The Story: Ruth the Moabite, Part 2 (Chapter 3:1 – 4:10)

ruth1Chapter 3

Chapter 3 is the turning point of the story —

Then Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, “My daughter, should I not seek rest for you, that it may be well with you? Is not Boaz our relative, with whose young women you were? See, he is winnowing barley tonight at the threshing floor. Wash therefore and anoint yourself, and put on your cloak and go down to the threshing floor, but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking. But when he lies down, observe the place where he lies. Then go and uncover his feet and lie down, and he will tell you what to do.” And she replied, “All that you say I will do.”

This is surely a strange custom! The goal was not to seduce Boaz but to encourage him to become her redeemer and marry her.  This appears to be a Bronze Age marriage proposal.

I mean, why would Naomi insist that Ruth to wash and anoint herself (kind of the ancient equivalent of a bath plus perfume) except to appear as attractive as possible? Continue reading

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Sam Thomas Longford Robson: “I Need Thee Every Hour”

And if you enjoyed that one — Continue reading

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The Story: Ruth the Moabite, Part 1 (Introduction and Chapters 1 and 2)

ruth1The book of Ruth is a fascinating, beautiful story. Ruth’s story is placed after Joshua and Judges and before 1 Samuel because the story occurred during the period of the Judges — after the initial conquest of Palestine by the Israelites and before Israel had a king.

While Judges ends very depressingly with the horrible rape of a woman and the beginning of idolatry within Israel, Ruth is a positive, encouraging story. Matt Dabbs has recently argued that Ruth is the happy ending that Judges lacks.

Ruth is placed firmly in the context of the time of the Judges and concludes with a tiny glimmer of hope in the downward spiral that is the period of the Judges. Ruth has redemption. Ruth has love. Ruth has loyalty. Ruth points to king David and ultimately the Messiah. Judges on its own is pretty much a “hope-free zone”. But Judges/Ruth gives a fuller picture of what God is up to.

Part of the charm of Ruth is that the story gives a picture of life under the ancient customs of the Hebrew Bronze Age. Continue reading

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The Story: Women in God’s Story, Part 3

So what is the true meaning of 1 Timothy 2:11-14? My interpretation is a slight variation on an argument I first learned from Carroll Osburn, who suggests that the passage be read as a chiasm.

Thomas B. Clark explains

A chiasm (or chiasmus if you rather) is a writing style that uses a unique repetition pattern for clarification and emphasis. Chiasm is pronounced ky′-az-um.   Often called the chiastic (ky′-az-tic) approach or the chiastic structure, this repetition form appears throughout the Bible yet it is not well known.  … Continue reading

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The Story: Women in God’s Story, Part 2

Let’s take a look at Paul’s most direct statement on the authority of women —

(1Ti 2:11-14 ESV)  11 Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness.  12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.  13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve;  14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.

Let’s start with a few observations that are often ignored —

* Paul plainly reasons from Genesis 2. He is not saying that he has received a new law from God just for the church. He is saying that his conclusions follow from what is written in Genesis 2.

Therefore, whatever he says was surely true in 1200 BC (when Deborah was a judge) and remains true today — except to the extent Paul is applying a universal rule to a temporary circumstance that no longer applies and also didn’t apply at the time of Deborah. Continue reading

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The Story: Women in God’s Story, Part 1

Deborah is a vitally important character in the Old Testament. She is often overlooked, even ignored, because she doesn’t quite fit our preconceptions of what godly women should be like. But her story is among the most ancient in scripture.

After the Israelites invaded Canaan, defeated some of the pagans who lived there, and settled into the hill country, much of Canaan remained unconquered, especially the fertile coastal plains.

During this time after Joshua and before Saul and David, the Israelites were led by a series of “judges.” There was no king and no nationwide civil government. Continue reading

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Gone to Chicago

I’m packing for Chicago. Bond law seminar. Yep, just that boring.

Worse yet, I’m on a couple of the panels to talk about chapter 9 bankruptcies. Pretty arcane stuff.

But I love Chicago. I mean, any town famous for steaks and pizza is a great place to visit.

I’ve posted ahead through Friday. There may be a gap when I get back. Don’t know. And my participation in the comments may wane. Or not. Depends on the quality of the internet connection, how much work I have to do at night, etc., etc.

And, yes, my back still hurts, travel is not fun, but I promised to be a speaker, and I need the CLE hours, and I’ve already paid for it, and pain is but a state of mind …

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The Story: The Loving God of War, Part 3

So why was it moral and right for God to command the deaths of the Canaanites? To kill so many in the Flood?

I know this is going to sound a bit harsh, but here’s the reality of it all. These people were all destined for destruction anyway.

I mean, they were disobedient, God-less, and destined for the destroying fires of gehenna.

And if God could justly and morally give them the punishment they deserve at Judgment Day, why not during this life by flood or the hands of Israelites.

In fact, given that God did not send them to perpetual conscious torment for their sins, he was merciful in merely shortening their lives on earth, rather than sending them to hell. Continue reading

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The Story: The Loving God of War, Part 2

Third argument: No one deserves to live.

There’s this popular meme circulating among Christians about the “sanctity of life” — invoked to oppose war, guns, and so on. It sounds very Christian, very religious.

And so when we read in the Bible about God taking a life, God seems to violate this principle. Clearly, God has taken countless lives. Therefore, God does not hold to the sanctity of life. Does that make God bad?

Well, no. You can’t start with evangelical pop clichés and then judge God Almighty. That’s not how it works. God judges us; we don’t judge God. Continue reading

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The Story: The Loving God of War, Part 1

One of the most popular arguments against God is the fact that the God of the Bible orders the deaths of many people, even entire nations.

In short, the accusation is made that God is guilty of genocide, genocide is a particularly nasty sin, and therefore God cannot be good.

And there’s plenty of evidence in support of the claim. Not only does God tell the Israelites to kill the people of Canaan to make room for the Israelites to claim that land, he floods the entire world to kill off all mankind other than Noah and his family. Continue reading

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