is widely lauded by counter-commentaries. Mooney describes the would-be Jesus overthrowing Church coffee sales:
Worse still, he had walked into their church the previous Sunday and tore down the book store, overturned the tables and threw the cash register through the window, he then made a whip and chased the pastor out of the building, declaring he was turning God’s house into a den of thieves.
There is a shocking huge difference between the 1st century temple and the modern church. For starters, Jerusalem was the site at which God’s power flowed through to the whole Earth. The Holy of Holies served as God’s connection to this world. Jews would converge upon the temple multiple times a year to offer sacrifices to Yahweh in praise. Only the High Priest could ever enter the Holy of Holies and this was once per year, on the day of atonement. The Jewish Temple did not function in the slightest like modern churches.
Likewise, Jesus never roughed up any other Jewish synagogue that is recorded. Jesus only became enraged once he visited the temple in Jerusalem. This is because the transactions happening at the Jerusalem temple were specific to the temple for a very specific purpose. Per Aslan:
The money changers play a vital role in the Temple. For a fee , they will exchange your foul foreign coins for the Hebrew shekel, the only currency permitted by the Temple authorities. The money changers will also collect the half-shekel Temple tax that all adult males must pay to preserve the pomp and spectacle of all you see around you: the mountains of burning incense and the ceaseless sacrifices, the wine libations and the first-fruits offering, the Levite choir belting out psalms of praise and the accompanying orchestra thrumming lyres and banging cymbals. Someone must pay for these necessities. Someone must bear the cost of the burnt offerings that so please the Lord.
With the new currency in hand, you are now free to peruse the pens lining the periphery walls to purchase your sacrifice: a pigeon, a sheep —it depends on the depth of your purse , or the depth of your sins. If the latter transcends the former, do not despair. The money changers are happy to offer the credit you need to enhance your sacrifice. There is a strict legal code regulating the animals that can be purchased for the blessed occasion. They must be free of blemish . Domesticated , not wild. They cannot be beasts of burden. Whether ox or bull or ram or sheep, they must have been reared for this purpose alone. They are not cheap. Why should they be? The sacrifice is the Temple’s primary purpose. It is the very reason for the Temple’s being. The songs, the prayers, the readings— every ritual that takes place here arose in service of this singular and most vital ritual . The blood libation not only wipes away your sins, it cleanses the earth . It feeds the earth, renewing and sustaining it, protecting us all from drought or famine or worse. The cycle of life and death that the Lord in his omnificence has decreed is wholly dependent upon your sacrifice. This is not the time for thrift.
So people were converting images of Caesar into Hebrew coin. They were using this converted money to exchange into token offerings, with little personal effort or sacrifice. Live animals were butchered and burned 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All the while, the merchants received premium profits and the priests got their opulent cut. This was all in the name of giving God sacrifices. The entire ritual of animal sacrifice (a sacrifice meaning to atone for sins and please God) was corrupt from the bottom to the top. This all was taking place in God’s actual house.
We can understand Jesus when he cries out:
Joh 2:16 And He said to those who sold doves, “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!”
When Jesus cried out “Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise”. He was being serious. God had a house (1 Ki 8:13), this was a house in which God was said to dwell in some sort of visible form (1Ki 8:11, Exo 40:35). And the place where God dwelt was being overrun by rampant corruption.
Jesus would not bat an eye at coffee sales in a church. No one is exchanging money to sacrifice to God and atone for sins. There is no pagan currency with the title that the president is god which then needs to be converted to neutral money. God does not dwell in churches. There is no cloud of glory obscuring people’s vision during church. There is no Holy of Holies where God convenes with man once per year. There are no ritual animal sacrifices. Instead, the church is structure with four normal walls. It is a place to hang out. Coffee is refreshment.
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