Ruth 4

The book of Ruth’s big, beautiful, theological message can be summed up like this, so I read, 

God cares for needy people like Naomi and Ruth; he is their ally in this chaotic world. He richly rewards people like Ruth and Boaz who demonstrate sacrificial love and in so doing become his instruments in helping the needy. God’s rewards for those who sacrificially love others sometimes exceed their wildest imagination and transcend their lifetime.

We’ve talked each and every week about Jesus in the book of Ruth. He said, didn’t He, that all Scriptures bear witness to Him, and all Scriptures testify of Him. Throughout Ruth, He has been pictured, previewed, and foreshadowed mainly by Boaz and this role of the kinsman-redeemer. Think about just how many ways this little book points us to Jesus…

  • The kinsman-redeemer had to be a family member. Boaz was a relative of the family and people in need (4.3). 

Jesus added humanity to His eternal deity so that He could be our human kinsman and save us (Philippians 2.7ff.).

  • Boaz, as kinsman-redeemer to Ruth, was not motivated by self-interest, but motivated by love for Ruth. 

Jesus’ motivation for redeeming us is His great love for us (1 John 4.10).

  • Boaz, as kinsman-redeemer to Ruth, had to have a plan to redeem Ruth unto himself – and some might have thought the plan to be foolish. 

Jesus’ plan for redeeming us is looked at as being a failure and being foolish (1 Corinthians 1.18).

  • Boaz, as kinsman-redeemer to Ruth, took her as his bride.

We, the people Jesus has redeemed, are collectively called His bride (Ephesians 5.31-32, Revelation 21.9).

  • Boaz, as kinsman-redeemer to Ruth, provided a glorious destiny for Ruth. The bitter life of a childless widow left behind, the glorious life of the redeemed lay ahead.

Jesus, as our redeemer, provides a glorious destiny for us (1 Thessalonians 5.9-11).

It all comes back to the idea of Jesus as our kinsman-redeemer;

this is why He became a man, to redeem you (Guzik).

God might have sent an angel to save us, or some kind of supernatural other-worldly being, but they would not have been our kinsman. Jesus, in His eternal glory, without the addition of humanity to His divine nature might have saved us, but He would not have been our kinsman.

On the other side of the coin, God could have raised up a great person, maybe a great prophet or a fantastic, kind, caring priest. They could be our kinsman because they are like us, but they could never be our redeemer because they would be sinful, like us.

So then, it has to be Jesus, only Jesus, the eternal God who added humanity to His eternal deity. It has to be Jesus because He is both our kinsman and our redeemer.

All of this to say, that for you, and for me, and for us, it simply had to be Jesus. 

It just has to be Jesus.

So what do you do with this then? Yes, take a moment to consider how you are putting your love for others into action, like Ruth, like Naomi, like Boaz.

But more than that, today, right now, I would exhort you and charge you and command you with all the authority of the office and the role that I have to just sit quietly for a few minutes and consider this truth; that it simply has to be Jesus for your life

He is your kinsman having taken on flesh, He is your redeemer because of his eternal deity, and He fused those together, for eternity, so that He is the only way, the only truth, and the only life. It simply has to be Jesus for you and your redemption.  

If all of this is true, and it does simply have to be Jesus, then our aim today and every day simply has to be radical, life offering, self-sacrificing, obedience to Jesus. 

So I will challenge you, command you, exhort you, to take some time today, actually do this, sit, think, contemplate, cogitate, on this wonderful truth that it simply has to be Jesus, and then like Ruth, like Naomi, like Boaz, how are you going to put this into action? What are you going to do? 

I’d love to hear from you this week and for you to share with me what you are going to do when you truly realise and internalise this truth it simply has to be Jesus for your redemption.

Pray BIG Prayers – Pleasure

Blaise Pascal said that

“All men seek happiness. This is without exception. Whatever different means they employ, they all tend to this end. The cause of some going to war, and of others avoiding it, is the same desire in both, attended with different views. The will never takes the least step but to this object. This is the motive of every action of every man, even of those who hang themselves.”

This may sound like a distinctively un-Christian notion, that all you do is based on your own desire for happiness, but, at the core, I think he is right. 

Nowhere in the Bible are we commanded to live a sombre, serious, and sullen life. In fact, D.Martyn Lloyd-Jones went so far as to say that this is, in fact, a poor witness to those who look at you and think ‘Wow, being a Christian is miserable’ (see his work ‘Spiritual Depression’, or our corresponding pieces).

We see time and again in the Word that we are to find delight, pleasure, and joy in the Lord (Psalm 37.4, Philippians 4.4, 1 Timothy 6.6, Nehemiah 8.11, John 15.11, for example). 

The crux of this, the potential problem,

is where we find pleasure,

in whom do we find pleasure;

ourselves or in God?

Our prayer today then is to find this, to find where we find pleasure. John Piper wrote that God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him. So, are you? Are you at your most happy, delighted, pleasure-filled, and joyous when you are closest to your heavenly Father?

Here’s today’s BIG prayer – Lord, I know I am created to feel emotions, to enjoy, to love, to feel joy. Today I pray that you would show me where I am wrongly finding these joys, and help me by the power of your Holy Spirit to find them in You alone, as the Lord Jesus did. 

Titus 2.7-8 – Walking the Walk

Earlier in his letter, Paul encouraged Titus to both talk and walk in a manner worthy of the name we bear, and in 2.7-8, this theme comes up again.

Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.

Titus 2.7-8

Titus is called to be the example (show yourself) as well as to be the teacher (and in your teaching). Simply, he needs to both talk the talk, and walk the walk. Titus was not going to be taken seriously if he simply gave instruction in sound doctrine (1.9) but then lived a life that contradicted this.

It would be impossible for Titus to lead (1.5) if he was not sure, steady, and consistent in his understanding and teaching of Scripture (in your teaching show integrity, dignity…). Those called to lead and teach God’s people must have a firm grasp of a true and orthodox interpretation of God’s Word. 

Given that we are all to be working towards the character of Titus and the elders already detailed, we really all ought to be taking seriously the exhortation Paul gave to talk and walk in such a manner that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.

How we all behave individually reflects on us all, the Christian collective. 

Today then – are we both talking the talk and walking the walk? What does my conduct and character say about my Christianity?

2 Timothy 3.16-17 – The Word

Building from his encouragement to Timothy to remember the things written in the holy writings, here Paul continues and opens this up even further.

16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

Rather than referring back to the sacred writings as those Scriptures, here Paul writes all Scripture, and, so I read, included the truth that the writings of the apostles and prophets connected to the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus are Scriptural too.

For us, we take from this passage that the Word of God which we carry around in our Bibles is all sufficient; Paul writes that it is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that we are equipped for every good work

Has there been any other book in the history of book writing that can claim this?

Has there been any other book that can actually deliver on this claim?

There is simply nothing like the Word of God which we carry around in our Bibles. 

The Bible is so often challenged in so many ways, yet in so many ways defeats so many challenges. With all the intellect, self-spiritual thinking, God-less thinking, secular academia, attempted archaeological antagonists, nobody has ever written a book as inspired as the Bible (breathed out by God), as transformative as the Bible, as sufficient for life as the Bible (…may be complete), and as revelatory as the Bible.

Friends, there really is nothing like the Word of God. I read this anecdote about it recently, and would encourage you to think on this today,

A critic once wrote a letter to a magazine saying, “Over the years, I suppose I’ve gone to church more than 1,000 times, and I can’t remember the specific content of even one sermon over those many years. What good was it to go to church 1,000 times?”

The next week, someone wrote back: “Over the past many years, I have eaten more than 1,000 meals prepared by my wife. I cannot remember the specific menu of any of those meals. But they nourished me along the way, and without them, I would be a much different man!”

The Bible will do its spiritual work in us, if we will let it.

2 Timothy 3.1 – People Are Difficult

Someone once told me that the ‘best and worst thing about pastoring a church will be the people’. From what he writes here, it would seem that Paul agrees.

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.

Paul will go on to say that these times of difficulty will come from people (v.2), but for the new minister Timothy this is what he needed to know first;

that as time progresses the times will get progressively more difficult.

This should not be a surprise to us, that as time goes on time gets tougher. Time of difficulty carries the meaning of stressful times, times of trial, times of tribulation…think of trying to swim in a sea that is wild, windy, and wavy. No matter which way Timothy turns, there will be difficult people to minister to.

It seems like Paul wanted to communicate this to Timothy so that he was going forward in his task with his eyes open, so to speak, knowing that people are difficult.

People are difficult, people are broken, and people are in desperate need of the saving grace of God.

If we are honest, so are we.

We are difficult to love, we are broken past the point of self-repair, and we are in desperate need of the saving grace of God.

Pastor, these are your people; difficult, broken, in need of grace.

Friends, this is all of us; difficult, broken, in need of grace.

The answer for both is the same – the free gift of grace available to us through faith in Jesus. Paul will go on to remind Timothy that the Word of God makes us wise for salvation (v.15), and it is on this solid foundation that we must stand as we seek to navigate these times of difficulty. People are broken, you are broken, and without the Word of God to stand on and soak in, this will never change.

Turn to the Word today!