Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 12 (1897)


Ms 71, 1897

Denouncing the Pharisees


July 11, 1897

Portions of this manuscript are published in 4BC 1139; 5BC 1098; Ev 496-497. +Note

Christ is in the temple for the last time. He had given warnings and denunciations to the Pharisees and scribes while at their table, invited there that they might find something whereby they might cause him to be put to death. Now He addresses them and His disciples saying, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat.” [Matthew 23:2.] The Jewish teachers stood up to read the Scriptures, but were seated when they expounded them. As persons exalted, they supposed themselves capable of acting in the place of Moses as interpreters of the law given by God. 12LtMs, Ms 71, 1897, par. 1

“All therefore,” continued Christ, “whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say (when teaching the law from the Scriptures) and do not.” [Verse 3.] They did not bring their own works into accordance with the written Word. They enjoined upon others what they were to do, but their own teaching they did not practice. “For they bind heavy burdens (of requirements and exactions) and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders: but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. 12LtMs, Ms 71, 1897, par. 2

“But all their works they do to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries and enlarge the borders of their garments, and love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called of men, Rabbi, rabbi.” [Verses 4-7.] Whatsoever good thing they do, whatever zeal they show, is not that they may obey and honor God, but to gain approval and respect for themselves, that others may think them pious and holy. Their phylacteries were strips of parchment, with scriptures written upon them, and were worn upon the wrists, the forehead, and the arms. But all this outward appearance of piety was, through their spiritual pride, only violating both the spirit and the letter of the law. 12LtMs, Ms 71, 1897, par. 3

The oft repeated “Rabbi” was very acceptable to the ear, but Jesus warned His disciples against this. He said to them, “But be not ye called rabbi, for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.” [Verses 8-10.] 12LtMs, Ms 71, 1897, par. 4

By these words Christ meant that no man is to place his spiritual interest under another as a child is guided and directed by his earthly father. This has encouraged a spirit to desire ecclesiastical superiority, which has always resulted in the injury of the men who have been trusted, and addressed as “Father.” It confuses the sense of the sacredness of the prerogatives of God. 12LtMs, Ms 71, 1897, par. 5

Of this list of sins the scribes and Pharisees were guilty; and it was for this reason that Christ denounced them. “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” He said, “for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men.” [Verse 13.] And to the lawyers He said, “Woe unto you lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered.” [Luke 11:52.] 12LtMs, Ms 71, 1897, par. 6

Knowledge is the only key that will open heaven. The inspired John declares, “But this is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom he hath sent.” [John 17:3.] A right knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ whom He hath sent is eternal life to all who believe. 12LtMs, Ms 71, 1897, par. 7

“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widow’s houses, and for a pretense make long prayer; therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation. 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. ... 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. Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. 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. 12LtMs, Ms 71, 1897, par. 8

“Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also [outwardly] appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchers of the righteous, 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. 12LtMs, Ms 71, 1897, par. 9

“Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? Wherefore I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify, and some of them ye shall scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city. That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel, to the blood of Zacharias, son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. Verily, I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation.” [Matthew 23:14, 15, 23-36.] 12LtMs, Ms 71, 1897, par. 10

Anguish, deep and unfathomable, pressed upon the soul of Christ; and in the intense pain of unrequited love He exclaimed, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee, (Not content to receive with indifference and spurning God’s messages sent by His servants unto thee, your enmity and hatred against God you have vented upon His messengers. You will not suffer them to live.) how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not.” [Verse 37.] The same works that ye do to My messengers whom I send will be reflected back upon you. Refusing to be gathered, you will realize what it means to be scattered, to be the despised of all nations. 12LtMs, Ms 71, 1897, par. 11

“How often would I have gathered thy children together as a hen gathereth her brood under her wings, and ye would not.” [Luke 13:34.] Christ’s representation is a most striking one. He would have gathered her children together as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings. He would have given them protection, they would not have been left defenseless. When the hen sees that her brood is in danger, she calls them under her sheltering wings to protect them. She will resist any enemy that may approach. She will die rather than that those who have fled for protection under her sheltering wings should suffer. This will Christ do for those who fly to Him for refuge. He will gather His children together under His mediatorial wings, and there they will be safe. 12LtMs, Ms 71, 1897, par. 12

“Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth. My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass: because I will publish the name of the Lord: ascribe ye greatness unto our God. He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth, and without iniquity, just and right is he. They have corrupted themselves, their spot is not the spot of his children: they are a perverse and crooked nation. Do ye thus requite the Lord, O foolish people, and unwise? is not he thy father that hath bought thee? hath he not made thee, and established thee? ... 12LtMs, Ms 71, 1897, par. 13

“For the Lord’s portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance. He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye. As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings: so the Lord alone did lead him, and there was no strange god with him. ... For they are a nation void of counsel, neither is there any understanding in them. O that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end! How should one chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight, except their rock had sold them, and the Lord had shut them up? For their rock is not [as] our Rock, even our enemies themselves being judges. 12LtMs, Ms 71, 1897, par. 14

“For their vine is of the vine of Sodom, and of the fields of Gomorrah: their grapes are grapes of gall, their clusters are bitter: their wine is the poison of dragons, and the cruel venom of asps. Is not this laid up in store with me, and laid up among my treasures? To me belongeth vengeance and recompense; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste. For the Lord shall judge his people, and repent himself for his servants, when he seeth that their power is gone, and that there is none shut up or left.” [Deuteronomy 32:1-6, 9-12, 28-36.] 12LtMs, Ms 71, 1897, par. 15

What lofty representations are here given. These words were repeated unto all Israel, and formed a song which was often sung, poured forth in exalted strains of melody. This was the wisdom of Moses to present the truth to them in song that in strains of melody they should become familiar to them, and be impressed upon the minds of the whole nation, young and old. It was important for the children to learn the song, for this would speak to them, to warn, to restrain, to reprove, and encourage. It was a continual sermon. 12LtMs, Ms 71, 1897, par. 16

“Behold, your house is left unto you desolate,” Christ said, “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 23:38, 39.] In the lamentation of Christ, the very heart of God was pouring itself forth in His representative. This is the separation struggle, the mysterious farewell of the long-suffering love of Deity. It is the expression of abused, rejected love. Christ had exhausted every resource. 12LtMs, Ms 71, 1897, par. 17

The most terribly momentous period of the Jewish nation was at that time when Jesus was in their midst. Yet it was this generation, that had been honored and favored above all people upon the earth, who were guilty of rejecting all the importunity of the yearning love of Christ. “Ye would none of my counsels,” He says; “ye despised all my reproofs.” [Proverbs 1:30.] “Ye will not come unto me that ye might have life.” [John 5:40.] Therefore your destruction lieth at your own door: you are yourselves responsible. 12LtMs, Ms 71, 1897, par. 18

“Behold your house is left unto you desolate.” [Matthew 23:38.] The chosen nation of God must receive its eternal retribution for its refusal of Christ. Here the Jewish nation, as a nation, was divorced from God; the natural branches of the olive tree were cut off. 12LtMs, Ms 71, 1897, par. 19

In the rejection of Christ by the Jewish nation is a representation of all who refuse the only Help and Hope of the fallen race. 12LtMs, Ms 71, 1897, par. 20

Christ Himself was the Lord of the temple. When He should leave it, its glory would depart—that glory once visible in the holy of holies over the mercy seat, where the high Priest entered only once a year, on the great day of atonement, with the blood of the slain victim (typical of the blood of the Son of God shed for the sins of the world), and sprinkled it upon the altar. This was the Shekinah, the visible pavilion of Jehovah. 12LtMs, Ms 71, 1897, par. 21

It was this glory that was revealed to Isaiah, when he says, “In the year that king Uzziah died, I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face; and with twain he covered his feet; and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.” [Isaiah 6:1-4.] “That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them. These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him.” [John 12:38-41.] 12LtMs, Ms 71, 1897, par. 22

The disciples were unable to comprehend Christ’s words in reference to the destruction of the temple. They called His attention to its massive stones saying, “Master, see what manner of stones, and what buildings are here!” [Mark 13:1.] These stones were of purest marble, of perfect whiteness, and the pillars supporting the porches were of massive dimensions. How such stones as these could be overthrown they could not comprehend. But Jesus said to them with solemn earnestness, “Seest thou these great buildings?” You point to these massive stones as apparently indestructible; but listen to My words, “There shall not be left here one stone upon another that shall not be thrown down.” [Verse 2.] 12LtMs, Ms 71, 1897, par. 23

These words were spoken in the hearing of a large number of people; but when He was again alone, Peter, James, John, and Andrew, came to Him, saying, “Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled?” [Verse 4.] 12LtMs, Ms 71, 1897, par. 24

When Christ referred to the destruction of Jerusalem, His prophetic words reached beyond that event to the great final conflagration which shall take place in that day when the Lord shall rise out of His place to punish the world for their iniquity, when the earth shall disclose her blood, and no more cover her slain. Now turning to His disciples He said, “Take heed lest any man deceive you: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And when ye shall hear of wars, and rumors of wars, be ye not troubled: for such things must needs be; but the end shall not be yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against Kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these are the beginning of sorrows. 12LtMs, Ms 71, 1897, par. 25

“But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten; and ye shall be brought before kings and rulers for my sake, for a testimony against them. And the gospel must first be published among all nations. But when they shall lead you, and deliver you, take no thought before hand what ye shall say, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost. Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son: and children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” [Verses 5-13.] 12LtMs, Ms 71, 1897, par. 26


Pharisees, Herodians, and Sadducees have all in their turn, and in the most artful manner, sought to entangle Christ in the different questions put to him, hoping to find something in His answers to answer their purposes against Him. But every question was met in such a plain, intelligent manner that light, most precious light, shone into the minds of that large concourse of people. Seeds of truth were sown that would yield their harvest. 12LtMs, Ms 71, 1897, par. 27

As Jesus looked upon His frowning enemies, who were so filled with wrath that if they dared they would have killed Him then and there, He turned to His disciples, and said to them privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see the things which ye see. For I tell you, That many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.” [Luke 10:23, 24.] 12LtMs, Ms 71, 1897, par. 28

Pharisees, Herodians, and Sadducees, with their expectations disappointed, stood with lowering brows. They were filled with bitterest hatred because they were silenced. They dared not venture another question, but suggested to a lawyer standing by that he should question Christ concerning the law. 12LtMs, Ms 71, 1897, par. 29

“And behold a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, What is written in the law? How readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy soul, and with all thine heart, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself. And he answered and said, Thou hast answered right; this do and thou shalt live.” [Verses 25-28.] 12LtMs, Ms 71, 1897, par. 30

“But he, willing to justify himself said, And who is my neighbor? And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. 12LtMs, Ms 71, 1897, par. 31

“But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, and went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow, when he departed he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him, and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come, I will repay thee. Which now of these three thinkest thou was neighbor unto him that fell among the thieves? And he said, He that showed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go and do thou likewise.” [Verses 29-37.] 12LtMs, Ms 71, 1897, par. 32

But Christ saw that convincing Scriptures statements was not what his adversaries wanted. The mysteries of the kingdom of heaven would never be seen by these cavilers. The glorious gospel truth would ever remain a mystery to those who had exalted themselves to high positions of influence because of their supposed knowledge of the Scriptures. Those who wish to see are those who are willing to do the will of God. They will see His doctrines in a new attractive light. And they will not only see, they will receive, and eat and digest the truth as the bread that came down from heaven. 12LtMs, Ms 71, 1897, par. 33

Those who are in high places, but who have turned away from the light that has been shining into their hearts, because too proud to be educated by the greatest Teacher that the world has ever known, will become more and more blinded and hardened to spiritual truth. Again, those who have light and evidence, and who cherish that light as a thing of value, to these will be given greater light, and they shall have abundance. They will be rewarded with more grace, an increase of that which they appreciate. But those who have no place in mind and heart for the principles of truth, who will not yield to evidence, will lose their power to discern what is truth. They estimate of no value that which they have received, and it dies for want of being cherished. Some erroneous principles supply the place of the precious treasures of light and understand of spiritual truth. 12LtMs, Ms 71, 1897, par. 34

Many who hear and recognize the voice of God refuse to cherish His instruction because it conflicts with their ambitious designs. Their false theories and reasoning are more agreeable and satisfactory to them, and these are cherished until truth becomes distasteful. Truth is covered up with falsehood. They will not subject themselves to the control of its principles. 12LtMs, Ms 71, 1897, par. 35

But no one need be lost. “But if our gospel be hid to them that are lost: in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord: and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” [2 Corinthians 4:3-6.] 12LtMs, Ms 71, 1897, par. 36