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Pastor's Ponderings: Meandering through Mark 11:15-19 bible study (July 2, 2024)

July 2, 2024:  Tuesday Bible Study on the Gospel of Mark 11:15-19

May the Love of God surround you today,

We have some news for you! Vanessa, Alice's daughter, had her baby Sunday night at TMC. Mom and baby are both doing well. Alice's new grandson is named Elan. Keep this new family in your special prayers today, and in the days, weeks, and months ahead for the Lord’s richest blessings to be theirs, and His gift of new life to be celebrated every day. I am sorry that I am late today, but I had a vascular test run at TMC this morning, and it took a bit longer than I had expected. I will get results from this in a few days. But now, we are on to Mark 11:15-19.

A basic understanding of the size and layout of the Temple Mount may be helpful as we start. The Temple Mount covered an area 1000 feet long by 1300 feet wide.  The space was approximately 30 acres.  So, it was a sizable space. Upon entering the first large area we find that it was called the Court of the Gentiles because Gentiles were allowed to be in that part of the Temple grounds. The penalty for moving into any of the other parts of the Temple was death if you were not a Jew. And with the rest of the Temple there were various courts, which became more restrictive the closer a person got to the court of the priests. We can note that the next court to the Gentiles was for the women, and beyond that the Court of the Israelites where any gatherings of the whole of the Jewish People gathered when called to do so. The very inside court was the Court of the Priests which included the Holy of Holies into which only the Chief Priest for that given year could go to offer the sacrifices that were to be burned on the Altar of God. By the time that Jesus came along, the Gentile Court had become a site for money making and cheating those pilgrims who came to offer their sacrifice to God. They were also the official collectors of the Temple Tax. Whoever came into the Temple, and for whatever purpose, whether it was to make money, or to worship, or even to use the Court of the Gentiles as a short cut for getting through the city, they all had to pay a tax to do so. The Temple Tax was 4 denarii every year for all Jewish people, but if you came from outside of Jerusalem, and you carried foreign money, it had to be exchanged, and the going rate for Money exchanges was about 2 denarii more.  Pilgrims often spent more to get ready to pay their annual tax, than the tax itself by the time the Money exchangers got a hold of them. At this time that amount, 4d, was a half a day wages, so additional costs to get money changed, or to buy a different animal to sacrifice because they were told by the money changers that they were the only ones who could provide them with a truly pure animal, so there was more money to spend.  So, often Pilgrims ended up spending much more than a half a day's wages. It was into this Gentile Court that Jesus came, disgust ed and angry about the cheating that was going on which infuriated Him. So, he drove them out! He also commanded His disciples not to carry their packs into the Temple, out of respect for the original purpose of the Court of the Gentles. It was meant to be a place where Gentiles could experience the rich traditions and teachings of the Elect people, the Jews about their God and their life of faith.  Instead, the outer court of the Gentiles was a place of thievery and other kinds of graft. And by using the Court of the Gentiles as a shortened way to get through the city, the people had lost track of what their faith and God was all about. The Mishna itself had itself spoken of using a short cut through the Temple, instead it required bare feet, no wallet, and "NO Using the Temple for a Shortcut. The outer Court of the Gentiles was blocked off from the rest of the Temple by a very tall wall. It seems that it was always intended as a way to make some "good" money.  It was not what Jesus wanted to see. His Father in Heaven would have been more pleased with the commitment of the pilgrims, and their offerings of true sacrifice and value. Next week I will be on vacation, but I will not be missing any Sundays when I get a chance to offer the truly generous Grace of God for His children to all who keep His Law, and'/or believe in Christ as the Lord and Savior of everything. Thanks for waiting for the late edition today.

With Love in Christ, Pastor Kim

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