Stories of princes, princesses, kings and queens, crowns and kingdoms fascinate us. We read about them in history books and fiction. We watch movies portraying Princess Brides and like to read Princess Diaries. Whether it be great kings and queens of Scripture such as David, Solomon, or Esther, or rulers like King Tut, Cyrus, Caesar, Alexander the Great, Cleopatra, Kublai Khan, Henry VIII, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip – the lives of monarchs captivate us.
In any Kingdom, life is to be lived under the rule and reign of the King. The boundaries, the blessings, and the behaviors expected of citizens of the Kingdom are formalized and enforced by the King. He is sovereign and yields to no one.
In His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), Jesus sits down to teach the crowds and His disciples about the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of Heaven. Kingdom living is not about living an ideal life in an ideal world but about living with God in a broken one. It’s about living with the King as messed-up people in a messed-up world. Let’s look at Matthew’s Gospel for some background to Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.
Cancel culture is the practice of withdrawing support for (canceling) people or businesses after they have done or said something considered objectionable, offensive, or politically incorrect. Cancel culture is generally group shaming. It’s a form of boycotting in which a person is then “canceled,” sometimes leading to massive declines in the person’s fanbase and career. The act of canceling could involve not watching an actor’s movies, no longer reading or promoting a writer’s works, no longer shopping at a particular store, avoiding a particular product.
Today’s mob-mentality of cancel culture is noxious, but it’s not new. The roots of cancel culture have been present throughout human history for at least 2,000 years. When Jesus attracted large crowds by his grace-based teaching of the scriptures and obtained celebrity status by his miracles, religious and political leaders took notice and became envious. Challenging their self-righteousness, questioning their authority, and calling out their hypocrisy, he went too far. They plotted to cancel Christ (Luke 23).
In a year when so much has been canceled and so many people are being canceled, we rejoice that death has been canceled (Luke 24:1-8). Christ canceled the power of sin and death so that we can live for Him!
Hosanna to the King
Many of the best love songs of all time sing of unending love, promises of love that will last, and commitment that will stand the test of time. Psalm 118 is a praise song about God’s unending love for us. It begins and ends with the same chorus, only with this song of praise, God keeps His promise of enduring love, “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his faithful love endures forever.”
Psalm 118 is the last of a group of psalms known as the Hallel or “praise”. The Jews sang the first two of those psalms (Psalms 113, 114) before the Passover meal and the last four (Psalms 115-118) after the meal. The Exodus (and Passover) pictured God’s redemption of His people, not just physically from slavery, but spiritually from sin. As the last song after the Passover, this would have been the last song that Jesus sang with His disciples before leaving for the Garden of Gethsemane.
Ruth and Jesus
At the conclusion of every movie, the scene fades to black. What follows is a list of credits to all the people behind the scenes who made the film. Nobody really pays attention to the credits, do they? Besides the superstar actors, it’s just a bunch of names of people we don’t know.
The book of Ruth ends the same way – with a list of names. It concludes with, of all things, a genealogy. A list of descendants. Yawn. But these last 4 verses should be read carefully. We discover that there is no better way for the Book of Ruth to end than to draw our attention to God’s ultimate purpose in His overall plan redemption—the person of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. (Ruth 4:18-22). The final credits to the book of Ruth are really the cliffhanging introduction to the birth of Jesus Christ in Matthew. What we discover at the end of Ruth that God is a faithful, covenant-keeping God, who redeems His people through His eternal Son, Jesus Christ.
The Blessings of Christ
In the musical, Les Misérables, based on the French novel by Victor Hugo, paroled ex-convict, Jean Valjean, shunned by society, is desperate for food and shelter. A catholic bishop welcomes him into his home and serves him dinner. Later, in the middle of the night, despite the bishop’s kindness, Valjean double-crosses him. Valjean remembers the silver spoon he used to eat his soup and stole the bishop’s valuable silverware. He is quickly caught by the police and brought back to the bishop’s home where the bishop verifies that the silver was a gift and, moreover, Valjean left the best of the silver, the candlesticks behind. As an act of blessing, the bishop declares to Valjean, “God has raised you out of darkness, I have saved your soul for God.”
Jean Valjean was redeemed by the mercy of a loving man. We have been Redeemed with the blood of a loving God.
As we continue the story of Ruth and Boaz (Ruth 4:1-12), Boaz has agreed to redeem Ruth, but now he must wait until he finds out whether a closer relative will exercise his rights of redemption. What are the requirements of a Redeemer? Who qualifies? What’s the process? What’s the price of redemption? We’ll examine these questions and discover how Jesus, as our Kinsman Redeemer, paid the penalty for our sin and purchased our freedom to live for God.
Waiting on God
Most of the modern technologies intended to improve our lives have only caused us to become more impatient. We want instant access through instant messaging and Instagram. We expect instant results from our search engine. We cook our food in microwave ovens and instant pots. We live in a world of fast food, fast lanes, and faster downloads through our wireless network. We want rapid test results in 15 minutes not 24-48 hours. It’s not complicated – even kids agree that now is better.
Maybe the reason we don’t like to wait is that it indicates that life is out of control and, more importantly, we’re not. In the Book of Ruth, we have observed people waiting all through the story. Today, we discover that waiting on God’s plan to unfold builds our faith in Him (Ruth 3:12-18).
God's Promise of Redemption
In times of difficulty like the political and racial division of our country, times of disease during our current pandemic of COVID-19, as well as disasters and bitter cold like this past week of SNOWVID21, each of us faces a decision. Henri Nouwen says it this way, “When there is a reason for gratitude, there can always be a reason for bitterness. It is here that we are faced with the freedom to make a decision. We can decide to be grateful or to be bitter.” What will you choose? Thankfulness or bitterness?
In the book of Ruth, though she was bitter before, Naomi now had restored hope in hopeless times. God had promised to bless His people with many descendants (Genesis 12:1-3). She began to see how God’s promise of redemption was beginning to unfold through Boaz as a potential kinsman-redeemer. In the responses of Boaz to Ruth (Ruth 3:1-11), we see how the Lord Jesus responds to us when we seek Him and trust in Him as our Redeemer.
The story of Ruth is deeply rooted in the covenants and culture of the Old Testament. From the very beginning of the Scriptures, when God began to work with His people of Israel. The Abrahamic covenant marks a transition in Genesis’ account of God’s initiated redemption of the world (Genesis 12:1–3, 7; 13:14–17; 15:4–21; 17:4–16; 22:15–18). Initially made to the patriarch while he was still under the name Abram (“exalted father”; 12:1–3; 13:14–18), the promise would later be expanded to the people of the world in such a way as to necessitate a change of title: Abram becomes Abraham (“father of many”; 17:5–8).
God always reminded the Israelites of two things He covenanted with them. God told Israel they were a special people, set apart from all the other nations. God told Israel that they had a special place He had prepared for them. Even today that’s true. There’s a place called Israel at the very center of everything that’s going on in the world. And there is a people—the Jews—spread throughout the earth. In the book of Ruth, there is a continuation of God’s promise to His people concerning a place and a people.
In order for us to cross some cultural barriers to understand this section of God’s Word, two words need to be explained:
- The first word is yābām, יָבָם, meaning “deceased husband’s brother” or “brother-in-law.” In the OT, in order to preserve the people of Israel, the brother of a man who had died without children would marry the deceased man’s wife, and the first child born in that relationship would perpetuate the name of the man who had died. This was known as a levirate marriage. Deuteronomy 25:5-6 instructed the Jews:
5 “When brothers live on the same property and one of them dies without a son, the wife of the dead man may not marry a stranger outside the family. Her brother-in-law is to take her as his wife, have sexual relations with her, and perform the duty of a brother-in-law for her. 6 The first son she bears will carry on the name of the dead brother, so his name will not be blotted out from Israel.
- The second word is go’el (גָּאַל), translated “redeemer.” The go’el was an extended family member who was to act as the redeemer of persons or property. We find this in Leviticus 25:25-28:
25 If your brother becomes destitute and sells part of his property, his nearest relative may come and redeem what his brother has sold. 26 If a man has no family redeemer, but he prospers and obtains enough to redeem his land, 27 he may calculate the years since its sale, repay the balance to the man he sold it to, and return to his property. 28 But if he cannot obtain enough to repay him, what he sold will remain in the possession of its purchaser until the Year of Jubilee. It is to be released at the Jubilee, so that he may return to his property.
Every Jewish family had a piece of property that was theirs by virtue of their inheritance, and the Scriptures taught that even if a person became totally poor and lost everything he had, a member of the family was supposed to buy that property back on his behalf until the year of Jubilee (an observance in which every seven years, Jews got back everything they had lost). So when a person lost his property, one of the family members—the goel (גָּאַל), the redeemer—would buy it back so that family would not lose its inheritance.
So just as the yābām יָבָם perpetuated the people, the go’el (גָּאַל), perpetuated the property, the place.
In the book of Ruth, we see God’s promise for a special people and a special place unfold through the relationship of Boaz, the redeemer, and Ruth, in need of redemption.
Sunday Service Times
Communion Worship Service in English (Auditorium)
K- Grade 5: Children enjoy worship service in the main auditorium with their families. Children will be dismissed to Children's Church midway through the service.
Servicio de Adoración en Español
11:00 am (Student Ministry Building)