This Week's Focus Passage

‘Let them alone.’

Focus Passage: Matthew 15:14

‘Let them alone.’

The context of this exhortation is to be found in verses 10-14; give heed:

And he called to him the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand: Not that which entereth into the mouth defileth the man; but that which proceedeth out of the mouth, this defileth the man. Then came the disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, when they heard this saying? But he answered and said, Every plant which my heavenly Father planted not, shall be rooted up. Let them alone: they are blind guides. And if the blind guide the blind, both shall fall into a pit. —Matthew 15:10-14

This was one of those many occasions when our Savior rebuked the Pharisees either explicitly or implicitly; directly or indirectly. He was quoting from the prophet Isaiah 29:13 which these religious rulers should have known well, and undoubtedly did, but they did not hear it well. Christ’s disciples understood, perhaps from some reactions from the Pharisees, or even from their frowns, that they were offended. These defenders of the Word of God should have bowed to this Word, yet it appears that they were offended. Our Lord’s response was ‘Let them alone!’

These are extremely shocking and provoking words; ‘Let them alone!’ Is it to say, as seems plausible, that Jesus is telling His disciples, ‘Don’t bother with them anymore; they cannot see, and they are only having an impact upon others who also cannot see’? Both shall fall into a pit, is indeed His language. This is a commandment that we find great difficulty in understanding and, even greater difficulty, in following. Is it a directive to ‘Let them go to the pit’? Does this offend you, or myself? Are we supposed to apply this to our loved ones; to our neighbors; to our friends? When do we know that it is time to ‘Let them go’?

We have similar, if not identical, language in the prophecy of Hosea at 4:17 in that Old Testament book. This fourth chapter of Hosea begins with a most familiar exhortation, Hear the word of Jehovah, ye children of Israel. This if followed by a terrible charge against them; Jehovah hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land because there is no truth, nor goodness, nor knowledge of God in the land. Is this not fearfully comparable to the indictment that Christ leveled in Mt. 15:6, when He accused them; Ye have made void the word of God by your tradition? Are not the traditions of men often a form of idolatry? Is it not often the case that the traditions of men have supplanted, or made void, the Word of God? It has then become idolatry.

People have been, and are, taught that their salvation may depend upon the length of their hair, or the length of their skirt. We all know of such instances. Are we being exhorted here in these passages to let such folk alone? According to the words of the prophet along with the words of Jesus Christ, there is a point at which we may have to follow this directive to let them alone. Yet we must be clear; in Hosea we are expressly informed that it is the Word of Jehovah; and in the case of our focus passage, it is the Word of Jesus Christ Himself.

It would seem that we require nothing less than, a Word from God. Led to believe that these folk have gone so far astray as to be irrecoverable, they should be let alone. It may well be the case that some individuals have progressed so far in their obstinacy against God that they are no longer willing to give any audience to the Word; indeed, they tell us to ‘let them alone.’ How can we know when any have reached such a point that we are to ‘let them alone’? The teachings of Jesus in the Sermon of the Mount may be congruous here. We think of His directions in Mt. 7:6, Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast your pearls before the swine, lest haply they trample them under their feet, and turn and rend you. But even here; have we been given the ability to determine just who may be dogs and who may be swine? How do we know those that are to be let alone? And even if may ascertain their persons; must we let them completely alone? A country song from a bygone era comes to my mind. A rejected suitor’s response to such rejection is as follows; ‘You can turn me down, baby, that’s all right. But I’ll get even with you tonight; ‘cause you can’t stop me from dreaming.’ We may be turned down by a loved one; a neighbor; a friend; but they can’t stop us from praying.

Having said that, I am reminded of that startling command from Jehovah to Jeremiah, recorded more than once in that book of the prophet. We find these words in 7:16, Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to me; for I will not hear thee. These are frightening words, are they not? These are words that would understandably make us to tremble and, yes, to weep. They are duplicated twice over in Jeremiah, in 11:14 and 14:11, using essentially the very same language of exhortation; DO NOT PRAY FOR THIS PEOPLE, with the added argument, I WILL NOT HEAR THEE. These are seemingly unequivocal demands to which we must give close attention as well as our faithful obedience; if they are directed to us and in equal circumstances. We quiver to even imagine, as we pray for loved ones that have consistently cast our words back at us when we have spoken to them of the only Mediator between God and man, hearing again the words that were spoken to Jeremiah the prophet echoing in our minds and hearts. But that is the question, is it not? Have we ever heard those words? Have we ever been upon our knees; our spirits agitated for the salvation of children, siblings, parents, kinsmen according to the flesh, when we were ‘stopped in our tracks’ as it were with some such thunder from heaven which demanded our immediate attention, saying, DO NOT PRAY FOR THEM? We must thankfully declare that we have never experienced this phenomenon over the many past years of our prayer lives. And we do hope and trust that we shall never in the future have such an experience. We will continue to pray for our kinsmen according to the flesh as long as we are given life and until we hear that breathtaking announcement, I WILL NOT HEAR THEE, we will, with Jacob, not let go of God for them.

David Farmer, elder

Fellowship Bible Church

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