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Religious Leaders, Religious Systems, Churches: What does the Bible Say?

A SHORT HISTORY: What the Bible says about Religious Leaders and Churches

A SHORT HISTORY: What the Bible says about Religious Leaders and Churches

A SHORT HISTORY: WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS ABOUT RELIGIOUS LEADERS AND THE CHURCHES

A while ago, someone remarked that they found it hard to believe that the modern churches were totally apostate.  The person could not provide any evidence (other than the usual “They do good work.”) to back up his contention, either from real life or from the Bible.

However, this person felt that to label the churches “apostate” was unkind.  When confronted with Jesus’ assessment of the Pharisees in His own time OR the seven churches of Revelation 2 and 3, the person was silent.

But this encounter got this writer thinking: What does the Bible have to say about religious systems, religious leaders and churches?

We therefore present this short history on that topic.

APPROXIMATELY 600 BC

Immediately after God judged Judah by having a portion of the Jews carried off to Babylon, the prophet Ezekiel was given a tour of what was taking place back in Jerusalem among the religious leaders.

The account is not very complimentary.

“And he put forth the form of an hand, and took me by a lock of mine head; and the spirit lifted me up between the earth and the heaven, and brought me in the visions of God to Jerusalem, to the door of the inner gate that looketh toward the north; where was the seat of the image of jealousy, which provoketh to jealousy. And, behold, the glory of the God of Israel was there, according to the vision that I saw in the plain.

Then said he unto me, Son of man, lift up thine eyes now the way toward the north. So I lifted up mine eyes the way toward the north, and behold northward at the gate of the altar this image of jealousy in the entry. He said furthermore unto me, Son of man, seest thou what they do? even the great abominations that the house of Israel committeth here, that I should go far off from my sanctuary? but turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations.

And he brought me to the door of the court; and when I looked, behold a hole in the wall. Then said he unto me, Son of man, dig now in the wall: and when I had digged in the wall, behold a door. And he said unto me, Go in, and behold the wicked abominations that they do here.

So I went in and saw; and behold every form of creeping things, and abominable beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel, pourtrayed upon the wall round about. And there stood before them seventy men of the ancients of the house of Israel, and in the midst of them stood Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan, with every man his censer in his hand; and a thick cloud of incense went up. Then said he unto me, Son of man, hast thou seen what the ancients of the house of Israel do in the dark, every man in the chambers of his imagery? for they say, The LORD seeth us not; the LORD hath forsaken the earth.
Ezekiel 8:3-12

The Seventy Men:  “either the sanhedrim, or council of seventy, who should have preserved religion pure and untainted, to which their office bound them; or else seventy of the more aged heads of the tribes or families, who should have been examples by their pure and constant affection to true religion; but these are ringleaders in this idolatry.”
Matthew Poole Commentary

So at the very moment that part of the Jews were in Babylon under the judgement of God, their religious leaders back in Jerusalem were worshiping idols and offering incense to pagan gods.

Short-History-miles-stuart-FDP-ETPR

ABOUT 30 AD

Jesus had nothing good to say about the religious leaders of His own time, the Pharisees.  Jesus’ condemnation of the Pharisees’ negating of God’s Word with their traditions mirrors the activities of the apostate churches in our own times.

What Jesus said of the Pharisees, could also be said of the modern churches–and much more.

” For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
Matthew 5:20

“Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.”
Matthew 16:6

“Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.”
Matthew 16:12

“Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. 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.

But all their works they do for 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 markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.”
Matthew 23:1-7

“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.”
Matthew 23:13

“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.”
Matthew 23:14

“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.”
Matthew 23:15

“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.”
Matthew 23:23

“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.”
Matthew 23:25

“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.”
Matthew 23:27

“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres 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. Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets.”
Matthew 23:29-31

“Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell.”
Matthew 23:33

In their time, the Pharisees and scribes were respected even more so than the preachers of our current day. They were certainly revered much more than the typical TV or mega-church preacher.

ABOUT 90 AD

On the island of Patmos almost 55-60 years after His resurrection, Jesus appeared to John and gave him the Revelation.  In Revelation chapters 2 and 3, Jesus addresses seven churches of the day.

Only the churches of Smyrna and Philadelphia escaped rebuke from Jesus.

After only a few decades in the hands of men, Laodicea in particular was singled out as a hotbed of apostasy.

I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.”
Revelation 3:15-16

NEW TESTAMENT WARNINGS

Throughout the New Testament, warnings are given about infiltrators, seducers, imposters and false doctrines attempting to corrupt the newly-formed churches.  The epistles of Paul, Peter and John contain many warnings.

Other books which warn of the churches’ corruption are Jude, James, and Revelation.

CONCLUSION

So mere decades after Jesus Himself was present (and at a time the churches were led by some of the apostles and their disciples), the churches were already infiltrated and corrupted.

What the churches have become after almost 2000 years in the hands of men is easy to see for those who are free of the deception of the churches.

THE GOSPEL

“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. ”
1 Corinthians 15:1-8

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”
-–Romans 1:16

“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.”
1 Corinthians 1:18-19

RELATED ARTICLES

by Jeremiah Jameson
–with Mondo Frazier

images:
1- renjith krishnan, FreeDigitalPhotos.net/ETPR
2- ETPR/Stuart Miles, FreeDigitalPhotos.net/ETPR

© Jeremiah J. Jameson and End Times Prophecy Report, 2012-15. © Mondo Frazier and End Times Prophecy Report, DBKP 2007-2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jeremiah J. Jameson and End Times Prophecy Report with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Link Disclaimer: inclusion of links to other blogs/websites is not necessarily an endorsement of all content posted in those blogs/websites.

Filed under: Biblical Teachings, End Time Deception, The Apostate American Church, ,

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