Tithing (Lk 11:42-11:42)

“But woe to you!

Pharisees!

You tithe

Mint,

Rue,

And every kind

Of herb.

However,

You neglect

Justice

And the love of God!

It is these

You ought

To have practiced

Without neglecting

The others.”

 

ἀλλὰ οὐαὶ ὑμῖν τοῖς Φαρισαίοις, ὅτι ἀποδεκατοῦτε τὸ ἡδύοσμον καὶ τὸ πήγανον καὶ πᾶν λάχανον, καὶ παρέρχεσθε τὴν κρίσιν καὶ τὴν ἀγάπην τοῦ Θεοῦ· ταῦτα δὲ ἔδει ποιῆσαι κἀκεῖνα μὴ παρεῖναι.

 

Next Luke had the Lord Jesus curse the Pharisees the way that Matthew had done.  Jesus said woe to them, the Pharisees (ἀλλὰ οὐαὶ ὑμῖν τοῖς Φαρισαίοις)!  They had paid their tithes (ὅτι ἀποδεκατοῦτε) of mint (τὸ ἡδύοσμον), rue (καὶ τὸ πήγανον), and every kind of herb (καὶ πᾶν λάχανον).  However, they had neglected (καὶ παρέρχεσθε) justice (τὴν κρίσιν) and the love of God (καὶ τὴν ἀγάπην τοῦ Θεοῦ).  They ought to practice these things (ταῦτα δὲ ἔδει ποιῆσαι), without neglecting the other things (κἀκεῖνα μὴ παρεῖναι).  This is like Matthew, chapter 23:23, where Jesus cursed the Pharisees and the Scribes.  Matthew indicated that Jesus said woe to them because of their insistence on tithing.  He blamed them for their concern about the tithing of the various aromatic spices of mint, dill, and cumin plants, instead of the more serious matters of the law.  Thus, they neglected, the serious practice of justice, mercy, and faith.  They should have spent more time on these issues without neglecting the other things.  This seemed like a critique of misplaced priorities, with their legalistic sense of tithing being more important than justice, mercy, faith, and the Mosaic law itself.  Luke had almost the same critique here, but the tithing herbs are slightly different.  He also wanted their concerns to be about justice and God’s love.  Otherwise the critique was pretty much the same.  Do you neglect justice and mercy in your life?

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Servant leadership (Mk 10:43-10:44)

“But it is not so

Among you.

Whoever wishes

To become great

Among you

Must be your servant.

Whoever wishes

To be first

Among you

Must be a slave

Of all.”

 

οὐχ οὕτως δέ ἐστιν ἐν ὑμῖν· ἀλλ’ ὃς ἂν θέλῃ μέγας γενέσθαι ἐν ὑμῖν, ἔσται ὑμῶν διάκονος,

καὶ ὃς ἂν θέλῃ ἐν ὑμῖν εἶναι πρῶτος, ἔσται πάντων δοῦλο

 

There is something similar to this in Matthew, chapter 20:26-27, almost word for word, and Luke 22:26, but slightly different.  Mark said that Jesus reminded them that their authority was not going to be like the gentiles among themselves (οὐχ οὕτως ἐστὶν ἐν ὑμῖν).  The early Christian leaders, the 12 apostles, would lead this newly forming community of Jesus followers.  Whoever wanted to be great among them (ἀλλ’ ὃς ἂν θέλῃ μέγας γενέσθαι ἐν ὑμῖν) must be their servant or waiter, their ministerial deacons (ἔσται ὑμῶν διάκονος).  Whoever wanted to be first among them (καὶ ὃς ἂν θέλῃ ἐν ὑμῖν εἶναι πρῶτος) must be their slave (ἔσται ὑμῶν δοῦλος).  Clearly, Jesus wanted his new leaders not to be like the gentile Roman leaders, but true leaders who served their people.  The early 12 apostolic leaders were to practice servant leadership, not dictatorial leadership.  They were forming a new kind of community that was not hierarchical but service orientated.

 

Do what they say, not what they do (Mt 23:2-23:3)

“The Scribes

And the Pharisees

Sit on Moses’ seat.

Therefore,

Do whatever

They teach you.

But they do not practice

What they teach.”

 

λέγων Ἐπὶ τῆς Μωϋσέως καθέδρας ἐκάθισαν οἱ γραμματεῖς καὶ οἱ Φαρισαῖοι.

πάντα οὖν ὅσα ἐὰν εἴπωσιν ὑμῖν ποιήσατε καὶ τηρεῖτε, κατὰ δὲ τὰ ἔργα αὐτῶν μὴ ποιεῖτε· λέγουσιν γὰρ καὶ οὐ ποιοῦσιν.

 

There is something similar in Mark, chapter 12:38, who only talked about the Scribes and not the Pharisees.  In Luke, chapter 20:45, Jesus was only speaking to his disciples.  Jesus said that the Scribes and the Pharisees sat on Moses’ seat (λέγων Ἐπὶ τῆς Μωϋσέως καθέδρας ἐκάθισαν οἱ γραμματεῖς καὶ οἱ Φαρισαῖοι).  In other words, they knew the Torah, the Law of Moses, so that they spoke with authority.  Notice the importance of the seat or “καθέδρας” that later had such an important role in the Roman Catholic interpretation of the Pope or Bishop of Rome on his seat, speaking “ex cathedra” in an official capacity.  Thus, the Pharisees and Scribes were on this seat of Moses, so that they had the proper authority to teach.  The result was that the people should do all the things that the Scribes and Pharisees taught them (πάντα οὖν ὅσα ἐὰν εἴπωσιν ὑμῖν ποιήσατε καὶ τηρεῖτε).  However, they were not practicing or doing what they were teaching (λέγουσιν γὰρ καὶ οὐ ποιοῦσιν), so that you were not to follow or do their actions (τὰ ἔργα αὐτῶν μὴ ποιεῖτε).  Jesus accepted their teachings but not their actions.

Piety (Mt 6:1-6:1)

“Beware!

Of practicing

Your piety

Before other men,

In order to be seen

By them.

Then you will have

No reward

From your Father

In heaven.”

 

Προσέχετε δὲ τὴν δικαιοσύνην ὑμῶν μὴ ποιεῖν ἔμπροσθεν τῶν ἀνθρώπων πρὸς τὸ θεαθῆναι αὐτοῖς· εἰ δὲ μήγε, μισθὸν οὐκ ἔχετε παρὰ τῷ Πατρὶ ὑμῶν τῷ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς.

 

This is a unique saying of Jesus, only found in Matthew, that begins with a warning (Προσέχετε).  The followers of Jesus were not to practice religious piety or righteousness (δὲ τὴν δικαιοσύνην ὑμῶν μὴ ποιεῖν) before other people (ἔμπροσθεν τῶν ἀνθρώπων), in order to be seen by them (πρὸς τὸ θεαθῆναι αὐτοῖς).  If you did this pompous action, you were not going to have a reward (εἰ δὲ μήγε, μισθὸν οὐκ ἔχετε) from your heavenly father (παρὰ τῷ Πατρὶ ὑμῶν τῷ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς).  Although righteousness and religious piety were good things, Jesus’ disciples were not to parade it before others, because their Father in heaven would not reward them.  The theme of the heavenly Father appears over and over again.

The problem of Jerusalem (Zech 12:2-12:3)

“See!

I am about to make Jerusalem

A cup of trembling

For all the surrounding people.

It will be against Judah also

In the siege against Jerusalem.

On that day,

I will make Jerusalem

A heavy stone

For all the people.

Anyone who lifts it

Shall grievously hurt themselves.

All the nations of the earth

Shall come together against it.”

Zechariah pointed out that Jerusalem was going to have a special place.  They were going to be like a cup of trembling or reeling, perhaps an allusion to the cup, bowl, or basin that caught the blood of the Passover lamb.  The neighboring people should be aware that Jerusalem was under siege.  Thus, Jerusalem was to become a heavy stone that few people could lift.  Apparently, there was a practice of lifting stones to show one’s strength among young men, like weight lifting.  Thus, anyone who tried to lift the heavy stone of Jerusalem would hurt themselves.  All the various countries in the world would come against Jerusalem, but at their own risk.

The end of the false prophetesses (Ezek 13:22-13:23)

“Because you have disheartened

The righteous falsely,

Although I have not

Disheartened them.

You have encouraged

The wicked

Not to turn from

Their wicked ways.

You have encouraged

The wicked

Not to save their lives.

Therefore you shall no longer

See false visions.

You shall no longer

Practice divination.

I will save my people

From your hand.

Then you will know

That I am Yahweh.”

Ezekiel concludes this little section on the false prophetesses with Yahweh condemning them. Strangely enough, it is not a death sentence. He merely chastised them for disheartening the righteous ones falsely. These prophetesses had not encouraged the wicked to turn away from their wicked ways. They made no attempt to save the lives of the wicked ones. Their punishment was rather simple. They would no longer have any visions or be allowed to practice divination. By the way, who would stop them? Yahweh would save his people from them. Once again, they would know that he was Yahweh, the God of Israel.

False worship (Isa 65:3-65:5)

“A people provoke me

To my face continually.

They sacrifice in gardens.

They offer incense on bricks.

They sit inside tombs.

They spend the night in secret places.

They eat swine’s flesh.

They have broth of abominable things

In their vessels.

They say.

‘Keep to yourself.

Do not come near me.

I am too holy for you.’

These are a smoke

In my nostrils.

They are a fire

That burns all the day.”

These Israelites were practicing false worship right in front of Yahweh, instead of the true Yahweh worship. They were sacrificing in the gardens in some sort of a nature cult. They burned incense on bricks that was both a pagan and Israelite practice. Sitting inside tombs was an attempt to consult with the dead. If they spent the night in a secret place they were trying to conjure up a vision. Obviously eating pork was forbidden to the Israelites. Others drank some kind of terrible abominable broth. Some even wanted to keep Yahweh away because they were already part of some unknown rite or cult that made them holy. They were like smoke in Yahweh’s nose. They were like a continually burning fire. They really bothered Yahweh with their false worship practices.