Tuesday, January 8, 2008
Who were the Scribes and Pharisees?
The Pharisees were not the priests, but rather people from all walks of life who were very pious and strict keepers of the Law of Moses. They constantly adjusted the Law to fit the changing world according to their traditions and own desires. Among the more educated of the Pharisees were the rulers of the Jews, and the Scribes, which:
"In the modern sense they [the scribes] were the religious scholars or theologians … sometimes called lawyers … or teacher of the law …could make judicial decisions based on scriptural exegesis, occupied important positions in the Sanhedrin … played a major role in bringing on the crucifixion of Jesus" and they "mainly belonged to the party of the Pharisees" (WYCLIFFE Bible Dictionary, p. 1536).
Jesus called the Scribes and Pharisees, "fools, hypocrites, blind guides, whited sepulchers, murderers, a generation of snakes," and many such epithets. Jesus called them "hypocrites" seven times in one chapter. Jesus spoke with scathing derision to the Scribes and Pharisees throughout His ministry He had a kind word but for very few of them.
And yet countless Christians write and tell me that Jesus never spoke like this or ever said a cruel or angry word in His life. Therefore when I sometimes write with an edge on my voice I am accused of not following the example of Jesus. Oh but Jesus surely did speak harshly, demeaningly, and with great anger in His voice to the Scribes and Pharisees—the religious Leaders of God’s Church. Jesus was not mild and soft-spoken when it came to the sins and hypocrisy of these church leaders. All too many have read the teachings of Jesus with rose-colored glasses covering both their eyes and their minds.
When the Pharisees asked Jesus, "Why do your disciples…?" Jesus didn’t softly answer their question, He rather retorted back with, "Why do YOU…?" Jesus was never on the defensive, but always on the offensive. Using the vernacular, He was "IN - THEIR - FACE!"
Do any believe Jesus was referencing farm animals when He said not to cast pearls or give what is holy to "the DOGS and PIGS?"
Jesus referred to the recalcitrant Jewish leaders as, "an EVIL and ADULTEROUS generation," "SERPENTS and SNAKES," and "children of the DEVIL." Why He even told the Scribes and Pharisees regarding the royal and mighty King Herod: "Go ye, and tell that FOX [that JACKAL]…"
JESUS UPBRAIDS THE CHURCH LEADERS FOR THEIR GROSS SINS
[selections from Matthew 23]
"But WOE unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, HYPOCRITES… FOR YOU SHUT UP THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN AGAINST MEN…
…THEY BIND HEAVY BURDENS and GRIEVOUS to be born, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but will not move them with ONE OF THEIR FINGERS
WOE unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, HYPOCRITES… you DEVOUR WIDOW’S HOUSES… you shall receive the greater damnation.
WOE unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, HYPOCRITES…
WOE unto you, ye BLIND GUIDES…
You FOOLS AND BLIND…
You FOOLS AND BLIND…
WOE unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, HYPOCRITES! You… have omitted… JUDGMENT, MERCY, and FAITH…
You BLIND GUIDES, which strain out a gnat, and SWALLOW A CAMEL.
WOE unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, HYPOCRITES… within they are full of EXTORTION AND EXCESS.
You BLIND PHARISEES…
WOE unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, HYPOCRITES! You are FULL OF DEAD MEN’S BONES, and ALL UNCLEANESS… and HYPOCRISY and INIQUITY…
WOE unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, HYPOCRITES!… you are the children of them which KILLED the prophets. FILL YOU UP then the measure of your fathers.
You SERPENTS, you GENERATION OF SNAKES… you KILL AND CRUCIFY… you SCOURGE in your synagogues… Behold your house is left unto you DESOLATE"!!
WOW! Every one of these comments from Matt. 23 were spoken directly to the "Religious Scholars and Theologians" in the Church of God centered at the Temple in Jerusalem. Would Jesus speak in the same manner to the Religious Scholars and Theologians in God’s Church today? Does Jesus "change"? NO. Has the Church changed in the past 2000 years? YES. It has gotten WORSE.
Now I assure you that I have never personally referred to the religious hypocrites of our day with all the descriptive words that Jesus used. Yet I am "cursed" and "condemned to hell" for merely exposing the heresy of religious leaders and teachers. Positively no one in Christendom would ever sanction such a manner of speech from a minister in their denomination. There isn’t a denomination in all Christendom that would hire Jesus as their Pastor if He were to return today. Why they would throw him out the door on His ear before He got ten minutes into His first sermon. Christians are offended that I would even point out these historical facts of Scripture. They really don’t want to believe Jesus spoke as He did, even though it’s all right there in their Bibles. Most of the followers of the Scribes and Pharisees thought them to be virtually perfect, just as the modern Church scholars, teachers, and preachers are thought by their followers to be perfect.
The Prophet Malachi bears witness of the corruption that came into the Old Covenant Church of God. Jesus dealt with this same corruption while He was building His own New Covenant Church. Just as the Old, the New also quickly began corrupting from within. Hardly a person alive believes that there is more corruption in the 21st century Church of God than in the 1st century Church of God. Get ready for some startling prophecies that prove what evils lurk in our hallowed halls of Christendom.
And except your righteousness far exceed the righteousness of the scholars and theologians in today’s world of Christendom, you shall in no case enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. Below are some Scriptures describing these conditions spilling over from the Jewish leaders into the Church that Jesus built.
VESSELS IN A GREAT HOUSE
Listen carefully, for these prophecies are not directed toward the world of unbelievers, but to the Church of God:
"But in A GREAT HOUSE there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth and some to honor, and some to dishonor" (II Tim. 2:20).
Just what is this "great house" of which Paul speaks? Let Paul answer:
"But if I tarry long, that you may know how you ought to behave yourself in the House of God which is The Church of the Living God, the pillar and ground of the truth" (I Tim. 3:15).
The Apostle Peter tells us that this House of God definitely needs judging:
"For the time is come that JUDGMENT must begin at The House of God…" (I Pet. 4:17).
If the "House of God" needed judgment in the days of the Apostles, how much more judgment does it need today? And what did Paul prophesy would happen in this "GREAT House" in our day, "in the LATTER TIMES?" Let’s read it from the source:
"Now the Spirit speaks expressly, that in the LATTER TIMES some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking LIES IN HYPOCRISY; having their conscience seared with a hot iron" (I Tim. 4:1).
"This, know also, that IN THE LAST DAYS, perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent [without self-control], fierce [brutal], despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady [reckless], high-minded [haughty], lovers of pleasures more than [rather than] lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away… EVER learning, and NEVER able to come to the knowledge of the truth" (II Tim. 3:1-7).
Some Christians naively believe Paul and all these prophecies are speaking of the whole world, of mankind in general. Oh no He isn’t: It is not the atheistic heathen world which has "departed from the faith," who "blaspheme God," who have a "form of godliness," or who have "turned away from such." Oh no. It is the HOUSE OF GOD which has done these things and continues to do them.
For sure Paul didn’t say that the vessels in this great house would wax "better and better." Let Paul answer again by continuing his prophecy in II Tim. 3. We ended with verse 7, so let’s pick it up again in verse 8:
"Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do THESE [these vessels of dishonor in God’s House] also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the truth. But they shall proceed [Gk: ‘increase, advance, grow’] no further [Just as Jannes and Jambres could resist God only so far and no further, so too, will these corrupt-minded reprobates in God’s House cease to deceive God’s church, when God makes all secrets known to all]: for their folly shall be manifest unto all, as theirs [Jannes & Jambres] was." (II Tim. 3:8-9).
Notice Paul’s stern warning:
"For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things to draw away disciples after them" (Acts 20:29-30).
I decided to write this paper after receiving thousands of angry emails condemning my tone of writing and teaching, all from Christians mind you. I was reminded just yesterday by email that I should not be repeating Peter’s words when He said, "…there shall be false teachers among you, who privily [smuggle] shall bring in damnable heresies…" (II Pet. 2:1). I was told this phrase carries a different meaning today from when Peter spoke it. Many warn me of dire consequences if I continue. I am regularly cursed with far worse hard-core, lewd four letter words of filth than I have ever heard in my four years in the U S Army, and these from self-proclaimed followers of Jesus Christ—CHRISTIANS!
The purpose of this paper is not to defend my style of writing, (God only knows that I do not profess to be a scholar, nor a polished orator, nor a man of eloquent words), but to rather see how Jesus really taught in public, to the masses, and particularly to the lying, hypocritical Scribes and Pharisees. We will examine whether Jesus Christ Himself did indeed use sarcasm, exaggeration, caricature, satire, irony, and anger to get across His Gospel Message.
WHO IS IT THAT WILL GET "WORSE & WORSE?"
"Yes, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But EVIL MEN AND SEDUCERS [Gk: ‘imposters’] SHALL WAX [grow] WORSE AND WORSE, deceiving, and being deceived" (II Tim. 3:13).
And just who is it that grows "worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived?" The men and women of the world? The pagans and heathens? Is this what Paul means? Of course not. These are the leaders of the Church.
"Preach the word; [the WHOLE Word of God]; be instant in season, out of season, reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine [Who? The world? The pagans? The atheist? Why they have never had sound doctrine in the first place] but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables" (II Tim. 4:2-4).
The heathen nations of the 21st century are not "turning away from the truth unto fables." They have never as nations had the truth.
Notice also Peter’s stern warning regarding what was happening in the past in his time, and what was prophesied to continue until our time and beyond:
"But there were false prophets [a ‘prophet’ can mean one who speaks in behalf of God’] also among the people, even as there shall be [future] false teachers among you [and among US], who privily shall bring in [Gk: smuggle in] DAMNABLE HERESIES, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And MANY shall follow their pernicious [destructive] ways; by reason of whom the way of the truth shall be evil spoken of [Gk: ‘blasphemed’]" (II Pet. 2:1-2).
At the conclusion of this paper we will take a look at some of these: "FABLES AND DAMNABLE HERESIES" that the Church Fathers and Theologians have substituted over the centuries and down to our day in place of God’s sound doctrines.
Listen: Either conditions in the prophesied Church of today are MUCH WORSE than they were at the time of Jesus and the Apostles, or the prophecies LIE. So which do you believe is true?
"WOE UNTO YOU, SCRIBES AND PHARISEES, HYPOCRITES"
Many times Jesus called the fraudulent religious leaders of the Church, "hypocrites." Here is the definition of a hypocrite:
"One who puts on a false appearance, to hide his real motives, one who feigns, a play actor, a fake, a fraud, a phony."
Jesus loathed the hypocrisy of these religious leaders and saw right through these play-acting fakes and frauds, just like looking through a windowpane.
"FOR HE TAUGHT THEM AS ONE HAVING AUTHORITY"
I fully realize my papers grind on the spirits of those who oppose God’s Word. And well they should. Why shouldn’t we quote the Scriptures with authority--the Scriptures are authority.
"For He [Jesus] taught them as one having AUTHORITY and not as the scribes" (Matt. 7:29).
Jesus got His authority from His Father, and He used it. In fact, the very words He spoke were the words of His Father and not His own (John 17:8), hence the Father too uses sarcasm and anger in teaching us (our Lord and His God have more personality than most have ever imagined). What a broad range of colorful metaphors, parables, and colloquialisms they used. Add to these sarcasm, exaggeration, satire, irony, and true anger, and we have powerful, powerful, persuasive language and teaching.
JESUS TALKED NATURALLY
First, let’s be clear that Jesus did not go around speaking as if He were a performer on a Shakespearean Stage. Jesus did NOT speak in archaic King James English! Jesus never said:
"Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdest thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands and another shall gird thee and carry thee whither thou wouldest not" (John 21:18, King James Version).
No, that is NOT what Jesus said in modern English. That is what He would have said had He been speaking archaic King James English to the residents of England back 1611. But to our ears this archaic English now sounds strange and affected. We no longer speak in archaic King James English. If Jesus were to speak to us today in the English of the 21st century it would sound more like this:
"The truth is when you were young, you were able to do as you liked and go wherever you wanted to; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands and others will direct you and take you where you don’t want to go" (John 21:18, The Living Bible).
Jesus spoke the language of the people, the language of the day. He was natural, He was colloquial, He was precise, He was articulate, He was emotional, He was sincere. Jesus spoke EXACTLY AND PRECISELY as He was inside, because it is a Scriptural truth that, "…out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks" (Matt. 12:34).
First we will look at a few verses which describe Jesus and His ministry. Notice how mellow and tenderly He spoke to the poor and the humble, and how they record the history of His ministry.
Following this section we will contrast it with how He spoke to the religious leaders.
SELECTIONS CONCERNING JESUS—THE HUMBLE SERVANT OF MAN
"I must be about my Father’s business… I must preach the Kingdom of God, for therefore am I sent… God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power: Who went about doing good and healing… Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men… Why call Me good? There is none good but One, that is, God…
Rejoice and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven… You are the light of the world... Love your enemies… I will come and heal him… the Son of Man has not where to lay His head… Daughter, be of good comfort… Son, be of good cheer; your sins be forgiven you… I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life…
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness… Peace I leave with you… love ye one another, as I have loved you… Neither do I condemn you… He departed again into a mountain Himself alone, to pray… Be not afraid only believe… You are My friends… You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and you shall love your neighbor as yourself…
For the Father Himself loves you… In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit… I have spoken openly to the world… Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciple, whom Jesus loved… I have compassion on the multitude… Jesus wept…
Let the little children come to me… Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest…
With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you… he poured water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel… O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often would I have gathered your children together, even as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings… And when they [and Jesus] had sung an hymn…
Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from Me: nevertheless not My will, but Thine, be done… And being in agony He prayed more earnestly: and His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground… Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do… IT IS FINISHED… they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread, Jesus said to them, COME AND DINE" (Excerpts from the Gospels).
Jesus identified with our humanity when He said: "Simon, Simon… Martha, Martha…" Jesus was profoundly human. He was after all, the humble servant as the Son of man. But He was also the wise and powerful Son of God. Jesus spoke gently with the meek, but His speech EXPLODED with the wicked.
It is only when Jesus confronts the religious leaders that His tone of voice and choice of words changes dramatically from how he spoke to the people in general. Jesus came to expose evil and hypocrisy like no one had ever done before. His voice was the "voice of a trumpet." God told Isaiah to:
"Cry ALOUD, SPARE NOT, lift up your voice like a TRUMPET, and show my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins" (Isa. 58:1).
Likewise, as a servant of God I cannot expose the evil and hypocrisy in the Church and in this world with a song in my heart, a smile on my face, and a chuckle in my voice! Sorry, but that won’t get the job done. I laugh considerably more than almost anyone I know. But try to palm off the evil and vile doctrines of the Church to God’s "little ones," and my countenance changes instantly!
There is a time for humor and there is a time to get serious. Sarcasm can be serious business. Well did Isaiah prophesy of such:
"Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us SMOOTH things, prophesy DECEITS" (Isa. 30:10).
I would rather sound a little angry or sarcastic than to teach smooth and deceitful things. Even Isaiah used colorful language, "speak unto us smooth things." Could this be the origin of "smooth talkers?"
I'm not sure why it is automatically assumed that if one sounds angry there is something wrong with his message. When speaking of immoral and evil things that hurt and deceive people, it behooves us to be ANGRY about such things. Anger does not have to be a sin. God’s anger is mentioned a couple of hundreds times in Scripture. Many of the teachings of the Church are not only evil, but they are stupid and foolish. Sarcasm is often the perfect exposer of stupidity.