Jeremiah 9 & Matthew 23

Jeremiah 9

     Oh that my head were waters,
        and my eyes a fountain of tears,
    that I might weep day and night
        for the slain of the daughter of my people!
     Oh that I had in the desert
        a travelers' lodging place,
    that I might leave my people
        and go away from them!
    For they are all adulterers,
        a company of treacherous men.
    They bend their tongue like a bow;
        falsehood and not truth has grown strong in the land;
    for they proceed from evil to evil,
        and they do not know me, declares the LORD.
    Let everyone beware of his neighbor,
        and put no trust in any brother,
    for every brother is a deceiver,
        and every neighbor goes about as a slanderer.
    Everyone deceives his neighbor,
        and no one speaks the truth;
    they have taught their tongue to speak lies;
        they weary themselves committing iniquity.
    Heaping oppression upon oppression, and deceit upon deceit,
        they refuse to know me, declares the LORD.
    Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts:
    “Behold, I will refine them and test them,
        for what else can I do, because of my people?
    Their tongue is a deadly arrow;
        it speaks deceitfully;
    with his mouth each speaks peace to his neighbor,
        but in his heart he plans an ambush for him.
    Shall I not punish them for these things? declares the LORD,
        and shall I not avenge myself
        on a nation such as this?
    “I will take up weeping and wailing for the mountains,
        and a lamentation for the pastures of the wilderness,
    because they are laid waste so that no one passes through,
        and the lowing of cattle is not heard;
    both the birds of the air and the beasts
        have fled and are gone.
    I will make Jerusalem a heap of ruins,
        a lair of jackals,
    and I will make the cities of Judah a desolation,
        without inhabitant.”
        Who is the man so wise that he can understand this? To whom has the mouth of the LORD spoken, that he may declare it? Why is the land ruined and laid waste like a wilderness, so that no one passes through? And the LORD says: “Because they have forsaken my law that I set before them, and have not obeyed my voice or walked in accord with it, but have stubbornly followed their own hearts and have gone after the Baals, as their fathers taught them. Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I will feed this people with bitter food, and give them poisonous water to drink. I will scatter them among the nations whom neither they nor their fathers have known, and I will send the sword after them, until I have consumed them.”

    Thus says the LORD of hosts:
    “Consider, and call for the mourning women to come;
        send for the skillful women to come;
    let them make haste and raise a wailing over us,
        that our eyes may run down with tears
        and our eyelids flow with water.
    For a sound of wailing is heard from Zion:
        ‘How we are ruined!
        We are utterly shamed,
    because we have left the land,
        because they have cast down our dwellings.’”
    Hear, O women, the word of the LORD,
        and let your ear receive the word of his mouth;
    teach to your daughters a lament,
        and each to her neighbor a dirge.
    For death has come up into our windows;
        it has entered our palaces,
    cutting off the children from the streets
        and the young men from the squares.
    Speak: “Thus declares the LORD,
    ‘The dead bodies of men shall fall
        like dung upon the open field,
    like sheaves after the reaper,
        and none shall gather them.’”
        Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.”

    “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will punish all those who are circumcised merely in the flesh—Egypt, Judah, Edom, the sons of Ammon, Moab, and all who dwell in the desert who cut the corners of their hair, for all these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised in heart.”

(Jeremiah 9 ESV)

Matthew 23

    Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat, so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi by others. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers. And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

    “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people's faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.

    “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’ You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that has made the gold sacred? And you say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gift that is on the altar, he is bound by his oath.’ You blind men! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? So whoever swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. And whoever swears by the temple swears by it and by him who dwells in it. And whoever swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and by him who sits upon it.

    “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!

    “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.

    “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

    “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.

    “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”

(Matthew 23 ESV)

Matthew 23: It's a common complaint by many who leave the church that they abandoned their faith on account of the hypocrisy they saw within the church. There is also many attempts to discredit the gospel of Christ on account of miserable messengers of the gospel. However, Christ is clear that the malpractice of messengers does not provide an excuse for our misconduct. It's God's faithfulness to His Word that vindicates His Word from criticism and contempt. God's Word remains honorable despite those who dishonor it.

It would be foolish of me to claim the chef’s dish is distasteful on account of a bad-mannered waitress. The quality of the food is not measured by the one who serves it but rather by the one who produces it. God's Word is always profitable for our nourishment and satisfaction despite the hypocrisy of those whose service is less than profitable. God has proven Himself trustworthy and faithful, and His Word has been validated. 

May God help those hurt by hypocrisy to hear His voice and find Him comforting and trustworthy. May we look to His obedience and the way in which He walked through life as our confirmation for embracing His truths and His life-giving message. May we rest our hope in Christ alone in which no hypocrisy can be found.