An Apostolic publication promoting balanced conservatism … "the finest of the wheat!"

Posts tagged ‘mercy’


Matthew 23:24

Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.

In the days of Jesus, the tiny flying insect known as a gnat was “unclean”–i.e., it was on the list of animals that the Jews were forbidden to eat, according to the Torah. Most people are aware that Jews will not eat pork; this is why. The pig was also on the list of unclean animals. Anyone who violated this law and ate something that was “unclean” was considered to be ceremonially defiled and was subject to the penalty of such an infraction of the Torah.

The Pharisees in the days of Jesus were extremely meticulous and ostentatious about observing even the tiniest matters of the Torah. Apparently, it was a common practice in those more primitive days to have a large pot of drinking water in a communal area. As we all know, flying insects such as gnats are attracted to open containers of water and many times will get trapped in the water and die, being unable to free themselves. The Pharisees apparently would make a great show of filtering these tiny winged insects out of the drinking water by pouring the water into their cups through a piece of white linen or something similar and showing all those around any of the offending creatures that they had been so diligent to “strain” out.

This is what Jesus meant when he spoke of those who would “strain at a gnat.” They were filtering out tiny specks and making a big deal over it so others would acknowledge their spiritual superiority.

However, Jesus observed another dietary practice common in their day, about which the Pharisees were completely oblivious. In geographical regions where there are not many trees, there is a resultant scarcity of firewood. In Palestine, the particular land where Jesus lived, it was customary to use dried camel dung as fuel for fires—not just fires for heat, but also cookfires.

Surely it comes as no surprise to learn that as fuel burns the smoke from the fire contains microscopic particles of the fuel’s molecular components. For example, when we eat something that is hickory smoked, the taste and flavor of the food we are consuming has been enhanced by the exhaust from a fire fueled at least in part by hickory wood. Technically, we are consuming microscopic particles that were released from the hickory fuel during combustion and which floated up and adhered to the surface of the food being cooked.

Now it becomes clear what Jesus meant when he said the Pharisees were swallowing camels whole! The camel, it should be noted, was also on the list of unclean animals which were prohibited from the diet of the Torah-observing Jews. No self-respecting Pharisee would ever think of consuming a camel steak or a camel burger!! However, something not even visible to the unaided eye was coating and permeating their “sanctified” foods as they were being cooked over fires fueled with dried camel dung. How abhorrent to consider that they were unwittingly contaminating their religiously prepared kosher food with the waste product of a ceremonially unclean beast!

In Matthew 23:24, Jesus was not telling the Pharisees not to strain out the gnats as much as he was saying they shouldn’t feel quite so smug about not ingesting unclean gnats when all along they were consuming foods defiled with the microscopic residue of the most unclean part of an unclean camel, a creature that just happens to be 260 million times larger than a gnat!


Notice the context of Matthew 23:24….

Matthew 23:23-25

23 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.

24 Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.

25 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.

No matter how careful we are to faithfully follow “the letter of the law,” Jesus is teaching us that it is possible to be unknowingly “spiritually contaminated” with and by things that are not visible to the carnal eye. It doesn’t really matter—in the final analysis—what we look like on the outside if our heart is black with the absence of justice, mercy and faith.

We know how to filter out the gnats.

May God help us to filter out the camels!

Rev. Tim D. Cormier

(C) Copyright held by Tim D. Cormier. This document may not be reproduced in whole or in part, except for personal use, without the express written permission of the author.

Who Is My Neighbor?

“A Drama Of Real Life”

The scene…

Luke 10

25   And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?
26   He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?
27   And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.
28   And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.
29   But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?
30   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.
31   And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
32   And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.
33   But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,
34   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.
35   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 again, I will repay thee.
36   Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?
37   And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.


The principal players…

A Certain Man — traveling on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho (the “Jericho Road”).

A Priest — traveling on the same road.

A Levite — traveling on the same road.

A Samaritan — traveling on the same road.


The principal places…

Jerusalem — literally, the capital of Judaism, both civil and sacred; figuratively, the epitome of the New Testament church.

Jericho — both literally and figuratively “down” from Jerusalem.


Observations and Conclusions… 

  1. It is very dangerous to leave a higher place in the Kingdom and travel to a lower place.
  2. There are many things (people, technology, fads and fashions, false teachings, worldly pursuits) along the journey that will become thieves to those who choose for whatever reason to abandon the higher teachings of “Jerusalem.”
  3. Those who fall prey to the thieves are left in a pitiful shape: stripped of their raiment (i.e., noticeably lacking in righteousness), wounded, and about to die.
  4. Neither the Priest nor the Levite (who represent preachers and saints) had compassion on the man who fell among thieves.
  5. The one who had compassion on the man who fell among thieves was a Samaritan — a spiritual and social outcast to the Priest and the Levite and all devout Jews.
  6. Jesus commanded the lawyer to in essence go and be a Samaritan; i.e., go and help those who are being scorned and neglected by the Priest and the Levite.


Questions to Pose and Points to Ponder… 

  1. How can we — who have such a great revelation of truth —  how can we hope to inherit eternal life if we do not have compassion on our fallen brothers and sisters?
  2. Are we satisfied with being Priests and Levites and passing by on the other side of the road, scorning those who have fallen prey to the dangers and perils of our modern times?
  3. Is there anyone at all who feels compassion well up inside them as they look at the teeming hordes of young people who have been robbed of godly leadership and conservative values by a limp-wristed neo-Pentecostal spineless hireling ministry?
  4. Do we really care if we are considered to be “Samaritans” by our peers and contemporaries — as long as we are doing our master’s bidding?
  5. How proud should we be of ourselves when all we can do is scorn the ones who have fallen among thieves as we hurry past them on our way to stir up our little pot of noxious stew upon which our egos feast?
  6. Of how much benefit is it to the ones who have fallen among thieves if all we ever do is scold each other for their terribly fallen condition?


Who will be a neighbor to those who have fallen among thieves? We all know they have fallen; must we forever merely rant about the obvious? Or will somebody with the means to make a difference stoop down to care about and tend to their wounds and anoint them and bring them to a safe place? It’s one thing to point out the tragedy of the fallen for the sake of our admonition and learning; it’s quite another to scorn, ridicule, mock and deride those who are victims of spiritual robbers and thieves. The former is instructive and constructive, while the latter is destructive, for it lulls the hearer into a false sense of security.

Will somebody please have mercy on our fallen brothers and sisters for truth’s sake?

If Jesus Christ was considered to be a Samaritan by the religious elite of his day, we should count it an honor to be likewise so considered in our day.


—Rev. Tim D. Cormier
Written 11 August 2003

(C) Copyright held by Tim D. Cormier. This document may not be reproduced in whole or in part, except for personal use, without the express written permission of the author.

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