Posted in theology

Pharisees are everywhere

By Elizabeth Prata

California Governor Newsom has become known as a governor who instituted some of the the most minute and intrusive COVID rules for his people. Though the survival rate from this flu-like illness for the folks in his jurisdiction is 97-99%, he seems to be taking advantage of the time to extend his power and intrude into the lives of his people to a specific and detailed degree. The people under his care are burdened with yet another new lengthy list of rules in advance of the holiday season that are near-impossible to fulfill. Sound familiar?

Gov Gavin Newsom

When I saw some of the new rules for Californians they reminded me immediately of the Pharisaical rules for the Jewish people in Jesus’ time. The Pharisees had taken the original 10 Commandments and added 613 more rules for Jews to live by. Their entire lives were intertwined with some rule in every area of their lives.

Newsom’s rules for indoor gatherings at the holidays include mandates on what people are to wear, how they are to move or not move their bodies, singing & chanting, wind instruments, the level of physical exertion, who they can congregate with, where, and for how long. When I saw Newsom’s rule that said food gatherings should offer food in single serving containers, it reminded me about the dishes the Jews are to use in Kosher eating for milk and meat. The Pharisees instituted these rules because they thought they were ‘helping’ God help the people maintain purity.

The Pharisees developed a tradition of strict interpretation of the Mosaic law, developing an extensive set of oral extensions of the law designed to maintain religious identity and purity.” Source The Lexham Bible Dictionary.

There was much that was sound in their creed, yet their system of religion was a form and nothing more. Theirs was a very lax morality (Matt. 5:20; 15:4, 8; 23:3, 14, 23, 25; John 8:7). On the first notice of them in the New Testament (Matt. 3:7), they are ranked by our Lord with the Sadducees as a “generation of vipers.” They were noted for their self-righteousness and their pride (Matt. 9:11; Luke 7:39; 18:11, 12). They were frequently rebuked by our Lord (Matt. 12:39; 16:1–4). From the very beginning of his ministry the Pharisees showed themselves bitter and persistent enemies of our Lord. They could not bear his doctrines, and they sought by every means to destroy his influence among the people.” Source Easton’s Bible dictionary. (1893).

Newsom has developed these rules, I suppose, because he thinks he is ‘helping’ his people maintain health and safety. It is good to remember that the Pharisees were widely seen as hypocrites. They did not practice what they preached. The rules were mainly for other Jews, not so much for themselves. Hypocrisy is an ugly sin. So is power-grabbing and oppressing the people with burdensome rules.

I decided to look up the 613 Pharisaical rules and compare to Newsom’s Covid rules. Keep in mind these rules were developed specifically in advance of Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas in a state where the survival rate is 99% and it’s month 7, then 8 & 9 as Turkey Day approaches. Here is the comparison- (some of these rules were for Levites in the Temple).

Ecclesiastes’ refrain is “There is nothing new under the sun.” Unsaved people will always do as their flesh wants. They have no control over managing their evil desires. People in power given unrestricted access to power will tend to run rampant.

Power tends to corrupt,” said Lord Acton, the 19th-century British historian. “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” His maxim has been vividly illustrated in psychological studies, notably the 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment, which was halted when one group of students arbitrarily assigned to serve as “prison guards” over another group began to abuse their wards“. Source

We are all depraved. That isn’t to say that we are all as bad as we could be. It is possible for people to be philanthropic, helpful, kind, and outwardly moral. But none of it pleases God. And the flip side to outward morality is that it doesn’t hold. Eventually, internal desires of the flesh will rear up. For some, more than others.

God instituted all kings, governors, and leaders. He is sovereign and He has His reasons for allowing a Governor of the most populous state in the US to run roughshod over his people. California’s population represents 12% of the entire United States’ population. The people who dwell there are living in a Corinth, a morally polluted, filthy and evil regime lauding the most perverse acts. Now the intrusion into the lives of Gentiles and Christians is made complete by use of these health rules. Keep in mind these were specifically developed in advance of Christmas, one of our most treasured days for worship and fellowship all year nd one that puts Jesus squarely front and center in the public square.

Please pray for our brethren in California, the governor, and the unsaved there. The unsaved are living in a regime of fear which dominates their life, yet they have no hope of the future. They are staggering under heavy burdens of all kinds. Even the Jews of the Pharisees’ day knew the Messiah would come. Simeon looked forward to Him, Mary knew, Anna had hope despite her meager circumstance as a widow. Unsaved Californians don’t. And…Newsom doesn’t know that Jesus will judge him for his time in office.

And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. (Revelation 20:12)

Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, (Revelation 6:15).

What a day that will be for him, if he remains unrepentant. Meanwhile, we are not surprised that a population is staggering under man-made rules that intrude into their lives to the Nth degree. There is nothing new under the sun. But one does hope and pray that the Son appears soon, to part the darkness and shine the rays of purity and justice upon a dishonorable regime.


Christian writer and Georgia teacher's aide who loves Jesus, a quiet life, art, beauty, and children.

2 thoughts on “Pharisees are everywhere

  1. Today (Tuesday, Oct 20) Governor Newsom has now appointed a committee to decide when it is safe for Californians to get the vaccine against Covid-19. I’m not in a rush to get it, but if our Federal government says it’s safe, we should be able to decide for ourselves.


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