Jesus speaks privately to his disciples and begins to criticize the Mosaic scribes and Pharisees; which are analogous to today’s Nicolaitane Laodiceans.
Jesus begins by saying that the scribes and Pharisees sat in Moses seat. Of course that was overturned when they had Christ killed; and Jesus Christ replaced the Levitical priesthood as the new High Priest of the old order of Melchisedec, and his faithful followers became the Royal Priesthood of the New Covenant.
1 Peter 2:7 Unto you therefore which believe [and obey, see next line] he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient [to the Word of God], the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner,
This is not just talking about Judaism rejecting Jesus Christ! It is talking about ALL those who will not enthusiastically live by every Word of God as Jesus taught (Mat 4:4)!
What? I mean that the brethren refuse to follow Jesus Christ in living by the whole Word of God as Jesus commanded us, and who reject parts of God’s Word for our own false ways and traditions; are bowing to idols and committing spiritual adultery: We are rejecting Jesus Christ!
We stumble at Christ as many teach a false Christ who will tolerate sin and forgive any sin we might do in future in advance: Thus making Christ’s sacrifice a license to continue in sin.
They say “keep the commandments” and then say that we are weak and Jesus understands so if we sin here and there Jesus will automatically forgive because he has paid for sin in advance, making a mockery of the sacrifice of Christ. Mainstream Christianity has been taken in by this lie and so have very many in the Ekklesia.
We have misunderstood and so stumbled at Jesus Christ!
2 Timothy 3:4 Traitors [against the Word of God] , heady [intoxicated with pride], highminded [exalting their own ways], lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God [paying others to serve them on Sabbath for their own pleasure]; 3:5 Having a form [appearance, a put on, a show] of godliness, but denying the power [exalting themselves above the authority of the Word of God] thereof: from such turn away.
Of course we are weak and cannot overcome on our own; but with the indwelling strength of God’s Spirit and our faithful following of God’s Word we shall be overcomers. Not by our own strength, but by the power of that ultimate overcomer, Jesus Christ!
3:8 And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.
The Called Out, the passionately obedient and faithful to Christ, zealously learning and keeping the whole Word of God as Christ commanded, are growing into the office of kings and priests; the Royal Priesthood of Jesus Christ which transcends and replaces the seat of Moses!
1 Peter 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light;
Matthew 23:1 Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, 23:2 Saying The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: 23:3 All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.
The Mosaic scribes and Pharisees bind heavy burdens on the people which they do not bear themselves. They were hypocrites not keeping what they taught.
23:4 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.
With the death of the Husband of Israel; the marriage between Israel and Christ ended and so did the authority of the Mosaic Levitical Priesthood, the scribes and the Mosaic Pharisees! and the Hellenized Rabbins NEVER had any right to Moses seat; they exalted themselves above Moses!
When Christ ascended to heaven and was accepted as a sacrifice for us; he became our High Priest and King of the world in waiting; the Mosaic priesthood was superseded by a reestablishment of the High Priesthood of Melchizedek.
In the Kingdom when a new physical temple is built, Levites descended from Zadok, will again serve in that physical temple; doing those physical things necessary for that physical temple service (Ezek 40-48). Yet they will also be converted to Christ and grafted into the Royal priesthood of Jesus Christ in the New Covenant at that time.
The only true Priesthood now and forever more; is that of our High Priest Jesus Christ and those called out with the potential to become priests of Christ forever in the coming Kingdom of God. All of us are in training to become priests forever in that spiritual priesthood of Jesus Christ [Melchizedek].
We are to rely on the example and teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ and the whole body of scriptures that was inspired by HIM for our religion!
23:5 But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments,
23:6 And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, 23:7 And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.
Sound familiar? Just substitute the word Mr. or Pope or “father” or padre etc for Rabbi, apostle, elder, prophet or evangelist! Oh, how we love to put on a show and impress people; Oh, how we love titles and the chief seats today.
23:8 But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. 23:9 And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. 23:10 Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.
This is not about calling your true father “father’ nor is it about calling some man Mr. in common usage; it is talking about a love of ecclesiastical titles. This is about demanding to be called father or Mr. or Rabbi as an ecclesiastical title to create a hierarchy of men between the brethren and God.
from this instruction of Jesus it has always been customary to call everyone brothers and sisters, including elders and leaders in the Ekklesia until this leaven pride infected us. Elders were introduced as elder ******, or brother ******; until Constantine and the Popes introduced layers of authority between the people and themselves; which the brethren have bought into and which Jesus Christ says he hates.
1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; 2:6 Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.
The idea of a pyramidal structure of layers of authority between men and God is an abomination to God. It is the job of ALL elders to focus all people on God the Father and Christ: NEVER to come between the people and God; but to act as facilitators in helping men to focus DIRECTLY on God their Father through their ONLY High Priest and Mediator; Jesus Christ!
We are to prove the words of ALL men by the Word of Almighty God! We are NOT to interpret God’s Word by the words of men; but to prove the words of men by the Word of Almighty God!
Matthew 23:11 But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.
We are all to desire to serve our God and not to exalt ourselves. God will exalt or abase as HE sees fit.
23:12 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.
All of these men who love to exalt themselves over the people with grand titles as they spurn any zeal for God’s Word shall be abased in due time; being cast into the furnace of correction.
Those who humble themselves to be zealous to learn and to keep the whole Word of God shall be exalted by Almighty God in due time.
23:13 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.
How? by paying lip-service to the law while making it of no effect by the traditions of men and through rejection of scripture or compromise in the practical application of God’s Word.
23:14 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.
Demanding money of poor widows, taking the inheritances of orphans and making a show of prayer.(Mat 6 and Luk 18).
23:15 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.
How? by teaching them to obey men, organizations and false traditions, instead of focusing them on sincere repentance and a diligent passionate obedience of God’s commandments.
People have been deceived into thinking that the Pharisees were zealous for the letter of law; when in fact they were zealous for their own traditions above the Word of God!
Today the Ekklesia focus on their own false traditions of men, as so important that they exalt them over the scriptures and make the law of God of no effect by their false traditions; exactly like the Pharisees did!
23:16 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! 23:17 Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold? 23:18 And, Whosoever shall swear by the altar, it is nothing; but whosoever sweareth by the gift that is upon it, he is guilty. 23:19 Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifieth the gift? 23:20 Whoso therefore shall swear by the altar, sweareth by it, and by all things thereon.
Today’s major professing Christians exalt themselves as corporate idols and exalt obedience to themselves above obedience to God. They place mammon and numbers above sincere repentance, faith and a zeal to obey God.
To a lesser or greater degree in the different groups we commit the exact same sin as Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for:
Matthew 15:4 For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death.
15:5 But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother [or wife or children who God has blessed us with and given us responsibility to care for], It is a gift [ offering for the church], by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me;
15:6 And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.
15:7 Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying,
15:8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.
15:9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
Jesus said that God and God’s Word are everything.
Matthew 23:21 And whoso shall swear by the temple, sweareth by it, and by him that dwelleth therein. 23:22 And he that shall swear by heaven, sweareth by the throne of God, and by him that sitteth thereon.
In preaching the important thing is NOT the numbers of responses, but the quality of the message! The important thing is not the building [the organization] but serving and obeying the Eternal God on his throne, sitting in absolute authority over all our deeds and very thoughts! The God who will most certainly judge us by our works; whether of faithful uncompromising obedience; or of rebellious compromising with HIS Word!
23:23 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.
Demanding every last cent that can be demanded or extorted; while ignoring and not teaching sincere repentance from evil doing, and faith, mercy and sound judgment based on the basics of God’s word and commandments, is an unbalanced priority.
We are to be merciful to the poor in their needs; we are to be merciful to the sincerely repentant instead of condemning them for being over righteous.
We are to preach a message of warning and repentance and teach a zeal for God and his Word; that the mercy of God who gave his only begotten Son for us, might be applied to reconcile sinners to God the Father.
23:24 Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.
This is a figure of speech that simply means that we strain at the little unimportant things like money and numbers; and neglect the really important things like zeal for our God.
23:25 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. 23:26 Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. 23:27 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. 23:28 Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.
Likewise today’s Ekklesia try to put up a good appearance outside, and are full of sin inside ourselves and our organizations!
We need to clean up our own spiritual lives and get right with God. We need to rekindle our passionate zeal for God and his commandments; we need to get rid of those false traditions not consistent with scripture!
We need to stop rejecting those scriptures that we do not like because they destroy our false traditions, and we need to start setting a godly example instead of acting so shamefully!
We need to stop exalting men and organizations above God; equating loyalty to men as being equal to loyalty to God. We need to repent and turn to our God with passionate enthusiastic zeal; and then we need to begin to preach the Gospel of warning and sincere repentance that Christ has commanded us to preach.
23:29 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, 23:30 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.
Today we claim to honour the prophets and ancient men of God while persecuting those who are filled with a similar zeal: Showing ourselves that we are no better than they which persecuted the saints of old.
23:31 Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. 23:32 Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers.
Today many persecute the zealous just as they did.
Jesus says of the Pharisees in those days; and he says the same things to us today:
23:33 Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?
Jesus prophesies that the religious establishment of that day and today will reject the prophets and spiritually wise and persecutes them; rejecting godliness to follow their own idols of men and false traditions.
This is a prophecy about the future from that time forward; it has been fulfilled over the generations, and is now being fulfilled today.
23:34 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: 23:35 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.
Those who reject the scriptures and persecute the zealous for the Word of God in the Ekklesia today are no different than the Pharisees who are likened to vipers who hide along the path waiting to strike the unwary.
When a person goes to today’s corporate Ekklesia with questions; very many of the leaders and elders reason with them that they should not be zealous for the Word of God, but should follow their traditions as the ancient Pharisees did!
Then if the zealous will not be dissuaded from their zeal for God; they make a note to persecute such zeal by calling the zealous Pharisaic, when it is they themselves who are Pharisaic! Filled with zeal for their own groups, their idols of men and their false traditions, while rejecting any scripture that contradicts their false ways!
Since Cain slew Abel it has ever been thus; that the faithless and compromising; have always persecuted the faithful and zealous. Those who exalt the Lord their God; will face resistance from outside and from inside these latter day church organizations, just as they did from the Pharisees.
Such persecuted people should REJOICE for they are being tempered and tested to become pillars in the Temple of The Great God for all eternity. If they stand on the foundation of the Word of Almighty God without turning, no matter what the stress; they will be made fit by God to stand on that sure foundation, helping to hold up the entire family of God for all eternity!
23:36 Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation.
These persecutions did come upon the saints by the religious establishment of that day, and have continued to this day.
Now in this generation; which is the last generation before the resurrection to spirit of the chosen and the coming of Christ to establish the Kingdom of God over all the earth; the majority of the called out have fallen away and will not endure sound doctrine; rejecting the scriptures and rejecting all those who love and keep the whole Word of God.
2 Timothy 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4:4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
Matthew 23:37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem [as the actual city and also as the capital representing all physical and spiritual Israel], 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!
23:38 Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.
This is about the city Jerusalem and figuratively about the faithless who persecute the faithful today and throughout history. Christ would have saved them, if only they would accept his deliverance and turn to him, away from sin and compromise with God the Father’s law.
Both Jerusalem and faithless people will be made desolate in the tribulation; it is then that many will repent and turn to the ONLY ONE that can truly save!
23:39 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.
When Messiah the Christ does come; Jerusalem, and those who persecuted the saints will be in a humbled and repentant attitude, and will no longer reject the scriptures and the prophets and teachers of godly righteousness; they will no longer persecute those who are zealous to learn and to live by every Word of God! Instead they shall call such godly persons blessed!
They shall be sincerely repentant and will no longer reject the scriptures and reject zeal to keep them; instead they shall shout for joy at his appearance; crying out “Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord”!