Today's Devotions

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Showcase: Being an elder

  • Who are you? The roles of elder, pastor and congregation +

    Todd Nighswonger of Cornerstone Simi Church, talked about the role of elders, pastors, and the congregation living in community. http://storage.cornerstonesimi.com/sermons/audio/11_103_A_People_of_Worth_pt3.mp3 Read More
  • A Letter from an Elder Completing His Term by Kevin DeYoung +

    At our Consistory meeting last week I asked all those whose terms were ending to share a few reflections and Read More
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http://www.esvbible.org/Ruth+3-4/Don Carson

http://www.esvbible.org/Acts+28/

http://www.esvbible.org/Jeremiah+38/

http://www.esvbible.org/Psalms+11-12/

SCHOLARS DISAGREE SOMEWHAT over the social significance of each action taken in Ruth 3-4, but the general line is clear enough.

Almost certainly the levirate laws, which allowed or mandated men to marry widowed in-laws under certain circumstances to keep the family name alive, were not followed very consistently. Following Naomi's instruction, Ruth takes a little initiative: she lies down at Boaz's feet in a "men only" sleeping area. When he wakes up, she says, "Spread the corner of your garment over me, since you are a kinsman-redeemer" (Ruth 3:9). This was an invitation, but not a cheap one. It signaled her willingness to become his wife, if Boaz will discharge his duties as a kinsman-redeemer. Boaz takes this as a compliment: apparently there is enough difference between their ages (Ruth 3:10, plus his habit of referring to Ruth as "my daughter") that he is touched by her willingness to marry him instead of one of the young men.

The story plays out with romantic integrity. Hollywood would hate it: there is no blistering sex, certainly not of the premarital variety. But there is a seductive charm to the account, allied with a wholesome respect for tradition and procedure, and a knowing grasp of human nature. Hence, Naomi confidently predicts that Boaz "will not rest until the matter is settled today" (Ruth 3:18).

She is right, of course. The town gate is the place for public agreements, and there Boaz marshals ten elders as witnesses and gently demands that the one person who is a closer relative to Naomi (and therefore with the right of "first refusal") discharge the obligations of kinsman-redeemer or legally abandon the claim (Ruth 4:1-4).

Apparently at this point the marriage rights are tied to ownership of the land of the deceased husband. This particular kinsman-redeemer would love to obtain the land, but does not want to marry Ruth. Her firstborn son in such a union would maintain the property and family heritage of the deceased husband; later sons would inherit from the natural father. But the situation is messy. Suppose Ruth bore only one son?

So Boaz marries Ruth, and in due course she gives birth to a son, whom they call Obed. Naomi is provided not only with a grandson, but with a family eager and able to look after her.

At one level, this is a simple story of God's faithfulness in the little things of life, at a time of social malaise, religious declension, political confusion, and frequent anarchy. God still has his people — working hard, acting honorably, marrying, bearing children, looking after the elderly. They could not know that Obed's was the line that would sire King David — and, according to the flesh, King Jesus

Reflections to Consider

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Publications

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Music

  • Magnificent

    Few songs capture the entrancing, humbling, overwhelming awe I experience in the presence of God. Magnificent, a song by U2 Read More
  • Effortlessly

    Effortlessly, Love flows from God into man, Like a bird Who rivers the air Without moving her wings. Thus we Read More
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Audio & Video

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The Hit List

  • Gifts of the Holy Spirit: Prophecy, by Dr. Wayne Grudem +

    A fascinating discussion of the nature of prophecy in the 21st century, by Wayne Grudem. He became Research Professor of Read More
  • Baptism in and Filling with the Holy Spirit: a talk by Wayne Grudem +

    Thoughtful, considerate discussion of the role of the Holy Spirit in a Christ-centered life. Read More
  • The Relationship of Husband and Wife (Part 1): Wayne Grudem +

    What does it mean to be a husband? What is the role of the wife? How did God originally intend Read More
  • Part Two of Wayne Grudem on Husbands and Wives +

    This is part two of Wayne Grudem's discussion of the relationship of husband and wife in marriage and in creation. Read More
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Gems

  • The Community of Jesus +

    What does it mean to be a Christian? Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in NYC, makes a compelling Read More
  • Life as an Alien +

    Timothy Keller, the pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in NYC, provides an inspiring portrayal of what the church is supposed Read More
  • Real Living +

    The Community of Jesus by Tim Keller-notes from a blog Keller takes us through the sermon on the Mount focusing Read More
  • Does God Control Everything?: Tim Keller sermon +

    Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in NYC, has an insightful discussion about free will, pre-destination and God's omnipotence, Read More
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