Tuesday, March 6, 2012

OT Background to the Narrow Road

I was preaching on Sunday on the narrow road bit of the sermon on the mount, Matt 7:13-14,
Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
There is more here than meets the first glance. Long before Jesus' time choosing the right road/path was a well worn scriptural metaphor, e.g. Psalm 23:3, 86:11, Prov 2:20, to name but a few.   Now I think this whole section of the sermon, 7:13-27 echoes strongly Deuteronomy 30:11-20 where Moses puts "the decision" before Israel, but there are a further two passages from the prophets which I think should be seen a background to Jesus' words and applied when understanding the extent of Jesus' claims about his teaching and himself.


This is what the LORD says:
   “Stand at the crossroads and look;
   ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
   and you will find rest for your souls.
   But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’
I appointed watchmen over you and said,
   ‘Listen to the sound of the trumpet!’
   But you said, ‘We will not listen.’
Therefore hear, you nations;
   you who are witnesses,
   observe what will happen to them.
Hear, you earth:
   I am bringing disaster on this people,
   the fruit of their schemes,
because they have not listened to my words
   and have rejected my law.
Here in Jeremiah 6:16-19 we have this parallel of a choice of paths followed by destruction for those who chose the wrong path.  (Also compare vs16 with Matt 11:28-30)  But the most dramatic parallel is surely Isaiah 2:1-3.  Where the image of God teaching his paths on a mountain surely cannot be far from Matthew's mind as he relates Jesus' sermon on the mount.

This is what Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem:
 In the last days
   the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established
   as the highest of the mountains;
it will be exalted above the hills,
   and all nations will stream to it.
 Many peoples will come and say,
   “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
   to the temple of the God of Jacob.
He will teach us his ways,
   so that we may walk in his paths.”
The law will go out from Zion,
   the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. 
Let me know what you think, :-)

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