Their Heart is Far From Me; Matthew 25
Posted by adventbiblestudy on February 4, 2011
KJV Matthew 15:7. Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, 8. This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth,
and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. 9. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. 10. And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand: 11. Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man. 12. Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying? 13. But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. 14. Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch. 15. Then answered Peter and said unto him, Declare unto us this parable. 16. And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding? 17. Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? 18. But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. 19. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: 20. These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.
Jesus begins this parable by calling the Pharisees hypocrites. To understand this word in a spiritual sense it must be compared with other texts.
KJV Isaiah 32:6. For the vile person will speak villany, and his heart will work iniquity, to practice hypocrisy, and to utter error against the Lord, to make empty the soul of the hungry, and he will cause the drink of the thirsty to fail.
KJV Matthew 23:28. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.
KJV Job 15:34. For the congregation of hypocrites shall be desolate, and fire shall consume the tabernacles of bribery. 35. They conceive mischief, and bring forth vanity, and their belly prepareth deceit.
KJV Isaiah 9:16. For the leaders of this people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed. 17. Therefore the Lord shall have no joy in their young men, neither shall have mercy on their fatherless and widows: for every one is an hypocrite and an evildoer, and every mouth speaketh folly. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still. 18. For wickedness burneth as the fire: it shall devour the briers and thorns, and shall kindle in the thickets of the forest, and they shall mount up like the lifting up of smoke.
Studying the word hypocrisy within the Bible will provide a number of spiritual definitions.
Hypocrite = a vile person speaking lies and leading others to error. A villain attempting to appear righteous but is full of iniquity, mischief, bribery, vanity, deceit and wickedness.
Matthew 15:7-20 is not an ordinary parable. This parable begins with a prophecy as stated in verse 7. In verses 8 and 9, Jesus quotes a prophecy from the book of Isaiah. To understand this parable we must first locate the scripture Jesus is referring to. It can be easily located by searching the key words, mouth and far.
KJV Isaiah 29:13. Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:
To gain a better understanding and the proper context it is important to read the texts before and after the text quoted by Jesus.
KJV Isaiah 29:9. Stay yourselves, and wonder; cry ye out, and cry: they are drunken, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with strong drink. 10. For the Lord hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes: the prophets and your rulers, the seers hath he covered. 11. And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot; for it is sealed: 12. And the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I am not learned. 13. Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: 14. Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid. 15. Woe unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the Lord, and their works are in the dark, and they say, Who seeth us? and who knoweth us?
A thoughtful reading of Isaiah 29 reveals a prophecy regarding the life of Jesus and those which have opposed Him. The Lord had poured out a spirit of deep sleep upon the religious leaders during Jesus’ time. They could not see He was the Son of God. These were the people responsible for guarding and preserving the scriptures. They may have professed knowledge but they had no understanding. They may have possessed the ability to quote scripture and thought this gave them the ability to interpret it, but their concepts were wrong. They had the book, but the understanding was sealed. They never admitted this fact. The Pharisees spoke as if they were the representatives of God, but they never let the Spirit of God in their hearts. It was their plan and desire to demand respect from the people by teaching them to fear God. They provided the wrong interpretations to scripture and used fear to keep the people from questioning their understanding.
After quoting the prophecy of Isaiah 29, Jesus adds an explanation in verse 11. What goes into the mouth is not what defiles a man; what comes out of the mouth defiles a man. Verse 12 is quite an unusual response from His disciples, who often asked Jesus to explain a parable. In this case they indicate an understanding of the parable by asking Jesus if He knew this saying offended the Pharisees.
The word mouth is another key word containing a spiritual meaning.
KJV Exodus 4:11. And the Lord said unto him, Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the Lord?
It is important to remember, God created the mouth. Because God created the mouth we can look at this in two different ways. God owns your mouth. We should be thankful God gave us a mouth to use, it is a useful and necessary part of our bodies. This verse also shows we need to respect the fact God made man’s mouth and supplies the proper use of this gift.
KJV Exodus 4:15. And thou shalt speak unto him, and put words in his mouth: and I will be with thy mouth, and with his mouth, and will teach you what ye shall do.
KJV Exodus 13:9. And it shall be for a sign unto thee upon thine hand, and for a memorial between thine eyes, that the Lord’s law may be in thy mouth: for with a strong hand hath the Lord brought thee out of Egypt.
KJV Deuteronomy 18:18. I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.
KJV Deuteronomy 32:1. Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth. 2. My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distill as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass: 3. Because I will publish the name of the Lord: ascribe ye greatness unto our God.
KJV Joshua 1:8. This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.
KJV Psalms 49:3. My mouth shall speak of wisdom; and the meditation of my heart shall be of understanding.
KJV Psalms 119:72. The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver.
The Lord puts words in the mouth of His prophets and people, His doctrine, law and commandments.
What does the Bible say about those that do not accept the words of God and His law?
KJV Psalms 5:9. For there is no faithfulness in their mouth; their inward part is very wickedness; their throat is an open sepulchre; they flatter with their tongue.
KJV Psalms 10:7. His mouth is full of cursing and deceit and Fraud: under his tongue is mischief and vanity.
KJV Psalms 36:3. The words of his mouth are iniquity and deceit: he hath left off to be wise, and to do good.
KJV Psalms 73:9. They set their mouth against the heavens, and their tongue walketh through the earth.
There are two spiritual interpretations for the word mouth. Spiritual words are either from God or from others. When they are from another source, the spiritual description is parallel to the meaning found for a hypocrite.
In verse 14 we see Jesus telling His disciples about plants. Is Jesus referring to creation, the Garden of Eden or a spiritual plant? To find the spiritual meaning of a plant we must allow the Bible to interpret the Bible.
KJV 2 Samuel 7:10. Moreover I will appoint a place for my people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own, and move no more; neither shall the children of wickedness afflict them any more, as beforetime,
KJV 1 Chronicles 17:9. Also I will ordain a place for my people Israel, and will plant them, and they shall dwell in their place, and shall be moved no more; neither shall the children of wickedness waste them any more, as at the beginning,
KJV Job 14:7. For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender branch thereof will not cease. 8. Though the root thereof wax old in the earth, and the stock thereof die in the ground; 9. Yet through the scent of water it will bud, and bring forth boughs like a plant. 10. But man dieth, and wasteth away: yea, man giveth up the Ghost, and where is he?
KJV Psalms 1:3. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. 4. The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.
KJV Psalms 144:12. That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth; that our daughters may be as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace:
There are many verses describing people as a plant.
Plant = people.
In verse 14 Jesus describes the Pharisees as blind leaders and the expected result when people allow themselves to be led by the blind. What is the spiritual meaning of a blind person?
KJV Deuteronomy 28:29. And thou shalt grope at noonday, as the blind gropeth in darkness, and thou shalt not prosper in thy ways: and thou shalt be only oppressed and spoiled evermore, and no man shall save thee.
KJV Isaiah 42:18. Hear, ye deaf; and look, ye blind, that ye may see. 19. Who is blind, but my servant? or deaf, as my messenger that I sent? who is blind as he that is perfect, and blind as the Lord’s servant? 20. Seeing many things, but thou observest not; opening the ears, but he heareth not.
KJV Isaiah 56:10. His watchmen are blind: they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber.
KJV Isaiah 59:10. We grope for the wall like the blind, and we grope as if we had no eyes: we stumble at noon day as in the night; we are in desolate places as dead men.
KJV Lamentations 4:14. They have wandered as blind men in the streets, they have polluted themselves with blood, so that men could not touch their garments.
KJV Zephaniah 1:17. And I will bring distress upon men, that they shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the Lord: and their blood shall be poured out as dust, and their flesh as the dung.
The Bible defines spiritual blindness as those not knowing where they are going. They have lost their way. They are in spiritual darkness, seeing things but not knowing how to observe or properly interpret spiritual things. They are in desolate places as dead men, bringing distress upon men; they shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the Lord.
The beginning of a very important point is found in verse 15 of this scripture, which is a series of parables combined with a prophecy. In verse 12, the disciples asked Jesus if He was aware He had insulted the Pharisees. They asked this question obviously without considering the fact whom they were talking to. In a way they were insulting Jesus by questioning Him. This may be why He answered them in a series of parables. This may have been a test, giving them the chance to reflect on their question. The Bible tells us, Peter was the only one to ask Jesus to explain this parable.
The answer Jesus gives seems blunt, we must consider the answer was not pointed to Peter, who was considerate enough to ask, but to the other disciples questioning His methods in verse 12. “Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding?” In verses 17 to 20 Jesus goes on to explain the meaning of verse 11 which are the same spiritual meanings found by comparing scripture with scripture.
Like all other parables explained by Jesus, there are a number of lessons revealed within this text. The Bible is designed by God to explain the spiritual meaning of all key words within a parable. There is never a good reason for anyone to wander away from scripture to explain scripture. We are given this example in the parable of the blind leading the blind. If the spiritual meaning is not sought within the Bible it is because people see but they do not understand how to observe. The Bible is very clear on this matter and the consequences.
This is one of the few parables explained by Jesus, which also contains a prophecy. The prophecy quoted by Jesus was located using the same method spiritual words are interpreted; by locating key words and comparing scripture. This parable establishes a link between the methods used to properly interpret a parable and a prophecy. The prophecy of Isaiah 29 also contains key words. To understand this prophecy the key words must be compared with scripture to find the spiritual meaning.
A study of the construction of this parable leads us to a rule of interpretation for all prophecies. Just as this parable must be studied one verse at a time, until each word is understood, a prophecy requires the same attention to detail. This is Biblical proof of William Miller’s rules of interpretation.
“1. Every word must have its proper bearing on the subject presented in the Bible. Proof, Matt. 5:18.
“2. All Scripture is necessary, and may be understood by a diligent application and study. Proof, 2 Tim. 3:15-17
“3. Nothing revealed in Scripture can or will be hid from those who ask in faith, not wavering. Proof, Deut. 29:29; Matt. 10:26, 27; 1 Cor. 2:10; Phil. 3:15; Isa. 45:11; Matt. 21:22; John 14:13, 14; 15; James 1:5, 6; 1 John 5:13-15.
“4. To understand doctrine, bring all the Scriptures together on the subject you wish to know; then let every word have its proper influence; and, if you can form your theory without a contradiction, you cannot be in error. Proof, Isa. 28:7-29; 35:8; Prov. 19:27; Luke 24:27, 44, 45; Rom. 16:26; James 5:19; 2 Pet. 1:19, 20.
“5. Scripture must be its own expositor, since it is a rule of itself. If I depend on a teacher to expound to me, and he should guess at its meaning, or desire to have it so on account of his sectarian creed, or to be thought wise, then his guessing, desire, creed, or wisdom, is my rule, and not the Bible. Proof, Ps. 19:7-11; 119:97-105: Matt. 23:8-10; 1 Cor. 2:12-16; Eze. 34:18, 19; Luke 11:52; Matt. 2:7,8.
“6. God has revealed things to come, by visions, in figures and parables; and in this way the same things are oftentimes revealed again and again, by different visions, or in different figures and parables. If you wish to understand them, you must combine them all in one. Proof, Ps. 89:19; Hos. 12:10; Hab. 2:2; Acts 2:17; 1 Cor. 10:6; Heb. 9:9, 24; Ps. 78:2; Matt. 13:13, 34; Gen. 41:1-32; Dan. 2d, 7th & 8th; Acts 10:9-16.
“7. Visions are always mentioned as such. 2 Cor. 12:1.
“8. Figures always have a figurative meaning, and are used much in prophecy to represent future things, times and events–such as mountains, meaning governments; Dan. 2:35, 44; beasts, meaning kingdoms; Dan. 7:8, 17; waters, meaning people; Rev. 17:1, 15; day, meaning year, &c. Eze. 4:6.
KJV Daniel 2:35. Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.
“9. Parables are used as comparisons to illustrate subjects, and must be explained in the same way as figures, by the subject and Bible. Mark 4:13.
“10. Figures sometimes have two or more different significations, as day is used in a figurative sense to represent three different periods of time, namely, first, indefinite; Eccl. 7:14; second, definite, a day for a year; Eze. 4:6; and third, a day for a thousand years. 2 Pet. 3:8. The right construction will harmonize with the Bible, and make good sense; other constructions will not.
“12. To learn the meaning of a figure, trace the word through your Bible, and when you find it explained, substitute the explanation for the word used; and, if it make good sense, you need not look further; if not, look again.
“13. To know whether we have the true historical event for the fulfillment of a prophecy: If you find every word of the prophecy (after the figures are understood) is literally fulfilled, then you may know that your history is the true event; but if one word lacks a fulfillment, then you must look for another event, or wait its future development; for God takes care that history and prophecy shall agree, so that the true believing children of God may never be ashamed. Ps. 22:5; Isa. 45:17-19; 1 Pet. 2:6; Rev. 17:17; Acts 3:18.
“14. The most important rule of all is, that you must have faith. It must be a faith that requires a sacrifice, and, if tried, would give up the dearest object on earth, the world and all its desires–character, living, occupation, friends, home, comforts and worldly honors. If any of these should hinder our believing any part of God’s word, it would show our faith to be vain. Nor can we ever believe so long as one of these motives lies lurking in our hearts. We must believe that God will never forfeit his word; and we can have confidence that He who takes notice of the sparrow’s fall, and numbers the hairs of our head, will guard the translation of his own word, and throw a barrier around it, and prevent those who sincerely trust in God, and put implicit confidence in his word, from erring far from the truth.
An additional lesson is revealed by this scripture. Jesus spoke a series of parables using a number of key words. When Peter asked Jesus to explain the parable, Jesus did not explain every parable, or each key word. Jesus explained one parable by interpreting one key word. This is a lesson to be followed by every good teacher. A teacher would never provide a student with all the answers. The method is taught by examples, to get the student started. From that point the student is responsible for completing the study.
These texts contain many more key words than the interpretations provided. Reading a method of study is only the beginning of knowledge. Practicing the method is the beginning of wisdom.