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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 Boaz and Ruth will make Boaz the forefather of David, Israel’s mighty king and ultimately King Jesus who comes through the line of David. 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.

Monday, December 14, 2020

The Royal Wedding Song

 


Psalm 45

 A Song of Love

          This Psalm is a beautiful wedding song. It is about the wedding of a King and His Bride – in type and shadow, King Jesus, and His Bride. Her King’s love is pure and lovely to behold. He wants her to know that she is surrounded by His love. He also wants to help her live and express that love to others. 

The Word of God begins in Genesis with the wedding between Adam and the Woman. Jesus began His public ministry in the Gospel of John at a wedding in Cana, and Revelation ends with the wedding between Jesus and His Bride. The Word of God goes full circle. The first and last meet completing the circle of the redemption of the world and eternal life with the Godhead. Jesus is the First and Last, the Beginning and the End—the full circle of the Word of God. (see Revelation 1:11,17)

 Bride-to-be Speaking

        This song begins with the Bride-to-be speaking. My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer. V1 She has a noble purpose, and her heart has pure motives. Her heart is opened to hear and record His words and revelations. She will not only write what her King speaks to her, she will speak His Word like a skillful writer. Writing records a matter for all to see just as the Word of God does. It lives beyond the life of the writer. This Bride-to-be will put down in writing what she has learned about her King. Her voice is also her pen. She will speak His Word as well as write it.

            You are the most excellent of men and your lips have been anointed with grace, since God has blessed you forever. V2 King Jesus is the “most excellent of men.” There is none like Him because He is holy. He has no flaw. Jesus’ heart, love and character far surpasses mere man. Our human nature is filthy and vile, but He is pure and holy. Sin has never touched Him either in the earthly or spiritual realm. He has saved His Bride by His grace and love.

Not only is He holy, but He is also the Anointed One of God full of grace and truth. John 1:14: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” There is no other with such grace and truth. Through Jesus’ lips, the fullness of grace and truth are poured out to humanity so we can receive of His fullness. Jesus Christ is God’s blessing to humanity forever. Where God gives His grace and truth, He also gives His blessing. Ephesians 1:3: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.” Jesus is our Eternal blessing from God.

             Gird your sword upon your thigh, O mighty one; clothe yourself with splendor and majesty. V3 The Bride’s King is not only pure and full of grace and truth, He is also a mighty warrior who will defeat the works of darkness by His Word of truth. Luke 4:22: “So all bore witness to Him and marveled at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth.”

The thigh is the place of covenant and strength. Abraham told his faithful servant to “put his hand under my thigh” as a covenant oath that he would go and find a bride for his promised son, Isaac. (Genesis 24:2-4) What was done in the “natural,” Jesus fulfilled in the “spiritual.” Jesus, the Mighty Warrior, who is clothed in glory and majesty, carries the Word of God as His sword and His Covenant oath. He is Divine Truth. There is none like Him in His power and glory. He will gather a Bride through His Word and Covenant Oath to God.

Jesus is the Word of God from beginning to end and is gathering a Bride to Himself. In Revelation 19:11-16, Jesus comes to defeat the enemies of God’s people. “Out of His mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. He will rule them with an iron scepter. With justice He judges and makes war. On His robe and on His thigh, He has this name written: King of Kings and Lord of Lords.” Jesus wields the truth against lies and false truth. Truth is His weapon against the father of lies – the devil. Jesus said to the religious leaders of the day who were teaching untruth, “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources. For he is a liar and the father of it.” John 8:44 Lies do not come from God. A liar is led by the devil, not God. There is no blessing that will come from God through lies.

The sword of God’s Word is double-edged. It not only reveals the ways of God, but also the ways of the devil. To those who follow and love Jesus, it is a Light, Guide and Protector. But to those who do not know Him, it is a sword of judgment, defeat, and death. Instead of a “golden scepter” as king Ahasuerus gave the Queen Esther the Jew indicating forgiveness, favor and salvation, Christ’s enemies will be ruled by an “iron scepter.” Iron crushes. Romans 16:20: “And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.” Christ’s inflexible rule and authority will destroy His and our enemies.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

The Book of Esther -- Part 2

 

Vashti – The Rebellious Bride

          Vashti was the wife of Ahasuerus, the king of Persia. The king of Persia was a strong, powerful king with great authority. He was also a great warrior. At this time, kings had many wives and concubines, but his queen was special and occupied a favored position, just as the Bride of Christ has a favored position in Christ.

Vashti was a Gentile and had only one name, but Esther had two (a Jewish and Gentile name). Vashti means “beautiful woman.” Vashti was outwardly beautiful and desirable to men, but rebellious on the inside. Vashti is a picture of the rebellious bride. She was not a believer in the True God of Israel. She refused to come before the king when he called for her. Perhaps her exalted position went to her head. Vashti’s rejection of the king will lead to her rejection by the king.

Vashti obviously had some self-respect and wisdom that kept her from displaying herself before the drunken men. Unfortunately, her disobedience to the king whether justified or not will have a cost. She will be removed as queen and another will take her place. Vashti represents Israel who refused to come to King Jesus when He called. Jesus walked the land of Israel and its holy city Jerusalem while on earth. A remnant of Jews believed in Jesus and followed Him. Jesus did great things through this faithful remnant. God loves Israel and sent His only begotten Son to save and redeem her and His people. Jesus wept over Jerusalem because He knew their rejection of Him would cause the city and its people to fall. Jesus’ heart was broken because He loves them.

Esther – The New Bride of the King

Esther was beautiful outside and inside. She was a woman of beauty, courage, and strength. She had a heart for the true God and His people. She also had a heart for the gentile king of Persia and his people. Esther is a prophetic picture of God’s plan to redeem a Bride for King Jesus.

Esther because of her faith in the True God of Israel became strong, courageous, and committed to God’s people. She is a picture of the Bride of Christ who will be made up of both Jews and Gentiles who believe in Jesus. Christ’s Bride will be the favored of the Lord. God did not abandon Israel in Persia nor will He abandon Israel now. God did not replace Israel with the Body of Christ; He included Israel in His salvation through His precious Son Jesus who came through a Jewish woman. Jesus did what the Jews or the Bride of Christ could not do – obey God perfectly and completely. We are all, both Jews and Gentiles, sinners in need of a Savior and God’s grace. In other words, we are equally guilty and equally loved by God. Without the Jews, there would be no written Word of God or Savior. God’s plan was in place before the creation of the world. It was God’s love for the Israelites in spite of their disobedience that brought us the precious Word of God and Savior so we all can come to know the True God and His ways. The Jews were faithful in preserving and writing the Word of God down so we all can know the True God, as well as the ways of the devil. God’s greatest honor to the Jewish people was having His Son come through them to save the world from spiritual, eternal death.

Esther developed her inner strength through her faith in God and the wisdom regarding God from her cousin Mordecai who raised her in the Jewish faith, as well as the counsel of Hegai, king Ahasuerus’ servant who helped to prepare Esther to meet her king. Esther had a godly and teachable spirit. She gave willing obedience to those in authority over her. She was also cautious. She sought the counsel of those she trusted. She willingly obeyed God and her Jewish cousin Mordecai who had taught and trained her. She also submitted to the wisdom and knowledge of Hegai, the overseer of the female harem, who would prepare her to meet her king.

God will elevate Esther to queen because of her godly qualities. Esther is committed to her king, to his people (gentiles) and to her people (Jews). The story of Esther illustrates the power of a woman who has surrendered her life to God and humanity.

The Banquet of the King

Banquets mark the beginning and the end of the story of Esther. Banquets are also the beginning and end of Jesus’ story. He began at the earthly wedding at Cana in the Gospel of John and will end with the spiritual wedding supper of the Lamb in Revelation. The banquets in the Book of Esther were used to reveal plans and plots. Jesus’ feasts will also reveal plans and plots. At the last supper, Jesus revealed that one of His chosen twelve would betray Him. He also revealed that the bread represented His body given for them, and the wine was His blood poured out for them. The greatest feast given us by the Godhead is the Word of God. As we feast on the Word of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit will reveal truth and the ways of the Godhead so we will walk in the newness and fullness of life in Christ. The Word also reveals the ways, plots, and plans of Satan – the enemy of the Godhead and those who believe in Him. It is a double-edged sword.

King Ahasuerus gave an earthly banquet for all of his noble men and their attendants as well as his army officers. This banquet took place in the third year of his reign at the palace in Susa. This banquet went on for six months. The king displayed the “riches “of his royal glory and the splendor of his great majesty for many days, 180 days.” Esther 1:4 The number 6 is the number of flesh --humans without God. Ahasuerus’ pride was his motivation. Ahasuerus was a man without the True God. During this celebration for the nobles and officers close to the king, there was much drinking, lavish food, and concubines. They could eat and drink all they desired. The king wanted his nobles to see the vastness and riches of his glory and honor and share this knowledge with others. Pride was his motivation.

King Jesus gives us a never-ending banquet of His Word and His new wine. We can eat of His Word and drink of the new wine of His blood and life as much as we want. The choice is ours just as the choice was those invited to king Ahasuerus’ banquet. Jesus’ motivation is love.

When the six months were complete, king Ahasuerus gave another banquet. This 7-day banquet was for all from the least to the greatest in the citadel of Susa. A citadel is a fortified area where people would go for shelter during and after a battle. The area around the palace of Ahasuerus would be walled thus fortifying it.

·         The first banquet for 6 months was held inside the palace only for King Ahasuerus’ noble men (leaders).

·         The second banquet of the king was outside in the court of the garden of the palace. At this banquet all were invited “from the greatest to the least.” Esther 1:5 Jesus calls everyone from the greatest to the least. He is not a respecter of persons. All are welcome to come to Him and eat of His Word and drink of His Holy Spirit.

·         Queen Vashti also had a banquet for the women at the same time as the men’s banquet was taking place. Queen Vashti’s banquet was inside the palace but not in the presence of the king. The men were with the king often, but the women could only come into the king’s presence when called. Jesus changed this. All, male and female, Jew and Gentile, slave and free can come into the presence of King Jesus. We are all called!

 Ahasuerus was full of pride like most humans, but King Jesus has no pride. He is selfless. King Jesus wants all to see the glory of His Majesty, Might and Authority as well as His Royal Love that far exceeds our earthly love. When Jesus walked the earth, He gave revelation knowledge to both males and females, Jews, and Gentiles. Those who follow Jesus can feast on the banquet of His Anointed Word at any time and can come boldly to His throne of grace. (see Ephesians 4:16) Jesus wants us to see His majesty, power, and glory so we will have faith in Him, not in our worldly riches. We are not to serve our flesh and its ways, but Jesus and His ways to the glory of His Name.

            King Ahasuerus’ wine flowed freely without restriction. His subjects could drink as much as they desired. This earthly, fermented wine made the king’s subjects drunk. Jesus, however, transformed water into new wine at the wedding at Cana. New wine has not yet fermented. It takes a few weeks for the fermentation. Wine in the New Testament represents the pure blood of Jesus that was poured out for all. It also represents true (unfermented) or false (fermented) teaching of the Word of God. Jesus said that those who are spiritually hungry and thirsty can drink as much of His Truth and Spirit they want. Jesus also said in Luke 5:37 that “no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled out and the skins will be ruined.” Jesus’ new wine must be put into new wineskins (new creations). Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit and Word of truth is making us into His image and likeness as new creations if we are willing and obedient. Instead of earthly wine, Jesus tells us to be drunk in the Holy Spirit – the river of spiritual life.

King Ahasuerus Wants to Show off the Beauty of His Queen - Vashti

King Ahasuerus’ final display of his opulence is to display his beautiful bride in all of her beauty and glory. On the 7th day when the heart of the king was merry with wine,” (the final day of the feast) the king sent 7 eunuchs (servants) to bring Queen Vashti to him with her royal crown to display her beauty to all. A eunuch is a male who was castrated for practical reasons because he served the king’s harem of women. Some eunuchs were elevated to a higher position like bodyguard, confidential advisor, minister or general which is the case in this instance.

Ahasuerus has already displayed his vast kingdom, power, and riches. King Ahasuerus will now show his crowning glory – His queen.  Again, pride is his motivation. Vashti would wear the crown that sets her apart from all of the other women in the kingdom. The king was under the influence of the wine so no doubt he would display Vashti’s beauty lustfully before all of these drunken men.

Vashti means “beautiful woman.” She is a type and shadow of Israel whom God called His wife. Israel disobeyed God and became an unfaithful wife. Time and time again, God saved Israel, but because of their continual unfaithfulness to Him, God issued a certificate of divorce to Israel and Judah when they were divided. (see Jeremiah 3:8) God can only have one wife, or He would be an adulterer. So, to bring Israel back into His fold, God sent His Son Jesus who is called Faithful and True to take a Bride made up of both Jews and Gentiles who love and serve Him. Israel means one who strives with God or prince with God. God wants those who love and serve His King Jesus to strive with Him in establishing His Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven through both believing Jews and Gentiles – Christ’s body of believers.

God has not deserted Israel. His love is everlasting. God opened the door of everlasting life to both Israel and the Gentiles through His Son Jesus. In the Older Testament, Israel showed that they could not live up to God’s high and holy standards nor can those in the Body of Christ. God who is all-knowing and knows the beginning from the end was well aware that this would happen. He sent His pure, perfect Son to earth to save both Jews and Gentiles. Jesus will have only one Bride. Some Israelites and Gentiles will accept King Jesus as their Lord and Savior and all Israel (those who strive with God in Christ) will be saved. The prophet Isaiah said that “Israel shall be saved by the Lord with an everlasting salvation; you shall not be ashamed or disgraced forever and ever. 45:17 Only Jesus can give everlasting salvation. God wanted Israel, His wife, to represent His crowning glory. As king Ahasuerus desired his queen, God desired Israel. God wanted Israel to radiate His righteousness, love, and righteous justice to others, but their sinful flesh caused them to fail. As king Ahasuerus’ expectation was obedience to his words, God and Jesus’ expectation is obedience to His Word. God sent Jesus with a message to not only Israel but to all nations, tribes, and tongues.

Vashti rebelled and refused to come before the king. The king wanted to display Vashti and her beauty before drunken, lustful men. In other words, he was using her disrespectfully, shamefully and for unjust and dishonorable reasons. Refusing to come before the king when called meant removal from the king’s presence and palace. Vashti was called by the king and did not come, as Israel was called to come to King Jesus and the majority did not come. God is still calling Jew and Gentile to come to His Son for salvation and eternal life. God’s love for humanity has no end.

It is important for women to know that God would never ask you to submit to a husband’s evil desires that are contrary to God’s Word.  Paul says in Colossians 3:18, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.” Ephesians 5, 22-26 also says that wives are to submit to their husbands, but it also says that husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved His church. No woman would have a problem submitting to Christlike love!