Monday, November 22, 2010

Boaz, a type of Christ

In my last post I wrote about the cities of refuge being a type, or picture, of Jesus Christ. I would say that is one of my favorite "things" that typifies our Saviour in the Old Testament. However, one of my favorite people that give us a forshadowing of Jesus, is found in the book of Ruth, pictured in Boaz.
First we see that he was a near kinsman to Ruth (Ruth 3:9). Here we have a Moabitess, and yet she was of close kin to this man of the stock of Abraham. These, who looked on the outset like two total strangers were in actuallity close relatives. In like manner we are told that we were predestined to be conformed to the image of Christ, that He might be the firtsborn among many brethren (Rom. 8:29). Again in Hebrews 2 we read that Jesus was made a little lower than the angels that he might bring many sons to glory, also that He is not ashamed to call them brethren. Though our sin has robbed us of much of the image of God, and on the outside we would never be associated with Him, yet through His mercy he has made us siblings and joint heirs with Christ.
Secondly, Boaz was a mighty man of wealth (Ruth 2:1). The same was said of our Lord Jesus in II Cor. 8:9, For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich. The Son of Man walked this earth from infancy in a stall to manhood with no place to lay His head, He was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and aquainted with grief; this same Jesus is the owner of the cattle on a thousand hills, He both appoints and casts down every king raised up and every one defeated. Although in humilty he made himself of no reputation and took upon himself the form a servant, let us not forget that truly the Messiah was a mighty man of wealth!
Third, we see that even as a mighty man of wealth, Boaz took notice of a stranger. Eph. 2:19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; Boaz had no need of Ruth, he had many servants and gleaners, he had a nation of women who came from a much more acceptable background from which to choose his bride. But, in mercy and grace and he chose the woman who was a stranger and foreigner.
Lastly, before Boaz could marry Ruth, he had to redeem her from the hand of another. (Ruth 4:1-10) We too were possessed by another, we were by nature the children of wrath, and in need of a redeemer. Thus we are told in Gal. 4:4-5 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.
Isn't God gracious to give us such a clear picture of his love for us through a love story in the Old Testament?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Cities of refuge

Num. 35:12 And they shall be unto you cities for refuge from the avenger; that the manslayer die not, until he stand before the congregation in judgment.
Throughout the Old Testament we have many pictures, types, and foreshadowings of Christ. Many times they come in the form of people; Abraham, Moses, David, and many others were a picture of the coming Messiah. However there are also times when inanimate objects and even certain ceremonies and days picture aspects of our Lord. The Cities of Refuge are one of those inanimate objects that give us a colorful illustration of part of what Christ would accomplish.
In order to see Christ as the City of Refuge we must see ourselves as those who had committed manslaughter and in need of a protector. We met that criteria in two ways. First, we were present by representative in Adam when he effectively killed all his descendants through the original sin (Rom. 5:12). Secondly, we were guilty in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, who was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him (Isa. 53:5). So while we might say we did not personally go out looking to kill either time, it does not change the fact that we were guilty of blood in both cases.
When a man was guilty of manslaughter, it was expected that a death penalty of sorts was placed on him in that the family of the deceased would look to enforce the law of an eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth. We have here further continuity in the illustration, for we were by nature the children of wrath. I have heard this explained as though we ran to Christ to escape Satan, the accuser of the brethren, (and I suppose in a way that is true). However, it much closer to a correct understanding to see God as the offended family member, it was his wrath and condemnation we were under, not Satan's!
So here we are, guilty of the blood of an innocent man, whether intentional or not and we have heavy on our heads the impending and inevitable wrath of God. Our only hope is to fly to some mountain, to a Rock of Ages, to a City of Refuge and cast ourselves upon it in faith that it can withstand the fury of the pursuing party until the day of our trial. As Paul told the Corinthians that the Rock in the wilderness was Christ, so I say that refuge for us was only found in Christ.
All physical illustrations have their limitations when attempting to picture something spiritual, and this one is no exception. The striking difficulty here is that God is (by Christ) the slain innocent, he is the vengeful family member, he is the City of Refuge itself, and he is the judge that will eventually proclaim us just (albeit not for our innocence, but for the righteousness of Christ for us). But is it not fitting that in a foreshadowing of our redemption, its greatest problem is that God is "too" present and active? For in our salvation the same is true, God is both just and the justifier! (Rom. 3:26)

Monday, August 2, 2010

Questions to ask in times of trial

"Why me? Why now? Why this?" Are these the first thoughts to cross your mind when something unpleasant occurs in your life? Something painful, or at least uncomfortable? If you're anything like me, they are. Our culture has trained us to be comfortable and amused at all times and if we are ever inconvenienced we are highly offended! Sure we claim to believe in the fall of man, we are aware that the bible says something about this life being filled with sorrow and the Christian life in particular requiring sacrifice and chastisement. That's all good and well in abstract, it makes for stimulating conversation and thought provoking theory, but when those chickens come home to roost it's another story entirely. But do we really deserve a life of happiness? Is it our intrinsic right to live a life free of too much care or worry? Or is perhaps the opposite true? Perhaps the song writer had a legitimate point when he asked, "Must I be carried to the skies on flowery beds of ease, while others fought to win the prize and sailed through bloody seas?" As I meditated on these things recently I purposed to begin asking myself four questions whenever my life was bumped, rocked, or upset by some unpleasant circumstance.
1. Is there any sin in my life that has directly led to this calamity?
I am always amazed when hear stories or read articles about someone whose sin directly led to a mishap and they say something like, "I don't know what happened, everything was fine and then this happened!" A man is shot in a drug deal gone wrong and his surviving family bemoan his passing as though it was unprovoked and he a martyr. But how often do I do this very thing? More often than I would like to admit. I have been in car accidents that were a direct result of rebelling against the authority of the civil government's set traffic laws. I have injured myself carrying on in some foolishness, I have lost money by not exercising proper stewardship. More often than we like to imagine, our personal storms are brought on us by our own sinfulness.
2. Is there sin in my life not related to this trauma, that God is trying to get me to stop and think about.
Miriam's rebellion did not naturally lead to her leprosy, but God used it to show her it was sin, nor did Ananias and Sapphira's lies directly lead to their deaths, but God killed them and a righteous fear fell on the church and world alike. If I have examined myself under the light of the first question and see no connection, that does not mean I'm off the hook. I now will examine my life in total and see if perhaps God is using this fire to purge out some dross somewhere else in my life.
3. How can I be made more like Christ through this trial?
If I have made sure there is no sin for which I have not repented in my life, I attempt to distinguish in what areas might this pressure enhance my character. Will it give me more patience, long suffering, love, joy, hope, meekness, some combination of the above...? You will remember that Jesus healed a blind man that had not suffered that for a sin, but simply that God might be glorified in him. How did your last tribulation glorify God through your life? How did it make you more like Christ? How did it sanctify you?
4. How can my love for others be more effective now because of my hardship?
If God sends me a storm for no other reason than to hone my ability to help others, can I really complain? Did not Christ suffer many things simply so it might be said of him, "For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin."? If our master suffered to be able to empathize with us, shall we murmur and complain when asked to suffer in order to show his love more clearly to others? God forbid! I pray every trial I face, every pain I endure, and every inconvenience I experience would make me a more able minister of the gospel.
These are questions I am going to attempt to ask myself from now on, and I was encouraged by a friend to blog them, so here they are. I pray they help you in some small way. To God alone be the glory.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Third Day - Cry Out To Jesus W/Lyrics

Is there a better answer to give when faced with pain or problems? Cry out to Jesus!

John Piper - Where are the faithful young men?

I was convicted by this, at the same time I thanked God that I know where a few of these men and women are and I am blessed to count them among my friends!

Coming rain

I close my eyes and resist the stiff wind, enjoying the feeling of it tugging at my shirt and tustling with my hair. A sudden gust forces my eyes back open simply to retain my balance. I inhale deeply and taste the sharp mixture of fresh air cleaned by the coming rain and the pugnent - yet strangely intoxicating - scent of wet asphalt. The charcoal grey clouds are moving closer by the second, boiling over the backdrop of a blue sky that appeared so serene only moments before. Somewhere close the ominous sound of thunder sends shivers down my spine, shivers not of fear but simply wonder at the power and mystery of the thunder. My cheek is stung by a tiny raindrop, whipped forcibly at me by the strengthening wind. I wonder for a split second if it was a stray raindrop, somehow seperated from the bulk of the storm and driven to me by the wind, or if it was the first in line to fall directly over me, a harbinger of his brothers, eagerly awaiting their drop or perhaps free-falling already. I chuckle at myself for such a random thought and focus instead on watching the lightning, I see a flash out of the corner of my eye but it leaves as quickly as it came and I cannot turn my head quickly enough to feel as though I actually saw it. I had never really stopped to consider it before, but I quickly realize that try as I might it is impossible to watch a bolt from inception to retreat. This frustrates me, but in the end simply serves as a reminder to me of my own limitations. The warehouse at my back is hot and stuffy and I am disinclinded to leave this moment, but duty calls and with a final sweep of my eyes, I reluctantly return to work and wait for the rain.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A puritan prayer

O Lord God,
There is no blessing we implore,
but thou art able to give,
hast promised to give,
hast given already to countless multitudes,
all unworthy and guilty like ourselves;
Make us willing to recieve the supply,
of our need from thy bounty.
To this end convince us of sin,
soften our hard hearts,
to bewail our folly, ingratitude, pride,
unbelief, rebellion, corruption.
Through the law may we die to the law,
then look with wonder, submission, delight,
to the provision thou hast made
for the glory of thy Name
in the salvation of sinners.
Give us a hope that makes us not ashamed,
a love that excites to holy obedience,
a joy in thee that is our strength,
a faith in thy Son who loved us and died for us.
May we persevere in duty
when not fully conscious of thee,
wait upon thee and keep thy way,
be humble and earnest suppliants at thy feet,
live continually as on the brink of eternity.
Let us be at thy disposal for the duties
and events of life,
submit our preferences to thy wisdom and will,
resign our enjoyments if thou ,shouldest require it
as our absolute Proprietor and best Friend.
In our unworthiness and provocations
make us grateful for the means of grace
and the ordinances of religion
and teach us to profit by them
more than we have done.
Help us to be in the Spirit on the Lord's Day,
to enter upon the sabbath mindful of its
solemnities, duties, privileges,
setting all things worldly aside
while we worship thee.
May we know the blessedness of men
whose strenth is in thee,
and in whose hearts are the highways
to heaven.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Walk with Christ

2Ti 4:16 At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge.
2Ti 4:17 Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.
I have recently been wrestling with the doctrine of the Sabbath day; how exactly we are to keep it holy, and what the correct balance is between enjoying all God’s good gifts and yet making sure the day is separated for God. God has been showing me many things through His word, personal experiences, and godly counsel of parents, pastors and friends. However this post is about a different subject that I have been convicted about as a result of that study.
As I began to be more and more convinced that I was abusing the liberty allowed for the Lord’s Day, I tried to rationalize my continuation in such things, perhaps the foremost rationalization being that were I to conclude that the Lord’s Day is to be used strictly for spiritual thoughts, speech, and actions I would be isolated. Like most people, I’m a social creature, I don’t like being by myself when I know my friends are all off having fun somewhere, so I continued to fight the growing evidence of scriptural and natural revelation, knowing that embracing them would mean I would have to give up doing many things that I enjoy most and usually only get a chance to do on Sunday afternoons. (Watch football and play sports with my friends) God broke me this morning as I gave in to the truth that has been nagging me in the back of my mind all this time, if truth is truth, than to deny it for the sake of pleasure and convenience is an act of cowardice, hypocrisy, and idolatry.
Was not our Lord forsaken of all when arrested? Is it not enough for me to be as the Master? (Matt. 10:25) Was not Paul abandoned by all for standing for the truth? Have not many godly men stood alone through the ages? Are we not called to forsake all to follow Christ? I confess now that my rationalizations were nothing but a fight to feed the flesh that we are called to kill. So I write publicly to remind you, as I have been reminded, that there is an inherent cost built into true Christianity that we are called to count. If being alone is too much to pay than I am no true follower of Christ but a Pharisee, with white-washed walls but inwardly filled with dead men’s bones.
Once I settled this with myself, that I would attempt to obey scripture regardless of the cost, I was reminded that even if all men forsake me, I will not taste the full loneliness of our Lord when he cried with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, Lama, Sabbachthani” which being interpreted is “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” If I am forsaken by men it is only so I can walk with Christ, who has promised to never leave or forsake me. If there is an area in your life that is contrary to scripture, yet you are holding on to for fear of abandonment, I call you to mortify the deeds of the flesh and walk with Christ.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The father's role as bread-winner.

The following is an excerpt from my pamphlet The Proper Roles in a Biblical Family. Luke 11:11 If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?
Luke 11:12 Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?
Luke 11:13 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?

The first principle I want to look at is the most basic duty of a father, that of providing and caring for those of your household. It is and always has been the responsibility of the father to provide for the physical necessities of the house. In this passage Jesus calls his own disciples “evil”, yet the assumption is that even the evil men take care of their households. As it is written in I Tim. 5:8, “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” It is not the responsibility of the wife or the children or the state to care for your family, it is yours and you need to do everything in your power to fulfill that obligation. The scriptures do not say that it is your responsibility to make sure they are provided for, but rather it is your responsibility to provide for them. It has always been Satan’s goal to reverse the decrees of God, he calls good evil and evil good, and he is attempting to reverse the roles in our families as well. Fathers, provide for your families and if you turn even a part of that over to another party, you are letting the proverbial camel’s nose into the tent.
Many ask, “What about the families that need the wife to work?” The situations where that is actually a necessity are few and far between, if the father is willing to work hard there will be no reason for anyone else to have to care for that man’s family. I’m not promising that they will have the same standard of living as the Jones, but no one else needs to work in the vast and overwhelming majority of American families in order for them to survive. The only exceptions I can think of might be if the father has a physical handicap that keeps him from working. I can say this with a fair amount of assurance, because I grew up in a family of eleven, my father was the only one in the family that worked until I, as the oldest boy, got old enough to get a job. Even then my father continued to provide me with all the things he had always provided me with until I moved out of his house, all I had to take care of were the extra things such as my car and cell phone. My father didn’t have a high paying job, yet somehow I always had food in my belly and a dry place to sleep, we had gas in our cars and our house was heated and air-conditioned. Now admittedly we lived in a trailer, our cars were at least ten years old most of the time, and we didn’t have the newest gadgets, but that was a conscious decision my parents made in order to be as biblical as possible. The idea that there has to be two incomes to support a family is a myth that is being propagated by the devil through our modern culture, and thousands of Christians have bought it hook, line and sinker and now go so far as to mock those who refute it. The scriptures always refer to the father as the one who cares for the physical provision of the family, and calls those who abandon it deniers of the faith and worse than infidels, or unbelievers. Fathers, husbands, it is time for us to reclaim our biblical role in our houses and that has to start with the most basic of duties, that of caring for our family’s needs.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Who can/should I vote for as a Christian?

Pro 29:2 When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.

1Ti 2:1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;
1Ti 2:2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.

Rom 13:1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
Rom 13:2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.
Rom 13:3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:
Rom 13:4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.
Rom 13:5 Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.
Rom 13:6 For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.
Rom 13:7 Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.

A while back I had a friend ask me, “How do I know who to vote for as a Christian? The vast majority of the candidates are not people I would worship with, so on how much can we disagree without violating my conscience by voting for them?”
Let me begin by saying we have an extremely unique opportunity in America. The ability to have a say in who it is that will be making the laws that will affect you and your children for generations to come, is a privilege rarely enjoyed - not only in today’s world - but in the history of the world! With that in mind, the decision not to vote is not merely a mockery of the lives that were given to obtain that right, but an abdication of your Christian duty to procure a safe and moral country for yourself and your posterity. Should a day come when every candidate in a political race does not meet my most basic qualifications, I would still exercise my right to write in the name of someone I did feel was qualified. For I believe I will give an answer to God one day, for the people I made an attempt to put in authority with my vote! That being said, let me attempt to give some biblical and common sense qualifications that we should look for in a candidate.
The first thing we must understand in answering this question is that as Christians our first allegiance is to God and his laws, not America and her laws. Therefore, in voting for a candidate for public office, our first qualifications are not economic, national security or social welfare questions; but how does this candidate feel about God’s laws and how far are they willing to go to uphold them. Regardless of how much we may agree with a candidate on their social issues, if they are opposed to God’s laws, I cannot vote for them and still claim that my highest allegiance lies with God. The candidate that promotes or ignores the infanticide raging in this nation can never have my vote, for God has commanded us not to murder. The candidate that promotes fornication by promoting government sex-ed funding, likewise will not have my vote. Homosexual rights, militant government invasion on a parent’s authority over their children, racism, euthanasia of any sort and the force-feeding of evolution are a few other moral issues that would disable me from voting for a candidate whose platform included one or any combination of them.
All that being said, a candidate’s personal life will not keep me from voting for them, unless it is an area that would obviously change their legislative actions. I.e. I would vote for a divorced candidate, although I believe divorce is a sin in most situations. I would vote for a Catholic, although I would disagree with most of his doctrine. I would not vote for someone who was homosexual, because obviously they would have a personal motivation to legislate that particular immorality. I would not vote for an atheist, because he believes there are no moral absolutes.
Another important point in choosing a candidate is that a Christian should never stoop to voting for “the lesser of two evils”. To vote for a candidate that will legislate immorality, in an attempt to keep someone out that you think will legislate greater immorality, is twisted logic and not in any way biblical. As Bob Jones once said, “It’s never right to do wrong to get a chance to do right.”
The role of a government authority is to execute judgment on evil-doers and reward the righteous with a peaceful life. I encourage you to step up and perform your duty to put those in authority that will properly implement those standards. You will be judged both by future generations, and more importantly God, on either the way you voted or your apathy and abdication of duty in not voting at all. I encourage you therefore, to do your due diligence in finding the most qualified candidates, based on God’s qualifications, and vote both in the June 1 primaries and the November general elections.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Pride and evil speaking

Prov. 6:16-19
16 These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:
17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,
18 An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,
19 A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.

I have recently been meditating on these verses, considering that if something is said to be hated of the Lord and even abominable to him; I ought to also hate it and examine myself closely to ensure I am not caught up in something found on this list. As I thought about each of these sins, how they interacted with each other and what they looked like extenuated out to their furthest end, I was struck with a startling truth. Every one of these sins are engaged when we gossip about someone in order to elevate our position or reputation.
It starts (as so many sins do) with pride, we view ourselves as deserving of some recognition that we are not currently getting and so go about to change that, by dragging someone else through the mud.
Secondly, it moves to that member that James said was the hardest to control, the tongue. We craftily work in barbs, "white" lies or simply exaggerated truths, about whoever we need to cut down, into our conversations with those we wish to impress.
We are now guilty of hands that have shed blood. Not only is the hatred in our heart considered murder by God, (Matthew 5:21-22) but to wreck someone's reputation has long been considered a physical offence in courts of law because of the damage it does to their ability to interact in society and even make a living.
Of course none of this just happens. Bitterness builds up in our hearts as we allow our pride to steep and continue to tell ourselves that deserve better, that we've been wronged. We decide which words will do the most damage to our victim with the person to whom we plan to speak, we decide what lead-ins will be the most effective to portray ourselves in the most innocent light and our comments the most natural to the flow of the conversation. All of this is followed by a justification in our minds for doing what we did or what we're about to do.
It is now time to execute our plan, we've decided what to say, who to say it to, how to say it, and we now find the most convenient time to say it, preferably sooner than later. The longer it goes unsaid, the longer we remain in our current state and the longer we have to watch the one we hate deserve recognition we think should be ours.
There is here the assumption that what we are about to say is not the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. This is the crucial link and the one we work hardest to convince ourselves we are not committing. For sure, there are times we can speak the truth with malicious intentions, but most of the time we, like Daniels opponents, have to fabricate something in order to maximize the effect it will have on cutting them down and ultimately building us up.
The last sin is exactly what we are hoping for; this entire process has been devised and executed with the sole purpose of driving a wedge. Many commentators say that when these lists are given ("six, yea seven", "three, yea four" etc.) the last item is the one with the strongest emphasis. When we consider the seemingly endless list of passages that call us to love the brethren, walk with them in unity, edify one another, forgive each other, and so many commands that are contrary to the notion of discord; we begin to understand how much God hates the one that sows such among his children.
Perhaps I've used some superlatives in this post, maybe I used words that you considered over-the-top or too strong for "such a small sin", but that is my great fear; that we are minimalizing something God sees as huge. Gossip, slander, lying, bearing false witness, sowing discord... these are sins that God despises and we are fools if we commit them and then try to justify ourselves by minimalizing them, they are wickedness of the highest sort!