What did Jesus mean when he said the religious leaders of his day had sat down on the [judgment] seat of Moses? (Matthew 23:1-2 ALT) (1) Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples, (2) saying, "The scribes and the Pharisee's [have] sat on the seat of Moses. [Exodus 18:13]

Some have suggested Jesus simply meant the Jewish religious leaders had the right of judgment, or that they had the right to interpret the Jewish law. That makes no sense however, as Jesus goes on to expose their wickedness in the following verses of Matthew 23: Exposing the ways they tried to seat themselves in Moses' seat. (Matthew 23) Clearly, their seating themselves in the seat of Moses was a bad thing. Jesus warned us many times against hypocritical and judgmental religious leaders. (Mark 12:38-40 ; Luke 6:6-11 ; Luke 11:52-54 ; Luke 15:1-7) Jesus also showed us how to recognize those who are righteous: They are sincere and humble, and seek glory for God rather than for themselves. (Mark 12:41-44 ; Luke 22:24-26 ; John 12:42-43)

If we are to avoid being misled to follow that bad pattern ourselves, we need to understand what it means to try and sit on Moses seat: (Exodus 18:13) And it came about on the next day that Moses sat down as usual to serve as judge for the people, and the people kept standing before Moses from the morning till the evening. God had given the Law Code to the nation of Israel through his servant Moses. Moses then served to judge the people out of that Law. They could be put to death if judged guilty of some crime defined by that Law to be punishable by death. It governed all aspects of their life. Any judgment they received was one carefully measured by the Law of God; and rendered upon a people who had covenanted as a nation to abide by that Law. (Exodus 19:5-8) Moses was appointed by God to render such judgment. (Numbers 12:6-8 ; Deuteronomy 6:6-7)

Jesus came in fulfillment of the Law given Israel, and to replace that Law code with the Christian Law of love. (James 2:8 ; Colossians 2:13-14 ; Romans 10:4 ; Galatians 6:2) The reason for his doing so, was that people could never be made righteous by the application of Law. (Romans 3:20) The Law served rather as a tutor leading to the Christ. (Galatians 3:24) For an individual Jew to become a Christian meant they had to abandon any hope the Law code could help them, and recognize it was faith in Christ Jesus that meant life. (Galatians 6:15 ; Galatians 5:4-6) Even though the Jewish religious leaders had been caretakers of the Law since Moses, they had to abandon their faith in Law, and manifest faith in Christ. Sadly, most of them were not ready to give up their authority over people. (Matthew 23:7 ; John 12:43)

How then, do members of modern day religions set themselves upon the judgment seat of Moses? That is easy to understand as such false Christians [or religions] are easily identified! Individuals [or groups] glorify themselves by attempting to render judgment of who is righteous in the earth, and then coerce their "sheep" to bow before their organizational laws and rules. In this way they expose themselves as having seated themselves where Moses sat. Such "Doegs" assert it is an approved standing by their little group that grants salvation. By glorifying themselves so, they turn people away from the simple truth: The truth that our Father is watching everything we do. (2 Chronicles 16:9) As He watches, He is giving us every opportunity to choose life by being noble minded. (Deuteronomy 30:19-20) Those who seat themselves in Moses' seat turn people away from respect for God; and toward a fear of loosing membership in their group. (John 12:42 ; Matthew 23:2 & 15) As they strive to make their "sheep" fear them rather than God: They usurp the glory due our Creator. (John 7:13) Christ taught his followers to love others; and not to judge them. (Matthew 7:1-2) Jesus further taught it was the words which he spoke that would become judge over us. (John 12:47-48) Even though the Bible clearly teaches God set us free of the perfect Law of Moses (Romans 8:1-2 ; 2 Corinthians 3:12-14 ; Ephesians 2:15 ; Colossians 2:13-14) through our faith in Christ; when religious people join together to worship God, the first thing most want to do is establish law for themselves. Next, they render judgment over those who will subjugate themselves before them: Doing so out of the law they create. [Actually, they pronounce their judgment over those who refuse to bow before them as well: They judge non-followers as unbelievers (and wicked).] Dress this way, or don't dress that way, is an example of such judgment. Do this work, or don't do that thing, for another. They will, of course, say their teachings are those of Christ; but you must be very cautions. (Matthew 23:15) If the teachings of Jesus from the Bible do not directly condemn a practice, no man has right to judge another. Don't let them lead you to join them in a judgment you have no right to render. (John 16:1-4) If they announce they have rendered a judgment against some person, you better fully understand what they have done before you throw in your lot with them. (Proverbs 1:14 ; Proverbs 20:24-25) If you blindly follow after such judgments of men, you probably don't know Christ at all. (Matthew 7:21-23) It is by the act of assuming the right to render judgment over others then, that men and women seat themselves on the judgment seat of Moses. Such persons should be avoided. They are apostate. They have made themselves "Doegs," and have become just another part of "the Man Of Lawlessness." You should not expect religious leaders will like you if you take a stand for truth. (John 15:17-21) Those who strive to misapply the scriptures to abuse others will always hate those who speak the truth. (Luke 6:6-11) All those who do love the truth, will also love you, if you speak truth.

If this seems in any way confusing, just remember: Your protection against being misled is to learn what the Bible teaches. Make every person prove that everything they teach comes directly from the teachings of Christ. (Acts 17:11) If they can't show you clearly from the Bible, don't believe them. (Acts 18:28 ; Acts 8:35) Learn what your Bible teaches. YOUR life depends on your realizing: Personal faith in the teachings of Christ can preserve YOU alive. (John 17:3 ; Luke 17:26 & 1 Peter 3:20 ; 1 Timothy 1:16-2:6)

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