A loud warning against false worship
Shabbat Shalom all,
Mattithyahu/Matthew 23:25-28 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are filled with plunder and unrighteousness. 26 “Blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and dish, so that the outside of them becomes clean too. 27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you are like whitewashed tombs which outwardly indeed look well, but inside are filled with dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 “So you too outwardly indeed appear righteous to men, but inside you are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness.”
Very stern words indeed for our Master, yet we would do well to take heed of these words and ensure that our lives remain pure in living set-apart lives unto our Master as we serve Him in Spirit and Truth, lest we find ourselves being exposed and convicted as a blind hypocrite and whitewashed tomb that is filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness rather than sincerity and truth! Hypocrisy and lawlessness may be able to be masked by many before others, but it cannot be masked or hidden before Elohim, and this hypocrisy and lawlessness provokes יהוה, who is indeed a Jealous El and a consuming fire, who demands our complete obedience. In a message tonight called, “HYPOCRITES PROVOKE יהוה TO ANGER! – a loud warning against false worship”, I would like to look at a passage we have often referred to and spoken much about, as it certainly reflects a great deal of what we see today, yet we also need to make sure that as we look into the mirror of the Word that we allow the Word to cleanse us and wash us from any lawlessness and or underlying roots of hypocrisy. The passage is Yirmeyahu/Jeremiah 7; but before we turn there I just want to share with you what the term hypocrite means – in the Greek it is the word ὑποκριτής hupokritēs – Strong’s G5273 which means, ‘one who answers, pretender, actor, dissembler (one who hides under a false appearance)’ and comes from the word ὑποκρίνομαι hupokrinomai – Strong’s G5271 which literally means, ‘to answer, reply, pretend’ and is constructed from two words: 1 – ὑπό hupo – Strong’s G5259 which means ‘under’ and further means ‘to be controlled by or in subjection to’; and 2 – κρίνω krinō – Strong’s G2919 which means, ‘to judge, decide, conclude, determine’ and a ‘hypocrite’ referred originally to “one who judged from under the cover of a mask” thus, assuming an identity and a character which he was not. This term was typically referred to the actors on the Greek stage – that is one who took the part of another, giving the appearance of a false identity in order to indulge the fantasies of the audience. The Pharisees were religious actors, so to speak, in that they pretended to be something on the outside, what they were not on the inside. What we must remember is that while man looks at the outside, יהוה looks at the heart! Harsh words were spoken by יהושע to the hypocrites of the time who indeed tried to display the appearance of worship unto Elohim, yet was shown up as an act of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
Let us now turn to Yirmeyahu/Jeremiah 7 and see the stern rebuke given for an assumed worship that was clearly revealed as being false and full of hypocrisy (Read).
I firmly believe that this chapter still carries a great warning for us today, as we are to constantly be on our guard against our expected reasonable worship unto Elohim from becoming corrupted under the veil of falsehood, vanity, deception and lies – the very things that we have we had inherited from our fathers and repented of – and we must still be on guard against falling back under the mask of deception, lest we be exposed for being hypocrites who are simply ‘playing’ at worship and not living set-apart lives!
Yehuḏah had spiralled into a state of depravity and mixed worship was widely being accepted by the masses, and one’s need to gather at the Hěḵal of יהוה had simply become an outward deed/duty as a means of keeping up an appearance of a form of worship, while their hearts were not devoted to serving יהוה in all their ways, for they would also burn incense to other foreign mighty ones and engaged in lifestyles that did not reflect that of a set-apart and called out nation. There was no regard for one’s neighbour as each one looked out only for themselves; and the right-rulings of יהוה for community living according to His Torah were not being adhered to. This provoked יהוה greatly and He came to Yirmeyahu with a clear message of warning and judgement that he was to proclaim.
I would like for us to look at a few Hebrew words from this chapter in order to fill the picture of what is being spoken here with a bit more colour so to speak, giving us the ability to discern and heed the clear instructions we are given to live set-apart lives without compromise – for hypocrisy provokes יהוה!
Verse 2 Yirmeyahu is told to ‘Stand in the gate of the House of יהוה, and proclaim the Word of יהוה to all who were entering the gates to bow down to יהוה’ – in other words – these words were not to agnostics or atheists or unbelievers – these words were to those who assumed to be believers and came to worship and bow before Elohim!
The Hebrew word translated as ‘stand’ is עָמַד amad – Strong’s H5975 which carries the meaning, ‘to take one’s stand, abide, appoint, arise, stay, be steadfast, remain’.
Yirmeyahu was not told just to stand up, but rather more firmly he was told to take a stand and be steadfast in standing up to speak, as he was to confidently take a stand against the hypocrisy of false worship and ‘proclaim’ which is the Hebrew word קָרָא qara – Strong’s H7121 which means, ‘to call, proclaim, read, make a proclamation, summons, read aloud, i.e., to speak aloud something, reciting what has been written down’.
Sand up and speak up – this was what Yirmeyahu was told to do – and as we look at his life we can see that while he was repeatedly told to do this, he was not well received; and in fact was more often than not he was hated for the words he had to stand up and speak to a wicked generation. Here he was told to stand in the gate, and the Hebrew word translated here as ‘gate’ is שַׁעַר sha’ar – Strong’s H8179 meaning, ‘gate, door, entrance’ and comes from the root verb שָׁעַר sha’ar – Strong’s H8176 which means, ‘to think, split open, reason out, calculate, reckon, estimate’; and so we can see how it was at the ‘DOOR’ that he was to stand and proclaim the Word! We know that in Scripture we are able to see the picture in the Tabernacle of Temple (Hěḵal) that the Door is representative of יהושע who is the Door or entrance to the presence of Elohim, and it was at the door where the Word would be ‘spilt open’ and declared so that the hearers could calculate and think upon the “words of entrance” into the Kingdom! This word was to be spoken at the door to those who enter in at the door to bow before יהוה, and the Hebrew word for ‘bow’ is שָׁחָה ‘shaḥah’ – H7812 and it means, ‘to bow down, to prostrate oneself before another, to humbly beseech, to do or show reverence, and to do or show obeisance’. Obeisance means ‘a movement of the body made in token of respect or submission as well as to acknowledge the superiority of another’.
This word is also translated as ‘worship’ on many occasions and reflects the true nature of our life of worship, which is in total submission to our Master and King, as we humbly bow our lives before Him in reverence and respect, acknowledging His authority in every way, as we walk in total obedience to His Torah/Word.
Yehuḏah had been coming to the Hěḵal to bow – yet their ‘bowing’ was not pure, but rather defiled, and those who were coming to the Hěḵal were now challenged to ‘count and consider’ their actions. This was a stern warning to those who had an appearance of worship by going through the motions, yet their hearts were far from being set-apart unto יהוה.
Hear the Word – you who are coming to the Hěḵal to bow before יהוה! Hear the Word – sadly so many who claim to be worshippers of Elohim are not hearing the Word – they are hearing interpretations and dogmas, and the commands of men, yet their ears are being deafened to hear the True Word as the Truth has been drowned out by the noise of hypocrisy and falsehood; and so too were Yehuḏah is a huge state of hypocrisy as their ears had no longer given attention to The Truth. יהוה makes it very clear to them that they are to listen up and clean up their act as He commands them to ‘make their ways and deeds good’. Yirmeyahu was like a doorkeeper this day, and His Word was to proclaim a very clear right of entrance message – that is one of repentance from dead works of the flesh and lawlessness. The literal translation would be better put as ‘make good your ways and your deeds’ or ‘amend your ways and your deeds’; and the Hebrew foot word for ‘make good/amend’ is יָטַב yataḇ – Strong’s H3190 which means, ‘make glad, rejoice, do good to, do well thoroughly, amend, make right’, and in essence can also carry the understanding of amending one’s dysfunctional (evil/wicked) ways and deeds get back to functioning according to the Creators good and functional design! We see this call to clean up and make good given also to a lawless people in:
Yeshayahu/Isaiah 1:17 “Learn to do good! Seek right-ruling, reprove the oppressor, defend the fatherless, plead for the widow.”
We come to the ‘door’ (Messiah) and submit to ‘learning’ His ways so that we can make good our ways in order to function as the set-apart, chosen and royal priesthood that we are! The Hebrew word for ‘learn’ is לָמַד lamad – Strong’s H3925 which carries the meaning, ‘to exercise in, learn, instruct, teach, train’.
The deeds and ways of Yehuḏah were not straight and needed correcting, which they needed to learn to do by hearing the Word of יהוה, with the clear promise that if they did make good their deeds and ways then יהוה would let them dwell in His presence!
The Hebrew word translated as ‘ways’ is דֶּרֶךְ derek – Strong’s H1870 which means, ‘way, road, distance, journey’ and is from the word דָּרַךְ darak – Strong’s H1869 which means, ‘to tread or march’; and so speaks of our walk, and every step that we take. The ‘ways’ of Yehuḏah were not committed to יהוה, as was clearly seen by their idolatrous actions and fleshly lusts that they were steeped in.
The Hebrew word translated here for ‘deeds’ is מַעֲלָל ma’alal – Strong’s H4611 which means, ‘doings, works, acts, practices’, and while it used 3 times in Scripture in reference to the deeds of יהוה, we see that in terms of the ‘deeds of man’ in relation to one another, it is primarily used in a bad sense which depicts the exploitation of one person by another as one exercises unjust power over another. Our deeds define us and determines whether our works are clear and right or whether they are wicked and tainted:
Mishlĕ/Proverbs 20:11 “Even a child is known by his deeds, whether his work is clear and right.”
Yehuḏah’s ‘deeds’ were wicked and corrupt as they showed no love for their neighbour, and they oppressed the stranger, the fatherless and the widow. They had shed innocent blood and walked after false mighty ones.
Their deeds were known and clearly exposed by the clear Light of the Word and if they would learn to do good and clean up their lives and stop doing all the wickedness they were doing then they would dwell in that place – if not they were going to be cast out and scattered, as the seed of Ephrayim was. The Hebrew root word for ‘dwell’ is שָׁכַן shakan – Strong’s H7931 which means, ‘to settle down, abide, dwell, establish, make or cause to dwell’. In Shemoth/Exodus 29 we are given the instructions for the ordination of the priests and the atonement for the slaughter-place which would take place for 7 days, at the end of which יהוה says:
Shemoth/Exodus 29:45-46 “And I shall dwell in the midst of the children of Yisra’ĕl and shall be their Elohim. 46 “And they shall know that I am יהוה their Elohim, who brought them up out of the land of Mitsrayim, to dwell in their midst. I am יהוה their Elohim.”
It is in true Set-Apartness where יהוה causes His presence to dwell, and it is in true set-apart living that we are caused to dwell in Him, for as we stay/remain in Him He stays/remains in us, in order to bear fruit or else we will be cut off! (Yoḥanan/John 15).
Yehuḏah was not living set-apart lives – yet they presumed to have access to the fullness of the presence of יהוה, based on the Hěḵal that they had built. They had this magnificent temple that glittered with gold, silver and bronze, and had huge columns and great workings of skilled workmen carved into the doors and pillars; and this building gave Yehuḏah a false sense of security that caused them to assume that as long as they had the temple and attended when required that they could live their lives however they wished. יהוה warns them not to trust in the false words of association that they so quickly assumed by saying, “this is the Hěḵal of יהוה, the Hěḵal of יהוה, the Hěḵal of יהוה”, that they were righteous and did not realise that they were blinded from the clear error of their ways. So many today boldly proclaim the ‘temple of the יהוה, the temple of יהוה, the temple of יהוה’, and assume that because they may attend a set-apart appointed Time of Elohim that they are living set-apart lives, while their lives outside of the temple are riddled with compromise and the hypocrisy of lawlessness, for they quickly disregard the need to walk in the clear commands and be an ambassador on a daily basis. By the false words of saying ‘this is the Hěḵal of יהוה’ 3 times, we are able to see the understand the rebuke of falsehood in their worship as we recognise that 3 times a year we are required to observe the Feasts of יהוה:
Shemoth/Exodus 23:14 “Three times in the year you are to observe a festival to Me”
The three times a year would cover all the 7 Feasts of יהוה – the 1st time would cover – Pěsaḥ, Matzot, and Bikkurim in the 1st month; the 2nd time – Shavuot in the 3rd month; and the 3rd time – Yom Teruah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot in the 7th month!
Yehuḏah may have been going through the motions of coming to the Hěḵal for the Appointed Times as required, yet their worship was in vain, for the rest of their lives were devoted to self and the lusts of the flesh and the clear worship of false mighty ones of other nations! By going to the Hěḵal and shouting that ‘this is the Hěḵal of יהוה’ did not make them righteous – they simply rendered lip service and put on a show!
Mattithyahu/Matthew 15:7-9 “Hypocrites! Yeshayahu rightly prophesied about you, saying, 8 ‘This people draw near to Me with their mouth, and respect Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. 9 ‘But in vain do they worship Me, teaching as teachings the commands of men.’”
Hypocrites may think that they are able to ‘dwell’ in the presence of יהוה, and claim a self-righteousness, or what has become a modern term called ‘faith-righteousness’ which erroneously teaches that all you have to do is believe you are righteous and then you are! Faith without works is dead and a disregard for the Torah of Elohim renders one unrighteous, no matter how much you believe and render a lip service without the righteous works of obedience to the Torah. Dawiḏ in a Psalm asked who may dwell in the presence of יהוה:
Tehillim/Psalm 15:1-5 “יהוה, who does sojourn in Your Tent? Who does dwell in Your set-apart mountain? 2 He who walks blamelessly, And does righteousness, And speaks the truth in his heart. 3 He has not slandered with his tongue, He has not done evil to his neighbour, Nor lifted up a reproach against his friend; 4 In whose eyes a reprobate one is despised, But he esteems those who fear יהוה; He who swears to his own hurt and does not change; 5 He has not put out his silver at interest, And has not taken a bribe against the innocent. He who does these is never moved.”
Yehuḏah were not blameless, nor were they doing righteousness, for their ears were far from יהוה, yet they arrogantly claimed that the Hěḵal of יהוה gave them their identity, while they continued in living double standard lives and יהוה warned them not to use the false words of assumed identity as the set-apart ones of Elohim, while they were breaking His clear instructions.
In verse 9 we see how Yehuḏah had been breaking 6 of the 10 words that יהוה instructed at Mount Sinai to the entire nation of Yisra’ĕl, and wrote on tablets of stone to stand as a witness before them. They had turned aside against His commands: 1 – Do not steal; 2 – Do not murder; 3 – Do not commit adultery; 4 – Do not swear falsely; 5 – Have no other mighty ones before the face of יהוה; 6 – Do not make any carved images and do not bow down to them nor serve them!!!
They were breaking the Covenant while standing arrogantly proclaiming that they had been delivered in order to do all these abominations. This sounds like so many today who claim to have been ‘delivered from the law’ and they are no longer in subjection to the Torah of Elohim, and arrogantly present their abominable worship in vain, and think that they can be forgiven no matter what they do wrong! יהוה in a clear rebuke asks the question,
“Has this House, which is called by My Name, become a den of robbers in your eyes?”
יהושע quoted this verse when driving out the money changers in:
Mattithyahu/Matthew 21:12-14 “And יהושע went into the Set-apart Place of Elohim and drove out all those buying and selling in the Set-apart Place, and overturned the tables of the moneychangers and the seats of those who sold doves. 13 And He said to them, “It has been written, ‘My House shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of robbers.’ ” 14 And blind and lame ones came to Him in the Set-apart Place, and He healed them.”
When the True Word is proclaimed and hypocrisy had been driven out, then the blind and lame shall be healed – that is those who have been blinded by deceit and crippled in their walk by falsehood will be able to come to the knowledge of the truth and be restored when the True Kingdom of Messiah is proclaimed, and we too, like Yirmeyahu, must stand up and speak up and speak out against hypocrisy and lawlessness!
In verses 12-14 יהוה tells Yehuḏah to remember what happened at Shiloh – which we are able to read about in Shemuʼěl Aleph/1 Samuel 3-4 where we are given the account of how wicked the sons of Eli were – Ḥophni and Pineḥas, who were corrupt priests and abused their position for self-gain, as the Word of יהוה was rare in those days due to a wicked priesthood; and when Yisra’ĕl went to fight against the Philistines they suffered defeat and the Ark of the Covenant of יהוה was captured, and Eli and his two sons died in one day, and after hearing the news of their death, Pineḥas’ wife died giving birth to a boy whom she named – אִי־כָבוֹד Iḵaḇoḏ– Strong’s H350 which means, ‘no esteem’ as the esteem of יהוה had departed from Yisra’ĕl!!!
The message was clear – due to the wickedness of Yehuḏah, the esteem of יהוה would not allow them to dwell in that place and they would be cast out. Yirmeyahu is then clearly instructed to not pray for them, nor make intercession for them! This is pretty harsh as we recognise how their hypocrisy had provoked יהוה to the point where no intercession or prayer would be heard on their behalf! We recognise today how so many who refuse to turn from their wicked ways handed down from their fathers and refuse to receive a love for the truth, shall be handed over to the delusion so that they believe the lie – and this is to their own destruction:
Tas’loniqim Bet/2 Thessalonians 2:9-12 “The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power and signs and wonders of falsehood, 10 and with all deceit of unrighteousness in those perishing, because they did not receive the love of the truth, in order for them to be saved. 11 And for this reason Elohim sends them a working of delusion, for them to believe the falsehood, 12 in order that all should be judged who did not believe the truth, but have delighted in the unrighteousness.”
In verse 17-18 יהוה makes it clear to Yirmeyahu what Yehuḏah were doing in the streets – in other words their falsehood was openly practiced without shame, and entire families were corrupted! The heart of the life of a community is built around family and here he makes it clear that both children, men and women were corrupting themselves in following pagan worship practices; and what we see here is that the Torah of Elohim was clearly not being taught in the home, as the women were the ones making cakes to the queen of heaven, which was the worship of the Baḇelonian goddess called Semiramis (Nimrod’s wife), who later became known as Astarte/Ishtar/Easter or Aphrodite in the Greek, or the Roman Venus , which later became the construct for the worship of the Mother Mary, as the Catholic church still makes round wafer cakes unto the queen of the heavens. We also recognise that the modern day ‘hot cross buns’ is simply an adaptation of this pagan rooted worship rite – and these pagan worship practices provoke יהוה to anger!
The Hebrew word translated as ‘provoke’ is כָּעַס ka’as – Strong’s H3707 which means, ‘to be vexed, angry, provoked to anger’ and we are told what provokes Him, as He clearly warns in:
Deḇarim/Deuteronomy 4:25-28 “For יהוה your Elohim is a consuming fire, a jealous Ěl. 25 “When you bring forth children and grandchildren, and shall grow old in the land, and shall do corruptly and make a carved image in the form of whatever, and shall do what is evil in the eyes of יהוה your Elohim to provoke Him, 26 “I shall call the heavens and earth to witness against you on that day, that you soon completely perish from the land which you pass over the Yardĕn to possess – you do not prolong your days in it but are completely destroyed. 27 “And יהוה shall scatter you among the peoples, and you shall be left few in number among the gentiles where יהוה drives you. 28 “And there you shall serve mighty ones, the work of men’s hands, wood and stone, which neither see nor hear nor eat nor smell.”
They were clearly warned yet they did not heed, and when there is no discipline of the Torah in the home, compromise and falsehood will shape the family, leading them to destruction!
יהוה tells them that while He had told their fathers to obey and they did not, so too were they making the same mistake of not obeying, and becoming stiff-necked and deaf to the truth; yet Yirmeyahu is commanded to speak these words, even though they would not listen; and then as a sign to Yehuḏah he was told to cut off his hair – that is a sign of cutting of their covering, for יהוה had rejected and forsaken that generation in His wrath! The word translated as ‘hair’ is נֶזֶר nezer – Strong’s H5145 which means, ‘consecration, dedication, separation’, and by Yirmeyahu shearing off His separation was a severe sign of judgement against a hypocritical nation who were not living set-apart lives!
We also see that the consequences of disobedience, hypocrisy and lawlessness result in being cut off from the Covenants of Promise – in verse 33 we see the picture of destruction decreed for the wicked and lawless, who shall be for feast for the birds of the heavens and beasts of the earth – and there will be none to frighten them away, which is part of the curse given in Deḇarim/Deuteronomy 28:26. When יהוה made the Covenant with Aḇram, after having cut the animals in half and placed them opposite each other we are told that birds of prey came down and Aḇram drove them away (Berěshith/Genesis 15:11). The clear statement being made here in Yirmeyahu is that the lawless shall be cut off from the Covenant with no covering or protection from destructions and death!
As we consider this chapter, as well as the stern words of Messiah to the hypocrites of His day, may we recognise how these words are still very much alive and applicable for us today – in that we must take heed to guard ourselves from any form of hypocrisy and be careful to not be found to be rendering a lip-service that is not followed through with pure obedience. We also take note that this message must hit closer to home – by that I mean that there may be many who are claiming to walk according to the Torah, as they gather on the Sabbaths and Appointed times of Elohim, yet their daily lives are riddled with hypocrisy, as compromise to the truth as seen in their lives, and are not shining the light of the Truth in their work place or homes! We are called to set-apartness, for without such we shall not see Elohim – and putting on an appearance of Set-Apartness before others at the right times, while living contrary to what is taught through the Torah is hypocrisy and HYPOCRITES PROVOKE יהוה TO ANGER! – hear loud warning against false worship; and if there are any areas, or rather ‘deeds’ and ‘ways’ that are not set-apart in your life, then make good your deeds and ways, so that His presence will dwell in you, and you in Him”
Qorintiyim Aleph/1 Corinthians 3:16-17 “Do you not know that you are a Dwelling Place of Elohim and that the Spirit of Elohim dwells in you? 17 If anyone destroys the Dwelling Place of Elohim, Elohim shall destroy him. For the Dwelling Place of Elohim is set-apart, which you are.”
In a time where living the set-apart life that we are called to is greatly frowned upon by the masses, let us be on guard and recognise that we, as the faithful remnant, must not compromise our worship in the least – and we must also be ready to stand up and speak up against hypocrisy, and be on guard against all falsehood and deception, as we cling to the Truth with our all, allowing the Word to light our path for every step we take – so that we are able to worship Elohim in Spirit and Truth, Aměn!
Hypocrisy provokes יהוה to anger – while, as we discussed last week – יהוה takes pleasure in the wise!
יהוה bless you and guard you, יהוה make His face shine upon you and give you favor, יהוה lift up His face toward you and give you peace.