Love grows cold (Mt 24:12-24:12)

“Because of the increase

Of lawlessness,

The love of many

Will grow cold.”

 

καὶ διὰ τὸ πληθυνθῆναι τὴν ἀνομίαν ψυγήσεται ἡ ἀγάπη τῶν πολλῶν.

 

This little saying about love growing cold is unique to Matthew.  Jesus continued saying that due to the increase of lawlessness (καὶ διὰ τὸ πληθυνθῆναι τὴν ἀνομίαν) in Jewish society, the love of many would grow cold (ψυγήσεται ἡ ἀγάπη τῶν πολλῶν).  In the midst of all this tribulation, revolutions, and destructions, the Christian love, their agape (ἡ ἀγάπη) would cool or grow cold.

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The practical consequences of religious belief

Religion is about belief and behavior.  How we behave depends on what we believe.  The “what” and “why” of life feed into each other.  By doing a certain thing we understand why we are doing it.  We start to do it by first believing it worthwhile.  Behavior is determined by belief, but belief is also determined by behavior.  Praxis is acting and doing.  Theory is thinking and understanding.  We live according to what we believe.  We believe according to the way we live.  There is a circular interplay.  True religion is an integrating force in our lives, so that the whole person is really an integrated personality.  Religion is not a view of life, but a way of living.  A person’s view of the world reflects a way of living.  We express our ethical beliefs in both a concrete and symbolic way.  We have to understand what is being done, in order to understand what is said.  Religion is a life style, not an idea.  Are you challenged to be yourself?  Do these religious practices increase your identity?  Do they challenge you to be freer?  Do they open new horizons?  Do they have value?  Is your human existence better off?  These are the questions you must ask about your religious practice.

The prostitution of Israel (Hos 4:10-4:12)

“They shall eat,

But not be satisfied.

They shall play the prostitute,

But not multiply.

They have forsaken

Yahweh

To cherish prostitution.

Wine,

With new wine,

Takes away

Understanding.

My people consult

A piece of wood.

Their divining rod

Gives them oracles.

A spirit of prostitution

Has led them astray.

They have left

Their God

To play the prostitute.”

These northern Israelites would eat, but not be satisfied or full. They played the prostitute. They did not increase or multiply. They have cherished prostitution rather than Yahweh. All kinds of wine, new and old, take away understanding. Thus, the Israelite people consult with pieces of wood, the wooden idol gods. Their oracles or sayings come from their magical divining rods or sticks. This concept of prostitution has led them astray. They have left God to be prostitutes to other gods. Obviously, this was an allusion to the prostitution fertility rites and the fact that they were turning to other wooden idol gods, rather than being faithful to Yahweh.

Daniel closes the book (Dan 12:4-12:4)

“But you!

Daniel!

Keep the words secret!

Keep the book sealed,

Until the time

Of the end!

Many shall be running

Back and forth.

Knowledge with evil

Shall increase.”

Gabriel then told Daniel to keep these words a secret.  He was to keep the book of life sealed until the end times.  Many people would be running around all over the place.  However, between then and now both knowledge and evil would increase.

The new increasing flocks in Israel (Ezek 36:37-36:38)

“Thus says Yahweh God!

‘I will also

Let the house of Israel

Ask me

To do this

For them.

I will increase

Their population

Like a flock,

Like the flock

For sacrifices,

Like the flock

At Jerusalem

During her appointed festivals.

Thus,

Shall the ruined towns

Be filled

With flocks of people.

Then they shall know

That I am Yahweh.’”

Yahweh, via Ezekiel, compared the growth in humans in Israel to that of an ever-increasing flock of animals. He was going to increase the whole population of Israel. He would increase those showing up for sacrifices at the appointed religious festivals in Jerusalem. Those ruined towns would have more people just as the flock of animals and birds increases. Finally, they would all know that Yahweh was their God.

The return from the Exile (Jer 3:15-3:18)

“‘I will give you shepherds

After my own heart.

They will feed you

With knowledge.

They will feed you

With understanding.

When you have multiplied,

You will have increased in the land.’

Says Yahweh.

‘In those days,

They shall no more say.

‘The ark of the covenant of Yahweh.’

It shall not come to mind.

It will not be remembered.

It will not be missed.

There will not be another one made.

At that time

Jerusalem shall be called

The throne of Yahweh.

All nations shall gather to it.

In the presence of Yahweh,

In Jerusalem,

They shall no more stubbornly follow

Their own evil will.

In those days

The house of Judah shall

Join the house of Israel.

Together they shall come

From the land of the north

To the land that I gave your ancestors

For a heritage.’”

Yahweh speaks via Jeremiah about what was going to happen in the future after they returned from the Exile. They would have good shepherd rulers with knowledge and understanding leading them. They would increase and multiply in the promised land of their ancestors.   In a strange sort of comment, the Ark of the Covenant would be replaced by the city of Jerusalem as the throne of Yahweh. Somehow they were going to forget and not miss the Ark of the Covenant. Many nations would come to Jerusalem. This sounds like it was written at the time of the Exile about a future hope for Jerusalem. The returned Israelites would no longer follow their own evil ways, as the house of Judah would come together with the northern tribes of Israel. They would enjoy the land that was given to them as the heritage of their ancestors.

From darkness to light (Isa 9:2-9:5)

“The people who walked in darkness

Have seen a great light.

Those who lived

In a land of deep darkness,

Light has shined on them.

You have multiplied the nation.

You have increased its joy.

They rejoice before you,

As with joy

At the harvest,

As people exalt

When dividing plunder.

You have broken

The yoke of their burden,

The bar across their shoulders,

The rod of their oppressor,

As on the day of Midian.

All the boots

Of the tramping warriors,

With all the garments

Rolled in blood,

Will be burned

As fuel for the fire.”

Isaiah predicts that the time of darkness will turn to light. Light will shine on them. Their nation will increase with joy just like at harvest time or the splitting up of plunder. Their yoke and the bar across their shoulders will have been broken. The oppressor’s rod will have been laid aside just like at Midian. Could this be a reference to Midianites in Judges, chapter 7, when Gideon attacked them? Anyway, all the boots of the trampling warriors and their bloody garments will be used as fuel to be burned in a fire.