Matthew 24:12

“The love of many will grow cold” is the passage that came to mind upon meeting Michael.

Michael is a homeless man who confessed he was responsible for losing his job, his wife, his home – and one might say, his dignity. His eyes were the color of a thousand sleepless nights, and when he spoke I imagined his vocal cords being set free after what must have felt like a lifetime of silence.

Marcus and I met Michael at the Centennial Olympic Park. We just passed the big Ferris wheel on the way to meet my friend, Karen, and her family for dinner. I hadn’t seen Karen in 22 years when my youngest daughter and her eldest son were infants. She was in town for the 4th of July holiday. I must have been engrossed in conversation with Marcus because I didn’t notice Michael sitting on the small retaining wall at the edge of the street.

Michael: “Can I stop you for a moment?”

Me: “Yes.”

Michael: “I haven’t always been homeless. I had a home. I graduated from Southern Miss with a degree in Finance. I had a good job and made good money. But then I lost my job – due to my own fault. My wife divorced me and between the divorce and losing my job, it was hard… I couldn’t keep up with the mortgage and I lost my home. I have been staying at the Atlanta Mission for homeless men. You can verify it if you want.” Michael pointed up the street.

Marcus: “There’s no need for us to do that.”

Michael [fighting back tears]: “I’ve been sitting here all day trying to get someone to help me. Everyone looks at me like I’m on drugs or like I’m an alcoholic. They look at me with disgust and walk past me.”

The love of many will grow cold. Matthew 24:12

Michael: “I am neither on drugs or an alcoholic. I am not going to rob anyone and I’m not going to hurt anyone. I just need help.”

Michael’s tears prevailed. His vocal cords cracked as he continued the story of how he ended up on a random corner at Centennial Olympic Park near the big Ferris wheel. He spoke many words that are etched in my mind and will be topics for future posts. For now, I want go back to Matthew 24:12. The entire verse reads:

And because of the increase of lawlessness, the love of many will grow cold.

The word “lawlessness” here–and almost every time you see the word “law” in the Bible–refers to YHVH’s [the LORD’s] instruction book for life. The word in Hebrew is Torah — the first five books of the Bible. The word “law” is a flawed translation of Torah, which is more accurately defined as “instruction” or “teaching”.

Many Christians believe that aside from the 10 Commandments, the “laws” of the Old Testaments were strenuous requirements that were impossible to keep and are no longer relevant. Christians are taught that Yeshua [Jesus] fulfilled these laws and nailed them to the cross when he was crucified (Colossians 2:13-14). This misunderstood passage has deprived many people of the wisdom found in Torah.

In Matthew 24, Yeshua describes the state of humanity and world affairs at the end of the age. In verse 12, he explains the reason that “the love of many will grow cold” is due to lack of Torah in people’s lives.

And because of the increase of lawlessness [Torah-lessness], the love of many will grow cold.

Why is this so?

The answer can be found through more words from Yeshua. When asked which command is the greatest, he responded by quoting two famous Torah teachings, Deuteronomy 6:4-5 and Leviticus 19:18.

“‘You shall love YHVH your Elohiym with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law [Torah] and the prophets.”

Matthew 22:34-40

You see, Torah teaches principles for how to love YHVH and how to love others. Principles like Leviticus 19:9-10 that instruct us to leave the edges of our field unharvested so people in need may eat as they travel. People like our neighbor, Michael, who needed $30 for a place to lay his head, to be acknowledged as a human being, an opportunity to tell his story, and restored hope that YHVH cares.

I marvel at YHVH who orchestrated this meeting, not because Michael needed it, but also to remind Marcus and I to stay connected to Torah so that our love will be warm and ready for the Kingdom.

And because of the increase of lawlessness, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the world, as a testimony to all the nations; and then the end will come.

Matthew 24:12-14

Michael, thank you for your generosity. Although our paths did not cross on Shabbat, meeting you was like a Sabbath blessing.