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WHO CAN STAND?

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  The reader gets to Chapter 7 of 1Samuel and sees that the Ark of the Lord has a new home, and it is no longer in the hands of the Philistines.  It is first in the town of Beth-shemesh and they offer burnt offerings and sacrifices to the Lord.  It is   perhaps a sigh of relief to have the Ark of the Lord returned to them.  The towns-people decide to check out the contents of the Ark, and  they are immediately struck dead by the Lord.  Their curiosity and presumption cost them their lives.  A very pertinent question is asked by the men of Beth-shemesh,  "Who is able to stand before the Lord, this holy God?" (I know you might be asking as I wondered...when the Philistines opened the Ark and put the golden mice and the golden tumors in it, why weren't they struck dead?  The Philistines were not Israelites  and would not have known the Levitical laws concerning the Ark, maybe they would not be "held accountable" by God?  The people of Beth-shemesh were Israelites …

EVIL FALLS ON ITS FACE

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Israel is again facing the consequences of her disobedience.  She has been in war before and even taken captive by other nations.  This battle with the Philistines has resulted in the Ark of God being taken by them,  Eli's two sons are killed, and the early birth of Eli's grandson named Ichabod which means "no glory".  (If you ever disliked your name, have some compassion for Ichabod!)  Tragically, when Eli hears the news of the loss of his two sons and the Ark of God being taken, he falls over in his chair and dies of a broken neck.   1 Samuel 5.

I love the comical foray that ensues in this reading for today.  The Philistines take the Ark of God and place it in the house of Dagon in the city of Ashdod.  Dagon is the major god of fertility of the Philistines.  The Ark of God is set by the idol of Dagon.  Remember, the Ark of God is the symbol of God's Presence.  The worshipers come the next morning and find that Dagon had fallen on his face, and they set the idol …

LOVE'S SACRIFICE

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There were always at least two Bible stories that I could never read to my three little boys: Moses being placed in a basket to float in the Nile for his protection(?), and the story of Hannah giving Samuel, the child of 2-3 years of age to the Lord and leaving him with an elderly priest, Eli.  I never could wrap my mind and heart around that part of the stories of these two men.   Being an analyzer, too many questions would scream into my reality as I read those passages  while looking at my own three year old.  The questions are still there as I read the  story again. 

God is gracious and answers Hannah's prayer for a son.  She has vowed to God that she would "give him to the Lord all the days of his life."  According to Deuteronomy 23:21, "When you make a vow to the Lord your God, you shall not delay to pay it, for it would be sin to you, and the Lord your God will require it of you."  Hannah must have been devout and committed to her Lord.  The child is bor…

HONEST TRANSPARENCY

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I know you thought I would never leave the book of Ruth.  I always love to have an ending to a reading that is redemptive and most of the readings in Judges were not, so I decided to nest on Ruth for a while since Naomi and I had some commonalities even though separated by 2,000 years.  

I enter the book of I Samuel, who is the last Judge during the rule by judges, and this read will last for a month or so as I write of some events in the book.  I am so thrilled that God uses flawed, finite, and sometimes pitiful people to tell His story of His love and His redemption for you and me.  

The first character I encounter is Hannah.  She is barren and probably the first wife of Elkanah. The ancient custom of the Levirate Marriage: in order to secure the family lineage, this law also included the interpretation if the first wife is barren, the man can take on a second wife.  I just betcha this is a man's stretch of legal jargon, because throughout Genesis when a second woman is included i…

WAITING'S PROFITS

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Boaz readily and wholeheartedly agrees to be the kinsman -redeemer for Ruth BUT there is a closer relative than he, and Boaz must give her that information.  He, also must speak with the closer relative than he.   Ruth hurries home, excited about her news to tell Naomi, and she is given Naomi's wisdom and take on the event.  "Wait,  my daughter, until you know how the matter turns out; for the man will not rest until he has settled it today."  

Scripture gives no mention of Ruth's activities during the waiting time, and all her emotions about a marriage, and the questions which must have filled her heart. "Will the closer relative agree to take me into his home and give me children to continue my deceased husband's family name?" " Will Boaz?"  I guess clothing was not even an issue, like what will I wear?  She will not have the helpful insights of Randy on "Will She Choose This Dress".  

Boaz goes to the city gate, a very public locati…

WAIT, HE WILL MAKE A WAY

In my reading of Ruth, I wanted to know more about the Kinsman-Redeemer.  I found a writing online by Chuck Missler of Koinonia House on the subject and his writing gave valuable information of cultural customs of ancient Israel that was most helpful.  

Naomi is alert to the custom, the law of Levirate Marriage, and she knows that Boaz is the kin of her deceased husband.  Naomi instructs Ruth to return to the threshing floor at night.  After the reapers and Boaz have celebrated, they return to the threshing floor to sleep near the piles of grain which have been threshed.  Ruth follows the instruction and quietly sleeps at Boaz's feet.  When he awakens, he sees her, is surprised and of course asks her to identify herself.  Ruth complies and follows it with a question asking him to spread his covering over her because he is her close relative.  Be cautious and do not read in any inappropriate suggestions.  Boaz's covering is the like a skirt.  Missler reports that the skirt or he…

JUST A LOVE STORY!

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A casual reading of the book of Ruth would have suggested a love story with a hero that comes to the rescue of Ruth and her mother-in-law, Naomi. I have read Ruth numerous times casually, but in this read, I began to relate to the mother-in-law, Naomi. I enter her world as one who has experienced the deaths of a husband and a son.  For the first time, I could feel her loss and some of her grief even though removed by several thousand years. I could also hang with her and her glimmer of hope arising that her grief have some profit for the Lord's purpose and plan.  

Naomi and Ruth have returned to Bethlehem during the harvest time of barley.  Harvest time is especially celebratory this season, for the Bethlehem area has experienced severe famine. Three of the ancient customs of Israel are mentioned in the book.  One custom is the Lawof Redemption: If land is sold to pay debts, it is viewed as a lease only so that the land could eventually be returned to the family.  A kinsman within…