Over the years I have adamantly taught in my sermons, classes, and blogs the importance of honoring our leaders, spouses honoring each other, children honoring their parents, and employees honoring their bosses. But I have also counseled wives to leave their abusive husbands and employees to look for a different job. I never did that without much prayer and thought, not wanting to encourage them to take the easy way and short circuit God’s plan of developing their character. I have not said or written anything critical about a government leader in my life, a few jokes maybe but nothing too serious. Over the last several months I have written a number of blogs very critical of government in general, our government, and especially our State government. As I said, that hasn’t been what I have done as a pastor in the past, ever, I have stayed away from anything political, so I have not entered this new campaign without a lot of fear of displeasing God, my Lord, and Savior, and of offending people who I want to influence for Christ. I was praying one night asking for wisdom and guidance on what to do and say as the Pastor of JBC, as this COVID thing started becoming more and more of an issue. I was writing most of my prayers in my prayer journal, and I wrote, ”Jesus, what would You do?” ”Please, help me to figure that one out, ” and then I turned to my Bible reading. In the passages that I was scheduled to read in my Bible that night was Matthew chapters 20 through 25. When I got to chapter 23 I thought, wow, You certainly were not very nice there, or honoring, or submissive. I read these verses over and over a dozen times, and each time I sensed more and more Jesus’s anger at the Pharasee’s for their oppressive leadership over the people. The Pharisee’s were the leaders in the days of Jesus, they ran everything; they were the ones who bullied Pilate into crucifying Jesus, and they bullied the people they were over, this is what Jesus said to them;
Matthew 23:13-33 But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you will receive greater condemnation.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.
“Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the temple, that is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple is obligated.’ You fools and blind men! Which is more important, the gold or the temple that sanctified the gold? And, ‘Whoever swears by the altar, that is nothing, but whoever swears by the offering on it, he is obligated.’ You blind men, which is more important, the offering, or the altar that sanctifies the offering? Therefore, whoever swears by the altar, swears both by the altar and by everything on it. And whoever swears by the temple, swears both by the temple and by Him who dwells within it. And whoever swears by heaven, swears both by the throne of God and by Him who sits upon it.
“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. You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, and say, ‘If we had been living in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partners with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ So you testify against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of the guilt of your fathers. You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell?
Jesus didn’t like bullies much.
After I published yesterday’s blog, I thought, ” I do not enjoy this; this whole thing makes me so uptight; how did this happen? I don’t like bullies much either.