256 – THIEVES AND ROBBERS
Jesus gave addresses that have defied Theologians and students of the Holy Scriptures. We reproduce one of them here: “All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep didn’t listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters in by me, he will be saved, and will go in and go out, and will find pasture. The thief only comes to steal, kill, and destroy. I came that they may have life, and may have it abundantly” (John 10:8-10). Of whom was Jesus speaking when he said, “All who came before me are thieves and robbers”? Did he refer to Assur, god of the Assyrians? Amon, god of the Egyptians? Dagon, god of the Philistines? Marduk, god of the Babylonians? Ormuzd, god of the Persians? Zeus, the Greek god? There were gods by the hundreds. Of whom was Jesus speaking? “OF ALL OF THEM.” Why did not Jesus exempt the god of Israel? Why did he not exclude the name “Jehovah”? Jesus was categorical: “ALL WHO CAME BEFORE ME.” We are not accusing any name in particular.
Let us analyze the life and doctrine of Jesus Christ to draw some conclusion about the subject at issue. We live, all of men, within a material and physical sphere; Jesus lived in another sphere, the spiritual one. Let us see what he preached: “Don’t lay up treasures for yourselves on the earth, where moth and rust consume, and where thieves break through and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consume, and where thieves don’t break through and steal” (Matt. 6:19-20). Jesus’ wealth is in the spiritual realm. He said to the scribes and Pharisees, the religious people of his time: “He said to them, “You are from beneath. I am from above. You are of this world. I am not of this world” (John 8:23). The salvation that Jesus preached was the kind that uprooted man from the material sphere and, in this way, made him adequate to live in the spiritual sphere of the kingdom of God, which is not part of this world (1 John 2:15-17; James 4:4; John 17:13-16).
Jesus, when he was crucified, was among two thieves and robbers (Matt. 27:38; Luke 23:39-41). It is astonishing that Jesus preached and lived love, and was killed as a thief (John 13:34; 15:13). He preached virtue and charity, and was killed as a thief and a robber (Matt. 6:19-20; 19:16-24). Jesus was humble and preached humbleness, and was killed as a thief (Matt. 11:29; Is. 53:2-3). Jesus renounced to everything and preached renunciation, but he was killed as a thief (2 Co. 8:9; Phil. 2:4-8; Luke 14:33). Jesus preached righteousness, but he was killed as a thief (Matt. 5:20). Jesus was the awaited promised Messiah who was to sit on the throne of David and rule over the kingdoms of this earth with an iron rod, but he was rejected, stripped, scorned and crucified. Who were the robbers that spiritually plundered Jesus? They were his countrymen, the Jews. They were the religious princes and priests who incited the scribes and Pharisees; they, in turn, incited the people; and the mob shouted to Pilates: crucify him; crucify him. Peter affirms that the Jews crucified him (Acts 2:36). The Roman soldiers only executed the request of the Jews, for Pilates said, “I am innocent of this man’s blood” (Matt. 27:23-31). There are other texts that attribute the responsibility of the death of Jesus to the Jews (Acts 3:14-15; 5:30; 13:27-32).
In the Old Testament, and in the times of the Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks and Romans fortified cities were objects of desire of kings, which gathered great armies to assault, ransack, and take women and slaves away. It was a terrible slaughter. The conquered kingdom would become tributary. Israel employed this inhuman method by Jehovah’s orders. Let us read the text: “When you draw near to a city to fight against it, then proclaim peace to it. It shall be, if it makes you answer of peace, and opens to you, then it shall be, that all the people who are found therein shall become tributary to you, and shall serve you. If it will make no peace with you, but will make war against you, then you shall besiege it: and when Yahweh your God delivers it into your hand, you shall strike every male of it with the edge of the sword: but the women, and the little ones, and the livestock, and all that is in the city, even all its spoil, you shall take for a prey to yourself; and you shall eat the spoil of your enemies, which Yahweh your God has given you” (Deut. 20:11-14).The history of the peoples includes the people of Jehovah as a band of nomads that were about assaulting, killing, and plundering other tribes. All that was under the command of Jehovah. Therefore, Jehovah did not add to the social and cultural development of his people.
When the peoples in general socially and culturally progressed, did the god Jehovah become gentle and savior?
Nowadays hatred, addictions, atrocities, corruption, sexual distortions, the organized crime, the drug traffic, the child abuse, terrorism, kidnappings, killings, prostitution, everything increases with the evolution of men; and god tolerates. Incoherence! But let us go back to the past: Jehovah taught his people to plunder and ransack. Let us read the Bible verses of the divine school. Zephaniah, a prophet who prophesied before the Babylonian captivity, between 640BC and 587 BC, when Judah went to the Babylonian captivity, declared, speaking for Jehovah: “Therefore as I live, says Yahweh of Armies, the God of Israel, surely Moab will be as Sodom, and the children of Ammon as Gomorrah, a possession of nettles, and salt pits, and a perpetual desolation. The remnant of my people will plunder them, and the survivors of my nation will inherit them” (Zeph. 2:9). A thousand years prior to this, he had made his people to ransack Egypt (Ex. 3:19-22; 12:35-36). In the conquest of Canaan led by Joshua, Jehovah commanded the plunder of the peoples of Canaan, after the assaults(Josh. 6:19,21,24). During the following one thousand years, he delivered Israel to plunder and to the plunderers, because of their disobedience. “The anger of Yahweh was kindled against Israel, and he delivered them into the hands of spoilers who despoiled them; and he sold them into the hands of their enemies all around, so that they could not any longer stand before their enemies. Wherever they went out, the hand of Yahweh was against them for evil, as Yahweh had spoken, and as Yahweh had sworn to them: and they were very distressed” (Judg. 2:14-15). In this period of the judges Israel suffered 380 plunders. When Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem, he ransacked and destroyed the temple of Jehovah (2 Chr. 36:18-19). This happened in 587 BC.
Nevertheless, Jehovah promised to restore the throne of David; he promised to rule with an iron rod over the nations. Jehovah said, “Yet I have set my King on my holy hill of Zion. I will tell of the decree. Yahweh said to me, “You are my son. Today I have become your father. Ask of me, and I will give the nations for your inheritance, the uttermost parts of the earth for your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron. You shall dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel” (Ps. 2:6-9). It is obvious that this has not happened yet, and the Church anxiously waits for the fulfillment of this prophecy that will be fulfilled at a time when the nations will be socially, culturally, and historically developed, that is, at a time of interplanetary trips, nuclear energy, the knowledge about the human genome, that is, the knowledge of the DNA, the life code.
At this time of such scientific evolution Israel will be restored. The Messiah will sit on the throne of David.“Foreigners shall build up your walls, and their kings shall minister to you: for in my wrath I struck you, but in my favor have I had mercy on you. Your gates also shall be open continually; they shall not be shut day nor night; that men may bring to you the wealth of the nations, and their kings led captive. For that nation and kingdom that will not serve you shall perish; yes, those nations shall be utterly wasted” (Is. 60:10-12). “But you shall be named the priests of Yahweh; men will call you the ministers of our God: you will eat the wealth of the nations, and you will boast in their glory” (Is. 61:6). What these texts reveal is that the peoples will be tributary under the Hebrew yoke, ordered by Jehovah. The peoples tend to develop historic, scientific, and culturally. Jehovah did not, because he does not change (Mal. 3:6). His government will always be cruelly severe and truculent, according to the prophecy. The kingdom of Christ will be different. Paul declared. “For the Kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14:17). If Jesus were to approve, in the future, the politics of Jehovah, he would not have said, “All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep didn’t listen to them” (John 10:8).
by Pastor Olavo Silveira Pereira