Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Apr 18 2019 - Ruth 4 – A happy ending

Boaz is as good as his word. He does all that he can to make Ruth his wife, and he does it quickly.

As we saw yesterday, In Israel, land was not to be bought and sold. It was God's gift to his people and was to be handed down as a trust within the family from generation to generation. When Elimelek left for Moab, his land would have been taken over by others, but with Naomi's return it should revert to Elimelek's descendants. Since both his sons were dead who was going to inherit it? Who is going to marry Ruth and raise up a son to be the deceased man's heir – Naomi being beyond the age of childbearing?

Boaz intercepts the closer relative of Elimelek as he makes his way through the city gate – the place where men met to talk and where deals were struck. Asking others to witness his conversation he speaks of the land that belongs to Elimelek and which Naomi is ready to pass on to a close relative who will provide her with a price for its harvests. The closer relative jumps at the chance of increasing his landholding until Boaz says that he must also take Ruth and raise up a child to inherit Elimelek's property. At this the man refuses the deal. Suppose he and Ruth have only one son? This would be considered Elimelek's grandson, heir to Elimelek's land. What would happen to his own lands and inheritance?

Boaz has achieved his objective. He calls the men at the city gate to witness that he will acquire the land belonging to Naomi and Elimelek and that he will take Ruth to be his wife.

The crowd at the gate respond with delight and with words of extravagant blessing. "May the LORD make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the family of Israel. May you have standing in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem. Through the offspring the LORD gives you by this young woman, may your family be like that of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah" (Ruth 4:11-12). And their words find an answer in the child that is born to Boaz and Ruth; Obed will become the grandfather of King David.

The child born to Ruth and Boaz brought great joy to Naomi – he is even spoken of as Naomi's son since he is Elimelek's heir. I doubt that she ever again said, "Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter" (1:20). But the child descended from Obed, David's greater son, the Lord Jesus, would bring joy to the world and put an end to the bitterness experienced by all who live in a world of loss and of death.

God has been at work through every twist and turn of this story – through times of sadness, moments of kindness, scenes of high drama and times of joy. God has been working out his own purpose through the lives of these ordinary people. These were the days when the judges ruled over Israel, days when there was no king in Israel and everyone did what was right in their own eyes. But some sought to live lives that recognised and honoured God and through them God would provide a king for Israel, and ultimately the King over all creation.

Lord God, we thank you for the Lord Jesus our kinsman-redeemer. We praise you that when he was faced with the cost of our redemption he did not turn back but gave himself up for us. We recognise your hand at work through all of the pages of Scripture and the twists and turns of its history. Help us to know that you are still at work today through the lives of ordinary people who are devoted to you; working to bring your salvation to the ends of the earth. Use us to bring the blessings of your salvation to those around us.

Apr 18 2013 - Luke 19:1-27 – Lord and Christ

Luke's account of the parable of the Minas is similar to Matthew's parable of the Talents. But there is a second strand woven into Luke's parable. The lord who gives sums of money to three of his servants before going away on a journey is going to receive a kingdom. Many of the citizens do not want him to be made their king and send a delegation after him to ask that he might not be given the kingdom. But the master is appointed as king, and when he returns, he not only calls his servants to see how they have used the money entrusted to them, he also summons those citizens who had not wanted him to be appointed as their king and has them slaughtered before him.

This rather bloodthirsty second strand of the parable reflects what had actually happened in recent history. Jesus' hearers would have known how Archelaus, on the death of his father Herod, made his way to Rome in order to get confirmation of the kingship bestowed on him in his father's will. Archelaus was followed by a deputation of Jews who resisted his appointment and who succeeded in persuading Augustus to give him only half his father's kingdom and the status of an ethnarch rather than a king. But in the parable that Jesus tells, the master is appointed as king and returns to exact judgment on those who had rejected him.

What is the meaning of this element of the parable? Surely, Jesus is speaking of himself. He is the one whom God has appointed to be king over his people. But many of those to whom he came rejected him; they did not want Jesus to be king over them. This rejection would soon be played out to its ultimate conclusion as Jesus is hung upon a cross. Yet God will have this Jesus to be king over his people. He raised him from the dead and has given him the name which is above every other name, so that every knee might bow to the name of Jesus. Continued rejection of him will bring down judgment upon those who have set themselves against him (cf. Psalm 2).

It's easy for us to point the finger at others who have rejected the Lord Jesus. But we need also to examine our own lives. Are there any areas in our own lives that are not fully submitted to the lordship of Jesus? Are there areas in which we, like the third of the servants in this parable, are not giving him what is his due? Jesus has not been given a half-kingdom and we should not render him half-hearted obedience.

In the story of Zacchaeus which precedes this parable, we read of a man whose life was utterly transformed through his encounter with Jesus. He had been a money-grabbing tax collector but, unlike the rich young ruler we read of yesterday, he was glad to give away much of what he had as part of his devotion to the Lord. Salvation had come to his house and he no longer considered what he possessed to be his own.

Father God, we gladly welcome Jesus as your chosen king and as our Lord and we long for the day when he will return. Help us to live every aspect of our lives gladly under his benevolent rule. Help us not to hold back anything from him but to use all that we have and are as good stewards of your kingdom. Help us to live now in such a way that we may receive the commendation of our Lord at his return.

Peter Misselbrook