Christ and Religious Tradition

Scripture: Matthew 15:8-9
Date: 04/19/2014 
Lesson: 3
"This week's lesson investigates the religious traditions upon which the scribes and Pharisees based many of their teachings."
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Welcome to Sacramento central Seventh-day Adventist Church. It is by no mistake that you have joined us. This is central study hour where we come together every week - from across the world, actually - and we tune in together to study God's Word to learn truth and how he wants us to live and how we can be better servants of him. A very special welcome to you that are joining us right here in our audience. A very special welcome to you that are tuning in either for the first time or that are a regular member of our online study and our television study.

Welcome. As we always do before we begin to get into God's Word, we sing together. So bring out your hymnals and let's sing together hymn #565 - 'for the beauty of the earth'. This comes to us as a request from patrice in the british virgin islands, julia in Connecticut, ian in south africa, and eugene in thailand and a lot more people around the planet. 'For the beauty of the earth' - and we will sing all three verses.

I'm praying that your heart is full - full this morning of praise and songs for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen? We have been going through the hymnal and we are now - learning new hymns - and we are now up to hymn #96 - 'the spacious firmament' - and this one's a little tricky. We practiced it quite a bit this morning and it comes as a request from suzanna in new york. Hymn #96 - and we're going to sing all three verses. When you are not busy trying to learn the notes of that song, read through the words.

They are so beautiful and you will never go outside and look at a night sky the same again. Amen. God created the heavens. That is one of my favorite, favorite things to look at is the stars in the heavens and it just really reveals his creative power. Let's pray.

Our Father in Heaven, thank you so much for creating the world that we live in, the sun, the moon, the stars that sing of your glorious, glorious creative power. But Lord, the most creative thing that you have done is that you have created new hearts in each one of us through Your Word. And so we are so grateful that we are not left here for eternity to be lost, but that you gave your son to save us and that we can spend eternity with you, Lord. What a blessing. What a glorious plan.

What a glorious promise that is to each one of us. So bless us now as we study your word, Lord. Quicken our hearts that we serve you more faithfully and we can see you soon face-to-face. We pray these things in the precious name of Jesus, amen. Our study today will be brought to us by pastor mike thompson and he is the visitation and health pastor here at Sacramento central.

Thank you very much jolyne and the choristers. It's good to - good to learn some new songs, isn't it? Well, happy - Happy Sabbath to you all. Before I begin, we have a special offer. It's a really good little book. It's called 'feast days: shadows of our faith'.

It's written by dr. Herbert douglass, who we had speaking here just about two or three weeks ago. It's not a very big book but it's published by Amazing Facts and let me just give you this information first. It's offer #810 and if you contact Amazing Facts at -866-study-more - I've almost got it memorized, you see, I'm looking away a little bit here - -866-788-3966. Yes, I got it.

They will send you this book absolutely free. What it deals with is the question - there's people from time to time - they're very sincere people, but they say, 'you know, in ancient times, you know, they kept the passover and pentecost and the feast of tabernacles and some people feel we need to still be doing that. Actually, you don't, because Jesus was the fulfillment of those things. We're actually in, now, the antitypical day of atonement so that's still being fulfilled. And when we get to heaven, then we will actually have fulfilled, joyously, the feast of tabernacles.

But anyway, this book, it will answer all those questions for you. So it's offer #810, 'feast days: shadows of our faith' by dr. Herbert e. Douglass. And so, today, we're on the third lesson of our theme - our new theme this month 'Christ and his law'.

And what I'd like to do - I actually want to - I don't often read so much from the lesson book but I want to do that this morning because the introduction is very well written and, you know, why reinvent the wheel when somebody has already put it very nicely. So I want to find the beginning of lesson #3 here. It's called 'Christ in religious tradition'. And I begin with the memory text which is there, from Matthew 15:8 and 9 - kind of a shortened version. Jesus said, 'this people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.

In vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.' And I'll read the intro right here. 'John wesley, the founder of the methodist church, suggested that one's theology is influenced by four factors: faith, reason, Scripture, and tradition.' - There's a place for tradition. That's what we want to keep in mind here - 'he didn't mean, however, that all sides are equally authoritative. He acknowledged that the Bible was foundational, but he also recognized that one's individual faith, ability to reason, and religious tradition affect the way in which the Bible is interpreted. If wesley were brought back to life today, he would be shocked to discover that many modern theologians in the wesleyan tradition and other traditions as well' - maybe even including ours - 'now value reason, tradition, or personal opinion over the clear teaching of Scripture.

' - So I hope you got that - 'this week's lesson investigates the religious traditions upon which the scribes and pharisees based many of their teachings. The rabbis' - now this is an important point - 'the rabbis who originally penned these traditions greatly respected the Scriptures and had no intention for these traditions to be elevated to the status of God's word. However, some of their zealous disciples confused the method with the message and, in doing so, shifted the focus from God's written Revelation to human tradition.' So, that's kind of what we're looking at this morning. It happened then and it can and it is happening now and we need to be very careful that we don't walk in the same footsteps of well-meaning but, nonetheless, misled and confused scribes and pharisees. Sunday's lesson - 'the seed of Moses' - I'm going to read beginning in Matthew 23 and, I must confess, I didn't take time to assign any Scripture reading so it's mostly going to be me.

I hope you don't mind but you're used to suffering that before, aren't you mike? So, Matthew 23, verses 1 through . I want us to read this whole passage here, first of all. Matthew 23, verses 1 through 7, "then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, saying, 'the scribes and the pharisees sit in Moses' seat:" - actually, I'll stop there and comment on it. Jesus said, 'the scribes and the pharisees they sit in Moses' seat' which - and he wasn't trying to take away that authority. He did recognize that they did sit in that particular place of authority, but his problem was with how they actually exercised that authority and how they used it to distorted ends.

But, nonetheless, to sit in Moses' seat - it was a way of saying that the scribes and pharisees were, supposed to be at least, the official interpreter of the law of Moses and people looked to them for this and this is why, in many ways, they were often misled. But then Jesus, in the next verse, after he says the scribes and pharisees sit in Moses' seat, in the next verse - verse 3 Jesus said, "all therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do;" - so when Jesus was telling the people they sit in Moses' seat and whatever they tell you observe and do, there's a context to that. Jesus was saying, 'whatever they tell you that is based on the ten commandment law and on the law of Moses - and the law of Moses was different from the ten commandment law. God, himself, spoke that law. He wrote it on tables of stone.

He gave it to Moses. What was known as 'the law of Moses' was instructions that God dictated to Moses when Moses was up on the mount. In all told, there's about 613 laws which come under this general heading of the law of Moses and it covered all kinds of things from, you know, dietary laws, hygiene, there was a penal code there, the temple services, commerce, social interaction, laws which governed marriage and all these kinds of things. Those came under the general heading of the law of Moses. So Jesus was saying, 'when the scribes and pharisees read these things, yes, you need to listen.

' But, having said that, in the next breath - in verse 3 - Jesus tells us this - we're still in Matthew 23, verse 3 - but then he says, "but do not ye after their works: for they say and do not." So it says they sit in Moses' seat. What they tell you observe and do but don't follow their example because they're good at spouting off and preaching but they don't live out what they're supposed to be representing that is in the Word of God - the ten commandment and the law of Moses. In other words, Jesus very clearly, for good reason, condemned the scribes and pharisees as hypocrites. You know what a hypocrite means? It's from the Greek word hippocrates - it means 'an actor'. And it's not all men, there's actresses as well, by the way.

But it means somebody who is just an actor. So it says, 'don't do what they do, even though they demand that you do certain things. Don't follow their example.' But it gets a little worse than this, you see, the hypocrisy of the scribes and pharisees was also equaled by another disagreeable practice that Jesus also addressed and condemned. We're still in Matthew chapter 23, verse 4. Speaking of the scribes and pharisees he says, "for they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.

" Now here, Jesus is not referring to God's law - the ten commandment law or the law of Moses - he's talking about a whole collection of what were called 'rabbinical laws' known as 'the mishnah' and there was more than 613 of this. I mean, there was just a whole host of man-made rules and regulations that the religious leaders insisted should be accepted by the people and obeyed. So this is where the tradition side comes in, which is very, very destructive to the true worship of God which should be joyous and uplifting and it led the people into legalism. You know, legalism - the Lord says - Ellen white says 'legalism - that kind of religion is a troublesome guest.' And it is because it just soaks all the joy and all the fulfillment and just the satisfaction that God wants us to get out of a relationship with him, legalism just - just sucks it all out and you're left with a hollow shell and people are left believing 'I've got to do this little, tiny thing. And I must do this little tiny thing, and then this little tiny thing to have favor in God's eyes.

' Now, and then, hopefully that will secure for me eternal life when this life is all finished.' Well, I'm sure you'll agree that that kind of religion is indeed a troublesome guest. And I'm going to return to this in a moment - the mishnah and the scribes and pharisees - all these little minute - I'm going to come to that in a moment. So all this was bad enough, but the greater and more grievous offensiveness of the pharisees in God's eyes - it just get worse, doesn't it really? The greater and the more grievous and the offensiveness of the pharisees in God's eyes was that they had this outward display of piety - just display of piety and holiness that they paraded publicly before everybody. But inside, when you got behind that exterior and it was just a very thin veneer, their hearts were proud and vain and hard and selfish and corrupt. And, by the way, we can have the same hearts as pharisees, but this is one reason why, one time, Jesus called them 'whited sepulchers'.

He said, 'you're just like white-washed sepulchers'. He said, 'you know, you look all nice and white on the outside - you may have a few little flowers there to garnish the tomb - but inside' - he said - 'you're full of uncleanness and dead-men's bones.' Very graphic illustration here. Matthew 23 still - I want to read verses 5 through 7. Here's where Jesus is still going at them here. This is what he says about them - verse 5 - about scribes and pharisees.

He says, "but all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries," - I think most of you know, but for anybody new a phylactery was something the super ultra religious person would wear - like a little box - put it on his head or on his wrist and there was a portion of God's law in there. They took a passage from the old testament - started it - and they wore it on there. But they were so legalistic you didn't wear it on Sabbath because that would be like carrying a burden - or on feast days. But they would wear these phylacteries to be seen, you know, 'see me', you know, 'see my new phylactery - one at the front, one at the back', you know? God hates that kind of pretense. Let's get back here.

And what else? "They make large their phylacteries and enlarge the borders of their garments," - the scribes and pharisees would have these tassels or fringes which hung from the bottom of their robes and the bigger the tassel it was a signal, you know, that you were pious - even more pious and righteous - even beyond the law - and far more righteous than other men and women. So, you know, they had their robes with their phylacteries on them, you know, 'see my' - I'm sorry - 'with my fringes on them.' I mean, we may laugh, you know, but that was the mind set in those days. And we, sitting here in this church in the 21st century, we might look and think 'how could those people be so blinkered and blind?' But, you know, we're people like they were and maybe there's something that we don't see but our children might see or somebody else might see. So even though we don't approve of what they did, let's just be careful about sitting in judgment on some of these people sometimes because we're still a bunch of work ourselves. So let us learn from these things.

And verse 6 here, "and love the uppermost rooms" - that means the highest positions of honor - "at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the Markets, and to be called of men, rabbi, rabbi." Now, when the term 'rabbi' came out there was the personal pronoun attached to it. Originally it meant - it meant, 'my great one' you know. 'You are my great one' or 'my great teacher'. So you can imagine a rabbi there with his phylactery and his big long fringes and he's at a feast and he gets, you know, a special seat and there's people coming up and they say, 'oh, my rabbi, my great one'. Well, who needs that? Human beings - even if it was all true, that they were righteous, who needs praise? We don't need praise, do we? We're already proud enough.

But there's what these men were like and rightly so it gave Jesus - it was a problem. You compare that to Philippians - I want to turn there very quickly - to Philippians 2 - where we see the comparison here between them and Jesus. Philippians 2 - this is something we should read every day. Philippians 2 - we're going to read from verse 3. It says, "let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than themselves.

" Down to verse 5 - it says, "let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." So you compare the pharisees to Jesus. Now, if anybody had a right to have long tassels on his robe you'd say Jesus did. Or to have the seat of honor at a feast - Jesus certainly deserved it. But he shunned that. But that's the difference between the scribes and pharisees and Christ.

And which mind do you want? It says here, 'let this mind be' - I want the mind of Jesus, I don't want the mind of the scribes and the pharisees. And I want a mind that's open to the teachings of God's Word and the promptings of the holy spirit so that if God needs to tell me, 'Michael, you know, you're a bit of a traditionalist. You've got a little thing going over here and you're so blind you can't see it.' I want to hear God's voice and I want to know that. And through his grace I want to turn away from that because I want to have a clear path for my feet. But the problem is, you see, when we're hooked on tradition as they were, the light becomes darkness.

On Monday's section - and I'm going to read the first - I'm going to read again, actually, from our lesson here. It says - yeah, I said I'd get back to the mishnah, you know, all those books with all those little things here. Monday's section 'human commandments' - I'm going to read the first paragraph. It says, "although the scribes and pharisees sat in Moses' seat, their source of authority for religious instruction extended beyond the old testament. The law that the pharisees utilized consisted of biblical interpretations of leading rabbis.

" - And we did mention this - "their interpretations were not intended to replace the Scripture, but to complement them. At first they were circulated orally. Later, the scribes began to assemble them into books. The first official publication of rabbinical law did not appear until the end of the second century ad, when rabbi yahuda, a prince in judah, published the mishnah." That's how the word came about - "the laws recorded in the mishnah reflected about four centuries of rabbinic interpretation. Included among the contributing rabbis are many who have lived - were many who lived at the time of Jesus.

" - And it mentions hillel and shammai. There was also gamaliel, the grandson of hilel and also Paul's teacher. And sometimes these rabbis they would - they'd get the mishnah and they'd debate certain things. I imagine people sat around listening to these great minds, you know, these great men who were so versed in the mishnah, just kind of being awed. Well, you know, one time there was a face-off between two - face-off between two leading rabbis who were arguing this point: was it lawful to eat an egg on Sabbath - was it lawful to eat an egg that a chicken had laid on Sabbath? You want a show of hands? By the way, who's - no, we won't go there but can you imagine that? Two great minds debating 'is it lawful to eat an egg laid by a chicken on the Sabbath?' Well, you can figure that one out yourself.

But I'm just using that to show you how ridiculous this whole system became. So we are creatures of tradition - remember, in the beginning I mentioned that wesley said there were four things: there was the word of God, there was faith and there was our traditions and our traditions do come into play and they're perfectly fine provided they don't supercede the word of God. It's perfectly fine to do that. For example, you might have a tradition. I don't know why we did it, but when our little girls were younger, when sundown came we would - we'd light a candle.

Now, you might think, 'oh, that's very catholic pastor mike.' Well, we didn't think anything of it. We did it for a couple - a little tradition - little girls like to light a candle. Last night - I probably shouldn't have said that. I see some frowns already - but last night debbie and eric came around with jack and weemo and we were singing some little songs for worship - 'this little light of mine' - and one of our traditions is - we have a couple of - they're actually battery operated - you flick them on - but they look like candles, you know? So they get this little candle and they're walking around the couch. 'This little light of mine, I'm going' - so that's a little tradition we have.

Anything wrong with that? Oh, that's a relief. Good - no, nothing wrong with that. So, you see, little traditions like that are perfectly fine. You may, for example, have a tradition, ladies, you may do the - if you've got any baking to do for Sabbath you may do it on Thursday or Friday morning. You know what I'm talking about.

Maybe there's a certain dress or a certain pair of shoes you like to wear on Sabbath. That's fine - nothing wrong with that. So, you understand, we have traditions and they're perfectly fine. And, by the way, I want to take an opportunity to mention this: in volume 6 of 'the testimonies' - if you don't have these books you should get them - there is a section called, 'the observance of the Sabbath' and it goes on for several pages, but I want to encourage you - if I may give you an assignment. If you haven't read it in a while, go to volume 6 of the testimonies and read the chapter 'the observance of the Sabbath'.

It begins on page 349 and you may find some things in there that, as you're preparing for the Sabbath, maybe would be good things to become traditional in your life that you do on Friday so that when the sun goes down, you're all ready. It says here on page 353, "all through the week we are to have the Sabbath in mind." - There's a tradition you can have. All through the week you can have the Sabbath in mind. - "Be making preparation to keep it according to the commandment." So that tradition does not exceed the commandment. There's nothing in here that says, 'you must keep holy the sixth day' but the sixth day is a good day to have some tradition so that you're ready when the seventh day comes - everything's done.

So there's good traditions. So that when the Sabbath comes we're ready to enter into that very precious and wonderful time of rest. Okay, to repeat again, unfortunately, many of the Jewish traditions began to be given equal status until they were given equality with the law itself and became binding upon them. I'm going back to Matthew - I'm going to Matthew 15 now, actually. Let's go to Matthew 15 to look at a prime example here.

Matthew 15 - I'm going to read the first two verses. And this whole thing, you'll find it also in Mark 7 - it's a bit more detailed in Mark 7 in some ways, but this is just as well. Matthew 15, verses 1 and 2, "then came to Jesus scribes and pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying, 'why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they wash not their hands when they eat bread.'" Ah, 'why do your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders?' - Speaking of 'your disciples, they're violating certain precepts in the mishnah - that's what they're doing here - they don't wash their hands before they eat bread.' Well, you know, it's not a bad thing to wash your hands before you eat, is it? But there was nothing to do with hygiene in this kind of hand washing here that the scribes and pharisees were accusing Jesus' disciples of not doing - nothing to do with that. Their mind set - it was a traditional kind of hand washing that just exceeded the bounds of rationality and practicability and if you want some details on that I'll read them to you. This is what they were talking about.

This is from the Seventh-day Adventist Bible commentary page 622, "the washing here referred to was strictly ritualistic, not sanitary. This rite is said to have consisted of pouring" - now listen to this - "a small quantity of water upon the fingers and palm of first one hand" - a little bit of water on the fingers and just on the palm of one hand - "and then the other hand, tilted so that the water ran from the palm to the wrist." Can you remember that? Oh, you've got to get this right, now - "tilted so that the water ran from the palm of the hand to the wrist but not further" - okay - "but all the time taking care lest the water run back into the palm." - So he had to kind of do - do this kind of thing with his water here in your wrist. Alright? - "And then, alternatively rubbing one hand with the palm of the other. The minimum amount of water prescribed was that which could be contained in one and a half eggshells. It seems, however, that where water was not available, a dry ablution was permitted, in which a person would simply go through the motions of washing his hands in the prescribed manner.

" So when they came to Jesus and said, 'your disciples are eating with unwashed hands.' It was nothing to do with getting bugs off, it was not putting a little drop on the fingers or in the palm and doing this and then on the other one and - so Jesus was very patient, wasn't he? Very patient - very patient indeed. But then - okay, let me get back to this here. So Jesus was frustrated enough and then Jesus gives an example of how another tradition of the pharisees could be invoked to supercede the authority of God's law again, this time the fifth commandment. The fifth commandment is 'honor thy father and thy mother' which is in Exodus 20, but we go back again to Matthew 15, picking up here verses 4 through 6. So Jesus, you know, he - a little further on in the passage he tells them, 'look, eating with unwashed hands is not a problem.

' But he leaves that until further in his discussion with the pharisees. But he goes on to verse 4 and he says the following: he says, "for God commanded, saying, 'honor thy father and mother: and he that curseth father or mother, let him die the death.'" - So he quotes the fifth commandment to the scribes and pharisees. Then he looked at them and he says, "but ye say, 'whosoever shall say to this father or his mother, 'it is a gift,'" - we'll explain that in a moment - "'it is a gift by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; and honor not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.'" What Jesus is telling them here is, 'okay, you've got your hand washing thing, but more than this' - he says - 'you also' - he says - 'you not only break the commandment of God' - but he said - 'you actually do away with it. You try and get around it with this thing that you've come up with.

' And this is what it amounted to. There may be a young man living in the house and, you know, he's maybe got free room and board and once in a while he needs to pay his parents something. Maybe he needed to get a job as well. And so he has a few shekels in his pocket and it's only right that he gives it to his mom and dad and he gets the money in his hand and he comes to his mom and dad and he says, 'korban'. And as soon as the words went out of his mouth 'korban' it means that this money is now dedicated to the temple.

So mom and dad, I know I owe this to you, but I can't give it to you. It belongs to the temple now. But while he still had possession of that money he could use it. And so the priests, who were supposed to uphold the law, sitting in Moses' seat, they honored this tradition so that they could work out a deal with a young guy like this and say, 'tell your parents it's korban - it's for the temple. Give us half - you keep the other half and while you still have some left, it's okay.

So you can understand how Jesus was so incensed that they would take - the fifth commandment, in this instance - and find a way around it. Talk about hypocrisy. Was hypocrites a good term to use? Absolutely it was. You could - if you have an sda Bible commentary, if you go to volume 5, page 624, you could read about that there as well. But continuing back in Matthew , verses 7 through 9 - and here, he just tells them - he says, "ye hypocrites, well did esaias prophesy of you saying, 'this people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoreth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.

But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." And so, after rebuking their exalting of human tradition over the Word of God, Jesus cuts through all the shallow, pharisaical nonsense and all the obsessing over hand washing and the like, to focus on where the real problem lay in the hearts of the pharisees. And our hearts too if we're not careful. It's nothing to do with unwashed hands, the problem is unwashed hearts, that's where the problem lies - unwashed hearts - evil hearts. Something that all the ritualistic outward washings in the world can never cleanse away or cure. Matthew 15:16 through 20 - let's go here - and he says - he kind of sums up here, and Jesus said, 'are you also yet without understanding? Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth'" - like eating with unwashed hands - "'goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught?'" - He said those things don't matter - he said, "but those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.

For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: these are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.'" And Jesus just nailed it right there. You know, what he told them, this was totally alien to those men. They were there with their phylacteries, their nice robes with their big longtassels on just probably shaking around in the breeze, maybe, while they're talking to Jesus and what he said, it was just totally alien to them. It was all the more reason why they just wanted him gone. They wanted him dead and finally they got their way.

But Jesus just nails it here and he shows very, very, very clearly. Here is brought to light the repeated theme of Scripture that conversion has to come from the inside out. It will not work from the outside in - 'except a man is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.' Ephesians 2, verses 8 through 10. We know this very well but, you know, it's good to read these passages again once in a while. Ephesians 2:8 through 10 - it says, "for by grace ye are saved through faith; and that not of yourselves;" - not of a hand washing of one and a half eggshells full of water or that kind of stuff - you're saved through faith - "it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." Let's never lose sight of those things. Yeah, let's have our little traditions. It's fine to walk around 'this little light of mine' - bake your bread on Thursday or whatever you want to do, but never, never understand that that earns you merit and never place those things above the Word of God. I want to return now to Matthew :7 and 8. Jesus said again, he says, "ye hypocrites, well did easias prophesy of you, saying," - and he quotes here from Isaiah 29:13 - "this people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoreth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.

" That - that was the problem with the pharisees, they were unconverted and they're unconverted because they didn't know God and if you don't know God, you don't love him. Then everything unravels from that point onward. But he quoted from Isaiah 29:9 through 13, actually that's what he was quoting from there. I want to turn to that passage because it brings to light a very - something very significant here. So Jesus quoted from Isaiah 29 and we're going to go there now.

Isaiah 29, verses 9 through 13 and we read the following: it says, "stay yourselves, and wonder; cry ye out, and cry: they are drunken, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with strong drink." - Isaiah here is speaking to God's people about 700 years bc. He says - he says, 'you're drunken' - God's saying this - not with wine but with strong drink. "For the Lord hath poured out upon you the Spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes: the prophets and your rulers, the seers hath he covered. And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, 'read this, I pray thee:' and he saith, I cannot for it is sealed. And the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, 'read this, I pray thee:' and he saith, I am not learned.

" - What he's talking about here - he's talking about his people in ancient time - he said, 'you're drunk.' - Not with strong wine but they are drunk - spiritually blind and spiritually drunk. And, by the way, in verse 10 it says, 'God has poured out upon you the Spirit of deep sleep and has closed your eyes.' God doesn't do that. The Hebrew, sometimes, ascribes to God that which he permits, if you get the point there. God did not harden pharaoh's heart, but the way the Hebrew is written it seems that it ascribes to God the fact that he hardened pharaoh's heart. He didn't harden pharaoh's heart, he worked miracles in front of pharaoh and pharaoh, from the first one, could have let the people of Israel go.

But he didn't, so the more he resisted he hardened his own heart. And here it says - it kind of ascribes to God he gave them - he put them to sleep. God didn't put them to sleep, he allowed them to receive - reap the consequences of their own actions. They didn't want to hear the Word of God. They didn't want to hear from the prophets.

So he describes in here, figuratively, in verse 9 he says, 'you're drunk as with strong drink.' Now let's notice the reason why they're drunk - verse 13, "wherefore the Lord said," - and here's the verse that Jesus quoted - "'forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:'" - so the reason why they're described as drunk in verse 9 is because they put aside the Word of God and they've imbibed the precepts of men. You get the point here? But the real thing that I want to pull out of this verse here in verse 29 is - actually, do I want to do that now or in a moment? Just - yeah, the real point I want to make here is God says to them - he says, 'you honor me with your lips but your heart is far from me.' And that - that's where it all begins. That's where it all begins. If you don't love God, you won't love His Word. You won't have a desire to do what he asks you to do.

And so, if traditions come along which suit your carnal practices, 'sure, bring them on. Let's have my own 21st century mishnah' - you know? - 'Let me keep my religious veneer but let me keep my traditions whereby I can find my way around God's commandments, as with korban.' - Using this just as an illustration here. And so when we disregard God's word and we give in to humanistic teachings and practices, we finish up drunk. That's the problem - drunk with this false doctrine. Same happened to them and it can happen to us.

This is why, even among ourselves, the same root cause is why, to some, the foundational truths of adventism - the third angel's message - are not understood and appreciated. They're looked upon as old fashioned, no longer relevant - especially by some who believe we need something different in order to reach, especially, the younger generation and have something in common with other denominations so we don't look so odd and we don't look so singular. So what do you do? This is a danger. You step outside the bounds of solid biblical truth and you begin to build a new belief system that is built on modern- day human tradition and practices. You may use new terms.

You may make it sparkle and you put the neon signs up there and give it a fresh new look and you use terms such as - well, I'll say it - 'spiritual formation' or 'emergent theology' - all those kinds of things, but it's still putting aside God's Word and building on a modern form of humanistic religious tradition. Just the same way that the scribes and pharisees did in Christ's day. No matter how much these modern new traditions - they're all new and sparkly - you know, these buzzwords that we use - no matter how much they impact the mind or the emotions, their ability to sanctify - because error never sanctifies - the ability to sanctify or morally perfect the character for the second coming of Christ is as ineffective as the washing of hands and pots that the pharisees did in the days of Christ. That's why, when Jesus came and he spoke to them - pfffft - right over their heads. If you told these people, 'you know, when the Messiah comes you'll crucify him.

' They would have said, 'no way!' We're looking for him and he's right here talking to you. You see, that is the danger. That is the fear of how the human mind can be so skewed and so - to the lesson here there's a good statement from 'desire of ages' at the top of Wednesday's lesson. It says, "the substitution of the precepts of men for the commandments of God has not ceased." - Well, it hasn't - "even among Christians are found institutions and usages that have no better foundation than the traditions of The Fathers. Such institutions, resting upon a mere human authority, have supplanted those of divine appointment.

Men cling to their traditions and revere their customs and cherish hatred against those who seek to show them their error. In the place of the authority of the so-called fathers of the church, God bids us accept the word of the eternal father - God bids us accept the word of the eternal father, the Lord of heaven and earth." And so these newly created traditions and ceremonies in today's counterfeit religious movements, such as spiritual formation and the emerging theology, are soon to find themselves uniting with a very ancient tradition, from paganism, which is in mainline Christianity - and that is Sunday observance. That's where, if you get into these things - spiritual formation, emergent theology, or other things the devil has used to infiltrate the remnant, you will ultimately finish up uniting your new tradition with the long-established tradition of Sunday worship. That's exactly where it's going to go. Now there may be those who decry such and say, 'pastor mike thompson, that is extreme.

That is fanatical. That is preposterous. It will never happen.' But I'm telling you it will. Soon, very soon, every belief system not rooted in Scripture will come under the power of satanic deception under a religious guise. And you've read this from 'great controversy' I'm sure.

I'll share a bit with you - page 588 - it says here "as spiritualism" - because there's mysticism so working its way into Christianity today and it's spiritualism under a Christian guise. "As spiritualism more closely imitates the nominal Christianity of the day, there's greater power to deceive and ensnare. Satan, himself, is converted after the modern order of things. He will appear in the character of an angel of light" - this was written over 100 years ago, so if it was somewhat like that then, what is it now? "He will appear in the character of an angel of light. Through the agency of spiritualism miracles will be wrought, the sick will be healed, and many undeniable wonders will be performed.

And the Spirits will profess faith in the Bible and manifest respect for the institutions of the church and as they do that their work will be accepted as a manifestation of divine power." Now, I'll cut it short here - next paragraph - "papists who boast of miracles as a certain sign of the true church will be readily deceived by this wonder-working power and protestants who have cast away the shield of truth" - this here - "in preference to some of the modern-day traditions and protestants who have cast away the shield of truth will also be deluded." And where will they all finish up? Part of the great movement - the great harlot of Revelation 17 - that's where it's going to finish up. So your only safety and my only safety, my friends is have your little innocent traditions, yes, but do not in that - do not exceed the bounds of God's Word. You stay on this foundation, you are safe. You'll get attacked because you're going to look very odd and singular. We're not even at the worst point yet of getting stuff thrown at us.

But, you know, that's a small price to pay. Stay. Stay with Jesus. Stay with His Word and you will be safe even if you're the only one among a multitude that remains faithful to the end. I'm going to conclude with this: in Matthew 15, verse 13 - Matthew 15, verse 13 Jesus said, "every plant, which my heavenly father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.

" Then he's speaking of those who are spiritually blind. He says, "let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch." So let's not become part of a strange plant because God is going to finally pull it up. But I want to say this, in conclusion. Maybe this might resonate with somebody today.

You may have known the truth for a long time. It may be new to you, but somehow, in some way you found yourself tending to put the word of God aside and just being fascinated by some sparkly things out there, which seem exciting and new and innovative. But somehow, you get to the bottom of it, you realize it's not really in the Word of God. It's not really in the Spirit of prophecy, but you've allowed yourself to get drawn away and you realize that you need to get back to where you belong. I want to tell you this: no matter what road you've taken - even if it's not with anything to do with what we've been talking about this morning.

Even if somebody has never even been a Christian before and is sitting here for the first time - or somebody watching on live stream never even been a Christian - but you look and you realize your life is not what is should be. What can you do about that? I'll tell you what you can do about it, you can come to Jesus and he'll forgive you and he'll give you a new start. You know, he's the best friend you could ever have. Did you know that Noah was present at the birth of Abraham? Okay, maybe he wasn't in the room, but he was alive and probably telling stories about his floating zoo. From the creation of the world to the last day events of Revelation, '' is a free resource where you can explore major Bible events and characters. Enhance your knowledge of the Bible and draw closer to God's Word. Go deeper. Visit the amazing Bible timeline at ''.

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