6 He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.
7 Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
There would also be a departing from the faith established by the apostles among the early ecclesias:
The apocalyptic "tribes of Israel's sons" had substituted abstract spirit for belief of the truth -- abstract spirit was the power, or virtue, that accomplished everything for them.
It entered the water they used, and made it holy, and purifying, to every faithless ignoramus they put into it; it entered the hypocritical and spiritually dead carcases of the "seducers" they ordained to "holy orders," and made them sanctifying administrators of ordinances; it entered the bread and the wine, and made them spiritual meat and drink: in short, this abstract quiddity mesmerized everything, as in all "the names and denominations" of our day, being the very essence of sacramentalism, as opposed to the "form of godliness" and its true "power."
The Tribes of Israel's sons had degenerated into mere ritualists, who, in practising religious ceremonies, regarded them as both the form and power of christian godliness. The Jews of our time practising the mummeries of the synagogue; or papists genuflexing with their priests before images; or snoozing protestants dosing under the vaporous emissions of pulpit drones and imbeciles -- are legitimate and life-like representatives of "Israel's sons," established by Constantine the First as "the lords spiritual" of the Great Eagle of the earth.
8 For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do.
They saw the disciples in one case eat bread without first washing their hands. To do this was an offence against the established Jewish etiquette, which was mainly based on rabbinical tradition, for which Jesus had no respect. This, in the eyes of the Pharisees, was a great offence, and one which they seemed to imagine Jesus himself would allow. They boldly asked him, "Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands?" They seemed to think this was strong ground.
The "tradition of the elders" was the highest authority with them, as it is universally with the Jews to the present day. What is written in Moses and the Prophets does not seem to weigh with them a tithe of the weight they attach to the uninspired and erring traditions of their disobedient fathers. It seems strange it should be so: but on reflection, it will appear thoroughly natural.
What Paul testifies concerning the tendency of the human mind, is found thoroughly true, though uncomplimentary and unacceptable: "The carnal mind is enmity against God: it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." Again, what Jesus said to Peter is true of nearly all men, Jew and Gentile: "Thou savourest not the things that be of God but those that be of men."
The words of God by Moses and the prophets had nothing like the relish (for the bulk of the Jewish nation) which they found in the glosses and interpolations and commentaries of the Rabbis, which were entirely according to human impression, thought and sympathy. They easily disobeyed Moses and the prophets: as easily, they set up the traditions of the Rabbis as the very rule of righteousness and life. Jesus surprised them by taking up a strong stand against tradition:
Nazareth Revisited Ch 35.
9 And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.
In the days of Jesus, the spiritual guides and rulers of the people hungered and thirsted greatly after precious gifts, and they did not scruple to set aside the most binding of natural obligations, and the most solemn of divine commandments, in order to gain their end, as our Lord expressly charges upon them in Mark 7:9.
Now that which gave this extraordinary stimulus to the desire of gifts, to the hunger and thirst of golden ornaments to the temple, was that for a long season of years they had been adorning the temple, and enriching it, until it had become the wonder of the world.
The sums of money expended in the time of Herod, who was king of the Jews when Jesus was born, are not to be reckoned up, and they were levied of the people by a system of deception and delusion; by giving to these acts of pecuniary bounty a value and an importance, which neither the obligations of nature, nor the commandments of God, nor the ordinances of religion, could stand against.
This false morality and false religion, the Scribes and Pharisees had brought to such perfection, that the people seem to have given with great liberality, as we are taught by an incident in the life of the Lord Jesus, recorded in Mark 12:41: also that the moral guilt attached to these gifts, was a chief cause of the downfall of the temple and Jerusalem, is manifest from Luke 21:5.
It seems to be a constant progressive corruption to communicate itself in the love of gathering and hoarding money, and making everything sacred in religion, venerable in government, and dutiful in the relations of life, to bow unto this the lowest and basest passion of the human mind.
If we cast up in our memory the instances of God's judgments upon kingdoms, as for example, the judgment of Crœsus by Cyrus, of Darius by Alexander, of India by the Sultans, we shall ever find that the judgment is brought upon them in the midst of great wealth; and if we make the same account of the destructions of temples, as of Apollo at Delphi, of Diana at Ephesus, we shall find that immense treasures were amassed in them at the time.
And so it was with the temple of God at Jerusalem, in the which our Lord warned them. The same has been often observed of the Papacy, that the building of St. Peter's,—"the temple of the god of guardians," at Rome, together with the luxury of the "Lord God, Leo X.," as they styled him, was the proximate cause of the Lutheran rebellion, by driving on at such a rate all manner of exactions and imposts under religious pretences, as brought the papal system into shame and contempt, and made the kingdoms weary to bear it.
They forgot, if indeed they ever knew, the sacredness and spirituality of every ...ordinance, and sold it openly for money to the highest bidder.
Now the same thing is maturing in Protestantism everywhere. An object, the wildest, the maddest, the most frantic, and most opposite to God's word, which ever deluded the minds of men; to wit, the conversion of the whole world, has been started within these sixty years, and to the attainment of this end, it is openly avowed that money is the great desideratum.
It has been proclaimed and published for the information of all, that the Lord had expressly forbidden money as a requisite to, or condition of, the apostolical missionary to the heathen.
...There is in the working of the great religious system extant, a vanity, an ostentation, an avarice, an idolatry of gold and silver, which is as great now as ever was the abomination of the Pharisaical system in Judea, or the mendicant system in old Rome.
But the time is at hand when there will not be one stone of the system left upon another. It is a grand folly for these ecclesiastics and their disciples' to think they can convert the world, whose iniquity God is shewing only by their rejection of his gospel, for which in due time, he will come to judge them.
And this great stalking error, which is propagated by ten thousand methods, has introduced all sorts of misconceptions, accommodations, means, and actions, which, without it would not be tolerated, But the object is so grand and brilliant, that men are dazzled, as were the Jews, when they looked at the goodly stones and dazzling splendor of the temple.
Its very brightness blinds them!
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Mar 1861
13 Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.
'...the word of God, direct from the mouth of God by Moses and the prophets, is the rule of truth and duty which God intends every man for himself to apply in the testing and determination of all views and claims emanating from what quarter soever. The lesson is of peculiar force in an age like ours, when almost every religious view is pressed on our notice on the kind of authority arising from the transmitted consent of experts, supported by the compliance of the multitude for a long time. Tradition is the universal foundation; and it is held in the highest repute as a thing that educated intelligence will defer to...
The Scribes and Pharisees were of the tribe which had been divinely separated as the custodians and ministers of the divine knowledge. Inspiration had mainly selected Levites since the days of Moses as the vehicles of prophetic communication. It had only ceased about four hundred years previously; and presumably the Levitical caste would be the reliable conservators and expositors of the divine ideas.
Yet here is the sweeping declaration of Christ that they had made void the word of God through their tradition.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 35
14 And when he had called all the people unto him, he said unto them, Hearken unto me every one of you, and understand:
15 There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man.
Using his repudiation of the Pharisee hypocrisy as a background, the Lord then continued to expound the matter of defilement. He explained that the only defilement is that which "comes from within" (v. 21). Evil thoughts of any kind are the product of the "carnal mind" (Rom. 8:6), and this brings a person into enmity against God. Such evil thoughts make people morally defiled and cause distress to the righteousness of Yahweh.
Only the pure Word of Yahweh is able to remove such "evil thoughts" and to bring spiritual sanity to the mind. It is this conflict which the apostle Paul felt as he described it in Romans 7, as he describes the difference between the mind of the Spirit and that of the flesh, and the unending conflict between them.
The means of victory is only to be found in the Word of the Spirit and the redemptive work of the Lord Yahshua. What a great victory is thereby wrought for us. Deliverance from the "body of this death" (Rom. 7:24) will be achieved by God through Yahshua Christ (v. 25), for he has accomplished that victory in himself.
Further, the Lord demonstrated a public repudiation of Pharisaic hypocrisy (vv. 14-16), showing that the elements of defilement came from the unclean nature we bear. In his explanation to the disciples (vv. 17-23), the Master made it quite clear that the carnal mind ("from within") was the causative element of all moral uncleanness. This was then confirmed with his encounter with the Syrophenician (vv. 24-30) whose faith was greater than the Jews, and who represented the Gentile Bride of Christ.
20 And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man.
IN ADAM ALL DIE
At this point one further feature common to all the uncleanness laws assumes its full significance. Defilement was contracted by contact with the cause of uncleanness; the emphasis throughout was on touching, so much so that a person defiled by contact with the original cause of uncleanness could in turn transmit his defilement to other things which came into contact with him (e.g., Lev. 15 : 19-21 ; cf. Haggai 2 : 13).
If then, in the ultimate sense, the cause of defilement stood for Adam's sin, what was each Israelite to do but see in himself an extension of Adam, and in each sin he committed a re-enactment of the first transgression? And having come to that point, what could he conclude but that he, too, like Adam, was under (and righteously under) sentence of death?
This notion of the solidarity of the human race is the unifying factor in all the uncleanness laws and is the secret of the form which the more serious of them took. To begin with, apart from leprosy, all the diseases of which they took account were diseases of the reproductive organs. Even the normal menstrual flow in healthy women bore close enough an affinity to the idea of the defilement caused by ancestral sin to be classed as a cause of seven days uncleanness.
This in itself was pointed enough an indication of the hereditary effects of Eve's and Adam's sin (Lev. 15: 19-24; cf. Gen. 3 : 16). How much more pointed was it when the prolongation of this flow beyond the normal spell was pronounced to be a cause of the gravest kind of uncleanness! The emphasis now (an emphasis essential to the allegory) was on the fact that the female reproductive organs were diseased. So too with man; disease in the male reproductive system was equally defiling. Hidden away out of sight though the source of
defilement might have been, yet its existence could not be denied.
In man and in woman alike the same fatal symptom bore witness to it. "When any man hath a running issue out of his flesh, because of his issue he is unclean ... and if a woman have an issue of her blood many days out of the time of her separation ... she shall be unclean" (Lev. 15 : 2, 25)· In each case the operative factor was the same: it was an issue that was the cause of defilement -- an issue, moreover, out of the flesh - flesh tainted by sin.
More transparent symbolism we could not hope to find. The fact was that some source of corruption within the flesh, some deep seated physical disease of the very springs of life, was exuding noisome matter. How could its allegorical meaning possibly be missed? Human nature had clearly been marred at the source. For man and for woman alike, the counterpart of the inward malady was inbred sin. This moral malady, like the physical, secreted a defiling issue-in this case sinful thoughts and words and deeds. The Law was here saying, as plainly as ever it could, that ...
The Carnal Mind
21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,
The Truth Concerning the Flesh
The flesh is an hot-bed of iniquity and the fountain of all uncleanness.
The sophistry of reasoning flesh cannot be excelled, neither can its depths of wickedness be fathomed by any human penetration.
Flesh unconstrained is like fire or water uncontrolled.
There is no worse devil in creation than flesh and blood; neither is there any evil under the sun which it is not equal to. It is Satan's seat.
There is nothing more unconquerable than flesh, nothing more deceitful, nothing more false, nothing more wicked, nothing more envious, nothing more ambitious, nothing more capable of evil in the world than flesh.
Nothing can be found to equal flesh for irreverence and lawless democratic clamour.
A man can have no worse enemy to his own salvation than his own flesh.
There is nothing so unruly as the tongue of the unsanctified, nor anything so full of poison; it is a world of iniquity in itself.—(James 3)
The flesh is the very backbone of iniquity of every hue, the very marrow of rebellion, and the very life and soul of every evil purpose under the sun.
The better state of things in the age to come will be due (in one direction) to the restraints imposed upon the flesh.
Where the flesh reigns, there is every evil work; so long as it predominates it will be a power for mischief in the earth; sin will only be perfectly extirpated when flesh and blood is no more.
Nothing is so distasteful to those who have some confidence in the flesh, as an unsparing description of its works, and a faithful warning against its tendencies. On the other hand, there is nothing to which those truly humiliated by the truth more readily and unreservedly assent than the divinely-attested fact that the heart is desperately wicked and deceitful above all things.
The triumph of the truth, in all spiritual enlightenment and holy walking, and in all sanctification and preparedness for the Lord's coming, is contingent upon our keeping the body under, and subjecting continually its unholy impulses to the restraints of the truth, believed with all the heart.
To slander a man is figuratively to stab him; while to hate him and wish him dead is spiritually to murder him. To cease from the flesh is the only safeguard against final shame and everlasting contempt.
The Christadelphian, Dec 1873
22 Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness:
.-This is a Greek word. It is derived from, or is rather a condensation of the phrase, βλαπτειν την φνμην, blaptein tain phaimain, injuring the reputation. Hence, any evil thing that injures the reputation of another, is blasphemy of that person's name.
In Ezek. 35:10, 12, 13, Idumea is charged with "blasphemies against the mountains of Israel;" and, therefore, with boasting against Yahweh, and multiplying their words against him, in saying that
"These two nations (Israel and Judah) and these two countries (Judea and Samaria) shall be mine, and we will possess it, though Yahweh was there."
If Idumea's declaration were a fact, the reputation of Yahweh for truth would be destroyed; for he has solemnly sworn, by his own existence, that the Gentiles shall not possess it, but that it shall be Abraham and his seed's for ever.
We are instructed, then, by this Scripture, that to affirm any thing which, in its logical conclusion, nullifies Yahweh's promises, is blasphemy. Hence, blasphemy is at this day the high crime of "Christendom" against God. .. And its pious, God-fearing, and charitable Christian people scoff at the idea of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and their seed, the Christ (inclusive of all that are in him) with the twelve regenerated tribes of Israel, shall possess the land and dwell therein for ever! Idumeans all. Their piety is blasphemy against Yahweh; for they make God a liar by their traditions.
But blasphemy signifies idolatry, which is a practical nullification of the truth of God, and rebellion against His sovereignty. Addressing Israel, He saith,
"In this your fathers have blasphemed me, in that they have committed a trespass against me. For when I had brought them into the land for the which I lifted up mine hand to give it unto them, then they saw every high hill, and all the thick trees, and they offered there their sacrifices, and there they presented the provocation of their offering; there, also they made their sweet savour, and poured out their drink-offerings. . . . And they said, We will be as the Gentiles, as the families of the countries, to serve wood and stone."-(Ezek. 20:27.)
Hence, it is added,
"They have burned incense upon the mountains, and blasphemed me upon the hills."-(Isa. 65:7.)
The Christadelphian, Feb 1873
23 All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.
Once again, we note, the nexus between the ceremonial and the moral aspects of uncleanness was the fact that ultimately all forms of disease are attributable to sin. It was on that same account that the Lord (healer of physical and moral ills alike) on the one hand said to a paralysed man, "Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee"; and, on the other, spoke of sinners as those who needed "a physician" (Matt. 9 : 1-12). The medical metaphor sprang naturally to his mind from the Prophets (e.g. Hosea 6 : 1,6).
Law and Grace Ch 7
26 The woman was a Greek, a Syrophenician by nation; and she besought him that he would cast forth the devil out of her daughter.
Christ's regard for the Syro-Phœnician woman's request is adduced as inferential evidence that the prayer of those out of covenant-relationship is heeded. But it must be remembered that Christ was not in the position of God. Christ conversed with good and evil; God will not. Christ healed all that came to him, including those with whose conduct he was not pleased (see Luke 17:17, 18). Christ's attitude, therefore, in relation to healing and God's attitude in relation to prayer are not on a parallel.
It is not unfrequent to hear brethren, especially those who are young in the truth, urge their former Gentile experience as certain evidence that the prayer of the alien is answered. They cite circumstances in their lives and confidently affirm that such were the outcome of prayer. But were there no scripture principles pointing in an opposite direction, there would still be many questions to settle before their claim could be established.
Is it possible for them to show that their experience would have been different had they refrained from prayer? It is not possible. Hence their experience proves nothing. Among the religious alien, how often is positive evil attributed to prayer? What popular truth-denying preacher does not ascribe his popularity to prayer?
Solomon's allusion to the prayer of the stranger (II. Chron. 6:32-33) may, however, be a difficulty with some. But Solomon, there is little doubt, had in view strangers who had "joined themselves to the Lord," who had "taken hold of his covenant," and of whom God had said
"their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon Mine altar" (See Isaiah 56:3-7).
The law took cognisance of strangers. (Num. 15:16; Exodus 12:48.) The Ethiopian eunuch, mentioned in Acts 8:27, was a stranger, and one who could worship acceptably. Belonging to this class were likewise Lydia (Acts 16:14); Nicolas (6:5); Justus (18:7), and probably Cornelius (10).
Such strangers became entitled to all the rights and privileges of God's chosen people, and were amongst those upon whom His name was called-
"If my people, which are called by My name, shall humble themselves and pray . . . then will I hear." (2. Chron. 7:14).
Deity speaks not thus of the uncircumcised alien. Strangers, or proselytes, in apostolic days dwelt in all parts; this is evident from the general gathering on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:10; see also 13:43). To make one proselyte the Jews would compass sea and land (Matthew 23:15).
The Christadelphian, TC 06/1886.
28 And she answered and said unto him, Yes, Lord: yet the dogs under the table eat of the children's crumbs.
What a contrast to the defiled leaders of Jewry was this woman of Canaan who recognised that Yahshua was the promised Seed. When she referred to eating "of the crumbs", was she recalling the feeding of the five thousand? GEM
34 And looking up to heaven, he sighed, and saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened.
35 And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain.
Finally, the record concludes with the healing of the deaf man (vv. 32-37), thus demonstrating the power of Yahweh Ropheka to remove spiritual uncleanness, moral deviation, and ultimately, physical deformity. Let us honour Yahweh by elevating His Word in our lives. - GEM
37 And were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well: he maketh both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak.
He hath done all things well
"They sat down in ranks, by hundreds, and by fifties."
Not as a haphazard crowd, but an orderly assembly. There is always beauty and dignity in orderliness and arrangement.
All God's works are marvels of order and precision. Nothing, however minute or unimportant, is slipshod or carelessly done. And this characteristic struck observers in regard to Jesus. In the next chapter, Mark 7, we read that they exclaimed-
That was the stamp of God dwelling in him. Even in this incident of feeding the multitude, he arranges it with a pleasing orderliness. No crowding, no confusion, but-
"He commanded them to make all sit down by companies upon the green grass. And they sat down in ranks, by hundreds and by fifties" (Mark 6:39-40).
If he was to be a party to the transaction, it would have to be done with becoming decorum. And the multitudes, finding themselves part of quiet and orderly assembly, would be impressed with the meaning and dignity that is possible to human nature when it is controlled and directed by the wisdom of God.
There was nothing slipshod or haphazard in Jesus' life. Though he wandered homeless, taking no thought for the morrow, his was actually the most intensely purposeful life ever lived. We must not judge by appearances, or common standards.