Triumphal Entry To Typically​ Tragic Times: Part One

History Repeats Itself

Matthew 21:8-17

And most of the multitude spread their garments in the road, and others were cutting branches from the trees, and spreading them in the road. And the multitudes going before Him, and those who followed after were crying out, saying, “Hosanna to the Son of David; BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD; Hosanna in the highest!” And when He had entered Jerusalem, all the city was stirred, saying, “Who is this?” And the multitudes were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth in Galilee.” And Jesus entered the temple and cast out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the moneychangers and the seats of those who were selling doves. And He said to them, “It is written, ‘MY HOUSE SHALL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER’; but you are making it a ROBBERS’ DEN.” And the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them. But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that He had done, and the children who were crying out in the temple and saying, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they became indignant, and said to Him, “Do You hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read, ‘OUT OF THE MOUTH OF INFANTS AND NURSING BABES THOU HAST PREPARED PRAISE FOR THYSELF’?” And He left them and went out of the city to Bethany, and lodged there.

Jesus is the True Israel, the New Israel, the True Temple, The New Temple and the King of kings, riding into Jerusalem and approaching the old, but not original, temple, on a donkey.

Jesus has: been born in Bethlehem, the son of Joseph, the son of David, the son of Abraham; fled to Egypt; left Egypt; baptized; tempted for 40 days in the wilderness; given the law on the mountain; chosen 12 men; been rejected east of the Jordan; performed miracles; been tested by his opponents–the footsteps of Jesus mirror those of the Nation Israel. However, Jesus fulfilled all that Israel couldn’t and is victorious and vindicated, he is triumphant and this is why today’s text is called, the “Triumphal Entry.”

At least, this is why it should be called the “Triumphal Entry.” Based upon the prophecy of Zechariah 9, which we considered in my last missive, the people were to, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, Humble, and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

We need to understand however, that the people rejoicing we’re not what constituted this entry as triumphant. We have read, “And most of the multitude spread their garments in the road, and others were cutting branches from the trees, and spreading them in the road. And the multitudes going before Him, and those who followed after were crying out, saying, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David; BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD; Hosanna in the highest!’”

This, while having the appearance of a “Triumphal Entry,” is not what made the entry triumphant. Simply stated, Jesus is the reason that the entry was triumphant. We need to consider the context of Matthew leading up to this point and we also need to understand the hearts of the people and explore our Old Testament tutor.

Let’s look at one of many instances found in Matthew in which Jesus triumphed. “Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world, and their glory; and he said to Him, ‘All these things will I give You, if You fall down and worship me.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Begone, Satan! For it is written, “YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND SERVE HIM ONLY.’” Then the devil left Him; and behold, angels came and began to minister to Him.”

This is the end of Matthew’s account of the temptation of Jesus after he had fasted 40 days and 40 nights in the wilderness. It replicates the nation Israel wandering in the wilderness for 40 years, being tested. Israel failed, repeatedly but Jesus triumphs. 40 days and nights without food and Jesus resists the devil. Talk about a triumph. Imagine what would have happened if he had failed– we’d all be doomed. This theological thread, this sublime string is woven as a theme throughout Matthew. That is, Jesus, the new, true, greater Israel.

This is why the entry of the homeless Jesus, riding on a donkey, with no sword or bow, sitting on a saddle made up of the disciples’ clothes, is triumphal. The people can greatly rejoice, lay down clothes​ and palm branches on the road and yell “Hosanna in the highest” all they want, but it is Jesus who is vindicated and victorious. On occasion, I have been to churches that have palm branches on Palm Sunday. I question this tradition–I know, big surprise, me questioning tradition. My question is; why do we desire to emulate the people, who had it all wrong, rather than the man who had it all right. I suppose that bringing a donkey into church does have a certain expectation of disaster, but still, that is the symbolism, not palm branches. Am I getting ahead of myself again?

Let me put it another way, Jesus fulfilled the prophecy of Zechariah 9 and the people were periphery​. Do not misunderstand, the people were shouting, “Hosanna,” but not because Jesus was fulfilling all that they couldn’t, but because they thought he would have a bow and sword to wage war on Rome. They were shouting “Hosanna” in spite of Zechariah 9. However, now I am really getting ahead of myself.

Context: “Hosanna to the Son of David; BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD; Hosanna in the highest!” We find that the people greatly rejoicing are quoting Psalm, 118, if we take our Vitamin E. Nevertheless, they were taking Psalm 118 out of context. But again, I am getting way ahead of myself.

“And when He had entered Jerusalem, all the city was stirred, saying, ‘Who is this?’ And the multitudes were saying, ‘This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth in Galilee.’ And Jesus entered the temple and cast out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the moneychangers and the seats of those who were selling doves. And He said to them, ‘It is written, “MY HOUSE SHALL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER”; but you are making it a ROBBERS’ DEN.’”

Notice the all-caps qoutes of the Old Testament–they are the reason that I use the NASB translation. They remind us to consider our Old Testament tutor. Isaiah 56; “Even those I will bring to My holy mountain and make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be acceptable on My altar; For My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples.”

Problem; Jesus also quotes Jeremiah 7; “‘Has this house, which is called by My name, become a den of robbers in your sight? Behold, I, even I, have seen it,’ declares the Lord.” But what is the greater context? Notice, “Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, ‘Amend your ways and your deeds, and I will let you dwell in this place. Do not trust in deceptive words, saying, “This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD.” For if you truly amend your ways and your deeds, if you truly practice justice between a man and his neighbor, if you do not oppress the alien, the orphan, or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place, nor walk after other gods to your own ruin, then I will let you dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers forever and ever. Behold, you are trusting in deceptive words to no avail. Will you steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and offer sacrifices to Baal, and walk after other gods that you have not known, then come and stand before Me in this house, which is called by My name, and say, “We are delivered!”—that you may do all these abominations? Has this house, which is called by My name, become a den of robbers in your sight? Behold, I, even I, have seen it,’ declares the LORD. ‘But go now to My place which was in Shiloh, where I made My name dwell at the first, and see what I did to it because of the wickedness of My people Israel. And now, because you have done all these things,’ declares the LORD, ‘and I spoke to you, rising up early and speaking, but you did not hear, and I called you but you did not answer, therefore, I will do to the house which is called by My name, in which you trust, and to the place which I gave you and your fathers, as I did to Shiloh. And I will cast you out of My sight, as I have cast out all your brothers, all the offspring of Ephraim.'”

In the United States, especially in Texas, there is a saying, “remember the Alamo!” That is short for, “remember those that fought to the last man standing in defense of the Alamo and their slaughter.” The Lord, in his book,  has a few similar sayings. We have read one recently; “I will do to the house which is called by My name, in which you trust, and to the place which I gave you and your fathers, as I did to Shiloh. And I will cast you out of My sight, as I have cast out all your brothers, all the offspring of Ephraim.” If I were teaching teenagers, now would be the perfect point fo a pop quiz. Let’s do it– pop quiz; what happened at Shiloh?

Answer, the same thing that happened at Gilgal. Gilgal was the very first place in the promised land where the Israelites camped after crossing the Jordan river. It was where they set up 12 stones to commemorate the crossing and the place where the Ark of the Covenant was first kept. And still now, going back to the beginning of the book of Joshua, I am getting ahead of myself.

Deuteronomy 16:16, “Three times in a year all your males shall appear before the LORD your God in the place which He chooses.” Eventually this would be Jerusalem and the temple, but beginning in Joshua, it was Gilgal and by the end of Joshua, it was Shiloh. The question is, why did it keep changing?

Now that we have worked our way back, we will move forward to figure out how the pieces fit. We simply don’t have the time to thoroughly investigate “Gilgal.” It was not a specific city, but rather represented the first place in the promised land that God chose for his people to “worship” him. In Joshua, it was the place where the 12 stones were set up to remind the Israelites to tell the children what the Lord had done, bringing them “out of Egypt”–sound familiar? But they didn’t do all that the Lord had commanded them and Gilgal became synonymous with Shiloh.

Notice;  Joshua 5:9+10 “Then the LORD said to Joshua, ‘Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.’ So the name of that place is called Gilgal to this day. While the sons of Israel camped at Gilgal, they observed the Passover.” Also notice Hosea; “My people consult their wooden idol, and their diviner’s wand informs them; For a spirit of harlotry has led them astray, And they have played the harlot, departing from their God. They offer sacrifices on the tops of the mountains And burn incense on the hills, Under oak, poplar, and terebinth, Because their shade is pleasant. Therefore your daughters play the harlot. Though you, Israel, play the harlot, Do not let Judah become guilty; Also do not go to Gilgal, Or go up to Beth-aven, And take the oath: “As the LORD lives!” Since Israel is stubborn Like a stubborn heifer, Can the LORD now pasture them Like a lamb in a large field?” And a few chapters later, after more words like, “With their wickedness they make the king glad, And the princes with their lies. They are all adulterers Like an oven heated by the baker, Who ceases to stir up the fire From the kneading of the dough until it is leavened;” “All their evil is at Gilgal; Indeed, I came to hate them there! Because of the wickedness of their deeds I will drive them out of My house! I will love them no more; All their princes are rebels.”

Look at Amos’s prophecy; “For thus says the LORD to the house of Israel, “Seek Me that you may live. But do not resort to Bethel, And do not come to Gilgal, Nor cross over to Beersheba; For Gilgal will certainly go into captivity.” I forgot about Bethel, another example of expelling and extipation. It’s not that I forgot as much as we don’t have time. Feel free to look it up. 

Which brings us back to Shiloh. Jacob blesses Judah in Genesis 49, saying, “The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.” Messianic types, perhaps? Let’s continue to look at Shiloh, which means, “peace,” remembering that Jerusalem means, ironically, “city of peace.”

In Joshua; “Then the whole congregation of the sons of Israel assembled themselves at Shiloh, and set up the tent of meeting there; and the land was subdued before them.” We also read in Joshua, “Then the heads of households of the Levites approached Eleazar the priest and Joshua the son of Nun and the heads of households of the tribes of the sons of Israel. And they spoke to them at Shiloh in the land of Canaan…” They spoke to Eleazar and Joshua at Shiloh because that was their new headquarters, where the Tabernacle was erected that housed the Ark of the Covenant. We also read, “the whole congregation of the sons of Israel gathered themselves at Shiloh, to go up against them in war.” Gilgal was the first holy site in the promised land, Shiloh was the second but both became un-sacred sites.

In 1 Samuel 4, where the Philistines are routing the Israelites in battle, we read the following: “When the people came into the camp, the elders of Israel said, ‘Why has the LORD defeated us today before the Philistines? Let us take to ourselves from Shiloh the ark of the covenant of the LORD, that it may come among us and deliver us from the power of our enemies.’ So the people sent to Shiloh, and from there they carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD of hosts who sits above the cherubim; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God.”

Problem: God didn’t tell them to do that. Bigger problem: God was more than a little displeased with Hophni and Phinehas and their father, Eli the priest, for what they did with regards to the offering in Shiloh. Thus, they all went the way of Gilgal and Shiloh, types of Jerusalem and the temple. Because of the hard hearts and disobedience of the people and priests, God excommunicated them from his presence. Nevertheless, the Ark was returned and eventually found its way to Jerusalem, under David and the temple, under Solomon. But the people were disobedient again and eventually the temple was destroyed and the Ark taken, as prophecied by Jeremiah.

“Will you steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and offer sacrifices to Baal, and walk after other gods that you have not known, then come and stand before Me in this house, which is called by My name, and say, “We are delivered!”—that you may do all these abominations? Has this house, which is called by My name, become a den of robbers in your sight? Behold, I, even I, have seen it,’ declares the LORD. ‘But go now to My place which was in Shiloh, where I made My name dwell at the first, and see what I did to it because of the wickedness of My people Israel. And now, because you have done all these things,’ declares the LORD, ‘and I spoke to you, rising up early and speaking, but you did not hear, and I called you but you did not answer, therefore, I will do to the house which is called by My name, in which you trust, and to the place which I gave you and your fathers, as I did to Shiloh. And I will cast you out of My sight, as I have cast out all your brothers, all the offspring of Ephraim.'”

Remember the Alamo! God did it at Gilgal, he did it at Shiloh and he’s about to do it in Jerusalem–expelling. Because of the people’s behavior and sin, because they wanted to do it their way, God is once again about to make the Ark, which represents his presence, disappear.

Jesus humbly rides in to Jerusalem, with its rebuilt temple, sans The Ark of the Covenant, as people are shouting “Hosanna,” and what does he find? Nothing has changed–bad behavior. Selling doves outside the temple may sound like a small infraction and people praising Jesus with loud Hosannas may seem good, but we are about to see how nothing has changed in Israel–next time. I hope you will return for it because we will see that like the Philistines and the Babylonions, Jesus doesn’t come to expel Rome, but Israel.

 

 

 

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s