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ANCIENT SCROLLS HEBRAIC ARTWORK



The 2,000 year old Dead Sea Scrolls have been hailed as the “greatest manuscript discovery of modern times.”  This unprecedented archaeological find comprised thousands of ancient manuscript fragments both biblical and sectarian.   Included were never before seen renditions of the Great Isaiah Scroll with prophetical scriptures such as Isaiah 53.  These artifacts have helped us to reconstruct the history of pre-Rabbinic Judaism and the foundations of modern Christian belief. 

Before the discovery of the celebrated Dead Sea Scrolls, however, several square Hebrew inscriptions belonging mainly to the 1st century B.C.E. and succeeding centuries were known.  These inscriptions were found on rocks, tombs, or ossuaries (depositories for the bones of the dead) and in synagogues and catacombs in Parts of Israel, Syria, North Africa, and Italy.  The earliest fragment is the Nash Papyrus, dating to approximately the 1st century B.C.E., is now in the University of Cambridge Library.


The Nash Papyrus contains a portion of the biblical text of the Decalogue (Ten Commandments) and the Shema.  This fragment bears witness to a form of Hebrew text current in Egypt in the 1st century B.C.E. that differed significantly from the text later preserved by the Masoretes in the “authoritative version of the Hebrew Scriptures.”   The Book of the Prophet Isaiah, more than any other text discovered with the Dead Sea Scrolls, contains the greatest number of prophetical scriptures taken from the Hebrew Bible and subsequently utilized int he New Testament by 1st century C.E. Jewish Christians.                                                                                                                                             

    



   


















Ancient Scrolls Hebraic Artwork

Ancient Scrolls Artwork consists of esthetically aged, computer enhanced reproductions of the Dead Sea Scroll Great Isaiah Scroll and the Nash Papyrus artifacts, incorporated into framed wall hung and mezuzah style door scrolls and amulets/pendants.  This framed artwork includes english translations of the scroll excerpts with narratives describing the prophetical Messianic understandings given to these biblical passages prior to the creation of Rabbinic Judaism and Traditional Christianity.  These creations are therefore meaningful to scholars, both Jewish and Christian, and people of faith who are searching for authentic understanding of "Biblical Judaism and Biblical Christianity", the God ordained beliefs of the ancient Israelites.  These Israelites were from the beginning a "mixed multitude" of Jewish and Gentile believers in the God of Isreael and His Redeemer, the promised Messiah as spoken of int he Hebrew Scriptures.  



Isaiah Scroll Framed Artwork


The “Great Isaiah Scroll” was discovered in the caves of Qumran in 1947.  This twenty-four foot long scroll is the oldest copy of the Book of Isaiah in existence.  The earliest manuscripts of the Dead Sea Scrolls date from about 250 B.C.E. while the latest ones were copied shortly before the Roman destruction of the Qumran site in 68 C.E.  The prophetical scroll fragments selected speak of the coming of the Jewish Messiah (Isaiah 53) and the future interrelationship between the remnant of the people Israel and the remnant of all the nations, or gentiles (Isaiah Ch. 11 & 49). 


Our artwork includes excerpts from the Book of Isaiah, Chapter 53, which depicts the “Suffering Servant”, the Messiah of Israel.  Although modern/contemporary Judaism considers this passage to refer to the People Israel, both ancient Aramaic Targums and the Talmud (Sanhedrin 98b) claim that this passage makes reference to the Messiah, as did Maimonides the great twelfth century Jewish sage.  The Dead Sea Scrolls Great Isaiah Scroll, Chapter 53 is the only Hebrew version to contain a word, that up until its discovery in the Dead Sea Scrolls had only been included in the Septuagint, or Greek version of the Hebrew Scriptures.  This “missing word” may add clarification to the Hebrew rendering of this Scripture and leads one to ask why was this word not included in the generally considered more authoritative Masoretic version of the Hebrew Bible. 


Other available framed artwork includes excerpts with references to Isaiah Chapters 11, and 49.  These scriptures are also universally accepted as messianic prophecies by both Jewish and Christian commentators.  These fragments make reference to a Messiah who is the king of both Israel and the nations (gentiles).  Therefore, He represents a pre-New Testament Messiah (Christ in Greek) of all people and of all nations, in effect the whole world.   It is prophesied that the LORD will bring his people Israel back from the four corners of the earth, and the nations or gentiles will be used by the LORD to accomplish this task.  The gentiles shall carry Israel back to the LORD, “in their arms and on their shoulders”, along a highway prepared by the LORD.  In the New Testament Book of [1]Ephesians it is stated that the gentiles shall be part of the “commonwealth of Israel”, and that both Jew and Gentile shall be part of the Biblical “household of God.” 

The scroll fragments selected all speak of this future interrelationship between the remnant of Israel and the remnant of all the nations, or gentiles.  This unity between Jew and gentile has always been an essential part of God’s redemptive plan for the whole world through His Messiah. All of our products represent the Biblical Mosaic and pre-Rabbinic Jewish understanding of Messianic Scriptures and, therefore, are of interest to Jews and Christians alike.

 

Ancient Scrolls Mezuzah Style Door Scroll


Generally, a “kosher” mezuzah is a  parchment inscribed with religious texts from the Torah and attached in a case to the doorpost of a Jewish house as a sign of faith. These verses comprise the Jewish prayer "Shema Yisrael", beginning with the phrase: "Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is One"  The commandment to affix a mezuzah to the doorframe in Jewish homes is widely followed in the Jewish world, even by Jews who are not religiously observant.


 

 
A traditional mezuzah consists of a small piece of parchment inscribed with the biblical passages Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and 11:13-21 and marked with the word Shaddai, a name of the Almighty, that is rolled up in a container and affixed by many Jewish households to their door frames in conformity with Jewish law and as a sign of their faith.






The  Nash Papyrus was acquired in Egypt by W.L. Nash, the first described by Stanley A. Cook in 1903.  The fragments were the oldest Hebrew fragments known at the time which contained a portion of the biblical text, specifically, the Decalogue and the Shema.  Though dated by Cook to the second century C.E., subsequent reappraisals by Albright and others have pushed the date back to the second century. 



Although not considered Kosher by today’s contemporary Rabbinic standards, the Nash Papyrus Mezuzah Style door entry scrolls and pendants represent a pre-Rabbinic tradition of combining the Ten Commandments with the Shema.  Twenty four lines long, the papyrus contains the Ten Commandments in Hebresw, followed by the start of the Shema Yisrael prayer.  The text of the Ten Commandments combines parts of the version from Exodus 20:2-17 with parts from Deuteronomy 5:6-21.  The earliest know document of Rabbinic Judaism, written around 200 C.E. indicates that the Ten Commandments were read immediately prior to the Shema in the Jewish prayer service during the Greco-Roman period.  Interestingly, the Babylonian Talmud compiled around 600 C.E. indicates the practice of reading the Ten Commandments as part of the Jewish worship service was discontinued due to claim made by early Christians that such practice demonstrated that the Ten Commandments were the only valid portion of the Torah and /or the claim that the Decalogue alone was given to Moses at Sinai. 




Therefore, The Nash Papyrus and the other Tefillin (Phylacteries) later uncovered in the Dead Sea Scrolls are definitely at variance with rabbinic tradition.  Apparently the Decalogue had been part of the regular text of all Tefillin up to the final years of the Second Temple period, but were omitted from the standard rabbinic text established in the 2nd century C.E.  Although the Ten Commandments are no longer read as part of the service in the synagogue, the Shema is frequently invoked. 





Ancient Scrolls Mezuzah Style Pendant/Amulet


A computer enhanced Nash Papyrus fragment is encapsulated in a small mezuzah style copper alloy and glass canister, capped in 14K gold.  The see-thru canister allows viewing of a portion of the fragment that includes both the Shema and the Ten Commandments.

In the Second Temple period the sages established that tefillin (phylacteries; amulets in Greek) would include four scriptural passages inscribed on parchment placed in a box-like container made of black leather.  The scriptural verses were penned in clear minuscule characters on the elongated writing material, which was folded over to fit the minute compartments in the leather containers.  These tefillin served as a sign and a reminder that the LORD had brought the children of Israel out of Egypt. 



God’s commandments are supposed to be precious to us and to be remembered always.  Although attractive and pleasing to the eye, our mezuzah pendant is more than merely a piece of jewelry.  According the Rashbam, a commentator in the eleventh century, “The Torah is be like a fine bracelet or necklace which we are to wear proudly.  Rashi’s grandson rightfully interprets the “tefillin passage” as a metaphor which demands that we remember the Torah always and treasure it like a piece of fine jewelry. 


In a very practical sense, this mezuzah connects us today with the ancient people of God, and the God of Israel.  These replicas of artifacts in existence 2,000 years ago during the second temple period, create a direct link with our Biblical Jewish faith.



Contacting Ancient Scrolls Hebraic Artowrk

We can also be contacted at our e-mail address:  isaiahscroll@verizon.net.  Our esthetically pleasing pieces of framed art include English translations, messianic interpretations and discussions of intertestamental Judaism and Biblical Christianity. Our Israelite perspective existed prior to the historical and political split that occurred in the 1st to 3rd centuries, which over the centuries has resulted in mutual “non-Biblical” alienation between both religious beliefs.



Our Mission  -  Biblical Judaism and Biblical Christianity



The following question should be basic and relatively easy to answer.  Is the God of Israel the God of the Church?  To some, the God of Israel is Jehovah and the God of the Church is Jesus.  Two different God's for two different peoples of God. The God of Love for the Church vs. the God of Wrath for Israel.   This theology is not Biblical. Unfortunately, however, it has been perpetuated for centuries and has its underpinnings in the Gnostic movement that surfaced shortly after the creation of the so called "Church" of New Testament believers. God has always intended to touch the world with His message of salvation, and from a biblical perspective, this work was to start and finish with His agents, the People Israel and their Messiah.  The Torah says that the Israel that was redeemed from Egypt was a "mixed multitude" of both Hebrews and Egyptians of various tribes and backgrounds.  Using biblical terms, it was a combination of Israelites and the nations or gentiles.  The same composition as the ecclesia or the community of followers of Yeshua in the New Testament, "starting with the Jew first and then the Gentile."

The God of Israel never intended to create two competing religions by which he would affect the whole world.  The God of Israel and the God of the New Testament Church are the same God.  Yehsua, the Messiah of Israel, was born a Jew, lived as a Jew, died as a Jew, and will return to rule and reign as the King of Israel in Jerusalem.  These are Biblical facts, but over the centuries these facts have been obscured by the trappings of traditional religious teaching and dogma.  This has been accomplished in spite of the efforts or Yeshua (Jesus), Rabbi Shaul (St. Paul), Jacob (St. James) and all of the apostles of the first century.  Although all of the Yeshua and all the original disciples have been given Latin/Greek and English names over the centuries, they were from birth all Israelites with what today would be considered "Jewish" names.   Effectively, the political effort for the Church to replace Israel as God's People has been a successful project with few people asking the important question, "As a believer in the God of Israel, how do I follow in the footsteps of the Messiah and live my life in a manner that is glorifying to God?"

The challenge for both Jew and gentile is to truly know The God of Israel and have relationship with him.  Per the Bible, the God of Israel is the only God that can provide salvation.  It is incumbent on each of us to reconcile Torah (the written Word of God) and Yeshua (the Torah or Word of God “fulfilled” in human form).  Generally, each of these manifestations of God are considered divine by contemporary Jews and Christians, respectively, and is their means to salvation.

 The following paper is intended to provide the biblical evidence for this premise.  It is apparent from New Testament information that it is possible to do this based upon the example depicted by the behavior of Simeon in Luke 2:22.  During the purification ceremony in the Temple, his response appears to be the correct response by a righteous and devout Israelite anticipating the arrival of the Messiah.  Not identified as either being a Pharisee or any sect, this Israelite anticipated the coming of the Messiah as his salvation (verse 30), a light for revelation to the gentiles and for glory to his people Israel.  Consistent with this the prophetess Anna (verse 36), “gives thanks to God and speaks of Him to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.”

 

As with the am’hararetz Israelites from all parts of Judea, Samaria, the Galilee in the North and all other parts of Israel and the Diaspora, these non-sectarian Jews / Israelites are not the focus of Yeshua’s criticism.  Observant Jews and seeking gentiles who are sensitive to God’s leading, although not perfect, continue to sin and transgress the Law, but are covered by “substitutionary atonement” in the form of periodic sacrifices foretelling of the one-time atonement provided by the sacrifice of the Messiah as foretold by the Prophet Isaiah.  Observant Jews and gentiles who hold to the authority of Torah and accept this provision for salvation are likely to know the character of the God of Israel and, therefore, are in position to receive His forgiveness from sin.  It is this sin that Isaiah says causes separation between man and God (Isaiah 59:2) and therefore can relationship with the God of Israel.  Truly knowing the God of Israel,  and knowing and understanding the things which please and displease Him, can insure that an individual will be on the correct path to salvation.  This is the goal of trusting in God, while learning and adhering to Torah, both written and incarnate.

  In Chapter 21 of the Book of Acts James gives directions to Paul as follows:

Acts 21:20You see, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed, and they are all zealous for the Law (Torah); 21 and they have been told about you, that you are teaching all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children nor to walk according to the customs. 22 "What, then, is to be done? They will certainly hear that you have come. 23 "Therefore do this that we tell you. We have four men who are under a vow; 24 take them and purify yourself along with them, and pay their expenses in order that they may shave their heads; and all will know that there is nothing to the things which they have been told about you, but that you yourself also walk orderly, keeping the Law (Torah).

 

Paul (who was always a Law keeper) did what the elders of the Jerusalem congregation requested.  So Paul, the apostle to the gentiles, who stressed faith as the basis for salvation, demonstrated by this act that he walked orderly, keeping the Law, and that this was appropriate for Jewish believers.  Paul  also states of himself in Acts 24:.14 "But this I admit to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect I do serve the God of our fathers, believing everything that is in accordance with the Law (Torah), and that is written in the Prophets;

 

In many New Testament commentaries Paul is labeled “anti-nomian” or is accused of being against the Law (Torah), stressing faith only.  As we can see from the scripture references above, in addition to other scriptures, this does not appear to be correct.  Apparently “Law and Order” and the way in which followers of Yeshua conduct their lives are important concepts for both Old and New Testament believers. 

 

Most churches, due in part to Martin Luther’s struggle with the Catholic Church, teach a gospel of salvation that is skewed heavily on the side of faith.  Generally this perspective excludes or understates the importance of works or deeds, thus emphasizing faith verses faithfulness.  It should be said at this point that it is my belief that for both Old Testament and New Testament individuals, the basis for salvation has always been faith. From Abraham to Moses and from King David to Peter, this has always been  a given! However, in the gospels there are examples of people who, due to their knowledge or lack of knowledge of God and His Messiah, do or fail to do certain deeds which result in their exclusion from the kingdom of God.  Matthew Chapters 7 and  25 are good examples in Scripture of the lack of lawful behavior that condemns individuals and nations. 

 

For illustration purposes we will discuss Chapter 7 verse 1 through 29.  This is a good example.  Individuals who performed “mighty miracles” in the Name of Yeshua are apparently surprised when they are shown to be excluded from the Kingdom of God. Yeshua by saying “I never knew you, depart from me“, passes judgment on these followers who are depicted as being Lawless or antinomian. This is the same title that is placed upon Paul as previously discussed. Therefore, it is not there abilities to prophesy or cast out demons in God’s Name that insures entry into the Kingdom but what condemns them is the fact that they don’t do the “will of the father” and they “practice lawlessness”, or anomia in Greek (Matthew 7:23)

 

Paul’s actions and statements in the Book of Acts referenced above are consistent with scriptures in which Yeshua judges people, apparently on deeds or works (Law / Torah) that they do or don’t do.  It appears that obedience to Law or Torah is required in addition to proper faith or belief.  This is consistent with James when he states in his epistle that “faith without works is dead.“ The reference to Matthew Chapter 7 that follows is an example of this type of judgment:

 

MATTHEW 7:1 "Do not judge lest you be judged. 2 "For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. 3 "And why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 "Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' and behold, the log is in your own eye? 5 "You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.

            6 "Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.

            7 "Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. 8 "For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it shall be opened. 9 "Or what man is there among you, when his son shall ask him for a loaf, will give him a stone? 10 "Or if he shall ask for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? 11 "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him! 12 "Therefore, however you want people to treat you, so treat them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

            13 "Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it.

14 "For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it. 14 Because <3754> strait <4728> is the gate <4439>, and <2532> narrow <2346> is the way <3598>, which <3588> leadeth <520> unto <1519> life <2222>, and <2532> few <3641> there be <1526> that find <2147> it <846>. 15 "Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 "You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes, nor figs from thistles, are they? 17 "Even so, every good tree bears good fruit; but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 "A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 "Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 "So then, you will know them by their fruits.

 21 "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.

22 "Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' 23 "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness (NAS version). <458>

            24 "Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine, and acts upon them, may be compared to a wise man, who built his house upon the rock. 25 "And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and burst against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded upon the rock. 26 "And everyone who hears these words of Mine, and does not act upon them, will be like a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand. 27 "And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and burst against that house; and it fell, and great was its fall."

            28 The result was that when Jesus had finished these words, the multitudes were amazed at His teaching; 29 for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.

 

For clarification and to help in understanding the scriptures above, the translations of selected pertinent Greek words follow. 

 

Lawlessness - 458 anomia {an-om-ee'-ah}

from 459; TDNT - 4:1085,646; n f

AV - iniquity 12, unrighteousness 1, transgress the law + 4060 1,

     transgression of the law 1; 15

1) the condition of without law

   1a) because ignorant of it

   1b) because of violating it

2) contempt and violation of law, iniquity, wickedness

 

Strait - 4728 stenos {sten-os'}

probably from the base of 2476; TDNT - 7:604,1077; adj

AV - strait 3; 3

1) narrow, strait

 

Narrow - 2346 thlibo {thlee'-bo}

akin to the base of 5147; TDNT - 3:139,334; v

AV - trouble 4, afflict 3, narrow 1, throng 1, suffer tribulation 1; 10

1) to press (as grapes), press hard upon

2) a compressed way

   2a) narrow straitened, contracted

3) metaph. to trouble, afflict, distress

 

The scriptures above (verses 13 - 14 and 21-23) generally present a problem to New Testament believers. What does the symbolism represent?  What is this gate that we must pass through to have “life”?  What exactly is the narrow gate and the wide gate, and a small narrow way vs. the broad way.  In verse 22, many that use the name of the LORD to prophesy, cast out demons, and perform miracles are not known to Yeshua and in the context of this chapter do not enter the narrow gate “to life“.  Some scholars interpret this to mean that these followers were empowered by the Holy Spirit, and were professing Christians. 

 

The LORD’s not knowing them also causes a problem for the Church.   What is it that one must do to “do the will of My Father“,  and not practice anomia or lawlessness.  Christianity generally teaches that it is nothing that we do, only what we believe and the resulting faith that allows us to be saved and have the guarantee of eternal life.

 

The key to these answers may be the meaning of the word lawlessness above.  Is it possible that the believers adherence to the Law (Torah) that Yeshua came “not to abolish but to fulfill” (Matt. 5:17), is a criteria for our maintaining a relationship with God?  Again, receiving salvation by faith, but then maintaining this relationship with God once saved through faithfulness to His Law / Torah or instructions and Commandments. Therefore, proper faith has inherent in it a proper understanding of God’s Torah and obedience to it.  These should not be looked at as individual elements, but as a package.  It would seem reasonable that if we are to be saved by a righteous God, that we must have a heart for his Law, Commandments and / or Instructions and adhere to it in order to live a life that is pleasing to God.   Does transgression of the Law disqualify us from salvation?  Although this would seem very unforgiving, Yeshua does say “depart from me, I never knew you.”  What is the relationship between the will of God and Lawlessness?  What is the narrow path that leads to life?  The answers to these questions can be found if we  refer back to the O.T. book of Deuteronomy.  The following information can be found in Chapter 30:

 

Due 30:15  See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil; 16 In that I command thee this day to love the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the LORD thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it. 17 But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them; 18 I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish, and that ye shall not prolong your days upon the land, whither thou passest over Jordan to go to possess it. 19 I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: 20 That thou mayest love the LORD thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.

 

Chapter 30 of Deuteronomy pertains to the future events and issues affecting Israel.  These prophesies are to take place long after the first earthly appearance of the Messiah 2,000 years ago.  God says in no uncertain terms that we are to “choose life.”  In Chapter 30 He says that we are to love Him with all our heart  and with all our soul, so that we may live!! 

 

Interestingly, these are similar words to those used in Chapter 6 of Deuteronomy.  In the passage called the Schema, God says the following:

Deuteronomy  6:4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: 5 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. 6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: 7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. 8 And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.

9 And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.

……..      17 Ye shall diligently keep the commandments of the LORD your God, and his testimonies, and his statutes, which he hath commanded thee. 18 And thou shalt do that which is right and good in the sight of the LORD: that it may be well with thee, and that thou mayest go in and possess the good land which the LORD swore unto thy fathers,

 

The reference in verse 9 to writing God’s Commandments on our gates and doorposts of our houses is apparently literal and symbolic.  This is something that the Jew / Israel has been doing for thousands of years.  What if the mezzuzah (the container holding the Commandments on the doorpost) on the doors and gates leading into an observant Jew’s home is the element or the symbol of what makes the door or gate small, narrow or restricted in Chapter 7 of Matthew.  Much of what God commands of Israel to implement is symbolic of things in Heaven or God’s Kingdom.  Is the road narrow, or the gate to Heaven restricted, by the requirement that in order to enter one must live a righteous life and not be a part of the lawless group.  Is God telling us in Matthew that the gate that leads to life is restricted due to the requirement that to pass through this gate one must observe the Commandments of God?  Perhaps the saving faith that one must have in God requires not only the acceptance of the gift of salvation that God provides, but also ones “faithfulness” to God’s Covenant  evidenced by lawful living. 

 

 

The Bible, both Old and New Testaments, is replete with references to salvation requiring the worshipping or fearing of the God of Israel, and doing what is right in His sight  (Acts 10:35 etc.).  Perhaps this is this why Matthew says,

“For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it.”

 

 

The following scriptures have been taken from the first thirteen chapters of the Book of Proverbs.  One should use these references to find the passages in full context in the bible and take time to meditate on these scriptures in light of the Matthew passages.  Please note the references to life, various paths, gates etc.  I see these chapters in Proverbs as being the basis for Yeshua’s position and judgment in Matthew.   It is as though He is preaching directly from Proverbs and giving the clues necessary to decipher or understand His warnings.

 

 

Proverbs Chapter 1 verse: 

7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction.

24 "Because I called, and you refused; I stretched out my hand, and no one paid attention; 25 And you neglected all my counsel, And did not want my reproof;

28 "Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; They will seek me diligently, but they shall not find me, 29 Because they hated knowledge, And did not choose the fear of the LORD.

 

Chapter 2 verse:

1 My son, if you will receive my sayings, And treasure my commandments within you, 2 Make your ear attentive to wisdom, Incline your heart to understanding; 3 For if you cry for discernment, Lift your voice for understanding; 4 If you seek her as silver, And search for her as for hidden treasures; 5 Then you will discern the fear of the LORD, And discover the knowledge of God. 6 For the LORD gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding. 7 He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk in integrity, 8 Guarding the paths of justice, And He preserves the way of His godly ones. 9 Then you will discern righteousness and justice And equity and every good course. 10 For wisdom will enter your heart, And knowledge will be pleasant to your soul; 11 Discretion will guard you, Understanding will watch over you, 12 To deliver you from the way of evil, From the man who speaks perverse things; 13 From those who leave the paths of uprightness, To walk in the ways of darkness; 14 Who delight in doing evil, And rejoice in the perversity of evil; 15 Whose paths are crooked, And who are devious in their ways;

 

18 For her house sinks down to death, And her tracks lead to the dead; 19 None who go to her return again, Nor do they reach the paths of life. 20 So you will walk in the way of good men, And keep to the paths of the righteous. 21 For the upright will live in the land, And the blameless will remain in it; 22 But the wicked will be cut off from the land, And the treacherous will be uprooted from it.

 

Chapter 3 verse:

1 My son, do not forget my teaching, But let your heart keep my commandments; 2 For length of days and years of life, And peace they will add to you.

5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him,

And He will make your paths straight.

13 How blessed is the man who finds wisdom, And the man who gains understanding. 14 For its profit is better than the profit of silver, And its gain than fine gold. 15 She is more precious than jewels; And nothing you desire compares with her. 16 Long life is in her right hand; In her left hand are riches and honor. 17 Her ways are pleasant ways, And all her paths are peace. 18 She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, And happy are all who hold her fast. 19 The LORD by wisdom founded the earth; By understanding He established the heavens. 20 By His knowledge the deeps were broken up, And the skies drip with dew. 21 My son, let them not depart from your sight; Keep sound wisdom and discretion, 22 So they will be life to your soul, And adornment to your neck. 23 Then you will walk in your way securely, And your foot will not stumble. 24 When you lie down, you will not be afraid; When you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. 25 Do not be afraid of sudden fear, Nor of the onslaught of the wicked when it comes; 26 For the LORD will be your confidence, And will keep your foot from being caught.

 

Chapter 4 verse:

1 Hear, O sons, the instruction of a father, And give attention that you may gain understanding, 2 For I give you sound teaching; Do not abandon my instruction. 3 When I was a son to my father, Tender and the only son in the sight of my mother, 4 Then he taught me and said to me, "Let your heart hold fast my words; Keep my commandments and live;

 5 Acquire wisdom! Acquire understanding! Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth.

13 Take hold of instruction; do not let go. Guard her, for she is your life. 14 Do not enter the path of the wicked, And do not proceed in the way of evil men. 15 Avoid it, do not pass by it; Turn away from it and pass on. 16 For they cannot sleep unless they do evil; And they are robbed of sleep unless they make someone stumble. 17 For they eat the bread of wickedness, And drink the wine of violence. 18 But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, That shines brighter and brighter until the full day. 19 The way of the wicked is like darkness; They do not know over what they stumble.

20 My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings. 21 Do not let them depart from your sight; Keep them in the midst of your heart. 22 For they are life to those who find them, And health to all their whole body.

26 Watch the path of your feet, And all your ways will be established.

 27 Do not turn to the right nor to the left; Turn your foot from evil.

 

Chapter 5 verse:

21 For the ways of a man are before the eyes of the LORD, And He watches all his paths. 22 His own iniquities will capture the wicked, And he will be held with the cords of his sin. 23 He will die for lack of instruction, And in the greatness of his folly he will go astray.

 

Chapter 6 verse:

23 For the commandment is a lamp, and the teaching is light; And reproofs for discipline are the way of life,

 

Chapter 7 verse:

1 My son, keep my words, And treasure my commandments within you. 2 Keep my commandments and live, And my teaching as the apple of your eye. 3 Bind them on your fingers; Write them on the tablet of your heart. 4 Say to wisdom, "You are my sister," And call understanding your intimate friend;

 

Chapter 8 verse:

1 Does not wisdom call, And understanding lift up her voice? 2 On top of the heights beside the way, Where the paths meet, she takes her stand; 3 Beside the gates, at the opening to the city, At the entrance of the doors, she cries out:

12 "I, wisdom, dwell with prudence, And I find knowledge and discretion. 13 "The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way, And the perverted mouth, I hate. 14 "Counsel is mine and sound wisdom; I am understanding, power is mine. 15 "By me kings reign, And rulers decree justice. 16 "By me princes rule, and nobles, All who judge rightly. 17 "I love those who love me; And those who diligently seek me will find me. 18 "Riches and honor are with me, Enduring wealth and righteousness. 19 "My fruit is better than gold, even pure gold, And my yield than choicest silver. 20 "I walk in the way of righteousness, In the midst of the paths of justice, 21 To endow those who love me with wealth, That I may fill their treasuries. 22 "The LORD possessed me at the beginning of His way, Before His works of old. 23 "From everlasting I was established, From the beginning, from the earliest times of the earth. 24 "When there were no depths I was brought forth, When there were no springs abounding with water. 25 "Before the mountains were settled, Before the hills I was brought forth; 26 While He had not yet made the earth and the fields, Nor the first dust of the world.

27 "When He established the heavens, I was there, When He inscribed a circle on the face of the deep, 28 When He made firm the skies above, When the springs of the deep became fixed, 29 When He set for the sea its boundary, So that the water should not transgress His command, When He marked out the foundations of the earth; 30 Then I was beside Him, as a master workman; And I was daily His delight, Rejoicing always before Him, 31 Rejoicing in the world, His earth, And having my delight in the sons of men.    32 "Now therefore, O sons, listen to me, For blessed are they who keep my ways. 33 "Heed instruction and be wise, And do not neglect it.

34 "Blessed is the man who listens to me, **Watching daily at my gates, Waiting at my doorposts. 35 "For he who finds me finds life**, And obtains favor from the LORD. 36 "But he who sins against me injures himself; All those who hate me love death."

 

Chapter 9 verse:

 

5 "Come, eat of my food, And drink of the wine I have mixed. 6 "Forsake your folly and live, And proceed (walk) in the way of understanding."

 

Chapter 11 verse:

 

2 When pride comes, then comes dishonor, But with the humble is wisdom.

5 The righteousness of the blameless will smooth his way (keep his way straight), But the wicked will fall by his own wickedness.

 

 

Chapter 13 verse:

13 The one who despises the word will be in debt to it, But the one who fears the commandment will be rewarded.  14 The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, To turn aside from the snares of death.

 

May I suggest that the Proverbs solution has great merit.  Straight “narrow” paths are constrasted to  “wide” crooked paths.  Also, please note that Chapter 8 speaks of Wisdom of God in terms very similar to the description of the Word of God in the first chapter of John. 

 

Having gone this far in this study, I now have to pose one of three questions that should be addressed. Is the personified Wisdom depicted in Proverbs another reference to the  Messiah / Son of God ?  Granted there are differences. Is Wisdom the Word of God and is the Word of God Torah, God’s instructions? 

 

Two Books of the Apocrypha included in the ancient Greek version of the Hebrew Scriptures and in the Catholic Bible, The Book of the Wisdom of Solomon and the Wisdom of Yeshua Ben Sirach / Ecclesiasticus can give us some clues to the answers to these questions, and transition us from Old Testament Judaism to the Judaism know as Second Temple Judaism found in the New Testament.  The following references are very helpful:

 

 

Ben Sirach - Chapter 24 (excerpts)

 

Wisdom speaks her own praises… I came forth from the mouth of the Most High…..From eternity, in the beginning, he created me, and for eternity I shall remain…They who eat me will hunger for more, they who drink me will thirst for more…All this is no other than the book of the covenant of the Most High God.

 

Wisdom of Solomon - Chapters 6 thru 10 (excerpts)

 

Wisdom is bright, and does not grow dim.  By those who love her she is readily seen, and found by those who look for her. …Watch for her early and you will have no trouble;you will find her sitting at you gates….Of her the most sure beginning is the desire for discipline, care for discipline means loving her,

loving her means keep her laws, obeying her laws guarantees incorruptibility, incorruptibility brings near to God.  ..She is the breath of the power of God, pure emanation of the glory of the Almighty….for God loves only the man who lives with Wisdom….God of our ancestors, Lord of mercy, who by your word have made all things….With you is Wisdom, she who knows your works, she who was present when you made the world……..As for your intention, who could have learned it, had you not granted Wisdom and sent your holy spirit from above?

Thus have the paths of those on earth been straightened and men been taught what pleases you, and saved by Wisdom…..

But Wisdom delivered her servants from their ordeals. 

The virtuous man, fleeing from the anger of his brother, was led by her along straight paths.  She showed him the kingdom of God and taught him the knowledge of holy things.

 

The second question that I need to pose is if it is possible that the narrow gate is a reference to Yeshua?  Personified Wisdom is God’s Law, and is at the gate to the Kingdom of God.    In the context of Matthew chapter 7 the narrow path (few will enter) and Yeshua’s statement “I never knew you” appear to restrict those who practice Lawlessness and those who don’t do the will of the Father.  Earlier in Chapter 5 of Matthew, Yeshua says that He came not to abolish the Law and the Prophets but to fulfill them.  It appears to me that walking in the footsteps of our Messiah is the same as walking in the way of Wisdom or of the Commandments of God / Torah. 

 

One additional reading from the Book of IV Ezra or II Esdras generally considered part of the Apocrypha, or an appendix to the New Testament in the Catholic Bible, can also be helpful in our study.  The original work, probably written in Hebrew or Aramaic between 70 A.D. and 100 A.D., consists of seven apocalyptic visions and is considered instructive for comparison with the Book of Revelation.  Verses found in Chapter six and seven, however, are also useful in our study of the narrow gate. Per Jewish scholar Samuel Sandmel, the third vision in Chapter 6:35 through Chapter 9:25, portrays Ezra reminding God of the acts of Creation in Genesis 1.  Prior to this in Chapter 5, God tells Ezra that whoever will survive the wicked present age will enter the new age called the “Age of Jacob” and “will be saved and will see God’s salvation.”  In Chapter six according to Sandmel, God’s angel states that the path to the new age is narrow and full of dangers, and Israel must follow that path.  The righteous in Israel will succeed in traversing the path and will see Gods son , the Messiah , but the wicked will not.  Sandmel goes on to say the “only a few, the truly righteous would be saved.” 

 

A review of the Nelson Revised Standard Version of IVEzra / II Edras translation uncovers an even more revealing verses in Chapter 7 verse 20, “the Lord said to him let many perish who are now living, rather than that the Law of God which is set before them be disregarded.”   In verses 45 through 60 in the Bood of Ezra says the following:  Oh sovereign Lord, I said then and I say now: Blessed are those who are alive and keep they commandments!…...47 And now I see that the world to come will bring delight to few, but torments to many.  48 For an evil heart has grown up in us, which has alienated us from God, and has brought us into corruption and ways of death, and has shown us the paths of perdition and removed us far from life and that not just a few of us but almost all who have been created!…..60 So also will be the judgement which I have promised; for I will rejoice over the few who shall be saved, because it is they who have made my glory to prevail now, and through them my name has now been honored.” 

 

These statements seem too harsh to come from the loving God of the New Testament, however, they are very consistent with Yeshua in our Matthew 7 reference when He says that “only a few will enter the narrow gate and depart from me I did not know you.” 

 

 

Paul reiterates his view of the efficacy of God’s Law in Chapter 3 of 2nd Timothy.  The Torah or God’s instructions / Law of God was always intended to work in conjunction with the Holy Spirit and faith in God to convict us of our sin and the need for repentance, thus driving us to Messiah for forgiveness of sin and it‘s penalty.  However, one of the main requisites of forgiveness and salvation is repentance.  We can not truly repent from sin if we are not aware of the sins that we transgress.  The Law of God is the benchmark God gave us to identify sin and guide us to a righteous lifestyle.  It is sin that kills, not the Law of God.  Gods redemptive plan is clearly depicted by this following excerpt from Paul‘s Epsitle to Timothy:

 

 

2 Tim 3:14 But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; 15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures (sacred writings / Torah), which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus (Messiah Yeshua). 16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.  

 

“To make us wise unto salvation”, isn’t it interesting how the Holy Scriptures, Wisdom, Faith, Salvation and Yeshua are utilized by God as a package or a process for justification.  What about the use of  “Scripture for reproof, correction or for instruction in righteousness?”  Is this referencing a righteous or God ordained lawful lifestyle.

           

John says, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.  The true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world.  He was in the world and the world was made through him, yet the world knew him not.  And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us”.

 

The third question should now be, wasn’t Yeshua, the Word or Logos / Memra of God, who gave the Commandments to Moses on Sinai?   Apparently, the Commandments were important to Him then and are important to Him now.  Yeshua is the Torah incarnate or the Word of God.  You cannot separate the Word of God from the Spirit of God or the Torah of God from the Son of God.  It’s a “package deal.” 

 

Perhaps the solution requires the revelation that the Written Word (Torah) and The Living Word (Yeshua) are not to be separated.  According to a footnote in the Jerusalem Bible for Proverbs Chapter 8, “Christian tradition from St. Justin onwards sees in the Wisdom of the Old Testament the person of Christ himself.”  The New Testament says that Yeshua came to fulfill the Law and that He is the “goal” (telios – end meaning goal) of the Law or Torah.  There are, however, few if any Jewish or Christian sources that see the relationship of Yeshua and Torah. Yeshua is the incarnate Torah of God.  Perhaps this is why the gate is narrow.

 

Unfortunately the last 2000 years have seen two sisters beliefs, Judaism and Christianity, divided based upon the central focus of each being the Torah and Jesus, respectively.  They have been defined in a way that makes them antithetical to each other.  Therefore, a Jew does not need Yeshua and a Christian does not need Torah.

 

You cannot know Torah fulfilled without knowing Yeshua, and you cannot know Yeshua fully without knowledge of Torah. They should not be separated any more than faith and works or Law and Spirit . 

 

Many in the church today as in the past have difficulty with James’ epistle and the issue of works.  Did first century Jewish believers have a better understanding  of James when he said faith without works is dead.  Would they have had a more specific understanding that James implied faith in Yeshua (the Word of God) is dead without faithfulness to Torah  (the Word of God).

 

On the road to Emmaus Yeshua appeared to two men and said,  "O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 

……..27 And beginning with Moses (The Torah) and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures“. 

 

Solution, perhaps the gate and Yeshua are one and the same.  One is the writen Torah and one is the Torah incarnate.  The gate is narrow that leads to life and few are those who find it.  Perhaps we who are in the nations all need to begin with Moses or Torah.  This may be crucial in order to fully understand the character and heart of The Messiah whose Name, Yeshua “Salvation“, we call on almost two thousand years after His visitation. 


May the God of Israel Bless You With Wisdom and Knowledge

Larry Rosenthal  May 8, 2013


The challenge for both Jew and gentile is to truly know The God of Israel and have relationship with him.  Per the Bible, the God of Israel is the only God that can provide salvation.  It is incumbent on each of us to reconcile Torah (the written Word of God) and Yeshua (the Torah or Word of God “fulfilled” in human form).  Generally, each of these manifestations of God are considered divine by contemporary Jews and Christians, respectively, and is their means to salvation.

 

The following paper is intended to provide the biblical evidence for this premise.  It is apparent from New Testament information that it is possible to do this based upon the example depicted by the behavior of Simeon in Luke 2:22.  During the purification ceremony in the Temple, his response appears to be the correct response by a righteous and devout Israelite anticipating the arrival of the Messiah.  Not identified as either being a Pharisee or any sect, this Israelite anticipated the coming of the Messiah as his salvation (verse 30), a light for revelation to the gentiles and for glory to his people Israel.  Consistent with this the prophetess Anna (verse 36), “gives thanks to God and speaks of Him to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.”

 

As with the am’hararetz Israelites from all parts of Judea, Samaria, the Galilee in the North and all other parts of Israel and the Diaspora, these non-sectarian Jews / Israelites are not the focus of Yeshua’s criticism.  Observant Jews and seeking gentiles who are sensitive to God’s leading, although not perfect, continue to sin and transgress the Law, but are covered by “substitutionary atonement” in the form of periodic sacrifices foretelling of the one-time atonement provided by the sacrifice of the Messiah as foretold by the Prophet Isaiah.  Observant Jews and gentiles who hold to the authority of Torah and accept this provision for salvation are likely to know the character of the God of Israel and, therefore, are in position to receive His forgiveness from sin.  It is this sin that Isaiah says causes separation between man and God (Isaiah 59:2) and therefore can relationship with the God of Israel.  Truly knowing the God of Israel,  and knowing and understanding the things which please and displease Him, can insure that an individual will be on the correct path to salvation.  This is the goal of trusting in God, while learning and adhering to Torah, both written and incarnate.

 

 In Chapter 21 of the Book of Acts James gives directions to Paul as follows:

Acts 21:20You see, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed, and they are all zealous for the Law (Torah); 21 and they have been told about you, that you are teaching all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children nor to walk according to the customs. 22 "What, then, is to be done? They will certainly hear that you have come. 23 "Therefore do this that we tell you. We have four men who are under a vow; 24 take them and purify yourself along with them, and pay their expenses in order that they may shave their heads; and all will know that there is nothing to the things which they have been told about you, but that you yourself also walk orderly, keeping the Law (Torah).

 

Paul (who was always a Law keeper) did what the elders of the Jerusalem congregation requested.  So Paul, the apostle to the gentiles, who stressed faith as the basis for salvation, demonstrated by this act that he walked orderly, keeping the Law, and that this was appropriate for Jewish believers.  Paul  also states of himself in Acts 24:.14 "But this I admit to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect I do serve the God of our fathers, believing everything that is in accordance with the Law (Torah), and that is written in the Prophets;

 

In many New Testament commentaries Paul is labeled “anti-nomian” or is accused of being against the Law (Torah), stressing faith only.  As we can see from the scripture references above, in addition to other scriptures, this does not appear to be correct.  Apparently “Law and Order” and the way in which followers of Yeshua conduct their lives are important concepts for both Old and New Testament believers. 

 

Most churches, due in part to Martin Luther’s struggle with the Catholic Church, teach a gospel of salvation that is skewed heavily on the side of faith.  Generally this perspective excludes or understates the importance of works or deeds, thus emphasizing faith verses faithfulness.  It should be said at this point that it is my belief that for both Old Testament and New Testament individuals, the basis for salvation has always been faith. From Abraham to Moses and from King David to Peter, this has always been  a given! However, in the gospels there are examples of people who, due to their knowledge or lack of knowledge of God and His Messiah, do or fail to do certain deeds which result in their exclusion from the kingdom of God.  Matthew Chapters 7 and  25 are good examples in Scripture of the lack of lawful behavior that condemns individuals and nations. 

 

For illustration purposes we will discuss Chapter 7 verse 1 through 29.  This is a good example.  Individuals who performed “mighty miracles” in the Name of Yeshua are apparently surprised when they are shown to be excluded from the Kingdom of God. Yeshua by saying “I never knew you, depart from me“, passes judgment on these followers who are depicted as being Lawless or antinomian. This is the same title that is placed upon Paul as previously discussed. Therefore, it is not there abilities to prophesy or cast out demons in God’s Name that insures entry into the Kingdom but what condemns them is the fact that they don’t do the “will of the father” and they “practice lawlessness”, or anomia in Greek (Matthew 7:23)

 

Paul’s actions and statements in the Book of Acts referenced above are consistent with scriptures in which Yeshua judges people, apparently on deeds or works (Law / Torah) that they do or don’t do.  It appears that obedience to Law or Torah is required in addition to proper faith or belief.  This is consistent with James when he states in his epistle that “faith without works is dead.“ The reference to Matthew Chapter 7 that follows is an example of this type of judgment:

 

MATTHEW 7:1 "Do not judge lest you be judged. 2 "For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. 3 "And why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 "Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' and behold, the log is in your own eye? 5 "You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.

                6 "Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.

                7 "Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. 8 "For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it shall be opened. 9 "Or what man is there among you, when his son shall ask him for a loaf, will give him a stone? 10 "Or if he shall ask for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? 11 "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him! 12 "Therefore, however you want people to treat you, so treat them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

                13 "Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it.

14 "For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it. 14 Because <3754> strait <4728> is the gate <4439>, and <2532> narrow <2346> is the way <3598>, which <3588> leadeth <520> unto <1519> life <2222>, and <2532> few <3641> there be <1526> that find <2147> it <846>. 15 "Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 "You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes, nor figs from thistles, are they? 17 "Even so, every good tree bears good fruit; but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 "A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 "Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 "So then, you will know them by their fruits.

 21 "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.

22 "Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' 23 "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness (NAS version). <458>

                24 "Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine, and acts upon them, may be compared to a wise man, who built his house upon the rock. 25 "And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and burst against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded upon the rock. 26 "And everyone who hears these words of Mine, and does not act upon them, will be like a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand. 27 "And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and burst against that house; and it fell, and great was its fall."

                28 The result was that when Jesus had finished these words, the multitudes were amazed at His teaching; 29 for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.

 

For clarification and to help in understanding the scriptures above, the translations of selected pertinent Greek words follow. 

 

Lawlessness - 458 anomia {an-om-ee'-ah}

from 459; TDNT - 4:1085,646; n f

AV - iniquity 12, unrighteousness 1, transgress the law + 4060 1,

     transgression of the law 1; 15

1) the condition of without law

   1a) because ignorant of it

   1b) because of violating it

2) contempt and violation of law, iniquity, wickedness

 

Strait - 4728 stenos {sten-os'}

probably from the base of 2476; TDNT - 7:604,1077; adj

AV - strait 3; 3

1) narrow, strait

 

Narrow - 2346 thlibo {thlee'-bo}

akin to the base of 5147; TDNT - 3:139,334; v

AV - trouble 4, afflict 3, narrow 1, throng 1, suffer tribulation 1; 10

1) to press (as grapes), press hard upon

2) a compressed way

   2a) narrow straitened, contracted

3) metaph. to trouble, afflict, distress

 

The scriptures above (verses 13 - 14 and 21-23) generally present a problem to New Testament believers. What does the symbolism represent?  What is this gate that we must pass through to have “life”?  What exactly is the narrow gate and the wide gate, and a small narrow way vs. the broad way.  In verse 22, many that use the name of the LORD to prophesy, cast out demons, and perform miracles are not known to Yeshua and in the context of this chapter do not enter the narrow gate “to life“.  Some scholars interpret this to mean that these followers were empowered by the Holy Spirit, and were professing Christians. 

 

The LORD’s not knowing them also causes a problem for the Church.   What is it that one must do to “do the will of My Father“,  and not practice anomia or lawlessness.  Christianity generally teaches that it is nothing that we do, only what we believe and the resulting faith that allows us to be saved and have the guarantee of eternal life.

 

The key to these answers may be the meaning of the word lawlessness above.  Is it possible that the believers adherence to the Law (Torah) that Yeshua came “not to abolish but to fulfill” (Matt. 5:17), is a criteria for our maintaining a relationship with God?  Again, receiving salvation by faith, but then maintaining this relationship with God once saved through faithfulness to His Law / Torah or instructions and Commandments. Therefore, proper faith has inherent in it a proper understanding of God’s Torah and obedience to it.  These should not be looked at as individual elements, but as a package.  It would seem reasonable that if we are to be saved by a righteous God, that we must have a heart for his Law, Commandments and / or Instructions and adhere to it in order to live a life that is pleasing to God.   Does transgression of the Law disqualify us from salvation?  Although this would seem very unforgiving, Yeshua does say “depart from me, I never knew you.”  What is the relationship between the will of God and Lawlessness?  What is the narrow path that leads to life?  The answers to these questions can be found if we  refer back to the O.T. book of Deuteronomy.  The following information can be found in Chapter 30:

 

Due 30:15  See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil; 16 In that I command thee this day to love the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the LORD thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it. 17 But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them; 18 I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish, and that ye shall not prolong your days upon the land, whither thou passest over Jordan to go to possess it. 19 I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: 20 That thou mayest love the LORD thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.

 

Chapter 30 of Deuteronomy pertains to the future events and issues affecting Israel.  These prophesies are to take place long after the first earthly appearance of the Messiah 2,000 years ago.  God says in no uncertain terms that we are to “choose life.”  In Chapter 30 He says that we are to love Him with all our heart  and with all our soul, so that we may live!! 

 

Interestingly, these are similar words to those used in Chapter 6 of Deuteronomy.  In the passage called the Schema, God says the following:

Deuteronomy  6:4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: 5 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. 6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: 7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. 8 And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.

9 And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.

……..     17 Ye shall diligently keep the commandments of the LORD your God, and his testimonies, and his statutes, which he hath commanded thee. 18 And thou shalt do that which is right and good in the sight of the LORD: that it may be well with thee, and that thou mayest go in and possess the good land which the LORD swore unto thy fathers,

 

The reference in verse 9 to writing God’s Commandments on our gates and doorposts of our houses is apparently literal and symbolic.  This is something that the Jew / Israel has been doing for thousands of years.  What if the mezzuzah (the container holding the Commandments on the doorpost) on the doors and gates leading into an observant Jew’s home is the element or the symbol of what makes the door or gate small, narrow or restricted in Chapter 7 of Matthew.  Much of what God commands of Israel to implement is symbolic of things in Heaven or God’s Kingdom.  Is the road narrow, or the gate to Heaven restricted, by the requirement that in order to enter one must live a righteous life and not be a part of the lawless group.  Is God telling us in Matthew that the gate that leads to life is restricted due to the requirement that to pass through this gate one must observe the Commandments of God?  Perhaps the saving faith that one must have in God requires not only the acceptance of the gift of salvation that God provides, but also ones “faithfulness” to God’s Covenant  evidenced by lawful living. 

 

 

The Bible, both Old and New Testaments, is replete with references to salvation requiring the worshipping or fearing of the God of Israel, and doing what is right in His sight  (Acts 10:35 etc.).  Perhaps this is this why Matthew says,

“For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it.”

 

 

The following scriptures have been taken from the first thirteen chapters of the Book of Proverbs.  One should use these references to find the passages in full context in the bible and take time to meditate on these scriptures in light of the Matthew passages.  Please note the references to life, various paths, gates etc.  I see these chapters in Proverbs as being the basis for Yeshua’s position and judgment in Matthew.   It is as though He is preaching directly from Proverbs and giving the clues necessary to decipher or understand His warnings.

 

 

Proverbs Chapter 1 verse: 

7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction.

24 "Because I called, and you refused; I stretched out my hand, and no one paid attention; 25 And you neglected all my counsel, And did not want my reproof;

28 "Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; They will seek me diligently, but they shall not find me, 29 Because they hated knowledge, And did not choose the fear of the LORD.

 

Chapter 2 verse:

1 My son, if you will receive my sayings, And treasure my commandments within you, 2 Make your ear attentive to wisdom, Incline your heart to understanding; 3 For if you cry for discernment, Lift your voice for understanding; 4 If you seek her as silver, And search for her as for hidden treasures; 5 Then you will discern the fear of the LORD, And discover the knowledge of God. 6 For the LORD gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding. 7 He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk in integrity, 8 Guarding the paths of justice, And He preserves the way of His godly ones. 9 Then you will discern righteousness and justice And equity and every good course. 10 For wisdom will enter your heart, And knowledge will be pleasant to your soul; 11 Discretion will guard you, Understanding will watch over you, 12 To deliver you from the way of evil, From the man who speaks perverse things; 13 From those who leave the paths of uprightness, To walk in the ways of darkness; 14 Who delight in doing evil, And rejoice in the perversity of evil; 15 Whose paths are crooked, And who are devious in their ways;

 

18 For her house sinks down to death, And her tracks lead to the dead; 19 None who go to her return again, Nor do they reach the paths of life. 20 So you will walk in the way of good men, And keep to the paths of the righteous. 21 For the upright will live in the land, And the blameless will remain in it; 22 But the wicked will be cut off from the land, And the treacherous will be uprooted from it.

 

Chapter 3 verse:

1 My son, do not forget my teaching, But let your heart keep my commandments; 2 For length of days and years of life, And peace they will add to you.

5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him,

And He will make your paths straight.

13 How blessed is the man who finds wisdom, And the man who gains understanding. 14 For its profit is better than the profit of silver, And its gain than fine gold. 15 She is more precious than jewels; And nothing you desire compares with her. 16 Long life is in her right hand; In her left hand are riches and honor. 17 Her ways are pleasant ways, And all her paths are peace. 18 She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, And happy are all who hold her fast. 19 The LORD by wisdom founded the earth; By understanding He established the heavens. 20 By His knowledge the deeps were broken up, And the skies drip with dew. 21 My son, let them not depart from your sight; Keep sound wisdom and discretion, 22 So they will be life to your soul, And adornment to your neck. 23 Then you will walk in your way securely, And your foot will not stumble. 24 When you lie down, you will not be afraid; When you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. 25 Do not be afraid of sudden fear, Nor of the onslaught of the wicked when it comes; 26 For the LORD will be your confidence, And will keep your foot from being caught.

 

Chapter 4 verse:

1 Hear, O sons, the instruction of a father, And give attention that you may gain understanding, 2 For I give you sound teaching; Do not abandon my instruction. 3 When I was a son to my father, Tender and the only son in the sight of my mother, 4 Then he taught me and said to me, "Let your heart hold fast my words; Keep my commandments and live;

 5 Acquire wisdom! Acquire understanding! Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth.

13 Take hold of instruction; do not let go. Guard her, for she is your life. 14 Do not enter the path of the wicked, And do not proceed in the way of evil men. 15 Avoid it, do not pass by it; Turn away from it and pass on. 16 For they cannot sleep unless they do evil; And they are robbed of sleep unless they make someone stumble. 17 For they eat the bread of wickedness, And drink the wine of violence. 18 But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, That shines brighter and brighter until the full day. 19 The way of the wicked is like darkness; They do not know over what they stumble.

20 My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings. 21 Do not let them depart from your sight; Keep them in the midst of your heart. 22 For they are life to those who find them, And health to all their whole body.

26 Watch the path of your feet, And all your ways will be established.

 27 Do not turn to the right nor to the left; Turn your foot from evil.

 

Chapter 5 verse:

21 For the ways of a man are before the eyes of the LORD, And He watches all his paths. 22 His own iniquities will capture the wicked, And he will be held with the cords of his sin. 23 He will die for lack of instruction, And in the greatness of his folly he will go astray.

 

Chapter 6 verse:

23 For the commandment is a lamp, and the teaching is light; And reproofs for discipline are the way of life,

 

Chapter 7 verse:

1 My son, keep my words, And treasure my commandments within you. 2 Keep my commandments and live, And my teaching as the apple of your eye. 3 Bind them on your fingers; Write them on the tablet of your heart. 4 Say to wisdom, "You are my sister," And call understanding your intimate friend;

 

Chapter 8 verse:

1 Does not wisdom call, And understanding lift up her voice? 2 On top of the heights beside the way, Where the paths meet, she takes her stand; 3 Beside the gates, at the opening to the city, At the entrance of the doors, she cries out:

12 "I, wisdom, dwell with prudence, And I find knowledge and discretion. 13 "The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way, And the perverted mouth, I hate. 14 "Counsel is mine and sound wisdom; I am understanding, power is mine. 15 "By me kings reign, And rulers decree justice. 16 "By me princes rule, and nobles, All who judge rightly. 17 "I love those who love me; And those who diligently seek me will find me. 18 "Riches and honor are with me, Enduring wealth and righteousness. 19 "My fruit is better than gold, even pure gold, And my yield than choicest silver. 20 "I walk in the way of righteousness, In the midst of the paths of justice, 21 To endow those who love me with wealth, That I may fill their treasuries. 22 "The LORD possessed me at the beginning of His way, Before His works of old. 23 "From everlasting I was established, From the beginning, from the earliest times of the earth. 24 "When there were no depths I was brought forth, When there were no springs abounding with water. 25 "Before the mountains were settled, Before the hills I was brought forth; 26 While He had not yet made the earth and the fields, Nor the first dust of the world.

27 "When He established the heavens, I was there, When He inscribed a circle on the face of the deep, 28 When He made firm the skies above, When the springs of the deep became fixed, 29 When He set for the sea its boundary, So that the water should not transgress His command, When He marked out the foundations of the earth; 30 Then I was beside Him, as a master workman; And I was daily His delight, Rejoicing always before Him, 31 Rejoicing in the world, His earth, And having my delight in the sons of men.               32 "Now therefore, O sons, listen to me, For blessed are they who keep my ways. 33 "Heed instruction and be wise, And do not neglect it.

34 "Blessed is the man who listens to me, **Watching daily at my gates, Waiting at my doorposts. 35 "For he who finds me finds life**, And obtains favor from the LORD. 36 "But he who sins against me injures himself; All those who hate me love death."

 

Chapter 9 verse:

 

5 "Come, eat of my food, And drink of the wine I have mixed. 6 "Forsake your folly and live, And proceed (walk) in the way of understanding."

 

Chapter 11 verse:

 

2 When pride comes, then comes dishonor, But with the humble is wisdom.

5 The righteousness of the blameless will smooth his way (keep his way straight), But the wicked will fall by his own wickedness.

 

 

Chapter 13 verse:

13 The one who despises the word will be in debt to it, But the one who fears the commandment will be rewarded.  14 The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, To turn aside from the snares of death.

 

May I suggest that the Proverbs solution has great merit.  Straight “narrow” paths are constrasted to  “wide” crooked paths.  Also, please note that Chapter 8 speaks of Wisdom of God in terms very similar to the description of the Word of God in the first chapter of John. 

 

Having gone this far in this study, I now have to pose one of three questions that should be addressed. Is the personified Wisdom depicted in Proverbs another reference to the  Messiah / Son of God ?  Granted there are differences. Is Wisdom the Word of God and is the Word of God Torah, God’s instructions? 

 

Two Books of the Apocrypha included in the ancient Greek version of the Hebrew Scriptures and in the Catholic Bible, The Book of the Wisdom of Solomon and the Wisdom of Yeshua Ben Sirach / Ecclesiasticus can give us some clues to the answers to these questions, and transition us from Old Testament Judaism to the Judaism know as Second Temple Judaism found in the New Testament.  The following references are very helpful:

 

 

Ben Sirach - Chapter 24 (excerpts)

 

Wisdom speaks her own praises… I came forth from the mouth of the Most High…..From eternity, in the beginning, he created me, and for eternity I shall remain…They who eat me will hunger for more, they who drink me will thirst for more…All this is no other than the book of the covenant of the Most High God.

 

Wisdom of Solomon - Chapters 6 thru 10 (excerpts)

 

Wisdom is bright, and does not grow dim.  By those who love her she is readily seen, and found by those who look for her. …Watch for her early and you will have no trouble;you will find her sitting at you gates….Of her the most sure beginning is the desire for discipline, care for discipline means loving her,

loving her means keep her laws, obeying her laws guarantees incorruptibility, incorruptibility brings near to God.  ..She is the breath of the power of God, pure emanation of the glory of the Almighty….for God loves only the man who lives with Wisdom….God of our ancestors, Lord of mercy, who by your word have made all things….With you is Wisdom, she who knows your works, she who was present when you made the world……..As for your intention, who could have learned it, had you not granted Wisdom and sent your holy spirit from above?

Thus have the paths of those on earth been straightened and men been taught what pleases you, and saved by Wisdom…..

But Wisdom delivered her servants from their ordeals. 

The virtuous man, fleeing from the anger of his brother, was led by her along straight paths.  She showed him the kingdom of God and taught him the knowledge of holy things.

 

The second question that I need to pose is if it is possible that the narrow gate is a reference to Yeshua?  Personified Wisdom is God’s Law, and is at the gate to the Kingdom of God.    In the context of Matthew chapter 7 the narrow path (few will enter) and Yeshua’s statement “I never knew you” appear to restrict those who practice Lawlessness and those who don’t do the will of the Father.  Earlier in Chapter 5 of Matthew, Yeshua says that He came not to abolish the Law and the Prophets but to fulfill them.  It appears to me that walking in the footsteps of our Messiah is the same as walking in the way of Wisdom or of the Commandments of God / Torah. 

 

One additional reading from the Book of IV Ezra or II Esdras generally considered part of the Apocrypha, or an appendix to the New Testament in the Catholic Bible, can also be helpful in our study.  The original work, probably written in Hebrew or Aramaic between 70 A.D. and 100 A.D., consists of seven apocalyptic visions and is considered instructive for comparison with the Book of Revelation.  Verses found in Chapter six and seven, however, are also useful in our study of the narrow gate. Per Jewish scholar Samuel Sandmel, the third vision in Chapter 6:35 through Chapter 9:25, portrays Ezra reminding God of the acts of Creation in Genesis 1.  Prior to this in Chapter 5, God tells Ezra that whoever will survive the wicked present age will enter the new age called the “Age of Jacob” and “will be saved and will see God’s salvation.”  In Chapter six according to Sandmel, God’s angel states that the path to the new age is narrow and full of dangers, and Israel must follow that path.  The righteous in Israel will succeed in traversing the path and will see Gods son , the Messiah , but the wicked will not.  Sandmel goes on to say the “only a few, the truly righteous would be saved.” 

 

A review of the Nelson Revised Standard Version of IVEzra / II Edras translation uncovers an even more revealing verses in Chapter 7 verse 20, “the Lord said to him let many perish who are now living, rather than that the Law of God which is set before them be disregarded.”   In verses 45 through 60 in the Bood of Ezra says the following:  Oh sovereign Lord, I said then and I say now: Blessed are those who are alive and keep they commandments!…...47 And now I see that the world to come will bring delight to few, but torments to many.  48 For an evil heart has grown up in us, which has alienated us from God, and has brought us into corruption and ways of death, and has shown us the paths of perdition and removed us far from life and that not just a few of us but almost all who have been created!…..60 So also will be the judgement which I have promised; for I will rejoice over the few who shall be saved, because it is they who have made my glory to prevail now, and through them my name has now been honored.” 

 

These statements seem too harsh to come from the loving God of the New Testament, however, they are very consistent with Yeshua in our Matthew 7 reference when He says that “only a few will enter the narrow gate and depart from me I did not know you.” 

 

 

Paul reiterates his view of the efficacy of God’s Law in Chapter 3 of 2nd Timothy.  The Torah or God’s instructions / Law of God was always intended to work in conjunction with the Holy Spirit and faith in God to convict us of our sin and the need for repentance, thus driving us to Messiah for forgiveness of sin and it‘s penalty.  However, one of the main requisites of forgiveness and salvation is repentance.  We can not truly repent from sin if we are not aware of the sins that we transgress.  The Law of God is the benchmark God gave us to identify sin and guide us to a righteous lifestyle.  It is sin that kills, not the Law of God.  Gods redemptive plan is clearly depicted by this following excerpt from Paul‘s Epsitle to Timothy:

 

 

2 Tim 3:14 But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; 15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures (sacred writings / Torah), which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus (Messiah Yeshua). 16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.  

 

“To make us wise unto salvation”, isn’t it interesting how the Holy Scriptures, Wisdom, Faith, Salvation and Yeshua are utilized by God as a package or a process for justification.  What about the use of  “Scripture for reproof, correction or for instruction in righteousness?”  Is this referencing a righteous or God ordained lawful lifestyle.

               

John says, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.  The true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world.  He was in the world and the world was made through him, yet the world knew him not.  And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us”.

 

The third question should now be, wasn’t Yeshua, the Word or Logos / Memra of God, who gave the Commandments to Moses on Sinai?   Apparently, the Commandments were important to Him then and are important to Him now.  Yeshua is the Torah incarnate or the Word of God.  You cannot separate the Word of God from the Spirit of God or the Torah of God from the Son of God.  It’s a “package deal.” 

 

Perhaps the solution requires the revelation that the Written Word (Torah) and The Living Word (Yeshua) are not to be separated.  According to a footnote in the Jerusalem Bible for Proverbs Chapter 8, “Christian tradition from St. Justin onwards sees in the Wisdom of the Old Testament the person of Christ himself.”  The New Testament says that Yeshua came to fulfill the Law and that He is the “goal” (telios – end meaning goal) of the Law or Torah.  There are, however, few if any Jewish or Christian sources that see the relationship of Yeshua and Torah. Yeshua is the incarnate Torah of God.  Perhaps this is why the gate is narrow.

 

Unfortunately the last 2000 years have seen two sisters beliefs, Judaism and Christianity, divided based upon the central focus of each being the Torah and Jesus, respectively.  They have been defined in a way that makes them antithetical to each other.  Therefore, a Jew does not need Yeshua and a Christian does not need Torah.

 

You cannot know Torah fulfilled without knowing Yeshua, and you cannot know Yeshua fully without knowledge of Torah. They should not be separated any more than faith and works or Law and Spirit . 

 

Many in the church today as in the past have difficulty with James’ epistle and the issue of works.  Did first century Jewish believers have a better understanding  of James when he said faith without works is dead.  Would they have had a more specific understanding that James implied faith in Yeshua (the Word of God) is dead without faithfulness to Torah  (the Word of God).

 

On the road to Emmaus Yeshua appeared to two men and said,  "O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 

……..27 And beginning with Moses (The Torah) and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures“. 

 

Solution, perhaps the gate and Yeshua are one and the same.  One is the writen Torah and one is the Torah incarnate.  The gate is narrow that leads to life and few are those who find it.  Perhaps we who are in the nations all need to begin with Moses or Torah.  This may be crucial in order to fully understand the character and heart of The Messiah whose Name, Yeshua “Salvation“, we call on almost two thousand years after His visitation.