A psychiatry professor was teaching the introductory lesson on emotional extremes to his college class. Starting with the basics, the professor asked a student from Arkansas, "What is the opposite of joy?" and the student immediately replied, "Sadness." The teacher moved on to a young lady from Oklahoma and asked, "And the opposite of depression?" To which she responded, "Elation. Then, turning to a young man from Texas, the professor said, "And you, friend, what is the opposite of woe?" In the blink of an eye the young Texan replied, "Sir, I believe that would be giddy up." Humorous though it is, this little story challenges us to think seriously about a neglected Bible word. Millions of people seem to have forgotten.The Bible word "woe" and its definition.
In the New King James Version of the Bible, "woe" occurs 71 times and in the Old Testament 69 times, most of them coming from the prophets. The New Testament chimes in with the word 40 times in 33 verses, and 32 of those 40 times it comes from the lips of Jesus! While I don't have time and space to treat it fully here, a careful study of the Bible meaning of "woe," reveals that the word was used to express grief and lamentation and was associate4d with the grief of death. Ancient Israelite s used the word to mourn the death of friends or loved ones.; But God used ti to threaten judgment.
A good passage to read to better understand the Bible's use of the word is found in Isaiah chapter 5, where it occurs 7 times; and in Matthew 23 in the New Testament where it occurs on the lips of Jesus 8 times. Study these chapters and you discover that the word was used by Isaiah and Jesus in their respective times and places to express God's displeasure and grief over sin and the peoples eroding moral and spiritual values.
Isaiah warns in Isaiah a5:20 by saying these words: "Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!" and Jesus threatens the practitioners of shallow and corrupt religion of His day, by beret-ting the Scribes and Pharisees as well.
In Matthew 23:25 Jesus says, "Woe to you Scribes and Pharisees, Hypocrites! for you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence." In these passages the word, "woe," at least in one sense, does mean the opposite of "giddy up!" Bible preachers used the word "woe" to try and put the brakes on people and cultures in a full gallop away form God and His word! What would God say to modern 21 century American culture where evil has become good, darkness has become light, bitter has become sweet, religion has become shallow, and people are in an all-out "giddy up," as they gallop into sin? To such people God's word is still, "Woe."
In the second part of this three part series of: "Do As I Say, Not as I Do," Jesus takes center stage once again as He rattles the chains of the Pharisees and the Scribes by delivering 8 "woes" of judgment and condemnation against them. He employs the typical language and rhetoric that is characteristic of this particular type of chastisement from an opponent who stands on opposite sides of truth and justice.Jesus calls them hypocrites, brood of vipers, reptilian snakes and sneaks.
In verses 13-36, Jesus lays it on thick, no holds barred. he calls the religious leaders, "Frauds!" I love the way the Message Bible reads in these verses. Jesus tells them: "I've had it with you! You're hopeless, you religion scholars, you Pharisees! Frauds! Your lives are roadblocks to God's Kingdom. You refuse to enter, and won't let any one else in either.
You're hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You go halfway around the world to make a convert, but once you get him you make him a replica of yourselves, doubled-dammed. You're hopeless! What arrogant stupidity! You say, "If someone makes a promise with his fingers crossed, that's nothing, but if he swears with his hand on the Bible, that's serious. What ignorance! Does the leather on the Bible carry more weight than the skin on your hands?"
Wow! Jesus was letting them have it. Don't get it twisted, Jesus was meek as a lamb, but He also would react in righteous indignation and get angry if pushed too far. And apparently, the religious leadership had gone too far. Tomorrow I will continue with the tongue lashing that Jesus puts on these Frauds and Hypocrites. Do me a fa vor and read the text for yourself. What do you think Jesus would do if He walked up into our places of worship today. What would He say if He came to our consecration ceremonies, our church conferences, our national Holy Convocations? Hum Don't answer that! Pause and think about it.
See you next time. and by all means....
"Don't Forget To Say Your Prayers."