THE LEAVEN OF THE PHARISEES --- THE RICH FOOL

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    [Luke:12:1-34].

    Lesson No.: 
    44
    Class: 
    Senior
    Memory Verse: 

    "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?"  (Mark 8:36).

    Cross References: 

    I The Hypocrisy and Pretence of the Pharisees
    1. Jesus warns His disciples of the leaven of the Pharisees which is hypocrisy, [Luke:12:1]; [Matthew:23:27].
    2. He tells that all sin that is hidden shall be uncovered, [Luke:12:2-3]; [Proverbs:28:13].
    3. Fear not man, but Him Who can cast both soul and body into hell, [Luke:12:4-5]; [Ecclesiastes:12:13-14].

    II God's Watchful Care over His Own
    1. He Who notes the sparrow's fall forgets not His own, [Luke:12:6-7]; [Psalms:91:1-2].
    2. If we confess or deny Christ before men, He will confess or deny us before God, [Luke:12:8-9]; [1 John:2:23].
    3. Sins against Christ can be forgiven, but not the sin against the Holy Ghost, [Luke:12:10]; [Mark:3:28-29].
    4. Christ's witnesses before magistrates are taught of the Holy Ghost what to say, [Luke:12:11-12]; [John:16:13].

    III The Man Who Sought a Division of His Inheritance
    1. He asked the Lord to have his brother divide the inheritance, [Luke:12:13]; [Matthew:6:33].
    2. Jesus refused to be a judge or a divider over him, [Luke:12:14]; [John:18:36]
    3. "A man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth," [Luke:12:15]; [Matthew:6:31-32].

    IV The Rich Man's Unprofitable Plans
    1. Jesus gives the parable of the rich man whose ground brought forth plentifully, [Luke:12:16]; [Deuteronomy:6:10-12].
    2. The rich man plans to tear down and build greater, [Luke:12:17-18]; [James:4:13-15].
    3. He communes with his soul, "Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years," [Luke:12:19]; [1 Timothy:6:17].
    4. God speaks: "Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee," [Luke:12:20-21]; [Ezekiel:18:4].

    V Jesus' Warning against Covetousness
    1. He warns His disciples to take no thought of the necessities of this present life, [Luke:12:22-23]; [Colossians:3:1-2].
    2. He draws a lesson from the ravens and the lilies of the field, [Luke:12:24-28]; Psalms:145:15-16]; [Psalms:34:7-10].
    3. His disciples are not to seek the things of the world as the Gentiles do, [Luke:12:29-31].
    4. "Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom," [Luke:12:32-34].

    Notes: 

    The passages of Scripture from which this lesson is drawn are somewhat after the order of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount and are filled with sound advice to His disciples: warning them against the prevalent, pharisaical evils, under the name of religion, which existed in His day and still exist today; reminding them of God's watchful care over His own, and the necessity of fearing Him and not man. He reiterated the truth in the Sermon on the Mount, to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness; and counselling us, as His disciples, to so order our lives that we may not get caught in the whirlpool of destruction, like the rich fool who set his heart upon the things of this present life. If we follow our Lord's instructions we shall be kept free from the turmoil, strife, and contention in which the world today is sunk.

    The "leaven" spoken of in the Bible is a substance, which by a fermenting process is used to raise bread. And because of its fermenting nature it is a type in Scripture of sin and evil. In the observance of the Feast of the Passover the Children of Israel were required to put away all leavened bread and for seven days to eat only unleavened bread. "Unleavened bread shall be eaten seven days; and there shall no leavened bread be seen with thee, neither shall there be leaven seen with thee in all thy quarters" (Exodus:13:7). And this was a type of putting away all sin.

    Leaven has a rapid, corruptive power that makes it very typical of sin and evil. "A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump." And Jesus employed it as a type of the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. Hypocrisy is the sin of pretending to be what we are not; and it, like leaven, had permeated all the religion of the Pharisees. And because of its contagious nature it might very easily infect others. That is why Jesus warned His disciples against the "leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy," a sin which God hates. And we need today to see that we do not become infected with it, for it is still a prevalent evil in false religions.

    From hypocrisy Jesus proceeds to the subject of fear toward God for a hypocrite seeks the favour of men and fears men rather than God. And what He says on this subject is most serious and something for His disciples to think about: "And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him." Fear toward God is a rare virtue in the world today, and a thing for His children to retain in their hearts. The fear which a true Christian has toward God is not a craven fear like the ungodly will have in the last days when they will pray for the rocks and mountains to fall upon them and hide them from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; but the Christian's fear is a reverential fear which draws him nearer to God rather than drives him away. God loves those who fear and worship Him. "Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? . . . ye are of more value than many sparrows."

    During Jesus' discourse one of the company sought to have Him make his brother divide the inheritance with him. And the Lord replied "Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you?" The man, no doubt from a legal standpoint had a right to seek a division of this inheritance but Jesus, Whose Kingdom is not of this world, was concerned with more serious questions pertaining to eternal life. As Elisha said to his servant Gehazi, "Is it a time to receive money, and to receive garments, and oliveyards, and vineyards, and sheep, and oxen, and menservants, and maidservants?" (II Kings:5:26). These are subjects, which engross the men of the world, but they have no place in the heart of a true disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ.

    It was at this point that Jesus warned His disciples against that subtle sin of covetousness, which, along with the other sins named in the Ten Commandments, is sternly prohibited. He gave us the parable of the rich man whose ground brought forth plentifully. Surveying his fields which promised a "bumper crop," the rich man, like any other progressive wealthy man of today, planned to "pull down . . . and build greater." How perfectly is the prophecy of the Lord Jesus Christ being fulfilled in these last days! "As it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; but the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed" (Luke:17:28-30). This rich man said to his soul, "Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry." But it was at this point that God stepped in: "Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?"

    Toward the close of this discourse Jesus exhorted His disciples, "Seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that Ye have need of these things. But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you" (Luke:12:29-31). The Lord has revealed how necessary it is that we, who are His disciples, guard ourselves against the least taint of that sin of covetousness, which is sweeping the world into destruction. "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world" (James:1:27).

    Questions: 

    1. What was one of the conspicuous sins, which the Pharisees manifested in their religious practices?
    2. What were some of the things, which they did that manifested this sin?
    3. What is the difference between the fear of men in the world and the fear of Christians toward God?
    4. What benefit does the Christian derive from fear toward God?
    5. What event during Jesus' discourse brought up the subject of covetousness, which He discusses?
    6. What was the sin of the rich man? Was it his having wealth, or was it something else?
    7. Abraham, we are told, had wealth. How then did he avoid falling into the sin of the rich man in the parable?
    8. What was the difference in the conduct of Abraham and Lot in respect to wealth?
    9. Christians must have food, raiment, and shelter. How then are they to avoid the danger into which the rich man fell?
    10. What are some of the things in the world today, which show that the days of Lot are being repeated?