Is Mike Pence a Pharisee?

gbradepp

Presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg refers to Vice President Pence as a pharisee. Pope Francis labels the conservative wing of the Catholic Church as Pharisees. My personal favorite is the American press (a.k.a.  “the blind leading the blind” cf. Matthew 15:14).  If there ever was a group of ‘whitewashed tombs’, it’s the press.

Who exactly was a Pharisee? 

The Oxford Biblical Society describes the Pharisees  as “concerned with how people practiced the law.”  They were smart, upper-class Jews who were made up of educators and judges  They welcomed novel beliefs such as the resurrection of the dead and had a strong interest in updating laws regarding tithing, ritual purity, and Sabbath observance.  Unlike the Sadducees, they distanced themselves from the Temple regulations and were not scholars of the law like scribes.

Is there any hope for a Pharisee? 

Students of the Bible understand the last flesh and blood Pharisee evaporated when Herod’s temple was destroyed (70 a.d.).  Today’s pharisee is a characterization.  The Cambridge Dictionary defines Pharisee as a “disapproving person who thinks they are very religious, but who do not care about others.”    It is in that sense, Jesus refers to the Pharisees in Matthew 23:36.   The word “this generation” refers to  “a group of people with a shared inner life.”  Jesus links the Pharisees to the “children of those who murdered the prophets” (cf. 23: 31).   The sons of Cain continue to live among us.

When Jesus lambasted the Pharisees…

When Jesus lambasted the Pharisees, He was thinking of Saul.    He was saying,    “Woe to you “SAUL” you are a hypocrite!  “Saul” you are full of greed and self-indulgence.   “Saul” you are a blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.”  With murder on his lips, Saul refers to his conversion in Galatians 1:15-16, “But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace (cf. Acts 9:1-9),  was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles.”    

God’s plan and God’s timing is everything.

  Whether you are Pete Buttigieg or Mike Pence or a member of the ‘conservative right’, God has His eye on you.  Psalm 139 asks, “Where can I go from your spirit? From your presence where can I flee? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I sink to the nether world, you are present there.”  If God has plans for you, it doesn’t much matter if you hide in the darkness or flee to a remote part of the world.   

The Apostle Paul describes the Christ-life like as one of “toil and drudgery.”   He worked day and night so that he would not be a burden on anyone.  He lived his life as an open book. He writes to the Thessalonians, “You are witnesses, and so is God, how devoutly and justly and blamelessly we behaved toward you believers.”  There were no secrets or hidden agendas.  Paul’s only goal, that the Thessalonians “walk in a manner worthy of God.”

 

 

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