EIGHT WOES ON THE SCRIBES AND PHARISEES – jingle all the way
I may seem stuck on jackals but not. Jackals are in the news big time. So allow me, please, one more peek at today’s jackal prophets, who we see doing anything to cling to the illusion that a palace makes a pig a prince. It is a phenomenon that we observe in the religious world in the political world and in the financial world. The popular operations for informing people of critical issues include saying what people want to hear, pretendingthat things are so because we said so, and preparing a host of talking points to push back against the scrutiny. Their operations revolve around majoring in minors, taking ownership of what they can and relabelling even the most despicable attitudes as honourable. Like the people who today believe that walls and tall tales are the mice that enhance the American lion’s posse. It is one part of the horrible jingles that have pimped up the darkest places of human aspirations. We are just waking up to the fact that Pharisee love of money, and clamour for the Law of Moses are with us today and it is jingle all the way.
Like the dead from the wilderness journeys of their ancestors the Scribes and Pharisees of New Testament times were ornate walking tombs. Their cowardice, malicec and greed are legendary. Their likeness to the modern pundit and experts on social, political, and spiritual matters is also striking. Once the administrators of Jewish religion and their academic allies saw Messiah coming they began their questions and and plots to silence the vew voice. Let us not think that Yeshua did not like these people or had any pwersonal animosity against the Jewish leadership, against the king, the Roman Emperor, or against the local ringleaders. They fanned the flame of resstance to God and faced the music when Rome destroyed the temple. It seems that they still thought that the temple was a shield against divine judgment. They belonged to hellfire, for their legendary unbelief, and even the temple was an empty shell despite all the activity in both rituals and religious invesitgation. They were in the business of making disciples destined for hell; disciples who were twice as distant from God’s way as they were.
They were not obedient. They were not into executing justice and we are woefully slow to acknowledge that the kingdom life, for which we pray every day, is what matters. It is God’s promise fulfilled that energizes us when we join Christ. We are not merely eligible for kingdom participation: we are in. On the other hand all the jackal behaviour of New Testament times are in our news today. The claims made in most jingles are a lot of hot air.
It is not hyperbole when the Rabbi from Nazareth denounces with graphic relish the elite of his society. Scribes and Pharisees are the players to watch. One cannot miss them. His elevation of these groups is to warn against their attitudes and lifestyles. Beware! In effect he says, “Say goodbye to your megaspirations”. All greatness belongs to Christ our Saviour. Every tempest of our 21st century contentions is tainted with Pharisaism and it is time we say aloha to it. We have been hearing and seeing it in alliance with the crudest political platforms. Contending for the faith as our defence of the Gospel cannot be a defence of jingoism. A lot of hot air is out there. Christian faith is not jingoism, even as it has become a front seat ally to political sentiments that reek of greed, impurity, and oppression. The goal of Christ’s call is precise. One does not need 3 to 7 opinions to see what is in it for everyone.
Now the end of the commandment is love out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned: 1Tim 1:5 (unfeigned = without pretense)
Jingoism; the favourite strategy of the day. A hit slogan of the purists is the Ten Commandment jingle. Practically everyone is certain that law will fix our problems. It never did and never will. We know that. It is beyond debate. People surely could not claim to be under it and not under it. That does not work. When they came to the commandment that invites love from a pure heart they swerved to avoid it and slammed into faking it. Was it that they did not accept either salvation from sin or productivity in the world?
From which, some having swerved, have turned aside unto vain jangling; 1Tim 1:6 understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm. 1Tim 1:7 But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; 1Tim 1:8
Now one has to see that the law is the source of the content for the jingles. Paul’s contemporaries affirmed something about love, pure hearts, good consciences, and pretense-free trust in God. But they did so using the law unlawfully. Their arguments were all red herrings. One cannot use the law to establish the Law. The law testifies to happiness from forgiveness, happiness for grace and pardon, and freedom from condemnation, not credit for having paid our debt and not assurance by reliance on our works.
Resistance to decency is an old and persistent threat, reported with clarity in the 6th century BC. This is God giving the southern Kingdom of Judah one last chance to treat people with dignity and respect. These are not religious standards.
If you stop oppressing the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and stop killing innocent citizens, and deify dead things… Jer 7:6
A spell must certainly be deduced from the behaviour of Christians, Muslims, and Jews who like to self-evaluate as substantial agents for the heavenly kingdom. A demon must be deduced from the large number of our contemporaries who are mouthing ancient sayings as if they were present truth.
Desiring to be teachers of the law is still a popular ambition. The people who are followers of Messiah are not born into access, did not ask to be selected for glory, and have nothing to prove to an unbelieving world.
The Pharisees learned their slogans from the Scribes and together they sought to make Yeshua and John the Baptist (and one supposes all the prophets) nice boys in pretty palace clothes just blowing in the wind.
As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you. Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John,
Yeshua saw through the illusions and pronounced woes: misery to them.
- Woe 1. Locking the kingdom against others entering Matt 23:13
- Woe 2. Theft of property of widows- a religious ponzi scheme complex and making long public prayers to cover their corruption Matt 23:14
- Woe 3. 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. Matt 23:15
- Woe 4. 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! Matt 23:16
- Woe 5. passing up on justice, mercy and faith(fulness). Matt 23:23
- Woe 6. 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. Matt 23:25
- Woe 7. “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. Matt 23:27
- Woe 8. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, Matt 23:29 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.’ Matt 23:30 Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Matt 23:31
There are 8 simple doctrines here. Yes. Doctrines. If there is not a simple doctrine in this package it should be labelled aloha (a lot of hot air).
- Access is for everyone. I do not want to be a road block to anyone.
- Robbing the poor is abominable. The vulnerable need our protection.
- We bring people to Christ, not ourselves.
- speak precisely of the majors; the saviour is more valuable than the saved
- some things carry more weight than others
- majors exist inside us
- pretense does not persist
- people do what their ancestors have done
The most obvious items for the modern jingle choir are repetitive prayers (and songs) and the “I got it” mentality, even when the it is an irrelevant adjunct to quasi-spiritual life. Food and drink are not functional for spiritual life. No one can stretch the meaning of the gospel to include the notion that food and drink commend anyone to God. The gospel is not anything that we can relate to in our times. The gospel is the eternal truth about God entering human existence so he can redeem us. No food or drink can make the knowledge or the experience happen.
Bread is for one kind of life and the gospel is for another. The law is not of faith, grace or life. Christ is the only one who can change a leopard’s spots and make everyone zip their lips in amazement. The wonder of the leopard’s change includes explaining what just happened, including the leopard’s silence. The wonder of salvation is not our answer, but the unutterable joy at a generosity that seems infinite when compared to the terror of law and any covenant that depends on our performance.
Jingles are entirely dangerous, because they are supposed to be substantial reminders of what is important, but there isn’t a jingle that is not responsible for the emptiness of tribal religion and for a wide range of the character of today’s wickedness. If the jingle is worth anything it touches mysteries, not possibilities and unrecognizable identities. Jingles can trip a person up rather badly. Now let’s start aloha-ing with vigour, to all those empty repetitions, comfort zone mantras, and interminable cover-up prayers. To the success of everyone determined not be a victim of the daily approved load of hot air, “Aloha!”