Respect for Women

Today’s reading: Ruth 2:1-1 Samuel 1:20

Some husbands show wonderful love and respect for their wives.  It is a delight to behold.  But there is One whose love for His bride is unparalleled in all of history.

We celebrate that love during the Easter season.  Have a blessed Easter!

He is risen!  He is risen, indeed!

[For more reflections on this passage see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

Something Greater

Today’s reading: Ruth 1-4; Luke 11:29-54

13 Remain tonight, 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. Lie down until the morning.”                                                                                                         Ruth 3:13

31 The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here. 32 The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.                      Luke 11:31-32

Those who focus on material things and the passing values of this world are liable to miss the most important things. They choose short range benefits over eternal ones.

Jesus condemned the people of His day for demanding additional signs that would prove that He was the Messiah while ignoring the evidence which His words and life amply provided. He said that the Old Testament gave examples of Gentiles (the Queen of the South and the people of Nineveh) who believed with less evidence than the people of Capernaum. The contemporaries of Jesus’ day chose to ignore the light they had and to overlook something greater than Solomon and Jonah.  It was not politically correct or socially fashionable to believe in the Teacher from Nazareth.

In the Book of Ruth, Boaz showed himself to be faithful to God’s law. Although it cost him, he agreed to redeem Ruth, that is, to marry her and provide an heir for Ruth’s deceased husband. There was another, closer relative who should have been the kinsman-redeemer, but he declined to do so, choosing instead the material benefit of having an heir. As it turned out Boaz fathered a son by Ruth who entered into the royal lineage of David and of Jesus Christ Himself (Luke 3:31-32). The unnamed shoeless relative is only remembered by his negligence while Boaz stands in the Old Testament as a type of Christ.

Beware of choosing the things that only last in this world. Choose that which will last for eternity: the Word of God, the glory of God, and the Church of Jesus Christ.

Respect for Women

Today’s reading: Ruth 2:1-1 Samuel 1:20

My selection: Ruth 2:8, 9, 22

8 Then Boaz said to Ruth, “Now, listen, my daughter, do not go to glean in another field or leave this one, but keep close to my young women. 9 Let your eyes be on the field that they are reaping, and go after them. Have I not charged the young men not to touch you? And when you are thirsty, go to the vessels and drink what the young men have drawn.”

 22 And Naomi said to Ruth, her daughter-in-law, “It is good, my daughter, that you go out with his young women, lest in another field you be assaulted.”

My reflections: Reading between the lines, one can easily see that, in Israel, during this period of the Judges, a poor woman gleaning in the harvest along side of the men would be in danger of being assaulted if she did not have the protection of the landowner. The poor had the right to gather behind the reapers (Leviticus 19:9-10; 23:22; Deuteronomy 24:19), but, in actuality, they were not safe from being accosted. God protected Ruth, but we are reminded of what little fear of God existed in those days in Israel. Legal rights and status do not change the hearts of men who can treat women as if they were a product to be consumed or exploited.

Christian men should be different if they understand that women, in general, and their mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, and female friends in particular were created in God’s image and are due equal respect not merely legally but socially and personally. Boaz modeled this beautifully in protecting Ruth from his workers. He did not allow her to be abused or exploited.

My challenge: Men, are you treating the women in your life with respect? Are you protecting them from exploitation as much as depends on you?

Women, do you know that you are worthy of respect as a woman? Are you alert and resistant to those men who are selfish and abusive? Is there a Boaz in your life who looks out for your best?

Jesus Christ, our ultimate Redeemer, is the One who truly frees us from the bondage of our sin as Boaz freed Ruth from the bondage of her poverty and childlessness. He is the model for all Christian husbands.

Ephesians. 5:25,33 “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her… let the wife see that she respects her husband.”

A husband that loves like Christ will be easy to respect. A woman who holds out for a husband like that will find it easy to respect him.

Tomorrow’s reading: 1 Samuel 1:21-4:22

Can failure be God’s will?

Today’s reading: Judges 20:1-Ruth 1:22

My selection: Judges 20:18

18 The people of Israel arose and went up to Bethel and inquired of God, “Who shall go up first for us to fight against the people of Benjamin?” And the Lord said, “Judah shall go up first.”

My reflections: The people of Israel were properly outraged by the evil that had occurred in Gibeah. They sought to punish those responsible, but the tribal leaders of Benjamin defended the guilty and blocked any execution of justice. Israel prepared to fight them. Again Israel properly sought God’s direction for how to begin the battle. Twice the LORD told them to go into battle and twice they were brutally defeated. Finally in the third battle, Israel was victorious.

Does God ever decree failure for His people who do His will? This incident would indicate that God may, at times, decree apparent failure for His people, even in a good and noble endeavor. We may not assume that it is never God’s will for us to “fail” at something He has told us to do. Success, as we understand it, may not be His will. Failure may be. Israel did eventually succeed, but it would have been wrong to conclude after one or two failures that they were on the wrong track, that they had misunderstood His directions.

I believe that the LORD was using the two early defeats in battle for another secret purpose. What secret purpose? We are not told. However, there is another notable incident in biblical history where we are told how apparent defeat really led to victory. Jesus’ death on the cross seemed like complete defeat at the time. Now we can see that it led to the ultimate defeat of Satan, the crushing of the serpent’s head after the bruising of Jesus’ heel. (Acts 2:22-24; Genesis 3:15).

My challenge: Has God called you to serve Him in some way that does not seem to be successful? If It is His call, remain steadfast in spite of apparent failure. Our calling is to be faithful. Success is not always what it seems. Success is to obey and keep on obeying.

Tomorrow’s reading: Ruth 2:1- I Samuel 1:20

The Ambitious Minister

Today’s reading: Judges 18:1-19:30

My selection: Judges 18:19-20

And they said to him, “Keep quiet; put your hand on your mouth and come with us and be to us a father and a priest. Is it better for you to be priest to the house of one man, or to be priest to a tribe and clan in Israel?” 20 And the priest’s heart was glad. He took the ephod and the household gods and the carved image and went along with the people.

My reflections: The Levite who had illegally been installed as priest to the household of Micah in Ephraim has now received a greater “call”. The men of Dan make him an offer he can’t refuse, to be the priest for a whole tribe rather than merely for one family. It is a real promotion and he is glad to take it. Besides, there were 600 armed men ready to pounce on him and his master should they cause any trouble.

Having already wandered from obedience to the law of God, the priest (whose name is never mentioned) had neither the character nor the commitment to resist this new “opportunity.”

My challenge: If you are a minister of the gospel, do you serve the Lord and obey Him whether or not it advances your status, financial prosperity, or security? Are you eager to promote yourself? Do you consider whether the offer for a more prestigious position is in accord with the ways of God as revealed in His word? Are you caving in to pressure from powerful forces to act in ways that are not true to God’s word?

Minister, be faithful. Make obedience to God your sole aim, not personal advancement or the appeasement of powerful people.

Christian, pray for your pastor and all those who are serve the Lord that they may be faithful and content to serve in the place and way they have been called.

Tomorrow’s reading: Judges 20:1-Ruth 1:22