Christian living- dealing with one 'oops' at a time…

Archive for August, 2017

Ruth vs Job

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The book of Ruth and the book of Job both deal with God’s faithful people during times of great struggle.

Let’s look at the contrasts.

Job is male; Ruth is female.

Job is a Jew; Ruth is a foreigner (and a hated one at that!)

In the ancient world the roles of men and women are vastly different. Job has the ability to be autonomous and pull himself up by his boot straps, while Ruth, as a female and a foreigner, has less opportunity to provide for herself and her mother-in-law.

Job is wealthy and loses everything quickly. Ruth marries into a starving immigrant family and loses the little she has over time.

Job loses his children, but his wife survives. Ruth loses her husband and has no children.

Job’s wife is not an encourager; neither are his friends. Boaz and Naomi work in Ruth’s best interests.

Job has friends who come to help him (which is a mixed blessing). Ruth has a mother-in-law, whom she helps.

Job is wrongly blamed for his situation. Ruth is praised for her godly actions.

Job’s losses are evident. Ruth and Naomi live in a cave and it is not until Ruth begins to glean that the extended family seems truly aware of how bad off they are.

Job loses his health. Ruth is strong and able.

God speaks to Job. For Ruth, God works through Boaz, a godly man.

So, Job has some advantages. He is male, self-sufficient, married and has friends. Ruth too has some advantages. She is in good health and has her mother-in-law, who owns land.

Both have disadvantages as well…

In addition to the devastating losses both suffer, Job has ill-health, and psychological ‘torture’ from his wife and friends. Ruth has racism and sexism to combat as well as a history of being barren, which makes her a poor marriage choice.

Both Ruth and Job are restored and extremely blessed. What the two accounts show us is that no matter how you end up in difficult situations, and no matter what is stacked against you, God is able to bless you beyond your wildest imagination. Nothing is impossible. Both accounts encourage us to be godly, and to remain godly, despite our circumstances.

 

Side note: What is interesting to me, at this time, is that Naomi has land. It is likely that the cave Ruth and Naomi are staying in is on her husband’s land, indicating that the house she thought to return to is not in livable condition. It is likely that Ruth and Naomi thought to farm the land, but were unable to produce enough to support them. Naomi may have stayed on the property to tend to their crops while Ruth gleaned. It is also likely that Boaz did not help prior to this time as it may have appeared that Ruth and Naomi were getting along okay. Ruth showing up to glean may have been the first indication the community had that things were not going well for the two women. Just something to think about. When scripture tells us to look out for the widow and the orphan it is implied that we are to know their situation and help as is appropriate. Too often in our society we find people saying, ‘If I had known, I would have….’ As Christians it is our job to keep our eyes open so that those who are in need do not suffer unnecessarily.

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Romans: Defense of the Mega Church

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In reading Romans I realized there was a similarity between what the church in Romans was experiencing, and our ‘mega-church’ problems.

In Romans we see Jewish believers who have grown up in the ‘church.’ They have been raised with rules and expectations regarding what it means to be ‘good.’ Some are saved, and others believe that they are believers even though they are merely rule followers. Both groups tend to believe the ‘rules’ are very important and their words and actions imply that the rules may even be more important than belief, even though they may deny this to be so.

We also see, in Romans, that there are a lot of Gentile believers. They did not grow up with the ‘rules’ and many of them have not bothered to study scripture. They have faith, but only a few know how to live as a believer. There are more ‘true Christians’ in this group, but their lives are often messier than those who have no faith, but live according to God’s law.

How to balance these groups is difficult. Those who grew up with the ‘rules’ and whose lives are a lot less messy will of course believe their ways are better, except the truth is that some of them are not saved- which is worse than having a messy life. Many with messy lives believe, but see the rule followers as judgmental. The lack of faith of some of the rule followers likely draws those who believe away from discovering the blessings associated with knowing and following God’s laws. It was a mess then, and is still a mess now. Combine that with the fact that those who really like the rules expect new believers to be completely perfect in actions upon salvation. These ‘old believers’ (who may not actually believe, but think faith is about works- like the Jews in Romans) will then criticize those who are actually trying to disciple people, which is a slow process (think about how resistant you are to change and conviction even though you are saved and then imagine if you had bigger hang ups such as addiction or family and/or close friends who were loved by you but not good influences). Paul was likely pulling his hair out when he wrote Romans (and every other letter…).

Mega-churches are getting people saved. They may not be doing it the way other churches are doing it, and not everyone may be truly ‘saved’ within the church, but the people are there worshipping God and praying. Mature believers need to figure out how to come along side to help these new believers with their messy lives and lack of Biblical knowledge rather than tearing down what their leaders are doing. They are introducing people to God. Small churches with few converts often resemble the Pharisees more than the early church, making them lovers of the ‘rules’ more than lovers of God. The early church was messy in many, many ways (hence the many different letters, all addressing different problems). Jump in, join the mess and welcome someone to life in Christ!

 

Veracity and Culture

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Notes and Ideas based on my reading of

Undesigned Coincidences in the Writings of Both the New and the Old Testaments, An Argument of Their Veracity by John James Blunt

(published by Robert Carter & Brothers, New York, 1851)

Ideas to Think About Regarding: Veracity and Culture

Biblical Veracity

Leviticus (everyone’s favorite book of the Bible) has an interesting test of veracity. First it claims that there are 603,550 males over the age of twenty, the Levites being excepted. It then claims that, a short time later, there are 603, 550 males, yet some men are unclean due to touching a dead body. If someone died, how then is the number unchanged?

A few possibilities exist.

First, there is an account of Nadab and Abihu, Aaron’s sons, who are smote by God for offering strange fire as high priests. Their bodies are taken care of by their cousins, Mishael and Elizaphan, which would make these men unclean for Passover. As Levites, these men would not have been counted in the census, therefore their deaths would not change the number of men over twenty years of age. This is the most likely solution.

Other possibilities include rounding of numbers and/or people turned twenty during this time in equal number to those who died. The birth/ death equivalency is unlikely though since the Jewish culture did not celebrate birthdays and considered any part of a year to be the equivalent of a year, so a Jewish person would never say my child is two and a half. If any part of the year had passed, it was counted as a year so their child was three years old. To further confuse things, the time in the womb was also counted as time alive, so our ‘two’ may be their ‘three’. Jewish people did however keep track of and celebrate loved one’s death days- hence we have Easter being celebrated early, but Christmas was established much later- though rising from the dead is a much bigger accomplishment than being born in the entire scheme of things, so….

Biblical Culture

Joseph: Joseph is second in command in Egypt yet does not have the ability to choose his own wife. He is given Asenath, the daughter of the Priest of On.

(On is a place, likely Heliopolis, which worships Ra, the sun God. Her father is a prophet. Pharaoh is likely marrying a prophet to a prophet in hopes of breeding more prophets. Since Egyptians worship many Gods, the daughter would be expected to shift her main alliance to the god of her husband, so she would be amenable to hearing about Joseph’s God and since her sons become leaders of two tribes of Israel, it is extremely likely she converted.)

Joseph is also unable to visit his father without permission, despite his lofty title and responsibilities. Our culture cannot fathom having that much power, and that little freedom, but it is something to keep in mind when examining Joseph’s decisions during this phase of his life.

 

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