x180......the format and the Pharisees

"The format"---the drawing of moves of God into the tradition of what we know as "church"--has many effects---the most important of all of these is to limit the gifts of ministry to the body of Christ and hiding them down to just the "some" who are in "the ministry"

Jesus faced the "format'--of the Pharisees. They questioned Him when He healed on the Sabbath day. He did not fit into their format--into what they thought of and knew as being the proper way to conduct their "church".

His disciples did not wash their hands before they ate--the proper custom of the day--the proper format in which the Jews conducted themselves--the way that their "church" had always been done.

The Pharisees were actually the wolves in sheeps clothing. They were the ones pretending to be the true followers of God--but they were in fact bound in their tradition--they looked on the outside and missed the inner voice of God and His calling. They limited ministry and serving God to just the few who were chosen--who were born into the correct ministry. Jesus upset them totally by turning demoniac's into ministers--(see Mark chapter 5). Jesus healed -saved--and released people into their calling--the fullness of what a pastor ought to do. He saw in even the very worse sinner--in the very worse demon possessed person--a servant of God--a gift which had been placed inside of that person (see psalm 68:18)--He saved--healed and released people into their ministry directly--He did not try to build Himself a big church building in which a format--a ritual--could be performed every week--for the benefit of the large majority of people who are not ministers but rather are those who simply support the ministry of others.


The Pharisees legalism centered on the Sabbath worship day. It centered on having a ritual day of worship to God which they observed to the letter--which they carried out in exacting detail--and repeated over and over again--in exactly the same manner. They followed after a very strict "format" which they believed was the thing they had to do in order to please God.

We Christian today have been handed down a format which many believe is the way "church" ought to look and sound like--and into which they can fit. WE are very comfortable with the notion that we can attend church--watch others perform the ministry and go home and somehow be sanctified by watching others serve God. We are happy with a format that leaves most as observers, and exalts "some" into a category of rulership--while limiting the gifts in all of us.

I know a person who is in a non-Christian cult--they are a very legalistic cult--following after many of the laws of the old convenant and claiming that most Christians are really following after the anti-Christ! But when I ask this person what they do in their church he states it this way--"We sing a few songs of praise to God--and then the pastor feeds us the word"---isn't this the same Roman empire format that we follow after in our churches?


The pharisees would not accept Jesus for everything else but for what he was--a minister--an apostle a pastor--a ministry and servant of God--they cringed at His work in ministry--this is what they ran from and rebelled against. He was not of the proper lineage and background to do what He did--(Jesus born tot he tribe of Judah--not a Levite) He was not trained the way they were--He was not educated the proper way--he didn't come from the right town (can anything good come from Nazareth?)--He did not meet their standards and expectations for what "ministry" ought to look like.

Matthew 23 describes what Jesus said about the Pharisees--

1 Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, 2 Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: 3 All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. 4 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. 5 But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, 6 And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, 7 And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi. 8 But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. 9 And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. 10 Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. 11 But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted. 13 But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in. 14 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation. 15 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves. 16 Woe unto you, ye blind guides, which say, Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is a debtor! 17 Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold? 18 And, Whosoever shall swear by the altar, it is nothing; but whosoever sweareth by the gift that is upon it, he is guilty. 19 Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifieth the gift? 20 Whoso therefore shall swear by the altar, sweareth by it, and by all things thereon. 21 And whoso shall swear by the temple, sweareth by it, and by him that dwelleth therein. 22 And he that shall swear by heaven, sweareth by the throne of God, and by him that sitteth thereon. 23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. 24 Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. 25 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. 26 Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. 27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. 28 Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity. 29 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, 30 And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. 31 Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. 32 Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. 33 Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? 34 Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: 35 That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. 36 Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation. 37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! 38 Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. 39 For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. (Matthew 23:1-39, KJV).


verse 4: 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.

The Pharisees abuse their authority by making others into their servants

verse 5: But all their works they do for to be seen of men:

they do things so that others can see them--so they can be exalted over God--they perform a show for others to watch

......they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, 6 And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, 7 And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.

They demand respect of their ministry--they keep it as a title of rulership over other people--they want to be famous. They want the title of "Rabbi" (master)--as an indication that they are more advanced toward God than others.

verse 8: But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. 9 And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Jesus clearly says we must not call anyone "master" except God

11 But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.

Here is the command for behavior amongst the new covenant believers--to serve rather than be exalted. (Also see Matthew 20:25-29, Mark 10: 42-47, Luke 22:25-29)

verse13: But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.

The Pharisees did not apply the principles of the kingdom of heaven--and did not teach others to enter into God's kingdom--they prevented others from being close to God--they prevented others from accessing the fullness of God by putting themselves between men and God--by being a covering between men and God. They had followers of their own rather than creating followers of God who knew they could access God directly--they prevented others from the fullness of what God has in mind for everyone--which is to serve Him and bring His kingdom into the earth.

[--the kingdom of heaven is the principle of sowing and reaping---which is ministry. This verse clearly says that the Pharisees' way of thinking is to limit others from their ministry--from operating in the kingdom of heaven. (see Mark 4)]

verse 14: Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretense make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.

They love the pretense of long prayer--they love to dominate others with their words and long winded speeches. They concentrated on collecting money for themselves, at the expense of the poor which God asks us to care for.

15 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves. 16 Woe unto you, ye blind guides, which say, Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is a debtor! 17 Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold? 18 And, Whosoever shall swear by the altar, it is nothing; but whosoever sweareth by the gift that is upon it, he is guilty. 19 Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifieth the gift? 20 Whoso therefore shall swear by the altar, sweareth by it, and by all things thereon. 21 And whoso shall swear by the temple, sweareth by it, and by him that dwelleth therein. 22 And he that shall swear by heaven, sweareth by the throne of God, and by him that sitteth thereon.

The Pharisees are centered upon money--they worship the God of the temple rather than the spirit of God which resides in the temple.

23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.

---again--money and raising money for their "church" was the utmost importance to them--

24 Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. 25 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. 26 Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. 27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. 28 Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.

They loved the appearance of ministry rather than the actual function of it and they had to propagate themselves by convincing others that they were the right and proper ministers of God by their appearance and demeanor, and not by Godly actions.

29 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, 30 And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. 31 Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. 32 Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers.

They believe that they would not have killed the prophets as their ancestors did--yet they would have anyway. They follow after their ancestors who did not respect the ministry that God sent in the form of the prophets. The prophets of the old testament were killed in part because of what they said (which was from God)--but also because they did not conform to the status quo of the tradition and format of the "church" of their time. They did not go along with the "proper" way of doing things that was established by men. They rebelled against the "format' of the time and spoke the word of God purely. They did their ministry outside the bounds of the tradition and format that was accepted--and therefore they were killed and persecuted. Jesus is saying that the Pharisees of His day were afraid of ministry in others just like their ancestors were.

34 ¶ Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: 35 That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. 36 Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation.

Again this point is stressed--the Pharisees way of thinking is to limit ministry--to deny what God sends--to not recognize the ministry of others but rather to stick with what they see and know and to protect their own authority and deny others their rights and authority which comes from God.

"I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes:"--Jesus is saying that God has sent them ministers--prophets--wise men--teachers (scribes)--which are rejected by the leadership--since they are afraid that other ministers will usurp their own power--certainly not God's idea in sending these ministers--God is simply trying to grow His move--but the Pharisees way of thinking is to limit this and destroy it in others--and leave it unrecogiznied and not utilized.

37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! 38 Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. 39 For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.

Jesus says that Jerusalem has killed these ministers--prophets and apostels ("those that are sent--the Greek here is "apostello"). He is saying that God wished to gather His children together--to have them all work together under His wing--all doing their ministry and serving Him--in order to spread His word--but they would not do this--they would not accept Gods plan--they wouldn't accept the ministry God put in others and therefore they become desolate.

Desolate churches are made by limiting ministry.