Isaiah 1:23 NIV
23 Your rulers are rebels, partners with thieves; they all love bribes and chase after gifts. They do not defend the cause of the fatherless; the widow’s case does not come before them.
Tonight in Bible study we covered the following verses in Luke 20 46“Beware of the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. 47 They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.” When Jesus said the above He was speaking to His disciples while the Pharisees, Sadducees, and scribes/teachers of the law listened in as He had just defeated them in various verbal arguments.
That they were listening in is important as His words were obviously directed at them. Not only were His words directed at them, but they had a great historical flavor as we can see in Isaiah 1:23 above. Just a few verses earlier God had given instructions on how the widows and fatherless were to be cared for 17 Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow. They did not plead the widow’s case. Instead they made sure it did not come before them. Thus making it possible to devour a widow’s house and home.
Jesus is slamming the teachers of the law specifically as they would have to know the books of the Old Testament and any part that was related to the law. Certainly v17 seems to be a directive or command. Isaiah had more to say on this in 10:1-2 when he wrote Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless. Now we know how they would go about devouring widows’ home, they would make unjust laws and issue oppressive decrees. Jesus effectively accuses them of the same evil described here in Isaiah.
The point here is the insult and accusation laid upon the teachers of the law (and others who were complicit) has its foundation in the Bible of Jesus and the others of His time on earth. The teachers of the law and His own disciples understood Jesus was condemning those who devoured widows’ houses based on scripture and directions given by His Father.
Another reason I bring this up is because being familiar with the Old Testament often times provides great context for what Jesus or one of His disciples has said or done.