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The Swept House
By Richard Gunther
the words of our Lord were allegorical and illustrative, they must not be
pressed too closely to fit any preconceived notions we may have. There is enough
clear teaching about the activities of demons, without need to draw too much
from this story.
of the best rules of interpretation (and adhered to strictly by the Church of
England) is to "never try to build doctrine from a parable".
some interesting insights can be drawn from this story which throw light on the
national aspect of Israel and the Jews. That this is the correct application can
be inferred from v.45 "so shall it be also to this wicked generation."
Jewish nation, dominated as it was by the religious teaching and guidance of the
Sadducees and Pharisees, scribes and rabbis, was outwardly swept and cleaned.
The huge mass of Talmudic writings made sure that every aspect of Jewish life
had some instructions to keep it, as the rabbis thought, in line with God's
great sin, as they saw it, was idolatry. The Jews considered the heathen deity
"Beelzebub" (Or: Beelzebul) to be the top evil spirit. His name means
'Lord of the fly'. Another name for him was Beelzebel = the dung god, alluding
to the idea that he produced flies. He was worshipped by the heathen nations,
and many offerings were made to him.
the Jews thought that they had cleansed their house thoroughly. Instead, their
house (nation) was full of self-righteous Pharisaism. When Satan took up
residence in Jerusalem he found the City a very suitable habitation, because it
had all the outward reputation for holiness and righteousness, so his presence
there as the arch demon was not suspected.
came with seven other spirits, possibly named Pride, Self-righteousness,
Unbelief, Tradition, Religion and the like, the number 7 being symbolic for
‘complete range’, and thus the last state of the 'house' was worse than the
first. The Jewish nation was full of gross idolatry, yet it was also garnished
and decorated with synagogues and Temples and special robes and phylacteries and
rabbis, and the 'holy' writings of the Talmud. The Pharisees were devoted to the
study and practice of the Law, yet when the Messiah came, many of them missed
the event, because of their traditional teachings, which had been added to the
have exactly the same thing happening today, in many areas of Christendom. The
Church does not have a Talmud, but it DOES have massive amounts of commentary.
Christians are raised on Bible teaching which is NOT always from the Bible.
Christians hold beliefs which they think are right but they are NOT always in
line with what the Bible says. Where would you or I stand when Jesus returns?
Would he find us walking in the~ light - or walking in the dark, yet believing
we were walking in the light, as were the Jews?)
Some of the above was drawn from : 'The Life and Times of Jesus', vol. 2, Page 201, by the Rev, A. Eidersheim.
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