The trouble with Pharisees...



…is that they don’t do anything with God’s rebuke. Matthew 23
wasn’t the first time they didn’t pay attention to God’s rebuke. If it wasn’t their making motions of worship while having greed and murder in their heart it was the painful distress of oppression they brought down on widows and orphans. Isaiah told them. Jeremiah told them. Habakkuk told them. Micah told them. But, Malachi, oh Malachi said it with the sting of a red zinger.

 Mal 2:1  And now, O priests, this command is to you. 2  If you will not hear, and if you will not set it on your heart to give glory to My name, says Jehovah of Hosts, then I will send the curse on you, and I will curse your blessings. And indeed, I have cursed it, because you are not setting it on your heart. 3  Behold, I am rebuking your seed, and I will spread dung on your faces, the dung of your solemn feasts; and one will lift you up to it.

I have so often wondered why the studiers and keepers of the law were so blind to the Grace that abounded in the Old Prophets. There was always a hope, always a bright shining light: “Return to Me, and I will return to you, says Jehovah of Hosts.”

That just wasn’t good enough because Jesus came in an unexpected way. Oh my! Jesus focused on unexpected people. Oh my! This couldn’t possibly be the Messiah, because He didn’t come in purple robes with a built in crown. He was “common” looking.

This was the crux of the problem with the Pharisees. They focused on the outside. They wore huge phylacteries and broaden the hems of their robes, and had tzit tzit  (the tassel with blue cords that were wrapped 613 times for each command of God in the OT) that trailed behind them when they walked. They were so full of religious prejudice they burst with it, sloshing it all over those they had been entrusted to teach God’s Word and God’s ways. Oh, they mouthed platitudes correctly, but their actions were so far off the mark they didn’t even hit the white space of the target. God says it time and again, actions speak louder than words and they have a much more powerful punch. The Pharisees clung to a double standard, which is what Jesus warned against. “Listen to, and do what they say, but do not do what they do,” and He called them whitewashed graves: clean on the outside, but full of filth on the inside.

They are not good life examples. They had egos that bloated them to a ripe fatness that raised a stink and drew flies. They clamor for public attention. They had a destructive witness and were a Spiritual hindrance. Pharisees conform to the external only, and consistently refuse God’s rebuke. This is what locks a Pharisee into being a Pharisee as we think of them today. Because of all this, they missed God when He came.

Now that we’re on the same page, what about today? Are there lots of Pharisaical people populating the pews of our churches? What about our government? As Bette Davis said, “Fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy night.”

Just because we are Americans living in the freedom bought by our forefathers’ blood and guts, we do not have the right to turn our backs on God’s will for our country. He laid out exactly how we are to go in our daily work and play, and how to know His will. He is quite explicit:

Ezekiel 33:25  So say to them, So says the Lord Jehovah: You eat on the blood, and you lift your eyes up to your idols, and you shed blood. And shall you possess the land? 26  You stand on your sword, and you each do abominations, defiling his neighbor's wife. And shall you possess the land? 27  Say this to them, So says the Lord Jehovah: As I live, do not those in the ruins fall by the sword? And I will give the one who is on the face of the field to the beasts to be eaten, and those in the forts and in the caves shall die by the plague. 28  For I shall make the land desolate and a waste, and the pride of her strength shall cease. And the heights of Israel shall be a waste that none will go through. 29  And they shall know that I am Jehovah, when I have made the land desolate and a waste because of all their abominations which they have done.

This is not a prophecy, but a done deal. You could read “Israel” as “United States” or “England” or “Germany” or “France”. Our country and our world is in this pickle barrel today because we sit silently by while the squeaky wheel gets all the grease. You know which wheels I’m talking about, too. The homosexuals and the abortionists, and the evangelists who sing God’s word like angels on Sunday and live like the devil the rest of the week are all on the same playing field. Who was it that said that our God’s standards are so high that He considers lust as well as anger against a brother, equal to murder? How much more an abomination is it that we keep silent and watch it happen? Oww! That stomped on my toe… 

So here it comes… you know what’s coming… here’s the million dollar question. What will Jesus find you doing when He shouts your name to “Come up here!
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