The Epistle of Jude is a short letter (25 verses) written to Christians at an undisclosed location. This letter was written from a Jewish point of view, and many have concluded that it was written to either solely Jewish Christians or a mixture of Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians who had an understanding of Jewish traditions. It was written around the mid-60’s A.D. by a person named Jude. We don’t know very much about Jude, but we are pretty certain that he was the brother of James (who is believed to be the brother of Jesus). According to Matt. 13:55 & Mark 6:3 it can be concluded that Jude was almost certainly the brother of Jesus. These passages that I just mentioned refer to Jude as Judas because the name Jude in the Greek is Ἰούδας (Ee oo das).
The purpose in writing this letter was to issue a response and a call to the recipients of this letter to contend for the faith as false teachers had infiltrated this church.
Vs 1 - 2
Vs 1: The author refers to himself as “Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James.” The word “servant” in Greek is δοῦλοσ (doulos) which means a bond servant or a slave. It is one who gives himself up to another’s will and whose service is used by Christ in extending and advancing his cause among men. A biblical servant was one who is devoted to another to the disregard of one’s own interests. Jude considers himself first and foremost a servant to Jesus Christ. His interests, causes and services were to Jesus Christ. He was a bond man to His savior and master, and he spent his life preaching and advancing the Kingdom of Christ. According to extra biblical historical documents James was known as “James the just” and according to Acts 15 he was the leader of the Jerusalem church. Josephus writes that James was “noted for his scrupulous keeping of the Jewish law.”
Once Jude establishes who he is, he writes that the letter is written to “those who are called” or κλητός (Kletos) which means those invited by God in the proclamation of the Gospel to obtain eternal salvation in the Kingdom of Christ. The called are people who are divinely selected or appointed. In simple terms this letter is written to Christians. Since this is so this means that not only does this letter apply to the people of this time but also applies to you and me today. We are the Kletos, we are divinely appointed to be His people. God has called us to eternal salvation and with this comes a great responsibility to walk according to His ways and share His gospel message. The called are also the “beloved in God” which means that not only are we divinely appointed Christians, but we are also loved dearly by the Father. We are divinely called to be followers of Christ, dearly loved by the Father and “kept” in Jesus. The word “kept” τηρέω (tereo)means preserved, to guard, attend carefully. In Christ we are preserved and guarded. To those who are in Christ there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God. We are kept secure by Him.
Vs 2: Mercy, Peace & Love be multiplied among you.
What a beautiful greeting. Jude is not only saying may you have mercy, peace and love he is saying, “may it be multiplied” or increased among you. It is constant, active and ever growing. May this be the kind of mercy, peace and love that we experience and show in our Christian walk.
Vs 3 - 4
Contend for the Faith
Vs 3: Jude gives us the purpose for writing the letter. Jude was writing with a heavy heart because he initially wanted to write this letter as a letter of encouragement and affirmation. He wanted to edify the believers as he desired to write about the common salvation they shared. Common salvation is the general faith they had in common. The word common is the word koinos in which we get the word koinoinia which means fellowship. Jude desired to fellowship (through a letter) with the believers and encourage them in their salvation and let them know they were on the right course. Unfortunately, his desire to write an encouraging letter had to be placed on the backburner, because of some very unfortunate events that were happening in the fellowship.
Jude found it necessary to urge the believers to “contend for the faith”. He was making an appeal to them to stand up against the heresies that had been infiltrating the body of believers. Even as early as the mid 60’s A.D. heresies were making their ways into fellowships. Unfortunately, as we will soon see, some of those heresies were starting to surface in this group. Jude was encouraging the fellowship to “contend for the faith”. The Greek word for contend is where we get our English word agonize. It means to fight, to struggle with strenuous zeal. Jude was urging this body to be proactive in its fight against heresy. They were to actively struggle in fighting for the faith. Jude was essentially telling them not to have an attitude of “We don’t want to offend anyone or cause people to leave or start any fights so we will allow these teachings to go on and eventually they will stop.” No, Jude was urging them to stop what was going on or face the consequences.
They are to contend of fight for the “faith”. The word faith in g
Greek πίστις (Pisitis) which means a strong conviction of truth; in particular it is a conviction of belief respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things. These truths include…
At the time of writing this letter there was already an established teaching about salvation that was rooted in the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles. Jude is urging the body to contend for the faith. They were to fight for the truth of the existence of God, to fight for the Lordship of Jesus Christ, to fight for the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone, and to fight the wolves who were masquerading in this body as sheep.
Vs 4: Unfortunately, certain people had crept in and infiltrated fellowship with false teaching and heresy. They had “Crept in unnoticed” or pareisduno (par-ice-doo'-no) to enter in secretly or stealthily like parasites. These people have secretly crept into this body and they were designated ahead of time for condemnation. This expression teaches that the condemnation of apostates has been determined long beforehand. They may have crept in and taken the church by surprise but God in his sovereignty was not. They were designated before hand to be false teachers and God had taken measures to make sure these people were exposed.
Characteristics of Wolves In Sheep’s Clothing
a.Ungodly- Destitute of reverence to God. Condemning God.
b.Pervert the grace to sensuality – To change or add to the gospel message of grace, to fall away, or put something else in its place (idolatry).
i.Sensuality - unbridled lust, excessiveness, shamelessness and insolence.
ii.They were changing God’s grace of kindness and forgiveness to a license to sin.
c.Deny that Jesus is Lord – Disregard for Jesus or try to prove false the supremacy and Christology of Jesus. People who say or believe, “Jesus wasn’t really God and He never claimed to be God.” “He was a good man but not God.”
Vs 5 - 7
A Stern Warning and a Gentle Reminder
Since the false teachers (wolves in sheep’s clothing) had secretly crept into the Church, Jude finds it necessary to give the readers a warning about the judgment of false teachers by reminding them how God deals with all tolerated sin.
Vs 5: “I want to remind you” about God’s stern judgment in the past in dealing with sin. This reminder implies that they were familiar with the forthcoming accounts and maybe they needed a “refresher” course on the history of God’s dealing with all types of blatant sin.
Jude gives three examples for the church to remember…
Jude reminds the readers that the Jesus he speaks about was the same Jesus who saved the Israelites from Egyptians slavery and pursuit. He is also the same Jesus who executed judgment on the nation in the desert. Some manuscripts read “The Lord” but the ESV and other modern translations show that the Greek word used is Jesus. In this passage we see that Jesus and God are one in the same. Equating Jesus with God was an early Apostolic teaching that was widely held and understood (Remember Jude says, “I want to remind you”). Thus, Jesus and God are considered equal here and this was nothing new to the readers.
Two facts are present in this account of the Exodus of Israel.
Vs 6: The second reminder is about the angels who rebelled against God were sinning against God. We do not know what their actual sin was. Some attribute the sin to the angels and Nephilim in Gen. 6, plus 2 Peter 2:4-9 talks a little about the fallen angels. However, what we do know is that the angels who sinned did not stay in the position God appointed them. This could very well be referring to Lucifer and his desires to be like the Most High. He left his position of servant or messenger when he tried to overthrow the throne of God. The result was punishment for their sin by containment in eternal chains and kept until the judgment.
Sodom and Gomorrah
Vs 7: The third reminder is found in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. The question arises, “Why was Sodom and Gomorrah destroyed?” We are told that is was because of sexual immorality. The Greek word is ἐκπορνεύω [ekporneuo/ek·porn·yoo·o] and means giving oneself over to fornication, to go a whoring. The people of Sodom and Gomorrah pursued unnatural desires and the word nnatural ἕτερος [heteros /het·er·os/] means went back after another, one not of the same nature, form or class. The word Desires - σάρξ [sarx /sarx/] means flesh or more commonly referred to the animal nature with cravings which incite sin. It is the earthly nature of man and therefore prone to sin and oppose God. Sodom and Gomorrah serve as an example of how God has dealt with the sin of sexual immorality and is very much a warning to the ungodly.
In review the three sins mentioned are…
How to Contend for the Faith Today
There are still wolves masquerading as sheep in the church today. We are to contend and guard the message of Christ that is taught in the Bible. We are called to expose the wolves when they creep in and we are to protect the flock with the truth. How do we do this?
MacDonald, W., & Farstad, A. (1997, c1995). Believer's Bible Commentary : Old and New Testaments (Jud 4). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
For the past four weeks we have been going through the book of Ruth in our sermon series Redeemer of Ordinary. As this story has transpired, we have seen the marvelous love that Ruth has for her mother-in-law. Her intense loyalty is shown to her mother-in-law when he refuses to let her leave Moab alone and go back to her homeland of Judah and die as a bitter old woman. Ruth the Moabite is fiercely loyal to Naomi as she gives up everything (friends, family, and faith) to be with her mother-in-law. She is radically obedient as she does all Naomi asks her to do. Our main character is genuinely humble as she meets her future redeemer, finds grace and favor in his eyes. Last week we saw Ruth obediently, boldly and humbly enter the presence of her redeemer as she appeals and ultimately proposes to Boaz and in response, she receives from her kinsman a blessing and an abundance of wheat for Naomi
Today, we will conclude our series in Ruth as we look at the final chapter of this account. In this passage we will see that the narrator gives us the details of the process by which Ruth is betrothed to Boaz. This tale is important for us as it is one of a few documents from the ancient world that demonstrates how the legal process of a kinsman redeemer, betrothal and the marriage process worked. It is in this chapter we will see the story of Ruth, Naomi, and Boaz come together and in doing so God’s divine plan is established with the concluding genealogy that establishes the lineage of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Vs 1 – 5:
Vs. 1: “Boaz went to the gate” – The gate was an integral part of a city. It is believed that in the ancient Israel cities they were built close together and there were few or no large open areas (unlike the Roman forum or the Greek agora). Instead there was room in the gate, thus the gate became the central part of a city. It was the place of important assembly and most likely the place where legal business was conducted. It is also believed that people were condemned before the elders at the city gate, there are even mentions of executions at the gate. It was also a place to do public business, and more specifically for the kind of business described in Ruth 4.
“Soon the family redeemer… came by.” – There is no indication that the eligible family redeemer knew who Boaz was, but Boaz certainly knew him. He calls him to come over and sit with him.
Vs. 2: “Boaz took ten men of the towns elders.” – Elders exercised judicial functions. The elders often had powerful influence in the city, but in this scenario, they are only used as witnesses. It would be extremely important for Boaz to have the elders present so the outcome of the transaction between the two kinsmen would be undeniable. There doesn’t seem to be any significance to the number “ten” in this account, but ten witnesses would definitely give a concrete collective of witnesses.
Vs. 3: Naomi is “selling a portion of the field…” – Up until this point there is no mention of land, nor are we let in on the time when Naomi told Boaz about it or where this conversation happened.
The portion of the field was Elimelech’s share of the common field. Being part of a field in common ownership it may well have been difficult for Naomi to realize on it. This may be the reason she still had it despite the poverty to which she and Ruth had been reduced.
“belonged to our brother” – means that Elimelech was a friend and doesn’t suggest any close relative relationship.
What we can gather is that Naomi had rights to this field/land, but we have no understanding of how she could have obtained the rights. The best answer is there must have been some sort of common-sense custom that gave it to her.
In talking to the kinsman, whose name we do not know, Boaz decides to approach the matter in the way he does. He mentions to the kinsman the land but leaves out the part about Ruth. There was probably a tactic behind this since he may have feared that if it was only a matter of marrying Ruth, or redeeming the field the kinsman would have carried out his responsibility. But by linking the two together he presented the man with a dual financial burden.
Boaz, of course is ready, willing, and able to redeem the land and marry Ruth, but he wants to stay true to the customs and laws in regard to redeeming land as a kinsman.
So how does Ruth become a financial burden? I mean it seems like a good deal, buy the land and get the girl, right? Two for one! Well, there was the issue of paying a dowry for Ruth, either to her parents in Moab or to Naomi and that could have been a financial burden the kinsman could not bear.
Vs. 6 - 12
Vs 6: “I cannot redeem it myself” – Upon realizing that the land redemption also entailed marrying Ruth the kinsman says he cannot redeem it. Notice, it does not say he won’t redeem, but he can’t. This insinuates that the kinsman was probably not a wealthy man.
“it will ruin my inheritance” – This suggests that he would have to pay for the land, and the dowry and this would be quite an expenditure. But ultimately the land would not belong to his own family, but to the son or heir of Ruth. The reality is he may have been willing to marry Ruth, or he may have been willing to buy the land, but he could not do both. Unfortunately for him the two went together.
Vs 7: The giving of the sandal was an ancient practice that the narrator finds necessary to explain the custom and thus also suggests the author wrote this sometime after the actual events took place. Either way, as a confirmation to what was agreed upon this curious custom took place in from of a crowd of witnesses.
Vs 9: “You are witnesses today” – Boaz is establishing his right to the family possessions.
Vs 10: Boaz comes to the heart of the matter that not only is he redeeming the land, but he is acquiring Ruth as his wife. Boaz gives the justification for his marriage as to “to perpetuate the deceased man’s name on his property” i.e., to provide a son who would carry on the name of the deceased. Then, “so that his name will not disappear among his relatives or from the gate of his hometown” this means the relatives will be the whole family, all his relations.
Vs 11: The elders pronounce a blessing on Boaz and his bride. They pray that God will make her like Leah. This is a prayer for fruitfulness. Then to Boaz a blessing because of his godly actions they give a blessing that Boaz’s name will be renown.
Vs 12: Perez was one of Boaz’ ancestors and is the most suitable person to be mentioned. In fact, it seems that Perez was the ancestor of the Bethlehemites in general. Even more Perez gave his name to the section of the tribe of Judah that was descended from him.
“because of the offspring the Lord will give you by this young woman.” – this refers to one child, which would most likely be the Messiah.
Vs 13 - 17
A son is born to Ruth and Boaz and this son is regarded as a gift from God. What is interesting is in the concluding verses Naomi is the one featured and not Ruth. The women of the city come to Naomi most likely because they know her much better than Ruth. They come to congratulate her
Vs 14: “Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you without a family redeemer today.” – Up to this point we would assume that Boaz was the kinsman. However, as we read, we can conclude that it is in fact the baby who is Naomi’s kinsman. They also pray that his name would be well-known in Israel.
Vs 15: “He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age.” This new baby will give Naomi a new lease on life. The child has brought hope for the future. Plus, the love of Ruth for her mother-in-law shines through this book and it is appropriate that it be given this recognition at the end. The tribute, which is better to you than seven sons is symbolic for the perfect family.
Vs 16: For Naomi this child is special. At the death of her sons and husband she was expecting to die a lonely bitter death. But because of her daughter-in-law’s loyalty, obedience and humility Naomi has a new purpose in life. The love for this child was so great that Naomi recognized and treated this child as if he were her own.
Vs 17: The women name the child “Obed” means servant. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David. The son of Ruth and Naomi would one day be the grandfather of David, the greatest king of Israel.
Vs 18 – 23
So, why does Ruth end with a genealogy it could be that there is a truth that God is supreme, and he directs all things. A genealogy is one way to bring before us the continuity of God’s purpose throughout the ages. This process of history is not random. There is a purpose in it all. And the purpose is the purpose of God
In Ruth we see two key ingredients as to why she (in particular) is an important character in the O.T. that plays into both the Kingdom of God and the coming Messiah. We see in this the story the concept of redemption and the truth of God’s sovereignty.
First, symbolically Boaz is a type of Christ as he is the willing and able redeemer of one who is poor, widowed and abandoned. He is capable and willing to allow this person, who really didn’t have much of a future, to be redeemed and accept into his family and to eventually take her as a wife. This is very similar to what Jesus has done for us. He came to redeem those who are spiritually deprived and lost individuals in the world. Jesus is the ultimate kinsman redeemer as he is the rightful, willing and able redeemer of those whom the Father has given to him. His way of paying the debt is through giving his life for the lost and dying on the cross so that those who believe may be redeemed through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Not only was Jesus willing to become our redeemer he was also able as he was the perfect and chosen redeemer of all humanity.
Secondly, we see God’s providence in Ruth. None of what happened in this story was by accident. Every detail was orchestrated by God. In this we see that with all the tragedy and uncertainty in the lives of these women, God had a plan. The plan served his purpose because it was through Ruth’s offspring that the Messiah would come. What is even more astounding is that in the Genealogy of the Messiah four women are mentioned (all except for one were women who had some sort of noted sin that is recorded). Ruth – is our good girl but had suffered the pain of loss. Tamar had an illegitimate child by her father-in-law as she tricked him by dressing up as a prostitute. Rahab was a prostitute and the mother of Boaz. Bathsheba had an adulterous affair with King David who had her husband killed in battle. Three of the four women were of “ill-repute” yet God in his sovereignty used them for his plans and his purposes. This is how God’s providence works.
Sometimes we may not understand why certain things happen or even how God could work in some circumstances, but God loves to defy the odds. He is a God who uses the underdog. He loves to make the impossible, possible and He does it all on His own terms. This should be encouraging to us all. Why? Because I know some of us are in situations in life where things seem bleak, hopeless or just downright depressing. God knows this and he is a God who can make amazing things happen. If God can use a conniving daughter-in-law, a prostitute, an adulterer and a widow to bring the redeemer of humanity into this world, then he certainly can use us for his plans and purposes regardless of where we are today. As a closing I would invite you to pray with me for God to do some amazing things in our lives personally and as a congregation. For some of us things may look bleak right now, but this does not mean God has abandoned. He is simply waiting for the right time to magnify his name and show you that He has a plan and purpose. Let us pray in expectation for God to do some amazingly miraculous things in our lives and in this church.
The Scroll and the Lamb
The vision moves from focusing on God and the angels and elders worshiping God around the throne to the Lamb who is worthy to take and open the scroll. The worship of God is focuses on his role and sovereignty in creation now the attention turns to worshiping of the Lamb who was slain and his redemptive work. These scrolls play an integral part in what transpires in the chapters to follow.
Vs. 1: “in the right hand…” – The right hand signifies omnipotence of God.
“a scroll…” – This scroll is sealed with seven seals to protect the confidentiality of the contents that are within it. The contents (as we will see) contain the full account of God’s sovereign and divine plan for “what must take place.”
The seven seals symbolize the complete sacredness or holiness of the scroll. The contents are the complete (7 is number of completion) end story of God, judgment and all.
Daniel 8:26 – Daniel is told to seal up the contents of his prophecy that will be opened at a latter time.
The double-sided writing on the scroll indicates how extensive the judgment of God is.
Vs 2: A mighty angel (Gabriel?) with a loud voice. The loud voice is needed because the proclamation that he makes needs to reach all of creation. Since the proclamations are from God a strong powerful voice is required.
The call the angel makes is for someone who is worthy to perform the ultimate service of bringing history to its predestined conclusion.
Vs 3: The call is to all of creation and nobody is worthy to take the scroll and open it or even look at the contents inside.
Vs 4: John weeps loudly and in disappointment because it appears to him at the moment that God’s plans are about to be spoiled because there is no one worthy to open the scroll that contains the final judgments of God.
Vs 5: The elder tells John not to weep. Why? Because there is One who is worthy; He is the “Lion of the Tribe of Judah.” In Gen. 49:9 – 10 Jacob gives a blessing to his twelve sons and Jacob calls Judah “the lion cub” and then is promised that the scepter will never depart from him until it comes to the one whom it belongs to.
“the root of David” – Isaiah 11:1 speaks of a king from the line of David who will judge righteously and usher in peace.
Both these titles refer to Jesus and the Elder tells John not to weep because Jesus is worthy to take and open the scrolls.
Vs 6: In the midst of this scene John sees a lamb, not a lion.
The lamb has” seven horns and seven eyes” and has the wounds of a sacrificial offering = Victory through sacrifice.
Seven horns symbolize perfect power and seven eyes symbolize perfect wisdom and knowledge.
This Lamb is the Lord of lords and King of Kings and as we will see He is the one who is worthy to open the scroll and thus wage war on the beast and his minions. The Lamb is none other than Jesus Christ who is enthroned with God and he is the victor over all forces of evil both human and demonic.
Vs 7: The action of the Lamb… He goes and takes the scroll from the right hand of the one holding it (God).
Vs 8: The response of the elders and creatures is worship when they witness Jesus as the worthy lamb.
The harp is the traditional instrument used in the singing of Psalms.
The golden bowls full of incense are the prayers of the saints.
“The idea of angels acting as intermediaries and presenting the prayers of saints to God is common in later Jewish thought. In Tob 12:15 an angel says, “I am Raphael, one of the seven holy angels, who present the prayers of the saints, and who go in and out before the glory of the Holy One.” In 3 Baruch 11 it is Michael the Archangel who descends to the fifth heaven to receive the prayers of people. It was the increasing emphasis in Jewish thought on the transcendence of God that made such intermediaries appropriate. In Revelation the twenty-four elders perform this function.” (Mounce)
Vs 9 – 10: The Lamb is worthy to open the book for three reasons: he was slain, he ransomed people for God, and he made them to be a kingdom and priests. That the same ascription of worth is directed both to the One upon the throne (4:11) and to the Lamb (5:9) indicates the exalted Christology of the Apocalypse.
Redemption was for all tribes, tongues, and nations. This implies the universal nature of redemption. Redemption is for all who believe. The blood of Christ is sufficient for all people, not just one specific people group.
Vs 11: The worship now expands to the innumerable angels lifting up their voices.
Vs 13: All creations worships the Lamb.
According to theologian Robert Mounce in his commentary on Revelation, “Chapter 5 has revealed a central truth that governs the entire book of Revelation. By his sacrificial death the Lamb has taken control of the course of history and guaranteed its future. He alone was worthy to break the seals and open the scroll of destiny. The hosts of heaven break out in jubilant song honoring the redemptive work of the Lion who is the Lamb. His triumphant sacrifice has transformed men and women from every part of the universe into priests in the service of God. Countless angels circle his throne and declare his power and praise. This vision of the grandeur of the triumphant Lamb prepares John to share with his readers the more solemn aspects of the judgments that lie in the future. A vivid portrayal of the one who has won the crucial battle against sin supplies the confidence that in the troubled times to come there remains a hope that is steadfast and sure.” (Mounce)
Every time I preach on the book of Ruth (which I have done a few times), I almost always hear this general response from the ladies in the congregation, “I love the book of Ruth! It’s my favorite story in the Bible.” I agree, it is a fabulous account and it has all the key elements to making a great story. It has conflict, tension, surprise, extraordinary characters or character behavior, controversy, mystery, and suspense. If you recall I likened it to a Hallmark Channel movie, because quite honestly the theme of the story would translate into a great romantic movie.
Two weeks ago, we began our four-part series in the book of Ruth titled “Redeemer of the Ordinary”. In the introductory message we looked at chapter one and saw how the stage is being set for the remainder of the book. Our main female characters Naomi and Ruth both lost their husbands and now Naomi (Ruth’s mother-in-law) decides to go back to her homeland in Judah. Ruth insists on going back to Judah with her mother-in-law as she pledges her loyalty to Naomi, her God, and her people. Naomi returns in bitterness, and Ruth is determined to return with her to love and care for her mother-in-law during these troubled times.
In chapter two I talked about God’s providence in Ruth. Providence is the Lord’s working in and through His creation and His creatures to bring about what He has planned. We see throughout this story how God is working in and through his people. Naomi urges Ruth to go out and glean in a field and Ruth does so obediently. In her gleaning she catches the eye of Boaz and he shows her favor and grace as he allows her to glean from his fields. This obscure love story that is plopped between Judges and 1 Samuel is a story about God working in the details to bring His will to pass and in doing so we also get a glimpse of redemption (which we will talk more about today and next week). God is working in this story to show how he directs things for His glory and for His will to be done.
So far, we have witnessed Ruth’s intense loyalty to her mother-in-law. She refuses to just let her leave Moab alone and go back to her homeland and die a bitter old woman. She is fiercely loyal to her as she gives up everything (friends, family, and faith) to be with her mother-in-law. She is radically obedient as she does all Naomi asks her to do. She is genuinely humble as she meets her future redeemer, finds grace and favor in his eyes. Now, today we are going to see that Ruth is audaciously bold as she appeals and ultimately proposes to Boaz, her kinsman redeemer.
The tradition of a marriage proposal is one that has been established for a long time. If you are a romantic, then you are probably one of those people who loves to hear about or watch on Youtube a thoughtful and creative marriage proposal. You may be that person who cries when you are just a witness to the proposal and not actually the recipient. Over the years people have put a lot of thought, money, and creativity in their marriage proposal. Traditionally speaking the man offers a proposal of marriage to a woman in which she accepts or rejects the proposal.
The reason I bring up proposals is because we have come to the part in our romantic biblical story where this newly established relationship between Boaz and Ruth is about to go to the next level as marriage lies on the horizon.
Ruth 3:1- 7
We do not have a lot of understanding about the customs for marriage in ancient Israel at this time and this account in Ruth 3 is the only detailed account in the Bible. This petition or proposal was probably an Israelite procedure since Naomi had to explain to Ruth what she had to do. It certainly does not follow, what we would consider a modern day traditional proposal or arrangement since it is Naomi telling Ruth to be the one who appeals to Boaz and not vice versa.
Vs 1: “Shouldn’t I find rest for you, so you will be taken care of?” Naomi knows the life she and Ruth will have as widows in the world. The life of a widow would be a hard life and Naomi wants to ensure that Ruth has an advantage in life and marriage would set Ruth up for a life that would be contrary to the life of a widow.
Vs 2: Naomi now introduces the next logical step as she informs Ruth that Boaz is a relative, or as other versions of the Bible say a “kinsman”. If you recall a kinsman is a person related, even though somewhat distantly, to someone and he received by law privileges and obligations for all members of the family. It was the right of the “kinsman” to receive the inheritance of a family without heir.
“winnowing barley on the threshing floor.” This is the process grain is separated from the husks by animals walking over them. Once that was done the mixture was thrown into the air and the wind would blow the chaff or husks away and the heavier grain would fall to the ground.
Vs 3: Ruth is instructed to clean up, put on some perfume, and don her Sunday bests. Having prepared herself in this way, Ruth is to go down to the threshing-floor but not to make herself known to Boaz. She is to let him finish his meal before she does anything.
Vs 4: “When he lies down” Once the winnowing is completed the wheat would need to be guarded. On this evening Boaz was going to keep watch over the harvest throughout the night.
“Uncover his feet and lie down” Now this act has become controversial in a few circles because some believe this is as a euphemism for something inappropriate. Some say it should be interpreted as “uncover his waist.” There isn’t much evidence to support this.
However, it is generally believed that by Ruth uncovering the feet of Boaz he would be awakened by his feet becoming cold. The position she took at his feet was also a lowly one, and perhaps represented Ruth as a petitioner. Ruth’s actions can be interpreted as a humble petitioner seeking Boaz’s protection and marriage.
Once she does this Boaz will tell her what she should do.
Vs 5 – 7: Ruth is obedient to her mother-in-law and she did as she was told.
Ruth 3: 8 – 13
Vs 8 – 9: It is implied that Boaz was asleep for a while before he was startled awake. Something woke Boaz up and it scared him. I think we all know that feeling of being abruptly awoke by something and having that feeling of terror that follows.
Boaz’s sudden startled awakening reminds me of the evenings in Wisconsin when I would be fast asleep in bed and Carrie would abruptly shake me awake in the early hours of the morning to inform me there was a bat flying around inside of our house or in our room. My heartrate was accelerated, my mind was foggy, and I was disoriented, and it took a moment to realize just what was going on at the time.
I am sure Boaz felt this way as well… He could have been thinking, Is there a thief on the threshing floor trying to steal his wheat? Was it an animal coming to attack? Or was someone coming to inform him of some bad news?” But when he awoke and turned, he noticed a woman lying at his feet.
He asks, “Who are you?”
Ruth replies who she is and What is clear is that Ruth is not taking anything for granted. Still at this moment she acts humbly in the presence of Boaz.
“Take me under your wing, for you are a family redeemer.” Ruth uses an expressive metaphor and asks him to take her under his wing. This metaphor is used similarly for taking in marriage. The taking under his wing over a widow is a way of claiming her as a wife is attested among Arabs of early days, it still exists among some modern Arabs.
Now, when we look at what is going on this is a very bold act that Ruth does. She was a foreigner, a widow and coming into the presence of a noble man is a courageous and bold act that certainly could have gone wrong for Ruth. This is why the act may seem aggressive, but it was in reality a humble lowly servant petitioning and a reminder to Boaz that he is a kinsman and she has the right to be where she is at the moment.
Vs 10: “May the Lord bless you, my daughter.” Ruth is not left hanging in doubt as Boaz responds in a beautiful way and calls down a blessing upon her. He also is thankful that she has not followed the natural inclinations in seeking a younger man in marriage, but she has shown a responsible attitude to the family in looking to her gō’ēl or kinsman redeemer as her husband. Boaz mentions that she is showing kindness in this act because nobody would have batted an eye if she went out and chose a young rich man to marry. It was within her rights to do so. But her act of kindness shows that she is not only committed to Boaz, but to Naomi as well.
Vs 11: “I will do for you whatever you say” Boaz pledges his commitment to Ruth because her noble reputation is well known among the people of the town. It is probable that he tells her not to fear because he may have in mind the legal proceedings he was about to initiate (marriage). Ruth should not be afraid that her Moabite origin or anything else would be used against her. Everyone in the city knew her virtue and her virtue would prove to be sufficient. One commentator translates, “all the people in my town know that you are a woman of noble character.” As “all the city knows thee for a bride worth the winning.”
Vs 12: “there is a redeemer closer than I am” Boaz acknowledges that he is indeed a redeemer, however, there is one other redeemer in the family who is nearer of kin than he is. This news could certainly be a game changer for Ruth. She may be wondering if Naomi knew this information and maybe got her calculations wrong or the more likely scenario where Naomi knew of this other kinsman, but Boaz was the one likely to take action over the other.
Vs 13: Boaz tells Ruth to spend the night and in the morning, he will sort things out. There is no point in her going out this late in the evening, so he suggests Ruth stay the night where she will be safe. He then says that he will talk to the other kinsman and if he wants to take the place of Boaz then he will accept this, but if the kinsman refuses then he will fulfill his duties as a kinsman redeemer.
Ruth 3:14 – 18
Vs 14: There were obvious reasons why it should not be made known that Ruth had slept there that night. There is no suggestion that there was any inappropriate behavior going on here, but Boaz knew that if people saw a woman leaving in the morning they would assume or perceive that something inappropriate was going on.
Vs 15: Boaz did not regard that it would be proper for his prospective bride to return from her night’s adventures empty-handed, so he gave her six measures of barley wheat. We are not sure of the exact amount or the significance of this amount, we just know it was a generous portion.
Vs 16 – 18: Naomi asks about what happened and Ruth tells her. Naomi tells her that all will be fine, but in the meantime, they must be patient and wait as Boaz takes care of the matter with the other kinsman.
There is a lot going on in this chapter. Some of it seems a bit obscure and some comes across as romantic. But as we look at this account, we can start to understand why the story is one that God wanted told throughout the ages. In the practical sense of this story we can learn that when we enter the presence of the LORD, we do so in…
The Throne Room
The letters to the church are now complete. All seven churches in Asia Minor have received commendation, or criticism or both from the glorified Jesus Christ. The vision now turns from the church to a glimpse of the throne room in heaven and this should serve as a reminder to the churches that should be encouraged because they are also under God’s sovereign rule.
Vs. 1: “After this…” – The vision continues but we see & now we see a future time that has yet to take place.
John sees “a door standing open in heaven” this is similar to Ezekiel 1:1 – where the prophet saw “The Heavens were opened”, and he sees a vision of God – The door John sees is open, it is not opened but this could imply that the door to heaven is open wide or some suggest that the door means that vision is limited to John alone.
“The first voice…” This is the voice from chapter 1 and he now invites John to enter through the door to heaven.
“I will show you what must take place after this…” In chapter 1 Jesus tells John to write the things that must come to pass; now He is going to show him those things. These events must happen, they are the outworking of God’s divine will. He is in complete control. John is not writing about matters of chance, but about events that will certainly take place for they are God’s divine will.
Vs 2: “behold a throne stood in heaven” John is interested in thrones. He uses the word “throne” over forty times in Revelation out of sixty-two references in the New Testament. He speaks of the throne of God in almost every chapter of Revelation. The throne symbolizes the absolute sovereignty of God.
Fun Fact: This Heavenly scene with God on the throne is believed to be the inspiration to Handel’s Messiah.
Vs 3: “he who sat there had the appearance of…” The one sitting on the throne does not appear in human form but is instead portrayed as the brilliance of light reflected from precious stones. (Cf. Ezekiel 1:26 – 28)
The three stones held a place of honor in ancient times. They are among the twelve precious stones that adorn the breastplate of the High Priest. In fact, the Jasper and Carnelian (sardius) are the first and last stones in the Breastplate.
Jasper – Represents or suggests qualities as majesty, holiness, or purity.
Carnelian or some versions say Sardius – Represents or is interpreted as wrath or judgment.
“Rainbow that had the appearance of emerald” – a reminder of God’s eternal covenant.
Vs 4: “Seated on thrones were twenty-four elders clothed in white garments with golden crowns on their head.” It is uncertain who the twenty-four elders are, but generally it is believed they are an exalted or superior angelic order who serve and worship God.
The white garments speak of holiness, and the golden crowns speak of royalty.
Vs 5: “From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings, and peals of thunder,” This is symbolic of the awesome power and majesty of God. Thunder in the Old Testament is often associated with the voice of God.
Before the throne are the seven spirits of God According to the chapter one concerning the “Seven Spirits…” Some interpret this to represent the complete manifestation of the Holy Spirits being. Some see this as a reference to the seven archangels of Jewish Tradition. In Enoch 20:1 – 8 these angels are named Uriel, Raphael, Raguel, Michael, Saraqael, Gabriel, and Remiel. However, this is unlikely since it would be a strange intrusion of Jewish tradition into Christian thought. There is uncertainty as to what these seven angels represent conclusively but we can deduce that they are part of a heavenly entourage that has a special ministry in connection to Christ.
Vs 6: “Before the throne was as it were a sea of glass” John is not giving an exact description, but he is speaking in symbols. We need to remember that modern ideas about glass did not apply in the first century. Glass was dark, even opaque. Clear glass would have been extremely expensive. The text speaks only of “what looked like a sea of glass.” We are intended to understand it as a visual phenomenon that adds to the awesome splendor of the throne-room scene. Its crystal surface stretches out before the throne, reflecting the flashing, many-colored light from the throne, furnishing a surface for the activity around the throne, and creating for the Seer an unspeakably heightened sense of the transcendence and majesty of God.
Around the throne are “Four living creatures” they are related to the cherubim in Ezekiel 1, but there are several differences. They could also be similar to the Seraphim in Isaiah 6:2 – 3 who lift up their voices to sing. It is believed they are also an exalted order of angelic beings, who guard the throne and lead the heavenly hosts in worship.
Four living creatures –
Eyes in front and behind signifies universal watchfulness
Vs. 7: Some commentators say that the description of the creatures is to interpret them as having the strength of a lion, ability to serve as an ox, the intelligence of man, and the swiftness of an eagle. Others say the four forms suggest what is noblest, strongest, wisest, and swiftest in animate nature.
When I look back on my life, I realize that I am where I am today because of the providence of God. In fact, we are all where we are today by God’s providence. What do I mean by this? The providence of God on a grand scale is the divine agreement, which is the Lord’s working in and through His creation and His creatures to bring about what He has planned. On an individual scale it is God working and orchestrating in our lives to accomplish His will in and through us personally.
Now, it is important to understand that God’s providence is always good because there is no evil in God, He is righteous (Psalm 92:15) and when His will is accomplished it is good because He is glorified, and we reap the benefits as we will be forever changed for His glory. However, His divine providence is not always something we enjoy in the moment. When we look at God’s providence on a grand scale, we wonder about things like is the coronavirus part of God’s plan? Are the world events we are currently witnessing something God has planned? Are the stories we read about heinous crimes, abuse and death ever be God’s will? These are very difficult questions to answer briefly, so I am not going to try to answer the question specific question this morning, but hopefully by the end of the message you will have a better understanding.
How about providence on the personal side? How do we respond to God’s providence during the good and the bad times? In my life I have experience many intense moments of joy where God is glorified through the events of my life where his will is accomplished. Some include, for example, my marriage to Carrie, the birth of my children, and His call on my life to ministry. I have also experienced intense heartbreak, disappointment, and hurt. These would include losing loved ones, hurting those who I love more than anything in the world, and being betrayed by individuals whom I thought I could trust and depend. However, the one unifying factor in God’s providence in my life during the joy and the heartbreak is that God worked in and through these situations (good or bad) to shape me and mold me into the person He has called and created me to be.
Last week we began our four-part series in the book of Ruth titled “Redeemer of the Ordinary”. In the introductory message we looked at chapter one. In this chapter the stage is being set for the remainder of the book. Our main female characters Naomi and Ruth both lost their husbands and now Naomi (Ruth’s mother-in-law) decides to go back to her homeland in Judah. She encourages her Moabite daughters-in-law to stay in Moab so they can start new lives and to let her go back home in bitterness. Orpah, Ruth’s sister-in-law, seceded, but Ruth pledged loyalty to Naomi, her God, and her people. So, Ruth and Naomi go back to Judah, Naomi is bitter, and Ruth is there to love and care for her mother-in-law during these troubled times. With the stage being set we are privy to God’s involvement in the situation. We read about a woman who feels she is cursed by her God and decides she is not useful anymore, but God has a different plan for her, and it is one that will forever change hers and ruth’s life and ultimately the course of the world.
(Ruth 2:1 – 7)
Vs 1: Enter Boaz… Boaz is a relative to Naomi’s husband. Now there is some discussion as to whether Boaz is an actual relative or as some commentators believe, that he was not necessarily relative but more of a connection through her husband. According to commentator Leon Morris, “Family here denotes a larger group than does a family with us, though a close community is certainly implied. It is rather like a Scottish ‘clan’.” Either way, in the text he is mentioned as a relative.
“He was a prominent man of noble character…”
His prominence is believed to suggest he was a warrior or more akin to a knight. If you recall they were living in tumultuous times and it would not be out of the question that Boaz was a skilled fighter or warrior. It also suggests that he was a powerful landowner. So, the text proposes that he was an upstanding citizen, who was powerful and influential in his community.
Vs. 2 - 3: Ruth informed Naomi that she was going to the field to glean after the reapers. It just so happens that the field she chose was part of Boaz’s land.
The law of gleaning is a Mosaic Law which states that when a person reaps in their fields, they are not to pick their entire crop; instead they are to leave some for the sojourners, widows and orphans to pick for themselves. This was not something that landowners did to be nice or on a whim, it was a law that they were required to adhere. In some ways it was the Jewish food assistance program.
Lev. 19:9, 10: “When you reap the harvest of your land, you are not to reap to the very edge of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not strip your vineyard bare or gather its fallen grapes. Leave them for the poor and the resident alien; I am the Lord your God.”
Deut. 24:19: “When you reap the harvest in your field, and you forget a sheaf in the field, do not go back to get it. It is to be left for the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow, so that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.”
Vs: 4 – 7: Ruth gleans from the field and she eventually catches the attention of Boaz. He asked the man in charge of the reapers who she was, to which he responds that she was a Moabite woman who was the daughter-in-law of Naomi and has asked permission to glean in his fields.
(Ruth 2:8 – 13)
Vs 8 – 9: Boaz then talks to Ruth. He tells her that she can glean all she wants and then asks if she would do so in his fields exclusively. Ruth does not understand why he is showing her favor, so she asks why he is being so kind to her.
At dinner Boaz tells Ruth to “See which field they are harvesting, and follow them.” They and them is feminine in form and probably refers Boaz’ female workers. It also indicates that the young women (“they” and “them”) had some function to perform in the reaping. It is probable that in the harvesting the men would cut the crop and the women would tie them into bundles. The women may have also done some reaping. So, it is believed the men and women would have normally worked together at harvest.
Boaz also informs Ruth that he has informed the men of the field to not touch her. This enabled her to work close to the reapers and it would put her in a position that would be especially favorable for gleaning. But it would also expose her to the possibility of rude jests and even inappropriate mishandling from the workmen. However, he tells her that he has guarded against this by giving instructions to the reapers that they were to leave her alone. He was offering her protection and provision.
Vs. 10 – 13: Ruth understands the grace she has been show in this situation. She bows to him and asks again why he is being so kind to her. Ruth understood she was a foreigner in this land, and she did not expect to be put in the place of honor that she was in. Her reaction is genuine thankfulness.
Boaz tells her that he has heard about her loyalty and love for Naomi. He knew about her giving up her family, customs, and gods out of love and loyalty to Naomi.
(Ruth 2:14 – 16)
Vs 14: As they were all eating together Boaz invites Ruth to eat a meal with the reapers. Her place next to the reapers shows that she was now accepted as one of the parties and Boaz’ act in passing the roasted grain was, it would seem, a mark of special favor. However, it was more than a nice gesture, because we are told that Ruth had all she wanted to eat and still had food left over to take back home to Naomi. Boaz gave her more than enough food to eat. This shows that Boaz was starting to take a liking to the Moabite woman.
Vs 15 – 16: After the meal she goes out to glean some more and Boaz instructs his reapers to let her glean as she pleases, in fact he instructs that they let some of the grain fall from their baskets. The law gave the gleaners the right to go over the field after the reapers. They must do so only after the reapers had finished their work and had taken all they wanted from the field. Boaz was showing kindness and grace by now going beyond the legal rights of the gleaners and allowing Ruth to glean before the reapers were through.
(Ruth 2:17 – 23)
When Ruth had finished, she took her gleanings to her mother-in-law and Naomi was excited and then asked where Ruth had gleaned. Naomi realizes that Ruth has been shown a special kindness.
Vs 19 - 20: “The name of the man I worked with today is Boaz.”
Vs 21: Naomi continued, “The man is a close relative. He is one of our family redeemers.”
A Redeemer - A relative of the same family. It was the right of the “kinsman” to receive the inheritance of a family without heir (Nu 27:11). He was also obligated to reclaim property of a kinsman who had gone into debt (Lv 25:25–28), especially if it involved someone’s enslavement to a non-Israelite (vv 47–49). In this function the kinsman becomes the kinsman-redeemer  We will talk more specifically about this in Chapter 4.
Vs 22 – 23: Naomi tells Ruth to continue doing what she is doing and to keep close to the young women until the harvest was over. Ruth did all she was told.
As we have been reading through this beautiful account, we are seeing few things come to light. The curtain is opening, and the story is coming together. We now see that this story is more than a Hallmark Channel love story. It is rich with symbolism and truths that are applicable for us today. I find that there are two truths present in this story up to this point that we can “glean”.
BUT I can give A reason… The providence of God. We do not know how or why God works in the ways he does, but Romans 11:34 says, “For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?” We are also told in Isaiah 55:8, 9, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not my ways.” This is the Lord’s declaration. “For as heaven is higher than earth, so my ways are higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” So, to answer the question as to why it is akin to what we say at work, “It’s above my pay grade.” We can’t always know what God is up to because…
We all know the frustration of going through hardships, heartbreak, and loss. But the mindset I try to have during difficulty is not “God, why are you allowing this to happen to me?” Instead, it is “Lord, I trust you, I may not like it at this moment, but give me the perspective to see beyond my situation or circumstance and to ultimately know you are at work. Thank you Lord for You are teaching, molding, and shaping me in this moment.” Wherever you are in your life today, know that God is at work and He not only knows what is best, but He determines to give you what He knows is best for you, for His glory and our benefit.
 Elwell, W. A., & Comfort, P. W. (2001). Tyndale Bible dictionary. Tyndale reference library (786). Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.
City of Laodicea
Laodicea was a prosperous city; probably the wealthiest in the area due in part to the banking industry which was one of the features of the city. Their wealth was so great that it has been recorded that after an earthquake in 607 AD the city rebuilt without any financial assistance from Rome. Another contributing factor to the city’s wealth was that the countryside was perfect for raising sheep and the area gained great wealth from the soft black wool of their sheep.
It was also well known for its medical school. The school of physicians followed the teachings of Herophilos who believed compound diseases require compound medicines. He would create mixtures of medicines including ointment for ears, and an eye salve made from a mixture of power and oil.
The city was located in an area where there were not many natural resources, so they had to bring water to the city from springs about six miles away through a system of stone pipes. During dry seasons it was not uncommon for the city to be left in a vulnerable and dangerous state.
The Letter to the Church of Laodicea
The Church of Laodicea, like the Church of Sardis, receives no word of praise or commendation from Jesus in this letter. If you recall last week, I mentioned that most churches (if not all) either think they are or want to be like the Church of Philadelphia. Who wouldn’t want to receive the wonderful praises of Jesus? Well just the opposite is true of Laodicea. I have found just as many churches refuse to believe or want to be likened to the Church of Laodicea and for good reason.
Verse 14: “The words of the Amen…” – This is a reference to Jesus.
Amen – So be it, trustworthy, firm. It is an expression of absolute confidence and trust. When used at the beginning of a discourse it means “truly, truly or of truth”. At the end means, “So be it, so it is, may it be fulfilled.” When we use this word (generally at the conclusion) in our prayers we are declaring that we put absolute trust and confidence in the one we are praying to. The word is almost identical to Hebrew word that means “believe” or “faithful”.
“the faithful and true witness” – This is a reference to Revelation 1:5 where it declares Jesus as the faithful witness.
“the beginning of God’s creation” – (The Alpha) – This is a reference to Colossians 1:15, 18 where Paul writes that Jesus is the firstborn of all creation and He is the Beginning. We also see in Revelation 22:13 where Jesus declares, “I am the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, beginning and the end.” Jesus is beginning and He is end and he is the absolute trustworthy, faithful and true witness. Nothing exists before him and nothing can exist after him and nothing is more trustworthy or deserving of trust than Jesus. He is all… He is eternal.
Verse 15: “I know your works…” Once again Jesus declares (as with the letters to all the churches) that he is familiar with their works. He is actively watching their deeds. Unfortunately, in Laodicea’s case their works are not pleasing to Jesus. In fact, they are repulsive as we will soon see.
“you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot!” The Church of Laodicea is an ineffective church at best. Maybe they are just a church in name only
□ Cold – of cool water OR it can be a metaphor for sluggish. Some can take this to mean that this church was frigid and sluggish in their faith. However, I believe that it can be connected to positive sense in cool waters that bring refreshment.
□ Hot – boiling hot. Kills germs and could be used for medicinal purposes.
Verse 16: Lukewarm – Tepid or ineffective. Since the city got its water from springs nearly six miles away the water of Laodicea was usually tepid and gross. So, the Laodiceans knew what Jesus was saying in these words. This is certainly symbolic to the faith of the Laodicean church. The water was essentially ineffective as it came out of the pipes and Jesus states that the church is ineffective as well because of their lukewarm state.
“The adjectives “hot”, “cold” and “lukewarm” are not necessarily to be taken as describing spiritual fervor (or lack of it) of people.” The contrast is between the hot medicinal waters of Heiropolis and the cold, pure waters of Colosse. Thus, the church in Laodicea was ‘providing neither refreshment for the spiritually weary, nor healing for the spiritually sick.’”
Because they were lukewarm Jesus’ response is much like ours when we partake of something that is lukewarm (especially when you are expecting a hot or cold item).
“I will spit you out of my mouth” - Spew, vomit or throw up. Their sluggish and ineffective faith made Jesus want to vomit. These are very graphic words (and a very vivid visual). Because they were spiritually ineffective this was repulsive to Jesus and it made him sick.
Verse 17: (Their perception) “I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing” – Since the Church was in a prosperous city it is believed that the church was probably a wealthy church. Unfortunately, the people thought that since they were experiencing prosperity that God was ok with them (a common fallacy even today). They believed he was blessing them or probably more likely they weren’t even seeking the counsel of God at all. This seems all to true of people and churches of great financial wealth. They begin to believe that all is good, and God is ok with them or maybe even blessing them. They all but forget about God and their attitude becomes more like this, “He doesn’t need to be active here because there are so many other churches that are struggling and need his assistance. Don’t bother with us Jesus we got everything under control.”
(The reality) However Jesus was telling them different. “not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.” In their prosperity they failed to see the truth… “We are not all we thought we were. We may be rich financially, but Jesus isn’t pleased with us at all. In fact, we are making him sick.”
Verse 18: (What the Church needs to do) “buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich.” Because of their spiritual depravity Jesus counsels them to take their eyes off of their physical wealth and invest in Spiritual wealth. The purchase, so to speak, is to be made from Jesus himself because only he can provide the true wealth and health they need. If they do this then they will become truly rich.
“and white garments so you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen.” Certainly, the individuals were well dressed because of their wealth. This may have given the illusion that they had everything together spiritually. However, Jesus says they are naked and pitiful. The white robes symbolize righteousness and the covering of their nakedness is symbolic of judgment. Jesus tells them to invest in these garments of white so they will be clothed in righteousness and escape judgment.
“and salve to anoint your eyes.” Certainly, this is in reference to the school of medicine and Herophilos. The Laodicean church is spiritually blind. They cannot see the spiritual state they are in. Jesus counsels them to get eye salve from him and anoint their eyes. Quit trusting in the remedies of man and trust Jesus. When this happens then you will truly see.
Verse 19: Jesus is not turning his back on this church. He loves the Church of Laodicea; certainly, he is not pleased with them, but he tells them, “I am telling you to do this because I love you. You may think I am being a harsh and mean God, but I am telling you this for your own good.” Overall Jesus is admonishing the Church of Laodicea to wake up from their spiritually dead and ineffective state and seek him so they may be a church that is pleasing to Him and share in his glory. He tells them to be zealous (desire earnestly or strive after) for Him and repent.
Verse 20: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door; I will come into him and eat with him, and he with me.” Jesus is addressing the believers in this congregation. The text suggests that Jesus has been at the door for some time. It also implies that he is continually knocking, patiently, waiting to be invited in. He is at the threshold of their lives and church calling for them to open the door of repentance so that he may come in and have true fellowship with them once again.
If the believers at Laodicea will heed to his knocking he will then enter once again and sit at the table of fellowship. It seems as though Jesus will be the guest and not the host. In the Middle Eastern culture eating a meal together is a sign of intimacy and trust. I believe the main idea behind this particular passage is Jesus’ desires to restore fellowship with the Laodicean believers and him. This can only happen through repentance, heeding to the call and responding to the knocking of Jesus that would ultimately lead to them being effective followers of Jesus Christ and of his Kingdom.
Verse 21,22: The continued promise to those who conquer or are victorious as they participate with Jesus in his sovereign rule. This is the promise given to all the churches (and individuals) who heed the words of Jesus in the letters to these churches.
The Church of Laodicea for Us Today
The one thing a church does not want to be known for is their ineffectiveness. The Church has a glorious calling to be the light of the world, to represent Jesus to the nations and to be the hands and feet of Christ. To be considered tepid or ineffective by Jesus should be cause for concern for not only the Church of Laodicea but for us today. As a Church body I feel it has been necessary to evaluate where we stand in the eyes of Jesus according to this letter. Are we cool waters that bring refreshment to the spiritually weary? Are we hot medicinal waters that bring about spiritual healing? Are we warm tepid water that is essentially useless and ineffective and infected with germs that cause harmful results?
How about you personally? How would you evaluate your personal relationship with Jesus in comparison to his words to the Church of Laodicea? Are you under the false impression that you have everything you need when in fact you are blind, poor, wretched and naked? Are you spiritually bankrupt? Is Jesus standing at the threshold of your life calling you back to fellowship with him? Bring your spiritual destitution to Jesus be zealous and repent. Personally, I believe Jesus stands at the threshold of all of our lives and desires to come and dine and fellowship with him. He wants intimacy with you. He desires for you to commune and converse with him. The fact is Jesus loves you and wants to restore or resume fellowship with you once again. He desires to sit and sup with you at the table of fellowship. As a follower of Jesus, how will you respond to his knocking?
 The New International Commentary on the New Testament: Revelation (1977) Mounce, Robert: Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdman’s Publishing. P. 125
When someone mentions the Hallmark Channel, he immediately thinks of Christmas, because it feels like Christmas and the Hallmark Channel have essentially become one in the same. I am sure it would not surprise you that the Hallmark channel is the most watched cable channel during the months of November and December, especially among 18 to 54-year-old women. According to reports in 2019 about 100 million people watched at least one Christmas movie on the Hallmark Channel. According to an article on the website av.com Why are Hallmark Christmas Movies So Addictive? the author writes, “If you happen to flip on the Hallmark Channel at any point between late October and early January, you’ll be transported to an alternate dimension that looks vaguely like our own but where the teeth are whiter, the snow is faker, and the unbridled passion for Christmas is frighteningly forceful. No one in a Hallmark Christmas movie can just casually enjoy the holiday season—they must either have a manic enthusiasm for Christmas or their lack of zeal must be a major plot point to be resolved.”
She continues “films range from a successful workaholic planning a Christmas charity event with a hot chef to a successful workaholic planning a Christmas charity event with a hot firefighter. (Or for example) Christmas At Graceland, meanwhile, is about a successful workaholic singing at a Christmas concert with a hot music promoter.”
I do not go out of my way to watch Christmas movies on the Hallmark Channel, but it may surprise you that one my favorite movies is WHEN HARRY MET SALLY. In fact, you would be surprised to know that I love watching romantic comedies. I truly am a sucker for romantic comedies (rom com) and even tear-jerking love stories. Now, I need to show my man card and say that I also love a good of horror, action, and science fiction movie but… BUT… in my book, nothing beats a good ole story about a man and woman falling in love. Yes, I even get my fair share of rom com’s by watching the Hallmark Channel… I make this confession so as to say that I really love the Old Testament story of Ruth because the story itself makes for a perfect romantic movie.
The book of Ruth is a short story nudged in between Judges and 1 Samuel. It is a simple story that is told in a direct way probably from female perspective. One can read it at both a surface (casual) level and a more in-depth level. At the surface it is a love story between a man and a woman. But at a deeper level, it is not just a love story between a man and woman, but also a love story with the underlying truth of God’s love for his children that is displayed to us through the act of redemption.
It is a story of…
We are unsure of the date for writing this book; some have suggested anytime between the first and second century B.C. We do know the approximate time the events of this story take place, per the opening line in the first chapter; during the time when the Judges ruled (prior to Israel’s monarchy). Most likely towards the end of the rule of Judges. Geographically the story begins in Bethlehem, then moves to the land of Moab and concludes back in Bethlehem.
Overview of the Main Characters of Ruth
There are three key characters and four minor characters who all have some sort of role in the story. They are as follows…
Ruth – A Story of Romance and Redemption
Vs 1 – 2: “During the time of the Judges…”
This is the period time prior to the Israel’s monarchy. The time of the judges was when judges were the men and women of God who delivered Israel out times of trouble.
Vs 2: “A man went to sojourn in the country of Moab… and his wife”
The name of the man was Elimelech (“My God is King”) and his wife is Naomi (“lovely, delightful”) and they were from Bethlehem. When a famine occurred in the land, they took the 70-mile journey to Moab to live.
Their sons: Mahlon (“weak or sick”) and Chilion (“failing”) were the sons who married Moabite women (Ruth and Orpah).
Moabites - The Moabites were descended from Lot and his oldest daughter (Gn. 19:37), They were a people group who had been hostile towards when the Israelites had approached from Egypt after the exodus (Nu. 21:29). The god of Moab was Chemosh and it is believed that Chemosh and Moloch were one in the same. Child sacrifice was a form of worship to the god Chemosh. It is believed to be early in the period of the judges when Eglon King of Moab had invaded and dominated the Israelites for eighteen years (Jdg. 3:14). Needless to say the Moabite women were not followers of Yahweh at the time. These marriages were, in fact, interracial marriages.
Unfortunately, tragedy strikes when Naomi’s husband dies and soon thereafter her two sons die as well. She was is alone, a childless widow.
(Ruth 1:6 – 18)
Vs 6: When Naomi hears in Moab that the famine is over in Judah, she decides to return to her homeland. She starts her trek back on the road to Judah.
On the way she tells her daughter’s-in-law to go back to their homes, families, and gods so she could return to Bethlehem. They refused. Naomi says to the girls, “May the Lord grant each of you rest in the house of a new husband.” She kissed them, and they wept loudly. She believed there was no future for these young women in her homeland. According to the CSB Study Bible, “Naomi assumed that no other family in Bethlehem would be interested in marrying Moabite women, and she emphasized the certainty of there being no other sons from her own line who could fulfill the role of levirate marriage.” At first both daughters said they wanted to go with her, but she convinced them that she was of no use to them. She addresses the girls tenderly as though they are her own. “But Naomi replied, ‘Return home, my daughters. Why do you want to go with me? Am I able to have any more sons who could become your husbands?’” Orpah was persuaded to leave, but Ruth was not so easily persuaded as she shows her loyalty to Naomi as she clings to Naomi and insists on going with her the word “cling” is the same Hebrew word used in Genesis 2:24 to describe the marriage bond.
Vs 15: Naomi tries to convince Ruth that since her sister-in-law has chosen to return to her country and gods that she should do the same.
Vs16, 17: Naomi urges Ruth to go back to her people and to her gods but Ruth insists on staying with Naomi; she says, “Don’t plead with me to abandon you or to return and not follow you. For wherever you go, I will go, and wherever you live, I will live; your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord punish me, and do so severely, if anything but death separates you and me.” Ruth’s response shows her fierce love and loyalty to her mother-in-law. Ruth fully realizes and understands what her commitment to Naomi means; she is going to be cut off from her own people Moab, and she will adopt Naomi’s people as her own. Her decision also has religious implications of which she is fully aware. Naomi’s God (Yahweh,) will be her God (not Chemosh). This does not mean that she has no religious principles or that she rates friendship above faith. In fact, some have suggested that Ruth has already adopted the faith of her mother-in-law. This is mere speculation.
“Where you die I, will die…” Ruth’s loyalty and commitment to Naomi was not shallow. She is in for the long haul. She will stay with Naomi until she dies and thereafter. Ruth has pledged he allegiance to Naomi, her people, and her God. It is presumed that Ruth was much younger than Naomi (she was probably around 50), and her commitment will remain even after Naomi dies. She is making a promise that she will not break. She goes so far as to say that if she does break the commitment there will be divine judgment on her.
Vs 18: Naomi sees Ruth’s commitment, so she stopped talking to her. This probably means that Naomi stopped arguing and conceded to Ruth’s persistence and accepted her plea.
(Ruth 1:19 – 22)
Vs 19 – 22: The two traveled to Bethlehem and upon their arrival all of Naomi’s friends recognized her. They were excited that she had returned.
Unfortunately, Naomi was not as enthusiastic as the women of Bethlehem. She informed them that her time away was anything but pleasant. She lost her husband and her two sons. She suggests to the women that her name is no longer Naomi it is Mara (“bitter”); because the Lord has dealt bitterly with her.
The expression barley harvest (probably towards the end of April) is found in the Gezer Calendar which speaks of ‘Month of pulling flax. Barley harvest is the Month when everything (else) is harvested.’ This is significant to the story as we will see in the weeks to come; this harvest will be a game changer in the life of Ruth
In this first chapter we see in Ruth, a person of integrity, sacrifice, and loyalty; all the qualities that make for a true friend. When we look at this story today, we should ask ourselves, “how is this first chapter of Ruth useful for us today?” I fully believe our takeaway for today is how we can find and foster friendships that are rooted in true integrity, sacrifice, and loyalty.
The Qualities of a Healthy Friendship
I personally believe it is important for all believers to have AT LEAST one person in their lives that is a person of…
My challenge to you today is that you find, seek out or foster a friendship that has these qualities. No matter your age, it is always important have someone who is a friend to the end and one who will seek to edify and bring out the best in you. True friendship rooted in Christ is a friendship that will never end.
As I conclude this message the scene is set for chapter two as we are introduced to another key character, Boaz. We are going to see in this how the qualities that Ruth possesses integrity, sacrifice, and loyalty are key to her fulfilling the divine call of God on her life.
 New Bible commentary: 21st century edition. 1994 (D. A. Carson, R. T. France, J. A. Motyer & G. J. Wenham, Ed.) (4th ed.) (Ru 1:1–7). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press.
 Duguid, I. M. (2017). Ruth. In E. A. Blum & T. Wax (Eds.), CSB Study Bible: Notes (p. 402). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
 Duguid, I. M. (2017). Ruth. In E. A. Blum & T. Wax (Eds.), CSB Study Bible: Notes (p. 403). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
Four weeks ago, we began our series titled “Spiritual Warfare”. In this series we have been looking at what the Bible says on the subject of spiritual warfare. We have looked in detail at many aspects of the topic. More specifically we have been talking about the four realities of Spiritual warfare that we are engaged in. So far, we have talked about…
We have talked about the battle plan and the war we are engaged in, and today I will talk about the outcome of our battle. Rarely, if ever, does a person, team, or country enter a competition or battle without having the end goal be victory. We do not enter sporting competitions, contests, and conflict with failure as the objective. No, we plan for victory. The problem is, in everyday life, temporal competitions, and battle we don’t always emerge victorious.
However, in spiritual warfare we are given a promise of victory against our opponent. We are guaranteed to have our hands raised and celebrate the victory that has been won. Isn’t that a great feeling? We all know the feeling of elation when we have fought hard for something and emerge victorious. We are in a spiritual battle, it is intense, it is ongoing, and it is exhausting but we must take solace in knowing the outcome for the believer is guaranteed victory. So why would we not fight with all we have?
The spiritual war battle was waged at the beginning of time. We see the roots of this battle found in Genesis 3 in the Garden of Eden. Satan has deceived Eve into eating the forbidden fruit, she convinces her husband to do the same. The sin has been committed, Satan believes he has won, but we see this is just the beginning of the war.
God curses the serpent, the devil above all creation because of his deceit and craftiness. In fact, chapter three begins by calling the serpent craftier that all other creatures and now he is cursed over all creatures. He is cursed to be on his belly and the text implies that he will now slither on the ground.
Genesis 3:14- 15
“So the Lord God said to the serpent: Because you have done this, you are cursed more than any livestock and more than any wild animal. You will move on your belly and eat dust all the days of your life.
I will put hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.”
In this passage God speaks of enmity or hostility between the snake (Satan) and humanity. From a literal perspective some interpret this as a natural hostility between man and snakes (and I know that feeling because I have a great hatred towards snakes), but a long-established translation implies much more. From this point on the serpent (who we have come to know as Satan) will continually be at war with humanity. Satan knows that humans are created in the image of God and that He has a special care for us over any of his other creation. Satan will spend the remainder of his days trying to destroy and separate humanity from God. He succeeded initially in the garden. However, God speaks of an offspring (which could refer to humanity in general) but the interpretation more specifically points to One offspring in particular.
Verse 15 – This verse is what is called “Protoevangelium” or the first gospel account in the Bible. The Offspring refers to Jesus Christ, the Messiah. The Offspring of the woman is foretold as being at war with Satan and his “offspring” (his followers, the demons and evil powers). Biblical scholar and commentator Gordon Wenham writes, “(This curse) declares lifelong mutual hostility between mankind and the serpent race. Of more moment for interpretation is the question whether one side will eventually prove victorious in the battle, or whether the contest will be never-ending.” But as we all know this will be a war for the soul that Satan cannot win. A prophecy is spoken and proclaimed over the serpent.
He shall bruise/strike your head – Death, resurrection & redemption. Jesus delivers a fatal blow to Satan and his demonic kingdom because His will is the perfect sacrifice for humanity. All who believe will be redeemed and made right with the Father; thus, destroying the work of the devil.
You shall bruise/strike his heal – Satan will seemingly celebrate a short and temporary victory as the crucifixion unfolds. The death and rejection of Jesus will be painful and harsh and temporary… non-lethal (bruise his heal). From the offset it will appear Satan has won but in the end Jesus will be victorious.
So, this brings up a valid question, “If Satan knows he is defeated, then why does he continue to fight?” What is the purpose of fighting if you already know you have lost? I don’t think anyone in this room would knowingly or willingly enter a fight if they were guaranteed failure. I think this question could be answered relatively simply. The Bible is very clear about the nature of Satan, he is a master deceiver; deception and lying is what he does, and he is very good at it. I think the devil is so good at convincing others of his lies that even he believes his own lies.
I am sure we have all met someone who is so good at the art of lying that over time that person begins to believe the lies he or she tells. I have met individuals who have a harder time telling the truth than lies. I have had conversations with individuals where they tell me one thing, then a few days later tell me something contradictory and when I called them on it they are convinced they never said what they previously said. It is impossible to talk to someone, let alone trust someone like this. I feel sorry for these people because I know they have convinced themselves to believe their lies, and Satan is no different… Except I don’t feel sorry for him.
What does victory look like…
1 Corinthians 15:56, 57
“The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!”
We are told in the Bible that all who believe in Jesus are children of God (1 John 3) so we are victorious, or we have overcome the world. The word “overcome” is derived from the Greek root word nike (ni-Kay) which means victorious. We are victorious in this life. The darkness of this world, Satan, and his demons cannot overtake us because we are victorious. The reason we are victorious is because Jesus Christ.
God’s love for us is so great that He has fought and continues to fight the battle for us, and He has declared us victorious. Through Jesus Christ we now have a new life, a life where we are fully alive, thriving and in need of nothing because the Spirit of God dwells in each of us. The old ways; the sinful, dark ungodly ways are gone, and we no longer need to live in the murky waters of the world. We now live in the fresh waters of Jesus Christ; living victoriously over sin, Satan and all his evil beings. We are thriving in the Kingdom of God and sharing the Good News that Jesus and His Kingdom has come. Satan and his minions will try and beat you down but take comfort and security in the understanding that nothing that comes your way can defeat you or hold you down in this life or the life to come because Jesus has defeated death and sin.
Romans 3:23 – 25
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. God presented him as the mercy seat, by his blood, through faith, to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his restraint God passed over the sins previously committed.”
The believer is justified – This is a judicial term that simply means to declare righteous. To be acquitted by God from all charges brought against a person because of his or her sins.
According to Romans 3:23 all of humanity is guilty before God of sin (Genesis 3:16) thus we are condemned. But, in verse 24 Paul writes that we are justified by God’s grace by the redemption of Jesus Christ through faith. Jesus took our place and received the punishment and condemnation that we all deserved by his death on the cross. Thus, our justification is by grace or unmerited favor through faith because it is not based on anything we did. When we are justified, we are able to stand free from condemnation before God. Satan will try to accuse us and try to convince God that we should be condemned but because of God’s grace we will not be condemned.
So, what does victory look like to Satan? It looks like hell.
Revelation 20:1 – 3, 7 -10 “Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven holding the key to the abyss and a great chain in his hand. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent who is the devil and Satan,, and bound him for a thousand years. He threw him into the abyss, closed it, and put a seal on it so that he would no longer deceive the nations until the thousand years were completed. After that, he must be released for a short time.
When the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle. Their number is like the sand of the sea. They came up across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the encampment of the saints, the beloved city. Then fire came down from heaven and consumed them. The devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet are, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
Victory in Jesus results in eternal condemnation for Satan. Jesus wins and because of Him, so do we.
As I conclude this series today, I think we need to continually remind ourselves about the fact that we are victorious in this battle because of our faith in Jesus. Satan or the world has no hold on us, and we are not slaves to him or to this world. We are victorious in Christ, so we need to live victorious lives. There is nothing the world can do to beat us down, take away our joy or cause us to live our lives in defeat because of evil and darkness. The world can and certainly will try it’s hardest to beat us down, Satan will work overtime to lead us down the paths of doubt and uncertainty, He will try to take away a joy that cannot be taken away from us, so let us start living as victorious Christians. Jesus has conquered Satan and the world! Let us acknowledge and believe that in turmoil of battle, pain, suffering, and persecution joy can be found. Let the truth that we serve a victorious king be our foundation. We live in a time of uncertainty, violence, godlessness, amoralism and turmoil and this should not affect our lives in the least. We have overcome evil and the world because Jesus has conquered the works or Satan, the world of darkness and evil. We belong to God and He is the victor ensuring that we can live victorious lives as well.
Today we are going to look at the sixth letter of the Apocalypse written to the Church of Philadelphia.
The City Philadelphia
I am sure you are all aware that this in not the US city that prides itself on cheese steak hoagies, Rocky Balboa and the Liberty bell. The Philadelphia I speak of today is a small town located in Asia Minor. Today it is known as Alaşehir located in Turkey. To this day it remains a relatively small town and there is still actually a small Christian community in this area. One of the main reasons it was a small town was because it was located near a fault line. It was an unstable area and people were afraid to live there because earthquakes were somewhat common. In 17 A.D. one leveled the city (and 11 surrounding cities) and it faced a long series of tremors that followed. This was also the same quake that destroyed Sardis. The city was named after Attalus II because of his strong affection and devotion to his brother (Philadelphus means lover of his brother). Mounce p.115
Philadelphia was a prosperous city due mostly to agriculture and industry (dyeing). Grapes were one of the main resources in the area, so it is not surprising that the worship of Dionysus (the god of wine) was prevalent.
Around the 6th Century it was known as “Little Athens” as it had many pagan temples and religious festivals. The earthquakes have destroyed much of the historical artifacts of the area but there are still some remains from the later centuries standing today.
Letter to The Church of Philadelphia
I have heard literally dozens of sermons on the letter to the church in Philadelphia and I have come to a conclusion… Every Church either wants to be or thinks they are the Church of Philadelphia today and for good read. Jesus has nothing but good things to say and many comforting promises as well. It is believed that this church was probably a small church in a small town (not unlike ours) that didn’t really have a huge impact on society and the city, yet it was significant enough to Jesus to speak to them and commend them for their works.
Verse 7: This is the first letter that does not have a description of Jesus taken from John’s vision of chapter one. The whole letter is dominated by the sure and certain prospect of life in the kingdom of God. Jesus declares himself the one who is “The holy one, the true one and the one who holds the key of David.” It is his way of declaring his authority, his trustworthiness and power over life and death.
The key of David: Is a reference to Isaiah 22:22 and indicates ownership over the house of David (this points to the Messiah). Jesus is the only one who has the authority to posses the key to both life and death (Rev. 1:18). He is the one who allows or forbids admittance into the eternal Kingdom of God. It is only through Jesus Christ that one can enter into life eternal.
The door which no one opens or shuts: (The door has two possible meanings… 1) The opportunity for effective evangelism [1 Cor. 16:9 & 2 Cor. 2:12] and 2) the door represents the admittance to the Kingdom of God). It is most commonly held that the door represents the entrance to the Kingdom due to the fact of the promises Jesus makes later in the letter. This door can only be opened and closed by Jesus and no one else.
Verse 8: I know your works… You have but little power. I noted earlier that this was probably a Small church in a small town that had little impact on the city. However, this was not a deterrent instead they hold fast to the Word of God and remained faithful to Jesus’ name.
Verse 9: We are introduced to the term’s synagogue of Satan in the letter to Smyrna. This term is believed to represent the Jews who were persecuting Christians. The Jews still believed they were God’s chosen people; but had since forfeited that right because of their disbelief. The Church of Jesus Christ has now become the chosen avenue of God’s grace to the nations. In their persecution of the Church they thus became known as the synagogue of Satan. These Jews thought they were true Jews doing God’s work, but they were in fact a synagogue to Satan. They were not working for the God Israel; in fact, they were doing the work of the devil.
Bow down before your feet: Why will these people bow to the feet of the church? According to Isaiah 60:14, the Jews believed that the Gentile nations (their enemies) would one day bow or bend the knee before them and thus humbly acknowledge them as God’s chosen people. Now Jesus is declaring that there will in fact be a day when even the Jews humble themselves as they acknowledge that Jesus is the true Messiah and his Church is His chosen people. They will bow not in worship but in respect to the fact that the Church is the people Jesus loves.
Verse 10: The hour of trial: Since the Church of Philadelphia has patiently endured during their trials and tribulations Jesus is promising them protection from judgment. This promise is certainly consistent with Jesus’ High Priestly prayer. Many hold this hour of trial to be a reference to the Great Tribulation spoken of later in Revelation that is believed to occur before or after the rapture of the Church or even before the second coming of Jesus Christ. The major question is whether Christ is promising deliverance from the period of trial or safekeeping through the trial? This is an argument that has been debated for years and I am not going to settle it today. However, if we use the high priestly prayer of Jesus as our guide then we can note that Jesus prays that believers would not be taken out of the world (physically taken away) but that we would be protected (preserved through judgment). One could deduce that Jesus actually prays for preservation and protection for believers during the time of great judgment.
The early church is expecting trials which precede the return of Jesus Christ. “The idea of this ‘ordeal’ (trial) was inherited and transposed from early Judaism, in which it was anticipated that a period of intense distress and suffering would immediately precede the eschatological victory of God (his return and judgment) … The fact that God’s people will be ‘kept safe from the time of ordeal’ cannot mean they will escape it physically. The ‘testing’ process will affect the whole living world, but the faithful will not be hurt by it spiritually.”
Verse 11: I am coming soon… There is a sense of urgency in Jesus’ words here (Jesus mentions this three times in Revelation). He is coming back. When? Nobody knows. So, what is the Church of Philadelphia to do? Hold fast to what they have in the coming days of trials and judgment. They have the Word of God; the truth of the Gospel. They are called to remain faithful so that no one can seize or snatch away their crown (N.T. describes three kinds of crowns life, glory and righteousness). The believer can have assurance that their salvation is secure if they remain faithful to Jesus Christ and obedient to His Word.
Verse 12: The one who conquers Jesus will make him a pillar in the temple. A pillar would be symbolic of stability or immovability. Because of faith in Jesus Christ the believer will remain sturdy and immovable. This was probably comforting to the people who lived in an unstable town. He will remain in this eternal city forever. Jesus will also write on the believer the name of God, the name of the city of my God and my own new name. What does this mean? Ultimately the one who overcomes will overcome and will become a citizen of the eternal city (the New Jerusalem) not because of his/her deeds but because He is a son of God and belongs to Jesus.
The Church of Philadelphia For Us Today
It’s no wonder every Church either claims or wants to be the modern-day version of Philadelphia. There are some wonderful promises and commendations in this letter. I take comfort in knowing this great letter was written to a small congregation that seemingly had little impact in their earthy dwelling… However, God was pleased with them and acknowledged the good works (remaining faithful to Jesus and His word). This is one of the greatest commendations a small church can receive and pursue. I have stated before that we live in an ever-changing culture where truth is relative. We certainly live in a society that has mixed up its priorities and even the Church (i.e. larger denominations) seem to be following suit of mixed up priorities. Now, more than ever it is important for the TRUE Church of Jesus Christ to hold to the truths of God’s Word and remain faithful to the name and Gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus has given us the promise of entrance into the eternal Kingdom of God when we remain faithful to him and his word.
We must also be ready for he is coming soon. I wish I could tell you when this will happen, but nobody knows the day, hour, minute or year. Since we do not know we are to hold fast to what has been given to us; namely the Gospel message, the Great Commission and the Great Commandments and live our lives with these as our foundation.
Finally, for those of us who are overcomers we need to continually keep in focus the prize that awaits us. Take comfort in knowing that whatever difficulties or judgments we may face God will preserve us and give us the strength to endure in the last day. We need to live as victors and be reminded that we are children of the Living God and we have a secure place in the Kingdom of God (the City of God) and His name is written on us so we belong to him and him alone.
 New Bible commentary: 21st century edition. 1994 (D. A. Carson, R. T. France, J. A. Motyer & G. J. Wenham, Ed.) (4th ed.) (Re 3:7–13). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press.
 Smalley, Stephen S. (2005). The Revelation to Johns: A Commentary on the Greek Text of the Apocalypse. Downers Grove, IL: IVP.
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I currently live on the Gulf Coast of Florida with my beautiful family. The Lord has blessed me with over 25 years of full time ministry. He is and has been faithful.