Luke indicated that Jesus remarked that people would tell them (καὶ ἐροῦσιν ὑμῖν) to look here (Ἰδοὺ ἐκεῖ) and there (Ἰδοὺ ὧδε). They were not to go and follow them (μὴ ἀπέλθητε μηδὲ διώξητε). This was similar to earlier in this chapter, 17:21. This is also somewhat similar to Mark, chapter 13:21, and Matthew, chapter 24:23, who were almost word for word to each other. Mark said that Jesus warned his disciples that if anyone said to them that the Messiah Christ was there (καὶ τότε ἐάν τις ὑμῖν εἴπῃ Ἴδε ὧδε ὁ Χριστός), or if they said look here (Ἴδε ἐκεῖ), they were not to believe it (μὴ πιστεύετε). They were not to be misled by rumors about the Christ Messiah. Matthew said that Jesus warned his disciples that if anyone said to them to look because the Messiah Christ was there (τότε ἐάν τις ὑμῖν εἴπῃ Ἰδοὺ ὧδε ὁ Χριστός, ἤ Ὧδε), they were not to believe it (μὴ πιστεύσητε). Many people might lead them astray, by saying that they were the Messiah Christ in order to deceive them. Apparently, there were many deceptive Jewish messianic leaders who were saying that they were the Christ Messiah. John the Baptist was an example of a messianic leader in the 1st century CE. Other political Jewish leaders had messianic ambitions also, especially those who led the revolt against the Romans in the 2nd half of the 1st century. Jesus was warning against all of them. Have you ever been misled by a religious leader?
Luke uniquely continued with this story as Jesus indicated that God said to this rich land owner (εἶπεν δὲ αὐτῷ ὁ Θεός) that he was a fool, calling him that (Ἄφρων). A fool was a harsh title, meaning that someone who had no concern for God. That very night (ταύτῃ τῇ νυκτὶ), God would demand or require the soul or the life of this rich fool (τὴν ψυχήν σου ἀπαιτοῦσιν ἀπὸ σοῦ). Who would get all the things that he had prepared (ἃ δὲ ἡτοίμασας, τίνι ἔσται)? The best laid plans of men and mice often go astray. Instead of enjoying his long indulgent luxurious life, this rich man was about to die. Then the question remained, who would enjoy all the riches that he had attained? Death is the only certainty in life. The only question is when? Work as if you were going to live forever, but live your life and pray as if you are going to die tonight. Time’s up! When do you anticipate your death?
There is something similar in Mark, chapter 24:5, and in Luke, chapter 21:8, almost word for word. Mark indicated that Jesus said that many people would come in his name (πολλοὶ ἐλεύσονται ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματί μου) saying that they were the One (λέγοντες ὅτι Ἐγώ εἰμι), not the Messiah Christ, as in Matthew. They will try to deceive them by leading them astray (καὶ πολλοὺς πλανήσουσιν). Apparently, there were many deceptive Jewish messianic leaders who were saying that they were the Christ Messiah. John the Baptist was an example of a messianic leader in the early 1st century CE. Other political Jewish leaders had messianic ambitions also, especially those who led the revolt against the Romans in the 2nd half of the 1st century. Jesus was warning against all of them.
καὶ πολλοὶ ψευδοπροφῆται ἐγερθήσονται καὶ πλανήσουσιν πολλούς
This little saying about false prophets is unique to Matthew. Jesus said that many false prophets or pseudo prophets would rise up (καὶ πολλοὶ ψευδοπροφῆται ἐγερθήσονται), so that they would deceive or lead many astray (καὶ πλανήσουσιν πολλούς). In the midst of their tribulations, false prophets would lead many of the followers of Jesus astray. Who were these false prophets?
This parable of the lost sheep can also be found in Luke, chapter 15:3-6, with some minor changes. In some Orthodox texts there is a line that the Son of Man had come to save those who were lost or destroyed (Ἦλθεν γὰρ ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου σῶσαι τὸ ἀπολωλός). Jesus then asked them to think (Τί ὑμῖν δοκεῖ) about this parable, although he did not call it a parable like Luke did. A person or shepherd had 100 sheep (ἐὰν γένηταί τινι ἀνθρώπῳ ἑκατὸν πρόβατα). One of these sheep wandered away from the rest of them and was lost (καὶ πλανηθῇ ἓν ἐξ αὐτῶν). Thus, would he not leave the other 99 sheep in the mountains (οὐχὶ ἀφήσει τὰ ἐνενήκοντα ἐννέα ἐπὶ τὰ ὄρη)? He would then search for the lost sheep that had wandered astray (καὶ πορευθεὶς ζητεῖ τὸ πλανώμενον). Jesus then had a solemn pronouncement (ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν). If he found that one sheep (καὶ ἐὰν γένηται εὑρεῖν αὐτό) he would rejoice over that more than over the 99 sheep that had never wandered away (ὅτι χαίρει ἐπ’ αὐτῷ μᾶλλον ἢ ἐπὶ τοῖς ἐνενήκοντα ἐννέα τοῖς μὴ πεπλανημένοις). Every sheep was precious in the sight of this good shepherd.
This was another bitter rebuke of the prophetic leaders in Israel and Jacob. These prophets had led Yahweh’s people astray. They had cried peace to those who give them something to eat, but they declared war on those who did not give them anything to eat. Thus, they would live in a night like condition without any vision. There would be darkness, without any revelation. The sun would go down on these evil prophets, so that their days would be pitch dark all around them. The seers would be disgraced, while the diviners would be ashamed. They would have nothing to say, because God would not answer them.
These northern Israelites would eat, but not be satisfied or full. They played the prostitute. They did not increase or multiply. They have cherished prostitution rather than Yahweh. All kinds of wine, new and old, take away understanding. Thus, the Israelite people consult with pieces of wood, the wooden idol gods. Their oracles or sayings come from their magical divining rods or sticks. This concept of prostitution has led them astray. They have left God to be prostitutes to other gods. Obviously, this was an allusion to the prostitution fertility rites and the fact that they were turning to other wooden idol gods, rather than being faithful to Yahweh.
It was a different story for the Zadok Levitical priests, as mentioned in the previous chapter. These Levitical priests from the family of Zadok came from a righteous priest, who was descended from Eleazar, the son of Aaron. This Zadok aided King David during the revolt of his son Absalom in 2 Samuel, chapters 13-22. Then this Zadok helped bring King Solomon to the throne in 1 Kings, chapters 1-2. After Solomon’s building of The First Temple in Jerusalem, this Zadok was the first High Priest to serve there in 1 Kings, chapter 4. Thus, the house of Zadok occupied the high priesthood throughout much of the Second Temple period. These Zadok Levitical priests had been loyal to Yahweh, when the other Levites went astray. They were the ones who could come near to Yahweh to minister to him. They would offer the fat and the blood. They would enter Yahweh’s sanctuary and approach his table. They would be in charge and directly minister to Yahweh.
In a diatribe against the Levitical priests who had served idols in the high places, Yahweh was upset. However, his punishment was merely lowly menial tasks in the Temple, not a drastic death sentence. These Levites had sinned because they had led Israel astray with their idol worshipping. They made Israel stumble into iniquity. Thus, they were to be punished. They would only have oversight at the gates to the Temple, not in the sanctuary. They also would slaughter the burnt offerings and other sacrifices. They would continue to minister to Yahweh and his people, but only in the more pedestrian roles. This seems like a mild form of punishment for idol worship and leading the Israelites astray.
Yahweh wanted Ezekiel to say to the house of Israel that they should not defile themselves like their ancestors. They should not go astray after their detestable idols. When they offered gifts to these idols, they defiled themselves. When they made their children pass through fire, they also defiled themselves with all their idols. They had been doing this even until the time of Ezekiel. Yahweh wanted to know if he should be consulted by those from the wicked house of Israel. Yahweh was clear. He did not want to be consulted by those who had defiled themselves.