Palm Sunday is just a few weeks away. As Jesus came to Jerusalem that first Palm Sunday, many believed that He was riding into the capital city to set up His Kingdom and to reign as a king. They likely expected Him to drive the Romans out, but instead He went to the Temple and drove out those who bought and sold. As He did so, He quoted part of Isaiah 56:7, “Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people.”

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Notice that God had said in Isaiah that the Temple would be a house of prayer for all people. The context of Isaiah 56:7 is that the stranger- the Gentile/non-Jew, would have the joy of praying and worshipping in the Temple. There was actually a special court set apart in the Temple just for the Gentiles. It is believed that this court was the place where the moneychangers and sellers of animals had set up shop.

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Imagine a Gentile traveling from a far country to worship the true God coming into the Temple. He would find the place that was to be set apart for him to pray looking like crazy days on Main Street. No wonder Jesus drove out those who bought and sold.

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I was recently asked how churches justify fundraising activities in their building in light of what Jesus did in the Temple. Since we do not do fundraisers (bakes sales, raffles, etc) I hesitate to say how others justify it, but let me point out that the church building is not the same as the Old Testament Temple. Since the cross of Christ, we no longer have to bring burnt offerings and sacrifices to God’s special house of prayer.

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Some believe that our modern church buildings have actually replaced the Temple but it is actually the believer’s human body that is now God’s special dwelling place. “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” (I Corinthians 3:16)

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The church building is definitely different than the temple, but this brings up another issue. How should the church be financed? Paul said that on the first day of the week (Sunday) God’s people should bring in an offering based on what they had earned throughout the week. “Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.” (I Corinthians 16:2). If Christians would faithfully and consistently bring in a portion of what they earned then the church wouldn‘t need to fundraise. (10% is the literal definition of the word “tithe” and offerings are above that). Malachi 3:8 says, “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.”

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Consider the classic bake sale. After you figure the time and ingredients for the cake, is the church really making much more than if the baker had just given her money? As I consider that many look at these activities for their social, rather than monetary value, let us be reminded that tithes and offerings have effectively financed God’s work for thousands of years. We need not be dependant on fundraisers.