Have we become the modern-day Pharisees?

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Pharisees_CroppedThe next Feast is the Feast of Unleavened bread, another one of YHVH’s special appointments with us. Another opportunity to learn and to grow in our walk with Him. Before we can celebrate this feast, we need to ensure that all the leaven is removed from our homes. Leaven is a common Jewish Metaphor for an invisible, pervasive influence, that could lead to corruption. We therefor have to remove, not only the physical leaven, but also the spiritual leaven from our lives. Please read this and share!

Have you noticed how critical and judgmental we have become? There seems to be a tendency among believers to judge and condemn. To condemn others for their different interpretation of scripture, for their use of certain words or for their use or pronunciation of the name of our Creator. Have we become like the Pharisees in the time of Y’shua?

Friends, where is this going? Should we not be spending this time in a more productive way? Do we not all have one Father?

Malachi 2:10
10 “Do we not all have one father? Has not one Elohim created us? Why do we deal treacherously each against his brother so as to profane the covenant of our fathers?

We are all on our own journey, tailor-made for us by our Father. None of us have been given superior understanding. We all fail in some regard. What justification do we have, thinking ourselves better and more righteous than others? Causing contention and strife about matters sometimes of little importance? Where is our love for each other?

What did Y’shua do?

He modeled for us how we are to live; He modeled perfect love for us. When has our so-called superior understanding become more important than our love for each other? We all fail miserably to some extend in this. May Abba YHVH open our eyes to show us where we fail in order for us to repent. How can we be used in His service if we are so full of ourselves? We have to be full of Him, His Ruach. It is all about Him, His everlasting love for us, saving us from our self-inflicted destruction. We do not have any reason to boast.

At this time of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, let us search out this leaven in our lives: self-righteousness and pride. Pride is something that puffs up; like leaven.

1 Corinthians 5:6–8
6 Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough? 7 Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For the Messiah our Passover also has been sacrificed. 8 Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

We should use this time to examine ourselves, find the leaven of pride, self-righteousness, malice and wickedness and repent of it. We shall look at some examples from the Scriptures to enable us to identify this in our own lives.

Y’shua taught a parable about self- righteousness. Y’shua taught this for the purpose of giving us an example. And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt.” Isn’t this true even for us today?

Luke 18:9–14
9 And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 “The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘Elohim, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 ‘I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ 13 “But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘Elohim, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ 14 “I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Paul also taught that we are to accept one another in our groups or assemblies, but not for passing judgment on their opinions.

Romans 14:1
1 Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions.

In the passage underneath, the Pharisees were looking around trying to find fault with what Y’shua’s disciples were doing. They were not washing their hands according to the Pharisaic tradition. Does this remind you of something you have seen of experienced? Maybe seeing someone not doing something according to your understanding?

Mark 7:1–5
1 The Pharisees and some of the scribes gathered around Him when they had come from Jerusalem, 2 and had seen that some of His disciples were eating their bread with impure hands, that is, unwashed. 3 (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they carefully wash their hands, thus observing the traditions of the elders; 4 and when they come from the market place, they do not eat unless they cleanse themselves; and there are many other things which they have received in order to observe, such as the washing of cups and pitchers and copper pots.) 5 The Pharisees and the scribes asked Him, “Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat their bread with impure hands?”

On another occasion, they were criticizing the disciples for picking grain and eating it on the Sabbath. What stands out to me is the fact that the Pharisees were judging based on their interpretation or teaching of the Scriptures. Don’t we often do the same? Have you ever judged another person on his observance of the Sabbath?

Mark 2:23–24
23 And it happened that He was passing through the grainfields on the Sabbath, and His disciples began to make their way along while picking the heads of grain. 24 The Pharisees were saying to Him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?”

Mercy for one another

We justify our point of view to ourselves and others by judging and condemning those who don’t share our understanding. Instead of being merciful and giving them the change to learn something, when Abba chooses to reveal it to them, we go about judging them and talking about them to others.

James 4:11
11 Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge of it.

It is indeed commendable to observe Abba YHVH’s commandments in obedience to Him, but we should never forget that this understanding was given us by Abba YHVH out of His great mercy to us. We have to have mercy for those who have not been given the same understanding as we have been given. James 2:1-13 also teaches about judgment and mercy and what the outcome of merciless judgment of others would be.

James 2:13
13 For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.

This said, remember that we are saved according to His grace, not based on our righteousness. What reason do we have to boast, except in Him?

Titus 3:5–7
5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out upon us richly through Y’shua, Messiah our Savior, 7 so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Abba YHVH spoke through the prophet Hosea saying that He delights in “checed (חֶסֶד, Hebrew Strong’s # 2617) ” rather than sacrifice. What exactly does this mean?

Hosea 6:6
6 For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice, And in the knowledge of Elohim rather than burnt offerings.

Let us do a word study on the Hebrew word “chesed/checed”

checed (חֶסֶד, 2617), “loving-kindness; steadfast love; grace; mercy; faithfulness; goodness; devotion.” This word is used 240 times in the Old Testament, and is especially frequent in the Psalter. The term is one of the most important in the vocabulary of Old Testament theology and ethics.

The Septuagint nearly always renders “checed” with eleos (“mercy”), and that usage is reflected in the New Testament. Modern translations, in contrast, generally prefer renditions close to the word “grace.” KJV usually has “mercy,” although “loving-kindness” (following Coverdale), “favor,” and other translations also occur. RSV generally prefers “steadfast love.” NIV often offers simply “love.”

In general, one may identify three basic meanings of the word, which always interact: “strength,” “steadfastness,” and “love.” Any understanding of the word that fails to suggest all three inevitably loses some of its richness. “Love” by itself easily becomes sentimentalized or universalized apart from the covenant. Yet “strength” or “steadfastness” suggests only the fulfillment of a legal or other obligation.

The word refers primarily to mutual and reciprocal rights and obligations between the parties of a relationship (especially Yahweh and Israel). But “checed” is not only a matter of obligation; it is also of generosity. It is not only a matter of loyalty, but also of mercy. The weaker party seeks the protection and blessing of the patron and protector, but he may not lay absolute claim to it. The stronger party remains committed to his promise, but retains his freedom, especially with regard to the manner in which he will implement those promises. “Chesed” implies personal involvement and commitment in a relationship beyond the rule of law.

Marital love is often related to “checed.” Marriage certainly is a legal matter, and there are legal sanctions for infractions. Yet the relationship, if sound, far transcends mere legalities. The prophet Hosea applies the analogy to Yahweh’s “checed” to Israel within the covenant (e.g., 2:21). Hence, “devotion” is sometimes the single English word best capable of capturing the nuance of the original. The RSV attempts to bring this out by its translation, “steadfast love.” Hebrew writers often underscored the element of steadfastness (or strength) by pairing “checed” with ˒”emet” (“truth, reliability”) and “emunah” (“faithfulness”).
Vine, W. E., Unger, M. F., & White, W. (1996). Vol. 1: Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (142–143). Nashville, TN: T. Nelson.

The word sacrifice, in my opinion, is used to represent the observing of the commandments. This passage in Hosea refers to our relationship with Abba YHVH. What He wants from us is steadfast love rather than the mere obeying of the instructions. This devoted love is a commitment in a relationship beyond the rule of law. It is comparable to a marriage relationship. Abba YHVH wants loving-kindness (steadfast love and commitment) towards Him and relationship with Him rather than following every letter of the law. Being obedient is indeed honorable and required but, not if it is done out of route routine or as an act of self-righteousness or self-justification.

Y’shua gives this verse an even broader application. He expanded this loving-kindness towards others. Not only do we have to be obedient to YHVH out of love, but we are to extend loving-kindness towards others (Deut 6:5, Lev 19:18, Mark 12:30,31). We sometimes, in our zeal, forget that.

Matthew 9:10–13
10 Then it happened that as Y’shua was reclining at the table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were dining with Y’shua and His disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, “Why is your Teacher eating with the tax collectors and sinners?” 12 But when Y’shua heard this, He said, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. 13 “But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

In this passage, Y’shua spent His time with tax collectors and sinners. How much time do we spend with “tax collectors and sinners“, or do we make sure we don’t associate with these?

He repeats ‘I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,’ in Matthew 12:7. The context is where the Pharisees complained to Y’shua about plucking and eating of grain from the field on Sabbath.

Matthew 12:7
7 “But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire compassion, and not a sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent.

The parable of the good Samaritan also comes to mind (Luk 10:30-37). The priest, nor the Levite helped the man attacked by robbers, in fear of being rendered unclean for Temple service. The Samaritan took care of him. He showed loving-kindness towards him. Think about this….

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

YHVH opens minds and hearts to understand

We don’t have all the truth revealed to us in one big chunk when we become believers. Being human, we won’t be able to bear it. Understanding is given to us by YHVH out of His mercy and kindness as and when we are ready for it.

Acts 16:14
14 A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and YHVH opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul.

Luke 24:32
32 They said to one another, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?”

Luke 24:45
45 Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures,

1 John 5:20
20 And we know that the Son of Elohim has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Y’shua Messiah. This is the true Elohim and eternal life.

Reading these scriptures made me realize that maybe we need to be a bit more patient with our brothers and sisters who don’t “get it” the first time.  YHVH will reveal the truth in His time.

How much is revealed to us is dependent upon our reaction to the truth that has been revealed to us.This is beautifully illustrated in the parable of the talents (Matt 25:14-30). According to the parable, when we accept this understanding or truth and live according to it, more truth will be revealed to us. If we reject it, then that’s it. No more truth will be revealed to us and what has been given us, could be taken away from us.


We have to show mercy to others as mercy was shown to us, forgive as we have been forgiven and pursue a relationship with YHVH, the Creator of the universe. Let His light be seen in our lives. His Light, Y’shua the Living Torah. Living a set-apart life, obedient to YHVH’s commandments, does not give us the license or right to judge, strife and content. Judgment, strife and contention are not fruits of followers of Y’shua, but of the evil one. May YHVH allow us to learn this through His Word, rather than through painful experience.

Micah 6:8
8 He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does YHVH require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your Elohim?

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