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Thursday, June 3, 2021

RUTH PART 3 --HARVEST TIME

 

Ruth and Naomi arrived in Bethlehem after the cold winter at the beginning of the barley harvest. This was the time of Passover when the blood of a lamb without spot or blemish is sacrificed as atonement for sin.  The wheat harvest is 50 days later at the time of the feast of Pentecost. Christians walk spiritually in Christ like Ruth and Naomi walked together in love and unity. The natural speaks to the spiritual.  Jesus was crucified at the time of Passover and the Holy Spirit was poured out at the time of Pentecost in fulfillment of these two set times of God. Like Ruth, those who believe in Jesus begin with accepting the shed blood of the Lamb of God for our sin. Then, we receive the Holy Spirit (Pentecost) to empower, teach, train, and equip us to walk as Jesus walked and do as Jesus did to bring in a harvest of souls to Jesus and eternal life.

The Israelites wait for the early rain that softens the ground before plowing. The plowing and seed planting take place after the early rain making the ground ready for seed.  The ground is broken and turned over, then seeds are scattered and planted. The sun and water provided by God makes the seed grow and eventually mature. This is also true in the spiritual. The Son Jesus sent the water of the Word and Holy Spirit to plant His seed of Truth within us and waters it by the Holy Spirit so we will grow and mature spiritually. The seed is hidden in the ground for a time as the seed of God’s Word is to be hidden in our hearts for a time until it takes root and begins to grow and translate into spiritual fruit. Jesus said that those who love and serve Him will be “known by their fruit.” Matthew 12:12

In late March or early April, after the seeds have become full- grown into grain, the barley harvest begins. The barley harvest is completed in late April or early May. Then the wheat harvest begins through the rest of May and early June.  Though the barley and wheat seeds are sown at the same time, it takes the wheat longer to grow and mature. This is also true of the seed of the Word of God. When we come to Jesus and begin being taught the seed of His Word, we are newbies just beginning to have the truth sown into our hearts and minds. It takes time for this truth to have a harvest in our souls. As the truth within us is watered by the Holy Spirit of God, it grows and matures within us. Wheat ripens at the time of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit is poured out upon believers. In the Newer Testament, Jesus told His disciples to “gather the wheat into His barn.” Matthew 13:30; Matthew 3:12 Jesus wants to mature us in the faith by the power of His Holy Spirit and Word. His barn is His Body/Church.

The Passover Lamb of God Jesus was born in Bethlehem (house of bread). Bethlehem is not far from Jerusalem. Jesus came to earth as a babe but as He grew “became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom and the grace of God was upon Him.” Luke 2:40 Followers of Christ are to also become strong in spirit through His wisdom and grace. At Passover, Jesus was crucified for both the Jew and Gentile symbolized in Naomi, the Jew, and Ruth, the Gentile. 

KINSMAN-REDEEMER 

In order to fully understand the Book of Ruth, you must understand the levirate marriage, the law of gleaning and the role of a kinsman-redeemer. God who knows the end from the beginning has always had a plan of redemption in His heart. This plan of redemption was foreshadowed in the Older Testament, revealed through Christ, and will be completed at the end eternally when we join our Eternal Redeemer Jesus, and all things are restored back to their original holy condition at the beginning of Genesis.

Naomi and Ruth have nothing to offer God but themselves. They are poor both materially and in spirit. Naomi and Ruth will put the past behind them and move forward to a new beginning in God’s Land. The relationship between Ruth and Naomi will lead them to their kinsman-redeemer. God is the God of new beginnings. He took redemption out of the hands of sinful man and gave it to His Pure Perfect Son Jesus who is the Redeemer of the whole world. As Ruth rejected the false gods of Moab and accepted the True God of Israel, believers in Christ are to reject the false gods of this world and accept and follow Jesus.

The story of Ruth and Naomi began with tragedy, but will end with redemption, restoration, a wedding, blessing, happiness, peace, and a son just as Jesus will do before the time of the end.      

Naomi understands the obligation of a kinsman-redeemer according to the Law because she is Jewish. Naomi cannot redeem herself and her deceased husband’s land. She needs a kinsman-redeemer who is born among her own people to fulfill the law of redemption in Leviticus 25:23. God will use Naomi’s brokenness and willingness to return to God and His Land as a way of preparing her to receive her redeemer and renewed inheritance. Ruth does not understand this, but she is submitted to the elder Naomi and her wisdom of God and His ways. Ruth trusted Naomi and Naomi trusted Ruth. Love and trust are always the cement of any relationship.

Naomi is too old to bear a son who would become an heir of her late husband’s portion of God’s land according to Deuteronomy 25:5, “When brothers live together and one of them dies and has no son, the wife of the deceased shall not be married outside the family to a strange man. Her husband’s brother shall go into her and take her to himself as wife and perform the duty of a husband’s brother to her.” Naomi knows that she needs a kinsman-redeemer to restore the land of her deceased husband. The Law of redemption is in Leviticus 25:23-55. Only a near relative through the bloodline of Elimelech can inherit his portion of God’s Land.  God in His grace provided a way for an Israelite to recover the God-given land in Israel through the Law of Kinsman-Redeemer and the Levirate marriage in Leviticus 25:23-28 and Deuteronomy 25:5-6. God did not want His people to be put to shame or impoverished, nor did He want any of His Land lost or a family line discontinued. Once God gave the land of Israel to the tribes of Israel, He wanted it to remain in possession of those to whom He gave it. This is God’s grace and love for His people. Not only did God provide a way of redemption and freedom from debt in the Law, but He also provided a way for the family line to be continued and not be blotted out of Israel just as God provided Jesus so those who believe in Him will not be blotted out of the Book of Life. Followers of Christ are to reproduce by sharing  God’s love and the wisdom of His Word with others, so they too become His spiritual sons and daughters and eventually His Bride.

In the Law of a Levirate marriage in Deuteronomy 25:5-6, the nearest relative of a deceased man without an heir is to willingly marry the widow. The firstborn son of this union would carry on the name of the first husband and would receive his inheritance. If a close kinsman did not redeem them, then they were set free of the debt in the year of Jubilee. God did not want His people to lose their God-given land. The male near-kinsman is to redeem and rescue (save) the widow in need. God is Israel’s Redeemer in the Older Testament. Jesus is God’s Supreme Kinsman-Redeemer of all – both Jew and Gentile -- revealed in the Newer Testament. God has given the whole earth to humanity to preserve and protect. God began His redemption plan with the small land of Israel. Through Christ’s death and resurrection and the Holy Spirit, He expanded it to the whole world. A redeemer is one who buys back a debt or something lost.

Since the Law is a foreshadow of the reality in Christ, the law of the kinsman-redeemer in the Older Testament pointed to Jesus, God’s Perfect Kinsman-Redeemer of the whole earth. Jesus had to have “natural” kinship in order to redeem, so He became a human -- flesh and blood -- making Him our “kin.” In order for Jesus who is God to identify with humans, He became one of us except for sin. He remained sinless. As a child, Jesus “grew in wisdom and stature” like any human. When He matured, He was given deep and pure understanding of the scriptures. Because He remained sinless, Jesus had the full power of the Holy Spirit of God to understand Truth.

Jesus’ holiness even in His flesh body gave Him the right to redeem humanity. Jesus will redeem anyone who puts his or her faith and trust in Him. Jesus also had to be Divine (sinless) because the first Adam who was created in the Godhead’s image and likeness was sinless (divine) when the Godhead created him. The original sin had to be reversed in the manner that it was committed – by a sinless human with sinless blood. Only the sinless blood of Jesus could pay the price of sin and redemption. Jesus is not only our redeemer, but He is also our jubilee because He set us free from a debt we couldn’t pay and from the slavery of sin and bondage. Jesus also gave us spiritual authority over the earth and the devil.

It was in Bethlehem (means “house of bread”) that Naomi and Ruth met their kinsman-redeemer as Christians meet their Kinsman-Redeemer Jesus in the house of bread – Christ’s Body, blood, and Word. In biblical times, barley was the food of the poor. Wheat was valued more than barley and came around 6 weeks after the barley. We meet our Kinsman-Redeemer Jesus when we are poor in spirit as Naomi and Ruth were when they reached Bethlehem.  As we are fed the spiritual seed of the Word of God, we grow in wisdom and mature spiritually. As Ruth the Gentile and Naomi the Jew united as one, Jesus – our Perfect Kinsman Redeemer – will unite the Jew and Gentile as One and lead us home to His Heavenly Promised Land. He will feed us the spiritual food of His Word and draw us together as one Body of Christ. Ruth and Naomi are a picture of the Bride of Christ made up of faithful Jews and Gentiles.

            The requirements of a kinsman redeemer in the Older Testament are:

·         He must be a kinsman (relative).

·         He must have the ability to pay the price to redeem.

·         He must be willing to redeem.

·         He has to actually do it.

Jesus meets all of the requirements to redeem every person who believes in Him. God changed the world in Bethlehem when Jesus was born. In order for Ruth to find her kinsman-redeemer and husband, she had to come to the “house of Bread”—Bethlehem -- as all must come to the House of Bread to find the Redeemer and Savior Jesus.

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Book of Ruth -- Part 2

  RUTH’S DEVOTION AND LOYALTY TO NAOMI

            Ruth’s commitment and faithfulness to Naomi and eventually her Jewish kinsman-redeemer stand out in the book of Ruth. Ruth said to Naomi, “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you, for where you go, I will go and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may the Lord do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me.” Ruth 1:16-17 Naomi must have made a great impression upon Ruth through her heart, ways, and love. Naomi drew Ruth to her God. Ruth was bonded to Naomi and Naomi’s God for life. Ruth will travel with Naomi to a new land and will abide with Naomi and her people. Naomi’s people will be Ruth’s people, and Naomi’s God will be Ruth’s God. She will be buried with Naomi. This extraordinary commitment and love of Ruth silenced Naomi. Ruth was so committed to her mother-in-law that she didn’t even want her dead body to return to Moab. She will not turn back! She will stay with her mother-in-“Law” Naomi until the day she dies. Ruth even invoked God in her oath. “Thus may the Lord do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me.” Ruth 2:17 An oath made to God is not to be taken lightly. This is the type of commitment Christ wants from those who love Him. No turning back.

            When Naomi saw Ruth’s determination to go with her, she did not discourage Ruth any further. God took Ruth the Gentile and Naomi the Jew and made them partners. God led them back to Him and His land, redeemed them and restored their inheritance. These are the two sticks of Ezekiel 37:19-20 that must become one in God’s Hand. Jesus will make the two – Jew and Gentile – into “one new man” and bring them home to God’s Heavenly Promised Land. (see Ephesians 2:15) There is only one way to the Father – through His Son Jesus. Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

            Naomi needed someone to walk with her, love her and provide for her. Ruth was motivated by faithfulness and love for both Israel’s God and Naomi, and eventually her love for God’s people. If Orpah had chosen as Ruth did, she would have shared in the salvation, redemption and blessing of Ruth and Naomi.

            Our Christian walk is a daily journey and oftentimes a wandering one and a difficult one, but God is faithful and if we are faithful and do not turn away from God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, we will be blessed as Ruth and Naomi were.

            Again, a Jew and Gentile are united to carry out God’s plan. Ruth is “outside” Israel but will join Israel, which means “one who strives with God or prince with God,” by believing in the True God of Israel. Naomi and Ruth returned to God, His Land and His house of bread. God also wants Jews and Gentiles to unite in His Son Jesus. Jesus is the Divine Bread of Life as the Word of God. He was born in Bethlehem, which means “house of Bread.” Jesus is the spiritual house of Bread as the Word of God – truth.

Ruth’s journey went as follows:


·    Ruth left the place of “emptiness” and false gods to journey to God’s Land and blessing.

·  Ruth laid down her own life to join her Jewish mother-in-law in a unified relationship to return to God’s Land of Promise. Naomi had gone to a foreign land with her husband, now Ruth will go to a foreign land with her Jewish mother-in-law.

·       Ruth came to God’s Land and the True God.

·    Then she came to her Kinsman-Redeemer who paid the price to redeem her and provide for her. She met her kinsman-redeemer who was lord of the harvest in the harvest field.

·  She worked in the harvest field to provide food for Naomi (Jew) and herself (Gentile).

·  She humbly laid at her Kinsman-Redeemer’s feet in devotion, faith, rest, protection, and trust.

·       She was wed to her Kinsman-Redeemer. The two–Jew and Gentile-- became one in Jesus, the Supreme Kinsman-Redeemer who is God.

            Ruth’s walk is the same walk Christians take with Jesus our Kinsman-Redeemer.  Jesus is our kinsman because He took on human flesh to redeem us. In the Book of Ruth, God will work through a faithful remnant of three people: Ruth (Gentile), Naomi (Jew) and Boaz, the Jewish kinsman-redeemer. These three are a type and shadow of Jesus and His Bride. During a time when God’s people were doing what was right in their eyes, these three will do what is right in God’s eyes.

            God will never completely leave His people. He will always have a faithful remnant through whom He will work. “For He Himself has said, ‘I will not leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5 God commanded in the Law that atonement for sin be made through the shed blood of an innocent lamb without spot or blemish. (see Leviticus 1) Jesus fulfilled this requirement of the Law perfectly and as a result, the only way to the spiritual Father is through the sinless blood and life of His spiritual Son.

            The Godhead has always had one plan and one plan only! Jesus would come into the world through Israel and save the world through His shed, sinless blood. This is the theme throughout scripture—in the Older Testament concealed (hidden), in the New Testament revealed in part and in Revelation in all of Christ’s glory. The Word of God is a progressive revelation of the Godhead’s plan and ways. Throughout the scriptures, God worked through united Jews and Gentiles to bring His plan of salvation and redemption through His Son Jesus into the world. The Word of God is a progressive revelation of the Godhead’s plan.

            Before Jesus could redeem Jews and Gentiles who believe in Him, He had to first fulfill the claims of God’s Law in the Older Testament. God sent Jesus into the world to do this. For what the Law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His Son in the likeness of sinful flesh. Romans 8:3 Jesus is the only One who can save because He lived in the flesh in perfect obedience to the Law giving Him the right to redeem all people. Jesus paid the bridal price by His precious blood. The Law is hidden in Christ as the two tablets of Law were hidden in the Ark of God’s presence in the tabernacle and temple. Jesus is the Ark of God’s covenant. He is the very presence of God on earth. He is the blood-stained mercy seat as the propitiation for sin by His shed blood. Hidden within Jesus are the two tablets of Law, the golden pot of manna as the Divine Bread of heaven – the Word of God – and Aaron’s rod that budded as the Supreme High Priest who gives spiritual life. Since Jesus is the presence of God on earth, the Law is hidden in Him. Galatians 4:4-5: But when the fullness of time came, God sent forth His son, born of a woman, born under the Law that we might receive the adoption as sons. When we belong to Jesus, we are His sons and daughters. Galatians 3:13 says, “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the Law.” And in Romans 3:21-24, it says, “But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” Jesus is our Kinsman-Redeemer. We are justified by faith in Him and His atoning work.

            Jesus was born through a young, Jewish virgin under the Law.  Jesus could only come to a pure place that was untouched by man because He was, is and will ever be holy. The young, virgin Mary’s birth canal and womb had not been touched by the flesh or seed of man. Her womb and birth canal were pure and sealed. Mary was not holy because she was born of sinful flesh. Her womb was holy because it had not been touched with the flesh or seed of man.

            Jesus paid the price of redemption by His shed, sinless blood, “not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood He entered the Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.” Hebrews 9:12 Jesus entered the heavenly sanctuary through the shedding of His incorruptible, holy, and innocent blood. There is no pure bloodline except the blood of Jesus. The Bible says that “life is in the blood.” Our human blood sustains our physical life which is sinful, but It is through the pure blood of Jesus and His holiness that we have eternal, spiritual life.

            The purpose of the first Covenant with Israel was so God could wed them and together they would produce a Son who would redeem the world. Despite the weakness of the flesh of His people, God carried out His plan through them. He honored the Jewish people by sending the Savior and Light of the world through them. He also honored His people by making them the preservers of the Word of God despite their sinful ways. The Jews have indeed been a light to the world. Without them, we would not have a Savior who is the Light of the whole world or the written Word of God.   

     

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Ruth

 

    The Book of Ruth is a story of redemptive love and marriage between a Jewish kinsman-redeemer and a Gentile bride. It is about a Redeemer, a harvest, and a bride. It shows that God’s love, grace, and blessing includes both Jews and Gentiles. Ruth is the only Gentile woman that a book is written about in the Older Testament.
    The Book of Ruth is also about the faithful love and bond between Gentile Ruth and her Jewish mother-in-law Naomi. It is also about the love and faithfulness of Ruth and Naomi’s kinsman-redeemer Boaz. This love and faithfulness deepen as the story goes on. Eventually Ruth and Boaz are wedded and have a son who will inherit the portion of God’s Land given by God to Naomi’s deceased husband. God in His steadfast, gracious love brought redemption and restoration to the Gentile Ruth and her Jewish mother-in-law Naomi.
    Hidden within the story of Boaz and Ruth is the foreshadowing of the deep love and faithfulness of Christ’s Bride made up of faithful Jews and Gentiles and her spiritual Kinsman-Redeemer Jesus. The Word of God has hidden manna from heaven within. Revelation 2:17, To the Church at Pergamum Jesus says, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat.” In the book of Ruth is the story of Jesus and His Bride hidden throughout the Older Testament.
    Ruth began as a foreigner (Gentile) in a foreign land outside of God’s Land of covenant promise made to Abraham. The Book of Ruth is one of two books of the Bible named after women. The other is Esther. Ruth was a Gentile in the land of the Jews. Esther was a Jew in the land of the Gentiles. Ruth became the bride of her Jewish kinsman-redeemer, and Esther became the bride of a Gentile king. Together they represent the Bride of Christ made up of both Jews and Gentiles who believe in God’s beloved Son Jesus. Ruth is in the harvest field in Israel gathering a harvest and Esther is in the throne room ruling and reigning with her king.
    The story of Ruth reveals that God’s love, grace, and blessing includes both Jews and Gentiles. God in His steadfast love for humanity brought redemption and restoration to Naomi, the Jew, and Ruth, the Gentile. Boaz, a Jew from the tribe of Judah, will be the kinsman-redeemer of Naomi and Ruth. Boaz is a type and shadow of Jesus who is God’s spiritual Kinsman-Redeemer who will redeem a harvest of Jews and Gentiles who will eventually be His Bride.
    The godly attributes of Ruth are revealed throughout her story. She was faithful to Israel’s God, her Jewish mother-in-law, her kinsman-redeemer, and God’s people. She was willing to leave everything – her country, her family, her home, and her false gods – to join her Jewish mother-in-law in her journey to God’s Land. In God’s Land, Ruth would gather new food, a new husband, and a son by God’s grace. Ruth was also hard-working. Her hard work in the harvest field provided for herself and her Jewish mother-in-law. The grain that Ruth harvested fed both the Jew (Naomi) and the Gentile (Ruth). This is also true in the spiritual realm. The Body of Christ is to be faithful to Jesus and leave everything to follow Him. Christ will be our new Husband who gives us the new food of Truth as well as spiritual sons and daughters. Jesus also said that the harvest is ready, but the laborers are few. Like Ruth, those who love and follow Jesus must work hard to feed others the Truth to establish God’s Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. God gave the Israelites an earthly Promised Land, but those who follow Christ will be given a spiritual Promised Land.
    Ruth’s loving-kindness and faithfulness to Naomi, and Naomi’s faithfulness to Ruth shines brightly throughout Ruth’s story. The story of Ruth shows how God can work through a faithful remnant who does what is right in His eyes despite the moral decay and sin all around them. We shine a light on Christ when we walk as He walked in obedience to His Word. If we are His Body and He is the Head and the feet of the Body, we are to have the heart of Jesus, the “mind of Christ,” and walk as He walked. The story of Ruth is a picture of the mostly Gentile Church of Jesus Christ reaching out in love, loyalty, and faithfulness to Jews as well as Gentiles to bring them to their Messiah Jesus.
    The book of Ruth begins with famine and death and ends with a Jewish kinsman- redeemer who is lord of the harvest taking a Gentile bride and redeeming the portion of God’s Land that belonged to Naomi’s deceased Jewish husband. The marriage of Ruth and Boaz will make Boaz the forefather of David, Israel’s mighty king. Boaz and Ruth are listed in the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1:5. Boaz is a type and shadow of Jesus, God’s Kinsman-Redeemer from the tribe of Judah, who will redeem both Jews and Gentiles who believe in Him and ultimately take His faithful ones as His Bride for all eternity. This marriage between Ruth and Boaz produced a son they named Obed. Obed means “one with a servant’s heart.” This son Obed is a Jew-Gentile and is a foreshadowing of those who serve Jesus with a servant’s heart. Jesus is the Supreme Servant of God.