WARNINGS AND WOE’S AGAINST ISRAEL’S RELIGIOUS HYPOCRITES #50
If anyone thought Jesus was effeminate or a coward, they have not read this chapter. Jesus is as bold as a lion in His attack on the religious leaders. Although, a multitude is present, He primarily speaks to His disciples about observing the Law, and not to be as the hypocrites, who say and fail to do.
There is no doubt that the four gospels are still in the dispensation of the Law. Jesus said, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:17-20.
Those who have the church beginning with John the Baptist, must strain ant a gnat in order to end the law at the coming of John. It will not work.
Jesus told His disciple to do whatsoever the religious leaders bid them do. Only, do not after their manner. The Pharisees taught the Law, but through tradition and deceit, they did not obey it. They say, but they did not do what they taught.
A hypocrite is an actor or performer. A mask was placed on the two ends of a stick. Each mask represented two different persons. One mask was held over the actors face as he played one person, then the other mask was placed over the face to represent someone else. The Pharisees were actors. The taught one thing and did another.
Not only were they hypocritical in their teaching, they were hypocritical in appearance and status. All they did, was for the praise and admiration of men.
- Dake says, “A small square box containing a parchment or skin (about 1 1/2 x 18 inches) on which were written Ex. 13:1-10; Dt. 6:4-9; 11:13-21. Worn on the arm and forehead by men only. Common people wore them only during prayers, but they were worn continually by the Pharisees who sought to enlarge the boxes so as to attract attention. Jesus did not condemn the wearing of them but the show made of them in public. They became badges of vanity and hypocrisy and amulets to drive away evil spirits.”Dake’s Annotated Reference Bible.
They sought the chief seats, and greetings of “Rabbi, Rabbi” in public. The wickedness was not in the respect, but in the loving and seeking of religious titles. This rebuke is also applied to the Roman Catholic Church; including the Pope. The disciples are forbidden to seek titles, or to call any man father, in the religious sense. Any Catholic who does not understand this, or seeks to justify their religious titles, is blind or is a hypocrite, just as the Pharisees.
Now begins a series of eight woes or condemnations against these religious leaders. The first: The first and second deal with spiritual ambition. People who sought light from them about the Kingdom of Heaven were shut out by their false teaching and traditions. They were the blind, leading the blind. In addition, they took advantage of the grieving widows, and charged them for prayers and religious services. Thus, they are assured greater damnation.
The third woe: that of proselytism. This was not soul-winning, but soul-ruiners. They sought to find men and women who would follow them and their teachings. The finished product was more a child of hell, then themselves.
The fourth woe: externalism. Not only were they blind, they were also stupid. Jesus gave a warning, in His sermon on the mountain, about swearing or making oaths. The religious leaders did not hold a person accountable who swore by the temple. However, if one swore by the gold in the temple, he was a debtor. The same was said of the altar and the sacrifice on the altar. The altar was nothing without the sacrifice, and the sacrifice was nothing without the altar. In every case, the two were inseparably connected. They were blind fools, and could not see the connection between the two.
The fifth woe: the sins of omission. The tithe is a tenth. These hypocrites paid the tithe on the most minute and insignificant things. Mint was a sweet smelling plant. Amise was dill. Cummin was a plant for seasoning food. While they were meticulous about these, they omitted the most important matters of the Law. These were righteous judgment, mercy and faith. Thus, they were blind guides who strained out the gnats, and swallowed a camel.
So it is with many today. They are quick to condemn those whose sideburns are longer than their own. They condemn those who ware cowboy boots, wire rimmed glasses, or have facial hair. One pastor ask a missionary if his wife wore pajamas to bed at night. His reason was, pajamas have leg, and are a man’s attire. These fools, with their gnat straining standards, are fools, and would not think twice of running your reputation or ministry.
The sixth woe: empty formalism. Jesus was judged because He ate without washing His hands. (Luke 11:38). It is true today. Most people are far more concerned about external appearance, than godly character within. Some think manners and spirituality are the same. Who in his right mind would knowingly eat from a vessel that was spotless on the outside, and foul within? This was the condition of all empty formalism.
The seventh and eighth woe: false appearances, and murders of the prophets. Years ago, our family took a vacation from Washing to Florida. On our return home, we stopped in New Orleans. It was All Saints Day, and for some reason we found ourselves near a cemetery. There was more activity there than at any circus. The tombs were above ground, and hundreds of people had stayed the night. They painted the tombs, burnt candles, and applied ashes to themselves. I spite of the attempted beatification of the tombs, each one was full of dead bones. Sadly, this was a Roman Catholic cemetery, and those who garnished the tombs were as dead inside as those in the tombs.
All the wealth, glitter and pomp in Rome, cannot hid the deceit, and corruption within that church. We have only seen the tip of the iceberg in the matter of corruption within her.
It is incredible and inconceivable that the nation of Israel, the apostate nation, should have been so blind and so far from God. Such is it today. There is no reason to believe that the religious leaders have improved. John, the apostle, called Jerusalem Sodom and Egypt. (Rev. 11:8).
The love and compassion for Jerusalem is demonstrated in His willingness to save and protect them. Another gospel tells us that He wept on the city. Oh, such compassion for sinners! But, every man is given a free will, and God will let him choose his own destruction if he is determined to go his own way.
Their city and nation was left desolate. As the glory departed in the days of Ezekiel the prophet, so the glory was departing again. They had Him for over three years. They tasted of the age to come, the Kingdom of Heaven. But, now they will be without God or the Messiah until the Tribulation, is which, they will pray for, and welcome His coming.
Pastor Ken Blue was born in Boswell, Ark. In 1955 he accepted Christ as his Savior. He and his wife Joyce were married in 1955. They have 5 children. He graduated from Midwestern Baptist Bible College in 1969 and started the Open Door Baptist Church in Lynnwood, Wa. where he pastored for 39 years. Because of health issues (ALS) he was forced to resign as pastor. It is his desire to continue to be used of God to help pastors and believers through this ministry.