May 26, 2012

Revealing Christ In The Old Testament VII: Broken People, Perfect God


When looking to find Jesus in Judges it is a little bit harder than other books because during the time of the Judges…

“In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” Judges 21:25

It was an crazy time to be an Israelite and not conducive to Christ-like examples and things that would foreshadow Jesus…except in the judges themselves. Many were disobedient and rogue of the Scriptures. What the time period does illustrate well is that when there is disobedience to God’s word and rebellion is rife…the contrast is like night and day for the need of a righteous king. Please remember that this is just prior to the time of the United Kingdom under David and Solomon and the prelude to both was Saul. Saul was not God’s chosen and it showed but he was a king and it was a step towards unification under a solitary human leader. This in itself is a shadow of the time when all will either be under the King or judged by Him. In the end time when Jesus returns, all will cast their crowns at Jesus' feet, even the kings of the earth. 

In much of Judges we have this record of failure and deliverance seven times repeated. Israel falls into idolatry, and God raises up some one of the surrounding nations to carry out His punishment. Israel repented under the chastening, and cried to the Lord, and the Lord sent a deliverer.  God allowed the very sins His people indulged in to be their punishment (Romans 1). It is a picture of man's continued sin and failure, and God's continued patience and grace. We read of seven distinct departures from God, and of seven distinct sets of deliverance by the hands of Othniel, Ehud, Shamgar, Deborah and Barak, Gideon, Jephthah, Samson. In these deliverers of Israel we can see a foreshadowing of the Great Deliverer who was to come.

 What we see in the Judges as a whole are “deliverers”. People sent for a specific task to exhort God’s people back to faithfulness and obedience. Some were more successful than others. Although God’s people will not yet have a righteous king, they will receive the judges. The Judges are rulers, saviors, spiritual deliverers. They foreshadow Jesus who was not only a Judge but also a Savior but also a King of His people.

For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son.” John 5:22

“...and [the Father] has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of man." John 5:27

“I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” John 5:30

And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. Acts 10:42

But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 1 Peter 4:5

In Gideon we have power of meekness. We know that God delights in using weak vessels to display His strength and faithfulness. This is paralleled in the New Testament where believers have the Spirit dwell within them It is only when we die to self and allow Christ to take the reins of our lives that we truly live and truly gain the victory Jesus won.

2 Cor 12:9-10 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Interestingly, Samson is an interesting study in contrasts. He is a good example of what God was able to do with one man but at the same time, Samson is burdened down with sin that arrests much of the positives he gains in his life.

Judges also tells of the interesting but lesser known visit of the Covenant Angel whose name is “secret," or better interpreted as "Wonderful". He appears to Manoah and his wife…

“And the angel of the Lord said to him, “Why do you ask my name, seeing it is wonderful?” Judges 13:18

The word wonderful is not the proper name of the Angel of the Lord, but expresses the character
of his name and as the name simply denotes the nature, it expresses the peculiarity of his nature also. It is to be understood in an absolute sense—"absolutely and supremely wonderful". This is no ordinary as this description belongs to God alone.

Here also we see (as elsewhere) that God maintains His presence in human life as here in this story…even when the humans involved are believers and are not aware it is Him. God has never left man alone and never will leave those that truly seek Him. There were partial and progressive revelations even here in the book of the Judges and each new “wonder” laying down another block in an entire foundation of progressive revelation that eventually culminates in Jesus Christ. In the process of revelation such as in this case which is not well known even inside the circles of the Faith we see a miracle of the highest magnitude in the pre-incarnate revelation of Jesus Himself. Slowly and methodically, God shapes and conditions the hearts of men through unfolding revelation for Jesus’ eventual arrival in Bethlehem a little over 1000 years from the date of this appearance in the time of the Judges.


The luminescent portion of Ruth as it relates to Jesus is the story of the kinsmen redeemer. First we must understand that the book of Ruth involves two related practices. Levirate marriage (Deuteronomy 25) which meant a man would marry his brother’s widow to give the man an heir. We see it invoked in the broken promises of Judah concerning the widowed Tamar.

Although it was in the Law it did not require Boaz to marry Ruth but we begin to see the hand of the Lord involved in this story from the outset. The only man initially who fully met the criteria was Mahlon’s brother Chilion — but he was already dead by the fifth verse of Ruth. The extended family then had obligations to protect the property and inheritance of its impoverished members. Leviticus 25:25 states:

 “If your brother becomes poor and sells part of his property, then his nearest redeemer shall come and redeem what his brother has sold.”

This "kinsman redeemer" kept property and inheritances within the family since it was such a valuable asset to a family. If a man died and left behind wife or children, the extended family assumed responsibility for their care. As in the case of Naomi, this usually included taking possession of the land on behalf of the deceased for the benefit of his survivors. According to the laws of inheritance, this land passed on to the heirs of the dead man. Even if no redeemer could be found, a jubilee year still returned the property to its original family. Surprisingly, Scripture records no remaining heir for Naomi, Ruth, or Orpah. Ruth presented an additional problems by who she was, according to Ruth1:4...a Moabite. The Law forbid marriage between Israelites and Moabites or Ammonites. Moabites in particular were the descendents of the incestuous liaison between Lot and his two daughters.

It is Naomi that convinces Ruth that marriage to a kinsman was not only beneficial but actually possible. While Boaz might have been attracted to her appearance, it is Ruth’s unswerving devotion to Naomi and willingness to work hard to support Naomi that attracted his attention. Additionally, he was moved by the trust she displayed in naming him above any other potential redeemers (Ruth 3:1-13). It is interesting to note though that Boaz seems to have made a really big deal out of marrying Ruth to chase off any potential challengers for Ruth’s hand and that he acted out of love rather than legal obligation to join her in a Levirate marriage.

These passages, together with the inclusion in genealogy or Matthew 1:5, "Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth" reveals the Lord’s hand working in time and in people. We see that it is this kinsmen redeemer that keeps alive the lineage of Christ when it looks as if it will be snuffed out by the world.

Matthew’s inclusion of Tamar and Ruth in Jesus’ genealogy emphasizes God’s reconciling work in Christ even by those that the world perceives as being undesirable or tainted. This is because the world views things incorrectly and does not know the heart of the people, they usually only judge according outside appearances. Conversely, God knows the hearts of people and sees them from the inside through their true motives.

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God. 1 Corinthians 4:5

“I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.” Jeremiah 17:10

It's as if all the women listed in Jesus’ lineage are purposely present to reveal "questionable" pasts. Rahab (Joshua 2; Matthew 1:5) was a prostitute but she believed in the Lord. The “wife of Uriah (Matthew 1:6) reminded Israel of David’s adultery and murder but she also evokes memory of God’s grace in giving Solomon as David’s heir to the throne.

Boaz, “the father of Obed by Ruth.” is an illustration of mercy and grace. It is a shadow of the Lord to demonstrate how He chose His own means in graciously remaking the entire created but fallen and damaged order through His Son. This remaking or restoration is actually a redemption foreshadowed by Boaz’s actions toward Ruth and Naomi.

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