Friday, May 18, 2018

Daily Bible Reading - May 18, 2018

Today's Reading:

Acts 25

Ruth 1-2

Psalm 47

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Thoughts and Commentary on Today's Reading:

The story of Ruth is often retold among believers at this time of year (at Shavuot or Pentecost). This is because it happened at about this time. There are such beautiful things in this story that parallel the experience of God's people. So, now as we start reading in the book of Ruth, let's start with taking a look at the spiritual applications to be found in the wonderful story of Ruth.

Actually, the story of Ruth begins with a curse. Ruth was a Moabitess and was thus under the curse of Deuteronomy 23:3:
"An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of Yahweh; even to their tenth generation shall they not enter into the congregation of Yahweh for ever."
This first part of the story of Ruth has application for all of us as well. Since we are sinners, we too start out our story being under a terrible curse (Deuteronomy 27:26). But in the story of Ruth, we find the power of Redemption. Ten generations ended on Ruth, when she married Boaz. But God didn't just bring Ruth into His family as a lesser citizen. In fact, He blessed Ruth so greatly that she was a mother in the royal line of king David - and of Messiah Himself. Talk about a wonderful God (Matthew 1:5)! 

Thus, right off the bat, we find tremendous encouragement by the magnitude of what God can do with each us. He is the wonderful God who can redeem someone so completely - even from the depths of the most grievous curse - and bless them to become a progenitor of Messiah! 

Next, let's look at the setting of the story of Ruth. The story begins with a famine in the land. Ruth's story takes place in a time of complete financial devastation and suffering. This setting also strikes very close to home, making the story very relevant on many levels. 

The names in this story all have prophetic meaning:

Elimelech means – “My God is King”

Naomi means – “Pleasant, Gracious, Delight” - She later asked to be called “Marah” meaning  “The Bitter One.”
Mahlon means – “Sickness”

Chilion means – “Weakness, or pining”

Orpah means – “Mane” – root: “back of   the neck” – To turn your back
Boaz  means– “Strength”

Obed  means– “Servant”

Ruth  means– “Merciful Friend”

In the marriage between  Ruth and Boaz we have a “Levirate Marriage” – Deuteronomy 25:5-10

The marriage between Boaz and Ruth is a shadow picture of what Christ does for His Bride.
John 14:16-18 - “ I will not leave you orphans,” or “I will not leave you widows.”

Naomi and her husband, Elimelech, seek a safer place to wait out the famine. This is how they ended up in the land of Moab. While there, their two sons marry Moabite girls - Ruth and Orpah. 

All is well for a while. Then tragedy strikes. First Elimelech dies and Naomi is left a widow. Then Naomi's sons, Mahlon and Chilion both also die. Since a woman's security and inheritance came through the men in her life, Naomi's loss is even greater than the terrible heartache of losing her men-folk. Naomi had lost everything:  Her husband, sons, inheritance.

But even in the face of this great tragedy, and with her own dismal outlook for the future, Naomi did not seek her own advantage. Taking the girls would have given her security, in that when they re-married, their future husbands would also provide for Naomi.  But she did not act out of self-interest. She told the girls to return home to their fathers' houses. There they would find an inheritance, security, and the possibility of finding and marrying another husband. It was the only course to take, according to human eyes, in which there was hope for a bright future.

Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye and returned to her parents, her former religion and culture. But Ruth refused to go back to her parents' home.

Orpah, when faced with no inheritance turns from Naomi and Yahweh and goes back to her old life.

She loves little – and is blessed little.

She looks for tangible assurance – and is lost (we know this because Scripture mentions that she returned to the idolatrous "gods" of her parents' house.
Orpah represents the group of Christians who follow God for a while. They even love Him and serve Him. But they follow to the edge of their culture; their comfort zone;  just short of total commitment.

They do everything that is asked of them:

- They go to church (or keep Sabbath)

- They stay married

- They read the Bible…

But, when it comes to a real love test, when they have the opportunity to go above and beyond duty, they turn back. In the end, they are the group of people who follow God only for the blessings He bestows. But if they are faced with a future where there is nothing earthly to gain from doing so, they quit following God entirely.
On the other hand: 

- Ruth is led by the Spirit, out of Moab, to the “House of Bread.”

- Ruth goes above and beyond the call of duty. Her bond to Naomi and God is so deep that she, a Gentile, turns her back on the world to remain with Naomi and Yahweh.

- She has no assurance of an inheritance, but is willing to risk everything just to have the “crumbs” from the master’s table.
Ruth 1:16-17    "And Ruth said, Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: Yahweh do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me." 
Scripture tells us about an End-time group of people who will have the heart of Ruth, in terms of how ardently they pursue God and Truth:
Jeremiah 16:19 “O Yahweh, my strength, and my fortress, and my refuge in the day of affliction, the Gentiles shall come unto Thee from the ends of the earth, and shall say, Surely our fathers have inherited lies, vanity, and things wherein there is no profit.”

Ruth clung to her mother-in-law, like Jacob to the angel. This is how whole-hearted we are to also be, in our devotion to God:
“I will not let you go until you bless me,” said Jacob (Genesis 32:26)
Like the widow who kept after the judge (Luke 18:7)
Search for Him with all your heart (Jeremiah 29:13)
Seek Him with the whole heart (Psalms 119:2)

The reason we can know that the story of Ruth takes place around the time of Pentecost, at about the same time as now, is that the Bible says the barley harvest was just beginning, when Ruth and Naomi returned to Bethlehem together (Ruth 1:22).
God’s  people are to have removed the leaven of sin from their lives (Feast of Unleavened Bread), counted the omer each day (7 weeks of Sabbaths – 49 days), to the 50th day – Pentecost.

At Pentecost the life emptied of the leaven of sin was to be filled with the leaven of the Kingdom of Heaven.
The “House of Bread” had been empty; repentance and cleansing had removed the leaven.  Now it would be filled with the bread made with the leaven of the Kingdom of God.  (Keys are Hidden in Parables)

“The Kingdom of Heaven is like unto leaven (faith, hope, love), which a woman (God’s church) hid (incorporated) in three (the Covenant) measures (weighing, evaluating, gathering in) of meal (grain which has been ground – Truth which has been refined by pressure and persecution) until the whole (all the life experience) was leavened (completely permeated, filled) [with the Spirit of the Kingdom]. 

Ruth, drawn by the godly life of Naomi, and the grace of God, represents the Gentiles who will become part of the Remnant as they return to the House of Bread – the Oracles of God – Romans 3:1-2.
There is more in the Book of Ruth, which parallels the Marriage of our Heavenly Bridegroom and His Church. But for now, this is sufficient. Let's review the basics:

Pentecost is the Birth date of the Body of Christ – His Church

Pentecost is the “earnest” of the Marriage – in union with His Spirit.

The Book of Ruth typifies the spiritual classes of people at the time of The End.

The Curse has ended and full redemption comes to the Gentiles, through Ruth.

Ruth left all, with promise of nothing, but counted her loss as nothing, and gained all as a gift of mercy.
What a beautiful and timely message is to be found in the Book of Ruth!  May each of us love God as devotedly as Ruth. May we pursue Him whole-heartedly, even when there are no earthly benefits to be gained by it. May we seek His Face, even when doing so means that we will lose every earthly "blessing."

Daily Bible Reading - May 17, 2018

Today's Reading:

Acts 24:10-27

Judges 21

Psalm 46

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Thoughts and Commentary on Today's Reading:

Fear, it's one of the biggest issues among God's people today. We see what's going on the government - and we fear. We hear about threats of war from countries like North Korea - and we fear. We listen to economists warning of a coming financial crash - and we fear. There is much cause for fear in our world today. But no matter what the circumstances, God doesn't want His people to be afraid!

In Psalm 46, we read the reason that fear is the deepest form of worship. We are to fear nothing but God. When we really know Who God is, we will have confidence and trust in Him. And one of the greatest ways to fear God and nothing else, is to be still in the face of adversity. This was is the test of Israel's 3rd encampment, Pi Hairoth, echoing the message of Psalm 24:
Psalm 24: 1-5, 10 - "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah. There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High... Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early."
Having the faith to "be still" in trust of God in the face of
adversity and even certain death is something we can only do when we clearly see Who God is. It is because we know that He - not our circumstances - is in charge of our lives, that we are enabled to be still while our very world comes unraveled at the seams.

During the 1970’s, the Christian House Church Movement took serious hold in China. This movement of grassroots believers was not accepted by the Communist government. In fact, they were hindered, hated, and even hunted by the Communist regime.  One of the courageous leaders of the persecuted House Church believers was Brother Yun; a man so dedicated to serving Yahweh that throughout China he is lovingly called by his nickname, the “Heavenly man.” This is also the name of the book which tells his remarkable story.

Because of his activity, in reaching many for Christ, the Chinese government placed Brother Yun on their list of “most wanted” criminals. Time and again they persecuted and imprisoned him. There were many painful trials and experiences in his walk with Yahweh. But, through each, Brother Yun’s faith was undimmed. He was always completely aware that Yahweh only allowed these difficulties while there was some good to come from it, as it says in Romans 8:28.

Brother Yun’s third imprisonment was a very dark time. The guards were determined that he would not escape from them. So they took him into a room and beat his legs until they turned completely black below the knee. They wanted to cripple him permanently, because he had escaped several times. Many times during the painful beatings, which sometimes included the use of an electric shock baton, the guards would shout at Brother Yun raging at him to recant his love for Yahshua. In one such incident the guards even shouted that they held the power of Yun’s life in their hands. They cruelly taunted that if he didn’t agree to their terms and stop teaching about Yahshua they would keep Yun there in prison and torment him for the rest of his life.

To this abusive boast, Brother Yun quietly responded that he couldn’t be kept in that prison one day beyond the length of time Yahweh wanted him to stay. This further enraged the guards. They beat him until Brother Yun’s legs were completely destroyed and he was unable to walk. Still they beat him every day, even in his crippled state.

But Brother Yun did not sin by complaining against God. He did not waiver in his faith no matter how angry and violent his oppressors became. Of this time, Brother Yun says, “I had no Bible with me so I meditated on God’s Word from memory and prayed in tears for the churches. I shouted out Bible verses at the top of my voice, clinging to God’s promises such as Psalm 27:1-3. I sang loudly day and night.” 

Then, on the morning of May 5, 1997, God instructed Brother Yun to escape from the maximum security prison. Brother Yun miraculously walked out of the prison, in broad daylight passing several security guards and checkpoints. He didn’t realize until later that his legs had been healed the instant he needed them. Yahweh demonstrated His great power over Yun’s life in showing his tormentors that indeed a child of God could not be imprisoned one day past the length of time Yahweh allowed

But, this kind of mature faith in Yahweh’s power and goodness was not yet found in the hearts of the escaping Hebrew slaves. They were about to face the terrible wrath of a powerful enemy, but instead of keeping their eyes trustingly upon Yahweh, aware that nothing could touch them without His permission, the Israelites quaked and complained.

Ancient Israel’s first test of faith in the face of fearsome and murderous rage took place at their third campsite called Pi Hahiroth, which means “mouth” and “kindled wrath.” By a command from Yahweh, they had turned away from the north easterly route, the route that led directly to Canaan. There is much evidence that the multitude was headed for the Gulf of Aqaba, east of the Suez, led by the witness of the cloud and the sword of fire. 

The name, Pi Hahiroth, also means “to subside, to calm; to be quiet in the face of wrath.”  


Speak unto the Children of Israel, that they turn and encamp before Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, over against Baal zephonFor Pharaoh will say of the Children of Israel, They are entangled in the land, the wilderness hath shut them in, Exodus 14:2-3.

Pharaoh had hardened his heart against the God of Heaven (Exodus 7:13-14). He must have had much hatred built up in the aftermath of the plagues and the death of his own son. With the work force removed,  recovery from the plagues would take a great deal of time. Egypt was in total chaos, the economy completely collapsed. Perhaps to wreak vengeance upon the former slaves, Pharaoh gathered his army, the greatest in the world before the plagues.  He brought six hundred choice chariot drivers and all the chariots of Egypt. This would have been his entire arsenal, those that were ready for war, plus his reserves. Each chariot had a commander (Exodus 14:7). They must have seemed a monstrous destroyer to the entrapped and humanly defenseless slaves.

There was no reasoning with Pharaoh then. Like the
merciless guards who beat Brother Yun, Pharaoh was the epitome of satanic vengefulness.  A stream of wrath poured from him, seeking to devour the people of Yahweh.   It was as if he could pour out a flood of water (destroying people)  after the "woman" (a symbol of Yahweh’s pure people) to destroy her (Revelation 12:14-17).

In the 600 chariots of Pharaoh (Exodus 14:10), we find a symbol of all the forces of human power intent on destroying Yahweh’s people. We may expect to be pursued by the entire world, under Satan’s power. Remember, then, that the fallen angel will fail, like Pharaoh of old. No matter how threatening his edicts and army may appear, he is a defeated foe.

Exodus 14 tells how his army of 600 chariots overtook the Children of Israel by the sea. The sight and sound of this vast army racing swiftly through the canyon made Israel “sore afraid,” in fact, terrified! It was amply apparent that destruction and death were rapidly closing in with the dusty clouds billowing from the ominous onslaught. Weaponless and trapped, their 600,000 untrained warriors felt helpless, falling quickly into despair. In significance, 600,000 is more than just the number of warriors among the Children of Israel. The number is symbolic of being focused on human power, rendering us powerless. It is indicative of human inadequacy.

“The experience of ancient Israel isn’t given as a historical tidbit… These stories and experiences are a warning.”

They had only days before, exchanged their weapons from Egypt for the cloud from Heaven. They had already witnessed many miracles, but now in the face of this terrible human force, the mighty power of Yahweh was forgotten and fear rose within them. Moses spoke words of faith to “calm” the multitude. The Cloud over them was to be their defense now. Could they trust Yahweh? Would they trust Him? This test will come to us all for when we put our lives, our safety completely in the hand of the Father, we will be tested.

The multitude, then, headed through a canyon area, called the Wadi Watir, which led to the sea.  The Bible, in Exodus 14:3, says, "They are entangled in the land, the wilderness hath shut them in."  If you can imagine a few million ex-slaves caught in a canyon, you might tend to justify their first provocation:  “Did you bring us out here just to have us killed in this wilderness?” they had complained. How quickly doubts take over when faith is tested!

This photo shows Nueiba Beach, where the Children of Israel stood, trapped with the Egyptians coming through the canyon behind them...  and the Red Sea before them.
This photo (above) shows the Wadi Watir - the winding canyon - which opens onto Nueiba Beach. It is easy to see from this, why the Bible says they were "entangled in the land"

The Egyptians marching after them, sounded like thunder through the canyons. How long they were aware of the advancing army, we do not know.  But the Bible does state that they crossed the Red Sea on the eighth day out from the Passover-Exodus. That means the escaping slaves had to set up camp several times before they arrived at the seaside. They may have had a day or more to "stress," or to "pray." But Israel was not being called upon to arise and fight. They were being called to a greater test. They were just to be still! The Children of Israel were being called to wait upon Yahweh. What a test this was for those warriors among them. What a test it will be for Yahweh’s end-time people to wait patiently upon Him for deliverance.

It is easy, when reading the two accounts, to praise Brother Yun’s faith while mentally chiding the Children of Israel. But the experience of ancient Israel isn’t given as a historical tidbit, which we may learn from the relative comfort of our uninvolved easy chairs.  These stories and experiences are a warning. This same test will come to all who would enter the Promised Land. When the test of this campsite experience comes to you, will you be still in the face of fear while your captors are even at your door? You will, if you have prayerfully learned from the examples of those who tread the wilderness before you.  You will if you are forming habits now of patiently trusting in Yahweh. Remember, He will never leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5).
Psalm 24: 1-5, 10 - "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah. There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High... Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early."