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Lesson # Matt. 23:23-24
Study Material - Matt. 23:23-24
You must be in fellowship prior to your Bible study, so that the spiritual information you receive can become a source, of blessing to your soul and produce spiritual growth.
23 Woe [ouai] unto you [humin] , scribes [grammateus] and [kai] Pharisees [Pharisaios] , hypocrites [hupokrites] ! for [hoti] ye pay tithe [apodekatoo] of mint [heduosmon] and [kai] anise [anethon] and [kai] cummin [kuminon] , and [kai] have omitted [aphiemi] the weightier [barus] matters of the law [nomos] , judgment [krisis] , [kai] mercy [eleos] , and [kai] faith [pistis] : these [tauta] ought ye [dei] to have done [poieo] , and not [me] to leave [aphiemi] the other [kakeinos] undone [aphiemi] .
24 Ye blind [tuphlos] guides [hodegos] , which strain at [diulizo] a gnat [konops] , and [de] swallow [katapino] a camel [kamelos] . KJV-Interlinear
23 'Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. 24 'You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel! NAS
Little things verses the big things of life. Priorities of importance verses priorities of unimportance. This is the subject of the fourth woe or curse which Jesus leveled at the Pharisees.
They distorted the truth. They thought nothing of their hypocrisy, dishonesty, cruelty, greed, self worship, and so forth, but they embraced it as a way of their life, and they disregarded principles of honesty, justice, mercy and caring for others, and the basic principle or foundation of ones spiritual life - faith.
They even went to great pains to live by their false standards - the gnat and the camel. But we need to understand a little of the purpose of the herbs and spices and just what is going on in this verse.
In the Old Testament there was system of taxation for the support of the nation of Israel in its form as a Theocracy - a nation ruled by God. They in effect paid 23% of their annual income each year in taxes. The first 10% was for the national government, Lev. 27:30. The second 10% was for the support of the Levitical Priesthood, the offerings, annual feasts, and Temple and such, Deu. 12:11,17. Then there was a third 10% which was paid over a period of 3 years, or 3.3% per year, Deu. 14:28-29, for the support of the poor of the land (charity). And everyone paid. There was no exception or exemption for any who had income, regardless of the amount of income, small or great. Everyone paid, because everyone has an obligation to support their nation, their faith, and those who are in need.
In view here is the second 10% for the support of the Priesthood. The production or income subject to taxation is defined in Deu. 14:22. They include grain crops, oils, wines, fruits and vegetables and such items. Things like herbs and spices, or those little and insignificant things which add to the quality of life were not subject to the taxation. Somewhere along the line, the priesthood added these to the taxable list and they went so far as to count the leaves on mint plants, to count the seeds in spices, so that only 10% were contributed to the church and the remaining 90% remained with the owner. This they boasted in their meticulous adherence to the rules of income tax, which was not an adherence by the way.
They would count the seeds, but they would ignore the principles of doctrine which the scriptures taught. Inverted priorities. Misdirected priorities. Better to have all the seeds and be in compliance with ones taxes than to live a life of faith, truth, humility, and justice, which by the way is a quote from Mic. 6:8. What does the Lord require of us in life? Why were we placed here on this earth? To count seeds? To magnify human effort or ability?
Here is the distortion which mankind usually brings to the top of his priority list. Man magnifies human ability and effort or ability. Man creates great meaning in human conflict or mans ability to rise up out of a the ashes or pit of disadvantage, as though it is man who extracts himself out of trouble or inequity by means of his own effort. And this is a total rejection of Gods hand in life and history.
The significant of life (Bible doctrine, truth, justice, charity, faith, etc.) is ignored, and the insignificant of life (human pettiness, arbitrary definitions of vows, crime glorification, human dignity, various compromises that man invents in life) is magnified.
Not only did the Pharisees add to the list to taxable items, which in itself was not necessarily a bad thing (give unto Caesar), but they disregarded the fundamental purpose for taxes - the funding of a national entity, the funding of a mechanism for teaching Bible doctrine, the funding for the assistance of those in need in this devils world. After all our purpose in this world is not to improve it and to become eternally attached to this world, but to prepare ourselves for our eternal future in heaven with God. Our destiny is not in this world.
The Pharisees would go so far as to clinch their teeth when they drank wine. Why? To screen out the gnats so they would not swallow them. Gnats were a small and insignificant and ceremonially unclean insect, Lev. 11:4 as were camels, Lev. 11:42. But in their pattern of life they looked to the little things but would swallow even greater unclean things (camels) which refer to their pattern of life - their hypocrisy, dishonesty, cruelty, greed, self centeredness and so forth.
Negative people, indifferent people, with respect to Bible doctrine, follow this pattern of life to some degree. They make the insignificant issues of life the great items in their life, and they make the significant issues of life (Bible doctrine) the little or forgotten or ignored things in their life.
Being negative is a very subtle thing. Look in that mirror we often refer to from time to time, and evaluate your life. Do you genuinely and strongly desire Bible doctrine? Or, are you simply looking for something that will make you feel better just so long as it doesn't interfere with the way 'you' want life to be?
Bible doctrine is not intended to be an extension of ones entertainment in life, nor is it intended to a convenient genie for when you need it. It is the source of nourishment for ones soul which is where our human life resides. That means it is the thing that sustains us. Therefore, Bible doctrine is important, or should be seen as the most important thing in ones life.
Unfortunately, too many do not see it this way, and they come up with excuses for not pursuing Bible study. They come up with alternative life styles which ignore the fundamental principles of doctrine. They simply ignore Bible doctrine, and become involved in the affairs of this world in various human philosophies (work hard and get ahead, mans ability to advance himself in life, politics becomes the driving force for human sustenance, and that list goes on and on). And this attitude at the exclusion of their Bible study.
The Pharisees redefined the principles of life and made that which was least important, their top priority, and the fundamental principles of life (justice, love, and faith) were disregarded.
Now is the time to post a prayer.
End Of Lesson
Study to show thyself approved (mature) unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing (studying/discerning), the Word of truth.
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