The narrow door (Lk 13:23-13:24)

“Jesus said to them.

‘Strive to enter

Through the narrow door!

I tell you!

Many will try

To enter

And will not be able.’”

 

ὁ δὲ εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτούς

Ἀγωνίζεσθε εἰσελθεῖν διὰ τῆς στενῆς θύρας, ὅτι πολλοί, λέγω ὑμῖν, ζητήσουσιν εἰσελθεῖν καὶ οὐκ ἰσχύσουσιν.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said to them (ὁ δὲ εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτούς) that they were to strive (Ἀγωνίζεσθε) to enter (εἰσελθεῖν) through the narrow door (διὰ τῆς στενῆς θύρας).  With a solemn pronouncement (λέγω ὑμῖν), Jesus said that many people (ὅτι πολλοί) would try to enter (ζητήσουσιν εἰσελθεῖν), but not be able to do so (καὶ οὐκ ἰσχύσουσιν).  This saying of Jesus is somewhat similar to Matthew, chapter 7:13-14, where it was part of the Sermon on the Mount, not a response to a question.  Matthew had Jesus go into great detail about the narrow gate and not a door.  Jesus wanted them 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 this choice, life and prosperity with the narrow gate or death and adversity with the wide gate.  You had a choice between two gates.  The choice of path was yours.  Do you prefer the wide or the narrow door?

The vision of the large flying scroll (Zech 5:1-5:2)

“Again,

I looked up.

I saw a flying scroll!

He said to me.

‘What do you see?’

I answered.

‘I see a flying scroll.

Its length is twenty cubits.

Its breadth is ten cubits.’”

Zechariah had his 6th vision.  The angel that he had been speaking to asked him what he saw.  He looked up and saw this large flying scroll, 60 feet long and 30 feet wide, that probably indicated the word of Yahweh.

The gold statue (Dan 3:1-3:1)

“King Nebuchadnezzar

Made a golden statue.

Its height was sixty cubits.

Its width was six cubits.

He set it up

On the plain of Dura,

In the province of Babylon.”

King Nebuchadnezzar decided to make a large golden statue of himself. This golden statue was very tall, 60 cubits or about 90 feet tall, 30 yards high, disproportionally high, since the width was a mere 6 cubits or 9 feet wide or 3 yards wide. Perhaps, this height included the pedestal. He put this statue on the plain of Dura, some unknown place close to the city of Babylon. It is not clear how soon after the events in chapter 2, that this took place. In the king’s dream, Daniel had described him as the golden head. However, the Septuagint mentions the 18th year of his rule, or about 587 BCE, around the time of the siege of Jerusalem.

The Levitical priests (Ezek 48:13-48:14)

“Alongside the territory

Of the priests,

The Levites shall have

An allotment.

It shall be

Twenty-five thousand cubits

In length,

Ten thousand cubits

In width.

The whole length

Shall be

Twenty-five thousand cubits.

The whole width

Shall be

Twenty thousand cubits.

They shall not sell

Any of it.

They shall not exchange

Any of it.

They shall not transfer

This choice portion

Of the land.

It is holy

To Yahweh.”

Just like in chapter 44, Ezekiel separated the Levites from the priests of Zadok, yet they had an equal amount of living quarters. The Levites would have the opposite side of the sanctuary, next to the descendants of Zadok, with the same size of a portion, 25,000 cubits long and 10,000 cubits wide. Thus, the whole holy portion with the living quarters for the priests and the Levites would be 25,000 by 20,000 cubits, including the sanctuary portion also. These priests and Levites were not allowed to sell, exchange, or transfer any of this choice portion of the land, because it was the holy land of Yahweh.

The holy portions for the sanctuary priests (Ezek 48:9-48:10)

“The portion

That you shall set apart

For Yahweh

Shall be

Twenty-five thousand cubits

In length.

It shall be

Twenty thousand cubits

In width.

These shall be

The allotments

Of the holy portion.

The priests shall have

An allotment measuring

Twenty-five thousand cubits

On the northern side.

It shall be

Ten thousand cubits

In width

On the western side.

It shall be

Ten thousand cubits

In width

On the eastern side.

It shall be

Twenty-five thousand cubits

In length

On the southern side.

The sanctuary

Of Yahweh

Shall be

In the middle of it.”

Ezekiel clearly delineated this sacred territory that was set apart for Yahweh. This section was to be 25,000 cubits or about a mile long and 20.000 cubits wide or about ¾ of a mile wide. The priests shall have a section 25,000 by 10,000 cubits on the northern and western side. Then there would be another 25,000 by 10,000 cubits section on the southern and eastern side. Right in the middle of these two sections would be the sanctuary of Yahweh.

The land for all the Israelites (Ezek 45:6-45:6)

“Alongside the portion

Set apart

As the holy district,

You shall assign

As a possession

For the city

An area

Five thousand cubits wide,

Twenty-five thousand cubits long.

It shall belong

To the whole house

Of Israel.”

Besides the holy district in the city of Jerusalem, there was to be another portion of the land set aside for all the people of Israel. In fact, it is rather small, only half the size of the land set apart for the Levites. This is a long strip of land 25,000 cubits long, but only 5,000 cubits wide. It would seem that there were more Levites than regular people in Jerusalem.

The holy portion of the land (Ezek 45:1-45:1)

“When you allot the land

As an inheritance,

You shall set apart

For Yahweh

A portion of the land

As a holy district,

Twenty-five thousand cubits long,

Twenty thousand cubits wide.

It shall be holy

Throughout its entire extent.”

Here is the grand design for the new Jerusalem. Yahweh wanted Ezekiel to set aside a large portion of the land to be holy, a true holy land. This was the expectation of a new configuration for Jerusalem, the holy city, not just the Temple itself. This rectangular area was about 25,000 by 20,000 cubits, a large section of land about 9 miles by 8 miles wide. How he was going to get this really big area was not clear.