1. Hearing of the increasing impact of Jesus' ministry, the religious leaders in Jerusalem decided to send an informal emissary to Galilee. The Pharisees and scribes were two of several different categories of Judaism in the first century. Choosing a visible, but relatively minor issue from their oral tradition, the Pharisees question Jesus about hand-washing (v 2). Jesus, employing the exact same phrase, rebut them with a superior question, "Why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition" (v 3)? In verses 4-6 Jesus chooses the fifth of the Ten Commandments (Ex 20:12) to point out their hypocrisy. Though the penalty could not be higher, these leaders had little regard for the welfare of their parent. Instead they employed a religious form of money laundering, by dedicating what might have helped their parents to the Temple. Unable to touch the dedicated property because of their vow (corban), they would wait until the death of their parents and then reclaim it. For the sake of their tradition-which most often was put in place to satisfy their greed-they had voided the truth of God's words and thereby incurred the title, "hypocrites" (lit. one who wears a mask or an actor, the word has been transliterated instead of translated from Greek = hupokritai). Jesus' indictment is reminiscent of God's judgment on Judah during their rebellion and subsequent punishment at the hand of Babylon found in Isaiah 29 (vv 8,9).

    Seizing the teaching moment, Jesus explains the straightforward principle at hand. It is not what goes into a person that defiles them (destroys their integrity), but what comes out (see Eph 4:29; Js 3:6; vv 10,11). Quickly interrupting the flow of the lesson, His disciples warned Jesus that He was "offending" (fr. skandalizo, later scandal) His opponents (v 12). Thinking back to the wheat and the tares, Jesus reminds His disciples of God's sovereign control (v 13). Besides, they are nothing more than the "blind leading the blind" (v 14).

    Apparently frustrated by Peter's lack of understanding (perhaps acting too much like the Pharisees, "also" v 15, 16), Jesus provides an explanation. Things that are eaten end up in the latrine (v 17), but words and attitudes come from the center of one's being, the heart ( kardia) to bless or to curse Js 3:9, 10. Bringing the discussion full circle, Jesus returns to the priority of the commandments of God above the traditions of men by listing at least four more of the Ten Commandments (murder, adultery, stealing, and lying; v 19). Lest the life principle be lost in the details of the object lesson, Jesus returns to the original accusation by stressing these offenses defile a person because they demonstrate their true nature, but to eat with unwashed hands does not (v 20).

    In the fight for truth where did these religious people go wrong and what will keep us from doing the same thing?

    1. They took fatal steps concerning the Word of God.

    A. They Forgot the Word of God.

    B. They Added to the Word of God.

    C. They Fabricated a new Word of God.

    2. They replaced a heart for God for the works of men.

    A. The home of the Word is the Heart Isa. 51:1-8; Ps. 119:11

    B. God will be found when we search with our whole Heart Jer. 29:13

    C. A man is not justified with works but with his Heart

    Rom. 10:13

    Jewish Sects

    A. Hasidim = Pious Ones, those who were loyal to the covenant and rejected Hellenization during the reign of Antiochus IV. The group is mentioned in 1 Macc. 2:42; 7:14 and 2 Maac. 14:6. These were leading men of Israel who joined the Maccabean Revolt.

    B. Pharisees = Separated Ones

    1. There name first appears during the time of Hyracanus I (134-105 BC)

    2. There name probably refers to the zeal for the Law

    3. The held to the doctrine of foreordination

    4. The believed in the immortality of the soul and the resurrection of the body

    5. The had a highly developed view of angels and demons

    6. They maintained the authority of the Hebrew Scriptures as well as the oral tradition

    7. Pharisaism is the final result OT that conception of religion which makes religion exist in conformity to the Law. (they were not all hypocrites)

    C. Saducees = Origin of name uncertain, probably from the priestly lineage of Zaddok

    1. Began during the same period as Pharisees

    2. The denied that history was controlled, insisting that the individual was free to direct his own life and thereby his own history

    3. They rejected the doctrine of two kingdoms (angels etc.)

    4. They only accepted the Pentateuch (not the oral law)

    5. The Saducees were much more prone to Hellenization

    6. They were a small group of aristocratic land owners in NT times

    7. They were theologically conservative and politically liberal

    D. Essenes = Not mentioned in the NT

    1. A small group of 4,000 recorded in Pliny, Philo, and Josephus

    2. They lived a simple ascetic life ( the more strict ones were celibate)

    3. They lived in communal groups

    4. Their property was held in common

    5. They had stated periods for prayer beginning at sunrise & ritual washings

    6. The continually study the OT

    7. They believed the biblical promises were being fulfilled in their group

    E. Herodians = The origin is difficult although their name would connect them with Herod

    1. Not really a religious group, but a political party

    2. They were Jews of influence who supported the rule of Herod

    3. They were often rewarded by Herod, materially

    F. Zealots = Their name denotes their activity...Founded by Judas the Galilean

    1. They rebelled against Rome in 6 AD and refused to pay taxes

    2. They were militant men of bloodshed who would not submit to Rome

    3. They remained active through the Jewish revolt of 66-73

    G. Common People or People of the Land = am-ha-aretz

    1. 90% of the Jews were in this category

    2. They were avoided by the Pharisees, they saw them as immoral

    3. Jesus' identification with them enraged the Pharisees

    4. Jesus viewed them as sheep without a shepherd

    H. Publicans, Tax Collectors

    1. Possibly of the Tobiad family.

    2. Those given the authority by the controlling government to collect taxes

    3. Termed "turncoats and collaborators" with Rome

    4. They sere despised by all the people

    I. Qumran Sect

    1. From the priestly line who were inclined to a strict adherence OT the Law

    2. They wanted to preserve the festive calendar based on lunar calculations

    (12 months 30 days in each)

    3. They were unsuccessful in this undertaking and removed themselves from

    society to the area around the Dead Sea

    4. Their leader "Teacher of Righteousness" some identify as Jonathan Maccabees

    5. This communal group could not sacrifice so they rallied around the strict observance of the Law - dietary, Sabbath, etc.

    6. They looked for the coming of two Messiahs

    - Davidic Messiah who would lead the political scene

    - Priestly Messiah of the line of Levi or Aaron for the religious

    7. Many believe that John the Baptist was reared y this group or a similar one.

    II. Rabbinic Religion

    Scribes

    From the ancient times in the Near East, the scribes did the work of professional secretaries. They are more than this in the NT. This change in function came during the Babylonian Captivity. From the time of Ezra, the scribe's office became more important. Ezra has the distinction of being both a priest and a scribe. During the exile the priest were the keeper of the Law and Ezra was the leading figure during this period. He was the prototype of the NT scribe and teacher of the Law. They were generally held in high esteem and most were Pharisees, but they could also be Saducees. They commanded complete respect by their pupils and were honored even above parents, "A father brings a child into this world, but the scribe has the responsibility to teach him the things that will carry him to the world beyond."

    The Professional Scribe was given three main responsibilities

    1. They were concerned with the theoretical development of the Law itself. In addition to the 10 Commandments, they had 613 other commandments. There were 248 positive and 365 negative commands.

    2. They taught the Law. Most often done in booths in the outer court of the temple. The students learned by rote memory. The even were required to memorize their scribe's mannerism. The pupils had two duties: (a) to commit everything to memory (b) never teach anything that had not been committed.

    3. They had the job of applying the Law, by making pronouncements concerning legal actions and issuing authoritative judgments regarding the matters brought before them.

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  2. I. Chained By Christ – God’s gracious call in salvation

    William Newell (d. 1956) buried near Leesburg, Fl described the way I viewed my life apart from Christ by writing:

    Years I spent in vanity and pride, Caring not my Lord was crucified,
    Knowing not it was for me He died on Calvary.

    Mercy there was great, and grace was free; Pardon there was multiplied to me;
    There my burdened soul found liberty at Calvary.

    By God’s Word at last my sin I learned; Then I trembled at the law I’d spurned,
    Till my guilty soul imploring turned to Calvary.

    How many years did I spend in vanity and pride caring not my Lord was crucified? Almost 24. Brought the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, by Christ’s words from John 15:5

    “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. ” (John 15:5, ESV)

    II. Chained To Christ – God’s gracious call of sanctification

    “When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.” ” (Acts 11:18, ESV)

    “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. ” (John 17:17, ESV)

    ABC’s of God’s Word

    III. Chained For Christ – God’s gracious call to service

    Ezra 7:1-10

    Ezra came from a long line of priests, linking him all the way back to Aaron (vv 1-5). The fact that many names are left out in this genealogy only stresses the importance of connecting Ezra to Aaron. As a scribe (Heb. soper) in the Second Temple Period, Ezra spent his days studying, translating, interpreting, and copying the biblical text. Moreover, he was “skilled” (מָהִיר֙ mahir fr. mahar = to be quick, make haste), which in this instance as well as Proverbs 22:29 it means intellectually sharp or quick-minded. Ezra is skilled in the Law of Moses, the Pentateuch or first five books of the Hebrew Bible. Moreover, this Law is the one that “the Lord, the God of Israel had given” (v 6). “This” Ezra who had found favor from both God and man went up from Babylon to Jerusalem, a trip of about 900 miles, taking about four months (vv 7-9a).

    “for the good hand of God was on him, for Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the Lord, and do it and teach his statutes and rules in Israel.”

    Ezra 7:9b-10.

    I. Study – Neh 8:8 = Ezra interpreted the law (2 Tim 2:15)

    II. Practice – Ezra 8:21-23 = I was ashamed to ask (1 Tim 4:7)

    III. Teach – Ezra 10:10,11 = Ezra the priest stood up and said (2 Tim 2:2)

    What makes this “Call” different from the call all Christians have?

    1. While all Christians are called to study and practice, not all are called to teach or preach (Eph 4:11,12; Js 3:1).

    2. This Call is an internal compulsion of the heart (1 Cor 9:16)

    Paul, a bond servant (Rom 1:1; Gal 1:10), becoming like Him in His death (Phil 3:10), pressing on to obtain that for which he was laid hold of (Phil 3:12-16).

    “. . . the δοῦλος, . . . has no possibility of evading the tasks laid upon him but who also has no right of personal choice, who must rather do what another will have done, and refrain from doing what another will not have done . . .” (Kittle TDNT, vol. 2, p. 261).

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  3. Pastor Dave Phillips from Luke 1

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  4. Sermon: “The ‘SABBATH’ of Matthew 12 … (In Context)”

    Mt 12:1-14

    1. Keeping the Sabbath

    Keeping the Sabbath was a binding moral AND ceremonial obligation for Israel, but most Jews had little idea of the original purpose of the Sabbath, or of how God intended it to be honored. Instead of being a day of rest it had become a day of incredible burden. Because of the thousands of man-made restrictions regarding it, the Sabbath was more tiresome than the six days devoted to one’s occupation. It was harder to “rest” than to earn a living.

    Jewish tradition had even caused the Sabbath to be dangerous. The apocryphal book of 1 Maccabees (2:31-38) tells of an incident during the time of Judas Maccabaeus when a group of Jews refused to defend themselves on the Sabbath against the Greek army lead by Antiochus Epiphanes. As the soldiers of Antiochus attacked, the Jews “answered them no, neither cast they a stone at them, nor stopped the places where they lay hid; but said: ‘Let us die in our innocency: heaven and earth shall testify for us, that ye put us to death wrongfully.’ So they rose up against them in battle on the Sabbath, and they slew them with their wives and children and cattle, to the number of a thousand people.”

    One section alone of the Talmud, the major compilation of Jewish tradition, has twenty-four chapters listing Sabbath laws. One law specified that certain objects could be lifted up and put down on the Sabbath only from, and to, certain places. Other things could be lifted up from a public place and set down in a private one, and vice versa. Still others could be picked up in a wide place and put down in a legally free place – but rabbis could not agree about the meanings of wide and free!

    Throwing an object into the air with one hand and catching it with the other was prohibited. If the Sabbath overtook you as you reached for some food, the food was to be dropped before drawing your arm back, lest you be guilty of carrying a burden!

    Tailors did not carry a needle with them on the Sabbath for fear they might be tempted to mend a garment and thereby perform work. Nothing could be bought or sold, and clothing could not be dyed or washed. A letter could not be dispatched, even if by the hand of a Gentile. No fire could be lit or extinguished – including fire for a lamp – although a fire already lit could be used within certain limits. For that reason, some orthodox Jews today use automatic timers to turn on lights in their homes well before the Sabbath begins. Otherwise they might forget to turn them on in time and have to spend the night in the dark.

    According to those hair-splitting regulations, a Jew could not pull off even a handful of grain to eat on the Sabbath unless he were starving – which, of course, is often a difficult thing to determine and would be cause for considerable differences of opinion. If a person became ill on the Sabbath, only enough treatment could be given to keep him alive. Treatment to make him improve was declared to be work, and therefore forbidden. To determine just how much food, medicine, or bandaging would be necessary to keep a person alive – and no more – was itself an impossible burden.

    Among the many other forbidden Sabbath activities were: sewing, plowing, reaping, grinding, baking, threshing, binding sheaves, winnowing, sifting, dying, shearing, spinning, kneading, separating or weaving two threads, tying or untying a knot, and sewing two stitches.

    2. William Hendrickson

    “By means of their hairsplitting legalism these men were constantly burying God’s law under the heavy load of their traditions, as has become clear from the explanation of 5:21-48. Filled with envy they were always watching Jesus to see whether something he said or did could be used as a charge against him, so as to destroy him. As to the Pharisees, one thing is certain; their intentions were not honorable. There was murder in their hearts. See verse 14. Cf. John 5:18; 7:19; 8:40.

    Suddenly they confront Jesus, blaming him for allowing his disciples to profane the Sabbath. Was not work forbidden on the seventh day (Exod. 20:8-11; 34:21; Deut. 5:12-15)? Had not the rabbis drawn up a catalogue of thirty-nine principal works, subdivided into many minor categories, so that, for example, plucking heads of grain was considered reaping, and rubbing out the grain threshing? 497 And here were the disciples engaged in these very activities and even enjoying the fruits of their sins: they were eating this ill-gotten grain! And Jesus was doing nothing about it!

    In his answer Jesus, who elsewhere gave the true, spiritual interpretation of the first and second commandments (Exod. 20:1-6; cf. Matt. 22:37, 38, which summarizes the entire first table of the law), of the third commandment and the ninth (Exod. 20:7; Lev 19:12; Num. 30:2; Deut. 23:21; cf. Matt. 5:33-37), the fifth and eighth (Exod. 20:12, 15; cf. Matt. 15:3-6), the sixth (Exod. 20:13; cf. Matt. 5:21-26, 38-42), the seventh (Exod. 20:14; cf. Matt. 5:27-32; 19:3-12), and the tenth (Exod. 20:17; cf. Luke 12:13-21; 16:14, 19-31; see also Matt. 22:39, in which the entire second table is summarized), now reveals the true meaning of the FOURTH commandment (Exod. 20:8-11). Implied in his interpretation, but in this case not stated in so many words, is a condemnation of the false explanation which the rabbis had superimposed upon this commandment … and which in the days of Christ’s sojourn on earth was being widely propagated by scribes and Pharisees.”

    3. Charles Spurgeon

    Some readers can read a very great deal… because they do not (actually) read anything! The eye glances but the mind never rests! The soul does not light upon the truth and stay there. It flits over the landscape as a bird might do, but it builds no nest therein, and finds no rest for the sole of its foot. Such ‘reading’ is not ‘reading’! Understanding the meaning is the essence of true reading!:

    Reading has a kernel to it, and the mere shell is worth very little! In prayer there is such a thing as “praying in prayer a praying” that is the bowels of the prayer! So in praise there is a ‘praising in song’, an inward fire of intense devotion which is the life of the hallelujah! That is also true in fasting: there is a fasting of the soul, which is the soul of fasting. It is even so with the reading’ of Scriptures. There is an interior reading, a kernel of reading, a true and living Word! This is the soul of reading; and, if it be not there, the reading is a mechanical exercise, and “profits nothing”!

    Now, beloved, unless we understand what we read we have not read it! The heart of the reading is absent! We commonly condemn the Roman Catholics for keeping the daily service in the Latin tongue! Yet is might as well be in the Latin language as in any other tongue if it be not understood by the people! Some comfort themselves with the idea that they have done a good action when they have read a chapter, into the meaning of which they have not entered at all; but even UN-believers reject this as a mere superstition! If you had turned the book upside down, and spent the same time in looking at the characters in that direction, you would have gained as much good from it as you will in reading it in the regular way without understanding it. If you had a New Testament in Greek it would be very Greek to some of you, but it would do you as much good to look at that as it does to look at the English New Testament unless you read with an understanding heart. It is not the letter, which saves the soul; the letter killeth in many senses, and never can it give life. If you harp on the letter alone you may be tempted to use it as a weapon against the truth, as the Pharisees did of old, and your knowledge of the letter may breed pride in you … (to your destruction)! It is the spirit, the real inner meaning … (that is sucked into the soul) … by which we are blessed and sanctified. We become saturated with the Word of God, like Gideon’s fleece, which was wet with the dew of heaven; and this can only come to pass by our receiving it into our minds and hearts, accepting it as God’s truth, and so far understanding it as to delight in it! We must understand it, then … or else we have not read it at all!

    4. What are OUR Applications from this passage?

    1. MOST IMPORTANTLY: ASK YOURSELF →

    o Have I (truly, and personally) experienced Jesus as:

    + GOD? (re. Accepting His Deity).
    + SAVIOR? (re. Coming to Him via Salvation by Grace, through faith, not by works)
    + LORD? (re. Studying my Bible, and DOING what it says).
    + MASTER and OWNER? (re. The use of my time, money, resources and HEART and THOUGHTS)!
    + (And don’t be too quick to superficially answer “yes!” to that! Because remember!: The Pharisees would’ve answered “yes”! [emphatically!] to the question → “Do you love, serve, and obey God”?).

    2. Ask yourself: In what area(s) of your life have YOU “nullified the Word of God” (by your man-made/self-made religious “traditions”, and/or “ceremonies”, and/or “rituals”)?

    3. Ask yourself: do YOU “read” the Scriptures (and do the OUT-ward behaviors of God’s ordinances – like: attend church, pray, attend prayer meetings, “keep” the Sabbath, etc.) like the PHARISEES did?

    o (ie; OUT-wardly ONLY! But in a way where nothing is changing IN-wardly!)?

    4. When you come to church are you more concerned with:

    1. The type of worship music?
    2. The seat you’ll be in?
    3. “Appearing” to be holy to others?
    4. “Checking off” your “list”: the “duty” of attending church?
    5. “Correcting” others shortcomings or doctrine?
    6. Complaining, criticizing and/or grumbling? … or …
    7. Do you seek out (and then reach out) to those with real needs and problems?

    QUOTE OF THE WEEK:

    In leaving the subject, let us beware that we are never tempted to take low views of the sanctity of the Christian Sabbath. Let us take care that we do not make our gracious Lord’s teaching an excuse for Sabbath profanation. Let us not abuse the liberty which He has so clearly marked out for us, and pretend that we do things on the Sabbath from “necessity and mercy”, which in reality we do for our own selfish gratification.

    There is great reason for warning people on this point. The mistakes of the Pharisee about the Sabbath were in one direction; the mistakes of the Christian are in entirely another! The Pharisee pretended to add to the holiness of the day; the Christian is too often disposed to take away from that holiness, and to keep the day in an idle, profane, irreverent manner! May we all watch our own conduct on this subject! Preserving true Christianity in the world is closely bound up with preserving Sabbath observance. May we never forget that our great aim should be to “keep the Sabbath holy!” Works of necessity may be done: “It is lawful to do well,” and show mercy; but to give the Sabbath to idleness, pleasure-seeking, or the world, is utterly unlawful. It is contrary to the example of Christ, and a sin against a plain command of God! ─ J. C. Ryle

    (Mt 12:1-14); (Jn 20:30, 31); (Mt 11:28-30); (Dt 23:24-25); (Mt 12:2).; (Ex 20:8-11); (Mt 5:17-19); (Lk 6:1); (Mt 15:1-20); (Mt 12:1-4); (1 Sam 21:1-7); (Acts 13:22); (Nu 28:9-10); (Mt 12:5-8); (John 10:33);

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