1217.) Psalm 102

December 31, 2013
stained glass window from Christ the King Lutheran Church, Redlands, Calfiornia

stained glass window from Christ the King Lutheran Church, Redlands, California

Psalm 102   (NRSV)

Prayer to the Eternal King for Help

William MacDonald understands this psalm as a conversation that took place among the three persons of the Trinity when the Lord Jesus was making expiation for the sins of the world.   Verses 1-11 — The Lord Jesus, hanging on the cross, is speaking to God.

1Hear my prayer, O Lord; let my cry come to you.

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Music:

From Psalm 102, the Taize song, “O Lord, Hear My Prayer,” sung by the Taize Community Choir.

O Lord, hear my prayer,
hear my prayer
When I call answer me
O Lord, hear my prayer,
hear my prayer
Come and listen to me

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2Do not hide your face from me in the day of my distress. Incline your ear to me; answer me speedily in the day when I call.

3For my days pass away like smoke, and my bones burn like a furnace.

4My heart is stricken and withered like grass; I am too wasted to eat my bread.

5Because of my loud groaning my bones cling to my skin.

6I am like an owl of the wilderness, like a little owl of the waste places.

7I lie awake; I am like a lonely bird on the housetop.

8All day long my enemies taunt me; those who deride me use my name for a curse.

9For I eat ashes like bread, and mingle tears with my drink,

10because of your indignation and anger; for you have lifted me up and thrown me aside.

11My days are like an evening shadow; I wither away like grass.

Verses 12-15 — The Father replies to His beloved Son.  See Hebrews 1:8 —
But to the Son he says,
“Your throne, O God, endures forever and ever.
You rule with a scepter of justice.”.

12But you, O Lord, are enthroned forever; your name endures to all generations.

13You will rise up and have compassion on Zion, for it is time to favor it; the appointed time has come.

2 Corinthians 6:2 (New International Version)

For God says,

   “In the time of my favor I heard you,
   and in the day of salvation I helped you.”

I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.

14For your servants hold its stones dear, and have pity on its dust.

15The nations will fear the name of the Lord, and all the kings of the earth your glory.

Verses 16-22 — The speaker is unidentified, but we are safe in assuming that it is the Holy Spirit, describing the future restoration of Israel under the Messiah.

16For the Lord will build up Zion; he will appear in his glory.

17He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and will not despise their prayer.

18Let this be recorded for a generation to come, so that a people yet unborn may praise the Lord:

19that he looked down from his holy height, from heaven the Lord looked at the earth,

20to hear the groans of the prisoners, to set free those who were doomed to die;

21so that the name of the Lord may be declared in Zion, and his praise in Jerusalem,

22when peoples gather together, and kingdoms, to worship the Lord.

Verses 23- 24 — The Savior is heard once more as He suffers at the hands of God for our sins.

23He has broken my strength in midcourse; he has shortened my days.

24“O my God,” I say, “do not take me away at the mid-point of my life, you whose years endure throughout all generations.”

Psalm 90:1-2 (New International Version)

Lord, you have been our dwelling place
   throughout all generations.
Before the mountains were born
   or you brought forth the whole world,
   from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

Verses 15-18 — We know that the Father is speaking to His Son as seen in the verses below from Hebrews 1:10-12.

“In the beginning, Lord, you laid the foundation of the earth
    and made the heavens with your hands.
They will perish, but you remain forever.
    They will wear out like old clothing.
You will fold them up like a cloak
    and discard them like old clothing.
But you are always the same;
    you will live forever.”

25Long ago you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands.

26They will perish, but you endure; they will all wear out like a garment. You change them like clothing, and they pass away;

27but you are the same, and your years have no end.

28The children of your servants shall live secure; their offspring shall be established in your presence.

The 102nd Psalm is a psalm of prayer. In it the fathers of old – weary of laws, of sins, and of death – wholeheartedly yearn and call for the kingdom of grace promised in Christ. They ask that God yet again build up Zion and set in place her stones and dust, that He would yet again enter in and let His glory be seen in all kingdoms, that He would rescue His captives from sin and death so that they may come together and thank Him – that is, that they may worship Him in the true Zion – and the Old Testament come to an end.

For without Christ there is indeed nothing but strength broken in the middle of life and days cut short, that is, a miserable, short, wretched life from which the psalmist is reluctantly removed. But in His kingdom is eternal life, and His time has no end. He is the One who was before He created heaven and earth, and will again change and renew them. Therefore, He is outside of and over all time. His year has no end and there is no dying there: This kingdom we will gladly receive. May such a kingdom, Your kingdom, come! Amen.

–Martin Luther

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Music:

So we have come to the close of another year.  What is ahead is unknown, but for us as believers, it is certain and safe in the hands of our loving Lord and Savior.  Let us find our rest, our comfort, and our encouragement in Christ as we remember the past and meet the future.

Hebrews 13:8 (NLT)

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

HERE  is “Abide With Me” sung by the King’s College Choir of Cambridge.  It was written by Scottish Anglican Henry Francis Lyte in 1847 while he lay dying from tuberculosis; he survived only a further three weeks after its completion.

1. Abide with me; fast falls the eventide; the darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide. When other helpers fail and comforts flee, Help of the helpless, O abide with me.

2. Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day; earth’s joys grow dim; its glories pass away; change and decay in all around I see; O thou who changest not, abide with me.

3. I need thy presence every passing hour. What but thy grace can foil the tempter’s power? Who, like thyself, my guide and stay can be? Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.

4. I fear no foe, with thee at hand to bless; ills have no weight, and tears not bitterness. Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory? I triumph still, if thou abide with me.

5. Hold thou thy cross before my closing eyes; shine through the gloom and point me to the skies. Heaven’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee; in life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.

_________________________

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Christ the King.    http://www.ctkredlands.org/the-church/church-environment-gallery/
desert owl sketch.  http://img1.etsystatic.com/il_fullxfull.300822501.jpg
Today.   http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-HzbHpiVck1w/TdcZjKclY4I/AAAAAAAAAao/kCPBmbUR9ec/s1600/8871-today-is-the-day-ep.jpg
“Let this be written . . .”   http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-FGeCP9_02-M/T4WozTcilZI/AAAAAAAAGmg/avWzOPhRFk4/s1600/psalm+102+18.jpg

1216.) Psalm 24

December 30, 2013

Ps24 v7

Psalm 24 (New King James Version)

A Psalm of David.

1 The earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness,
The world and those who dwell therein.
2 For He has founded it upon the seas,
And established it upon the waters.

3 Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD?
Or who may stand in His holy place?

There are two eminences in the city of Jerusalem, Mount Zion with the royal palace to the south, and Mount Moriah with the temple site to the north: these are the hill and the house/place of the psalm. The candidate to take possession of them must be both a king and a priest.

4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol,
Nor sworn deceitfully.

Here are four moral qualifications required of the person worthy to occupy the hill and the house.

The first applicant was Satan. At our Lord’s temptation in the wilderness, he claimed to have possession of all the kingdoms of this world and the glory of them (Luke 4:5-6). But clearly that was a usurper’s claim and he certainly does not fulfill the credentials or qualifications.

Then we have the four great Gentile world empires of Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome, with the names of Nebuchadnezzar, Cyrus, Alexander, and Augustus Caesar. In more modern times there have been Napoleon, Hitler, Stalin, and Mao. When we compare them with the required moral qualifications, we see how far short they come.

Adolf Hitler boasted that he would found an empire that would last a thousand years. Does he have clean hands? They are stained with the blood of six million Jews cruelly done to death in the gas ovens of Europe. Does Nero, the Roman emperor have a pure heart? He was a human monster who murdered his own mother and who killed his wife with a kick when she was pregnant with his unborn child.

Napoleon lifted up his soul unto vanity. When he was being crowned emperor, it was suggested to him that the pope should be invited to perform the ceremony. This he disdainfully refused, and with inflated pride, set the crown on his own head.

Stalin swore deceitfully when he signed political alliances and later broke them. He, too, is said to have been responsible for the planned extermination of eleven million persons in the Ukraine and other parts of Russia.

Certainly none of these would-be rulers fulfill the moral qualifications to occupy the throne of world dominion. But let us think of another Man—Jesus of Nazareth. Does He meet the standard?

Did He have clean hands? His hands were pure, powerful, pierced, and priestly hands. They were laid in compassion on the leper, on the blind, and on the heads of little children while He blessed them.

Did He have a pure heart? He was sinless and impeccable. There was no traitor within the gates of His mind or heart to open the door to the tempter. He could throw out the challenge to the world: “Which of you convinceth Me of sin?” (John 8:46). There was no answer to that challenge.

Was His soul lifted up unto vanity? He could say: “I am meek and lowly in heart” (Matthew 11:29). Pride was Satan’s original sin. He reached up, but Jesus stooped down to the death of the cross.

Did He ever swear deceitfully? He was truth personified. He could say: “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me” (John 14:6).

All the political leaders who have ever appeared in this world have failed the moral test: the only One who has come up to the standard is Jesus of Nazareth. He is the only perfect moral Person the world has ever seen.

5 He shall receive blessing from the LORD,
And righteousness from the God of his salvation.
6 This is Jacob, the generation of those who seek Him,
Who seek Your face.  Selah

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is “Lift Up Your Heads, O Ye Gates”  from Handel’s Messiah.  Performed by the Engelbrekts Chamber Choir and members of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Bengt Eklund, Conductor.

Concert in Engelbrektskyrkan, Stockholm, December 16, 2012

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The Eastern Gate, also known as the Golden Gate or the Gate of Mercy, in the eastern wall of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.  In Jewish tradition, this is the gate through which the Messiah will enter Jerusalem.

7 Lift up your heads, O you gates!
And be lifted up, you everlasting doors!
And the King of glory shall come in.
8 Who is this King of glory?
The LORD strong and mighty,
The LORD mighty in battle.
9 Lift up your heads, O you gates!
Lift up, you everlasting doors!
And the King of glory shall come in.
10 Who is this King of glory?
The LORD of hosts,
He is the King of glory.  Selah

When our Lord came in humiliation at His first advent, He was designated “King of the Jews.” Such was His title in rejection. In His manifestation in the millennium, He will be King of kings and Lord of lords. But in relation to His people, He is the King of glory. He will be the Priest-King, “a Priest upon His throne, and He shall bear the glory” (Zechariah 6:12-13).

–all text in red from T. Ernest Wilson

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New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

Images courtesy of:
Lift up your heads, o gates!   http://markryman.com/BLOG/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/psalm24-7.jpg
Eastern Gate in Jerusalem.     http://www.devinrose.heroicvirtuecreations.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/eastga1.jpg

1215.) Psalm 40

December 27, 2013

As we approach New Year’s, we will be looking at some of the Old Testament passages which speak of Christ.

There are a number of psalms which speak of the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. They are called Messianic psalms since they speak of the Messiah. The question may be asked: “How can we recognize a Messianic psalm?” The answer would be:  where there is a reference to the Messiah in a psalm, and it is applied to Christ and expounded in the New Testament.

–The Messianic Psalms, by T. Ernest Wilson

Psalm 40 (NIV)

1 I waited patiently for the LORD;
he turned to me and heard my cry.

2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.

3 He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear
and put their trust in the LORD.

from The Message of the Psalms,
by Walter Brueggemann

The beginning of the psalm is a familiar phrase:  “I waited patiently.”  This is a weak rendering.  The text has an infinitive absolute which might better be translated, “I hope intensely for Yahweh.”  Indeed all other hopes were exhausted.  Verses 1-10 tell that this passionate hope was fulfilled and not disappointed.  The hope was against all the evidence in the conviction that Yahweh could work a genuine newness.  The hope was not disappointed.

The rescue that was hoped for was granted:  he inclined, he heard, he drew me up, he set my feet, he put a new song in my mouth.  And the psalmist is eager to assert that this is not a private matter.  The personal rescue is a matter of public interest and benefit, for Yahweh’s trustworthiness in this instance leads others to trust.

The verbs of thanksgiving are of interest.  No doubt they refer to a personal experience, but the words have imaginative power because they also touch and allude to the primal memories of Egypt and the exodus.  That God inclines and hears, brings up, and sets feet in new places is the experience of all of Israel (see Exodus 2:23-25; 3:7-15).  The new song is enacted there in the Songs of Moses (Exodus 15:1-18) and Miriam (Exodus 15:21).  When one uses this psalm, one stands in solidarity with, participates in, and relives the whole saving memory of Israel.

_________________________

4 Blessed is the man
who makes the LORD his trust,
who does not look to the proud,
to those who turn aside to false gods.

5 Many, O LORD my God,
are the wonders you have done.
The things you planned for us
no one can recount to you;
were I to speak and tell of them,
they would be too many to declare.

John 21:25 (New Living Translation)

Jesus also did many other things. If they were all written down, I suppose the whole world could not contain the books that would be written.

_________________________

6 Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
but my ears you have pierced;
burnt offerings and sin offerings
you did not require.

7 Then I said, “Here I am, I have come—
it is written about me in the scroll.

8 I desire to do your will, O my God;
your law is within my heart.”

John 4:34 (English Standard Version)

Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.”

Hebrews 10:1-10   (NLT)

The old system under the law of Moses was only a shadow, a dim preview of the good things to come, not the good things themselves. The sacrifices under that system were repeated again and again, year after year, but they were never able to provide perfect cleansing for those who came to worship. If they could have provided perfect cleansing, the sacrifices would have stopped, for the worshipers would have been purified once for all time, and their feelings of guilt would have disappeared.

But instead, those sacrifices actually reminded them of their sins year after year. For it is not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. That is why, when Christ came into the world, he said to God,

“You did not want animal sacrifices or sin offerings.
    But you have given me a body to offer.
You were not pleased with burnt offerings
    or other offerings for sin.
Then I said, ‘Look, I have come to do your will, O God—
    as is written about me in the Scriptures.’”

First, Christ said, “You did not want animal sacrifices or sin offerings or burnt offerings or other offerings for sin, nor were you pleased with them” (though they are required by the law of Moses). Then he said, “Look, I have come to do your will.” He cancels the first covenant in order to put the second into effect. For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time.

_________________________

9 I proclaim righteousness in the great assembly;
I do not seal my lips,
as you know, O LORD.

10 I do not hide your righteousness in my heart;
I speak of your faithfulness and salvation.
I do not conceal your love and your truth
from the great assembly.

11 Do not withhold your mercy from me, O LORD;
may your love and your truth always protect me.

12 For troubles without number surround me;
my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see.
They are more than the hairs of my head,
and my heart fails within me.

13 Be pleased, O LORD, to save me;
O LORD, come quickly to help me.

my all-purpose prayer

14 May all who seek to take my life
be put to shame and confusion;
may all who desire my ruin
be turned back in disgrace.

15 May those who say to me, “Aha! Aha!”
be appalled at their own shame.

16 But may all who seek you
rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who love your salvation always say,
“The LORD be exalted!”

17 Yet I am poor and needy;
may the Lord think of me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
O my God, do not delay.

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is Cloverton and their “Hallelujah (Christmas Version).”  It tells the whole story of Christ’s obedience to the Father.

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New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
verse 16 and mountains.    http://wonders.wallpaperdave.com/ps40-16v.jpg
rescued.    http://www.eastidahonews.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Rescue.gif
books on shelves.    http://www.bpc.edu/academics/library/images/MVC-166S.JPG
soup bowl.    http://info.xfactorllc.com/Portals/69322/images/Hand%20holding%20ladle%20dipping%20soup%20-resized-600.jpg
Help!    http://strictlygospel.files.wordpress.com/2009/11/help.jpg

1214.) Psalm 110

December 26, 2013

“Sedes ad dexteram Patris” (“Who sits on the right hand of the Father”)

As we approach New Year’s, we will be looking at some of the Old Testament passages which speak of Christ.

There are a number of psalms which speak of the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. They are called Messianic psalms since they speak of the Messiah. The question may be asked: “How can we recognize a Messianic psalm?” The answer would be:  where there is a reference to the Messiah in a psalm, and it is applied to Christ and expounded in the New Testament.

–The Messianic Psalms, by T. Ernest Wilson

Psalm 110   (NLT)

A psalm of David.

There can be no doubt that this psalm looks forward to Christ.  Jesus Himself cites it to show that David knew that its ultimate fulfillment would come with One who is greater than he (Mark 12:35-37).  Even before Christ’s coming, a prophetic-messianic interpretation of the psalm was well known among Jewish interpreters.

–R. C. Sproul

The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit in the place of honor at my right hand (the place of honor)
until I humble your enemies,
making them a footstool under your feet (a place of disgrace).”

Jesus applied this verse to Himself when speaking of His deity:

Matthew 22:41-44   (NIV)

While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, “What do you think about the Messiah? Whose son is he?”

“The son of David,” they replied.

He said to them, “How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him ‘Lord’? For he says,

“‘The Lord said to my Lord:    “Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.”’

***

Peter did the same while preaching in Jerusalem:

Acts 2:32-35   (NIV)

God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said,

“‘The Lord said to my Lord:
    “Sit at my right hand
until I make your enemies
    a footstool for your feet.”’

***

And the writer of Hebrews uses it to proclaim Christ as our great high priest:

Hebrews 10:11-13   (NIV)

Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool.

The Lord will extend your powerful kingdom from Jerusalem;
you will rule over your enemies.
When you go to war,
your people will serve you willingly.
You are arrayed in holy garments,
and your strength will be renewed each day like the morning dew.

The Lord has taken an oath and will not break his vow:
“You are a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.”

“The Meeting of Abraham and Melchizedek” by Peter Paul Rubens, 1626 (National Art Gallery, Washington, D.C.)

The story of Melchizedek and Abraham is found in Genesis 14;
click  HERE  to read it.

“In Jesus, uncorrupted kingship and spiritual priesthood
will give the world an administration
such as it has longed for but has never known.”

–William MacDonald

The Lord stands at your right hand to protect you.
He will strike down many kings when his anger erupts.
He will punish the nations
and fill their lands with corpses;
he will shatter heads over the whole earth.
But he himself will be refreshed from brooks along the way.
He will be victorious.

_________________________

Music:

High and lifted up!  HERE — the Hallelujah Chorus from Messiah.  From Andre Rieu’s “Live From Radio City Music Hall” in New York City 2004, with the Johann Strauss Orchestra and the Harlem Gospel Choir.

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New Living Translation (NLT)   Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
“Who sits on the right hand of the Father.”   http://jesusisyhwh.blogspot.com/2010/04/re-who-is-this-lord-mentioned-in-psalm.html
Rubens.   http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5041/5316364012_57e416acc4.jpg

1213.) Christmas Day 2013

December 25, 2013

“The Nativity” fresco by Giotto, 1310 (the Church of St. Francis, Assisi, Italy)

Christmas Day 2013

To all of my readers —

I wish you a most blessed Christmas Day, with the hope that our DWELLING together in the truth of the Word of God is transforming us all, day by day, more and more, into the likeness of this Child, the Christ.

With love in Jesus’ Name,

Rebecca Mitchell

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Luke 2:7 (King James Version)

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

*     *     *     *     *

from Wishful Thinking:  A Seeker’s ABC,
by Frederick Buechner

HISTORY

Unlike Buddhism or Hinduism, biblical faith takes history very seriously because God takes it very seriously.  He took it seriously enough to begin it and to enter it and to promise that one day he will bring it to a serious close.  The biblical view is that history is not an absurdity to be endured or an illusion to be dispelled or an endlessly repeating cycle to be escaped.  Instead it is for each of us a series of crucial, precious, and unrepeatable moments that are seeking to lead us somewhere.

The true history of humankind and the true history of each individual has less to do than we tend to think with the kind of information that gets into most histories, biographies, and autobiographies.  True history has to do with the saving and losing of souls, and both of these are apt to take place when most people—including the one whose soul is at stake—are looking the other way.  The real turning point in our lives is less likely to be the day we win the election or get married, than the morning we decide not to mail the letter or the afternoon we watch the woods fill up with snow.  The real turning point in human history is less apt to be the day the wheel is invented or Rome falls, than the night a boy is born to a couple of Jews.

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Music:

HERE  are the Celtic Woman with Chloe Agnew performing ”O Holy Night,” from the Celtic Woman concert at Slane Castle, in Ireland.

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We do not believe that the virgin mother gave birth to a son and that he is the Lord and Savior unless, added to this, I believe the second thing, namely, that he is my Savior and Lord.

Martin Luther, “Sermon on the Afternoon of Christmas Day 1530”

*     *     *     *     *

Ps98 nativity set

17th century English poet Richard Crashaw:

“In the Holy Nativity of our Lord”

Welcome, all wonders in one sight!
Eternity shut in a span;
Summer in winter; day in night;
Heaven in earth, and God in man.
Great little one!  Whose all-embracing birth
Lifts earth to heaven, stoops heav’n to earth.

_________________________

Music:

“Welcome to Our World.”

_________________________

Images courtesy of:
Giotto.   http://www.artbible.net/3JC/-Luk-02,01_Birth_Manger_Naissance_Creche/14%20GIOTTO%20NATIVITY.jpg
Irish nativity set.    http://www.fitzulas.com/Merchant4c/graphics/00000001/2011/pipka-30029-l.jpg

1212.) Ruth 4

December 24, 2013

Wedding Day!  I couldn’t find a photo of Ruth and Boaz as bride and groom!  So here is one of David and me, December 27, 2003. In just a few days, it will be ten years!  He is my “family redeemer,” and I thank God for him.

Ruth 4 (New Living Translation)

Boaz Marries Ruth

1 Boaz went to the town gate and took a seat there.

Jaffa Gate, part of the wall around the Old City of Jerusalem, was built around 1540 by Suleiman the Magnificent.

City gates served two functions in ancient times.  First, they were protection.  Gates controlled access to a walled city.  They could shut out marauders and enemies and wild animals.  Gates were often fortified with towers and secured with bars of iron.  Second, city gates were the site of many societal, administrative, and business transactions.  Much like the Greek agora or the Roman forum, the city gate was where important issues were discussed and negotiated.  Deals were made and announcements proclaimed.

Remember, too, that this is a pre-literate society.  Even during the Roman Empire, scholars believe, no more than 10 percent of the people could read and/or write.  So instead of written records, they had certain visual rituals, performed in front of a group of witnesses, to ratify agreements and put them into the communal memory.

Just then the family redeemer he had mentioned came by, so Boaz called out to him, “Come over here and sit down, friend. I want to talk to you.” So they sat down together. 2 Then Boaz called ten leaders from the town and asked them to sit as witnesses. 3 And Boaz said to the family redeemer, “You know Naomi, who came back from Moab. She is selling the land that belonged to our relative Elimelech. 4 I thought I should speak to you about it so that you can redeem it if you wish. If you want the land, then buy it here in the presence of these witnesses. But if you don’t want it, let me know right away, because I am next in line to redeem it after you.”

The man replied, “All right, I’ll redeem it.”

5 Then Boaz told him, “Of course, your purchase of the land from Naomi also requires that you marry Ruth, the Moabite widow. That way she can have children who will carry on her husband’s name and keep the land in the family.”

6 “Then I can’t redeem it,” the family redeemer replied, “because this might endanger my own estate. You redeem the land; I cannot do it.”

7 Now in those days it was the custom in Israel for anyone transferring a right of purchase to remove his sandal and hand it to the other party. This publicly validated the transaction. 8 So the other family redeemer drew off his sandal as he said to Boaz, “You buy the land.”

A done deal.

9 Then Boaz said to the elders and to the crowd standing around, “You are witnesses that today I have bought from Naomi all the property of Elimelech, Kilion, and Mahlon. 10 And with the land I have acquired Ruth, the Moabite widow of Mahlon, to be my wife. This way she can have a son to carry on the family name of her dead husband and to inherit the family property here in his hometown. You are all witnesses today.”

11 Then the elders and all the people standing in the gate replied, “We are witnesses! May the Lord make this woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, from whom all the nation of Israel descended! May you prosper in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem. 12 And may the Lord give you descendants by this young woman who will be like those of our ancestor Perez, the son of Tamar and Judah.”

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Music:

Years ago, after a drawn-out and draining divorce from a habitually unfaithful husband, I was, to use C. S. Lewis’ term, “surprised by joy” when a wonderful man named David found me.   I had his 10th grade son in my English class; his wife died of cancer the third week of school.   As the months passed by and love grew, we realized that we wanted to serve God together and grow old together.   Once when I was telling this story to a friend of a friend, she played me this song and I have loved it ever since!  Thank you, Rachel!  I love you, David!

Selah sings “God Bless the Broken Road (That Led Me Straight to You).”  I post this song for Ruth and Boaz and all the ones who have found love in circuitous and sometimes difficult ways!  Hear it as a musical version of Romans 8:28 — that God works ALL THINGS together for good for those who love him, and Lord, you know we love you!

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The Descendants of Boaz

13 So Boaz took Ruth into his home, and she became his wife.

“Calypsos 1” — a poem by William Carlos Williams, 1962

Well God is
love
so love me

God
is love so
love me God

is
love so love
me well

When he slept with her, the Lord enabled her to become pregnant, and she gave birth to a son. 14 Then the women of the town said to Naomi, “Praise the Lord, who has now provided a redeemer for your family! May this child be famous in Israel. 15 May he restore your youth and care for you in your old age. For he is the son of your daughter-in-law who loves you and has been better to you than seven sons!”

16 Naomi took the baby and cuddled him to her breast. And she cared for him as if he were her own.

17 The neighbor women said, “Now at last Naomi has a son again!” And they named him Obed (which means “worship”). He became the father of Jesse and the grandfather of David.

18 This is the genealogical record of their ancestor Perez:

Perez was the father of Hezron.
19 Hezron was the father of Ram.
Ram was the father of Amminadab.
20 Amminadab was the father of Nahshon.
Nahshon was the father of Salmon.
21 Salmon was the father of Boaz.
Boaz was the father of Obed.
22 Obed was the father of Jesse.
Jesse was the father of David.

Ruth4 star

And if we continue the same family tree down further generations, as the Gospel of Matthew does in chapter 1, we will find that Boaz and Ruth and David are all in the family tree of another little boy born in Bethlehem — Jesus Christ.

_________________________

Music:

For Obed and David and especially for Jesus — “O Little Town of Bethlehem,”  HERE  by Sarah McLachlan.

_________________________

Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
Jaffa Gate.    http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1069/856994589_33fb914816.jpg?v=0
sandal.    http://www.bibleview.org/en/Bible/Moses/Sandal/normal.jpg
hearts.   http://images.free-extras.com/pics/h/hearts-1482.jpg
Naomi and baby Obed.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/08/4-naomi-and-baby.jpg
Bethlehem and the birth of Jesus.    http://www.prayerthoughts.com/prayerthoughts/Prophecy/images/pt1010_catalog1720-cropped.jpg

1211.) Ruth 3

December 23, 2013

“Boaz Wakes Up and Sees Ruth at his Feet” — 1960 lithograph by Marc Chagall

Ruth 3 (New Living Translation)

Ruth at the Threshing Floor

1 One day Naomi said to Ruth, “My daughter, it’s time that I found a permanent home for you, so that you will be provided for. 2 Boaz is a close relative of ours, and he’s been very kind by letting you gather grain with his young women. Tonight he will be winnowing barley at the threshing floor. 3 Now do as I tell you—take a bath and put on perfume and dress in your nicest clothes.

Then go to the threshing floor, but don’t let Boaz see you until he has finished eating and drinking. 4 Be sure to notice where he lies down; then go and uncover his feet and lie down there. He will tell you what to do.”

5 “I will do everything you say,” Ruth replied. 6 So she went down to the threshing floor that night and followed the instructions of her mother-in-law.

Several ancient threshing floors have been excavated in Israel.  They are circular, level floors of laid stone, often on a hilltop.  Men would take the bundles, or sheaves, of grain to this floor.  There they would beat the heads of the grain to loosen the covering husk.  Then they would separate the chaff from the grain by forking the grain up into the breeze and letting the wind blow the chaff away.  The heavier grains would fall in a pile at their feet.  This work was usually done in the evening, when the breeze picked up.  The men would stay the night, sleeping besides their heap of grain to guard it.  They would move it to their storage barn the next day.

7 After Boaz had finished eating and drinking and was in good spirits, he lay down at the far end of the pile of grain and went to sleep. Then Ruth came quietly, uncovered his feet, and lay down. 8 Around midnight Boaz suddenly woke up and turned over. He was surprised to find a woman lying at his feet! 9 “Who are you?” he asked.

“I am your servant Ruth,” she replied. “Spread the corner of your covering over me, for you are my family redeemer.”

A more literal translation of what Ruth said could be, “spread your skirt over me.”  The word for skirt is the same Hebrew word as for wing — so, “spread your wings over your servant,” as the English Standard Version of the Bible puts it.  This word is used another place in Ruth— in 2:12, where Boaz says to Ruth, “The Lord recompense you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under those wings you have come to take refuge.”

When Boaz heard Ruth’s request for covering, I think his heart said,  “Because you take refuge under the wings of God, you are the kind of woman I want to cover with my wings.”

_________________________

Music:

An old Ira Sankey song — “Under His Wings,”  sung by another old gospel artist, Slim Whitman.

Under His wings I am safely abiding,
Though the night deepens and tempests are wild,
Still I can trust Him; I know He will keep me,
He has redeemed me, and I am His child.

Refrain:

Under His wings, under His wings,
Who from His love can sever?
Under His wings my soul shall abide,
Safely abide forever.

Under His wings, what a refuge in sorrow!
How the heart yearningly turns to His rest!
Often when earth has no balm for my healing,
There I find comfort, and there I am blessed.

Under His wings, oh, what precious enjoyment!
There will I hide till life’s trials are o’er;
Sheltered, protected, no evil can harm me,
Resting in Jesus, I’m safe evermore.

_________________________

10 “The Lord bless you, my daughter!” Boaz exclaimed. “You are showing even more family loyalty now than you did before, for you have not gone after a younger man, whether rich or poor. 11 Now don’t worry about a thing, my daughter. I will do what is necessary, for everyone in town knows you are a virtuous woman.

Or to translate the Hebrew literally, “a woman of strength.”  Ruth is a good match for Boaz, who is himself “a mighty man of strength” (as he was introduced to us in Ruth 2:1).

–Patricia K. Hull

For centuries, rubies came from Myanmar (Burma). But due to governmental unrest there, now 70% of the world’s rubies come from Thailand.

Proverbs 31:10 (New King James Version)

Who can find a virtuous wife?
For her worth is far above rubies.

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12 But while it’s true that I am one of your family redeemers, there is another man who is more closely related to you than I am. 13 Stay here tonight, and in the morning I will talk to him. If he is willing to redeem you, very well. Let him marry you. But if he is not willing, then as surely as the Lord lives, I will redeem you myself! Now lie down here until morning.”

14 So Ruth lay at Boaz’s feet until the morning, but she got up before it was light enough for people to recognize each other. For Boaz had said, “No one must know that a woman was here at the threshing floor.” 15 Then Boaz said to her, “Bring your cloak and spread it out.” He measured six scoops of barley into the cloak and placed it on her back. Then he returned to the town.

“Boaz pours six measures of barley into Ruth’s veil” by   Rembrandt, 1648 (Rijksprentenkabinet, Amsterdam)

Proverbs 22:9 (New International Version)

A generous man will himself be blessed,
for he shares his food with the poor.

16 When Ruth went back to her mother-in-law, Naomi asked, “What happened, my daughter?”

Ruth told Naomi everything Boaz had done for her, 17 and she added, “He gave me these six scoops of barley and said, ‘Don’t go back to your mother-in-law empty-handed.’”

18 Then Naomi said to her, “Just be patient, my daughter, until we hear what happens. The man won’t rest until he has settled things today.”

detail of “Ruth,” a seriograph by John August Swanson

SPIRITUAL STRENGTH AND TRUST
by David Wilkerson

The Holy Spirit gives us strength when we release all our needs into God’s hands and trust in his might.

Ruth is an example of this kind of trust. After her husband died, Ruth lived with her mother-in-law, Naomi. Naomi was concerned about Ruth’s welfare and future. So she advised Ruth to lie down at the feet of the wealthy Boaz and ask him to fulfill his obligation to her as her kinsman.

That evening, after the day’s winnowing was finished, Boaz lay down “at the end of the heap of corn” (Ruth 3:7) and pulled a blanket over him. The next morning, he woke up startled, finding a woman lying at his feet. (There was nothing immoral about Ruth’s presence there; this was a common custom of the day.)

Ruth said to him, “Spread therefore thy skirt over thine handmaid; for thou art a near kinsman” (Ruth 3:9). She was saying, in essence, “Will you take on the obligation of a relative for me? Will you provide for me?” She actually was asking, “Will you marry me?”

This was no manipulative scheme. Ruth and Naomi had done everything in divine order. We can be sure of this, because Christ’s lineage came through Ruth. When Ruth returned home Naomi asked her, “Who art thou, my daughter?” (3:16). She was asking, in other words, “Shall I call you ‘engaged’ Ruth? Or are you still ‘widowed’ Ruth?”

Ruth told Naomi all that had happened. Listen to Naomi’s godly advice: “Sit still, my daughter, until thou know how the matter will fall: for the man will not be in rest, until he have finished the thing this day” (Ruth 3:18). Naomi had prayed about the matter, seeking God’s direction, and God had given her counsel. He had reminded her of the law of the kinsman-redeemer (which was a type and foreshadowing of Christ). So Naomi was confident that she and Ruth had done their part. Now it was time to sit still and trust God to perform what he had promised. She was saying, “It’s all in the Lord’s hands now, Ruth. Just relax and be calm.”

A calm and peace settled over Naomi’s house. Nobody was in a frenzy, biting fingernails and wondering, “Will God do it? When will it happen?” These two faithful women could relax, sing and praise the Lord for His goodness.

Have you prayed? Have you trusted? Are you ready to sit still and “see the salvation of the Lord”? He has everything under control.

_________________________

Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
Chagall.     http://www.marcchagallprints.com/view_art.php?art_id=1471&min=0&max=10000000&portrait=&original=&sub=&sort_by=&sold=
bath.    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_OaIDiH8w_3M/S-yD57C9tWI/AAAAAAAADBE/wku3bhh08Q4/s1600/thirtysomethingBATH.jpg
threshing floor.     http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_UeCPYLLgPkY/Shav9uf29DI/AAAAAAAABeQ/P6x5ZTYH5HU/s400/Threshing+Floor.jpg
swan and her babies under her wing.    http://strengthenedbygrace.files.wordpress.com/2009/08/swancygnets.jpg
rubies.    http://www.rocas.com.mt/data/rubies.jpg
Rembrandt.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/08/3-rembrandt-rb.jpg?w=450
Swanson.    http://www.deebrestin.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/ruth-surprises-boaz-300×296.jpg