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Look What Happens To People Who Set Traps For Others
"While the trap failed to catch Him(Jesus) for Whom it was laid, it caught those who laid it." - Jamieson, Fausset, & Brown Commentary
Proverbs 28:10 says - "Whoso causeth the righteous to go astray in an evil way, he shall fall himself into his own pit: but the upright shall have good things in possession."
Esther 7:10 says - "So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai..."
Psalm 9:15 says - "The heathen are sunk down in the pit that they made: in the net which they hid is their own foot taken."
Psalm 10:2 says - "The wicked in his pride doth persecute the poor: let them be taken in the devices that they have imagined."
Psalm 57:6 says - "They have prepared a net for my steps; my soul is bowed down: they have digged a pit before me, into the midst whereof they are fallen themselves."
Ecclesiastes 10:8 says - "He that diggeth a pit shall fall into it; and whoso breaketh an hedge, a serpent shall bite him."
You will notice that each of the above Scriptures deals with someone setting a trap for another, yet in the end falling into his own trap. It is a known principle that anyone who seeks to entrap another ends up being entrapped himself. He who casts forth evil from his mouth has it fall within his own bosom. He sets his own house on fire with the same torch that he meant to burn his neighbor's. He who hurls a stone at others has it come down upon his own head. The blow aimed at others recoils on himself. That which one conceives and devises in his mind against another falls upon himself. The violence, injustice, oppression, and wrong shown to others come back on him.
Evil deeds have a tendency to leap back into your own arms.
A hunter will dig a pit in the earth and then slightly cover it over with reeds or earth in order to conceal it from the beast of prey. He will then drive the beast toward the trap - into which - if he is not careful - he can fall himself.
There is an incident recorded in the Bible where there was a group of people who attempted to entrap the Lord Jesus but ended up in their own snare. It is a familiar passage of Scripture to all of us - but not often looked upon in the the light of our topic today.
Let's study John 8:1-9 together and see what the Holy Spirit would have us learn from this valuable lesson.
"Jesus went unto the mount of Olives. And early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came unto Him; and He sat down, and taught them. And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto Him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, They say unto Him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? This they said, tempting Him, that they might have to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down, and with His finger wrote on the ground, as though He heard them not. So when they continued asking Him, He lifted up Himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again He stooped down, and wrote on the ground. And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst."
We open with the scene of Jesus being in the temple and teaching a large crowd of people who came early to hear Him. Among this group of people were the "scribes and the Pharisees." They were the theologians of the day - members of the Sanhedrin. They came not as the others to hear Jesus teach. As the story unfolds, we see that they came to entrap Him.
Interestingly enough, they brought a woman to Him - a sinner - one who was "taken in adultery, in the very act." They knew that He was considered to be a friend of sinners and was prone to forgive them. But they also knew what the Law of Moses said about those caught in the sin of adultery.
They called Him - "Master" - oddly enough, the day before they referred to Him as a deceiver. They applied to Him in a respectful manner in order to cover up their ill design.
It was unlawful to take a woman like this and present her publicly before a crowd. They had a designated court for such cases. But, who - among the crowd - was going to challenge the doings of these crooked leaders?
Several of the renowned commentators of the Bible believe that this woman was taken from one of the booths constructed for the Feast of Tabernacles that was going on at this time. It was a time of great festivities and - like always - there are some who will take what is holy and turn it into a time of intemperance, carnal mirth, and uncleanness.
These leaders' intent for bringing this woman before Jesus was not because they had righteous indignation and a great zeal against such a deliberate act of sin. They fully intended to bring Jesus into disgrace or danger.
Let us explain.
In Moses' law, death was the punishment for adultery. When the manner of death was not specified, it was usually understood to be by strangulation. If, however, the woman was betrothed to a man and then caught in the act of adultery, she was to be stoned. And then again, if the woman happened to be the daughter of a priest, she was burned alive for this sin.
Apparently, this woman who was caught in the very act of adultery was betrothed to a man for the leaders said to Jesus - "Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned..."
Notice what their next words to Jesus were - after rehearsing what Moses declared in the law - "...but what sayest thou?" In other words, do you agree with Moses or not? Are you a follower of Moses, or will ye be a relaxer of public morals and violate the law?
"...This they said, tempting Him, that they might have to accuse Him..." - They had a well thought-out plan to accuse Jesus of two basic things. If one did not work, then they would use the other.
If He condemned her to death, then He was claiming the power that belonged to the Romans alone - that is, the power of life and death. On the other hand, if He said that she should not be put to death, then He was deciding contrary to the Law and favored the crime or sin of an accused woman.
One thing that must be noted at this time is the fact that adultery was very rampant among the people in this age. It was the prevailing sin among the doctors. That explains why Jesus referred to it as - "...An evil and adulterous generation..."(Matthew 12:39). And it explains why they had to leave off the method of using the "waters of jealousy" as described in Numbers 5:11-31 to determine if the wife was guilty of this particular sin. This method didn't work if the husband was guilty as well. It turned out that the men were as guilty as the women.
Tradition had it that the rulers even twisted the law to compensate for their sinful times. They made void the law by saying that a woman would not be stoned for adultery unless she had a previous admonition. If there was no admonition and she confessed her crime, then she simply lost her dowry for committing this sin.
So we see that Jesus was faced with a predicament. If He said that the woman should be put to death, He would be in trouble with the Governor. If He said that she should be freed, He would be guilty of denying the authority of the law.
How did He respond to this trap?
The Scriptures tell us - "...But Jesus stooped down, and with His finger wrote on the ground, as though He heard them not."(John 8:6). He knew their purpose and was determined to pay them no attention. He wrote in the dust of the pavement - as though He heard them not.
It was when they insisted on getting an answer from Him that He sprung their own trap on themselves - "So when they continued asking Him, He lifted up Himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her"(John 8:7). In their blind pursuit to to entrap Him, they failed to remember that Moses' law required that the witnesses be the ones to cast the first stone. Since the scribes and the Pharisees were the witnesses against this woman, they would also be her executioners. Also, the law required that they would not be guilty of the same crime or of one resembling that of the criminal.
"...And again He stooped down, and wrote on the ground. And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last..."(John 8:8-9). One commentator believes that Jesus was writing the names of the leaders in the dust - based on Jeremiah 17:13 which says - "O LORD, the hope of Israel, all that forsake Thee shall be ashamed, and they that depart from me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken the LORD, the fountain of living waters." Others say that He wrote down their sins. But there isn't any evidence to prove either statement.
Whatever He wrote - one thing is certain - these accusers had their consciences stricken - being conscious of more sins committed than this woman caught in the very act of adultery. From those of the highest reputation to the lowest in rank - they quickly slipped away in shame - after encountering the Living Son of God.
These leaders dug a pit for Jesus - into which they fell themselves.
Do you feel as though you are being set up by others? Is someone out to get you? Are there those surrounding you who wish to see you fall?
Take courage from this story in the Bible. Jesus will confound your enemies just as He did His. Your accusers will walk away in shame - wishing that they never messed with you.
May God Bless His Word.