Copyright 1994 - 2018 Bill's Bible Basics
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Published On :
May 30, 1997
Last Updated :
March 9, 2018
Smart Sheep, Or Stubborn Goats, Learn From Past Mistakes, God Is Always Willing To Take Us Back, Matthew 7:13-14 Explained, Saved Nations And Population Of New Jerusalem, Millions Are Saved But Billions Are Also Lost, Global Christian Population, Few There Be That Find It, Reading The Scriptures From The Right Perspective, Jesus The Rejected Cornerstone, Fishes And Loaves Crowd, The Disciples Flee, A Great Multitude In Heaven, 144,000 And A Remnant, Abraham Pleads For Sodom And Gomorrah, Wicked America And Her Approaching Judgment, God's Righteous Judgments, Divine Chastisement Is A Sign Of God's Love, Let It Be Healed, Every Creature And Every Knee Shall Bow, Universal Reconciliation, Accept The Light Of Christ, Suggested Reading
Now, concerning the context of Matthew 7:13-14 -- which I quoted at the beginning of this series -- I believe that the main point Jesus was endeavoring to emphasize is that as far as our humanity goes, we more often than not make the wrong decisions. This includes when it comes to the opportunity to receive Salvation. There is a reason that people are often referred to as being dumb sheep. In the case of Salvation, we are either smart sheep, or else we are stubborn goats, as Jesus makes perfectly clear in the closing verses of Matthew chapter twenty-five.
For those of us who are parents, sometimes we have to allow our children to make a few bad decisions, so that they will eventually come to see the light. As much as it may hurt us to watch them suffer, we have to let them learn from their own mistakes. In the end, they will be a lot wiser for it. In a larger context, the Bible informs us that we too must learn from the mistakes which were made in the past. In this case, we must learn from the mistakes which were made by the ancient Israelites. Consider the following verses:
"For whatsoever things were written aforetime WERE WRITTEN FOR OUR LEARNING, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus:"
Romans 15:4 KJV
"NOW THESE THINGS WERE OUR EXAMPLES, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted . . . Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and THEY ARE WRITTEN FOR OUR ADMONITION, upon whom the ends of the world are come."
1 Corinthians 10:6, 11, KJV
Insofar as making mistakes is concerned, I believe that God allows us to do the same. That is what free will and personal choice is all about. But just like human parents, He never gives up on us completely, as long as we have life. As the old saying goes, "As long as there is life, there is hope." God is always willing to receive us back into His arms, once we have seen the error of our ways and repent. Consider the story of the Prodigal Son which is found in Luke chapter fifteen.
"Sure", you may say, "But what about this whole concept of a wide gate and a broad way that leads to destruction, and the many people who enter therein, and the straight gate and the narrow way which leads to Eternal Life, which very few people manage to find? How do you explain that? Doesn't your belief contradict those verses?"
Actually, no. Not in the least. I really have no problem with Matthew 7:13-14 whatsoever. Allow me to explain. It seems rather illogical to me that Jesus would construct a beautiful Heavenly City called New Jerusalem which is about fifteen hundred miles long on each side of its square base, just to have a "few" folks live in it. You see, I think the problem here is in our own understanding of what Jesus meant by "and few there be that find it". We are temporal creatures who for the most part do not expand our vision beyond our own time period and our private little worlds. Maybe some of us really need to broaden our vision and try to see things the way that God sees them. In the Book of Revelation we are told the following:
"And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the Earth do bring their glory and honour into it."
Revelation 21:4, KJV
This verse clearly reveals that there are entire nations of saved people, and that there are kings and nations living outside of the Heavenly City, New Jerusalem. Who are all of these people? Bear in mind that this verse is describing the New Heaven and the New Earth. These are all saved people. We really have no idea exactly how many people this is, but in comparison to how many billions of people have lived on the Earth since the time of Adam and Eve, it must be relatively "few". I suspect that it may be in the hundreds of millions, I really don't know with any degree of certainty. Following are two verses which offer us some clues:
"And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands;"
Revelation 5:11, KJV
"After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;"
Revelation 7:9, KJV
"Ten thousand times ten thousand" equates to one hundred million inhabitants of the Heavenly City. Then we also have the additional "thousands of thousands". But then John also writes "a great multitude, which no man could number". As I said, we have no idea how many saved people that is. While it definitely seems like a lot, even if these saved people total in the hundreds of millions -- a mere speculation -- if we compare this number to the many billions of people who have ever lived on the Earth, and who have needed Salvation, it is still very "few". So millions may be saved, but billions are also lost, thus fulfilling Matthew 7:13-14.
But then we run into sort of a problem when we look at the state of the world today. According to the World Population Clock, as of December, 2017, the estimated world population stood at 7.6 billion people. The latest online figures I was able to find indicate that as of 2015, there were 2.3 billion professing Christians in the world, with over one billion of them being Roman Catholics. Furthermore, according to a study that was conducted by the Pew Research Center, the number of Christians in the world was estimated to grow to 2.9 billion people by 2050.
In other words, these figures indicate that about one third of the world's population is comprised of Christians. While that is not a very healthy figure, neither would I classify it as being "few". Of course, in all honesty, we really don't know how many of those individuals are truly Bible-believing, born-again Christians. I don't need to remind you of how much compromise has entered the modern Church. Sadly, many people are nominal Christians at best. They bear the name, but they live like the Devil and the children of the world. Only God knows their hearts, so it is not for me to judge the status of their Salvation.
Yet still, if we give these people the benefit of the doubt, and accept all 2.3 billion of them as being truly born-again, saved Christians, that doesn't seem like the "few there be that find it". After all, that is a lot of people. So what is going on? What are we missing?
As I continued to ponder this "few there be that find it" issue, I began to see what Jesus said in Matthew 7:13-14 from a whole different perspective. As I point out in the series "Jesus Christ's Return: Have We Been Deceived?", one of the problems with us modern-day Christians is that when we read the Scriptures, we tend to look at them, and understand them, from our modern perspective. However, this can be a mistake. What we really need to do is to understand what Jesus said from the perspective of one of His listeners who lived during that same time period. When we do this, we suddenly see and understand things very differently, without our modern-day filters in place.
Now, consider the time frame when Jesus said Matthew 7:13-14, and the general attitude of the people who surrounded Him at that time. To give you an idea of what I am talking about, all we have to do is to look at some of the things which are contained in the Scriptures. The following verses give us a very clear picture of the hostility which surrounded Jesus:
"He is DESPISED AND REJECTED of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not."
Isaiah 53:3, KJV
"And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and BE REJECTED of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again."
Mark 8:31, KJV
"Saying, The Son of man must suffer many things, and BE REJECTED of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day."
Luke 9:22, KJV
"But first must he suffer many things, and BE REJECTED of this generation."
Luke 17:25, KJV
"He came unto his own, and HIS OWN RECEIVED HIM NOT."
John 1:11, KJV
"The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner. This is the LORD'S doing; it is marvellous in our eyes."
Psalms 118:22-23, KJV
"Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?"
Matthew 21:42, KJV
"And have ye not read this scripture; The stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner: This was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?"
Mark 12:10-11, KJV
"This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner."
Acts 4:11, KJV
"To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed [that is disapproved, rejected, repudiated] indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed."
1 Peter 2:4-8, KJV
So while we all know that the multitudes thronged after the Lord because in their own selfish desires they wanted to be healed of their many afflictions, and because they wanted to be amazed by the miracles which Jesus performed, and because they wanted to fill their bellies with the fishes and the loaves which He provided, and because they desired a king who would break the yoke of Roman bondage, in the end, where were they when Jesus was arrested, mocked, scourged and finally crucified? They were nowhere in sight.
You see, Jesus knew human nature. He knew what was in men's hearts. He knew who truly followed Him from their hearts, and they were indeed few in number. They were not the multitudes who just wanted the other things which I just mentioned. As a good example, you may recall that the minute Jesus started talking about eating His flesh and drinking His blood, many of His followers abandoned Him. Likewise, when Judas and the mob accosted Him that night in the Garden of Gethsemane, even His closest followers took flight and abandoned Him in fear and cowardice. Consider these verses:
"Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, [this being the flesh and blood sermon] said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?"
John 6:60-67, KJV
"In that same hour said Jesus to the multitudes, Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me. But all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled."
Matthew 26:55-56, KJV
"And Jesus answered and said unto them, Are ye come out, as against a thief, with swords and with staves to take me? I was daily with you in the temple teaching, and ye took me not: but the scriptures must be fulfilled. And they all forsook him, and fled."
Mark 14:48-50, KJV
So, when we look at what Jesus said in Matthew 7:13-14 from the perspective of someone who actually lived at that time, and who may have even heard Him say it, it really makes a lot of sense. Very few of the Jews were willing to accept Christ, and go through the strait gate and the narrow way, which was Himself.
In fact, if you require further proof of what I am saying, consider the following. Earlier, I shared with you Revelation 7:9 which describes the "great multitude, which no man could number" who stand before the Lamb of God. I lean towards the belief that this "great multitude" represents the Gentile nations who embrace Christ, and thus who are saved. This is the only way that we can arrive at a figure of at least one hundred million or more -- ten thousand times ten thousand, as per the verse. But in contrast, do you know what comes right before Revelation 7:9? It is a detailed description of how many Israelites embrace Christ. Guess what? It is only 144,000. Consider the following verses:
"And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel. Of the tribe of Juda were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Aser were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Nepthalim were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Manasses were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Simeon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Levi were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Issachar were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Zabulon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Joseph were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand."
Revelation 7:2-8, KJV
Thus we see how Matthew 7:13-14 perfectly matches up with what is written in the Book of Revelation. Why? Because when Jesus said that during the First Century, He was addressing His own people; that is, the people of Israel who were alive at that time. He already knew how few of them would actually accept Him, and thus be saved and sealed to Redemption, as we see in the Book of Revelation. At this current time, I believe that these 144,000 people represent "the remnant" of whom the Apostle Paul speaks in the following verses:
"Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved:"
Romans 9:27, KJV
"Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace."
Romans 11:5, KJV
Returning to our earlier discussion, I remain convinced that a righteous God would not be happy until the absolute minimum of people is cast into the Lake of Fire. If you would like to read another good example of how far God is willing to extend His Mercy, Grace and Patience in order to save the lost, even when they don't want to be saved, read the story of Abraham, Lot and Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis chapters eighteen and nineteen. It may surprise you to see how Abraham questioned the righteousness of the Lord, and pleaded for the lives of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham bargained down to the lowest number that he possibly could, and God was still willing to hear him out. Yet tragically, those people were just so terribly wicked with their sexual perversions, that it did no good. God still destroyed them all in the end, save for Lot and his two daughters.
How much the story of Sodom and Gomorrah reminds me of modern America. Once a more devout nation which feared the Lord, she has been transformed into a spiritual whore which entertains foreign religions, and which is filled with every manner of sexual perversion, not to mention other forms of wickedness. Her tragic fall into spiritual darkness has happened so fast, that it has left many God-fearing, Bible-believing Christians stunned. When I was a young boy growing up in America, never would I have imagined the things that we see today. The level of outright defiance against God and His holy Laws is simply mind-boggling. She has become an abomination in His sight. I am once again reminded of the following verse:
"And I brought you into a plentiful country, to eat the fruit thereof and the goodness thereof; but when ye entered, ye defiled my land, and made mine heritage an abomination."
Jeremiah 2:7, KJV
But as I explain in "Don't Ever Underestimate Our Spiritual Enemy", given what I have seen, heard and read, I can't help but believe that America's day of judgment draws ever closer. Whenever that day does finally arrive, we must remember that our God is a righteous God, and His judgments and rulings are always just. They are certainly more fair than any judgment which is passed by any court on this Earth. Furthermore, we must all remember that whenever God is forced to chasten us, whether it is as individuals, or collectively as a nation, it is done out of love, in the hope that we will eventually come to our senses and repent. I am reminded of the following set of verses:
"And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons . . . Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed."
Hebrews 12:5-8, 11-13, KJV
So once again we see that God desires to heal, and not to destroy. His judgments, no matter how harsh, are meant to bring us to a point of repentance. I believe that God wants to heal America. His desire is to save her from herself and her destructive ways. So the question is this: will America let Him, or will she continue to rebel against Him until it is too late and His judgments begin to fall?
Earlier we discussed the many thousands -- indeed, the many millions -- who stand before the Lamb and the Throne of God. Following is yet another verse that is found in Revelation chapter five which describes the Throne of God. Consider the usage of the word "every", and how it too demonstrates the extent of God's Mercy and Salvation:
"And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessings and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever."
Revelation 5:13, KJV
Allow me to share a few more related verses with you where the word "every" is also used to describe the full extent of God's Mercy, Salvation and Sovereignty. Please take notice of the fact that the second verse below uses the very same language as Revelation 5:13 above:
"For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God."
Romans 14:11, KJV
"That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;"
Philippians 2:10, KJV
These verses seem to be all-inclusive. In other words, as I have stated a few times now, it appears that God will not be completely happy until He has reconciled as much of creation unto Himself as He possibly can, both human and spiritual beings. This doctrine is commonly referred to as "Universal Reconciliation". I also discuss it briefly in the in-depth series entitled "Hell, the Lake of Fire and Universalism". While I have not yet arrived at a firm conclusion regarding the reliability of this doctrine, it does seem to make a lot of sense to me, and it does appear to have ample support in the Scriptures. In fact, I think God's inclusive nature can be encapsulated in the following verse, which was also written by the Apostle Paul. I have added a few words in brackets for the sake of clarification:
"And when all things shall be subdued unto him [unto Jesus], then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him [God the Father] that put all things under him, that God may be all in all."
1 Corinthians 15:28, KJV
In light of everything I have shared with you in this series, I hope you can see why I have adopted this position regarding God's desire to reconcile as much of creation to Himself as He possibly can. Let me reiterate that while this is God's desire, it does not necessarily mean that it will actually happen, because God does not usually overrule free will and personal choice. In His Love and Mercy, He will gently lead us to the Light, but then we must decide whether or not we want to embrace it. If you have not yet received Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, I pray that you will do it today.
With these thoughts, I will bring this series to a close. I trust that you have enjoyed it, and I pray that it has been a blessing in your life. If you have an account with Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or any other social network, I would really appreciate if you would take the time to click on the link that you find on this page. Thank you so very much for your consideration! May God bless you abundantly!
For additional information, you may want to refer to the list of reading resources below which were also mentioned in this series, or which contain topics which are related to this series. All of these articles are likewise located on the Bill's Bible Basics web server:
A Biblical Cafeteria, or the Whole Course?
A Treasure in Earthen Vessels
Abortion: The Slaughter of the Innocent
All Are Given a Chance, But . . .
Child of the Lamb or Child of the Goat?
Dead to the Law: God's Laws Written on Our Hearts
Did the Devil Make You Do It?
Don't Ever Underestimate Our Spiritual Enemy
Free Will and Personal Choice
Hell, the Lake of Fire and Universalism
In Defense of the KJV Bible
In the Ages to Come
Is the KJV Bible the Inerrant Word of God?
Is the Message of Salvation Meant for All Men?
Jesus Christ's Return: Have We Been Deceived?
Judgment of Azazel: Scapegoat of the High Priest
Many Are Called, But Few Are Chosen
Nephilim: The Giants of Genesis
Not Everyone is a Child of God
The Book of Enoch: Truth or Heresy?
The Judgment of Angels, Demons and Men
The Woman in the Wilderness and the 144,000