Sunday, November 11, 2018

Why Jesus Kicked People Out Of The Temple

This is a well-known story from the Bible that was recorded by the Apostles Matthew and John.
This is one of the incidents in the Bible during the early years of my Christian walk that intrigued me so much that it stayed on my mind a lot. It struck me as kind of bizarre and left gaps in my understanding of things. As with everything else I came across in the Bible and concerning Christianity, I had to venture into my own research and answer each 'why' that swirled around my head concerning such things.

Once it was burned into my heart and mind why Jesus violently chased people out of the temple, I was surprised that I haven’t heard it spoken of before. I began to google around and see what others were saying about this incident. I was not only shocked but disappointed that no one was addressing what had started burning inside me, and there didn’t seem like there was much interest in why Jesus did this either…except what was the obvious surface statement made by Jesus during the incident.
What was really on Jesus mind during this outburst? Was it just about selling in the temple? Why was he so angry?
Temple in Jerusalem during Jesus time

Jesus used a whip. On people. Just let that sink in for a moment. After letting that thought sink in and marinate a little, here’s another one: Jesus used a whip on people in the temple!---In Jerusalem! Oh, and did I not mention that it was during the Passover preparation? Wow, this takes some time to digest, right? I’ll give you a moment to ponder.

Okay, so now that we have gotten our heads around the mental image of Jesus losing his temper and wilding out on people in the holy temple during the preparation of this sacred holiday, let’s figure out why he did it. Let’s talk about what could have gotten the Son of God, the most sinless, peaceful, and the most powerful man to walk our earth, worked up to the point of acting so aggressively. Aside from the knowledge that Jesus drove the moneychangers and merchants out of the temple on two occasions(some scholars argue that it was 3x) in this manner as recorded in the gospels, the scriptures don't record anywhere else that Jesus behaved in such manner, so this appears to be an isolated moment.

During the time of the Passover, there was much economic activity going on in Jerusalem. People traveled to Jerusalem from all over Israel, the surrounding countries and as far as Egypt, Libya and beyond to participate in this important holy day. Animals had to be purchased so that people can make their sacrifices. Also, people came in from all over with different kinds of currency. A traditional money in circulation was the Roman currency which had Caesar’s face on it. Any currency that had someone’s image on it could not be used in the temple, as it was forbidden by Jewish law, and was viewed as a graven image.
Coin of Caesar Augustus during Jesus time
This situation created an opportunity for those that could make some money. Jewish Bankers, called Shulhani, set up shop in the temple courtyard and processed money exchanges. These were called the money changers in the Bible. However, this practice wasn’t the problem. Exchange banking was common at that time, and there were small kiosks built into the temple courtyard for that purpose. Also, the bankers had to collect the annual tribute money of a half shekel, which was required by Jewish law. They also processed the deposits on behalf of the temple for foreigners traveling with large sums of money who needed a safe haven for their money while in town. Bankers were set up all over Israel in various districts that handled these type of activities, but during this holy day activities, they would purchase licenses from the priests to set up in the temple courtyard on the 25th day of Adar, which coincides with our month of March.  The process wasn’t the problem until the greed set in.

In the biblical book of Mathew, 21:12, Jesus accused them of making his father’s house a, “den of thieves.” According to Jewish historical writings, such as the Talmud and the Mishnah, it is well documented the extortionist prices the bankers charged the people who were coming to sacrifice. All fees were jacked up substantially to increase their profits. This means the priests made money on:

1) selling the licenses at high prices,
2) the high interest they charged as bankers to other jews which were illegal according to Jewish law, and
3) overcharging on the animals they sold for the offerings people had to make.
The noted 1st-century historian, Josephus, wrote of the High Priest, Annas’ greed for money. Annas’ five sons, who were also priests, and all eventually became High Priests, set up bazaars, which were markets in the temple courtyard, became bankers to exchange money and sell animals. Their brother-in-law, Caiaphas was the official High Priest, while their father, Annas, acted as the de-facto high priest. Although he had been dismissed as the official high priest, his political power and influence superseded them all. The sons were unstoppable with their father and brother-in-law in charge of everything.  Moreover, they charged people interest on their money and fees ranging from 4-8% on the exchanges, which was again, against Jewish law.
It has been documented the high prices they charged for the dove offerings also. The dove offering was the offering according to the Bible that was sacrificed when the person was poor and couldn’t afford to sacrifice the more pricier lamb or goat. This meant that they were exploiting and cheating the poor---and doing so in the name of God.
These acts infuriated Jesus.

The fact that the High Priests who were the religious and political leadership of Israel, collaborated with bankers to defraud the people, many of whom were poor, was enough for Jesus to become enraged and cast them out of the temple.

Too often in scripture, there are incidents when God, through his prophets, blasted political leaders for economic injustice and condemned their administration. In this incident, Jesus was being consistent with God’s heart throughout history concerning these matters.

To picture the scene in our heads of Jesus turning over tables and chasing people out of the temple, 
there would be images of a person walking through the door, seeing all of the fraud going on, losing their temper, then in a fit of rage, start the rampage. That would naturally be the first thought, right?
However, the incident recorded in John 2:13, says that he made him a whip while there, then proceeded to chase them out and turned over their tables. This was done at the beginning of his ministry, while the other time Jesus chased them out as recorded in Matthew 21:12, was during the last week of his ministry. The last time the incident happened, it doesn’t record him making the whip, but the first time it does. I imagine he didn’t have to make the whip the other time, because he already had one and brought it with him, but that cannot be confirmed, and it isn’t my focus here. My point is that after reading that Jesus made the whip while there, it is evident that this took some contemplation. This act took deliberation and organized thought, not a man simply losing his temper and losing control of his reasoning. When God is angry, it is an intelligent anger, an anger based on principles. The principled anger here being prompted by fraud, extortion, and exploitation of those that are vulnerable. Issues that Jesus vehemently preached against in Matthew 23, of which was forbidden by Levitical laws and were principles that God had been getting worked up over and rebuking for centuries through his Prophets when talking to the political leaders.

 In the account recorded by Matthew, Jesus called them thieves. He wanted all of them out. The priests and the bankers. The Bible records in the Matthew account that from that moment on, the High Priest plotted to kill him. This was Jesus’ last week in his ministry before he was murdered. In other words, from that point, it took less than a week for them to have Jesus killed.

The glaring narrative here is that Jesus stood up to the bankers and the politicians for the economic exploitation and fraud that was exacted upon the masses. In retaliation, the High Priests, the House of Annas, some of whom were bankers, plotted his destruction. Of course, Jesus had his own plan to be killed and be resurrected. However, Jesus was well aware that his time had come and he knew that standing up to the bankers against this shameful, profitable and illegal enterprise would be the straw that broke the camel’s back in causing them to say finally, enough is enough; we must kill this man.

After all, Jesus had done this at a previous Passover, when he first started his ministry. In fact, addressing this economic exploitation in such an aggressive manner, was Jesus' first public act after turning water into wine at the wedding reception. This act served as the opening of his ministerial debut of sorts.  Now, he’s at it again. This meant that this was what the ruling priests could expect from Jesus as the norm each year. This meant that their annual lucrative enterprise was in jeopardy. It was now time for Jesus to go.

Oppressors are not threatened much by protests and rebukes and forms of activism unless it somehow threatens their livelihood. When there is economic oppression, and there is an organized threat that can potentially destroy an oppressors economic grip, then they will strike with everything they have.
Still, that didn’t stop Jesus from attacking them at the beginning of his ministry, nor the end. It didn’t stop God from sending Prophets throughout the history as recorded in the Bible to verbally chastise the political structures of their day. Today, it should not stop, nor intimidate prophets and activists from addressing economic exploitation and oppression. There must be passion and accountability to speak from a higher voice, from a higher value, and from more superior principles, despite opposition. Jesus once said that he who will save his life in this world, will lose it, but he who will lose his life in this world will keep eternal life.
Dr. King picked up on that philosophy and said, “If a man has not discovered something that he would die for, he isn’t fit to live.”
As God is obsessed with Justice, any politician that we support must show evidence that they too are passionate about justice. This includes economic justice, which is too often the first justice to be politically under threat and leads to other forms of injustices. A psalm of Ethan declared, “Justice and Judgement are the habitations of thy throne…”-Psalm 89:14
God's throne is established in  justice. This means that every earthly throne and seat of authority must be established in  justice, which includes economic justice.
We, who identify as Christians, must think and do as Jesus did, and stand up against and confront injustice from those that are in authority. We must call out the Pharisees of our day and openly shame them as Jesus did, despite the fact that they were rulers of Israel and had governmental authority over him. As Jesus did, we operate from a higher authority, God, who demands justice from those in authority.
As Jesus didn't flinch in the face of the backlash, so must we carry His attitude toward these societal ills.
Let us today confront economic systems that exploit and oppress, as Jesus did. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Do You Know How To Get Home?

This world is not my home. I’m just passing through.

As beautiful as this world is, I won’t be here very long.
As fun as it may be, it’ll be just a short stay.
Heaven is my home, but for the short time I am here, I am charged with contributing to its livability; for myself and others, as much as lie within me...just like Jesus did. 

During Jesus' short stay here, he used his power and gifts to relieve pain, suffering, address government issues, and told people how to get home.

Do you think this world is your home? Do you plan to stay long?
How will you tidy your corner?
Are you contributing to its cleanliness, or are you dirtying things up for the rest of us to clean?

Are you making this place as livable as possible, for yourself and for others? Like Jesus did?
Are you telling people how to get home? Do you know how? Do you have directions?
Have you relieved any pain? Any suffering? Is the government upon your shoulder, like Jesus showed us?

Whatever gifts you have; whatever talents you possess, they are not just for you to eat off of; they’re for me too, and the world around you. Are you giving it to the world, or do you keep it for yourself?

Let us do what Jesus did.
Relieve the world of some ills.
Address government issues.
Help people get on the road to home.
It’ll just be a short stay, because…

This world is not our home.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Today Is A Good Day To Do This!

If we did all the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves-Thomas Edison
How many times have we hesitated when confronted with an inspiration to do something that we felt had high impact potential? I’m sure each of us can think of many instances. As a child, however, how many times have we leaped out and done things that we didn’t give much thought to concerning its impact. It is probably taking much longer to come up with many of those instances because it’s possible that it has been a long time since we’ve stepped out without giving thought to the many limitations and possible consequences.
Having experience is usually a commodity in life. Sometimes, however, it can be an impediment to progress and living our dreams. Experience can teach us to limit life and to be afraid.
However, today is a good day to unleash the latches of experience and release the inner child of invincibility and adventure. Take the leap. Follow your dreams. Be who you crave. Astound yourself. Today is a good day to believe in yourself. And while you’re at it---act on those beliefs. You’ll once again experience the child-like exhilaration of being limitless and free!

Sunday, June 24, 2018

2018 Prophecy Concerning The New Global Order

This Prophecy was delivered to me in April of this year 2018. Over the next three to four decades, we will see the unfolding of a new Global order. Some of the words of this prophecy will manifest over the next three to five years. There is a sound in the heavens that will bring about a war in the heavens and an eventual end to an order.

1- Restructuring For Cushites
-         Today God has raised up a destructive leader in America to disrupt the order of things to begin to bring about a readjustment in the world's power structure. God is preparing the groundwork to raise up Cushite peoples around the globe, including in America to affect world policy.

2-      GOD NEEDS oppressed people to influence world policy
-         Religious oppression was at an all-time high in Europe when God moved Europeans to America for the ultimate purpose to bring about a free nation that would help facilitate the freedom not only to serve God in a free manner but to spread that freedom around the globe and be a vehicle for spiritual deliverance. The problem is that America forgot the command God gave Israel about oppressing other people. (Ex.23:9). Israel failed in that command and America failed in that command.

3-      God Will Raise Up New World Powers

-         God has raised up leadership that will bring about a demotion of America and Israel in influence over foreign policy. There is coming a time of confusion on the world stage where a race for influence will ensue and will grow to a boiling point that will allow for new influences on world policy. People of the darker nations will rise in influence over policy within individual nations, then world policy.
-         African nations will grow in influence and Christians will have influence in those nations.
-         There will be small skirmishes and conflicts as nations compete for world domination. While this is happening, there will be an increase in economic, military power and influence among select African Nations, as well as some individual leaders on that continent. There will arise new alliances on their part on the world stage. As many alliances on the world stage change, there will be small conflicts, skirmishes, and confusion. Keep your eye on African Nations that have not only a significant amount of Christians but those that have strong Christian Ministries in them.

4-      White Supremacy

-         Black people will not have to fight white supremacy on its own any longer. There will be a universal approach. A multi-pronged attack from many and diverse kinds of people that will collectively and systematically begin to tear at the whole premise behind white supremacy and privilege, and will challenge the status quo.

5-      Transitions From Western Powers/New Currencies

-         West European Nations will decline significantly in power, with the exception of Germany. There will always be a light in America because of the people of God, but America will no longer be the sole military and economic world power. America will come down just a few pegs. New powerful currencies will arise that will challenge the dollar and thus America's financial dominance.
          There will be much activity in terms of global transitions over the next
           three to four decades.


Saturday, June 16, 2018

A Father’s Day Message To Women And Clergy

Father’s Day, like Mother’s Day, is a day set aside for the nation to honor fatherhood and the influence of fatherhood upon society. As Mother’s Day honors and celebrates motherhood and its influence upon society, these particular days are to honor parents on their respective days.

However, there is a grave breach that has developed over the years with regard to the celebration of these two holidays. The currents of these vicious winds continue to grow as a poison in our society, of which I must address.

While we happily and most passionately celebrate and honor our mothers of society, regardless of those who have faltered in their maternal responsibilities, we have allowed an undercurrent of disrespect of fathers to arise in our community dialogue. While both genders have those who have not lived up to their parental responsibilities, and who have caused damages and breaches within family structures, the vast majority of fathers and mothers fulfill their role honorably.

However, too often the hurt women of our communities, use this holiday to speak rebukes and launch sarcasm of all kinds to fathers they consider to be not living up to what they try to mentally construct as “true fatherhood.”
Every Father’s day, diatribes and sketches arise trying to preach and teach what individuals think what fatherhood should be. The current continues to grow into a dangerous wind that has engulfed clergy and other men who pander to the favor of women and join in during this day to poke at fatherhood.

Yet, on mother’s day, year after year, all clergy go way out to honor and shower overwhelming love to mothers on their day. There can be no voice found on Mother’s day, trying to preach, rebuke, or even teach and mildly correct mothers. It is because it is appropriately known, that this is a day of honor and celebration too and for mothers….not workshop day for mothers. This is not a day for mothers to be sat down in a classroom to be corrected and taught what motherhood is all about. There is all year for that. This day, it is time to celebrate all mothers; regardless of any shortcomings, one may perceive they may have in their maternal performance.

Why is it then, that fathers have been under the whip every father ’s day? Why is it that we are easily taken over by this undercurrent of disrespect of fathers on the day meant to honor us?

On behalf of all the fathers in the earth who hear enough societal lambasting, correction, and rebuke throughout the year;
And on behalf of scores of children who attempt to appropriately honor their fathers on this special day, but are thronged on this day by those mixed societal messages calling for “real fathers” and feel this is the time to try to define what they think fatherhood is all about;
I implore you to stop the disrespect of fathers and their holiday. From the depths of my prophetic voice, I issue a cease and desist order to you.
I humbly petition all clergy who write their father’s day sermons under the influence of this poisonous current to come to a screeching halt and go to God the heavenly father for instructions on how to honor earthly fathers on father’s day.
I ask all women to please take the example of Sonora Sweet Dodd, a woman, founder of Father’s day which originated in Spokane Washington, 1910. This great woman knew the influence of fatherhood, as her father, a civil war veteran, was a single parent who raised 6 kids. She used her womanhood to go around and promote the celebration of fathers when she saw that there was a day honoring mothers.

I also ask you to take the example from Grace Golden Clayton who pushed her church to have the first Father’s Day Service at the William Methodist Episcopal Church South in West Virginia on July 5, 1908.

Ms. Clayton used her pain to bring about a positive outcome. You see, it was after a mining accident the winter before, that killed over five hundred men and instantaneously created almost one thousand fatherless children, that she pushed and helped her Pastor organize a Father’s Day service. Her father, a minister also, died in that accident.

I continue to plead with the women of our communities to follow the example of Maine Senator Margaret Chase Smith who, in 1957, pressured Congress to back a national holiday honoring fathers and who wrote a rebuke to Congress for ignoring fathers.
President Nixon finally signed into law, Father’s Day as a national holiday in 1972.

These women were the forerunners who made this holiday happen. They used their womanhood to help repair societal breaches by promoting the honoring of men, not promoting their individual pain in the denigration of the men of our society. They realized that the foundation of any strong society begins with men and their fathering and that their womanhood is essential in girding up and supporting the male foundation. Actually, its success depends on the support of the women.

Today, great women continue to support the foundation of manhood and its impact on society as a woman such as Diane Sears, United States Coordinator of International Men’s Day, promotes nationally, activities celebrating men’s role in society, as well as promoting good gender relations. Great women such as Cathleen Williams who started and is Coordinator of International Men’s Day in New York continues to influence and impact our family structure in celebrating men’s achievements and promoting men’s health, well-being and good gender relations in the great and influential state of New York.

Women and clergy are in a strategic position and must realize their dialogue must be part of the solution and not the problem. Using the holiday that is designed to honor fathers to denigrate them is not part of the solution, but part of the problem.

On what is now the 46th anniversary of Father’s Day as a national holiday, it is time to be part of the solution.


Wednesday, April 25, 2018

We Can Still Do This

...A just man falleth seven times, and riseth again.-Proverbs 24:16

Have you ever felt that it is too late to accomplish something that you once dreamed?
Have you ever experienced a failed project or two, or three, and resolved within yourself that maybe the project wasn’t meant to be?
Have you ever made an all-out attempt at something and experienced an embarrassing defeat at your attempt?

If any of you have encountered one or more of these questions; well then, this article is for you.

What if I were to tell you that you weren’t supposed to be able to succeed at your first attempt?
Or, that failures, setbacks, and embarrassing mistakes are incidents that are indispensable to our success?
You might be inclined to immediately stop reading, render me a bumbling idiot and move on to something else more interesting to read. Instead of following that impulse, hang out with me for a moment.
Let's just take a trip through life a bit and analyze a few truths.
It could be really cool to be able to accomplish everything I ever tried to do at my first attempt…I think. Well, What if my first attempt as an infant to stand on my feet was successful. What if the pacifier never fell out of my mouth, and if I were able to hold my own bottle the first time. Yes, I could be a prodigy, but if we look more closely at such a phenomenon, I would be a freak of nature and would be handicapped to life’s opposing forces. I would be a cripple, not knowing how to confront the opposite winds normal to everyday life.
The principles of life teach us that opposition brings growth and completion. Opposition brings growth first, then completion.
The same way the toddler will fall several times before fully developing his/her ability to walk, every ability experiences some level of trials before its maturity. A baby has the natural ability to walk. It is in their destiny. It is in their instinct to make the attempts. However, if the child, due to its first or second fall, began refusing to try again because of those falls, we would eventually declare that the child is delayed. It is unnatural to not walk at all when you have the natural ability to do so.
Nature teaches us that every talent we have, whether natural or not, must achieve growth and development through trial and error.  Errors and mistakes are natural. Nothing is achieved without them.
If there wasn’t a universal opposing force to help us grow, then our muscles would never grow or develop through exercising. Our body’s muscles must experience the activity of opposing force in order to grow.
The law of nature teaches us that opposition is necessary for growth.

Life gives us failures as the prerequisites to our successes.
So, it wouldn’t be too cool after all to be denied the power of failure as the tool of our development.
Let us happily and wisely engage our natural tools, confronting them boldly and wielding them, as they were meant, to our advantage. Failures are our friends, not our foes. Henry Ford went broke five times before succeeding. Winston Churchill failed sixth grade and was subsequently defeated in every election thereafter until being elected Prime Minister at age 62. Michael Jordan once said,” I’ve failed over and over again in my life. That’s why I succeed.” Many examples, including these mentioned, teach us that very often, the greater the failures, the greater our ability to eventually succeed.

Remember that the winds don’t always flow with us, in the direction we are heading, to propel us, to assist us in reaching our destination, but we still reach it. I’ve gotten my hat blown off too many times to not realize that truth. Keep in mind that all of the seeds that we plant in the earth do not bud and every act of coitus does not result in conception, even during ovulation.
The frequent stumbles, errors, and annoying mistakes prepare us for our steepest climbs.
Always tell yourself, I can still do this!

Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly-Robert F. Kennedy

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Conversation With God

Conversation With God
By Evangelist Naeem Nasir

Me: God, can I ask You a question?

God: Sure

Me: Promise You won't get mad

God: I promise

Me: Why did You let so much stuff happen to me today?

God: What do u mean?

Me: Well, I woke up late

God: Yes

Me: My car took forever to start

God: Okay

Me: At lunch, they made my sandwich wrong & I had to wait

God: Hmmm

Me: On the way home, my phone went DEAD, just as I picked up a call

God: All right

Me: And on top of it all off, when I got home ~I just want to soak my feet in my new foot massager & relax. BUT it wouldn't work!!! Nothing went right today! Why did You do that?

God: Let me see, the death angel was at your bed this morning & I had to send one of My Angels to battle him for your life. I let you sleep through that.

Me (humbled): OH

GOD: I didn't let your car start because there was a drunk driver on your route that would have hit you if you were on the road.

Me: (ashamed)

God: The first person who made your sandwich today was sick & I didn't want you to catch what they have, I knew you couldn't afford to miss work.

Me (embarrassed): Okay

God: Your phone went dead because the person that was calling was going to give false witness about what you said on that call, I didn't even let you talk to them so you would be covered.

Me (softly): I see God

God: Oh and that foot massager, it had a shortage that was going to throw out all of the power in your house tonight. I didn't think you wanted to be in the dark.

Me: I'm Sorry God

God: Don't be sorry, just learn to Trust Me.... in all things, the Good & the bad.

Me: I will trust You.

God: And don't doubt that My plan for your day is Always Better than your plan.

Me: I won't God. And let me just tell you, God. Thank You for Everything today.

God: You're welcome child. It was just another day being your God and I Love looking after My Children...

By Evangelist Naeem Nasir