Scripture Reading – Ruth 4 (ESV)
“And”, in the words of Bilbo Baggins, the hero of JRR Tolkien’s, The Hobbit, “they lived happily ever after to the end of their days...”Or so it seems, but how do you end a love story?
That is, after all, what we’ve been studying as we’ve worked our way through Book of Ruth. It’s a story about the love of a young Moabite woman for her Israelite family; a family that had been driven by famine to leave Israel and to go down into enemy territory. It’s a story about the way that she loved a her mother-in-law so much that even when everything went wrong and all the men in the family had died, still, she refused to let go and to return to the home of her own family. And it’s a story about the love that this same young Moabite woman came to share with an ageing farmer who first noticed her as she was following his servants, trying to glean a little grain from that which the harvesters left behind. It’s a story about love that refused to be thwarted by prejudice and fear; love that flirted with the boundaries of tradition and then crossed them.
Ephesians 1: 1 – 3; 2: 1 – 3
Sunday, November 8th, 2020
A king sits on a throne thinking about all of his accomplishments—the foes he has slain, the armies he has conquered, the cities he has built, all the things that he has achieved in the course of his life. A prophet of God appears before him thinking of some of his less famous acts; and the prophet tells him a story.
1 ... “There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor. 2 The rich man had very many flocks and herds, 3 but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. And he brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children. It used to eat of his morsel and drink from his cup and lie in his arms, and it was like a daughter to him. 4 Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was unwilling to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the guest who had come to him, but he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.” 2 Samuel 12:1–4 (ESV)
Then, the Scriptures tell us,5 ...[the King’s] anger was greatly kindled against the man, and he said... “As the LORDlives, the man who has done this deserves to die, 6 and he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.” 2 Samuel 12:5–6 (ESV)
And then, I imagine there was a moment when the prophet and the king locked eyes, and even before a word was spoken, the king knew—he knew in his heart—what that next word would be.
Revelation 2: 8 – 11
Sunday, November 1, 2020
About 100 years after the Scripture that we just read, a Bishop, Polycarp, served as pastor to the church in Smyrna. It’s interesting, because he was an early Father of the Church, as we know them, and other Church Fathers, Irenaeus and Tertullian, both wrote that Polycarp had been an actual disciple of John the Apostle, the human author, as we have seen, of the book of Revelation. Another ancient source goes so far as to say that it was John who appointed Polycarp to be the bishop of Smyrna.
Revelation 2: 1 – 7 (ESV)
1 “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lamp-stands. 2 “‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. 3 I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. 4 But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lamp-stand from its place, unless you repent. 6 Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’”
Revelation 1: 1 – 8 (H.C. Lord’s Day 12)
The Book of the Revelation, as we noted last Lord’s Day, begins with the words,
1 The revelation of Jesus Christ... Revelation 1:1 (ESV)(hence, the title), and it ends with the benediction,
21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen. Revelation 22:21 (ESV)
So, the book begins with a reference to “Jesus Christ”, and—not surprisingly, since he is the Alpha and the Omega—ends with a reference to “the Lord Jesus”, and frankly, everything that falls between is really about this same Jesus.
Revelation 1: 9 – 20 (ESV)
We are in a series, as noted last Lord’s Day; Part 3 of This Same Jesus, focussing on the fact that this book before us is, first and foremost,1 The revelation of Jesus Christ... Revelation 1:1 (ESV)
That, in itself, is complex enough that John will write 22 chapters (as we know them) between that opening statement, and his closing benediction,21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen. Revelation 22:21 (ESV)
Having said that, the book begins with Jesus, it ends with Jesus, and in a very real sense, everything that comes in between is simply, 1 The revelation of Jesus Christ... Revelation 1:1 (ESV)
That’s the point of the book, and to go looking for anything that is not a part of that is, in some sense, to miss the point.
Scripture Reading – Revelation 1: 1 – 8 (ESV)
Way back in November of 2018 we started a series on the Gospel according to Luke, with the overall title of “This Same Jesus”, and we were looking at Jesus in the state of humiliation (as old Reformed theologians were prone to say). But that title, “This Same Jesus”, was a quote taken from the book of Acts, which was part 2 of the extended series. So, we saw Jesus, during the incarnation. We walked with him from Bethlehem in the early chapters, to his ascension in Luke 24, but the story didn’t end there, because as he ascended,
Part Four ~ Absolute Surrender (Ruth 3)
This morning, I want to talk about Ruth by first thinking about someone altogether different, from a different book and a different era. I’m thinking of Philip, the deacon and evangelist; that Philip who, when the church began to be persecuted after the stoning of Stephen, “...went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ.” And, according to the Book of Acts,And the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip, when they heard him and saw the signs that he did. For unclean spirits, crying out with a loud voice, came out of many who had them, and many who were paralysed or lame were healed. So there was much joy in that city. Acts 8:6–8 (ESV)
Love, Faith, Obedience
Ruth 2; 1st John 5: 1 – 5
We began to study the Book of Ruth with the understanding that Ruth is first and foremost a love story. It’s the story of the unlikely love between an Israelite woman and her Moabite daughter-in-law. It’s the story of a still more unlikely love of an aging farmer for the young woman who came to glean in his fields at harvest time. But most of all, it’s the story of the love that God has for his people in Christ Jesus—the love that found expression as he reached out to us, sending his son into the world, not to condemn and judge the world, but so that the world through him might be saved. It’s a story of love, and grace, and faith; the primary virtues that find expression in the lives of Naomi, Ruth and Boaz.