Better Than Google Play

I have to admit… I love this ad. The video was written and put together so well, it tugged at my heart strings and dipped into my passions and made me want to join those little girls shooting arrows at injustice! “Hate, love, laugh, cry. Watch, listen and play. Feel with your heart.” This Google Play ad teaches us about our humanity in such a beautiful way, that we long to feel and remember the good and fight against the bad, to make life count, to be on the side of justice and joy. This is indeed what we were created for: life, beauty, adventure, justice, sacrifice, generosity, love.

But the end of Google’s ad gives us a glimpse into their ‘profit-driven-answer’ as to how this life can be lived to the fullest… Go to “Google Play, and play your heart out.” “Get more apps and games. Watch more movies and listen to more music. This is truly living!” Now, I’m not against good music and movies, I love them, a lot… but they are not the way to life, and beauty, and adventure. They ultimately leave us empty and void of life. Try it… Play games all day, or look at Facebook and watch everyone else’s life that is better and happier than yours, and see how you feel after wards.

The digital social world looks so good, but the fall from the “high” is a big let down. This type of numbing so that we can live a happy life looks even better when the way to real life, at least what history has shown us is found in sacrifice, suffering, and courage. It’s much easier to feel good by watching a movie or buying a new app, but Jesus’ answer is radically different, much like history’s answer has shown us.

Allow me to speak on behalf of God for a moment, because Jesus demands to be heard in this conversation, for many reasons, but one especially from the gospel of Mark. In the opening chapter of Mark’s letter, Jesus utters the most spectacular announcement of all time: the kingdom of God is here! (Mark 1:15). But what’s even more spectacular is what happens after Jesus announces this spectacular statement, He displays what this statement means and looks like.

If we read through Mark’s letter about Jesus, we would see that He lives and teaches like no other religious ruler ever has. Each miracle, every sermon and movement toward the poor is calculated to beat back evil and restore creation to its Maker. The blind see. The deaf hear. The lame walk. The sick are healed. The social outcasts are socially restored. The untouchable are touched. The oppressed are freed. The oppressors are condemned.

Then at the end of Mark’s letter, we see that Jesus’ plan all along was to take all that was broken in the world, and absorb it for us. This means sin done against us, and sin we’ve done against others (and ourselves) is consumed by Christ, but it came at a high cost for Jesus. He became cursed by our cursings and was rejected because of our reputation. Thankfully Jesus, being God, died, and and then was resurrected, and when He did, he put to death the death of death and has now offered us, through sacrifice, suffering, and courage, the greatest gift of all… the “Way” to true life, true beauty, true adventure, true justice, true generosity, true love.

The point isn’t to hate on Google play or apps or movies, buy them, have fun with them, watch them, enjoy them with friends and family, “play your heart out”, but don’t run to them to answer questions about life, or look to them to define beauty and sacrifice, or allow them to create a cyber world that’s more real then your neighbor next to you, or your wife or kids.

By Jesus’ word and works of power, He is bringing the kingdom, the ultimate and most satisfying app on the market! You can’t buy it though… you must believe Him and then share Him with others, because He’s the ultimate flesh-satisfying and soul-defining gift to the world. Don’t play without Him!

What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas

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Las Vegas is famous for many ‘riskay’ things, and this phrase has become the trademark of the city’s gambling sector: “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”. This is implying that what you do here in Vegas won’t hurt your wife, husband or loved ones, as long as they never find out what you do here. Worse yet, there is a belief that illicit behavior won’t even hurt the person doing it.

This same thinking is wrapped up into the old adage that goes like this: “What we don’t know, won’t hurt us.” When I was a kid, I used to talk about things like, “What if the fast food worker spit in your hamburger?” or “What if your hamburger was dipped in the toilet?” You know… things that everybody worries about, right? I remember talking and thinking about this every now and then when we would eat out. The conversation always ended, in my mind at least, “As long as I don’t know, I’ll be fine.” I was a garbage disposal as a kid.

I was thinking about all of this when my brother showed me this picture of a McDonald’s sign in California. Some of McD’s food is hazardous to your health, so much so, that California McD’s, by law, must post this warning in their stores. My brother told me that even though this sign has been posted, sales have not been hindered. This made me rethink the old adage and I began wondering what it takes to change people, even though they know something will cause harm to them.

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Eating a McD’s big mac that has so many preservatives bugs or mold won’t even eat it, or going to Vegas and giving your soul away to someone who is there just to pay rent and cover their bills, have caused so much damage to our bodies, but we still do them. Seems strange that this belief of what we don’t know won’t hurt us is still allowing us to ignore dangers and toxins in our lives.

We didn’t know so many toys were made with lead, but they hurt many people. We didn’t know certain foods were infected with salmonella, but it got us sick. We didn’t know building products with asbestos were bad, but they’ve been very toxic. We didn’t know that porn was destroying our minds (it’s scientifically proven that sex addicts destroy their brains, literally), but now we have a sexually addicted culture that consumes and marginalizes predominantly children and women.

What we don’t know can and has hurt us, but what’s even more disturbing is that this McD’s picture reveals to me is that even though we know things hurts us, even destroy us and others, we still do them; we still offer them to others. Not only that, they are some of the most profitable industries in our ‘sophisticated’ culture (fast food, porn, and cheap consumable products). What we desire, we get. So the problem is that we have desire issues.

What we desire, we get. So merely saying, “I want to act differently” or “I want to stop doing those things” isn’t enough to get people to stop the foolishness. We are still eating cancer causing food, we are still performing sexually illicit, brain damaging acts, and big industries are still producing cheap consumable products for a profit only to waste our resources and environment, because we consumers buy them.

Our desires are what need to be challenged and changed, and this doesn’t happen by mere will power or behavior modification. It happens by realizing and owning that we’re all part of the problem, and as hard as humanity tries, as ‘sophisticated’ as we get, we can’t solve the problem of evil and illicit human desires.

What we need is to desire something or someone who is not corrupt, and will not corrupt. What we need is people who are willing to submit and surrender, not to their desires, but to the only One who is not corrupt, and will never corrupt.

My Thoughts About the Same-Sex Issue: To My Jesus-Following, Gospel-Loving Friends

This is my small attempt to respond not to the Supreme Court decision regarding same-sex marriages, but an attempt to respond to the “Christian” divide over this issue. So let me be clear, this is not to anyone who doesn’t call themselves a follower of Jesus. This post is to those who claim to love and follow Jesus as Lord.

I think the main issue at hand here is this: Is same-sex activity a sin, or not? This seems, to me, to be the main issue that’s at hand for most of my friends who are Jesus-following, gospel-loving people. If you disagree with me, that fine, just allow me the internet space to share some of my thoughts. Let me break up some of my Jesus-following friends into different corners for a moment.

One corner is saying: “God is love, and it’s not unloving for two faithful women to commit themselves to each other in marriage and share their lives together. I couldn’t imagine Jesus ever getting angry at those women and ask them to not share their lives together in that way.”

The other corner is saying: “God is love, and therefore we should love the homosexual community in the same way we should love anyone else who is human and sinful. But God is love and He gets to define what love is and who can share their lives together. It’s only a man and a woman who can do that, and same-sex sexual activity is a sin and should not be accepted.”

Still, there could also be another corner that says: “God hates homosexuality and it’s gross and should not be allowed in the church at all.” In my opinion, this is not a biblical stance and does not portray the love of God in Scripture and should be avoided by anyone who calls themselves a Jesus-person.

What I want to add to this discussion among my friends in various corners is this: Same-sex marriage and our support of it or not is not the main issue; “love” is the main issue.

[On a side note though, I am in support of same-sex unions, not because I think it’s okay, but we can’t make it illegal in the same way we can’t make adultery illegal in our context. I am also in support of giving certain rights to same-sex unions that doesn’t keep them from living with the rights of other families. But I do not agree that marriage is up for debate as to what it means. God ordained marriage between a man and a woman (Genesis 2:24), and woe is me if I am going to say it’s anything else than what God says it is.]

Okay, the issue of love. A biblical definition of love could begin with this verse from 1 Corinthians 13:4-7: Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

I like that definition, maybe because I’m biased to God’s word, the Bible is a good starting place for this discussion, because the definition and implications of “love” has been radically skewed. So in the case of love between two men or two women, the Bible never condemns that. Take for instance, David and Jonathan (1 Samuel 18:1), Naomi and Ruth (Ruth 1:16-17), Jesus and John (John 13:23), or Paul and Timothy (2 Timothy 1:2).

I give you these examples of same-sex love and commitment from Scripture, but not one of these love relationships involved sexual union. Parents love their children with deep affection. God loves us deeply and intimately. But parents’ love for a child and God’s love for people is not love defined by sexual union. God is certainly pro-love. God is love (1 John 4:8)!

In my opinion, the argument about homosexuality isn’t whether love is okay between different groups of people. Of course love is okay, indeed it is mandated to love all peoples, tribes, and nations. Love is always God’s will. So what is the argument? The argument, I think, is whether or not sexual relations in the above referenced biblical example is what God intended.

The Bible clearly speaks against adult children and their parents or siblings engaging in sexual relationships. Parents and adult children are consenting groups who could certainly love each other deeply and have a strong connection, but the Bible rejects sexual relationship between these groups.

God is love, and love is “always” right between “all” people, but sex is not the same as love and shouldn’t be represented as if it is. The Bible’s definition of love is very different than our culture’s definition of love. Love isn’t defined as attraction, sex, or intimate passions (I am not saying that same-sex relationships are only made up of attraction, sex, or passions). What I am saying is that attraction, sex, or intimate passions are not the definition of love.

The gospel of Jesus demands love between all (Mark 12:30-31), but not sex or marriage between all (Mark 10:6-7). I think it is beautiful for two women or two men to share their lives together intimately. Ruth left her country and her people to devote herself to Naomi. Listen to what she says to Naomi: “For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” (Ruth 1:16-17).

This is a beautiful picture of self sacrifice, life-long commitment, and love between two women. This is the type of love the Bible speaks of when it says love never fails; love always hopes; always perseveres. This is the kind of love that is displayed in Jesus dying for those who didn’t deserve it, you and I (1 John 4:9-10)!

Love is seeking another’s good while putting aside our own desires, sacrifice, and restraint. This is what Jesus modeled on the cross for us. His death means we live.
My overall point is this: Love is “always” right, but adding sex to love isn’t always right. To illustrate this point, nobody has a problem with a brother loving his sister, but every normal person I know is put off at the two of them engaging in sexual activity. Why? What if they were careful not to get pregnant? What if it was just sexual foreplay, but not “intercourse”?

If biblical teachings are disregarded or are freely interpreted however ones cultural lenses see it, then on what grounds would we be able to object to an adult son and his mother marrying one another? When we toss out the Bible (or freely and unaccountable interpret it; and I mean this for both sides of the issue) because it’s teachings aren’t what the “majority knows to be true”, then we are left with a morality that says anything is right if it feels right to me at the time. This is relativism at it’s finest and it’s dangerous.

This is the same kind of thinking that certain fundamentalists have used with church history and their view of women, or slaves, or the neglect of the poor. Just because the majority believes something to be true, doesn’t mean we say, “The ship has sailed and we better get on it.” I say, “Stay off that ship because it doesn’t float, or at least won’t float for very long.”

So if you object to a mother and a consenting adult son marrying and joining one another is sexual matrimony, I must ask, why? Because it is non-traditional? Because it’s gross? Because it’s illegal in our country? Should we lobby towards making it legal for those parent child relationships who want the same marriage rights?

Dale Kuehne mentions that Aristotle lived in a culture where same-sex relationships were acceptable and common, but Aristotle claimed that marriage is to be only between a man and a woman. Why? Because sexualizing a relationship brings slavery into the friendship, where each person is trying to get something off of the other. Sexualizing friendships will always undermine the friendship; this is true in every relationship.

Kuehne goes on to say, “Do you know anyone who has been married for 7 years, and after those 7 years, their sex life is what holds that marriage together?” The answer is no, but our culture has made sexuality the penultimate in a relationship. What is it that fulfills us? Is sex really the answer? Is being married to the person I’m attracted to most? There’s nothing (person, place, or thing) we can imagine, that if we get it we won’t become bored with, and there’s always going to be someone or something more attractive to you.

This is why it’s so important as believers that we truly believe that if we are in Christ, then mysteriously we are seated in the heavenly realms with the Lord at the same time we are here in the flesh, and that the relationship we have with the Divine, God Himself, is the only relationship that won’t terminate on itself because He’s perfectly loving and eternal.

When we are connected to the Divine in this way, we will not live and think that “in order to live the best and most fulfilling life, we have to be in a sexual relationship with the person whom we are most attracted to.” No… actually we will be able to be more committed people to our family, friends, children, bosses, and co-workers. Being in a love relationship with Jesus is so utterly satisfying; so much so that we are free to live our lives never fully being able to gratify the desires of our flesh.

We must, as Jesus-following, gospel-loving people, think through this issue better and biblically. Let’s be better students of the word, and better lovers of people. The times and the gospel demands it!

Ruth week 4: True Love. Complete Redemption

Read Ruth 4:1-22.

As we come to the end of our series on the book of Ruth, the main question we should ask ourselves is: “What is the lesson of this book? What one main thing does the author want us to take away from reading this story? It is after all one story that was originally meant to be read in it’s entirety, and it was not broken up into 4 chapters.

The Lesson of the Book of Ruth: Here’s what I would suggest as the main lesson: God plans for your eternal joy and  divine legacy, but the road there makes you believe He’s against you at times. The life of the godly is not the I-10 going from Cali to Louisiana, but instead, it’s an old forest road winding through the woods on the Rim. There are rock slides and steep drops off. There are dark mists and bears, and curves in the road that make you lose control and sometimes can radically alter your life. But all along this hazardous and twisted road that doesn’t let you see very far ahead, there are signs that say, “Scenic View Ahead”. And every now and then you get a long strip along the Rim that takes your breath away only to go back into the woods, to the twists and turns that are often times scary.

The book of Ruth is one of those signs for you to read. There is a “Scenic View Ahead”, but one day, because of God’s “hesed”, that “Scenic View” will be an eternal reality with Jesus. It has been written to you by the Lord, and I have preached to you, so that it may serve to be an encouragement and hope for you in your life, that all the despair and feelings of hopelessness are not dead-end streets. No, but instead, they all serve to make the eternal joy that awaits you greater than they ever would be. In all the sufferings and disappointments in your life as a believer, God is planning for your joy.

As we embark on the final chapter of this book, we see the faithfulness of Boaz to honor God’s process of the closest relative redeeming Naomi’s land and family. He loved Ruth, but he loved God more and wanted to honor His plan instead of make his own way to what he wanted. Does that sound familiar to any of us today? Have you wanted something so bad that you made it happen even though you knew that you were being rebellious and making your own way without God’s blessing?

Boaz models to us the way to true righteousness, submitting to and obeying God. Obedience is often overlooked in “grace” cultures, but we are quick to forget that it is grace that moves (kineo’s) one to obey. A lack of obedience is not a sign of one receiving grace, rather it’s a sign of misappropriated grace. Grace moves us to obey!

So now we pick up the story and good ole’ Boaz is taking care of business this morning. Most business owners after 10 years of famine would be lusting over their fields (profit and food) and could care less about a foreign Moabite woman who they would possibly have to marry and give up time, money, land, and not focus on their job. Not Boaz! Boaz loves Ruth and he wants to marry her. So there’s Boaz sitting at the gate waiting for “Punk With No Name”.

At the gate is where men wait to meet business partners and gather other men around to be witnesses as two business men make a deal. Boaz waits, and low and behold, it just so happens that “Punk With No Name” shows up, and Boaz calls him friend, which is Hebrew for “Punk”! “Sit down Punk, I’ve got something to settle with you!”

Punk is a loser because he’s legally and spiritually obligated, as the closest living male relative to Naomi and Ruth, to take care of them. Leviticus 25 speaks of this, “That he is to make sure they’re okay,” and at this point, he hasn’t done a thing for these women; they’re starving to death, he hasn’t even stop by to check on them. He probably lives a mile or two away. It’s a smaller town. This would be equivalent to you, as an adult male or female in our culture, who owns your home and has a job, and your aunt and cousin live a few miles away, and they’re starving to death, and you don’t even call. You don’t check in. You know their story. You know Eli blew it. You know they’re new to town and need help to get on their feet. And you know you are loaded. You don’t even go visit, There’s no “How are you doing? Do you need any food? Your husbands are dead. Can I pray for you?” Nothing.

This is a loser of a dude who has not paid any child support and is milking the system to make sure he never has to. He has neglected all of his responsibilities. He is a loser! And Boaz’ main job is to dump him essentially, so he can take care of Ruth. Ladies, you ever had a Boaz type dude go to your loser boyfriend and have him dump him for you. This is what’s going on. This is great!

So in v. 3 Boaz begins to tell him how Eli has died and that he is the one who is to buy the land from Naomi so she can live. “Will you do that?” Punk says, “Sure, I’ll buy it.” “Great!” Boaz says. “With the land you inherit a Moabite woman named Ruth, have babies, be their father, and redeem what Eli lost. You still want it?” Punk lives up to his name and begins to back pedal and says, “On second thought, I actually have all my money tied up right now and I’m not gonna be able to afford that land and the cost of a wife and kids.” “Thanks!” Boaz says, it’s been nice doing business with you. So they carry on with their traditional means of signing a contract and make this deal legal and right. And look what the elders of the town says at the end of the deal:

vv. 11-12: Like Rachel and Leah; like Perez who perpetuated the family name through Tamar shrewdly getting pregnant from Judah. Little do the elders and the people realize what God is doing here through Ruth and Boaz. We will get there in a minute.

So we’ve read that Boaz can now redeem Naomi and Ruth as he dumped No Name Punk and get the girl, but there is a looming dark cloud overhead. Ruth is barren. Or at least she seems to be. In Ruth 1:4 we were told that she had been married ten years to Mahlon and there were no children. So even now the suspense is not over. Life is one curve after another, and we never know what’s coming. But the point of the story is that the best is yet to come and we must not be so quick to say that God is not for us when our plans seem to be thwarted by His seemingly impersonal will. No matter where you are, if you love God, the best is yet to come.

But the cloud over the head of Ruth and Boaz only lasts for a little while, yet for them (her), it didn’t seem to be “just a little while!” (10 years and then losing her husband, following bitter Naomi, etc…). God, who is full of mercy, causes His grace to crash over their heads.

Read vv 13-22: “So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife. And he went in to her, and the Lord gave her conception, and she bore a son.” This is a good day for Ruth: she has a man fight for her; dump a lousy boyfriend; marry her and pay for the wedding; go on a honeymoon and got pregnant. This is a good day for Ruth, and for Naomi. Husbands died, desperate hungry, no future hope; now these are 2 valiant women who are prominent in the town, have kids, and worship Yahweh. Redemption is sweet!

First of all, we need to realize that according to the OT Law, Boaz was not obligated to marry Ruth. The Law says that the brother of the sister-in-law was to marry her and bring her under his covering. Boaz is by no means under any lawful obligation to redeem Ruth. We must not miss this. Boaz is not making a legal transaction as a religious gesture of faithfulness to God. No! Boaz loves Ruth, therefore he redeems her. This is a love story. And Ruth is the object of Boaz’ love, and Boaz is a type of Christ in this story and you are a type of Ruth.

Secondly, did you notice how the focus in vv. 14-22 is not on Ruth or Boaz, but on Naomi, the son, and those who came after the son. Why? If we follow the story line of Ruth, we see it begin with Naomi’s loss and pain; and we see it end with Naomi’s gain and joy. This story began with death and it ends with birth. A son. But who is that son for? Look at verse 17 again: “And the women of the neighborhood gave him a name, saying, “A son has been born to Naomi.”

To Naomi, not Ruth! Why? The child is for Naomi because of the levirate law of kinsman redeemer, but it’s also to show that it was not true what Naomi said back in 1:21, that the Lord had brought her back empty from Moab. Oh, if we could just learn to wait and trust in God, then all of our complaints against Him would prove untrue, and our joy would be fuller, and He would be more glorified.

In the final genealogy, we learn where king David came from. The promise of a righteous King to rule Jerusalem is partially realized in King David, the great grandson of Ruth and Boaz. King David is the kingly type of Christ. As David ruled Jerusalem with power and military might, so Jesus, the anti-type of David, would rule the world one day with power because of His sacrifice on the cross and His divine power to conquer the death of death.

Ruth was written to help us see the signposts of the grace of God in our lives, and to help us trust his grace even when the clouds are so thick that we can’t see the road in front of us, let alone the signs that say “Scenic View Ahead”. But it was also written to unfold to us the great history of redemption that God has unfolded in Scriptures.

God, who promised in Genesis 3 to send us a redeemer, one to save us from ourselves, has caused His plan to continue as planned. In Genesis 12 we learn that through Abraham, all the nations of the world would be blessed. And we know from the redemptive history we learn in the OT, that Boaz is from the line of Abraham, and at that, the line of Judah, one of Abraham’s great grandson’s whom God said this savior would come in his family line, the line of Judah, building up to the coming of the great Savior, Messiah, Jesus the Christ. GO OVER THE GENEALOGY IN MATT. 1.

God is not a god of religion. He is a God of grace and mercy who includes in His family all who are willing to come to Him… ALL! Do not mistake religion with redemption. To help you not to do that, here is a list from Tim Keller that helps identify religion vs. redemption:

RELIGION says: I obey-therefore I’m accepted
REDEMPTION says: I’m accepted-therefore I obey.

RELIGION says: Motivation is based on fear and insecurity
REDEMPTION says: Motivation is based on grateful joy.

RELIGION says: I obey God in order to get things from God
REDEMPTION says: I obey God to get to God-to delight and resemble Him.

RELIGION says: When circumstances in life go wrong, I am angry at God or my self, since I believe, like Job’s friends that anyone who is good deserves a comfortable life
REDEMPTION says: When circumstances in my life go wrong, I struggle but I know all my punishment fell on Jesus and that while he may allow this for my training, he will exercise his Fatherly love within my trial.

RELIGION says: When I am criticized I am furious or devastated because it is critical that I think of myself as a ‘good person’. Threats to that self-image must be destroyed at all costs
REDEMPTION says: When I am criticized I struggle, but it is not critical for me to think of myself as a ‘good person.’ My identity is not built on my record or my performance but on God’s love for me in Christ. I can take criticism.

RELIGION says: My prayer life consists largely of petition and it only heats up when I am in a time of need. My main purpose in prayer is control of the environment
REDEMPTION says: My prayer life consists of generous stretches of praise and adoration. My main purpose is fellowship with Him.

RELIGION says: My self-view swings between two poles. If and when I am living up to my standards, I feel confident, but then I am prone to be proud and unsympathetic to failing people. If and when I am not living up to standards, I feel insecure and inadequate. I’m not confident. I feel like a failure
REDEMPTION says: My self-view is not based on a view of my self as a moral achiever. In Christ I am “simul iustus et peccator”—simultaneously sinful and yet accepted in Christ. I am so bad he had to die for me and I am so loved he was glad to die for me. This leads me to deeper and deeper humility and confidence at the same time. Neither swaggering nor sniveling.

RELIGION says: My identity and self-worth are based mainly on how hard I work. Or how moral I am, and so I must look down on those I perceive as lazy or immoral. I disdain and feel superior to ‘the other
REDEMPTION says: My identity and self-worth are centered on the one who died for His enemies, who was excluded from the city for me. I am saved by sheer grace. So I can’t look down on those who believe or practice something different from me. Only by grace I am what I am. I’ve no inner need to win arguments.

RELIGION says: Since I look to my own pedigree or performance for my spiritual acceptability, my heart manufactures idols. It may be my talents, my moral record, my personal discipline, my social status, etc. I absolutely have to have them so they serve as my main hope, meaning, happiness, security, and significance, whatever I may say I believe about God
REDEMPTION says: I have many good things in my life—family, work, spiritual disciplines, etc. But none of these good things are ultimate things to me. None of them are things I absolutely have to have, so there is a limit to how much anxiety, bitterness, and despondency they can inflict on me when they are threatened and lost.

You tracking with me now?

And because of the relationship of the story of “Ruth with the New Testament, it suggests that Boaz foreshadows Christ, while Naomi and Ruth foreshadow the union of ethnic Israel and of Gentiles in the church. Naomi of Judah and Ruth of Moab typify the union of ethnic Israel and Gentiles respectively in the church, and Boaz typifies Christ.”

1. Boaz: A Type of Christ. Boaz did more than share: he sacrificed himself financially to give Naomi and Ruth land and an inheritance in perpetuity [permanently]. Jesus Christ, the greater antitype, sacrifices his blood to give his church a regenerated earth and eternal life… “Boaz” gave the dead immortality: by his sacrifice he bought back those who had verged into death and debt and secured a “Ruth,” his Gentile bride. “Boaz” brought his “bride” into final rest. As Boaz brought Naomi and her family rest (see Ruth 1:9; 3:1) so David brought Israel rest, and Christ gives the church rest.

2. Ruth: A Type of Redeemed Gentiles in the Church. “Ruth” becomes the people of God by commitment to “Boaz,” her Bridegroom. By public proclamation of her identity with him, she comes to have blood links with Abraham (Gal. 3:16, 29). Through her, “Boaz” gives life to a seed that will destroy the Serpent (Gen. 3:15: Ruth 4:18–22; 1 Chron. 2:5–15; Matt. 1:3–6; Luke 3:31–33; 1 Tim. 2:9–15).

3. Naomi: A Type of Ethnic Israel in the Church. “Naomi’s” fate and “Ruth’s” fate are inextricably linked to one another. “Naomi” comes before “Ruth” in being the people of God, and “Naomi” mediates “Ruth’s” entrance into the covenants God originally made with “Naomi.” “Ruth” is her daughter. They are equal heirs of the covenant relationship because “Boaz” redeems them from a land of death. The new and young “widow,” full of hope and promise, rejuvenates “Naomi,” the old and failed “widow,” who on her own was without hope. By her faith and covenant loyalty, “Ruth” transforms bitter and hopeless “Naomi” to the joy of salvation. “Naomi” in the end will again be called Pleasantness.

Overall, God, in His sovereignty ensures redemption. His words are sure. His promises we can count on. And this beautiful book shows us that God always keeps his promises. For those who love God and submit to Jesus, the best is yet to come. This is the unshakable truth about life; through faith in Christ, many are made righteous. As well, we see threads of redemption in the OT pointing to Christ Jesus, who is the whole creation’s redemption.

Again, my prayer is that you don’t read this and walk away with a religious overtone. Boaz was not bound by the Law to marry Ruth. He was not the one that was legally bound to redeem her or Naomi’s land. He redeemed her because he loved her. Jesus is not bound by a religious commitment to obey the law. No! He fulfilled the Law, therefore he could have done whatever He wanted to do. And He chose to redeem you. Marry you. Associate with you. Live in your pain and not overlook it. This is our redeemer.

Let’s Pray!

Ruth week 3: Risky Business

Larry Walters had always dreamed of flying, but was unable to become a pilot in the US Air Force because of his poor eyesight. Walters had first thought of using weather balloons to fly around the age 13, after seeing them hanging from the ceiling of a military surplus store. Twenty years later he decided to do so. His intention was to attach a few helium-filled weather balloons to his lawnchair, cut the anchor, and then float above the city at a height of about 30 feet for several hours. He planned to use a BB gun to burst balloons to float gently to the ground.

So this retired vietnam vet, Larry Walters, and his girlfriend, Carol Van Deusen, purchased 45 eight-foot weather balloons and obtained helium tanks from California Toy Time Balloons. They used a forged signature from his employer at FilmFair Studios, saying the balloons were for a television commercial. On July 2, 1982, Walters attached the balloons to his lawn chair, filled them with helium, put on a parachute, and strapped himself into the chair in the backyard of a home at in San Pedro. He named his ride “Inspiration”. He took a BB gun, a CB radio, sandwiches, cold beer, and a camera. When his friends prematurely cut the second cord that tied his lawn chair to his Jeep, he streaked out into the sky as if he was shot from a canon where he leveled off at a nice cruising altitude of 16,000 feet. At first, he did not dare shoot any balloons, fearing that he might unbalance the load and cause himself to spill out. For several hours he drifted, cold and frightened. He slowly drifted over the primary approach corridor for LAX airport. A TWA pilot first spotted Larry. The pilot radioed to the tower and described passing a guy in a lawn chair… with a gun! Radar confirmed the existence of an object floating at 16,000 feet above the airport. LAX emergency procedures went into full alert. Larry finally shot enough balloons to lower himself down safely into some power lines in a nearby neighborhood.

He was immediately arrested upon landing ; when asked by a reporter why he had done it, Walters replied, “A man can’t just sit around.” After his flight, he was in brief demand as a motivational speaker and he quit his job as a truck driver. He was featured in a Timex print ad in the early ’90s.

There’s not much that we wouldn’t do for a good thrill or to gain some sort of significance. After all, “a man can’t just sit around.” We need life to be exciting, thrilling; we want to feel significant, wanted, accepted. This morning, we encounter a really crazy story in Scripture that seems to be a thrilling, nerve racking experience, with some sort of pursuit of significance in a very risky way. The unfortunate thing is in our day and age, this chapter often gives us freedom to find thrills and significance from relationships, and we miss the big picture of the message of Ruth 3. Ruth 3 gives us a glimpse of 2 hope-filled women who are trusting God for significance and put themselves out there in a way that could bring about more pain, more rejection, and more hopelessness.

THE PLAN
vv. 1-5: Naomi – She has a plan and she is not going to waste a stroke. We see Naomi in this story move from being an oppressed victim, to an awakened, hope-filled orchestrator of righteousness. As long as Naomi remained a victim, she would remain motionless with no strategy or never put to use what God has given her to work with. She doesn’t stay in her junk, but she chooses to see where God is working and work along side Him. Naomi’s plan is clear: to win for Ruth a godly husband and a secure future, and preserve the family line.

But we have to admit that Naomi’s plan is crazy. Naomi tells Ruth to wash up and anoint herself. In modern terms, she says, “Ruth, go take a shower, shave your legs and armpits, pluck your eyebrows, put on some nice perfume and lotion that makes your body shine, get all dressed up and then go to Boaz’s office, follow him home, and after he goes to bed, sneak in to his house, lay down at the foot of his bed and cover yourself up with his blanket.” That’s racy! That plan would sell box office tickets in our day, but none of us (in our right mind) would encourage our daughters to do this).

Everybody, including Ruth, must think she’s crazy! Not to mention what people would be thinking: “And just where do you suppose that will lead, huh!?” To which Naomi gives her hope-filled answer in the last part of verse 4: “…he will tell you what to do.”

Okay, this is what we do know: We do know that Naomi’s plan is for Boaz to marry Ruth, but why not just go talk to him the next day? Why plan something that could possibly blow up in a sinful way? What did she mean by “lie at his feet?” Does that mean sleep with him or just lie there and freak him out when he wakes up in the morning? We have to agree, that this is not prescriptive counsel for us today.

We don’t know exactly what Naomi’s strategy is and the author is okay not tying that up for us, but we do know that Naomi seemingly wasn’t intending for Ruth to get lucky that night with Boaz as many would think.

THE PROPOSAL
vv. 6-9: Ruth – She says, “Alright old bitter mom-in-law, I’m not sure of your plan, but I like that you’re livening up a little bit.” Ruth apparently goes right along with her plan and is placing her trust in Naomi (hope must be really contagious!). But we learn that Ruth doesn’t do all that Naomi tells her to do.

As Boaz wakes at midnight and is startled to find a woman at his feet, he asks, “Who are you?” Good question! I can just imagine what’s going through Boaz’ head at this point, so this question is a good start.

Ruth says, “I am Ruth, your servant. Spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer.” (v. 9) She was, in effect saying, “You are the one who can redeem our family and I would like to be the one to whom you pledge your faithfulness to in marriage.” In modern day language, “I’m not here for sex, but I am here to ask you to seal the deal and marry me, share your inheritance and give me a child for the clan of Elimelech.” Great proposal huh? Any normal man would run, but we soon find out that Boaz is anything but normal.

This is where Ruth doesn’t adhere to her mother-in-law’s instructions. Instead of leaving the situation dangerously open to misunderstanding, as a godly woman, Ruth wanted to make her intentions clear right away. Her goal was to be redeemed and get married, not to have a seductive night of passion to manipulate Boaz to redeem her and Naomi.

Ruth was not intending to give Boaz an invitation to have sex (They were both God-fearing and knew that pre-marital sex was forbidden by God; OT and NT Scripture forbids it), rather we see the depth of Ruth from this comment, “Spread your wings over your servant.” The same word that Boaz said to Ruth in 2:12 (referring to finding refuge under God’s “wings”).

Ruth tells Boaz that he is God’s agent to reward Ruth, not knowing that this was Boaz’ intentions in the first place. Ruth says, “You are the wings that God desires to use to redeem me and bring me to a safe place. Would you be that man?” I think Boaz had every intention of being this man, but didn’t want to presume upon the young beautiful Ruth. He respected her and wanted her to desire to be redeemed by him.

THE PROBLEM
vv. 10-12: Boaz – Now it’s time to see Boaz’ plan unfold. And out of the gates, he remarkably comes up with beautiful, mature words for it being midnight, and him being startled and presumably buzzed:

“10 May you be blessed by the Lord, my daughter (this is how we know that Boaz got the message loud and clear from Ruth; he intends on treating her as an Israelite; purity). You have made this last kindness greater than the first in that you have not gone after young men, whether poor or rich. 11 And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you all that you ask, for all my fellow townsmen know that you are a worthy woman. 12 And now it is true that I am a redeemer. Yet there is a redeemer nearer than I.

Ok, this had to have been a bitter blow to Ruth. At this point she was probably feeling that things had been going well for her, but the DTR talk went bad. I can imagine Ruth wondering to herself whether she is going to have to repeat this midnight extravaganza with another man or not. Ruth launched off the ground in her lawn chair and is now uncertain about how to get down, and is likely cold and frightened.

THE PROMISE
But Boaz, the man, he will take care of it for her. Listen to what Boaz says:
v. 13: Remain tonight [sweetie], and in the morning, if he will redeem you, good; let him do it. But if he is not willing to redeem you, then, as the Lord lives, I will redeem you. [You can take that to the bank. So for now,] Lie down until the morning.”

The stars are out in all their beauty, the mood is right, they are alone, she is all dressed up, he is relaxed, it’s midnight; and he says this? What a man! What a woman! For the sake of righteousness he doesn’t touch her and he even is willing to go the extra mile to ensure that there isn’t a closer redeemer to redeem her. What a dude Boaz is!

Boaz tells Ruth to stay until dawn and secretly leave not because he had ill intention, but so that her mission wouldn’t be misinterpreted by witnesses. Oh that may we have more Ruth and Boaz’s! Oh that for the sake of righteousness we would turn from what feels right and good! Oh that we would choose what is right even when we feel that we deserve it! Oh that we would reject the tone of our culture that says “If it feels good, then do it!” There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death. (Proverbs 14:12)

Ruth and Boaz chose what is right according to God’s good plan and the end was the protection of the line of Jesus, our savior! Let the morning dawn on your purity. Don’t be like the world. Be like Boaz. Be like Ruth. Profoundly in love. Subdued and discerning in communication. Powerful in self-control. Committed to righteousness.

THE PROVISION
vv. 14-18: 14 So she lay at his feet until the morning, but arose before one could recognize another. And he said, “Let it not be known that the woman came to the threshing floor.” 15 And he said, “Bring the garment you are wearing and hold it out.” So she held it, and he measured out six measures of barley and put it on her. Then she went into the city. 16 And when she came to her mother-in-law, she said, “How did you fare, my daughter?” Then she told her all that the man had done for her, 17 saying, “These six measures of barley he gave to me, for he said to me, ‘You must not go back empty-handed to your mother-in-law.’ ” 18 She replied, “Wait, my daughter, until you learn how the matter turns out, for the man will not rest but will settle the matter today.”

Boaz sends Ruth home with six measures of barley (80 lbs. worth; Ruth is no weak woman) as he has shown he is always committed to taking care of Ruth and Naomi and Naomi reassures Ruth that Boaz will not rest until he has followed through concerning her request. Game is on and this provision is just a glimpse of the kind of provision Boaz is going to offer Ruth. This is also a glimpse of the kind of provision (salvation) God ddesires to work on our behalf. God’s salvation is holisitc (body and soul).

As I read over this story in chapter 3, two words kept coming to my mind: thrill and significance. We are often moved by one or the other. Or maybe we are moved to do something thrilling in order to find significance, much like Larry the lawn chair pilot. This chapter is definitely thrilling and full of blood pumping action, and Ruth and Naomi are surely looking to find significance, and for a moment it seemed that Naomi was looking outside of God’s will for this kind of significance. But we see Ruth turn the corner and fall back on holiness and trust in God’s provision. Her motive to lay at Boaz’ feet was not a self-centered desire for thrill & significance. Rather, it was a God-centered thrill & significance that led her to do this seeming foolish, reputation ending act.

The part of the story I didn’t read about Larry the lawn chair pilot was that later in his life, he did volunteer work for the US Forest Service, then later broke up with his girlfriend and flight crew member of 15 years and could only find work sporadically as a security guard. Finally, 11 years after his “dream flight”, Larry committed suicide at the age of 44. The thrill and significance he sought never lasted, and actually left him more empty and lonely.

Thrill and significance: these two cravings are the very things that God uses to draw us to Himself, but they are also used by the enemy to keep us from being faithful to God in the way that Ruth and Boaz were in this story.

One quote regarding teen pregnancy says this: “Teenagers are far more likely to have babies when their lives begin to seem pointless and when the doors to the future seem closed.” There is a very close connection between saying “life has no point” and saying “life has no edge”.

Thrill & significance is what we all long for, but when we make thrill & significance our chief goal, we lose out. “I just want to have fun.” “I just want to be accepted (be significant).” “There’s noting I wouldn’t do to get (blank).” Thrill & significance pursued as a means to your happiness is empty and devastating.

If we put these two deep cravings together, I think what we’re saying is this: “I want my life to have meaning that is exciting to me and others. I want my life to be admirable. I want life to be a thrill; I want more joy in my life. I want to live for something that I would give my whole life for. I want to now that I’m gonna be somebody”

When we define ourselves by what we do, then when we don’t do (or fail to get) that thing that defines us, we cease to be significant (there is no thrill in life). Now oddly enough, the 2 things that keep us from being faithful to God are the very things that are satisfied when we are faithful to God.

Some of us would ask, “How in the world could Ruth and Boaz be this faithful, or generous?” They weren’t looking for cheap thrills and false significance. They were looking to be faithful to God. Their pursuit to be faithful to God gave them the very things they (and every human) longed for: thrill & significance. The other thing we find in Scripture is that you weren’t meant to try and be Boaz. The picture of Boaz is a picture of redemption that God works out on our behalf as we turn to Him for redemption. We can’t be the Boaz…we are Ruth, we are needy, we need to be redeemed and are relying on His power to save us. This is a glimpse into the gospel.

Can you identify times in your life where you have run to cheap thrills and false significance? Can you identify the affects the let down of those thrills have had on your life? Did those thrills make you feel significant? If so, how long did that feeling last?  What might you be overlooking today that God has already provided for you to receive the thrills and significance in Him? Or what has God called you to do, but you have not acted on it?

You are free to obey, and your obedience to God is the beginning of the thrill & significance you were meant to find in Him and His plans for you. You are not bound to the law. If you’ve made the wrong decision in the past, you will be ok! You will not be zapped dead by God. He will not forsake His promise to you. He has already redeemed you through Christ, if indeed you receive Jesus as your King. He will continue to redeem you, and give you the faith to obey and then you will walk in the thrill of being with God and receive your significance from you God says you are.

There is another One who forsook cheap thrills and false significance; He was deeply committed to God’s will; He trusted in God’s timing so much so that He obediently was led to the cross because of the hope set before Him, and the joy that would come to many. He forsook cheap thrills and false significance so that you could have eternal thrills and divine significance. This Jesus the Christ, the greater Ruth and Boaz.

Jesus is the One who set all things right.

Jesus’ righteousness makes many righteous.

Jesus’ plan gives us purpose, and thrill, and significance.

Jesus is the redeemer we need to turn to.

Let’s Pray!