Sunday, November 24, 2013

Biblical Submission & Obedience

Despite what most people have been led to believe, or prefer to believe, submission and obedience are NOT the same.  These two terms shouldn’t be confused with one another, as they often are.  Generally, it’s God’s desire that all people are to be submissive to one another all the time, but obedience is conditional.  Submission and obedience can and often do work together, but at the same time, they’re not the same.  One focuses on the heart while the other on our actions, or lack thereof.  This being the case, you can have one without the other, both, or neither one, and what’s required at any given point in time may change.  This isn’t “situational ethics,” it’s an exercise in how to discern people and their problems in a real world setting; i.e. it’s learning how to apply spiritual truths in a practical setting.   But what are they?

Submission is our attitude, our motivation, our desire.  It’s our thoughts and how we think or feel about someone, something, or some situation.  It’s internal, but often reflected outward in our conduct, expressions, mannerisms, and posture.  It’s not what we do, but how we think or feel about it.  It’s a matter of the heart and what’s going on inside of it.  It’s what we’re thinking.  It’s not weakness.  It’s an honest and true humility before God in the sight of men.  It’s the laying aside of oneself for the benefit of another – a willingness to suffer loss so that someone else may excel.  It’s withholding anger, even when it’s justified, if withholding that anger would be more beneficial.  It isn’t a giving away or laying aside of your authority, it’s a wisdom in knowing how to manage it and your people.  

Obedience is another matter.  It’s our conduct.  It’s what we do or don’t do.  It’s whether we outwardly obey or disobey.  It’s whether we perform the task or not.  It’s what we do, but not what we think (that’s submission).  It’s our actions, or lack thereof.    

But the tendency is to combine the two in an unnatural manner thus creating something that God never intended – often expressed as “blind obedience” or “taking a leap of faith” – neither of which are biblical concepts.  Noah didn’t build the Ark and tell God to make it rain, nor did Israel march around Jericho and tell God to make the walls fall.  Rather, each heard from God and then chose to trust him at his Word.  Hence, Bible faith begins with a Word from God and then responds accordingly and not the other way around.  It may be a “leap of faith” for us in learning how to trust, but it’s not the kind of “leap of faith” where we’re jumping blindly.  But let’s see what Scripture has to say.

God wants all men to submit to him both as it applies to salvation and daily living for the Christian.
Rom. 15:1 We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.  2Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification3For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me.
Eph. 5:24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
Php. 2:3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves4Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others5Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
Col. 3:17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
Heb. 12:9 Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?
Jam. 4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  8Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.  9Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.  10Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

God wants man to submit to our earthly governments and our bosses at work, and vice versa.

Rom. 13:1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
Eph. 6:5 Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; 6Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; 7With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: 8Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.  9And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him.
Col. 3:22 Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God: 23And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; 24Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.
1 Pet. 2:13 Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; 14Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.  15For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.
1 Pet. 2:18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward.

God wants us to submit to one another in the church, including church leadership.  Why?  Because they’re gifts from God who’ve been charged with our earthly care (Eph. 4:7, 11-15).

1 Cor. 16:16 That ye submit yourselves unto such, and to every one that helpeth with us, and laboureth.
Eph. 5:21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. 
Heb. 13:17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.
1 Pet. 5:5 Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder.  Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.  6Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:

God wants wives to submit to their husbands and their children to submit to their parents, and vice versa.

Eph. 5:22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.  23For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.  24Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing25Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.  28So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself29For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: 30For we are [all] members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
Eph. 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.  2Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) 3That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.  4And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
Col. 3:18 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.  19Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.  20Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.  21Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged. 

As a practical example of how submission and obedience apply to a situation, consider the following example.  Bear in mind that as we do, there is submission and obedience as it pertains to salvation (or lack thereof) as well as submission and obedience as it applies to Christians and their daily walk.  A father asks his son to mow the grass...

(1)        ...the son says that he’s happy to do it, and he goes and mows the grass.

This is submission and obedience.  The son was happy in his heart (submission), and he did go and mow the grass (obedience).  This is how God wants us to respond to all authority and each other so long as we’re not being asked to break one of his commandments (Acts 5:24-29).  This is the ideal, but it’s often hard to come by because only a changed heart can lead to this kind of obedience. 
(2)        ...the son grumbles in his heart, and doesn’t go and mow the grass.

There is no submission or obedience.  The son grumbled and pouted (no submission), and he didn’t go and mow the grace (no obedience).  The father got neither from his son.  This child is an overt rebel and will do little, if anything, to conceal his disdain for his father.            

(3)        ...the son is happy in his heart to do it, but he doesn’t go and mow the grass.

This is submission without obedience.  The son was happy in his heart (submission), but he didn’t go and mow the grass (no obedience).  The son has a heart for his father; but his obedience, his performance, is lacking.  This will lead to discipline.  But with this child, because he has a heart for his father, he’s likely to receive his father’s correction and discipline because he knows that his father loves him.
(4)        ...the son grumbles in his heart, but goes and mows the grass.

There is no submission, but there is obedience.  The son grumbled and pouted (no submission), but he did go and mow the grass (obedience).  The son is outwardly obedient but inwardly rebellious.  This is perhaps the worst scenario because trickery and deception are involved: the son is feigning obedience to his father, but the grumbling in his heart shows that he’s a rebel.   

Examples (1) and (2) are the easiest and most obvious to recognize because they demonstrate a clear contrast.  In Example (1) we find the perfect scenario: submission and obedience.  The son is happy to mow the grass and he goes and does it.  The father will be thoroughly pleased.  In spiritual terms, this child is saved because he has the heart of his Father, and as a demonstration of his love for him, he’s obedient to his call (Rom. 5:8).  He’s not working so that his Father will love him, he’s working because his Father loves him, and he knows it.  And so the son is reacting in appreciation and not as a requirement to earn or retain his Father’s love.  This scenario can only apply to a Christian.

In Example (2) we find the polar opposite: there is no submission or obedience.  As it pertains to salvation, in heart and action he has no regard for his Father or his Father’s will, and so this would be any unsaved person.  For Christians, it would be rebellion against a specific command or directive found in God’s Word.  Still a Christian, but carnal.  This leaves Examples (3) and (4).

In Example (3) there is submission, but no obedience.  In spiritual terms, this is all Christians because no Christian has ever perfectly obeyed God in every regard after salvation; and the reason for this is because our minds and bodies haven’t been completely renewed (yet), but that day is coming.  Submission reveals that you have a heart for your Father.  There are biblical examples of men who’ve had a heart for God, but who’s obedience was often lacking.  King David was saved man who also committed adultery and murder.  But because he did have a heart for his Father, when he was reproved he repented and received his Father’s discipline.  Samson committed suicide, but he’s hailed as a great man of faith (Heb. 11:32) – and there are many other examples in the Bible of people who loved God but who’s obedience often faltered.    

In other terms, many Christians accept Jesus as their Saviour (submission) but not as their Lord (no obedience).  Or, they trust him as their Saviour and Lord as it pertains to their salvation, but not as the Lord over their daily lives: they don’t want him telling them how to live or, more specifically, how to run their church.  God will bless our individual plans through his Providential care; but as the Church Body, God has provided us with clear and concise doctrine and most have chosen to reject it.  So while Christians are submissive to Christ in salvation, seldom are they submissive or obedient in daily living. 
In Example (4) we have obedience without submission, and this is where most are going to have the greatest difficulty because deception is involved.  For example, the scribes and Pharisees were outwardly obedient.  They seemed morally pure and were highly regarded.  They were “in the ministry” and “successful.”  They didn’t curse, drink, smoke, fornicate, gamble, or engage in any outward vices. 

But God had a lot to say about them and none of it was good (e.g. Mt. 23).  They took his Word, perverted it, and created a false religious system with a false gospel and then sold it to the masses and the masses rejoiced – and nothing has changed.  “Christianity” today is full of false prophets and teachers that are “in the ministry” and “doing well.”  They’re highly regarded and appear moral, but they too have created a false religious system with a false gospel and then sold it to the masses and the masses have continued to rejoice.  And when their heresies, doctrinal errors, and faults are exposed, most professing Christians simply make excuses for them – often citing that their “good” outweighs their “bad.”  But in the end, their words always and inevitably betray them (Dt. 13:1-5; 18:18-22).  So while there’s a measure of outward obedience, there’s no submission; i.e. they’re unsaved (Mt. 7:21-23).  But exposing them is an unsavory but necessary business and most just aren’t up to the task, even though Christ requires it and love demands it, and that’s what makes this difficult for many (Rom. 16:17-18; 1 Tim. 5:20; Tit. 1:9-11; 2 Jn. 1:9-11 etc.).      

But this is also true among God’s people.  Christians can be obedient without being submissive.  All too often we institute programs and services and then (presumptuously) expect God to bless them.  And when things go right, we have the tendency to congratulate ourselves; and when things go wrong, we have the tendency to blame God.  In other words, just because something is “good” doesn’t mean that it’s “right;” and all too often, God’s people will choose the “good” over the “right” and they’ll do it without having sought God first or they’ll just assume for themselves that it was his will all along.  Selah.    

Concluding, as it pertains to salvation, unsaved people are never submissive because submissiveness is a godly attribute.  They may be morally submissive, or submissive because of some moral restraint, but never in terms of salvation unless they repent.  They can be outwardly obedient, and even be more outwardly obedient or moral than many Christians, but man is never justified by works for his salvation and so in this regard there is no submissiveness within them before God (Eph. 2:8-10; Gal. 2:16 etc.).

Christians, as it pertains to salvation, have been submissive to God’s pleas for salvation and so they do have a submissive heart.  But in their daily walk as it applies to implementing God’s Word, Christians are seldom submissive or obedient.  This doesn’t mean they’re longer Christians or that they’ve “lost” their salvation, nor is it a “cheap grace” or a “license to sin” (Rom. 6:1-9); it just means that although our salvation is secured in Christ (2 Cor. 1:21-22; Eph. 1:13-14, 4:30), we still struggle to implement God’s Word into our daily lives because we still have carnal minds and bodies that are going to perish, but eventually they will be renewed.  So we don’t submit and obey to earn or retain our salvation, but to express of our love for God.  

So again, submission is a matter of the heart and God’s standard is that we be submissive to all people all the time.  Obedience towards man is always conditional based upon what we’re being asked to do, while our obedience to God should always be without question.  None of us in this life will ever reach that ideal, but it is the standard – not to earn or retain salvation, but to learn and grow in our understanding of him and his Word as partakers of his Word.  Selah.

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Widow's Mites

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation– Matthew 23:14 (Mk. 12:40; Lk. 20:47) 
If there was ever a lesson in the Bible that demanded its interpretation be driven by the events surrounding it, then the story of The Widow’s Mites would be it.  The story is told below as it appears in Mark 12:41-44, with details from Luke 21:1-4 added in parenthesis.    

41And Jesus sat over against the treasury, (And he looked up…21:1) and beheld how the people (rich people...21:1) cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much.  42And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing43And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: 44For all they did cast in of their abundance; (cast in unto the offerings of God:…Lu. 21:4); but she of her want (penury…21:4) did cast in all that she had, even all her living.

To begin, let’s discuss what the story is NOT about.
Ø  It is not about sacrificial (financial) giving
Ø  It is not about taking a vow of poverty
Ø  It is not about our attitude or motive when giving
Ø  It is not about the percentage of our giving in light of our income (compared to the rich, she gave a higher percentage although much less in amount)
Ø  It is not about true worship vs. religious worship
Ø  It is not about money at all – although money is involved
If this passage is about giving, then you must teach that God is most pleased when we give ALL.  More specifically, you must teach that God is most pleased when even poor widows have given of their very last in support of “the church.”  But note that Jesus never says that he’s pleased or displeased with her giving, or that he’s pleased or displeased with her attitude or motive when giving, or anything else.  All he says is that she gave of her want, that she gave all, and that she gave all her living.  But if it isn’t about financial giving, then what is it about? 
As it happens, just prior to this story is where we find Jesus pronouncing his “seven woes” upon the scribes and Pharisees (Mt. 23:1-36; Mk. 12:38-40; Lu. 20:45-47).  He calls them hypocrites, fools, blind guides, serpents, and vipers.  He describes them as white-washed sepulchers that look good on the outside, but inside are full of dead men’s bones, rot, and decay.  He speaks of their great pride, heresy, love of money, and religious but unbiblical pursuit of godliness (2 Tim. 3:5).  They’ve persecuted the saints, killed the prophets, and robbed God’s people of their wealth, and this they’ve all done in the name of God (Jn. 16:2-3).  But despite this, and in keeping with God’s character (Eze. 33:11), he laments their destruction. 
…  Mt. 23:37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!  38Behold, your house is left unto you desolate39For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.

Jesus then looks up and observes the widow casting in her mites, which is then followed by his foretelling of the destruction of the Temple and his Second Coming (Mt. 23:37-39 also).[1]  This is the context in which we find the widow casting her mites: between Christ’s righteous indignation levied toward the scribes and Pharisees and their oppressive religious system and the foretelling of the impending destruction of Jerusalem and his Second Coming.  And so we must ask ourselves, Is it logical to commend a poor widow who’s casted her “last two dollars” in support of a doomed religious system?[2]  But there’s more. 
Look at where Jesus is sitting.  He’s at the Temple sitting in an area known as the Court of the Women (Treasury), which is the second court encountered when proceeding from the streets of Jerusalem en route to the Temple.  The first was a large court known as the Court of the Gentiles.  It’s name infers that it was for “Gentiles Only,” but this is a misnomer.  What it really meant was that it was as close to the Temple as a Gentile could get; they could come no closer: male or female.  In fact, anyone could wander through their court: they had to in order to get to the Temple.  So while appearing special and unique, their court only served as a limitation because it was as close to God as they were allowed to get, and this is true of all the courts.  The Court of the Women was as close as a Jewish woman could travel; the Court of Israel was as close as a non-Levitical Jewish male could attend, then there was the Court of the Priests, and finally the Temple itself.  But again, there’s more.  
Travelling from without to within, each court became smaller in size than the one before it; and so the Court of the Gentiles was the largest and the Court of the Priests the smallest.  They also increased in elevation.  The Court of the Gentiles was the lowest and the Court of the Priests the highest (before the Temple, of course).  In addition, each court was divided from the other by stairs, walls, and pillars, or some combination thereof.  So the impression given was that Gentiles were the lowliest while the Jewish priests were the most revered (by God).  The Gentiles were at the bottom and the priests were at the top.  And since each court was smaller than the one preceding it, then each court became exclusive to an increasingly smaller number of people; thus giving the impression that only an increasingly select few were allowed to draw close to God, or were approved by God, with the Jewish religious leaders being at the top.  In other words, because of its construction, these courts gave the impression that God loved Jews more than Gentiles, and that even within Israel, God loved his priests more than he loved women and children.  But in the original design of the Temple (Tabernacle), there was only one court where the priests stood and ministered with everyone else standing outside: Jew or Gentile.[3]  And so the simple lesson here was that you’re either a priest serving within the courts of the Lord or you’re not; i.e. you’re either saved or lost.  Herein we have a clear contrast where everyone is on the same footing: all lost people were equally lost and all saved people were equally saved; and all saved people had equal access to God (by way of the New Covenant: cp. Mt. 27:51; 1 Pet. 2:9-10).  There were no height deviations or graduated steps in God’s plan, nor were there any man-made divisions (walls, pillars, steps).  They all stood on level footing whether lost or saved.  And so there was no separation of the saints because there was only one court for them. 

But this is what religions does; it separates under the guise of inclusiveness.  In adding these courts, the Jews made a place for everyone.  Everyone could “feel” as though they were a child of God because everyone had a court made especially for them (i.e. the wide road: Mt. 7:13-14).  But in adding these courts, they also created artificial divisions (walls, stairs, pillars) where once there were none.  We see this today.  Under the guise of Christianity, man has created denominations (and cults) to suit every possible belief system thereby allowing everyone to feel as though they’re a part of God’s family when in fact they may not (Mt. 7:21-23).  But in doing so, they’ve also separated God’s people from one another as each division (denomination) pursues its own self-interests.  Thus, denominations don’t draw God’s people together, they separate them – a proposition of which Scripture expressly forbids.[4]  Let it therefore be understood that all denominations are sin; they are all man-made additions to the Word of God just as these courts were man-made additions to the Temple.[5]  So when Jesus observes this poor widow, it not only occurs between his righteous indignation levied towards the scribes and Pharisees and the foretelling of the destruction of the Temple, it occurs as he’s physically sitting in the very midst of the false religious system they’d created.[6]  And so again we must ask, Is it logical that he would commend a poor widow for her sacrificial giving when it’s given in support of a doomed religious system?  The answer should be obvious; the context doesn’t allow for that interpretation. 

But that aside, there’s another way to tell that this story isn’t what it seems.  For this, we’ll let Scripture speak for itself. 

…  Dt. 14:28 (Dt. 26:12) At the end of three years thou shalt bring forth all the tithe of thine increase the same year, and shalt lay it up within thy gates: 29And the Levite, (because he hath no part nor inheritance with thee,) and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, which are within thy gates, shall come, and shall eat and be satisfied; that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hand which thou doest.
…  Dt. 24:19 (Lev. 19:9, 23:22) When thou cuttest down thine harvest in thy field, and hast forgot a sheaf in the field, thou shalt not go again to fetch it: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow: that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hands20When thou beatest thine olive tree, thou shalt not go over the boughs again: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow21When thou gatherest the grapes of thy vineyard, thou shalt not glean it afterward: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow22And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt: therefore I command thee to do this thing.
…  1 Tim. 5:16 If any man or woman that believeth have widows, let them relieve them, and let not the church be charged; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed.
…  Ja. 1:27 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.

From these verses and many others, Scripture is clear.  In the Bible, destitute widows were to receive support and not the other way around.  This is how you know something is wrong with the story without having to know the context.  But in applying them both, what we discover is that it explains why the Jewish religious system and their Temple will be destroyed in 70 A.D. 

…  Ex. 22:21 Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt22Ye shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child.  23If thou afflict them in any wise, and they cry at all unto me, I will surely hear their cry; 24And my wrath shall wax hot, and I will kill you with the sword; and your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless.

The religious leaders had so perverted the Word of the Lord, and they’d done it for so long, that they had no compassion left – no, not even for the poor; and nothing has changed.  People today are still being taught to give sacrificially with the (false) hope that God will bless them in return.  “Prosperity preachers” tell people to send checks for money they don’t have; and then when it doesn’t appear, they tell them that they didn’t have enough faith, that they must be harboring some secret sin, or that they just need to be more patient, etc.  Never is their doctrine wrong.  The fault always rests with those giving.  Thus their doctrine is no different than that of the scribes and Pharisees.  They both teach that the poor should give when the Bible teaches they should receive.  Similarly, those writing checks of their want are faring no better than the widow in this story.  One is preaching a lie and the other is believing a lie, even though the clear Word of the Lord teaches the exact opposite; thus proving that neither are reading the Word of God or hearing his voice.  But just as the scribes and Pharisees were destroyed for their lack of compassion, so too will the scribes and Pharisees of our day.  But the question remains: if this story isn’t about financial giving, then what is it about?

Putting it all together, when Jesus spoke of the poor widow, he wasn’t referring to her financial giving, but her spiritual condition.  The “want” from which she gave was her spiritual poverty.  She was spiritually destitute: unsaved.  This means that the “all” from which she gave was that of the mind, body, and soul; and in giving “all her living,” her salvation rested not in the Lord Jesus Christ, but in this false religious system and what she perceived it could do for her – and nothing has changed today.  Many are still pinning their hopes in “the system” and the message that it preaches instead of what’s found in God’s Word.  And so Jesus wasn’t commending her for her sacrificial giving, he was sorrowing over her spiritual status, which was but a reflection of the overall problem in Israel.[7]  So although practically everyone uses this story as an example of sacrificial giving necessary to support the work of the church, the context doesn’t allow for that interpretation.  Suffice it to say, “giving to God” while neglecting the practical needs of the people is sin (Mt. 15:3-6; Mk. 7:9-13).  Hence, any religion, denomination, church, or doctrine that’s willing to impoverish the poor for its own benefit is a false religion.  Selah.     

[1] Mt. 24:1-31; Mk. 13:1-27; Lu. 21:5-28.  Chronologically, after The Widow’s Mites, there is a brief pause in the narrative of Matthew, Mark, and Luke reminding the reader that Jesus is The Light of the world (Jn. 12:20-36) followed by a brief summary explaining the unbelief of the Jews (37-43).
[2] The exact value of the mites (leptons) and the farthing (quadran) in modern values is difficult to ascertain; but the high estimate is about $2USDs.
[3] Ex. 27:9-19; 38:9-20
[4] 1 Cor. 1:10-13; 3:1-4; 11:18-19; Rom. 16:17-18
[5] Dt. 4:2; 12:32; Rev. 22:18-19
[6] Man had so profoundly perverted God’s Word that it was no longer effective (Mt. 15:1-9; Mk. 7:1-12). 
[7] Not to be forgotten, the rich trusted in their own riches to save them (Ps. 49:6-9; Mk. 10:24; 1 Tim. 6:17 etc.).