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“master” in the sense of schoolmaster, or teacher. (See John xiii. 13; xx. 16.) But they were not to be called Rabbi : for one was their leadereven Christ Himself. They were not to call anyone father"
upon the earth; for one was their Father who was in heaven. This must not be taken out of its connection; it has nothing to do with natural relationship, but with calling religious leaders by the name of " fathers.'
In verse 10 they were not to be called leaders. Christ alone was to be their leader.
The great one was to become a servant, as Christ had been; those who exalted themselves were to be abased; and those who humbled themselves should be exalted.
These instructions were very needful, because there were a number of accredited leaders, to whom the people looked for instruction. While they rehearsed Moses, they were to be followed ; but Christ shewed that in all other respects these reputed leaders were not to be trusted or followed : God was their Father, and Christ alone their teacher and guide.
Verses 13–33. Here are a number of "woes" addressed to the scribes and Pharisees ; and each time they are called hypocrites, and a reason given for such an appellation.
The first reason is, that they shut up the kingdom of heaven; they neither entered themselves, nor suffered those who were entering. They pro
. fessed to be God's servants, and yet they thus hindered God's work : they were hypocrites. They shut up the kingdom by hindering all they could from coming to Christ; and resolved to cast out of the synagogue any who should confess to His name.
2. They plundered the widows-persons to whom they should have afforded help and protection. They made long prayers for a pretence. They should receive the greater judgment for such hypocrisy.
3. They were very zealous to make even one proselyte, who when so made, was a greater of Gehenna” than themselves. Some have felt a difficulty in the pupils being worse than the teachers; but it may be that the pupils, having no character to preserve, as the teachers had, threw off all reserve and exceeded the teachers in their evil acts.
4. They were blind guides, for they made subtle distinctions where there was really no difference. He that made an oath should be bound by it. God was to be had in view whether in the temple or in heaven; these distinctions left God out.
5. They paid tithes on small things, but omitted judgment, mercy, and faith-here called “ weightier matters of the law,” and things which a godly Jew at that time would have observed. They filtered out the gnat from their drink, but swallowed the camel : to be very scrupulous in small things, but indifferent as to the important ones, was their true character.
6. They made clean the outside, but within were full of extortion and excess. These are opposed to the judgment and mercy in the last indictment.) They should begin at the inside, and the outside would follow.
7. They were like whitened tombs, beautiful on the outside, but within they were filled with hypocrisy and iniquity. The word for iniquity is remarkable—it is really “lawlessness."
” These leaders, while appearing to be strict keepers
of the law, were really in God's sight lawless, and without restraint. The Jewish writers say that once a year (the 15th of Adar), the Jews used to whiten the spots where the graves were, that persons might not be rendered unclean by passing over them. (See Num. xix. 16.)
8. They built and adorned the tonibs of the prophets, and acknowledged themselves to be the sons of those who put them to death, though saying that they would not have acted in like manner themselves. Such children were worthy successors of such fathers.
Then follows a most severe and terrible judgment on these leaders. “Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the judgment of hell ?"
The teacher has ample opportunities in the above of applying these solemn injunctions of our Lord to any with great assumption without reality.
Let us now look at the contents of the tabernacle. In the holy of holies stood the ark.
This was made of wood, overlaid with pure gold. Over it was the mercy-seat of pure gold, on the two ends of which were cherubim of beaten gold. Their wings stretched forth on high, covering the mercy
and their faces also were towards the mercyseat. Inside the ark was the law.
The ark typifies the throne of God; the cherubim are the executors of God's power. You will remember that they were placed to guard the entrance of the garden of Eden, after man had
sinned. But now God had a plan by which those cherubim could be associated with His mercy-seat. The law was there to condemn man because he broke it; and yet in God's plan His throne was covered by the mercy-seat; and there follow these words, “And there will I meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercyseat.'
On the rebellion of Israel against Moses and Aaron recorded in Numbers xvii., God caused each of the tribes to bring a rod, on which the names of the tribes were written. These were laid up in the tabernacle. And on the next day on the rods being brought out, behold, the rod of Aaron “brought forth buds, and bloomed blossoms, and yielded almonds," which shewed that Aaron was the man of God's choice, and the tribe of Levi to which he belonged.
Now this rod of Aaron was also placed in the ark, as we learn from Hebrews ix. 4, and in Numbers xvii. it was to be kept “as a token against the rebels." So that this rod was a token of condemnation, and was laid up in the ark against the people, and yet, in God's great grace this did not alter the character of the ark-it was still surmounted by the mercy-seat to the Israelites.
We read also in Hebrews ix. 4 that there was in the ark “golden pot with manna.” This agrees with the command of God that a pot containing an omer of manna should be laid
before the Lord to be kept for their generations, " that they may see the bread wherewith I have fed
in the wilderness.” (Ex. xvi. 32.) This was a witness of God's gracious care for the people on their journey, notwithstanding all their murmurings.
Thus then was the most holy place furnished
with the ark of the testimony. Everywhere gold met the eye-pure gold: the walls were gold; the ark and the mercy-seat were covered with gold, and the cherubim were of solid gold-all was in keeping with the presence of God. There He had promised to meet with Moses, and yet it was typical of Christ—God in Christ, for God has to do with man only in Christ.
The high priest could enter the holy of holies only once a year, and then only with blood. (Lev, xvi. 14.) The New Testament explains why-the way into the holiest was not then made manifest. By the death of Christ, the veil was rent, and the believer has access unto the throne of God.
Thus, though the law was there to condemn the Israelite because he broke it, and the rod that budded was also there as a witness against him, yet the mercy-seat still remained over the arka place where God would meet man in mercy. As we have seen, the mercy-seat was to be approached on the day of atonement with blood-typical, as we know, of the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.
This gives a very important lesson as to how God was to be, and is to be approached -- namely, through Christ. Men have all sorts of theories about the Fatherhood of God, &c., a great deal of which leaves Christ out altogether. But it is useless; as the high priest must not enter without blood, so our Lord said, " Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you :" that is, there must be faith in the sacrificial death of Christ. Again, there is “one mediator between God and man—the man Christ Jesus.”
There the cherubim are disarmed; they look towards the mercy-seat, and spread their wings