Friday, June 18, 2010

The 7 woes of Matthew 23

In my study of Matthew I am now to Chapter 23. The beginning part of this chapter has helped me in the past, but I've not gone further in it until now. In reading the 7 woes it became increasingly clear how they parallel our culture today. And people say the Bible isn't relevant any more! I do not claim to be a Bible scholar or even a good student of the Bible for that matter. What I do have is a desire to know God and his Son Jesus more through reading His word, and then sharing it in hopes that it stirs within someone a desire to know him more as well. So with that being said, here is my thinking on the 7 woes.

  • Woe #1 - "But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in."
The teachers and leaders of the day had made a religion of their own. It became a religion made up of rules and false ideas of what God had established. The religious leadership had added to and taken away so much from God's laws that not only were they not entering the kingdom, but they were keeping those who would enter from entering through their false teachings. How often have we in the past and still continue to make up rules within the church that have no biblical standing? How often do we lay burdens on others that we ourselves do not have to carry because of Christ? Are we missing it? Are we missing Him in our religiosity?

  • Woe #2 - Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.
The teachers and leaders are able to convert some to their way of thinking, and even go to great lengths and faraway places to do so, but in doing so with false teaching they have just converted someone who is destined for the same place they are. There is no Truth in their teaching. How many people have been converted to a wrong way of thinking because of untruths that have been taught throughout generations? How many have been led to believe they are saved without that saving knowledge? How many are feeling good about themselves because of the false teaching of someone who cannot accept the God of scripture?

  • Woe #3 - Woe to you, blind guides, who say, 'If anyone swears by the temple, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.' You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that has made the gold sacred? And you say, 'If anyone swears by the altar, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gift that is on the altar, he is bound by his oath.' You blind men! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? So whoever swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. And whoever swears by the temple swears by it and by him who dwells in it. And whoever swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and by him who sits upon it.
They have it backwards. Their focus is on the superficial and not on the significant. How often do we put our focus on the things man made within our churches and not on the truly important things of God. Our focus is on the simple, while missing the amazing. Our focus is on earth, while missing the heavenly, and in doing so leading others astray in our blindness.

  • Woe #4 - "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!
They did all the right things for all the wrong reasons. They again focused on the rules and missed the blessings. Tithing is important, Yes! But when you focus on the tithing, when you make it all about how much or how little, what should be included in the tithe you have missed the point. Stop focusing on these small matters, focus on what is important to God: Justice, Mercy and Faithfulness. Funny thing, if the latter were focused on the former would not be an issue.

  • Woe #5 - "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.
Don't we all look nice on Sunday? We cover so much with a veneer. We look all shiny and clean, but the heart, the heart! Self indulgence, so much of society today screams this! We want what we want when we want it (My word look at the those "W's"!!). How we try to clean up and make it look right on Sunday, when in fact, just like the leaders of old, our insides are not clean.

  • Woe #6 - "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
Whitewashed tombs. Tombs, they hold dead people don't they? Are our churches whitewashed tombs? Are we? Do we ourselves appear righteous to others, but within are we full of hypocrisy and lawlessness? Are we kidding ourselves? Do we know the drill, and how to talk the talk, but walking it faithfully is a mystery? Are we any different then those Christ is admonishing here?

  • Woe #7 - "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, saying, 'If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.' Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of innocent Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.
How often do we say "We would never have done that"? We are more civilized, more enlightened then our ancestors. In the church how often do we say, when going through a conflict, "we would never do what so and so are doing"? Yet we do. Here the leaders paid homage to the dead prophets, killed by their forefathers. Saying they would never do the same, but at the same time plotting to kill The Christ. How often are we blind to our own hypocrisy?

Church of Jesus Christ WAKE UP! Let go of all that hinders (Hebrews 12:1) and run the race for Him! He is crying out to us too! He longs to gather us as children under his wings. Let God open our eyes and ears so that we can say we have persevered, and are not like the scribes, Pharisees and Hypocrites!

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Mari said...

I have often thought that we are so much like those Pharisees, the ones that I've been so frustrated with while reading about them. We also follow the path of the Israelites in the Old Testament.
Yes - we need that wake up call!

e-Mom said...

Excellent, Kim. One of my profs said the Pharisees were the conservatives of the day... close, but way off in all these ways that Jesus mentioned. He didn't miss a beat. OUCH! ღ

e-Mom said...

Excellent, Kim. One of my profs said the Pharisees were the conservatives of the day... close, but way off in all these ways that Jesus mentioned. He didn't miss a beat. OUCH! ღ

Joanna Jenkins said...

So this makes your 505th post! AWESOME! I take my hat off to you.

I'm a big fan of Mari's too. She's a sweetheart.

Thanks for stopping by my blog. It's nice to meet you. Please stop back again anytime.

Happy weekend,

Shelley said...

Hey lady - thanks for stopping by to say hi my fellow 'stone' friend lol. I also memorized with Bethie last year and it is life to me - so I have to keep on with it and good old John gave me the kick I needed to persevere. I'm loving your thoughts on the Word - I'll be back for more - be blessed - Shelley

Anonymous said...

Just Curious ... why didn't you mention the 8th Woe? Mat. 23:14 "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation."