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It is written of Moses that he was God’s servant, and that he became known as the man of God. Also does Samuel tell us that he was ‘advanced’ by God to a position where he could execute God’s authoritative acts against Pharaoh and before his fellow men. And thus it is that most people from every corner of the earth, today speak with some reverence of this man, whether they claim to believe the Divine Laws given by him or not. God gave him a specific business to fulfil; and that was to establish a recorded way to the Absolute Truth before men and have them believe and follow that way. It was in God’s righteous commandments conveyed by Moses, that the Jews, first of all peoples, were able to see man’s need for complete purity - which is humanly unattainable - to be reconciled to God. It was through his record of the early Messianic prophecies that they were first able to believe like Jeremiah that “The LORD our Righteousness” will Himself work the sacrificial way to purchase redemption for man’s sin. They ended up taking his words so seriously that we are still able today to determine the very words Moses wrote down, sentence for sentence, word for word, letter for letter. None other human writing has been preserved like this. For about three thousand and five hundred years now, preachers and teachers of the Word of God have styled themselves in some way to the likes of Moses, that when they speak, the LORD would speak through them as he did through Moses. Whether they be called Scribes, Pharisees, Rabbi’s, Pastors, Bishops, Elders, Preachers and so forth, the aim is, to speak the truth and have the hearers believe it.
The Incarnate Word of God, Jesus Christ the Lord, recognised that any preacher of God’s written Word do indeed carry some of the authority of Moses, and He declared it in a most interesting way. He said in Matthew 23 verse 2 they “sit in Moses’ seat”. It can still today be found to be amazingly true, in as much as once you are presented to a congregation as a teacher of God’s Word, they immediately assume that you carry a substantial and qualified knowledge of whatever the topic is you are discoursing on. The moment you throw out a Hebrew or Greek word along with a lexicon definition, they revere you as scholar and dare not question you because themselves know far less, (or at least so they assume). This situation of what I’ll call Rabbinical Reverence (because it sounds nice) has a very good side to it, and also a tremendously dangerous side, because we not only offer these hearers something as truth, we also cause them to believe it, whether it indeed be true or not.
Is the lack of a desire for soul-winning in churches not related to decades of pastors telling us that the Bible can be shown to contain the Word of God, but cannot fully be the infallible Word of God? That perhaps God used evolution, that He in His great love don’t really mind if we live in sin, that we shouldn’t be too much of a Bible Basher, that there are culturally no more taboo’s except for preaching about Hell. That a loving God won’t cast an idolator eternally into the Lake of Fire. That Jesus is a way to God, but cannot be the only way. So, we see that because of a love for sin and an unwillingness to repent from it, pastors have steered us away from the Truth, and we allowed them.
The result of Rabbinical Reverence however can cause a wonderful spiritual growth in the church as they listen to their pastor who really studied it throughly and whose aim is to make much of the Bible before his flock. Alas! how much more often do we rather have to suffer a preacher, whom with the yearning of preeminence, makes a careless statement of a supposed translational mistake in our Bible “if the original language is to be ‘correctly’ understood”. All this happens in a fleeting moment and without any disclosure of what his sources for this revelation are, his method of deducing this, nor giving the shocked lambs of the Good Shepherd a fair chance to verify his argument. Nor does he offer them the solution of which Bible is supposed to be the correct one. The poor lost lamb stops listening to the message right there and for the rest of the sermon that flaw in his “Infallible Word of God” bothers him. He loses another little bit of faith in this Bible in his hands. The question of why the churches are empty is surely answered by the lost ones saying, “If the Christians can’t figure the Bible out, how are we supposed to do it?” One thing it does produce and which seems to be the aim in most cases is that the preacher looks very learned in front of the people. We perceive that a pastoral lack of meekness, of which Moses and the Lord Jesus was such tremendous examples, have brought the Church in large on the way of Diotrephes, as is written in 3 John 1 verse 9.
The Lord Jesus Christ addressed this in showing that these teachers do not only cause a spiritual hindrance to themselves but to the hearers too. In Matthew 23 He points out, them distorting the truth and exalting themselves while doing so. We need to ask ourselves: “Why do I utter this statement and what do I aim to achieve by it?” If the answer is to issue the truth in humility so that the hearers might be edified in their faith in God, then we do well.
Now to be a scribe and a Pharisee is not the problem in itself, but what we do with the truth when it confronts us, is. Nicodemus and Paul are good examples. We see it in our own lives that when we are humble before God it is a time in which we get the biggest desire to win souls for God. When we exalt ourselves, we lose that care for the souls of others. A recent interaction with a Jewish neighbour showed to me how misled these children of Jacob can become by starting off with traditional Judaism and ending up in all sorts of eastern mysticism. Only the pure written Word of God offered in meekness can open such a one’s eyes. Is it not written in John 8 verse 32 that we shall know the truth and the truth will make us free? In this dispensation of the Church we have but a short time to still work the works of Him that sent us, before the time comes once again for Israel to raise the standard of Christ’s host over the battlefield in the Great Tribulation. Let us work to stablish people’s faith in the Word of God, not demolish it.
We are very much like the Pharisees mentioned in Matthew 23, where because of our postion of teachers/preachers we are able to speak from the seat of Moses, so that men believe our teaching to be from God. Thus we need to take heed that unlike the Pharisees we do not estrange people from God but rather bring them closer unto the Lord Jesus Christ.