The Golden Rule with a Narrow Gate
The Golden Rule with a Narrow Gate (#624)
In Matthew's Gospel, we read of a sermon on a mountain from Yahushuah, our Redeemer and King. (Matthew 5:3 – 7:27) He spoke with authority to His disciples about many subjects. He taught them of Yah's blessings through Torah (Elohim's instructions on Life). He also encouraged them to serve as examples to the world by modifying their behavior with such matters as: anger, adultery, divorce, oath-taking, revenge, lovingkindness to enemies, almsgiving, praying, fasting, seeking heavenly treasure, serving Elohim, depending upon YAH, and judging others. In closing His astounding series of teachings, He summarized the gist of His message into a single sentence. It's known to many of His Believers as "The Golden Rule." (Matthew 7:12) “Therefore all things whatsoever you would that men should do to you, do you even so to them. For, this is the law (Torah) and the prophets.
I was taught as a young boy to "Treat everyone as you wish to be treated." I also learned in school that America was built upon this precept as seen within its Declaration of Independence: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
Although America's early leaders declared "all men are created equal" while some were still enslaved and women held no voting rights, Abraham Lincoln noted their worthy goal of seeking equal treatment for all Americans. "They meant to set up a standard maxim for free society which should be familiar to all, constantly looked to, constantly labored for, and even, though never perfectly attained, constantly approximated, and thereby constantly spreading and deepening its influence, and augmenting the happiness and value of life to all people, of all colors, everywhere. Lincoln's quote reminded me that while I easily remember and say The Golden Rule, it's hard to do what Yahushuah teaches especially toward everyone: male and female, young and old, regardless of race, religious creed, etc.
My study of The Golden Rule revealed it is a basic tenet of many religious organizations and governments. Scripture bears witness to its wisdom many times (KJV unless noted). (Leviticus 19:18) "You shall love your neighbor as yourself. I [am] YAHUAH." (Tobit 4:15; New American Bible) "Do to no one what you yourself dislike." (Luke 6:31-33) "As you would that men should do to you, do you also to them likewise. For if you love (act with kindness toward) them who love you, what thanks have you? For, sinners also love those who love them. And if you do good to them who do good to you, what thanks have you? For, sinners also do even the same." (Matthew 22:36-40) “Master, which [is] the great commandment in the law (Torah)?” Yahushuah said to him, “You shall love YAHUAH your Elohim with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second [is] like unto it, you shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all Torah and the prophets.”
While comforted to read that Yah's teachings as given through Moses (Torah) and the Prophets (Nevi'im) can be condensed into two commandments, Yahushuah's next few words were a bit discouraging. (Matthew 7:13-14) "Enter in at the strait gate. For, wide [is] the gate and broad [is] the way, that leads to destruction and many there be which go in thereat. Because strait [is] the gate and narrow [is] the way, which leads unto life and few there be that find it.”
Whenever troubled or confused about scripture, it's a sure sign that the matter needs further study and this article shares some of my findings. The KJV translates "strait," from the Greek "stenos" (G4728). It means "narrow," an adjective used to describe a "gate," or the Greek "pyle" (G4439). It means "an access or opening in a city wall, a palace, temple. or prison." Metaphorically, it can picture the entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven, or into hell. (Matthew 16:18) "I say also to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates (pyle) of hell shall not prevail against it."
Narrow ("strait") obviously is the opposite of "wide" ("broad"), but its next usage is a special form of the word. Translated from "eurychoros" (G2149), it means "spacious, broad" as in HUUUGGGE! The "way" comes from "hodos" (G3598). In scripture, it refers to "a travelled road," and metaphorically means "a course of conduct, or manner of thinking, feeling, deciding." (Matthew 21:32) "For John came to you in the way (chodos) of righteousness, and you believed him not. But the publicans and the harlots believed him. And you, when you had seen it, repented not afterward, that you might believe him."
Picture the Santa Monica Freeway in Los Angeles with 7 lanes going in one direction, and then visualize a one-lane bridge built for horse-drawn carriages in Kentucky. That kind of reflects what scripture is depicting. Also, imagine thousands of drivers travelling daily in that expressway ditch then compare it to one driver at a time crossing that dirt-road bridge across a stream.
This study had another surprise. KJV translates "leads to" from "apago" (G520), a verb only used in scripture for those who heading off to a trial, prison or punishment. (Matthew 27:2) When they had bound Him, they led Him away, (apago) and delivered Him to Pontius Pilate the governor.
Hence, the appropriateness of the word that followed, "destruction." From "apoleia" (G684), it describes "the destroying or utter destruction of vessels and perishing, ruin or destruction likened to misery in hell." (Romans 9:22) "What if Elohim, willing to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction (apoleia)."
Wow! Who wants to be driving in that direction? I also checked out that word "many." In Greek, it's "polys" (G4183) and means "much, large, a great number." (Matthew 22:14) For many (polys) are called, but few are chosen."
The word "few" is the exact opposite of "many." It is "oligos" (G3641) and means "little, a small number." (Matthew 25:21) His lord said to him, "Well done, you good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a few things (oligos). I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord."
Say it's not true Yahushuah! Most people are on a wide Highway to Hell? Only a few are travelling on a narow path toward your Heavenly Kingdom and Eternal Life? Indeed! (Luke 13:23-24) Then said one to Him, "Lord (Adonai), are there few that be saved?" And He said to them, "Strive to enter in at the strait gate. For many, I say to you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able."
Whoa, Nellie! Let's get clear on this. We choose between two roads and the direction of most people is the wrong way. The corect route is through a real tight lane that might cause some claustrophobia as we barely squeeze through to reach our goal. This is a critical life or death decision. Will it be the Way of YAH (a few), or the way of the masses? (1 Corinthians 15:58) "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of Adonai, forasmuch as you know that your labor is not in vain in Adonai."
Some further enlightenment came from an ancient document named "Didache", which means "Teaching." Scholars date it to the late 1st century and early 2nd century AD. Many believe it came from the 12 Apostles and it includes The Golden Rule and other subjects that Yahushuah taught: (Didache 1:1-2) "There are two ways, one of life and one of death! and there is a great difference between the two ways. The way of life is this: First, you shall love God (Elohim) who made you. And second, love your neighbor as yourself and do not do to another what you would not want done to you." (Didache 4:2-8) "Seek each day the faces of the saints in order that you may be refreshed by their words. Do not initiate divisions but rather bring peace to those who contend against one another. Judge righteously and do not take social status into account when reproving for transgressions. Do not waver in your decisions. Do not be one who opens his hands to receive, or closes them when it is time to give. If you have anything by your hands you should give ransom for your sins. Do not hesitate to give and do not complain about it. You will know in time who is the good Rewarder. Do not turn away from one who is in want; rather, share all things with your brother, and do not say that they are your own."
It said this of the wrong way: (Didache 5:1-2) "The way of death, on the other hand, is this: It is evil and accursed—murders, adulteries, lust, illicit sex, thefts, idolatries, magical arts, sorceries, robberies, false testimonies, hypocrisy, double-heartedness, deceit, haughtiness, depravity, self-will, greediness, filthy talking, jealousy, over-confidence, loftiness, boastfulness—those who do not fear Elohim. The way of death is the way of those who persecute the good, hate the truth, love lies, and do not understand the reward for righteousness. They do not cleave to good or righteous judgment; they do not watch for what is good, but for what is evil. They are strangers to meekness and patience, loving vanities, pursuing revenge, without pity for the needy and oppressed. They do not know their Creator; they are murderers of children, destroyers of Elohim's image. They turn away from those who are in need, making matters worse for those who are distressed. They are advocates for the rich, unjust judges of the poor. In a word, the way of death is full of those who are steeped in sin. Be delivered, children, from all of this!
Scripture also speaks of the choice between two options: (Joshua 24:14-15) "Now therefore fear YAHUAH and serve Him in sincerity and in truth. Put away the gods (the mighty ones) which your fathers served on the other side of the flood and in Egypt. Serve YAHUAH! And if it seem evil to you to serve YAHUAH, choose this day whom you will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that [were] on the other side of the flood or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve YAHUAH."
Carefully examine the above choices, and the one Israel chose: (Joshua 24:22-24) And Joshua said to the people, "You [are] witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen for you YAHUAH, to serve Him." And they said, "[We are] witnesses!" "Now therefore put away, [said he], the strange gods which [are] among you and incline your heart to YAHUAH Elohim of Israel." And the people said to Joshua, "YAHUAH our Elohim we will serve and His voice we will obey."
Consider our options: (1) a narrow gate (obeying Yahushuah's commands), or (2) a broad gate (not following Yahushuah's commands). Choose our path of life: (1) follow Yahushuah (incl. obeying Torah commands), or (2) ignore, disabuse, or reject YAH's teachings and Way (incl. following man's way and Satan's direction).
There's some more enlightment from another non-canized document, an ancient letter from Barnabas: (Barnabas 18:1-2) "But let us pass on to another lesson and teaching. There are two ways of teaching and of power, the one of light and the other of darkness; and there is a great difference between the two ways. For on the one are stationed the light giving angels of God, on the other
the angels of Satan. And the one is the Lord from all eternity and unto all eternity, whereas the other is Lord of the season of iniquity that now is." (Barnabas 19:1-2) This then is the way of light, if anyone desiring to travel on the way to his appointed place would be zealous in his works. The
knowledge then which is given to us whereby we may walk therein is as
follows. You shall love Him who made you. You shall fear Him who created
you. You shall glorify Him who redeemed you from death. You shall be simple in heart and rich in spirit. You shall not cleave to those who walk the way of death. You shall hate everything that is not pleasing to Elohim. You shall hate all hypocrisy. You shall never forsake the commandments of the Lord (YAHUAH).
Barnabas also wrote of the the wrong way: (Barnabas 20:1-2) "But the way of the Black One is crooked and full of a curse. For it is a way of eternal death with punishment wherein are the things that destroy men's souls--idolatry, boldness, exhalation of power, hypocrisy, doubleness of heart, adultery, murder, plundering, pride, transgression, treachery, malice, stubbornness, witchcraft, magic, covetousness, absence of the fear of God; persecutors of good men, hating the truth, loving lies, not perceiving the reward of righteousness, not cleaving to the good nor to the righteous judgment, paying no heed to the widow and the orphan, wakeful not for the fear of God but for that which is evil; men from whom gentleness and forbearance stand aloof and far off; loving vain things, pursuing a recompense, not pitying the poor man, not toiling for him that is oppressed with toil, ready to slander, not recognizing Him that made them murderers of children, corrupters of the creatures of God, turning away from him that is in want, oppressing him that is afflicted, advocates of the wealthy, unjust judges of the poor, sinful in all things."
It might seem harsh that only a few will enter Yah's Heavenly Kingdom after much struggle (striving). In trusting in Yah's wisdom and accepting His Will about working hard during my life-journey through this world, I still kept asking, “Why, Yah?” Then, I came across Paulo Coelho's blog called “The Lesson of the Butterfly” as adapted from a story by Sonaira D’Avila.
In short, Paulo blogs: “A man spent hours watching a butterfly struggle to emerge from its cocoon. It made a small hole, but its body was too large to get through it. After a long struggle, it seemed to be exhausted and stayed absolutely still. The man helped the butterfly by using scissors to cut open its cocoon. He released the butterfly, however, its body was very small and wrinkled. Its wings were crumpled. The man watched, hoping that the butterfly would open its wings to fly away. Nothing happened. The butterfly spent the rest of its brief life dragging around a shrunken body and shriveled wings, incapable of flight. In the man's kindness and eagerness to help, he failed to understand that the butterfly's efforts to escape tight cocoon were training and strengthening its wings.”
Sometimes, we need extra effort to prepare us for our next obstacle. Those who refuse to make that effort, or get the wrong sort of help are unprepared to fight their next battle. They never manage to fly off to their destiny. Recall our battle is not with other humans. We will defeat spiritual forces that hinder us from entering our Promised Land of Rest. Be encouraged, BYA! Persevere and be among the glorious few who enter through the Narrow Gate.
In the past 8 months, the Shofar wrote about roughly 1/3 of Yahushuah's commands (pastor ObadiYah identified over 100). We've come to read and seek understanding about these. May BYA hold high expectations and never grow tired of The Golden Rule. (Galatians 6:9-10) “Let us not be weary in well doing. For, in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all [men], especially unto them who are of the household of faith.”
Struggle builds confidence and overcoming struggles bring esteem to Elohim. Ultimately, striving is good! Don't miss your opportunity to strive due to lack of scriptural knowledge or understanding! Don't be lazy or lackadaisical! Read and search out the Word. Seek and do the Will of our Heavenly Father! (Acts 14:22) “Confirming the souls of the disciples, [and] exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of Elohim.”
Yah is calling a special group of people to engage in spiritual warfare. This royal army of Elohim declares victory over every principality or power that dares oppose YAH and will rule forever with YAHUAH Tzaviot (LORD of Hosts). To join that army we must choose the Way of holiness (righteousness), a standard which Yahushuah sets to determine who enters through His Door (the Gate) of our Heavenly Father's Kingdom. Will you opt for YAH's Way and seek to strive in a narrow gate? We read of some who didn't. (Acts 28:23-24) When they appointed him a day, there came many to him to [his] lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of Elohim, persuading them concerning Yahushuah both out of the law of Moses (Torah), and [out of] the prophets (Nevi'im), from morning till evening. And some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not.
Will we choose Satan's way, or Yah's Way. Those stuck in modern society's ways may choose to close their eyes (remain ignorant). Or, they may choose to sleep (remain lazy or distracted by worldly entertainment). Many won't even hear of YAHUAH's Salvation Plan, or have hardened their hearts: (Acts 28:25-28) When they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, “Well spoke the Holy Ghost (Ruach ha'Qodesh) by Esaias (Isaiah) the prophet to our fathers, saying, 'Go to this people and say, Hearing you shall hear and shall not understand; and seeing you shall see and not perceive. For, the heart of this people is waxed gross, their ears are dull of hearing and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with [their] eyes, hear with [their] ears, understand with [their] heart, and should be converted and I should heal them.' Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of Elohim is sent unto the Gentiles, and [that] they will hear it.”
“May the favor of Yahushuah ha'Mashiach be with your spirit, BYA. And, may His mercy be upon us all.” Shalom, Curt
Thoughts for Meditation
“What you would avoid suffering yourself, seek not to impose on others.” Epictetus (about 100 CE)
“May I do to others as I would that they should do unto me.” Plato (Greece, about 4th century BCE)
“Do not do to others that which would anger you if others did it to you.” Socrates (Greece, about 5th century BCE)
“Treat your inferiors as you would be treated by your superiors.” - Seneca (Rome, 1st century CE)