The Seat of Moses

(Survey of Matthew)

Fred R. Coulter—October 23, 1993

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Let's review a couple of things that we need to understand. We just finished the section where it talked about 'full well you reject the commandment of God that you may keep your own tradition.' Those of you who have read the Code of Jewish Law or read through parts of it, you wholly understand what that means. I don't think that some people have had the book available to them, and there are scores of ministers that have never even heard that the book exists, so they don't have any idea of what it means for those traditions.

Let's go back and review just a little bit because I said I would bring something and explain what is 'the seat of Moses.' Before we do that, let's go back to Matt. 16 and review something that we need to be careful of. There was one part of it that was essential for me to bring out in party 11, which I didn't, which also has to do with some of the leaven.

I want to try and bring us on up through the survey of the book of Matthew and maybe we can resurrect the sermon that I did: Who Was in Charge of the Temple?—which I did to combat the very thing that we're going to talk about: What is the seat of Moses? There's a man who says that we are to obey what the scribes and Pharisees tell us, so therefore, we should keep a 15th Passover and we should keep the Day of Pentecost on 6th of Sivan. You will probably run across that or someone who believes that or would profess it or tell you about it. I want you to be well armed with it. We will essentially see that it was the priests and the Sadducees[transcriber's correction] who were in charge of the temple, not the Pharisees. The Pharisees were out in the country.

Matthew 16:6: "And Jesus said to them, 'Watch out… [beware, because it's a snare and a trap] …and be on guard against the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.'" They had their reasons for it!

Verse 11: "How is it that you do not understand that I was not speaking of bread when I told you to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees?' Then they understood that He did not say to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine… [teachings: 'didache'] …of the Pharisees and Sadducees" (vs 11-12).

Now we're going to see something really interesting, Mark 8:14 "But they had forgotten to take bread; and they did not have any with them, except one loaf in the ship. Then He charged them, saying, 'Watch out!…. [Beware!] …Be on guard against the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod'" (vs 14-15). Very interesting!

Very seldom this is brought up. Why does He say to beware of the "…leaven of Herod"? Herod was the king! There was the Herodian party. Is this not Jesus telling us to beware—don't get entrapped—in the leaven of politics? That certainly is a trap—isn't it? The leaven of it is unreal!

How many politicians have to compromise what they believe just so they can please other politicians? Have to do it all the time! I could not be a politician. I'm not the kind that I can speak out of both sides of my mouth and please everyone and still live with myself. I can't do it! I would be a bad politician. I would be a maverick. I've been accused of that before. If I got elected I might last once, and I would soon be fire-branded within three months as being totally uncooperative, totally unreasonable, totally uncompromising, because that's what would happen. I've gone to enough of these city council meetings, I've watched them on TV and it's unreal! I've even accused, in my own way, saying to myself—the city council left its brains in its feet and it has a bad case of athlete's foot, because there is virtually nothing that they can do that is right.

We have to beware of the "…leaven of Herod." Let's contrast that with what Jesus said concerning the Pharisees that 'sit in Moses' seat.' Most of the teachings in Matt. 16-18 have to do with personal instructions to the disciples; personal revelation by God the Father that Jesus Christ was the Messiah; the transfiguration on the Mt. of Transfiguration, and so forth.

Matt. 19 has to do with divorce and remarriage. We need to see how the Pharisees handled the situation with Christ and what they did.

Matthew 19:3: "Then the Pharisees came to Him and tempted Him, saying to Him, 'Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause?'"

In some Churches of God today, you can divorce and remarry within the Church. You can cause the problem, create it… As a matter of fact, I talked to someone whose friend just had his wife leave him because the minister was not willing to sit down and counsel them on how to save their marriage, but he gave the wife church money so she could fly home to her mother and file for divorce. The minister claimed that he could tell from her conversation—now follow this carefully—that he wasn't converted. The minister never talked to him. You've got a lot of problems there. The minister is:

  • sitting in the seat of God to determine a person's heart, mind and attitude whether they're converted or not
  • assisting in breaking up a marriage, which God probably has found without a doubt
  • he's not bringing peace and making peace to help them to recover themselves to God

Rather, he's assisting in divorcing for every cause. I'm talking about Church of God today!

  • if a person is angry, you can divorce them
  • if a person is declared hard-hearted, you can divorce them

How many here have never had an argument with their husband or wife? No hands raised, and I'm not raising mine!

I'll guarantee that any married couple in their lifetime, somewhere along the line is going to come—especially in today's world—to some dispute that makes them wonder about the marriage they are in. Just like you have to work at loving God, you have to work at developing and creating love in your marriage; something you need to work at.

The ministry of God is the last place in the world that people need assistance to help them get out of their marriage, so they can run off and divorce. Then, after two years, if it's a legal divorce, then hey, you can get a legal divorce anywhere. You can go to Nevada and you can get a legal divorce. Just sit down and fill it out and in thirty days your divorce is legal.

Anyone who's had a legal divorce can marry and come back into the Church. In some cases, there are brethren of God sitting in the same congregation with the husband over here on one side of the aisle and his wife and her new husband and kids on the other side of the aisle. I mean, that's unreal! They say, 'We are God's Church!' Believe me, Sodom and Gomorrah is going to visit them! It's going to happen! The snare and the trap is going to come! Just like with the Lutherans here in this article that someone gave me today. It's almost obscene! Everything under the sun is perfectly legal to do.

The Pharisees came because the Jews at that time had it that, yes, if a man didn't like the way his wife looked, he could put her away. I tell you what, there are times when husbands and wives, when you wake up in the morning you wonder about this. You go look in the mirror and look at yourself and you wonder about yourself, too. It happens!

"…'Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause?' But He answered them, saying…" (vs 3-4).

I really love the answers that Jesus gives, because He goes to the Scriptures every time!

"…'Have you not read…'" (v 4). He's talking about that they don't read their Bibles!

Why do people get in trouble concerning God and His Word when they have it and are supposed to know it? Because they don't read and study it!Just like Jesus said to Satan, 'Behold, it is written!' Here He says: "…have you not read…" I mean, Gen. 2[transcriber's correction], how long does it take to go from chapter one to the end of chapter two? Not very long!

"…'Have you not read that He Who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, "For this cause…" (vs 4-5)—on account of the creation that God made; that's what the account is, or the cause—because God made it; on account of God's creation!

"…shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh?" (v 5).

Let's give an example of a tricky question, because they didn't understand their Bible. Ten Commandments: let's go to the fourth one concerning the Sabbath:

Exodus 20:8: "Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it Holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall not do any work, you, nor your son, nor your daughter; your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your livestock, nor the stranger within your gates; for in six days the LORD made the heaven and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore, the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and sanctified it" (vs 8-11).

Then someone came and asked, 'Well, it doesn't say your wife, is it all right for your wife to work on the Sabbath?' The way you answer that question is the same way Jesus answered this one:

Matthew 19:4: "…'Have you not read that He Who made them from the beginning made them male and female?'"

When it talks about a man in the Bible, it is also talking about his wife, because they are one flesh! How could he have sons and daughters if he didn't have a wife? Right there in context of the fourth of commandment! When Jesus said, "…Have you not read…" He means read with comprehension! When all else fails, read the book; that's what Jesus is saying here" "…Have you not read…" for the very fact of the creation of God!

Here's a little something of scientific information that we'll throw in here: Why can only a man—in the person of Jesus Christ, Who was a man—be the perfect sacrifice to cover the sins of all men and women? vs Why could not a woman be a perfect sacrifice to cover the sins for all mankind? Because Eve was created from the rib of Adam! That's true, that's one of the first Biblical reasons.

Let's look at another scientific thing that has been proven: A woman carries the chromosome for sex that is called X—that's how they determine it, and XX in chromosomal makeup of a person designates, by creation—through the combination of chromosomes from father and mother—equals a female. A male has a chromosome that is called Y and his chromosomal makeup of 23 from father and 23 from mother gives him the chromosomal makeup of XY. But the man is the one who determines the sex of the children that are born, because he passes on both X and Y in his contribution of seed in creating children. Therefore, the man is the one who then pro-generates the woman as well as the man.

Therefore, within Jesus Christ—because He was created in the fashion of a man—He carried within His genes both—as all men do—the chromosomes for male and female, and hence, that sacrifice of a male covers for male and female. I don't want to put any woman down or feel slighted, please don't, but that's just a fact that I think is born out.

Verse 5: "…'For this cause… [on account of that God made them male and female] …shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh?"

You could solve all the problems of illicit children; of AIDS, gonorrhea, syphilis and 44 other venereal diseases add infinitum that are out there IF this were followed, and if the commandment 'thou shall not commit adultery' was followed.

But no, the world says, 'We don't like those laws, so the way we'll get along, we'll do away with the law.' Now they have to suffer with a penalty because they do away with the Law because they don't like it.

Verse 6: "So then, they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let not man separate." That's clear!

At the creation, when God made Adam and Eve, they did not have the law of sin and death in them at that particular time, until such time that they sinned at a later date.

Verse 7: "They said to Him, 'Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?'"

That is not a correct question, because God is the One Who commanded Moses to write what He commanded concerning divorce. Moses didn't say, 'God, it seems to me like it's a good idea, and You know that I've been dealing with all these hard-hearted people; why don't we give them a little leeway here and why don't we just let them have a lot of divorce?'

Verse 8: "He said to them, 'Because of your hardheartedness, Moses allowed you to divorce your wives… [but God was the One Who gave the permission] …but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you, whoever shall divorce his wife, except it be for sexual immorality…'" (vs 8-9).

The Greek is 'pornea'—sexual immorality of any kind: adultery, homosexuality, transvestitism, all the perverseness that we know is in the society today. Especially so when you consider how easy it is to come down with some of these diseases and everything else like that. But if it's not for that reason—that is an exception clause—and that's not a huge, giant window to stretch it out into anything you want.

"…and shall marry another, is committing adultery…" (v 9). What did Christ say of that generation? An evil and an adulterous generation!

There are a lot of people living in adultery who are married and should not be married, because they did not have Biblical grounds for divorcing. Some people today even have a marriage contract that at ten years we'll dissolve this if you want to. Guess what's going to be on your mind every time a problem comes? Only got to wait nine more years! or two more years! or whatever!

"…and the one who marries her who has been divorced is committing adultery.' His disciples said to Him, 'If that is the case of a man with a wife, it is better not to marry" (vs 9-10).

Here they were willing to say, 'Hey, that's kind of tough!' It is! The truth is that premarital sex—if you read it in the Old Testament—is very much more stringent. As a matter of fact, the church we used to belong to did it just the opposite. They said that the only grounds for divorce were if there was pre-marital sex because they took the English word 'fornication' to mean only sex before marriage. They said you could put them away for that, even if it's discovered 20 years later. They didn't seek to consult the Bible, which says that if a man and a woman lie together and they're not married, they are to marry and they cannot divorce!

Don't you think that's going to stop a lot of hanky-panky? If you really knew that the law of the land were such that if you play around you're bound for life! That is God's way of stopping promiscuity, because a lot of people will think twice if they are thinking about a little bit of hanky-panky and it comes to their mind that 'I may have to live with this person the rest of my life, no!' So, the disciples didn't know. They said, 'Man, this is tough.'

Verse 11: "But He said to them, 'Not everyone can receive this word, but only those to whom it has been given. For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mother's womb…'" (vs 11-12). There's nothing you can do about that!

"…and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men…" (v 12). They used to do that quite regularly in the Catholic Church so they could have the boy's perpetual soprano choir forever. Nice wonderful, Christian thing—huh? They used to do it quite regular back then. They had these harems and the way to protect the harem is that they had a eunuch in charge of it—he would have no desire for women and they took care of them. That's what He's referring to.

"…and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven…." (v 12).

Which then would be some of the prophets, which then would be John the Baptist, Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, and whomever would fall under the same circumstances. But that doesn't mean, as the Catholics say, that now because you're going to be a priest you cannot marry. The Apostle Paul said that 'it's better to marry than burn.' Hence, because the Catholics have their stupid policy, the priests won't marry, they have child molestation, homosexuality, adultery and all this sort of thing that is widespread and well known.

That's why He says, "…The one who is able to receive it, let him receive it" (v 12).

I'm going to go through this rather rapidly—some of these sections here—and I want us to notice how when Jesus comes to Jerusalem that the Pharisees were not in charge of the temple: It was the priests and the Sadducees who were in charge of the temple. They were the ones who determined the calendar. They are the ones who set the day of Pentecost. The high priesthood had the party of the Sadducees. We're going to see that it's the high priest and the elders and then in the book of Acts it was the Sadducees—the high priests' political parties—were the ones who were in control of the temple.

It is known, without a doubt, by everyone who knows anything about counting Pentecost, that the Sadducean way of counting Pentecost is the way that we count it today, beginning with the regular Sabbath during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. You go seven weeks, seven Sabbaths, plus one day—which is the 50th day—and it is always on a Sunday. You have to count, because the numbered day of the month will be different.

Matthew 20:17: "And while they were going up to Jerusalem, Jesus took the twelve disciples aside in the way and said to them, 'Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem… [He wanted to warn them ahead of time] …and the Son of man shall be betrayed to the chief priests and scribes…'" (vs 17-18).

Scribes in the main were Levites who were not priests, but were Levites who were the leaders of the various synagogues. As we read in Jerusalem in the Times of Jesus by Joachim Jeremias that they were what we call the magistrate judges, which gives you a clue as to what Moses' seat was.

"…and they shall condemn Him to death; and they shall deliver Him up to the Gentiles to mock Him, and to scourge Him, and to crucify Him; but He shall rise again the third day'" (vs 18-19).

Matthew 21:12: "And Jesus went into the temple of God and cast out all those who were buying and selling in the temple; and He overthrew the tables of the money exchangers, and the seats of those who were selling doves. Then He said to them, 'It is written, "My house shall be called a house of prayer'; but you have made it a den of thieves." And the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them. But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that He did, and the children shouting in the temple… [crying praise; speaking aloud; not weeping with tears] …and saying, 'Hosanna to the Son of David,' they were indignant" (vs 12-15).

Now, after 2000 years to refine their excuses for rejecting Jesus Christ, as we read saying, 'He didn't qualify, He wasn't the One.' The only thing you can say to that rabbi is: Have you never read?

Verse 16: "And said to Him, 'Do You hear what they are saying?' Then Jesus said to them, 'Yes! Have you never read… [quotes back to them Scripture]: …"Out of the mouths of little children and infants You have perfected praise"?' And leaving them, He went out of the city to Bethany and spent the night there" (vs 16-17).

Verse 23: "Now, when He entered the temple and was teaching, the chief priests and the elders of the people… [the chief priests were the ones in charge of the temple] …came up to Him, saying, 'By what authority do You do these things? And who gave You this authority?'"

He was right there at the very seat of the authority of Judaism. He was right there at the temple of God where God said that He would put His name. He was right there where nothing could be done unless it was authorized by God or written in the Bible. We need to understand the tremendous confrontation that was going on here.

Verse 24: "And Jesus answered and said to them, 'I will also ask you one thing, which if you tell Me, I will also tell you by what authority I do these things.'"

I pray, 'God, please give me wisdom like this.' I need this! Sometimes I say things I should not say. We can all pray that prayer.

Verse 25: "'The baptism of John, where did it come from? From heaven, or from men?' Then they reasoned among themselves, saying… [a little huddling over in a corner] …'If we say, "From heaven," He will say to us, "Why then did you not believe him?" But if we say, "From men,"… [beware the leaven of Herod—politics] …we fear the multitude; for everyone holds John as a prophet'" (vs 25-26).

Verse 27: "And they answered Jesus and said, 'We do not know.'…. [they did know, but they said they didn't know] …He said to them also, 'Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things. But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first one and said, "Son, go work in my vineyard today." And he answered and said, "I will not"; but afterwards he repented and went. Then he came to the second son and said the same thing. And he answered and said, "Sir, I will go"; but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of the father?' They said to Him… [we can answer that, that's a simple question] …'The first one.'…. [you entrap them in their own words] …Jesus said to them, 'I tell you truly, the tax collectors and the harlots are going into the Kingdom of God before you'" (vs 25-31). They didn't escape the correction!

Verse 32: "For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him; but the tax collectors and the harlots believed him. Yet, you, after seeing this, did not afterwards repent and believe him."

That's a stinging rebuke! Then He gave the parable. He asked them, 'What do you think the master of the vineyard will do?' They said, 'He will horribly destroy them.'

Verse 42: "Jesus said to them, 'Have you never read in the Scriptures… [may we remember that statement when we have to answer] …"The Stone that the builders rejected, this has become the head of the corner. This was from the Lord, and it is wonderful in our eyes"? Because of this… [He let them know] …I say to you, the Kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and it shall be given to a nation that produces the fruits of it'" (vs 42-43).

Brethren, that is us! (Gal. 5:22—fruits of love, joy, peace, longsuffering, temperance, goodness, gentleness and meekness—against such there is no law!) Just like Jesus said, 'If you love Me, keep My commandments.' Keep the commandments in the right way, and that is the message of the Kingdom of God.

Verse 45: "Now, after hearing His parables, the chief priests and the Pharisees knew that He was speaking about them. And they sought to arrest Him, but they were afraid of the multitudes, because they held Him as a prophet" (vs 45-46).

Again, we have an encounter with the Pharisees in Jerusalem in the temple area, Matthew 22:15: "Then the Pharisees…" After He went through and gave them another parable about the wedding feast and said, 'many are called, but few are chosen.' This is really quite an indictment against them. Remember the parable of the wedding feast? It's all ready, invite those who have had the invitation—the Pharisees, Sadducees, the priests, which is God's Word. But they refused!

So, He said to His servants, 'Go out in the highways, the byways, in the hedgerows and bring whoever…' That was a way of saying that God is going to go to all nations of the world and invite them to the wedding feast. One came and he wasn't dressed for the wedding. The master of the wedding feast came up and said, 'How is that you're not dressed for the wedding.' The moral of the story is that if you don't do what God says, you're going to be taken out, and there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Verse 15: "Then the Pharisees went and took counsel as to how they might entrap Him in His speech. And they sent their disciples along with the Herodians to Him, saying, 'Master, we know that You are true, and that You teach the way of God in truth, and that You are not concerned about pleasing anyone; for You do not respect the persons of men. Therefore, tell us, what do You think? Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not?' But Jesus, knowing their wickedness, said, 'Why do you tempt Me, you hypocrites? Show Me the tribute coin.' And they brought to Him a silver coin. And He said to them, 'Whose image and inscription is on this?' They said to Him, 'Caesar's.' And He said to them, 'Render then the things of Caesar to Caesar, and the things of God to God'" (vs 15-21). What do you say against that?

  • He didn't say, 'Don't pay taxes.'
  • He didn't say, 'Pay taxes.'
  • He said: "…Render then the things of Caesar to Caesar, and the things of God to God."

Now then, in relationship to tithing and financing and giving and everything like this—that is the command! However you figure what you're going to do, after Caesar has taken his part, then you figure what you're going to do for God out of that. That is not an increase to you, it is an increase to Caesar. You never see it! I hate the way that they do it. That's why they want to get rid of all entrepreneurs. Did you know that? So that you will have to have a check so they can automatically deduct it out from your payroll.

Verse 23: "On that same day, the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection…" The resurrection was not fully taught in the five books of Moses and they allegedly only went by the five books of Moses rather than all the Old Testament! So, they gave the parable about the woman and the seven husbands.

"…came to Him and questioned Him, saying, 'Master, Moses said, "If anyone dies without having children, his brother shall marry his wife and shall raise up seed to his brother"'" (vs 23-24).

Verse 30: "For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but they areas the angels of God in heaven." That doesn't mean that people will be angels; it just is in that aspect that they will not have sex to procreate and reproduce.

Some of this stuff is so good, you just can't keep from laughing sometimes.

Verse 34: "But after the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they came together before Him. And one of them, a doctor of the law, questioned Him…" (vs 34-35).

Who is a doctor of the law? This must have been of the rank of Gamaliel! A doctor of the law was one of the main teachers of one of the rabbinic schools in Jerusalem. So, this was an important fellow.

"…tempting Him, and saying, 'Master, which commandment is the great commandment in the Law?'" (vs 35-36).

Here's the lesson we need to learn, brethren. This is where I'm going to really keep focusing on preaching, because they can't get me for politicizing. If you preach the love of God you can't be caught for politicizing. No leaven of Herod! They recognized Him as the 'Teacher.'

Verse 37: "And Jesus said to him, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment'" (vs 37-38).

This is what is called the 'Shema,' which the Jews are supposed to recite day and night; morning and evening.

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But the reciting of it doesn't mean that you understand it! It doesn't mean that you live it. Knowing that it is there doesn't mean that you practice it.

Verse 39: "And the second one is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets" (vs 39-40).

What He's telling us here is that all law and all commandments come out of love. How can you create a law that is right and good unless it's motivated from the basis of love. If you don't you're going to end up just like carnal-minded people who make laws to penalize their enemies, but are good for themselves.

God being a God of love did not do that. He gave His laws, His commandments, His statutes and His judgments. Psa. 119—if you want to know the truth about God's laws and commandments read that whole Psalm. 'I love Your law; I love Your statutes, I love Your judgments. All Your commandments are true. All Your commandments are righteousness.' It's a real exaltation of the Law. That came because God is love! That's why all of them came and they are subordinate to and hang from the commandment of loving God with all your heart, mind, soul and being.

Verse 41: "While the Pharisees were assembled together, Jesus questioned them, saying, 'What do you think concerning the Christ? Whose son is He?' They said to Him, 'The Son of David.' He said to them, 'How then does David in spirit call Him Lord, saying, "The LORD said to my Lord, 'Sit at My right hand, until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet"? Therefore, if David calls Him Lord, how is He his Son?' And no one was able to answer Him a word, neither dared anyone from that day to question Him anymore" (vs 41-46).

Matthew 23:1: "Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, saying, 'The scribes and the Pharisees have sat down on Moses' seat as judges'" (vs 1-2).

One place He says, 'Beware of the scribes and Pharisees and their doctrines and their teachings, which is called 'leaven.' Why then does He says here:

Verse 3: "Therefore, every judgment that they tell you to observe, observe and do. But do not do according to their works; for they say and do not."

What does this mean? Is this a contradiction? Let's understand that He was not telling His disciples, nor the apostles, that they were to follow everything that the scribes and Pharisees told them to do. They're hypocrites, because we have the most scathing and denunciation of any people on the face of the earth ever given and recorded right in Acts 5.

What was the last thing that Jesus told them before He ascended into heaven? Go into all the world and preach the Gospel unto every creature, making disciples of the nations and baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit! They went and preached Christ! What happened when they had a confrontation with the chief priests and everything?

They were arrested and so forth and the angel of the Lord let them out at night. They were a sect of the Sadducees. (Acts 5:17-19). They came in the morning for judgment and they said, 'Go bring in the prisoners,' and they went and they weren't there. As they were coming back they saw the disciples standing there preaching and teaching. They came in and they said:

Acts 5:23: "'We indeed found the prison locked with all security, and the keepers standing outside in front of the doors; but after opening them, we did not find anyone inside.' And when they heard these words, both the high priest and the captain of the temple, and the chief priests also, were utterly perplexed as to what this could lead to. But a certain one came and reported to them, saying, 'Behold, the men whom you put in the prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people'" (vs 23-25). Just the thing they didn't want the disciples to do!

Verse 26: "Then the captain went with the officers and brought them without violence… [they didn't dare lay a heavy hand on them] …so that they might not be stoned; for they feared the people." We're dealing with some people with conviction! They didn't like what was going on, pick up some stones and go after them.

Verse 27: "And they brought them in and set them before the Sanhedrin…." This is the top seat of Moses! What they told them to do, and let's see if the apostles followed them. No, the rejected it:

"…And the high priest asked them, saying, 'Did we not order you by a direct command…" (vs 27-28). They were beaten with stripes, remember, and finally let go!

"…not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, with the purpose of bringing this man's blood upon us.' But Peter and the apostles answered and said…" (vs 28-29).

Oh, we're so sorry that you're offended, we realize that you sit in Moses' seat and behold we shall do all that you ask.'

So therefore, the Gospel was never preached, the Bible was never written and you were never called and you're not here and it's all an illusion. NO!

Verse 29: "But Peter and the apostles answered and said, 'We are obligated to obey God rather than men." So, they didn't do everything that the seat of Moses told them to do!

Verse 30: "'The God of our fathers raised up Jesus Whom you killed by hanging Him on a tree. Him has God exalted by His right hand to be a Prince and Savior, to give repentance and remission of sins to Israel. And we are His witnesses of these things, as is also the Holy Spirit, which God has given to those who obey Him'" (vs 30-32). Obvious intention!

Verse 33: "Now, when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and took counsel to put them to death. But a certain man stood up, a Pharisee in the Sanhedrin, Gamaliel… [the one by whom Paul was taught] …by name, a teacher of the law who was honored by all the people, and commanded that the apostles be put out for a short while" (vs 33-34). Then rehearsed some things.

Verse 39: "'But if it be from God, you do not have the power to overthrow it. Take heed, lest you be found to be fighting even against God.' And they were persuaded by him; and they called in the apostles and, after beating them, commanded them not to speak in the name of Jesus; and they released them. Then they departed from the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they were accounted worthy to suffer shame for His name. And every day, in the temple and in the houses, they did not cease teaching and preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ" (vs 39-42)

  • Did they follow the commands of the scribes and the Pharisees sitting in Moses' seat? No!
  • What does this mean?
  • Either there's a contradiction in Scripture, or Jesus Christ told us to follow Judaism!

Let's go back and look at it again. Then let's ask: What is the seat of Moses?

Matthew 23:1: "Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, saying, 'The scribes and the Pharisees have sat down on Moses' seat as judges; therefore, every judgment that they tell you to observe, observe and do. But do not do according to their works; for they say and do not'" (vs 1-3).

Let's go back and see the origin of Moses' seat, and we're going to see that he was telling them to follow the legal decisions they set forth when there was a dispute, having nothing to do with doctrine. Those legal decisions were to be based upon the Law of God!

You can read in Jeremias' book that the scribes and the Pharisees were what you would call the local magistrate or a local judge in a town. They had the same kind of thing we have today. If you have a dispute you go up to the next level. If that doesn't solve it, you go to the next level and finally you come to the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem as it was in Jesus' day.

Let's see how all of this started and this is the seat of Moses—it is a judgment seat to settle disputes. It had nothing to do with calculating the calendar. It had nothing to do with the proclamation of the Holy Days. That's not under question here. This is after Moses and the children of Israel came back and they stopped by to see Jethro, Moses' father-in-law.

Exodus 18:1: "When Jethro, the priest of Midian…" Midian was one of the sons of Abraham, so we're four or five generations removed from Abraham!

Abraham taught his sons—even the ones who were of Keturah, of which Midian was—the religion that he had. It was perfectly all right at that time for the patriarch or the leader of the family—grown great, however the case may be—to offer the sacrifice unto God.

We find that Moses told Jethro everything, v 10: "And Jethro said, 'Blessed be the LORD Who has delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of Pharaoh, and Who has delivered the people from under the hand of the Egyptians. Now I know that the LORD is greater than all gods, for in this matter they dealt arrogantly against them.' Then Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, took a burnt offering and sacrifices for God…." (vs 10-12).

  • it was to God
  • it was legal
  • it was lawful
  • it was proper

 "…And Aaron came, and all the elders of Israel, to eat bread with Moses' father-in-law before God" (v 12).

This was perfectly fine. Later on when the whole sacrificial system was set up with the tabernacle and later the temple, they were only to sacrifice in the place where God said. With the patriarchs that died out like with Jethro, the whole patriarchal sacrificial system became invalid. It was superseded by God giving the laws to Israel.

Verse 13: "And on the next day it came to pass that Moses sat to judge the people…." There is the seat of Moses; that's where you get the phrase. In every synagogue there was the seat of Moses, which the scribe or the Pharisee or the rabbi in charge of that synagogue would come and sit down and listen to the dispute and make a decision based on the Word of God. That's what they were to hear, observe and do.

Let's notice how this came about, "…And the people stood by Moses from the morning to the evening. And when Moses' father-in-law saw all that he did for the people, he said, 'What is this thing which you do for the people? Why do you sit alone by yourself, and all the people stand by you from morning to evening?' And Moses said to his father-in-law, 'Because the people come to me to inquire of God. When they have a matter, they come to me. And I judge between one and another, and I make known the statutes of God and His laws'" (vs 13-16).

Did they know them before they were given in Exo. 20-23? Yes! What God did was to speak them again. How could He make known the statutes and laws of God if they didn't know them? Sometimes we haven't even asked the most simple, basic question.

Verse 17: "And Moses' father-in-law said to him, 'The thing that you do is not good. You will surely wear away, both you and this people that are with you, for this thing is too burdensome for you. You are not able to perform it alone. Hearken now to my voice. I will give you counsel, and God will be with you. You be for the people toward God that you may bring the causes to God. And you shall teach them ordinances and laws, and shall make them know the way in which they must walk, and the work that they must do. And you shall choose out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness. And place them over the people to be leaders of thousands, and leaders of hundreds, leaders of fifties, and leaders of tens. And let them judge for the people at all times….'" (vs 17-22). That's how the judgment seat or the seat of Moses got started!

"…And it shall be, every great matter they shall bring to you, but every small matter they shall judge…." (v 22). That's what Jesus was saying to them there; these were the small matters that had to be judged by the scribes and Pharisees. Had nothing to do with doctrine. Had nothing to do with teaching Christ. It had to do with their disputes.

"'…And make it easier for yourself, and they shall bear the burden with you. If you will do this thing, and God command you so… [even Jethro said, 'If God approves it'—which He did] …then you shall be able to endure, and all this people shall also go to their place in peace.' And Moses hearkened to the voice of his father-in-law and did all that he had said. And Moses chose able men out of all Israel and made them heads over the people, as leaders of thousands, leaders of hundreds, leaders of fifties, and leaders of tens. And they judged for the people at all times. The hard causes they brought to Moses, but every small matter they judged themselves" (vs 22-26).

That is the seat of Moses! What did judges do? Same thing we do today! Today are we not under a system of judges? Yes, we are! Where do all of the hard cases go? To the Supreme Court! The Supreme Court declares the law of the land and they enforce it!

Exodus 21:22: "…And he shall pay as the judges determine." That's the seat of Moses!

Let's see what Moses did to tell them what to do when they came into the land. Moses is rehearsing what he did:

Deuteronomy 1:15: "And I took the heads of your tribes, wise and experienced men, and made them leaders over you, leaders over thousands, and leaders over hundreds, and leaders over fifties, and leaders over tens, and officers among your tribes. And I commanded your judges at that time saying, 'Hear the causes between your brethren, and judge righteously between a man and his brother, and the stranger with him. You shall not respect persons in judgment. You shall hear the small as well as the great…. [the important as well as the unimportant people, the way people look at importance] …You shall not be afraid of the face of man, for the judgment is God's. And the cause that is too hard for you, bring to me, and I will hear it.' And I commanded you at that time all the things which you should do" (vs 15-18).

Let's see how this was carried forward right in the law. Here again is part of the law and what to do and how to do it:

Deuteronomy 17:8: "If a matter is too hard for you in judgment, between blood and blood, between plea and plea, and between stroke and stroke, being matters of strife within your gates… [Do we have some nasty things come along every once in a while? Yes!] …then you shall arise and go up to the place which the LORD your God shall choose. And you shall come to the priests, the Levites…: (vs 8-9).

What were most of the priests? Scribes! What were some of the priests? Pharisees, who sit in Moses' seat!

"…and to the judge that shall be in those days, and ask. And they shall declare to you the sentence of judgment. And you shall do according to the sentence, which they declare to you from that place which the LORD shall choose. And you shall be careful to do according to all that they tell you" (vs 9-10). That what Jesus said, 'Whatever they bid you to do, do'!

Verse 11: "According to the sentence of the law which they shall teach you and according to the judgment which they shall tell you, you shall do. You shall not turn aside from the sentence, which they shall show you, to the right hand or the left. And the man that acts presumptuously and will not hearken to the priest who stands to minister there before the LORD your God, or to the judge, even that man shall die. And you shall put away the evil from Israel. And all the people shall hear and fear, and do no more presumptuously" (vs 10-13).

This also helps to answer the question as to why the New Testament Church began at the temple. It had to show the authority of God! This is why they did not follow the scribes and Pharisees and Sadducees in all of the things that they commanded them, contrary to what Jesus taught them, and to show them that this was a part of Israel and Judah all the way down through.

I need to call your attention to what the Apostle Paul was doing before he was converted, when he was Saul. What did he do? He went to the chief priest! What did he get? He got arrest warrants—called letters—listing the people who should be arrested and brought back to Jerusalem! He had the authority of the high priest, which then was a judgment.God took care of that!

2-Chronicles 19:5—talking about what Jehoshaphat did, and he was called a righteous king: "And he set judges in the land, in all the fortified cities of Judah, city by city. And he said to the judges, 'Take heed what you do, for you do not judge for man, but for the LORD who is with you when you render judgment. And now therefore, let the fear of the LORD be upon you. Be careful and act wisely, for there is no iniquity with the LORD our God, nor respect of persons, nor taking of a bribe'" (vs 5-7).

In other words, go straight to the Word of God and make your judgments from there. If it's from the Word of God and they're sitting in the seat of Moses they were to obey that. So, he did that.

Verse 8: "And Jehoshaphat set some of the Levites and of the priests and of the chief of the fathers of Israel in Jerusalem for the judgment of the LORD, and to settle disputes among the inhabitants of Jerusalem…. [the Sanhedrin] …And he charged them, saying, 'Now you shall act in the fear of the LORD, faithfully, and with a perfect heart. And whatever cause shall come to you from your brethren that dwell in their cities, between blood and blood, between law and commandment, statutes and ordinances, you shall even warn them so that they do not sin against the LORD, and wrath come upon you and your brethren. Do this and you shall not sin. And behold, Amariah the chief priest is over you in all matters of the LORD. And Zebadiah the son of Ishmael is the ruler of the house of Judah for all the king's matters. Also the Levites shall be officers before you. Take courage and act, and the LORD shall be with the good'" (vs 8-11).

That command needs to come out of Washington, D.C., today. That's what the seat of Moses is! That ought to prove conclusively from the book of Matthew, without a doubt, that:

  • Jesus Christ was never a Pharisee
  • Jesus Christ did not teach the things of Judaism
  • Jesus Christ always did the things yhat pleased the Father and followed Him

When we come to the seat of Moses in Matt. 23, it is only for the judgments of dispute and have nothing to do with the teachings or doctrines concerning what Christ taught. If we truly followed everything that the rabbinical Pharisees of today would say, we would have to reject Jesus Christ because they do, and that's what they tell everyone to do.

We will go through Matt. 23 so we can see and understand even more clearly that Jesus would have nothing to do with this; Jesus would have nothing to do with the Pharisees. The whole point of this series is to show that right from the beginning God the Father—beginning with John the Baptist—was divorcing itself from Judaism, because Judaism had so corrupted God's way by all their additions, their traditions, by every little law that they made to make themselves more righteous.

Let's go back and see something in John 5 concerning the understanding and attitude of the Jews and the Pharisees. This is necessary for us to understand so that we will realize that the true religion of Moses—

  • if they were truly following the Scriptures as God intended
  • if they were truly observing the Laws of Moses as they should be

When they were sitting in judgment as magistrates on the seat of Moses—in whatever synagogue, wherever the judgment was held—and they followed the Scriptures that has to be what Jesus meant. We will see in just a minute He said, 'Don't do after their works, for they say do not.' In other words, they say the Word of God, but they don't do it themselves.

After Jesus gets done talking about John the Baptist; he was a bright and burning light, and after He made it clear that He was doing nothing on His own but what the Father did and what He saw Him do, that's what the Son did likewise.

John 5:36: "But I have a greater witness than John's; for the works that the Father gave Me to complete, the very works that I am doing, themselves bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me. And the Father Himself, Who sent Me, has borne witness of Me. You have neither heard His voice nor seen His form at any time" (vs 36-37).

Very important to understand, that the Pharisees and the Jewish religious leaders did not have God! They had a form of Godliness, they honored Him with their lips, but their hearts were far from Him as Jesus said.

Verse 38: "And you do not have His Word dwelling in you…" Think of that for a minute! They didn't have the Word of God abiding in them. Yes, they had their traditions. Yes, they were doing their thing in the name of God, but which was actually serving Satan the devil, who is a liar. That's what Jesus said in John 8.

Verse 38: "And you do not have His Word dwelling in you, for you do not believe Him Whom He has sent."

Here it is again, every time Jesus answered back to them, He says, 'Have you never read…?'

Verse 39: "You search the Scriptures, for in them you think that you have eternal life…"

Eternal life was not intended to be given through the Old Covenant, nor can eternal life be given through Judaism!

"…and they are theones that testify of Me. But you are unwilling to come to Me, that you may have life. I do not receive glory from men" (vs 39-41).

If Jesus were a Pharisee—of the religion of men, which serves Satan the devil—He would have denied God the Father. He would have sinned because He believed those lies. He would not have received the honor from the Father, He would have received honor from them. They would have heaped plenty of honors upon Jesus if He were of them!

Verse 42: "But I have known you, that you do not have the love of God in yourselves."

What is the love of God? 'This is the love of God, that we keep His commandments and His commandments are not grievous! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your soul, with all your being, and the second is like unto it: you shall love your neighbor as yourself, and on these two hang all the Law and the Prophets!

  • they didn't love God; they served Satan the devil
  • they didn't keep His Word; they kept theirs

For Jesus to say, "…you do not have the love of God in yourselves." That is a profound statement!

It is true that the Jews recite what they call the 'Shema,' which is what I just recited to you about loving God. You can recite it, but:

  • if you don't live it
  • if you don't believe it
  • if you don't make it part of your life

What good does it do? No more than what Jesus said: 'This people honors me with their lips and with their mouth, but their heart is far from Me.'

Verse 43: "I have come in My Father's name, and you do not receive Me; but if another comes in his own name, you will receive him. How are you able to believe, you who receive glory from one another, and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?" (vs 43-44).

Again, a very profound statement! Same thing with us: What honor is it that we are looking for? That which comes from men? or That which comes from God? I think that every minister needs to ask himself:

  • Does he love God?
  • Is he going to serve Him in spite of the circumstances in which he may find himself?
  • Is he only seeking power and honor from men?


  • Is he seeking that honor of service and love toward God and the brethren?

Verse 45: "Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you, even Moses… [which then means all the writings of Moses] …in whom you have hope…. [they claimed they trusted in Moses] …But if you believed Moses, you would have believed Me; for he wrote about Me. And if you do not believe his writings, how shall you believe My words?" (vs 45-47).

These Scriptures ought to show very clearly that Jesus had nothing whatsoever to do with Judaism. The Church, as it started, had nothing whatsoever to do with Judaism. But it was—beginning with John the Baptist—a repudiation of Judaism, a repudiation of their way, and the bringing in of the way from God the Father through Jesus Christ!

For people today to fall into the trap that we've got to go back to Judaism is absolutely incredibly wrong! For people to follow the propaganda that Christianity came out of Judaism is a blatant, absolute lie! True Christianity never came out of Judaism! True Christianity came through Jesus Christ and the Word of God! Judaism and Catholicism are brothers, but not true Christianity.

Let's understand something very clearly: If Jesus were a Pharisee and followed their teachings and was Judaized through and through, Matt. 23 would also be a condemnation of Jesus Christ!

Matthew 23:1: "Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, saying, 'The scribes and the Pharisees have sat down on Moses' seat as judges'" (vs 1-2)—and magistrates, because they exercise the civil law!

Today the Church does not exercise the civil law. If you took it to the extreme then you would have to reject Jesus Christ.

Verse 3: "Therefore, every judgment that they tell you to observe, observe and do. But do not do according to their works; for they say and do not."

In other words, when they make a judgment, they quote what should be out of the Scriptures and then they turn around and:

Verse 4: "For they bind heavy burdens and hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of men; but they will not move them with one of their own fingers. And they do all their works to be seen by men. They make broad their phylacteries and enlarge the borders of their garments; and they love the first place at the suppers, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and the salutations in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, "Rabbi, Rabbi." But you… [Jesus is speaking to the disciples] …are not to be called Rabbi; for one is your Master, the Christ, and all of you are brethren" (vs 4-8).

You need to understand, and a lot of the ministers need to really take this heart. You can take the word mister, mister—which is a shortened word for master—and you're still doing the same thing.

Verse 9: "Also, do not call anyone on the earth your Father…" This is in a religious sense; has nothing to do with your own father. It is to put a man in the place of God and call the man 'father.'

"…for one is your Father, Who is in heaven" (v 9). That's why the whole thing with the Catholic Church and 'father' and 'padre' and 'Peter' and all this sort of thing is just so much absolute satanism. It's incredible!

Verse 10: "Neither be called Master…" That covers everything of Hindus and Buddhists where they have gurus, and a guru is a master—one from whom you learn the things that they are teaching.

"…for one is your Master, the Christ" (v 10).

  • Who should we look to?
  • What should be preached?
  • What should be taught? Christ!

Verse 11: "But the greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever will exalt himself shall be humbled…" (vs 11-12). So much for high offices! Ministers brag and say, 'I held high offices.' Look out! The bottom rung is coming!

"…and whoever will humble himself shall be exalted" (vs 11-12).

Verse 13: "But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!…." If Jesus would have followed or taught their things or been a part of them, He would have been a hypocrite!

"…For you devour widows' houses, and as a pretext you offer prayers of great length…." (v 13). Show me one long prayer that Jesus did publicly! You can't!

"…Because of this, you shall receive the greater judgment. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the Kingdom of Heaven before men; for neither do you yourselves enter, nor do you allow those who are entering to enter. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel the sea and the land to make one proselyte, and when he has become one, you make him twofold more a son of Gehenna than yourselves. Woe to you, blind guides, who say, 'Whoever shall swear by the temple, it is not binding; but whoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is obligated to fulfill his oath.' You fools… ['anoetos'—idiots!] …and blind! For which is greater, the gold, or the temple, which sanctifies the gold? And you say, 'Whoever shall swear by the altar, it is not binding; but whoever shall swear by the gift that is upon it, he is obligated to fulfill his oath.' You fools and blind!…." (vs 13-19).

What did Jesus say about the blind guides that lead the blind? They're both going to fall into the ditch!

"…For which is greater, the gift, or the altar which sanctifies the gift? Therefore, the one who swears by the altar swears by it, and by all things that are upon it. And the one who swears by the temple swears by it, and by Him Who dwells in it. And the one who swears by heaven swears by the throne of God, and by Him Who sits upon it" (vs 19-22). That's a pretty scathing denunciation!

Verse 23: "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithes of mint and anise and cummin, but you have abandoned the more important matters of the law—judgment… [proper judgment] …and mercy and faith…."

Jesus said, 'I know you. You have not the love of God in you.'

"…These you were obligated to do, and not to leave the others undone. Blind guides, who filter out a gnat, but swallow a camel! Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and the dish, but within you are full of extortion and excess. Blind Pharisees! First cleanse the inside of the cup and the dish, so that the outside may also become clean. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whited sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful on the outside, but within are full of the bones of the dead, and of all uncleanness" (vs 23-27)—of putrefying and stench-filled corpses.

Verse 32: "And as for you, you are filling up the measure of your fathers. You serpents, you offspring of vipers, how shall you escape the judgment of Gehenna? Because of this, behold, I send to you prophets and wise men and scribes; and some of them you shall kill and crucify, and some of them you shall scourge in your synagogues, and some of them you shall persecute from city to city; so that upon you may come all the righteous blood poured out upon the earth, from the blood of Abel the righteous, unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Truly I say to you, all these things shall come upon this generation. Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those who have been sent to you, how often would I have gathered your children together, even as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you refused! Behold, your house is left to you desolate. For I say to you, you shall not see Me at all from this time forward, until you shall say, 'Blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord'" (vs 32-39).

Scriptures from The Holy Bible in Its Original Order, A Faithful Version

Scriptural References:

  • Matthew 16:6, 11-12
  • Mark 8:14-15
  • Matthew 19:3-5
  • Exodus 20:8-11
  • Matthew 19:4-12
  • Matthew 20:17-19
  • Matthew 21:12-17, 23-32, 42-43, 45-46
  • Matthew 22:15-21, 23-24, 30, 34-46
  • Matthew 23:1-3
  • Acts 5:23-34, 39-42
  • Matthew 23:1-3
  • Exodus 18:1, 10-26
  • Exodus 21:22
  • Deuteronomy 1:15-18
  • Deuteronomy 17:8-13
  • 2 Chronicles 19:5-11
  • John 5:36-47
  • Matthew 23:1-27, 32-39

Scriptures referenced, not quoted:

  • Matthew 17-18
  • Galatians 5:22
  • Psalm 119
  • Acts 5:17-19
  • Exodus 20-23
  • John 8

Also referenced:


  • Code of Jewish Law by Ganzfried & Goldin
  • Jerusalem in the Times of Jesus by Joachim Jeremias

Sermon: Who Was in Charge of the Temple?

Transcribed: 2-13-12
Reformatted/Corrected: 2/2020