The Real Mary: The Willing Servant
It is not a regular practice for a Baptist Church to, or better yet, an evangelical Pastor to preach a series on the Virgin Mary. I would be willing to bet that even mentioning the words “The Virgin Mary” you already have some mental picture or association of her, and it probably is not a positive one. There are many reasons why evangelicals do not talk much about Mary.
However, when you look at the Protestant and the Catholic views of Mary you will see that both have a misunderstanding of who she is. One side does not appreciate or revere her enough and the other appreciates and reveres her too much. My hope for this series is to gain a proper and biblical view and understanding of Mary, the mother of Jesus. I think it is time for us to be honest in our perception of Mary. We do know that she is a special woman. She is the mother of Jesus. She is the one God chose to bring the Savior of all into this world. However, Mary cannot save us, but she can point us to the Savior.
In this four-week series my prayer and goal is to look at who Mary is and what she represents to us as Christians. In this series we will look at Mary the willing servant, the worshiping follower, the caring mother, and the courageous woman. It is time we gain a proper and biblical perspective of Mary the mother of Jesus.
Mary the Willing Servant
Luke 1:26 - 38
Vs 26: “In the sixth month”- This is sixth month of Elizabeth’s (Mary’s cousin or aunt) pregnancy.
“The angel Gabriel was sent by God…” The name Gabriel in Hebrew means “Man of God”. According to the Bible he is the angel who brings revelation or messages. In Jewish noncanonical writings (Enoch) he is referred to as one of four chief angels (Raphael, Uriel, and Michael). In these writings he described as an intercessor, destroyer of the wicked, one who is set over all powers, and sits at the left hand of God (according to Luke 1:19 He is the angel who stands in the presence of God). Michael and Gabriel are the only two angels mentioned in the Bible and Gabriel is God’s messenger to execute His will on earth.
We also know him as the angel who appears to Daniel when the LORD instructs him to give Daniel clarity to the message he received.
He appears to Zechariah, Elizabeth’s husband, in the previous verses to give him the message that Elizabeth is pregnant with a son. Six months later he appears to Mary to tell her she will give birth to Jesus Christ.
Nazareth is a small town about 70 miles north of Jerusalem. It is surrounded by three sides of a hill making it a town located in a valley. Trade routes would pass nearby the town, but never through it. The town lays outside of regular Jewish life, so it was not a city that was viewed as favorable. Nazareth is the place where Jesus grew up.
Vs 27: “To a virgin engaged to a man named Joseph” – The word virgin is the Greek word Parthenos which means an unmarried virgin female of marriageable age. Both Matthew and Luke state that the young girl was a virgin at conception and remained a virgin through carrying Jesus to full term.
She was engaged to Joseph who was “of the house of David”. This is significant because this was a clan who was in the tribe of Judah, and we are told in the prophecies of the Messiah, that he would come from the lineage of David.
Vs 28: “Greetings favored woman!!” God has chosen Mary specifically. She is the direct recipient of God’s grace, not the bestower. There is nothing in the Bible that indicates there was something uniquely special about Mary, thus we see her as a recipient of God’s grace in its full effect. God chooses or favors her directly from grace. What we do know about Mary is she is an ordinary young girl, and that is it. God did not favor her because of some special trait or ability. He simply chose her because that is who He chose. However, we should note, she is a model saint as she receives the grace.
“The Lord is with you!” – Some translations add, “blessed are you among women.” The angel spoke this to her because, as we will see, Mary is frightened by this encounter with the angel.
Vs 29: “But she was deeply troubled… wondering what kind of greeting this could be.” This is strange because it does not say that she was troubled or afraid because an angel appeared before her (which would have been understandable) but it says she was troubled with the kind of greeting it was. The only thing I can equate this with is that sinking feeling one gets when a boss, supervisor, or a leader calls and says, “Hey Jeff, can you come to my office later today? I would like to talk to you about something.” It is in these moments that the mind starts to race, and you think, “He wants me to come into work on Saturday” or “Did I do something wrong?” or worse, “Am I going to get fired? Can’t he just tell me what he needs now?”
Vs 30: “Do not be afraid” – The angel assures her that there is no need to be afraid. God is with her and he has chosen her to be the recipient of God’s grace thus he has chosen her to be a vessel through whom he works to bring about His will of redemption.
Vs 31: “Listen” – The Angel tells her why she is highly favored. His wording is remarkably similar to the prophetic “virgin” passage found in Isaiah 7:14. She is going to conceive a child, a boy, and his name is going to be Jesus. The name Jesus was a common name in the OT and it remained a popular name through the first century. We see from Matthew 1:21 the meaning of his name indicates that he will save people from their sins. The Greek form of the name Iēsous, which translated into Latin is Jesus, is the same as the Hebrew Yeshua (Joshua), which means “Yahweh saves” (Yahweh is typically rendered as “Lord” in the OT).
Vs 32 – 33: The angel continues to proclaim the destiny, if you will, of her son. He will be called the son of the Most High, He will be the Son of God. He will be a King, like David over the house of Jacob, thus pointing to his relationship with Israel. He will reign as King forever because his Kingdom will remain forever. All these expressions point to Jesus being the long-awaited Messiah even though the angel does not say this directly.
Vs 34: Some think Mary’s response “How can this be?” is a bit puzzling because obviously Mary was betrothed to be engaged and having a child after she was married is certainly not out of the question. All Mary knew so far was she was going to have a child someday. Up to this point the angel did not give clarification as to how or when the pregnancy was going to happen. So, some have suggested, and I agree, that Mary saw this encounter and promise as an immediate conception. This was not something, obviously, that was not going to happen a year or two down the road.
Vs 35: For whatever reason Mary questioned the angel, and he responded with an unusual answer. He indicates that this will not be an average pregnancy and birth. First, she will not conceive by natural means. She will conceive supernaturally by the Most High. “The Most High will overshadow you.” The word for “overshadow” (episkiazō) carries the sense of the holy, powerful presence of God, as in the description of the cloud that “covered” (“settled upon”) the tabernacle when the tent was filled with the glory of God.
Vs 37: “For nothing will be impossible with God.” When reading this account, to the human mind it does not make logical sense at all, but God works beyond our logic. He does not need to be logical in his workings because He works outside of our realm. Once again as I have shared many times 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.” God does not need to do things conventionally. He works and moves on His terms, not ours, so when we do not fully understand how something so illogical or incredibly impossible to some is, we need to be reminded of Isaiah 55:8 – 9 and that nothing is impossible with God.
Vs 38: We now see Mary’s true heart and character. We see that which I believe, makes her special and unique. She replies, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it happen to me as you have said.” In her response she acknowledges her position as a servant to God and then proclaims her faith as she submits her will and life to God. She understood what was going on. She knew her fiancé could potentially divorce her, her reputation would be marred, her son would be ridiculed and ostracized, and she knew the potential and the consequences of being accused of adultery in this Jewish society. Yet she accepted the call and submitted to God.
As we have looked today at this marvelous encounter between Mary and the angel Gabriel we can look at the crux of what transpires and ask ourselves what can we learn from this encounter?
 Biblical Studies Press. (2005). The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible. Biblical Studies Press.
 Liefeld, W. L. (1984). Luke. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew, Mark, Luke (Vol. 8, pp. 831–832). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.
Hey Jude: Jude 8 -25
Last week we began our two-week study in the Epistle of Jude. This is a short letter (25 verses) written to Christians. It was written from a Jewish point of view, so we conclude that it is written to either solely Jewish Christians or a mixture of Jewish and Gentile Christians who also had an understanding of Jewish traditions. It was written around the mid-60’s A.D. by a person named Jude and was most likely the brother of Jesus.
The purpose in writing this letter was to issue a response and a call to the recipients of this gathering of believers to contend for the faith as false teachers had infiltrated this group.
So far, in our short study in Jude we have touched on the two main points of this letter.
First, Jude urges his readers to contend or fight for the faith (do not tolerate false teaching in the body of Christ fight for the truth) and second, to stand strong for the Apostolic teachings of Jesus Christ (The Gospel - His life, death, resurrection, eternal life, sovereignty etc.)
Motivations of an Apostate
Vs 8: These false teachers had similar, if not the same qualities, as those previously mentioned (wolves in sheep’s clothing). These individuals, however, relied on their dreams to be their guide and claiming them to be from God. The word for dreams is interpreted as a filthy dreamer. This is one who is fascinated with sensual images thus leading to a sinful course of behavior. They were using their dreams and interpretations as ways to…
These false teachers spoke haughtily against God and they did not know the power they were dealing with. In their self-centered living they probably unbeknownst to them thought themselves to be higher than God. Jude says this kind of arrogance is foolishness.
Vs 9: Even the Archangel Michael was not so arrogant as to speak an evil word about one who would have been a contemporary or equal to him. Michael probably could have engaged in a battle with Satan as the two are equal, but instead he does not even hesitate to give the battle over to the Lord. So, instead of engaging in battle with Satan, Michael admonishes this battle to Jesus.
Scholars generally agree that this story was taken from an apocryphal (something that was made up or fictional but circulated as true) book titled The Assumption of Moses. According to this story there was a battle between Satan and Lucifer over the body of Moses after his death. We have no more information about this conflict, but we do know that when Moses died, the Lord buried him, and no one knew where the sepulcher was located (Deut. 34:5–6). This was purposeful on God’s part because there would have been no doubt that people would have made a shrine out of his sepulcher thus tempting them to fall into idolatry; so, God kept the information to Himself. Perhaps Lucifer was privy to this information and tried to claim Moses’ body for himself. Inasmuch as Satan does have a certain amount of authority in the realm of death, he may have felt he had a right to interfere. It is unsure why Jude chose to use this apocryphal writing to make his point, but he does.
Vs 10: Jude continues to write that these false teachers “blaspheme anything they do not understand” (i.e., God, Jesus, salvation, angels etc.) and this is their ultimate destruction. Their understanding is deprived of reasoning and they think based upon their animal lusts, instincts and pleasures, which is their nature.
Vs 11: “Woe to them” Jude does not have hostility and anger towards the false teachers; instead, he has pity on them because he knows they walk according to their own self gratification, greed, ambition and arrogance. They do not have the Spirit of the Living God in them. Everything they do is for their own personal gain. They will do or say whatever they want without moral regard or ethics in order to get what they want. Jude equates them to Balaam (Numbers 22) a prophet who takes money from the Moabite king Balak in exchange for placing a curse on the Israelites (Balaam’s own people). He also associates them to Korah who tries to usurp Moses’ authority in the desert, and he tried to start up a revolt against him and Aaron (Numbers 16).
Vs 12 - 13: Like Balaam and Korah these false teachers are “dangerous reefs”, which is a metaphor of men who damage others morally and secretly because of their conduct. They are dangerous individuals who can cause harm without others knowing it. At their love feasts (which would include the Lord’s Supper) they would only seek to watch out for themselves. They had no regard for the others present. They would go and indulge in gluttony and self-gratification with no regard to the fellowship of the saints.
These false teachers are like…
Vs 14 - 15: This section speaks of the Second Coming or Second Advent of Jesus Christ. Jude quotes from the Jewish text Enoch 1:9. It speaks of a time when the Lord executes judgment. The ungodly will be convicted of their blasphemous deeds they have committed, and they will be held accountable for the words they spoke. Those facing conviction or judgment include…
a.Grumblers – Those who complain against God.
b.Malcontent – Those who are not content with their place where God has placed them.
c.Those following after their lustful desires.
Vs 17: “But you, dear friends, remember…” Jude brings the topic of this letter back to the believers. He spent the past eleven verses reminding the readers about the consequences of sin. He tells them, “remember what was predicted by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ.” We know he is talking to believers now because he calls them “dear friends”. The word “remember” means to be reminded, bring recollection or be mindful of. This is an active thing. The believers are told to make a conscious mental effort to forget all the false teaching they have received and remember the predictions and promises of God.
What are the predictions and promises Jude is speaking of?
Vs 18 - 19: The first promise is that Jesus will come again. We are told in the last days there will be men and women who will try and infiltrate the church with heresy. (Acts 20:29-30, I Timothy 4:1 - 4) and this will be a sign that the end is near. Many people use this verse to suggest that the second coming of Christ is at hand because it speaks of godless scoffers, those who cause division, and immorality as being prominent in the world and we certainly are living in this kind of climate in the world today.
I am not necessarily a prophecy buff. Personally, I believe that godless scoffers, divisive people and and immorality have been running rampant for centuries. So, I cannot say with any authority that the ungodly state of the world right now is sure proof that the return of Christ is at hand. I can, however, say with authority that we are closer to the return of Christ today than we were yesterday or even in 65 AD. I believe the Bible teaches that the return of Jesus is imminent (it is looming, and it could happen at any time and any moment) but we do not know the day or the hour that is why Jesus gave us some sound advice in regard to his Second Coming (Matthew 24:36 – 44). We are indeed living in the last days. When Christ died, rose from the dead and ascended to heaven was the beginning of the end of days. The return of Christ is something believers long for and anticipate, but for the scoffer, immoral and unrepentant it is a fearful and looming event that will come about.
We must be reminded … We are in the last days so we must be on guard, ready and openly sharing the Promise that is in Christ.
The second is the promise of life everlasting to those who have placed their faith and trust in Jesus Christ. The Bible explicitly declares the Promise of God through Jesus Christ. We are reminded in John 3:16 that Jesus Christ willingly gave His life on the cross. Contrary to what many of us have learned, Jesus was not murdered by the Jews or the Romans. He willingly laid down his life for humanity. Sure, the Jews and Romans were the ones who beat him, degraded him, mocked him and put the nails in His hands and feet, yet the Bible tells us Jesus GAVE UP his Spirit. He was the one who told death that he was ready… not vice versa. He gave up his life so that “whoever” (by the calling and quickening of the Holy Spirit) believes (puts their faith and trust) in him shall have eternal life. Eternal life… This is the gift and the promise. I don’t think that the promise ends there. The promise goes beyond getting saved and inheriting eternal life. Jesus says in John 10:10, “A thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.” This means our salvation is not only a future event, but it includes life here on earth. Abundance means excellent or superior. In Jesus Christ we have excellence, we have an extraordinary life, we have much more than what the rest of the world has. We have a superior life here on earth with the promise of an even better eternity in Christ. We have an abundant life because Jesus willingly gave his life for humanity and was raised from the dead for our justification (Romans 4:23 – 25). This superior life comes at a cost, one we are never able to repay… fortunately we do not need to repay it we need to receive it.
Vs 20: According to the Believers Commentary our goal “is to stay close to the Lord and live in unbroken fellowship with Him.” We are called to Persevere! This means that no matter what life throws at us we need to stay near to Jesus and stay the course in fellowship with him. How do we persevere?
Vs 24 - 25
Jude concludes his letter with exuberant praise for the Lord, who alone could keep the readers from being deceived. Victory over apostasy is found in Jesus Christ who is able to keep us from stumbling, and it is in him that we are presented blameless to the Father.
This well-known benediction contains a wealth of spiritual truth for the believer to receive. If we want to keep our feet on the ground spiritually, walk straight, and not stumble, then we must yield ourselves fully to the Savior. He alone is able to guard us, but we must “keep ourselves in the love of God” (Jude 21). There is only one God and He has acted redemptively by sending his Son Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Jesus is our mediator he is our bridge that has made a way for humanity to have access to the Father. Because God has provided a way for us since ALL glory, majesty, dominion and authority belongs to Him from eternity past, to present, to eternity future. This morning may conclude as we magnify and glorify our God and King together? May we proclaim His kindness to all humanity and live an abundant life in Him and in expectation of what is to come.
Wiersbe, W. W. (1996, c1989). The Bible exposition commentary. "An exposition of the New Testament comprising the entire 'BE' series"--Jkt. (Jud 8). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.
MacDonald, W., & Farstad, A. (1997, c1995). Believer's Bible Commentary : Old and New Testaments (Jud 20). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1997). The Nelson study Bible : New King James Version. Includes index. (Jud 24). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.
Wiersbe, W. W. (1996, c1989). The Bible exposition commentary. "An exposition of the New Testament comprising the entire 'BE' series"--Jkt. (Jud 24). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.
Revelation 6: 1 - 11
Opening of the Seals
The Lamb now possesses the scroll and in this chapter the seals are broken, and they are they are divided into two groups, the first group is four and the second is a group of three. The first set contains what we have come to know as the four-horsemen of the Apocalypse. They are among some of the most recognized symbols in the book of Revelation and they have a wide variety of ways they have being interpreted. Most likely they represent God’s judgment and the imagery is closely related to Zechariah’s vision in Ch.1:8 -17 and 6:1- 8. In Revelation the judgment corresponds with the rider and symbolize conquest, slaughter, shortage, and death. In Zechariah the riders patrol the earth and in Revelation they release disaster on the earth.
All of the scenes depicted by the seals take place on earth with the exception of the fifth seal.
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
Vs 1: The Lamb (Jesus) is the one who is worthy to open the scroll and to bring about set in motion the conclusion of human history. Upon opening the first seal one of the four creatures around the throne of God calls out to the first of four riders of the apocalypse. The call to “Come” is intended for the horsemen, but some translations may read “come and see” and this is interpreted by those who believe the invitation to come is for John.
Vs 2: First rider – riding a white horse with a bow and a crown. Some interpret this rider as Jesus since the rider in chapter 19 is on a white horse and is described as Jesus. However, the rider of ch. 6 and the rider of ch. 19 as the two riders have little in common with the exception that they are both riding a white horse. The rider in Ch. 6 carries a bow and wears a crown (victor’s wreath) and the rider in Ch. 19 wears many crowns and carries a sharp sword. The rider of Ch. 6 is a conqueror and the rider of Ch. 19 is in the context of righteous reckoning or judgment.
The more prominent and common interpretation of the rider identifies him as a conqueror and of military. In the OT the bow usually symbolizes military power. There has been some speculation that this rider represents a feared invasion from beyond the boundaries of the Roman empire. Some compare them to the Parthians as they were the most renown archers of ancient times and they were known for riding white horses. In A.D. 62 Vologeses (the king of Parthia) defeated the Roman army and this caused the West to fear an all-out invasion. Regardless the white horse and rider most likely refers to military conquest in general.
Vs 3 – 4: Second seal – Red (some versions say fiery red) horse and a rider who is given a great sword and given permission to take peace from the earth and slay one another. The color red corresponds with the mission of the rider and that is to bring carnage and slaughter. According to Mounce, “His mission is to remove peace from the earth and allow people to turn their destructive instincts upon one another… (it ) would be quickly understood in John’s day, well acquainted as it was with rebellion and civil disorder. In a single year, a.d. 68–69, Rome had been ruled by four different emperors. It is reported that in the thirty-year period prior to the reign of Herod the Great (67–37 b.c.), more than one hundred thousand insurgents died in revolutions and rebellions in Palestine alone. Anarchy and bloodshed are harbingers of the end.”
Vs 5 – 6: Third seal – Black horse and a rider with a pair of scales in his hands. The voice from the midst of the living creatures announces prices of scarcity or famine. These common items, wheat and barley, will sell at inflated prices.
Denarius = A Roman silver coin equivalent to a day’s wages of a working person. One has to work a full day in order to pay for barely enough for himself. The price will be inflated 10 to 12 times what it should be.
The rider on the black horse is commonly symbolizes famine. Famine was normal in ancient times when after warfare as invading armies would live off of the lands they conquered.
“Do not harm the oil and the wine!”: There are varying interpretations of this statement.
Vs 7 – 8: Fourth seal – Pale horse and it’s rider’s name was Death and Hades followed him. Power is given to this rider over a fourth of the earth, thus giving them the power to bring about death to one quarter of humanity. He will kill based on the four disastrous acts of Ezekiel 14:21: sword, famine, wild beasts, and pestilence/plague.
Mounce sums up the meaning behind the actual Four horsemen of the Apocalypse and their deeds as, “Reviewing the various interpretations assigned to the Four Horsemen tends to rob the contemporary reader of the dramatic nature of the vision itself. It is good to place oneself back in one of the seven churches and listen to the visions as they are being read. Instead of discussing the probable significance of each of the four colored horses those first listeners would undoubtedly have recoiled in terror as war, bloodshed, famine, and death galloped furiously across the stage of their imagination. Visions at best are to be experienced rather than analyzed. Those who approach Revelation with a sympathetic imagination are most apt to understand its true meaning.”
The Martyred Saints
Vs 9 – 11: This is the second part of the division of the seals. The first division comes with the four horsemen as they are released to ride forth and now the scene changes.
Fifth Seal – reveals an altar and under it are the souls of those who were martyred for their faith in Christ or trust in Jesus Christ. They ask how long until their blood is avenged and the answer seems to be, things will get worse before they get better. In God’s time He will pour out his wrath
The altar – Probably refers to both the altar of burnt offerings (sacrifice) and the altar of incense (prayer) and is most likely a culmination of both.
In OT testament sacrifices the blood was poured out at the base of the altar of the burnt offering. The blood contained the life, or souls, of the flesh. The martyrs were under the altar is a way of saying that their premature deaths on earth are from the perspective of God a sacrifice on the altar in heaven. It may also suggest that the altar is the place where the martyrs receive safety.
These faithful individuals gave their lives for the glory of God. They ascend to heaven through suffering and death. This should show to us that there is no guarantee that our lives will be any different. Christians are promised eternal life for their faith in Jesus Christ, but we are not promised protection from pain, suffering, and death. I hear people often say that they wish that Jesus would just take them away (maybe rapture) from troubled times to escape difficulty, suffering, pain, and even piddly inconveniences. Contrary to popular thought and teaching God is not concerned with our modern comforts and easy living. If anything, Jesus promised the opposite in life. As believers we should expect persecution, suffering, and tribulation in this life.
Vs 10: “How long before you judge and avenge our blood…” This is not a request of revenge from a personal perspective, but out of concern for the reputation or glory of God. The martyrs do not have the attitude of many who relish in knowing that one day that those who reject Jesus will be punished in eternal hellfire. It is not based in vindictiveness like Tertullian who writes of how he will laugh and exult at the last judgment as he sees the proud monarchs groaning and weeping in the lowest abyss of darkness, and the magistrates liquifying in fiercer flames than ever kindled against Christians.
Vs 11: Each of the martyrs is given a white robe. Some interpret this to mean spiritual or glorified bodies. However, in Revelation white robes are symbols of blessedness and purity.
There are still others who will be joining them as the persecution continues on earth.
Hey Jude: Jude 1 - 7
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.
Redeemer of the Ordinary: Ruth 4
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)
Redeemer of the Ordinary: Ruth 3
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…
Jeff has been in ministry for well over two decades. He currently serves as Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Baptist Southside Campus in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). Both are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
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