THROUGH THE BIBLE IN THREE YEARS

This program of daily Scripture studies is designed to help you in daily honoring God with adoration.

Each day, Monday through Friday, a Scripture with commentary is posted.

We have a great friend in Gary Godard. He has set up an archive page. To view ALL the prior Scripture studies by book and chapter, just clik


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TODAY'S SCRIPTURE STUDY

MATTHEW

CHAPTER 23

Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, 2 Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: 3 All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. 4 For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.

Notice that Jesus is speaking to "the multitude, and to his disciples." The intent of Chapter 23 is brought on by the discussions of Chapter 22. The Pharisees, Sadducees and scribes had sought to entrap Jesus in His teachings. Now Jesus speaks to the multitude AND to His disciples of the TRUTH of Scripture.

The term "sit in Moses' seat" means teaching of the law of God. Indeed, if the scribes and Pharisees are teaching of the law of God, then all should "observe" what they teach. However, it is the "works" of the scribes and Pharisees that Jesus warns against.

Jesus says to "do NOT after their works: for they say, and do not!" The scribes, Pharisees and Sadducees also taught tradition. In other words they ADDED to God's Word. It was this tradition that brought heavy burdens upon believers, and the teachers of those traditions gave no ease from the burden! This is the reason for verse 15 below.

In Matthew 22:29, Jesus said to the Sadducees, "Ye do ERR, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God." The problem was that they had been teaching "tradition" so long, they forgot it was not part of God's WORD! God's Word has power. By it, God created the heavens and the earth! If one teaches God's Word, he does not need to ADD to it, or to detract FROM it! The Spirit of God will use the Word of God to bring conviction in the hearts of hearers (See Hebrews 4:12.)

These people were teaching "tradition" more than God's Word, and even they themselves did not live by their teaching!

5 But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, 6 And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, 7 And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi. 8 But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. 9 And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. 10 Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. 11 But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.

All their "works" were just for SHOW! They enjoyed being noticed! They wore extra large "phylacteries," or prayer reminders on their wrists. They also made the hems of their cloaks wider than normal and more obvious.

The normal protocol for attending church or "feasts" is to sit where there is a seat available when one arrives. However, these liked to be sure and get the "upper rooms" and the "chief seats." Jesus told a parable about this one time (See Luke 14:8-11).

Another thing these people enjoyed was being called "Rabbi" (meaning great one or master). But Jesus said we are all "brethren," and none is to lord it over another. Instead, the leader should be the greatest "servant!"

God has a way of abasing those who "exalt" themselves.
God also has a way of exalting those who "humble" themselves.

When a person is seen with the characteristics of showiness, presumption, and preemminence beware! They may be the one who "...entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber." (John 10:1)

Jesus begins a series of statements beginning with"woe". The Greek word is ouai and is pronounced oo-ah'-ee. The term expresses grief.

Jesus uses the term "woe" to reveal the concealment of sin and thus pronounce "grief" to those who are guilty.

Due to the diversity of the statements, let's look at each one separately.

13 But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.

First, they are "hypocrites" (Greek hupokrites), or actors playing a character, but not really being the character they portray.

The reason Jesus says this is because they fail to spread the good news that God wants to save EVERYONE! They teach doctrines by which they do not abide. They teach a false doctrine that Messiah will not be God come in a man. And they refuse Jesus as Messiah, even though He fulfills the prophecies before their eyes.

Not only do they fail in spreading the Gospel, but they actually try and detain those who are believing Jesus! They tried to convince those who believed in Jesus that He was actually in imposter!

There are many of these "hypocrites" in our society today. They claim goodness but they refuse Jesus as Lord! Not only do they refuse the irrefutable proof of Jesus, but they try to convince others Jesus was (is) an imposter.

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.

These leaders made a pretense of justness toward "widows." But they enticed those widows to dedicate their properties to them for management. Then they took advantage of them, making money and keeping it for themselves.

They also defrauded people with long pretentious prayers. Their hearts intent was not upon servantship to the Lord, but upon being noticed by the people.

God saw what they were doing.
God sees what we are doing.

Often today, "showy" preachers exalt themselves to prominence, then bilk the public of money and possessions, but produce no educational aid for advancement toward the converts.

15 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.

These "scribes and Pharisees" would literally search the world over to find a RICH person they could convert. Then they would bilk him/her of their money, and afterward fail to instruct the person rightly in observance of the law.

These "proselytes" had renounced their own religion and devoted themselves to Judaism. But now they received no instruction in righteousness because they are thought of as LESS than the Jews themselves. History teaches us that the Jewish people, as a majority, thought of these converts as "scabs" - something that was sore, and one had to put up with, until it would go away.

Now, here, I'm gonna "step in the mud!" We have this problem in churches today! Many are brought to a "knowledge" of Jesus as Lord and Savior; but little work is done by members to ensure they GROW in that knowledge, and in the works of faith.

In some churches, whoever brings a person to the knowledge of Christ as Lord and Savior is responsible for that convert until they can stand on their own in a studious relationship with Christ through the Word. But sadly, that is in only a few churches.

16 Woe unto you, ye blind guides, which say, Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is a debtor! 17 Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold? 18 And, Whosoever shall swear by the altar, it is nothing; but whosoever sweareth by the gift that is upon it, he is guilty. 19 Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifieth the gift? 20 Whoso therefore shall swear by the altar, sweareth by it, and by all things thereon. 21 And whoso shall swear by the temple, sweareth by it, and by him that dwelleth therein. 22 And he that shall swear by heaven, sweareth by the throne of God, and by him that sitteth thereon.

Now, who wants to follow "blind guides?" That's what Jesus called them, because they were leading people ASTRAY and not in the TRUTH!

They said it was all right to "swear by the temple," but to swear by the "gold of the temple" made one a "debtor!"

Why should the gold in the temple be more holy than the temple itself? If the gold were not in the temple it would not be holy. The holiness of the gold was derived from WHERE it was!

And why would anyone think that an oath taken before God could be broken? But that's what they were teaching. Why swear if one is going to intentionally break the oath?

The apostle James picked up on this and wrote, "But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation." (James 5:12)

In other words, just be truthful ALL the time!

23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. 24 Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.

Jesus berated them for showiness of tithing while at the same time they threw judgment, mercy and faith down the drain. He does not say they should have paid attention to the "weightier matters of the law," and left off tithing. Instead, he says they SHOULD have done the tithing, yes. But they should NOT have left off dealing with widows in right judgment, having mercy on the poor, and encouraging the faith of proselytes.

Anyone can see that Jesus has a sense of humor, even when He is deriding them severely. He used the terms, "strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel." These are terms which present an immediate visual! Can't you just see a fellow straining at swallowing the "gnat" of truth while swallowing the whole "camel" of pretentiousness? (By the way, "strain at a gnat" means to strain the gnat OUT -- perhaps of soup.)

25 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. 26 Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.

Here is yet another immediate visual from the language Jesus used. Can you see a cup full of molded coffee left on the counter. The Pharisee would wipe the outside, but not pay attention to the inside!

Jesus was stating that they were clean by their showiness, but filthy on the inside with greed and avarice!

And, next is another statement to the same effect.

27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. 28 Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.

Jesus compares them to the tombs, burial places. They take pains to clean the OUTSIDE, but INSIDE are "dead men's bones!"

OUTSIDE they appeared clean, but INSIDE they were full of sin!

29 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, 30 And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. 31 Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. 32 Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers.

They built "tombs" in memory and honor of the prophets. Again, this was part of their showiness. They only did that to gain recognition for themselves.

They also, once a year, made sure that the "sepulchres" of the righteous were white washed. And again, it was part of their self-expressed righteousness, in order to gain acclaim for themselves.

They made statements which reflected that if they had lived in the days of the prophets, they would not have been part to slaying them.

But, again, on the INSIDE they were just as bad as the people who killed the prophets!

And Jesus makes a prophecy in verse 32, that they WILL "Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers." For soon, they will crucify Him!!

33 Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? 34 Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: 35 That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. 36 Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation.

Not only would they kill Jesus, they would also kill those whom He sent! The apostles would be persecuted, beheaded, crucified upside down, boiled in oil and die by other gruesome means!

Indeed, how could they escape "damnation?" If they did not repent and turn to Christ, they would continue blazing the trail for themselves that led to eternal condemnation! For without Christ, they could never receive forgiveness.

And Jesus declares that the "blood of righteousness" shall be upon their hands!!

Their "fathers" had been guilty of slaying the prophets.
They would be guilty of slaying Jesus and His apostles and disciples.
WHAT, or WHOM slew these righteous people?
Was it not the SHOW of religion and the EMPTINESS of God?

And that, my friends, is precisely the point of this whole discourse. WITHOUT RECEIVING JESUS AS MESSIAH, NONE CAN BE SAVED!!

The "scribes and Pharisees" have not only professed religion that they didn't have, they were also guilty of influencing the whole of the nation to deny Christ and have Him crucified!

37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! 38 Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. 39 For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.

Therefore, Jesus turns to the whole of "Jerusalem." The city is now filled with people coming to observe the feast of Passover.

OH! How God would have "gathered" them for love and protection - but they REFUSED to come!

Now, the "house" will be left "desolate!" The temple would be forsaken soon as a place of worship, and would be destroyed! (Vespasian began a slow and determined conquest of Jerusalem. When he was called to Rome as Emperor, his son Titus completed the task. In 70AD, he destroyed the city, killed hundreds of thousands, and totally demolished the temple!)

When a person, or a place, is left without God, it is indeed "DESOLATE!"

The Jews, as a nation, will not know the truth of God until they say, "Blessed is He that comes in the Name of the LORD!"

There are two thoughts which follow this statement.

First, the ONLY manner of salvation is to receive Jesus as Christ, Messiah, Saviour and Lord! No person, including a Jew, can receive salvation ANY OTHER WAY!!

Second, the nation as a whole, would be "desolate" of God's leadership and divine direction until ONE DAY, they shall see Jesus coming in the glory of God. Then they shall ALL say, "BLESSED is HE that comes in the Name of the LORD!!"

They "shut up the kingdom of God" by not proclaiming the good news of salvation offered to all.
They pretended rightousness in order to take advantage of the poor.
They sought out proselytes, but only to bilk them of money.
The falsified the veracity of truth by swearing.
They focused on the little things and left off the real value of God's Word.
They pretended decency, but the INSIDE of the cup was filthy!
They appeared righteous, but were full of "dead men's bones!"
And now they would kill Jesus and His prophets!

The "hen" that would have protected them, has now abondoned them! And only by turning to Jesus can they be saved!

PLEASE CONTINUE WITH US IN BIBLE STUDY TOMORROW.