(My) Father’s Nakedness

September 17, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

There is this irregular phrase – so it seems – that we find in the Bible. Although at first it looks like an obvious interpretation to a common expression, there is more than meets the eye in this Biblical account.

Noah and his grandson 

The first place we find the phrase my/his father’s nakedness is with Noah, his sons, and grandson after the flood.

Genesis 9:18-27

18 The sons of Noah who came out of the ark were Shem, Ham and Japheth. (Ham was the father of Canaan.) 19 These were the three sons of Noah, and from them came the people who were scattered over the earth. 20 Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded to plant a vineyard. 21 When he drank some of its wine, he became drunk and lay uncovered inside his tent. 22 Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father’s nakedness and told his two brothers outside. 23 But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it across their shoulders; then they walked in backward and covered their father’s nakedness. Their faces were turned the other way so that they would not see their father’s nakedness. 24 When Noah awoke from his wine and found out what his youngest son had done to him, 25 he said, “Cursed be Canaan! The lowest of slaves will he be to his brothers.” 26 He also said, “Blessed be the LORD, the God of Shem! May Canaan be the slave of Shem. 27 May God extend the territory of Japheth; may Japheth live in the tents of Shem, and may Canaan be his slave.”

 

Before I am going to decipher the phrase his father’s nakedness, let me first give some clarification about the above scenario.

If we just casually read this piece of Scripture, it may sound like Ham did something terribly wrong and was therefore cursed by his father. Whenever sons are named in the Bible, it is always from the eldest to the youngest (see also Gen 5:32, 6:10, and 10:1). According to verse eighteen Shem was the eldest son of Noah, Ham the middle and Japheth the youngest. Also the middle son’s son was Canaan, the only grandson mentioned in this chapter. Ham had three other sons but is not disclosed until the next chapter of Genesis (see Gen 10:6). The reader may very easily become confused with the storyline here because it says that Ham went in and saw his father’s nakedness (v22), the eldest and youngest sons then covered their father’s nakedness (v23), and when Noah awoke he discovered what the youngest son had done to him (v24) – consequently cursing Canaan (v25) his grandson, which was the son of Ham.

 

To understand this we have to know some Hebrew figure of speech. The expression the youngest son is a Hebrew idiom and refers to the grandson and in this case Canaan. Henceforth, also the reason why Canaan is the only grandchild mentioned in this chapter. It was therefore Canaan that did something (we don’t know what) to Noah. I have heard some ministers explain how in this passage Ham took advantage of his drunken father and had an homosexual act with him. There is however, no ground for such a conclusion, neither for the belief that black people are under a curse of slavery (servanthood) because of this occurrence. The word Ham does mean hot and has been translated black, hot or dark, man with a dark skin, and coloured. There is much to say about Ham but suffice to mention here that Noah cursed Canaan (not Ham) and thus the reason for the Israelites to go conquer and subdue all the Canaanite nations in the Promised Land. Ham appears seventeen times in the Bible and not once a curse on him is found! Christ has become the curse for us (Gal 3:13) and once we have placed our faith in Him, being baptised in water we are free from any curses of the past!

 

Coming back to the story, we may then conclude that it was Canaan that dit something to Noah. His father Ham went in and took him from Noah’s tent and told his two brothers. They then went into their father’s tent, backward, to cover their father’s nakedness. This in itself seems strange as there is no occurrence anywhere in the Bible, neither an Old Testament law against seeing one’s father naked.

 

The story here must have some meaning to us otherwise God would not have thought it important enough to include in the Bible.

 

OT law about the father’s nakedness

Under the Law of Moses we have again this particular phrase. This time however, the consequences of seeing or uncovering your father’s nakedness is punishable with death. In the book of Leviticus the phrase we are dealing with was perfectly clarified so that everyone understood both the commandment and the repercussion when disobeyed.

Leviticus 18:7-8 (KJV)

The nakedness of thy father, or the nakedness of thy mother, shalt thou not uncover: she is thy mother; thou shalt not uncover her nakedness. The nakedness of thy father’s wife shalt thou not uncover: it is thy father’s nakedness.

The word uncover means, to bare, to strip, to expose ,to make naked,  to shame, and to uncover the nakedness of which implies sexual relations.

The NIV translate the passage as follows

‘Do not dishonor your father by having sexual relations with your mother. She is your mother; do not have relations with her. Do not have sexual relations with your father’s wife; that would dishonor your father.

According to the meaning of the word uncover, the nakedness of your father is not the nudity of the father, whether seen or not by the sons, but the sexual act of a father’s son with his mother or another wife of his father – a second wife or a stepmother. This is clearly explained in another verse in the book of Leviticus.

 

Leviticus 20:11 (AMP)

And the man who lies carnally with his father’s wife has uncovered his father’s nakedness; both of the guilty ones shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon their own heads.

 

Therefore, what Canaan did in Noah’s tent while Noah was drunk, was the sexual act with Noah’s wife. Ham the father of Canaan came in the tent and saw what his son did (and probably removed him) and then told Shem and Japheth. They went in backward and covered their mother with a blanket. When Noah came to his senses he knew (whether told by his wife or his sons is not stated) what his grandson did and then cursed him. Hence the curse on the Canaanites from that day forward. If they have lived under the Law of Moses, both Canaan and Noah’s wife would have been put to death.

 

Another case of the uncovering of a father’s nakedness.

Genesis 35:21-22

Then Israel journeyed on and spread his tent on the other side of the tower of Edar. When Israel dwelt there, Reuben [his eldest son] went and lay with Bilhah his father’s concubine; and Israel heard about it. Now Jacob’s sons were twelve.

Bilhah was Rachel’s handmaid which her father Laban gave her. (Gen 29:29) Because Rachel was found barren, she decided to give her handmaid to Jacob for a wife. (Gen 30:3-5) So, when Jacob’s eldest son Reuben slept with Bilhah, he slept with his father’s wife. Reuben’s father, Jacob (later named Israel as seen in Gen 35:21) did not do anything about it, so it seems. I’m sure Reuben thought he had gotten away with it but in the end it caught up with him and had a long term affect on his offspring, just like with Canaan.

 

Genesis 49:1-4

And Jacob called for his sons and said, Gather yourselves together [around me], that I may tell you what shall befall you in the latter or last days. 2Gather yourselves together and hear, you sons of Jacob; and hearken to Israel your father. 3Reuben, you are my firstborn, my might, the beginning (the firstfruits) of my manly strength and vigor; [your birthright gave you] the preeminence in dignity and the preeminence in power. 4But unstable and boiling over like water, you shall not excel and have the preeminence [of the firstborn], because you went to your father’s bed; you defiled it–he went to my couch!

 

The Young’s Literal Translation reads verse four as unstable as water, thou art not abundant.

 

Reuben was due the firstborn’s blessing – the double blessing. It was his birthright. (Deut 21:17) Unfortunately, he forfeited the best portion and only got the crumbs of the blessing. The word excel in verse four has the meaning of the residue or excess, the smaller part which is left over.

To paraphrase verse four it could read; because you are without self-control and discipline and can not be counted on, you shall have the smallest portion of the blessing.

When one studies the tribe of Reuben, you will find it had declined in numbers from the time they came out of Egypt to the time they had to enter the Promised Land. Furthermore, they never entered and settled in Canaan but stayed on the East side of the Jordan. The act of Reuben followed his descendants all the way to the Promised Land. Again, was he living under the Law of Moses, death would have been unavoidable.

 

In the New Testament

We could easily think that this all was happening in a time where people was not cultivated, somehow still barbaric and that such an act would never occur in the times of Jesus or the Apostles. But, as the Bible so aptly states, the nature of all people is sinful until being made holy by the Holy Spirit.  (Eph 2:3) The expression of that sinful nature may differ according to culture, country or gender. (Gal 5:19-20)

One of the Churches in the NT which flowed in the gifts of the Holy Spirit was located in Corinth. In fact, they operated so freely with the gifts in their meetings that Paul had to write two chapters (1 Cor 12 & 14) on exactly what the gifts are and how to operate with those gifts. It is also in this particular Church that we find the same kind of sexual sins than those of Canaan and Reuben.

 

1 Cor 5:1 (NIV)

It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that does not occur even among pagans: A man has his father’s wife.

 

Canaan received a curse from his father. Reuben inherited the smallest portion of Jacob’s blessing and under the Law of Moses; such a person received the death sentence. Paul did not hand out any of these punishments per se. No, he uses his authority and did something that was not done or said before.

 

1 Cor 5:3-5 (HCSB)

For though absent in body but present in spirit, I have already decided about him who has done this thing as though I were present. In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, along with my spirit and with the power of our Lord Jesus, turn that one over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the Day of the Lord.

 

The word Satan means adversary and is used in the Bible for a people, a nation, a person or a spiritual being.

(See Numbers 22:22, 32; 1 Sam 29:4; 2 Sam 19:22; 1 Kings 11:14, 23, 25; 1 Chron 21:1; Job 1:6-9, 12; Ps 109:6; Zech 3:12; Mark 8:33; Luke 10:18; 22:3; 2 Cor 11:14; etc)

The Scripture here does not say in what form the adversary will appear but what is certain, is that this person’s flesh (physical body) will be destroyed. The word destruction in the Greek has the meaning of ruin, to destroy and to kill. It does sound like an indirect death sentence, which will obviously have an impact on his immediate family – just like with Canaan and Reuben.

 

Dispensational Truth

Unless we understand the different ages of God, we may get confused with the way each person was punished or with the many different forms of punishment for the same sinful deed. It is not the purpose of this writing to expand on this topic but I have to put all of this in dispensational perspective.

Noah lived in the first 2000 years after the formation of Adam. Reuben lived in the second 2000 years since then. Paul and the Church in Corinth came on the Biblical scene after Jesus’ resurrection – making it the past 2000 years.

In each of these 2000 years God had a different standard for righteousness and displayed a different character trait of Himself to His people.

During the first 2000 years the standard for righteousness was a physical one and God appeared as the Creator (Elohim) God to mankind (Gen 6:9; Gen 2:4). With Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, God was the Almighty (El-Shaddai), the Giver and bountiful God. Since Moses until Jesus, God appeared as Jehovah – the One who is in covenant relation to those He has chosen (Ex 6:3; Lev 19:2). The standard for righteousness was the keeping of the 613 laws of Moses.

The last 2000 years God manifested himself through His Son (1 Tim 3:16) and holiness does now come through the baptism with the Holy Spirit (Matt 3:11) and God has shown Himself as the Most High God (Mark 5:7; Acts 7:48; 16:17).

And because of these different dispensations, God dealt in a unique and distinctive way with His people in each 2000 year time-frame. What applied in the one was not allowed in the next and what was law in the one, became a curse in the following age. (Gal 3:1-3)

 

NT perspective

 

As said before, this must have some application to our lives; otherwise we may as well tear those parts of the Bible out and only keep the parts we think apply to your lives.

In every past age the focus has been progressively more towards the spiritual and a personal close father-son relationship with God. At first – after Adam was expelled from the garden of Eden – God was far-of, only showing Himself with outward miraculous acts every now-and-then, until the time came (thousands of years later) where He could manifest Himself in and through Jesus Christ (His son).

Now, in this age, we are not looking to the outward anymore but to the inward. (2 Cor 5:16) It is the inner workings of His Spirit that make us realise that the kingdom of God is in us (Luke 17:21) – it is Christ in us which is our hope of glory and not the outward appearances of God’s glory like in the OT (Col 1:27).

Because of this very reason we now look at the OT with its stories and laws as like unto a shadow. It is not the reality anymore (although it all did happen once) but it only points towards Christ, his life and Spirit and wisdom and power and glory, which must grow and also become ours! (Col 2:17; Heb 8:1-5) Just like a road sign is not the destination but shows the way to it. In like manner, all of the OT is a direction indicator – directing us to Him and then to experiencing His life becoming a certainty in each one of us individually.

 

Connecting the dots

The Church of Christ, globally as well as every single church on this planet, is His wife – His bride. (Eph 5:23-27; Rev 21:9-10) And we all belong to a church, a called-out group of people. (The word church means called out ones.) It doesn’t matter the size of your Church, anything from 3 to 30 000, it still is the bride of Christ – His wife. His Spirit baptises (immerses) us into this body in order for us to grow up (1 Cor 12:13). We are then taken care of in that body. We are fed the milk of the Word (1 Pet 2:2) and the Bread of Life (John 6:35, 48). God uses the Church (or group of believers) to function like a caring mother, obviously under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. God works through people, His own (broken) called-out-people! And just like a natural mother who tries her best to give her children all her love and care but also has her own brokenness and shortcomings, so every Church has its imperfections. You will not find a perfect Church. And even if there was one, the moment you walk in it becomes imperfect.

Sometimes, because of the Church’s faults we get hurt and feel they have treated us wrong or unjustly. Whether this is so or not, it does not later the fact that it is still Christ’s wife, busy transforming into the very image of her Husband (Rom 8:29; 2 Cor 3:18).

Therefore to summarise; although we are members of the church, the church as a whole (with all the members) functions also as a mother to each individual. And the bible says that the husband and wife is one flesh – the husbands body belong to the wife and vice versa (Gen 2:24, Matt 19:5, 1 Cor 6:16-17, Eph 5:31, 1 Cor 7:3-4).

 

Conclusion and application

Uncovering our father’s nakedness would be when we go and speak against the people who are the wife (bride) of Christ. He is also our Father (Is 9:6). The very people who have looked after you, fed you and made sure you are cared for, are now being put to shame and every imperfection and shortcoming is exposed to others. This may be because you have been hurt, misunderstood or rejected.  It still makes no difference in their relation to Christ Jesus.

Many Christians live with this illusion that belonging to a church (group of believers) they will only get acceptance and unconditional love. Yes, this is the spiritual maturity we all want to achieve. But the reality is still far from that.

In any group of called-out-ones (church), there will be some individuals who have grown to a more spiritual and Christ-like state of being, but there are also numerous others who are still struggling with their own brokenness, trauma, grief and touchiness.

 

  • The consequences of this deed will have a direct impact on your spiritual growth. As in the case of Canaan, you will not be a physical servant, but you will always stay under tutors and governors and never grow unto Sonship (Gal 4:1-6). They stand out from the rest when they open their mouths. They talk of what their previous Church(es) has done to them and how wrong these people are. How God will surely judge that Church for what they did and they feel it is their duty to warn others of the “sins” in that Church. These “Canaanites” group together and build high walls (in their hearts) in order to keep others out. They focus on right-and-wrong together with sin-and-judgment.

Those who have grown unto Sonship understand people’s brokenness. They are quick to show grace and know it is the Spirit’s work to convict people through their own consciences (John 8:1-11).

 

  • As with Reuben they will not inherit the fullness of Christ but they will stay in the wilderness, living from miracles instead of the overflow of God’s blessings. They constantly have to believe for a miracle, a breakthrough of some sorts to live through their wildernesses. It just seems to them that they always have to trust for another blessing – a healing blessing then a financial blessing then a marriage blessing etc.

These people can not grasp that in Christ is everything they need and in that relationship with Him, all will be supplied (Col 1:19, Col 2:9-10).

 

  • On a more serious note, uncovering your father’s nakedness (exposing your fathers wife), was punishable with death under the Law of Moses. By putting to shame your current church or your previous church, spiritual death is inevitable. This has nothing to do with heaven or hell but with the life of Christ flowing through your being. If the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead, flow through you, it will bring life to your whole being! (Rom 8:11) Spiritual death means the absence of that Life of Christ in you – that abundant, overflowing life is not a reality to such a person (John 10:10). And if there is no life, there is no (inner) healing. By seeking sympathy (and healing) from others while putting the very people in a bad light who have cared for you, is counterproductive.

 

  • The Apostle Paul gave such a person over to the Adversary (Satan) (1 Cor 5:5). As written above, there are many things which may be an adversary to us. Things like ill-health, dis-ease, poverty, friends, your employer, family, circumstances, etc.

Peter was an adversary to Jesus at one stage (Matt 16:23) and Hadad the Edomite was an adversary to Solomon when he strayed from the Lord (1 Kings 11:14. When Solomon served God with all his heart, God kept the adversary from him (1 Kings 5:4).

Life can be a struggle when it feels like one is always up to an adverse situation. Life can also be a flow where God orders our every step and we experience His inner rest and peace (Ps 37:23).

 

I can sense (in the spirit) that someone needs to repent. I had to! This uncovering of your father’s nakedness – the putting to shame of your Father’s wife is more serious than you may think.

Don’t be misled: No one makes a fool of God. What a person plants, he will harvest. The person who plants selfishness, ignoring the needs of others—ignoring God!—harvests a crop of weeds. All he’ll have to show for his life is weeds! But the one who plants in response to God, letting God’s Spirit do the growth work in him, harvests a crop of real life…  Gal 6:7-8 Message Bible

 

May we all grow up to that place of Sonship, inheriting everything He has for us.

May we come to the place of abundant living, in every area of our lives.

May we experience the Life of Christ, flowing through our beings.

May we stay in the flow of the river that runs from the throne of God.

5 Groups of People Jesus Encountered

November 6, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

5 Types of People

During the three and a half years of Jesus’ earthly ministry, He encountered 5 different groups/types of people.

These groups were touched, influenced, taught, reprimanded, and even rebuked by Jesus.  As you read this, you will identify with one or more of this company of people as all of us belong to one or more of them.  When our spiritual life and relationship with the Lord progressively grow in Him[1], we will gradually move from one type of people to another and eventually find ourselves to be a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ.

All disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ are Christians but not all Christians are disciples.  These divergent classes of people were not so much identified by their outer apparel or social class (although they were in certain cases), but in their attitude and words towards Jesus.  The disposition of the hearts of these different groups can be heard from their mouths and seen by their works as we read the four Gospels[2].  For as He said, “For the mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart.  A good man produces good things from his storeroom of good, and an evil man produces evil things from his storeroom of evil”.[3]

 

1. The Family

 

Here we find ourselves with Jesus in everyday relational complexities of being part of an earthly family.  Some of us have been brought up in a large family with brothers and sisters, uncles and aunts, while others again were the only child or brought up in a single parent home.  Our homes were a place of solace, peace, and warmth but could also have been a site for conflict, abuse, and fear.  Our family and those who were part of our childhood made a lasting impression on us and shaped our behaviour and the choices we made and are still making in life.  They also have a picture in mind of your actions, attitude and manners, which tainted their memories of you.  This is so imprinted in their minds that to see you in a new light, when you have changed in attitude and heart, is nearly impossible.

There came the time in your life when you were born again.  You confessed Jesus as Lord and Saviour of your life and became God’s child.  This was either gladly accepted by your immediate family[4] or thought of as strange and may even have caused division[5].

 

After Jesus’ baptism in water, receiving the Holy Spirit and forty days of fasting in the desert, He returned to His hometown[6].  He came to declare to His family and all who knew Him, what His God-given purpose was.  Much like us, when we also came home after we got our first job or when we graduated from College or University, excited to tell the family of our new career and plans.  The same scenario could have occurred when we arrived home after accepting Jesus as Lord and Saviour and wanted to share our new found treasure with our family and friends, enthusiastically telling them our salvation story.  An example of this is what we find in the next piece of Scripture:

 

Luke 4:18-24 (KJV)  The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.  And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down.  And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.  And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.  And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph’s son?  And he said unto them, Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician, heal thyself: whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in thy country.  And he said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country.

Jesus made these statements in the presence of everybody as it was the custom for all to go to the Synagogue on the Sabbath.  He ensured that His family and hometown heard the news first.  In John 7 we find a family discussion.  His brothers jokingly told Him what they thought He should do because they, His own brothers, did not believe in Him.  Taking into consideration He was already in His 3rd year of ministry with a lot of miracles, teachings, followers and disciples added to his credentials.

John 7:1-5 (NIV)  After this, Jesus went around in Galilee, purposely staying away from Judea because the Jews there were waiting to take his life. But when the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles was near, Jesus’ brothers said to him, “You ought to leave here and go to Judea, so that your disciples may see the miracles you do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.” For even his own brothers did not believe in him.

There are those who are privileged to have a family who also serves the Lord with all of their hearts.  However, many Christians have a spouse or parents or brothers and sisters who are not children of God and who mock and ridicule and even persecute their own family members.  This is certainly unfortunate, but it should not upset any child of God for even our Lord Jesus Christ experienced the same treatment.  For many Christians there is the choice between family and Jesus. 

Once baptized in water, the Spirit also baptizes us into a new spiritual family[7].  Then we can echo the words of Jesus, “For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother”[8].

 

2. The Crowds

 

Where do we find the crowds?  Is it not at the places of entertainment where people see the extraordinary, the abnormal and breathtaking events?  Or even the funny and bizarre, the mysterious and where miracles happen?  Crowd psychology is a branch of social psychology and their behaviour has been observed and studied over the past decades.  Large groups of people have been able to bring about dramatic and sudden change in history.  Social scientists have developed several different theories for explaining crowd psychology and the ways in which the psychology of the crowd differs significantly from the psychology of those individuals within it.

The Bible speaks of several times where the crowds followed Jesus[9].  The people followed Him because they were amazed at the miracles they had seen, the authority He taught with, and the exorcism of demons.

John 6:2 (NLT)  A huge crowd kept following him wherever he went, because they saw his miraculous signs as he healed the sick.

Matthew 7:28-29 (AMP)  When Jesus had finished these sayings [the Sermon on the Mount], the crowds were astonished and overwhelmed with bewildered wonder at His teaching, For He was teaching as One Who had [and was] authority, and not as [did] the scribes.

Luke 4:36 (NIV)  All the people were amazed and said to each other, “What is this teaching? With authority and power he gives orders to evil spirits and they come out!”

 

What typifies a crowd is the way their emotions can be swayed from the one extreme to the other.  The one moment they love and the next they will hate.  Now they will shout “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”[10] but given the right incitement, they will cry out, Crucify him! Crucify him!”[11]

 

The questions each one of us must ask ourselves are:

  • Why am I going to Church and why am I serving the Lord Jesus Christ?
  • Am I part of the crowd?
  • Do I follow after signs and wonders and the crowd’s excitement?
  • How much is my heart- and soul’s attitude toward the Lord influenced by others?
  • If my serving the Lord is dependant on the group’s feelings or  behaviour then what will my spiritual life be when the crowd is not there anymore?

 

3. The Needy

 

The 3rd group of people who came from near and far to be around Jesus, were those in need of healing, deliverance and a miracle.  On nearly every page of the Gospels we find those with desperate needs, the lame and the blind, the lepers and the afflicted, the demonized and the dead.  Jesus declared at the beginning of His ministry in His hometown how; He has been anointed to preach the gospel to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised and preach the acceptable year of the Lord.[12]

Jesus was the good news who gave health to the bones[13] as well as the living water to the weary souls[14].  He is still the Healer and Provider, our Helper and Saviour, Deliverer and Bestower of eternal salvation[15].  Sitting at the right of the Father, He intercedes for us, knowing the frailty of the human nature as well as the cunning craftiness of men and the luring temptations of the enemy[16].

Many times we find ourselves in situations where the humanly impossible is needed.  When we have come to the end of our own strength or wisdom and we require a miracle, something supernatural[17] to happen.  At such occasions we are also The Needy, desiring a touch or breakthrough from an Almighty God who specializes in doing the impossible.  As the angel Gabriel told Mary, “For with God nothing shall be impossible”[18].  Jesus reiterated Gabriel’s statement to His disciples, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God”[19].

 

4. The Scribes and Pharisees.

 

These people were the religious leaders of the day.  There were three major religious societies at the time of Jesus – the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the Essenes[20].  The Pharisees were the most dominant and outspoken of the three.  The word Pharisee means, a separist.  They considered themselves much holier than the common people[21] and wore special long garments to distinguish themselves from others.  The Pharisees and Sadducees were in opposition as to certain principles tenets.  One of the differences between the two groups was that the Pharisees believed in the existence of angels and spirits and the doctrine of the resurrection, while the Sadducees denied both[22].

 

Jesus made some remarkable comments to and about these leaders:

 

  • “That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.”[23]
  • “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.”[24]
  • “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.’”[25]
  • “Let them (the Pharisees) alone and disregard them; they are blind guides and teachers. And if a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a ditch.”[26]
  • “Be careful and on your guard against the leaven (ferment) of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Then they discerned that He did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”[27]
  • “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.”[28]
  • “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me?”[29]
  • “…for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them ‘Rabbi.’”[30]
  • “You serpents! You spawn of vipers! How can you escape the penalty to be suffered in hell (Gehenna)?”[31]

 

It is clear from the above statements of Jesus that He did not see them as Godly leaders, righteous guides for the nation of Israel.  Instead, He condemned them and their way of life.  They were in the same category as the people Paul warned Timothy to stay away from, “For [although] they hold a form of piety (true religion), they deny and reject and are strangers to the power of it [their conduct belies the genuineness of their profession]. Avoid [all] such people [turn away from them].”[32]

The Pharisees were speaking the right words, using the correct verses of Scripture and outwardly displaying the strict code of conduct according to the Law.  However, inwardly the motives of their hearts were far from sincere and honest.  The reason Jesus called them hypocrites.

 

When Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4, He made it very clear in what way God must be worshipped.  He did not describe any outward actions, religious traditions, praise and worship sessions, long prayers, or strict dietary regulations.  He simply said, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”[33]  Here we have the Figure Hendiadys[34] and it could also read, in true spirit or truly in spirit or truly with the spirit[35].  Any outward actions such as singing, praying or dancing have no significance in the worshipping of God unless it is done with an honest and truthful heart.  Therefore, judging someone on the way they are worshipping God, without knowing the intent and motive of their heart, is purely an act of prejudice – showing the condition of one’s own heart.

 

Again some questions should be asked:

  • “Am I like the Pharisees? Doing the acceptable outward works but my heart is not in it.”
  • “Is the praise of men more important than serving in a way or a place where only the Lord knows of it?
  • “Am I quick to give a Bible verse or to say ‘the Lord says…”, but slow to do what He requires of me?”
  • “Do the people know how much I give, how much I pray and when I fast?”

 

The Fifth group you will find under “(How to be…#3) a disciple of Jesus Christ“.

 


 

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[1] Ephesians 4:15 (KJV)

[2] Matthew, Mark, Luke, John.

[3] Matt 12:34 (HCSB)

[4] Acts 16:14-15, 34; 1Corinthians 1:16

[5] Matthew 10:34-39

[6] Luke 3:21-22; 4:1-2, 14-16

[7] 1Corinthians 12:13

[8] Matthew 12:50 (KJV)

[9] Matthew 4:25; 8:1; 13:2; 14:13-15; 15:10; 19:2; 20:29; 21:9; 22:33 (NIV); Mark 2:13; 3:7,9,20,32; 4:1; 5:21,25; 6:34; 7:14,33; 8:1; 9:14,25; 10:1,46 (NIV); Luke 5:15,19,29; 7:9,11-12,24; 8:4,19,43,45; 9:11,37; 11:14,29; 12:1,54, 14:25; 19:3,37; 22:47 (NIV); John 6:2,5; 7:20,31; 12:7,29. 

[10] Matthew 21:9 (NIV)

[11] Luke 23:21 (NIV)

[12] Luke 4:18-19 (KJV)

[13] Proverbs 15:30 (NIV)

[14] Proverbs 25:25 (NIV); John 4:14; 7:37-38

[15] Psalm 18:2; 40:17; 70:5; 144:2 (AMP; Daniel 6:27 (AMP); Romans 11:26 (AMP); 1Timothy 4:10 (AMP); Hebrews 13:7 (AMP)

[16] Acts 2:33 (KJV); Hebrews 7:25;  5:2 (KJV); Ephesians 4:14 (KJV); 2Corinthains 2:3 (KJV);  Ephesians 6:11 (KJV)

[17] Existing or occurring through some agency beyond the known forces of nature. Lying outside the sphere of natural law, whether psychic or physical. That which transcends nature and is outside the accepted and known order of nature. The New International Webster’s Comprehensive Dictionary of the English language. 2004 Edition. Trident Press International.

[18] Luke 1:37

[19] Luke 18:27

[20] “After the resettling of the Jewish people in Judea on their return from the Babylonian captivity, there were two religious groups among them.  One party contended themselves with the following only what was written in the Law of Moses.  These were called Zadikim, the righteous.  The other group added the constitutions and traditions of the elders, as well as other rigorous observances, to the Law and voluntarily complied with them.  They were called Chasidim or the pious.  From the Zadikim the sects of the Sadducees and Karaites were derived.  From the Chasidim were derived the Pharisees and the Essenes”.  The Complete Wordstudy Dictionary, New Testament. Spiros Zodhiates Th.D. 1993 Revised Edition. 

[21] Luke 18:11-12

[22] Acts 23:8; Matthew 22:23; Mark 12:18; Luke 20:27

[23] Matthew 5:20 (KJV)

[24] Matthew 12:39 (NIV)

[25] Matthew 15:3,7-9 (NIV)

[26] Matthew 15:14 (AMP)

[27] Matthew 16:6,12 (AMP)

[28] Matthew 21:43 (NIV)

[29] Matthew 22:18 (NIV)

[30] Matthew 23:2-7 (NIV)

[31] Matthew 23:33 (AMP)

[32] 2Timothy 3:5 (AMP)

[33] John 4:24 (KJV)

[34] “Two words employed, but only one thing, or idea, intended.  One of the two words expresses the thing, and the other intensifies it by being changed (if a noun) into an adjective of the superlative degree, which is, by this means, made especially emphatic.  This figure is truly oriental, and exceedingly picturesque.  It is found in Latin as well as Hebrew and Greek, and is very frequently used in the Old and New Testaments”.  Bullinger, E.W. 2004. Figures of Speech used in the Bible.. Grand Rapids: Baker Books.

[35] Bullinger, E.W. 1979. Word Studies on the Holy Spirit. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications

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