Den of Thieves

The word “den” never really took off in Australia. As a kid I thought it strange that on T.V. shows like ‘The Brady Bunch’, the Dad would always refer to his “den”. It looked liked an office – but this word “den” was always used. What is a “den”?

According to a “den” is:

  1. 1. the lair or shelter of a wild animal, especially a predatory mammal.
  2. 2. a room, often secluded, in a house or apartment, designed to provide a quiet, comfortable, and informal atmosphere for conversation, reading, writing, etc.
  3. 3. a cave used as a place of shelter or concealment.
  4. 4. a squalid or vile abode or place: dens of misery.
  5. 5. one of the units of a cub scout pack, analogous to a patrol in the Boy Scouts.

So, a “den” is a hiding place, or a retreat (in the case of Mr Brady). In which case if we were referring to an Australian context we’d be talking about the “shed”.

When Jesus refers to the religious mob making the Jerusalem temple into a den of robbers, he is, as Campbell Morgan points out, saying that it has become a place to which thieves run when they want to hide. The thieves in question are the chief priests and scribes who used the temple and its religious services to “cover up” their sin and hypocrisy.

With that in mind, if you’re a church goer, how do you treat your church building? Do the people in your community think of your church building as a house of prayer? Are all nations welcomed there? Do you flee to church on Sunday in an attempt to cover up your sins? Do you “go to church” in order to maintain your reputation or to worship and glorify God?