It has been a great month for Oil Vault. I am not referring to anything monetary, but rather the feedback we have received from people and seeing the generosity of people. Along with our donations, it has been amazing to see people’s willingness to donate to military units as well as LDS missionaries throughout the world. There have also been many amazing stories of people sharing how they have been prepared to give a blessing.
It has also been an interesting month, as we have seen a huge spike in anti-Mormon visitors to the website and our Facebook page. As you might have guessed, their feedback and comments (and maybe a few active Mormons as well?) have ranged from mean to malicious. I could go off on a whole tangent on my pet peeve regarding cyber-courage, i.e. people that have all the online courage in the world but would never dare say the things they say online to people in real-life. However, that is a rant for another day.
The one theme that is common throughout their comments is a reference to Matthew 21:12, which states:
Rather than take offense or shoot off some snide comment back to them, I thought I would take this as a learning opportunity to better understand the scriptural reference. I have learned that there are 3 main reasons why Christ cast out the moneychangers.
1) Engraven Images
The moneychangers in the temple used Roman coins when selling their goods in the temple. The Roman coins had the image of Caesar on them. Caesar was promoted as 'god' throughout the countries he controlled. For Jews to barter with Roman coins to purchase goods that were sacrificed in the Temple was tantamount to sacrilege. There is one God for Jews, yet the tension was that the goods for temple sacrifice were being bought by coins with a 'god' figure on them. Remember, the commandment about no engraven images. (Deuteronomy 5:8)
2) Unfair Business Practices
The moneychangers had a captive audience. The Jews were coming to Jerusalem from afar to offer sacrifice, as it was written in the law of Moses. The money changers were charging extortionary prices to those people who had traveled far and needed to purchase an animal for sacrifice.
3) Filth on the Temple Grounds
The animals being sold as sacrifices were held in cages and pens on the temple ground. The animals were soiling the holy ground with their droppings. Imagine the grounds of the temple soiled with droppings under people's sandals and then those people walking into the Temple.
Not only did the animals create filth, but further imagine a street market atmosphere on the temple grounds. It would have been noisy with people yelling and shouting. Not conducive for performing sacred ordinances.
As you can see, it has been quite a doctrinal learning opportunity. While I haven’t sold my soul yet, it has given me a greater understanding of the scriptures as well as a greater appreciation for the beauty and sacredness of the temple.