the hinges and the Door

The Word for today:
1 Samuel 1

Samuel.
The only person in the Old Testament who was at one and the same time a prophet (1 Samuel 3:20) a priest (1 Samuel 7:9) and a judge (1 Samuel 7:6, 15).

God revealed himself to Samuel by the Word of God. God is not revealing (adding to) but He is illuminating his Word today by his Spirit, that we might come to know him.
The LORD continued to appear at Shiloh, and there he revealed himself to Samuel through his word. (3:21)

From the time he was a small child, Samuel was devoted to God’s service, and later in life he became a great leader, moving his people from leadership by judges to rule by a king. He anointed both Saul and David as kings.

Like John the Baptist, Samuel was a great transitional figure, a hinge between two ages. Like John, he identified and proclaimed the man after God’s own heart. (1 Sam. 13:14)

Hinges and the Door.

While Samuel and John the Baptist are hinges, connecting eras and dispensations and testaments, Jesus Christ is the ultimate transitional figure; the only mediator between God and men, life and death, heaven and hell, darkness and light, justice and mercy, truth and grace. The Door, he is the difference between what your life was and what it is. (1)

I went through the Door from hopelessness to hope, from pointlessness to purpose.

You went through the Door from ________________ to________________.

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(1) See John 10:9 and 1 Timothy 2:5.

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don’t leave your best dress in the closet

The Word for today:
Ruth 4

Every now and then we come across a Bible verse that stands for something much larger than what it seems to be saying. One of those verses is Ruth 3:3:

Wash yourself therefore, and anoint yourself and put on your best clothes…

The verse can stand as the picture of every sinner who comes to Jesus:

1. Wash yourself.

First we are forgiven at the cross: The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7). But the process of salvation has just begun…

2. Anoint yourself.

Then we are anointed by the Holy Spirit. Anointed is a biblical word which denotes the person and work of the Holy Spirit, who comes upon all believers to empower and teach them:

But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge. (1 John 2:20/ESV)

Another version says it this way:

But you have had the Holy Spirit poured out on you by Christ, and so all of you know the truth. (1 John 2:20/GNT)

The reason you and I can understand the Bible is not because of our superior intellects. It is a direct result of the empowering Holy Spirit:

For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. (1Corinthians 2:10-16)

As the mind of Christ develops within us, the “outside” changes too. This is expressed in the third part of Ruth 3:3:

3. Put on your best clothes.

Galatians 3:27 tells us that we have put on Christ:

For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

At the moment we were forgiven by the blood and empowered by the
Spirit, we also received the “robe” of Christ-righteousness:

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

***

Many believers stop at #1. They consider themselves “washed,” but that’s about it. So they live as if they were nothing more than forgiven criminals.

But God has changed us all the way from the inside out. He has empowered us with His Spirit and transformed us into the image of His Son (Romans 8:29). So…

Wash yourself therefore, and anoint yourself and put on your best clothes.

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a preview of the Redeemer

The Word for today:
Ruth 3

Our reading schedule gave us only two days in the book of Ruth. But we could not begin to do justice to this great romance in such a short time. Therefore we borrowed some time from our next book (1 Samuel) and extended Ruth to four days.

And with so much truth and beauty to convey, we developed a study guide that covers more ground than our customary single-themed articles ever could.

Part 1 and part 2 are pre-requisite to today’s study.

***

Boaz is a prophetic picture of Jesus Christ as our Kinsman-Redeemer. The kinsman redeemer did not act—he did not have to act—by statute of the law. He was, you see, in love…

“The LORD bless him!” Naomi said to her daughter-in-law. “He has not stopped showing his kindness to the living and the dead.” She added, “That man is our close relative; he is one of our kinsman-redeemers.” (Ruth 2:20; cf. Exodus 6:6; Isaiah 59:20; Rom 3:24; Eph 1:7)

If one of your countrymen becomes poor and sells some of his property, his nearest relative is to come and redeem what his countryman has sold. (Lev. 25:25)`

If an alien or a temporary resident among you becomes rich and one of your countrymen becomes poor and sells himself to the alien living among you or to a member of the alien’s clan, he retains the right of redemption after he has sold himself. One of his relatives may redeem him: An uncle or a cousin or any blood relative in his clan may redeem him. (Lev. 25:47-49)

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. (1 Pet. 1:18-19)

For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Col. 1:13-14)

***

Christ the Kinsman-Redeemer was willing and able to pay the price for our sin.

The redeemer must be a “near kinsman”…so Christ had to be “born of woman, born under the law” to redeem us.
But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. (Gal. 4:4-5)

The redeemer must be “able to redeem”…he must be “good for” the price of payment:

Which of you convicts Me of sin? (John 8:46)

***

Ruth enters into a new life.
But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return 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 will I be buried. May the LORD do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” (Ruth 1:16-17)

It is our responsibility to claim the Kinsman-Redeemer, and His covering robe of righteousness.
Just as Ruth claims Boaz as her kinsman-redeemer, we must claim Christ. Christ can’t claim us—just as Boaz could not claim her. If you love Christ, tell him you do!

And he said, Who art thou? And she answered, I am Ruth thine handmaid: spread therefore thy skirt over thine handmaid; for thou art a near kinsman. (3:9)

We can rest, for Christ will finish the work of redemption:

Then said she, 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. (3:18; cf. John 19:30)

The kinsman who will not redeem represents the law, which cannot redeem us:

Then the next of kin said, “I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I impair my own inheritance. Take my right of redemption yourself, for I cannot redeem it.” (4:6)

***

The Redeemer takes a bride…
Then Boaz said to the elders and all the people, “You are witnesses this day that I have bought from the hand of Naomi all that belonged to Elimelech and all that belonged to Chilion and to Mahlon. Also Ruth the Moabitess, the widow of Mahlon, I have bought to be my wife. (4:9-10)

Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. (Rev. 19:7; cf. Eph. 5:25)

The Redeemer takes a Gentile bride…
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Gal. 3:28-29; cf. Matthew 8:11; Eph. 2:11-18)

“I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you;
And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Gen. 12:3)

And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. (John 10:16)

(The sheepfold is the Jewish people. Here Jesus told the fold that He would bring in non-Jews as well to form a new all-encompassing family, the church.)

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handfuls of purpose

The Word for today:
Ruth 2

And when she rose up to glean, Boaz commanded his young men, saying, “Let her glean even among the sheaves, and reproach her not: And let fall also some of the handfuls on purpose for her, and leave them, that she may glean them, and rebuke her not.” (Ruth 2:15-16)

In some of the darkest days in the Bible, in the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land, and a man from Bethlehem in Judah, together with his wife and two sons, went to live for a while in the country of Moab (Ruth 1:1).

One of this man’s sons married a local girl named Ruth. When both the man and his sons died, Ruth and her mother-in-law, Naomi, returned to Bethlehem upon hearing that the famine in the land of Judah had ended.

There a wealthy man named Boaz falls in love (at first sight!) when he “happens” to see Ruth, who went out and began to glean in the fields behind the harvesters and, as it turned out, found herself working in a field belonging to Boaz (Ruth 2:3).

In the book of Ruth, the Bible reader knows that Boaz told his workers to let fall also some of the handfuls (of grain) of purpose for her (2:16 KJV), so that Ruth will be able to gather enough to sustain herself and Naomi. But Ruth does not know that Boaz is deliberately providing for her in this way, behind the scenes. She must have thought that the workers weren’t harvesting very carefully!

This story illustrates a concept known as God’s providence (1). The invisible, providing, protecting hand of the LORD is behind every word and circumstance in the book of Ruth.

Very often we, like Ruth in the fields, do not realize the provision God makes for us. We might attribute our circumstances to chance or happenstance, and fail to see the guiding and sustaining hand of God in our lives.

The conditions of Ruth’s life–the hunger, untimely death, and poverty–made it particularly difficult for her to see that all things work together for good to those who love God (Rom. 8:28).

Later, when Boaz and Ruth are married, Ruth’s fallen estate is restored, and a family — life — is restored to that which was dead. Once she had been in Adam (represented in the story by her first husband.) Now she is joined to her Redeemer, Christ (represented by Boaz):

For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive (1 Cor. 15:22).

How could Ruth know, when she “happened” upon Boaz’ field, that the handful of purpose would fall to us as well–for from their marriage would proceed a great-grandson, King David. Out of David’s line would come the Son of Man, Jesus Christ.

Out of that wheat field, out of that ‘chance’ meeting, came the Bread of Life (John 6:48), God’s provision for our lives, now and forever:

And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit (John 12:23-24).

Because He loves us, God decreed that the wheat should fall for us, on purpose.

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(1) see Genesis 22:13-14

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What does he see in me?

The Word for today:
Ruth 1

The book of Ruth is a literary and spiritual gem.

It is, first of all, a love story. We would do well to transfer that phrase to the Bible itself, so let’s do it:

The Bible is, first of all, a love story. The day the Bible student comes to that understanding is the day he begins to understand his Bible.

Our reading schedule has given us only two days in the book of Ruth. We can’t begin do justice to this great romance in such a short time. Therefore we are going to borrow some time from our next book (1 Samuel) and extend Ruth to four days.

With so much truth and beauty to convey, we have developed a study guide that will touch upon many more of Ruth’s important topics than four of our customary single-themed articles ever could. We trust that you will bring your heart to these matters. If you do, your mind will gladly tag along.

***

Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab… (Ruth 1:1)

Out of the dark period of the judges comes the love story of redemption. It is an unwavering Biblical principle that darkness gives way to light:

And the earth was without form and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep…and God said, Let there be light… and the evening and the morning were the first day. (Genesis 1:2,3,5)

Ruth’s striking faithfulness stands in contrast to the dark backdrop of faithlessness in the days when the judges ruled.

Time frame. (cf. Matt. 1:5-6; Joshua 6:25; Heb. 11:31)
Boaz is the son of Rahab, the prostitute in Joshua (and a charter member of the Hall of Fame of Faith in Hebrews 11.) Boaz and Ruth are the great-grandparents of King David.

Bethlehem (“house of bread”) is a small, nondescript village 5 miles south of Jerusalem. But it is one of the most significant locations in the Bible:
Jacob’s wife Rachel died there, giving birth to Benjamin. (Gen. 35:18-19)
Ruth and Boaz met there and became parents in the line of the Messiah.
David, their great-grandson, was born there. (1 Sam. 16:1)
Micah the prophet predicted that the Messiah would be born there. (Micah 5:2)
Matthew 2 and Luke 2 record the Christmas story, when the prophecy was fulfilled.

Salvation is a love affair…
We love him because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19)

I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives within me. And the life I now live I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if justification were by the law, then Christ died in vain (Gal. 2:20-21).

In Ruth we see a man who is a kinsman-redeemer, but he doesn’t have to act in that capacity. Another, closer kinsman had the opportunity to take action, but he turned it down. He did not care for Ruth, but Boaz loved her. That made all the difference. God did not have to redeem us. If He did not, He would still be a just and holy God. But He loved us.

Boaz is a prophetic picture of Jesus Christ as our Kinsman-Redeemer. The kinsman redeemer did not act—he did not have to act—by statute of the law. He was, you see, in love…

The unsearchable heart of love… (What does He see in me?)
Then she fell on her face and bowed herself to the ground, and said unto him, Why have I found grace in thine eyes, that thou shouldest take knowledge of me, seeing I am a stranger? (2:10)

“What does he see in me?” is the wrong question — for the answer is not in us, but in Him:

For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession. The LORD did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the LORD loved you and kept the oath he swore to your forefathers that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. (Deuteronomy 7:6-8)

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