Anglican Morning Devotion for 9 September 2021 Anno Domini
A ministry of the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
“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. 14Woe 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. 15Woe 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. 16Woe 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! 17Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold?” (MATTHEW 23: 13-17; all scripture quoted is from the King James Version)
The Scribes and Pharisees of the time of our Lord would comprise much of the clergy of the Old Testament Church of His day. They were not all that different from those of the modern church who mount the pulpits boasting of the souls they have saved opulence with which the Lord has blessed them. It is not unusual to see many of these pulpit dandies wearing $5,000 suits and $20,000 wrist watches while many of their congregants are elderly and who tithe their small social security income to the church. Such men are by no means ministers of God, but more like con-men who have seen lucrative money-grubbing opportunities in the ministry. They are not called by God, but rather drawn by GREED to the pulpits of America.
The Jewish rulers, Scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees, and priests of the time of Christ were just such men who lived in elegance while their subjects most often worked the land or tended sheep. Of course, the farmers and shepherds were a far better lot than these. The latter were not obsessed with themselves. They were simple folk who were aware of their unworthiness to approach the Temple with erect heads and flowing robes.
The Scribes and Pharisees were not ignorant of the identity of Jesus Christ as the only Begotten of the Father. They had followed our Lord more zealously than the closest disciples in all His healing miracles and even resurrection of the dead. They were aware that only God could perform such miracles. Yet they despised the Lord and coveted His power and His following. Jesus represented a direct threat to their lifestyles as well as their sway over the multitudes. They sent out emissaries to trip Him up if possible and to find some means whereby they might trip Him up. Of course, all of their efforts were futile and they always wound up with the tables turned on them by the Lord Jesus Christ.
Do you believe that the spirit of the Scribes and Pharisees is not alive in the modern church? Think again! If Christ were to return to most churches of America today, He would perhaps be less welcome there as He was to the Temple which He cleansed twice for corruption and money changing. The modern ministers and theologians have undertaken to change the very Word of God and its meaning for us today. That which God has condemned in forceful terms, they have declared not only acceptable, but worthy of encouragement. They have edited those things out of the Bible in their new versions which they find offensive to their new theology and lifestyles. An example of this is found in the introductory text at verse 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.” This verse is omitted in most modern versions such as the NIV, ESB, CSB, and NASB. Why do you suppose the new theologians would oppose this verse from being included? Perhaps the fear that ‘devouring widows houses’ and ‘making long prayers to be seen of men’ might awaken the mulitutdes to their hypocrisy?
Hypocritical ministers actually prevent men and women from learning the Word of God and from being taught the meaning of sin and repentance. Beware the warning of the Apostle Paul: “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. 14And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. 15Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.” (2 CORINTHIANS 11:13-15)