About Stephen Nielsen

I'm an author, a self publisher, and a painting contractor. I live in beautiful Minnesota, USA . Welcome to my blog site.

Jesus and the Pharisees: Study #2

This is our second study on this topic. Please click HERE for an intro to this study.
We will begin our study for this post in Matthew 9:10-13.

Matthew 9:10-13

10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and “sinners” came and ate with him and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?”

12 On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Observations

The Pharisees apparently thought that a righteous person should not mingle with or be seen with sinners. That would ruin a person’s reputation. A righteous person, to them, should only be seen with the upper class of society.

But Jesus was more concerned with serving others. He reasoned that we cannot help the sinner unless we go to them and be seen with them. And also, he did not come to help those who think they are already good enough (the Pharisees), but to help those who know they are sinners. Thus, He was saying to the Pharisees that He could do nothing for them; they had too much pride.

Applications

We should not be so concerned with our reputation or how we look to others. We should be more concerned with helping others who are in need, who need our mercy. So, wherever we go we should seek out those who have needs and who are open to our help. And we should not waist our time with those like the Pharisees who think they are good enough already.

Jesus and the Pharisees : Study #1

To begin our study, I think we should say a little bit about who the Pharisees are. An article I found by Jack Zavada, I think is good. I will give you just the first part of it.

Who Were the Pharisees in the Bible?

The Pharisees in the Bible were members of a religious group or party that frequently clashed with Jesus Christ over his interpretation of the Law.

The Pharisees formed the largest and most influential religious-political party in New Testament times. They are consistently depicted in the Gospels as antagonists or opponents of Jesus Christ and the early Christians.

The name “Pharisee” means “separated one.” The Pharisees separated themselves from society to study and teach the law, but they also separated themselves from the common people because they considered them religiously unclean.

Besides this article—and there is a lot more to it if you care to click the title and read it—I’m sure we will gain a good bit of info on the Pharisees just by this progressive study.

What I want to do in this study is to just observe what the Pharisees do and say toward Jesus and about Jesus; we want to see their attitude toward Jesus. We also want to see Jesus’ attitude and sayings about the Pharisees. In the end, we want to make some applications for ourselves and maybe also about other people. We want to look and see how some people are like the Pharisees and how others are more like Jesus. Generally, we can say that Jesus is the good guy who does everything right (because He is God); and the Pharisees are the bad guys who do most things wrong—though in their eyes, they are always right—righteous.

Okay, here is what we will do. I have already found all the passages in the gospels where there is a conversation or debate between Jesus and a pharisee, or a group of Pharisees. I found 41 such passages, eliminating all the repeat passages (mainly between Matthew and Mark, in which case I used Matthew). We will take this study a little at a time until we are finished. We will start this first blog with Matthew 5:17-20.

Matthew 5:17-20

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. (Bold text for emphasis)

Observations

In this passage Jesus is preaching in His famous Sermon on the Mount. He is saying here that He has come to fulfill the law, not to abolish it—as the Pharisees may have been saying about Him. In this public sermon He does not tip toe around the Pharisees. He comes right at them, telling His disciples and all who are listening that their kind of righteousness is not good enough to enter heaven. He said that “unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees…you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.”

John MacArthur in his bible notes writes that the Pharisees “had a tendency to soften the law’s demands by focusing only on external obedience.” But Jesus here was preaching a more “radical holiness” that demanded on “internal conformity to the spirit of the law.”

Applications

If we are to follow Jesus’ example, we ought to boldly warn against false teachers. And if we know who they are we ought not to be afraid to point them out.

Tap into the Power of Prayer by Loving Christ and His Cross

Prayer A to Z

In order to get the full benefit of Christ’s work for us on earth and in heaven—which would include receiving forgiveness of sins and answers to prayer—we must come to faith in His blood, rather we must trust Him and believe in the value of His shed blood for us.

I like what Charles Fuller has said:

You can never benefit from Christ’s work, typified by the Golden Altar, until you accept what He has done for you at the Brazen Altar. You can never have the confidence that Christ intercedes on your behalf, until you have accepted his atoning death for your sins.  Remember, to get to the Golden Altar you must first pass by the Brazen Altar where the sacrificial lamb was slain and offered up.  So likewise, to know Christ’s constant watch-care over your life, you must first humbly kneel at the foot of the Cross, confess…

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4 Possible Reasons Why Some Christians Don’t Seem to Love Christ or His Appearing — 2 Timothy 4:7-8

Studying Bible Prophecy

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2 Timothy 4:7-8

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; 8 in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing. NASB

This verse really puzzles me and here’s why: most Christians I have observed don’t act like they will love His appearing. I mean they never talk about His coming, and so it seems that they do not anticipate or look forward to His coming. I have come up with these four ways to see this passage, or four possible reasons why some Christians don’t act like they love Christ or are looking forward to seeing Him.

1. It is possible that the Christians I observe really do look forward…

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Covid-19 Vaccinations are Setting Us Up for a Future World Dictator

It seems to me that the vaccinations are setting us up—preparing us—to be controlled by a future world dictator. Never before has the world been in a position where we are saying we need to be controlled.  And the governments of the world are telling us that it is for our own good. And they are using fear to control us and to convince us to be vaccinated—or die!

The bible tells us that there will come a world leader who will control us by giving us a mark on our right hand or our forehead, and we won’t be able to buy or sell anything without this mark. He is the Antichrist and is controlled by Satan.  

He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, 17 and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name (Rev. 13:16-17).

Yes, I see that what is going on right now is preparing us for the Antichrist and his mark—666.

Here are two articles of interest. The first one I will show you is about some Israeli doctors and nurses that refuse to be vaccinated.

Testimonies: Israeli medical teams aren’t getting vaccinated

Arutz Sheva has received testimonies from doctors, nurses and medical staff who refuse to be vaccinated for fear that the vaccine has effects that have not yet been tested.

S., (full name kept hidden), a doctor at a hospital in the center of the country for 30 years, said “Not only did I not get vaccinated, some of my fellow doctors did not get vaccinated either. We still do not know what the side effects of the vaccine are. We are keeping instructions stringently but will not get vaccinated for the time being.”

A., a nurse at a hospital in Jerusalem has been afraid to get vaccinated for 15 years due to fear of harm to pregnancy and fertility. “I have only one child and I am still of childbearing age and want to have another child. My and many nurses’ fear of harm is a real fear and we have still not received a promise that there is no harm or damage to fertility after the vaccine.”

It should be noted that the testimonies of doctors and nurses in the health system that were received by Arutz Sheva also indicate a fear of fertility problems in men. “Serious journals and studies published in recent weeks show that male fertility is indeed impaired. We have to wait a few months before it is possible to understand the effect of the vaccine,” said one of them. Some have indicated that if Edelstein’s law goes into effect they will get vaccinated out of lack of choice.

In recent days, the Minister of Health, MK Yuli Edelstein, has proposed a bill to authorize the government to establish regulations restricting the entry of an employee to the workplace, and obligating an employer to prevent an employee from entering if he has not presented a recovery certificate, vaccinated certificate or negative result. The issue is currently under investigation by the Ministry of Justice.

Shaare Zedek Medical Center told Arutz Sheva, “There is a discrepancy in the data with the Ministry of Health, especially regarding those who have not been vaccinated at the hospital. We are working on improving the data. The vaccination rate is 75-80 percent.”

Ichilov Hospital reported: “90 percent of our medical staff have been vaccinated.”

Hadassah Medical Center responded, “We are pleased to announce that Hadassah’s hospitals have the highest vaccination rate, which stands at 95% for physicians, 92% nursing staff and 90% administrative and maintenance workers. Overall, the vaccination rate among hospital staff is 92.3%. “.

“We will continue the vaccination campaign for the hospital staff until its complete end,” emphasizes Hadassah Director Prof. Zeev Rotstein. “This in parallel to vaccination of yeshiva students from Jerusalem, whom we invited in an organized fashion to receive the vaccination at designated stations under accompaniment of the community leaders, as well as in parallel to the vaccination of those suffering from various allergies who need the vaccine in the framework of a day’s hospitalization in order to vaccinate them safely and under the supervision of allergy specialists.”

Here is a very recent article where it appears that Israeli authorities are trying to force all their people to be vaccinated.

Knesset passes law to give cities info on unvaccinated residents

The Knesset gave final approval on Wednesday to controversial legislation allowing the Health Ministry to give local authorities personal details of residents who have not been vaccinated against the coronavirus.

The proposal passed into law in its second and third readings, 30-13, after a Knesset panel amended the legislation so that details of those who are fully vaccinated will not be given to the municipalities.

Under the terms of the bill, for a three-month period the Health Ministry will be permitted to provide the local authorities and the Education Ministry with personal and contact details of residents for the purpose of promoting

Information will include data on those who have had the first of the two-shot vaccination but did not turn up for the second dose three weeks later, as well as those who had no injections at all.

In addition to possibly swaying the opinion of those who are against being vaccinated, the program would enable local authorities to locate and provide assistance to those who need help leaving home to get to vaccination centers.

The law stipulates that the information can only be used to encourage vaccination, and any other use is prohibited.

Among the opponents was MK Tamar Zandberg of the left-wing Meretz party, who called on the public to get vaccinated, saying the inoculation campaign is “the most important thing at the moment in the State of Israel.”

“However, the trigger finger is too itchy when it comes to passing laws that violate citizens’ privacy,” Zandberg said. “Handing over such data is a slippery slope,” she added, noting that it could fall into the wrong hands.

Labor head MK Merav Michaeli also voted against the measure, charging that it exemplified Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s failure to deal with the pandemic.

“A huge and terrible number of deaths and patients, students who did not study or meet friends for a year, hundreds of thousands who lost their livelihoods without economic rehabilitation,” Michaeli said, addressing the premier.

“You try to hide everything with public relations and obfuscation. This information belongs to citizens, and today you are taking their right to privacy about their medical information,” Michaeli said.

The head of the Knesset Labor, Welfare and Health Committee, Likud MK Haim Katz, responded to the criticism, asking, “Is the value of privacy more important than the value of life?”

Katz said that the committee had removed clauses allowing the transfer of data about children or those who have received both doses of the vaccine.

“It will only deal with people who are allowed to get vaccinated and have not done so… Two months after the transfer of the data [to local authorities] it will be destroyed,” Katz said. “The sanctity of life is above all.”

According to Health Ministry data released on Wednesday, 4,537,244 people in Israel, or some 50% of the country’s total population, have now received the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Additionally, 3,146,509 people have received both doses of the two-shot Pfizer-BioNTech inoculation Israel is almost exclusively using.

Younger people have shown more reluctance to get the vaccination and the Health Ministry hopes the legislation will enable local authorities to advocate immunization among residents who don’t want the shots.

However, the country’s public health union issued a warning on Tuesday against the bill over privacy concerns, and a top democracy expert said the information could be used to target those easily persuaded by conspiracy theories to sway their votes in the coming March elections.

The Israeli Association of Public Health Physicians published a letter cautioning that the “legislation will cause short-term and long-term damage to the local authority itself, undermining trust when the benefit is limited and questionable,” Channel 12 reported.

“Hasty legislation that may infringe on the rights of the individual will not significantly contribute to the aim, and could even harm it,” the IAPHP warned.

The letter was sent to Health Minister Yuli Edelstein, coronavirus czar Nachman Ash, and other senior Health Ministry officials. A copy was also given to Katz by representatives of the Israeli Medical Association, the country’s largest doctors union.

“The medical information centralized by the HMOs is an important resource for promoting the vaccination campaign, in part because it is a tool used by the HMOs to prioritize vaccines according to age and background diseases. However, the information in the possession of the HMOs is information that has been determined to be kept confidential,” the letter stressed.

Chair of the public health union Prof. Nadav Davidovitch told Channel 12 that the union fully supports the immunization program, “but we distinguish between actions to encourage immunization and violation of individual rights.”

“This change in legislation is a slippery slope that can undermine public trust and lead to disproportionate enforcement actions,” Davidovitch warned. “Local authorities should not be exposed to confidential medical information.”

Tehilla Shwartz Altshuler, a senior fellow at the Israel Democracy Institute, raised concerns that information on the lists given to local authorities could also be used for political gain ahead of the March 23 elections.

“The list of people we have not vaccinated is valuable to those who want to know who among us is susceptible to conspiracy theories, so it is valuable to those who want to win the election,” she told Army Radio on Monday. “I am very worried about it making the rounds.”

I think that the more people that are convinced to be vaccinated, and therefore controlled, the better prepared, or the more willing the world will be to face the future—the Antichrist.

Christ Makes Our Prayers as Sweet as Incense – Psalm 141:2

Prayer A to Z

In Psalm141:2, David prayed, “Let my prayers be set before You as incense…” What a prayer! David really had a heart for God, and he wanted to please Him with his prayers—he wanted his prayers to be as the sweet smell of incense that rose up to God continually in the tabernacle.

It is my prayer that we would desire that our prayers—and really, our whole life—would be as incense to God.

Consider what the writer to the Hebrews said in Hebrews 9:24: “For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.” M. R. DeHann comments on this verse:

The writer of Hebrews, therefore, leaves no doubt whatsoever about the typical significance of the tabernacle…the Holy Place (the tabernacle) was a ‘figure of the true’…

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These Nations Will One Day Be at Peace with Each Other: Egypt, Israel, Turkey, Syria, Iran, and Iraq— Isaiah 19:23-25

Studying Bible Prophecy

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Yes, these nations–Egypt, Israel, Turkey, Syria, Iran, and Iraq–will one day live in peace and worship together in peace—in the new millennial kingdom.

Isaiah 19:23-25
In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrians will come into Egypt and the Egyptians into Assyria, and the Egyptians will worship with the Assyrians.
24 In that day Israel will be the third party with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth, 25 whom the Lord of hosts has blessed, saying, “Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inheritance.

 

The highway referred to here could be a literal road connecting Egypt to Assyria (now Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran); and it would go through Israel. This is a highway of peace, which Israel will build between warring nations.

MacArthur comments from his The MacArthur…

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How the Brazen Altar and the Altar of Incense Are Linked Together To Make Our Prayers Effective

Prayer A to Z

In order to get a clear picture of what was happening in the tabernacle and to know how the incense was made to have true value, we must go back and a look at the brazen altar. For there the work of Christ began, where He suffered and shed His blood and died, purging our sins.  Thus the brazen altar is a type of the cross, which was Christ’s first work in God’s whole plan for our redemption.

The brazen altar, the place where animals were sacrificed, was made of brass and had no crown; thus it speaks to us of the suffering and humiliation of our Lord on earth. But the golden altar, with a crown of gold, speaks to us of the reigning of Christ in heaven.

The blood from the sacrifices of the first altar was symbolic of the blood of Christ; the incense of the second…

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Why Israel and the Church Must Remain Distinct Groups

Studying Bible Prophecy

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Israel and the church must remain distinct groups.  But there are many today that are trying to merge these two groups.  They are saying that Israel is no longer a people of God, or that they have the promises of God.  They are even saying that they no longer have the right (the authority from God) to exist as a nation and as a people.  They are saying that God has rejected them as His people and has replaced them with the church.

Well, this is just wrong.  Israel and the church must remain distinct groups.  From eternity past God has had the people of Israel and the church in His mind, and He has made plans for them.  He has given them each a purpose and promises.

God has given Israel promises that are yet to be fulfilled.  And He also has plans for the church.  Who are we…

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Angelic Quotes about Jesus – from Revelation

I have just started reading through Revelation, and I keep noticing the many quotes about Jesus, which have been given to us through the apostle John, by “His angel” (Jesus angel, Rev. 1:1; 22:16). The angels are such good witnesses to Jesus; we ought to pay attention to what they say. Here are the quotes I ran across so far, up to Revelation 3:14.

[He is] the faithful witness, the first-born of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. [He] loves us, and released us from our sins by His blood, and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father (Rev 1:5-6).

I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades (Rev 1:17-18).

[He is] the first and the last, who was dead, and has come to life (Rev 2:8).

The One who has the sharp two-edged sword (Rev 2:12).

The Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet are like burnished bronze (Rev 2:18).

He who has the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars (Rev 3:1).

He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens (Rev 3:7).

The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God (Rev 3:14).