Not only is more than half the world not believe in You, but more and more people are doing things that You tell us not to do.
There’s a lot of hatred in the world, so tomorrow we’re going to look at…
Jesus’ Authority Challenged
1 And it came to pass, that on one of those days, as he taught the people in the temple, and preached the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes came upon him with the elders,
The events of 20:1-21:36 all occurred on Tuesday of Passion Week – a long day of controversy.
2 And spake unto him, saying, Tell us, by what authority doest thou these things? or who is he that gave thee this authority?
“Who…gave thee this authority?” – they had asked this of John the Baptist and of Jesus early in His ministry. Here the reference is to the cleansing of the temple, which not only defied the authority of the Jewish leaders but also hurt their monetary profits.
The leaders may also have been looking for a way to discredit Jesus in the eyes of the people or raise suspicion of Him as a threat to the authority of Rome.
3 And he answered and said unto them, I will also ask you one thing; and answer me:
4 The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men?
5 And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say, Why then believed ye him not?
6 But and if we say, Of men; all the people will stone us: for they be persuaded that John was a prophet.
7 And they answered, that they could not tell whence it was.
8 And Jesus said unto them, Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things.
9 Then began he to speak to the people this parable; A certain man planted a vineyard, and let it forth to husbandmen, and went into a far country for a long time.
10 And at the season he sent a servant to the husbandmen, that they should give him of the fruit of the vineyard: but the husbandmen beat him, and sent him away empty.
“He sent a servant” – this parable is reminiscent of Is 5:1-7. The slaves who were sent to the husbandmen represent the prophets God sent to former times who were rejected (see Neh 9:26; Jer 7:25-26; Matt 23:34; Acts 7:52; Heb 11:36-38).
11 And again he sent another servant: and they beat him also, and entreated him shamefully, and sent him away empty.
12 And again he sent a third: and they wounded him also, and cast him out.
13 Then said the lord of the vineyard, What shall I do? I will send my beloved son: it may be they will reverence him when they see him.
14 But when the husbandmen saw him, they reasoned among themselves, saying, This is the heir: come, let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours.
15 So they cast him out of the vineyard, and killed him. What therefore shall the lord of the vineyard do unto them?
16 He shall come and destroy these husbandmen, and shall give the vineyard to others. And when they heard it, they said, God forbid.
17 And he beheld them, and said, What is this then that is written, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner?
18 Whosoever shall fall upon that stone shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.
19 And the chief priests and the scribes the same hour sought to lay hands on him; and they feared the people: for they perceived that he had spoken this parable against them.
20 And they watched him, and sent forth spies, which should feign themselves just men that they might take hold of his words, that so they might deliver him unto the power and authority of the governor.
21 And they asked him, saying, Master, we know that thou sayest and teachest rightly, neither acceptest thou the person of any, but teachest the way of God truly:
22 Is it lawful for us to give tribute unto Caesar, or no?
23 But he perceived their craftiness, and said unto them, Why tempt ye me?
24 Shew me a penny. Whose image and superscription hath it? They answered and said, Caesar’s.
25 And he said unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar’s, and unto God the things which be God’s.
26 And they could not take hold of his words before the people: and they marveled at his answer, and held their peace.
27 Then came to him certain of the Sadducees, which deny that there is any resurrection; and they asked him,
“Sadducees” – an aristocratic, politically minded group, willing to compromise with secular and pagan leaders (sound like Washington D.C.). They controlled the high priesthood at this time and held the majority of the seats in the Sanhedrin.
They did not believe in the resurrection or an afterlife, and they rejected the oral tradition taught by the Pharisees (Josephus, Antiquities, 13.10.6).
28 Saying, Master, Moses wrote unto us, If any man’s brother die, having a wife, and he die without children, that his brother should take his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother.
29 There were therefore seven brethren: and the first took a wife, and died without children.
30 And the second took her to wife, and he died childless.
31 And the third took her; and in like manner the seven also: and they left no children, and died.
32 Last of all the woman died also.
33 Therefore in the resurrection whose wife of them is she? for seven had her to wife.
34 And Jesus answering said unto them, The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage:
35 But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage:
36 Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.
“Equal unto the angels” – the resurrection order cannot be assumed to follow present earthly lines. In the new age there will be no marriage, no procreation and no death.
37 Now that the dead are raised, even Moses shewed at the bush, when he calleth the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.
“Moses shewed at the bush” – since Scripture chapters and verses were not used at the time of Christ, the passage was identified in this way, referring to Moses’ experience with the burning bush (Ex 3:2).
38 For he is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto him.
39 Then certain of the scribes answering said, Master, thou hast well said.
40 And after that they durst not ask him any question at all.
41 And he said unto them, How say they that Christ is David’s son?
42 And David himself saith in the book of Psalms, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand,
43 Till I make thine enemies thy footstool.
44 David therefore calleth him Lord, how is he then his son?
“David therefore calleth him Lord” – if the Messiah was a descendant of David, how could his honored king refer to his offspring as Lord? Unless Jesus’ opponents were ready to admit that the Messiah was also the divine Son of God, they could not answer His question.
45 Then in the audience of all the people he said unto his disciples,
46 Beware of the scribes, which desire to walk in long robes, and love greetings in the markets, and the highest seats in the synagogues, and the chief rooms at feasts;
47 Which devour widows’ houses, and for a shew make long prayers: the same shall receive greater damnation.
“Devour widows’ houses” – they take advantage of this defenseless group by fraud and schemes for selfish gain.
“Receive greater damnation” – the higher the esteem of men, the more severe the demands of true justice; and the more hypocrisy, the greater the condemnation.
World of Witchcraft
by Oliver Williams
Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them: I [am] the LORD your God (Lev 19:31).
In 2009 the leader of The Gambia, the self-titled Sheikh Professor Dr. Yahya Abdul-Aziz Jemus Junkung Jammeh—perhaps best known for being the inventor of an herbal HIV “cure”—launched a witch-hunting campaign.
Police, army, and national intelligence agents kidnapped up to 1,000 people at gunpoint. They were taken to secret detention centers and severely beaten, almost to the point of death.
They were forced to confess and to drink “potions.” At least two died from potion-induced kidney failure.
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
“Again, thou shalt say to the children of Israel, Whosoever [he be] of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn in Israel, that giveth [any] of his seed unto Molech; he shall surely be put to death: the people of the land shall stone him with stones.
And I will set my face against that man, and will cut him off from among his people; because he hath given of his seed unto Molech, to defile my sanctuary, and to profane my holy name.
And if the people of the land do any ways hide their eyes from the man, when he giveth of his seed unto Molech, and kill him not:
Then I will set my face against that man, and against his family, and will cut him off, and all that go a whoring after him, to commit whoredom with Molech, from among their people” (Lev 20:1-5).
Self-appointed witch hunter and self-described “Lady Apostle” Helen Ukpabio recently launched a crusade she calls “Witches on the Run” in Nigeria.
The Observer reports that accused children in the country are “burnt, poisoned, slashed, chained to trees, buried alive or simply beaten and chased off into the bush.” Some have had nails driven into their heads. Ukpabio is helping to fuel this rampant child abuse.
In the Central African Republic an estimated 40 percent of court cases are witchcraft prosecutions.
Magical genital thievery is a common belief in certain parts of Africa. As a psychiatrist named Sunday Ilechukwu describes it:
Men could be seen in the streets of Lagos holding on to their genitalia either openly or discreetly with their hand in their pockets. Women were also seen holding on to their breasts.
“Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” (Ex 22:18).
In Nigeria, Benin, and Ghana, suspected penis snatchers have been beaten to death by angry mobs. Journalist Frank Bures traveled to Lagos to investigate the issue:
In a typical incident, someone would suddenly yell: Thief! My genitals are gone! Then a culprit would be identified, apprehended, and, often, killed.
“And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through [the fire] to Molech, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I [am] the LORD” (Lev 18:21).
Republic of Congo
In 2008 police in the Democratic Republic of Congo arrested 13 people for using black magic to steal or shrink men’s penises.
A BBC reporter traveled to a church in Angola seeking child victims of witchcraft. Among those shackled to the walls and the floor he found an emaciated eight-year-old boy.
If the child dies, it means the child is evil.
The child died days later.
Central Africa Republic
In the Central African Republic an estimated 40 percent of court cases are witchcraft prosecutions. Graeme Wood of The Atlantic spoke to a judge in the country who admitted that “there is usually no evidence.”
There shall not be found among you [any one] that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, [or] that useth divination, [or] an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch. (Deut 18:10).
Asked how one determined guilt he replied:
The judge will look at them and see if they act like witches….His principal advice to clients was to refrain from casting any spells in the courtroom.
“Thou shalt not do so unto the LORD thy God: for every abomination to the LORD, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods” (Deut 12:31).
Apartheid South Africa’s Witchcraft Suppression Act of 1957 has been less than successful. In a lengthy review of a recent anthropological study (Witchcraft and a Life in the New South Africa by Isak Niehaus), Jeremy Harding describes the country’s occult situation:
…when a bunch of kids had chased a monkey from a café, it had ‘mysteriously’ disappeared into Doris’s yard. Obviously she was a witch and the monkey was one of her familiars. The comrades arrived at Doris’s house, dragged her into the courtyard and stoned her to death.
The anthropologist gives one of his subject’s money for medical treatment. Naturally the dying AIDS victim spends it on witch-diviners. For all medical symptoms the diagnosis is the same: Witches are responsible. Ear trouble?
wanted to recruit her as a zombie and had put an invisible worm into her ear to start the metamorphosis.
Boils on your legs?
“But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Rev 21:8).
A potion had been placed on her path and she’d absorbed it through the soles of her feet.
A terminally ill woman is taken to a witch-finder who…
went into a trance, lured the familiars into her own body and then sneezed them out.
Where people are undiscerning enough to believe that sorcerers can fly at night and transmogrify into animals, it is perhaps unsurprising to find that some have tried the juju for themselves. Things were so bad in Uganda the government had to set up an Anti-Human Sacrifice Taskforce.
“And he did [that which was] evil in the sight of the LORD, after the abominations of the heathen, whom the LORD cast out before the children of Israel.
For he built up again the high places which Hezekiah his father had destroyed; and he reared up altars for Baal, and made a grove, as did Ahab king of Israel; and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served them.
And he built altars in the house of the LORD, of which the LORD said, In Jerusalem will I put my name.
And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the LORD.
And he made his son pass through the fire, and observed times, and used enchantments, and dealt with familiar spirits and wizards: he wrought much wickedness in the sight of the LORD, to provoke [him] to anger” (2 Kgs 21:2-6).
Since 2007, 45 albinos have been killed in Tanzania. Their limbs, hair, skin, and genitals were used to make potions. Their graves have to be fortified with metal bars and cement to stop the further harvesting of their organs.
From the vantage point of the West, this subject could be viewed with nothing more than morbid anthropological curiosity. Yet thanks to immigration these practices are now appearing in Western countries.
Two charities, the NSPCC and World Vision, released a joint statement about the problem.
Across Sub-Saharan Africa, World Vision encounters these cases all too frequently.…And these views can come over to the UK.
“Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,
Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told [you] in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal 5:20-21).
The BBC reports that:
Hundreds of central African children living in the UK may have suffered abuse or even been killed after being accused of witchcraft, charities say.
“Lo, children [are] an heritage of the LORD: [and] the fruit of the womb [is his] reward” (Ps 127:3).
In 2002 the mutilated torso of a boy was found in the River Thames—a human sacrifice by a Nigerian tribe. The police uncovered a trafficking ring that smuggled African children to Britain for occult purposes.
British citizens have been taken to the Congo on “holiday” by their parents to undergo “deliverance ceremonies,” i.e., exorcism. These involve being:
cut with razors, stamped on, beaten, shouted at and forced to drink pigeons’ blood.
At a flat in east London a Congolese couple starved a 15-year-old boy whom they accused of being a sorcerer. According to the Guardian:
floor tiles were smashed over his head, his teeth were hit out with a hammer.
The child was drowned in a bath on Christmas Day in 2010. Thomas Bikebi, director of the Congolese Family Centre, said:
There are people within the community who will say that this pair did the right thing, they killed a witch.
“And he made his son pass through the fire, and observed times, and used enchantments, and dealt with familiar spirits and wizards: he wrought much wickedness in the sight of the LORD, to provoke [him] to anger” (2 Kgs 21:6).
Three members of the Angolan diaspora rubbed chili peppers in the eyes of an eight-year-old girl and attempted to “beat the devil out of her” in an East London flat. One of the assailants told Radio 5 Live:
In our community in the UK everyone believes in it.
In a separate case another eight-year-old girl, Victoria Climbié, was beaten, burned with cigarettes, and forced to sleep in a bin liner inside an empty bath. She died of hypothermia and malnutrition.
“Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of the children of Ammon, and for four, I will not turn away [the punishment] thereof; because they have ripped up the women with child of Gilead, that they might enlarge their border” (Amos 1:13).
And it’s not just the UK. Latisha Lawson of Fort Wayne, Indiana, forced her three-year-old son to drink a mixture of olive oil and vinegar as part of a ritual to drive a demon called “Marzon” from her son’s body.
She held her hand over his mouth to stop him from vomiting. The child died. Lawson kept the child’s body in a plastic bag for more than a year after his death, thinking he would be resurrected. He stayed dead.
Michela Wrong has worked as an Africa correspondent for Reuters, the BBC, and the Financial Times. She has written in the New Statesman of her profession’s self-censorship:
…the two tacit no-nos of western reporting on the continent, the two ingredients white reporters avoid whenever possible, for fear of being accused of racism.
Unfortunately, they are two elements that hold the key to how Africans – even modern, urban, churchgoing Africans – see the world around them: witchcraft and tribalism.
If Michela Wrong is right about self-censorship in mainstream media, one can only wonder about the full scale of barbarity only glimpsed in the fragments collected here, as well as their implications for the demographic revolution currently underway in Western societies.
“Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and Sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; [it is] iniquity, even the solemn meeting.
Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear [them].
And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.
Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil;
Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow” (Is 1:13-17).
…top 10 or 20 most famous love stories in history and literature.