5 The Lord says this about the prophets who teach his people the wrong way of living:
“If someone gives these prophets food to eat,
they shout, ‘Peace!’
But if he doesn’t give them food,
they prepare for war against him.
6 So it will become like night to the prophets.
They won’t have any visions from the Lord.
It will become dark for them.
They won’t be able to tell what will happen in the future.
The sun is about to set for the prophets.
Their days will become dark.
7 The seers will be ashamed.
The people who see the future will be embarrassed.
Yes, all of them will cover their mouths.
This is because there will be no answer from God.”
Micah Is an Honest Prophet of God
8 But the Lord’s Spirit has filled me
with power and strength to preach fairness.
I will tell the people of Jacob how they have turned against God.
I will tell the people of Israel how they have done wrong.
9 Leaders of Jacob and rulers of Israel,
listen to me.
You hate fairness.
You destroy what is right.
10 You build Jerusalem by murdering people.
You build it with the sins you do.
11 The judges in Jerusalem take money
to decide who wins in court.
The priests in Jerusalem only teach for pay.
The prophets only look into the future when they get paid.
But yet those leaders say,
“The Lord is with us.
Nothing bad will happen to us.”
12 Because of you,
Jerusalem will be plowed like a field.
Jerusalem will become a pile of rocks.
The hill on which the Temple stands will be covered with bushes.
1 Thessalonians 2:9-13
9 Brothers, I know that you remember how hard we worked. We worked night and day so that we would not burden any of you while we preached God’s Good News to you.
10 When we were with you, we lived in a holy and right way, without fault. You know that this is true, and God knows that this is true. 11 You know that we treated each of you as a father treats his own children. 12 We strengthened you, we comforted you, and we told you to live good lives for God. It is God who calls you to his glorious kingdom.
13 Also, we always thank God because of the way you accepted his message. You heard his message from us, and you accepted it as the word of God, not the words of men. And it really is God’s message. And that message works in you who believe.
Jesus Accuses the Leaders
23 Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his followers. Jesus said, 2 “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees have the authority to tell you what the law of Moses says. 3 So you should obey and follow whatever they tell you. But their lives are not good examples for you to follow. They tell you to do things, but they don’t do the things themselves. 4 They make strict rules and try to force people to obey them. But they themselves will not try to follow any of those rules.
5 “The reason they do good things is so other people will see them. They make the boxes[a] of Scriptures that they wear bigger and bigger. And they make their special prayer clothes very long so that people will notice them. 6 Those Pharisees and teachers of the law love to have the most important seats at the feasts. And they love to have the most important seats in the synagogues. 7 They love people to show respect to them in the marketplaces. And they love to have people call them ‘Teacher.’
8 “But you must not be called ‘Teacher.’ You are all brothers and sisters together. You have only one Teacher. 9 And don’t call any person on earth ‘Father.’ You have one Father. He is in heaven. 10 And you should not be called ‘Master.’ You have only one Master, the Christ. 11 He who serves you as a servant is the greatest among you. 12 Whoever makes himself great will be made humble. Whoever makes himself humble will be made great.
Does anyone know who or what the Pharisees were? They were religious experts, people who studied the laws and rules that people needed to follow. The Jewish religion has many, many rules, both for worship and daily life, and it could get very complicated so the Pharisees were a bit like referees. They knew the rules and made sure that people followed them. There was a problem though, the Pharisees did not follow the rules that they set. This is what Jesus means when he says,” They tell you to do things, but they don’t do the things themselves. 4 They make strict rules and try to force people to obey them. But they themselves will not try to follow any of those rules.” Do you know anyone who is like that? Making rules for you to follow but not following the rules themselves? Maybe it is a friend when playing a game, changing the rules so that they win; or one soccer team getting to play by one set of rules while the other is held to a different standard; or maybe even your parents have rules for you that do not follow themselves.
That gives us two questions, first, why do they do this, and second, if they do not follow the rules should we bother to? Well there are many reasons people might not follow the rules. Maybe they don’t know any better, maybe they want to win too much; maybe there are times when there really are different sets of rules for different people. As for the Pharisees, Jesus tells us why they acted the way they did, “they make their special prayer clothes very long so that people will notice them. 6 Those Pharisees and teachers of the law love to have the most important seats at the feasts. And they love to have the most important seats in the synagogues.” The reason that people make rules without following them is really not that important though. The really important question is the second one, if the people who make the rules do not follow them, should we? The simple answer is, of course! We need not concern ourselves with how others act, only how we act. We can tell other people the rules, the right way to act, but we cannot make them act in any manner, we can only control the way we act, and we need to act in the right way. Again, we just need to listen to what Jesus tells us, “So you should obey and follow whatever they tell you. But their lives are not good examples for you to follow.” We shouldn’t try to make ourselves important just to be important, to have special titles, to be respected. No, we should try to make ourselves servants, to help other people, to work for the good of others. “Whoever makes himself great will be made humble. Whoever makes himself humble will be made great.”