Sunday, November 25, 2012

What is a Zealot? Part 2 of my cliff note version.

The Zealots  First let me start out with a definition and the way I can remember them is over zealous. Which reminds me the verse in Romans. We as believers need zeal coupled with knowledge and not just zeal! And speaking of Rome the zealouts bucked the authority of Romes control in palestine.  Try to think of that when you remember that our man the apostle Paul was a Pharisee before his conversion.  He had a zero tolerance for Christians as we see in the book of Acts.  Think though of his letter in romans about submission to governing authorities (romans 13) For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. (Romans 10:2 ESV) Zealot  a. One who is zealous, especially excessively so. b. A fanatically committed person. 2. Zealot A member of a Jewish movement of the first century a.d. that fought against Roman rule in Palestine as incompatible with strict monotheism. Now push pause. Think of them as a bull in a china shop bent on revolting or destroying anything of a Roman thumbprint on Palestine. Out of the 3 groups it amazes me. You have 1) pharisees who were pious in a lot of good ways.  Yet they were so legalistic that they could never reach beyond their own sect. They prided themselves on works and the praise of man. Here's the thing...when you take grace and the gospel out of the picture you get rote form without function. It's what Jesus straight up called them to the pharisaical carpet on. They were worried about external appearances. They were worried about the outside of the cup being clean and the inside was full of filth. There is no transformation apart from Christ in us but no transformation when you have a bunch of head knowledge that doesn't ever make it past your head. Yet look at different denominations or people in general. How so many focus on what you have to do for God.  When who has ever given to God that He should repay them? Believing on Jesus is the only way we have justification. They were rebuked because on the outside they looked like white washed tombs but on the inside they were dry desolate bones. That's some strong language out of the mouth of God. Yet how many homes are there where men and women are worried so much about how things appear? They care more about what the outside represents then what's going on with the inside and there may be abuse, unfaithfulness, all manner of addictions, and etc going on under their roofs. It's so sad really. Jesus cut their false facades with a sword so to speak since He clearly is the Word made flesh.  Maybe their intentions were good at first but it sure didn't end well according to self righteousness. I love the picture the Lord paints of the Pharisee and the sinner. Because in his piety the pharisee goes on and on about how at least he isn't like this tax collector sinner as he recounts his tithes and good deeds. If we are counting on that it's a one way ticket to hell. So the sinner, stood at a distance and could not even look up. That represented contrition in the distance. Then, Jesus blows it out of the water when He says that the sinner went home justified. The very one that the Pharisees would disdain and remember they were deeply Jewish and religious and missed the Messiah (a lot of them anyway) yet the "sinner" received forgiveness and justification. Those who were far away, He came to bring near. He didn't come to call the righteous o repentance...but the sinner. So do you see a little of why He used that example as He appealed to self-righteousness with the Pharisee? It makes perfect sense. If you know these things it brings whole new meaning to the gospels. Jesus didn't come to abolish the law but to fulfill it. Man just messes junk up without God. The law and blood sacrifices in the Old Testament were pointing to our Savior and His words were for our good that we might have life and that in obedience things would go well with us. Instead they focused more on the do nots. The Lord could care less about us offering tithes and sacrifices and them not be from our love for Him, or us obeying Him out of love. When we are working and counting on our own righteousness unto salvation it puts us straight up under the law and on a set of weights and balances and we will surely be weighed on the scales and found wanting.  He would tell us to take our offerings and sacrifices and get them out of His face because they are a stench to Him. He doesn't need anything from us and yet He delights in our obedience to Him.  He makes so much of that so clear in Isaiah. Tithing is a matter of obedience and lordship. I am very serious about tithing and not just throwing some left overs in an offering plate. If I withhold what is already His anyway then without fail I'm bowing to the idol of greed. Whew!  It doesn't bode well. So do you find yourself anywhere in this picture? 2) The Sadducees were what we would call people with license to indulge and etc in their minds. When we compare ourselves to others it is foolishness. The whole "at least I'm not as bad as so and so"...well here these guys are and they are experiencing benefits. They aren't very threatening and are out of touch with their pedigree family status and their wealth and education. To me they would be more likely to really never get the big picture on what it means to put a stumbling block in front of others. For an example in our day...maybe they would be out with a group and have others around them that were weak in their faith. Maybe new converts and maybe some of the new believers very much know how they are involved in their church and that they are believers. So maybe a couple of them have just sworn off alcohol for the 1000th time and are looking for a good group of people to be around and they look up to them and see that hey they are partaking of alcohol in the name of "hey Jesus drank!" and they decide to go ahead and order a few too and then they spiral back into defeat with their addiction. It may not mean that the others are addicted at all but only that they were a stumbling block because they used their freedom in Christ and another one weak in faith tripped up. It's not wrong to drink alcohol even though I believe for me in total's just maybe that they should save their one or two glasses of wine for the privacy of their own home.  I don't want to get on a tangent here either but I can't tell you the people that throw up the "Jesus drank" thing in my face. He did and He indeed was without sin. However, there was a lot of modern features in that day but it is also clear that their water wasn't exactly on a filtration system and carried bacteria and of course we know that fermented alcohol is probably a tad better for killing bacteria then drinking water out of the nearest stream. Also, according to proverbs others were encouraged to take strong drink to one who was about to die. It was to lessen pain and etc. they couldn't call in hospice or get anxiety meds. Even when I think of Noah getting drunk as a skunk...I'm not saying it's right but merely trying to grapple with what in the world kind of post traumatic stuff you and I would go through if we'd spent ALL that time building a boat and then you know it wasn't all kumbya on the arc for all that time and with all of the animals. I mean I'd be in a panic just spending that much time in a global flood resting on top of the water. I sure wouldn't be all cheering on in the scene while every person and living thing besides what was on the boat died. I can't even imagine. And maybe the Lord was merciful but I'd be ordering up some Dramamine and air fresheners and poop scoops for those animals and a face mask or 100 to help me with the smells. I'm sure when they got off that boat it was some kind of traumatic. Everyone is gone but you and yours. I'd probably get drunk like Noah as well. Does that sound awful of me? 

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