The narrow gate (Mt 7:13-7:14)

“Enter through

The narrow gate!

The other gate is

Wide and spacious.

The way that is easy

Leads to destruction.

There are many

Who take the wide gate.

The narrow gate

Has a difficult way

That leads to life.

There are few

Who find it.”

 

ἰσέλθατε διὰ τῆς στενῆς πύλης· ὅτι πλατεῖα ἡ πύλη καὶ εὐρύχωρος ἡ ὁδὸς ἡ ἀπάγουσα εἰς τὴν ἀπώλειαν, καὶ πολλοί εἰσιν οἱ εἰσερχόμενοι δι’ αὐτῆς·

ὅτι στενὴ ἡ πύλη καὶ τεθλιμμένη ἡ ὁδὸς ἡ ἀπάγουσα εἰς τὴν ζωήν, καὶ ὀλίγοι εἰσὶν οἱ εὑρίσκοντες αὐτήν.

 

This saying of Jesus is somewhat similar to Luke, chapter 13:23-24.  You had a choice between two gates.  Jesus, via Matthew, wanted you to enter the narrow gate (ἰσέλθατε διὰ τῆς στενῆς πύλης).  Matthew in his description of the wide or spacious gate (ὅτι πλατεῖα ἡ πύλη καὶ εὐρύχωρος) used two words for wide and spacious, “πλατεῖα” and “εὐρύχωρος,” that never appear elsewhere in the New Testament.  The easy way of the wide gate led to destruction (ἡ ὁδὸς ἡ ἀπάγουσα εἰς τὴν ἀπώλειαν).   Many people were entering through this wide destructive easy gate (καὶ πολλοί εἰσιν οἱ εἰσερχόμενοι δι’ αὐτῆς).  On the other hand, the narrow gate (ὅτι στενὴ ἡ πύλη) had a difficult way, leading to life (καὶ τεθλιμμένη ἡ ὁδὸς ἡ ἀπάγουσα εἰς τὴν ζωήν).  Only a few people were able to find their way through this difficult hard narrow life filled gate (καὶ ὀλίγοι εἰσὶν οἱ εὑρίσκοντες αὐτήν).  This idea of two ways can be found also in Deuteronomy, chapter 30:15-20, and among other religions with the way of death and the way of life.  The early Christian teachings of the Didache used this concept, as did many other dualistic religions that pointed to the choice of life or death, good or bad.  As you had basic choices in life, God was giving you the choice, life and prosperity with the narrow gate or death and adversity through the wide gate.  You could choose your path.

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Compassion for Jerusalem (Zech 1:15-1:17)

“‘I am extremely angry

With the nations

That are at ease.

While only a little angry,

They made the disaster worse.’

Therefore,

Thus says Yahweh.

‘I have returned to Jerusalem

With compassion.

My house shall be built in it.’

Says Yahweh of hosts.

‘The measuring lines

Shall be stretched out

Over Jerusalem.

Proclaim further!

Thus says Yahweh of hosts.

My cities

Shall again overflow

With prosperity.

Yahweh will again comfort Zion.

He will again choose Jerusalem.’”

While Yahweh was angry at the various easy-going nations, he was going to be compassionate to Jerusalem.  The other countries had made matters worse.  Now Yahweh was going to return to Jerusalem with compassion for its people.  Yahweh of hosts was going to spread out his measuring lines over Jerusalem.  He wanted them to proclaim that the cities of Yahweh would again overflow with prosperity.  Yahweh has chosen Jerusalem and Zion as his home.

The splendor of the house of Yahweh (Hag 2:7-2:9)

“‘Thus,

The treasures

Of all the nations

Shall come.

I will fill this house

With splendor.’

Says Yahweh of hosts.

‘The silver is mine.

The gold is mine.’

Says Yahweh of hosts.

‘The latter splendor

Of this house

Shall be greater

Than the former.’

Says Yahweh of hosts.

‘In this place,

I will give prosperity.’

Says Yahweh of hosts.’”

These are 4 short quick sayings of Yahweh of hosts, via Haggai.  First, Yahweh said that the treasures of the various countries would come to him, as he was gong to fill his new house with splendor.  Secondly, the silver and gold already belonged to him.  Thirdly, Yahweh of hosts said that the splendor of the new house of Yahweh would be greater than the Temple built by David and Solomon.  Finally, there would be prosperity for all people around the Temple.

Jerusalem is in sack cloth (Bar 4:17-4:20)

“But I!

How can I help you?

He who brought

These calamities

Upon you

Will deliver you

From the hand

Of your enemies.

Go!

My children!

Go!

I have been left desolate.

I have taken off

The robe of peace.

I put on

Sackcloth

For my supplication.

I will cry

To the Everlasting One

All my days.”

The personification of Jerusalem continued with the first person singular, I. Jerusalem wanted to know how she could help. God, who brought their calamities, was also going to deliver them from the hand of their enemies. Jerusalem told her children to go and leave her. She would be left desolate. She was going to take off her robe of peace and prosperity to put on sackcloth for crying to the Everlasting One, not Yahweh, all her remaining days.

Future restoration (Jer 33:6-33:9)

“I going to bring

Recovery

With healing.

I will heal them.

I will reveal to them

Abundance of prosperity

With security.

I will restore

The fortunes of Judah,

The fortunes of Israel.

I will rebuild them

As they were at first.

I will cleanse them

From all the guilt

Of their sin

Against me.

I will forgive

All the guilt

Of their sin

With their rebellion

Against me.

This city shall be to me

A name of joy,

A praise,

As well as a glory

Before all the nations

Of the earth.

They shall hear

Of all the good

That I do for them.

They shall fear.

They shall tremble

Because of all the good,

As well as all the prosperity

I provide for it.”

Yahweh was going to heal Israel and Judah. He was going to help the city of Jerusalem to recover. They would have an abundance of prosperity and security in Jerusalem. Both the fortunes of the towns in Judah and among the northern Israelites would be rebuilt for them like it used to be. Yahweh was going to cleanse them from the guilt of all their sins against him. He was going to forgive their rebellion against him. Jerusalem would become a name of joy, praise, and glory for the whole world to see. Everyone would know about Jerusalem and the good that Yahweh had done for them. In fact, they would tremble and fear at all the good prosperity that he had provided for them. There were great days ahead.

Prosperity (Isa 66:12-66:14)

“Thus says Yahweh.

‘I will extend prosperity to her

Like a river.

The wealth of the nations shall be

Like an overflowing stream.

You shall nurse.

You shall be carried on her arm.

You shall be dandled on her knees.

As a mother comforts her child,

So I will comfort you.

You shall be comforted in Jerusalem.

You shall see.

Your heart shall rejoice.

Your bones shall flourish

Like the grass.

It shall be known

That the hand of Yahweh is

With his servants.

His indignation is

Against his enemies.’”

The prophet proclaims that Yahweh, in the first person singular, will bring prosperity to Jerusalem like an overflowing river. Yahweh will nurse and carry them in his arms. He will rock them on his knees, as Yahweh assumes the anthropomorphic feminine role of a nurturing mother. He will be like a comforting mother as he comforts Jerusalem. They will see and rejoice as their bodies flourish like wild grass. Yahweh’s hand is with his servants, but his indignation is against his enemies.

What Yahweh would have done for Israel (Isa 48:17-48:19)

“Thus says Yahweh!

Your Redeemer!

The Holy One of Israel!

‘I am Yahweh your God!

I teach you for your own good.

I lead you in the way you should go.

O that you had paid attention

To my commandments!

Then your prosperity would have been

Like a river.

Your success would have been

Like the waves of the sea.

Your offspring would have been

Like the sand.

Your descendants would have been

Like its grains.

Their name would never be cut off.

They would never have been destroyed

From before me.’”

Second Isaiah explains what Yahweh would have done had the Israelites followed his commandments. Yahweh said that he was the redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, their God. He had taught them how to live on the right path by following his commandments. However, they did not pay attention to him. They could have had prosperity and success like the rivers and the sea waves. They could have had offspring and descendants like the many grains of sand. They would have never been cut off or destroyed if they had only followed Yahweh’s teaching commands.