Your God Will Be My God

ruth116cThe last five chapters of Judges form a pair of grim appendices to that book. The tiny, four chapter long, book of Ruth can be seen as a third appendix, or better a hinge or transition to the books of Samuel and Kings. The book focuses on God’s sovereign care, but also outlines the ancestry of David, and, above all, illustrates the vital work of the kinsman-redeemer.

“…Is Ruth simply functioning in this story as an example of loyalty and devotion to family? No! A thousand times no! Ruth clings to Naomi, Ruth vows to go where Naomi goes, to lodge where Naomi lodges because in clinging to Naomi, in embracing Naomi, in holding fast to Naomi, Ruth is clinging to God! She is clinging to the Kingdom of God. She is clinging to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. She can do no other. She has been apprehended by the grace of God.” (Bryan Schroeder, “The Faith of a Foreigner,” Kerux, Vol. 13, No. 2, Sept. 1999).

It is a sweeping, life-encompassing commitment the Lord expects from you. But with it goes the assurance that the Lord will be your God, never abandoning or neglecting you.

The Bible study this evening at Trinity Presbyterian Church of the OPC, focuses on Ruth 1. A time of prayer follows. You are welcome to join us.

 

The New Jerusalem

bride_17028c

“Revelation shows the lengths to which the Lamb has gone and will go to make us the holy city in whom he will dwell forever. Christ loves his church and binds himself to her with bonds that no enemy from without and no failure of ours from within can sever.” “When we glimpse the bride through the eyes of her Groom, it lifts our head in hope and calms our frustrated hearts for persevering love for one another.” (Dennis E. Johnson, Triumph of the Lamb, p. 342–3).

“All Old Testament concepts shed their external, nationalistic-Israelitish meanings and become manifest in their spiritual and eternal sense. . . . [T]he New Testament itself has given to the particularistic ideas of the Old Testament a universal and cosmic meaning. (Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. 4, p. 661).
“But in the new heaven and new earth, the world as such is restored; in the believing community the human race is saved. In that community, which Christ has purchased and gathered from all nations, languages, and tongues (Rev. 5:6; etc.), all nations, Israel included, maintain their distinct place and calling (Matt. 8:11; Rom. 11:25; Rev. 21:24; 22:2). And all those nations—each in accordance with its own distinct national character—bring into the new Jerusalem all they have received from God in the way of glory and honor (Rev. 21:24, 26). (Herman Bavinck, p. 720). Continue reading

Holy, Holy, Holy! Isaiah 6

holy_2826c“To praise His name in­volves more than the mere repetition of the word qa­dosh [holy]. It includes deep meditation upon God and His attributes and the living of a life of humility in accordance with the pre­cepts laid down in His Word. It is, in other words, the life of faith in Jesus Christ, lived for the glory of God.” (Ed­ward J. Young, The Book of Isaiah, Vol. 1, p. 243).

“[W]hen we have seen God, we then begin to feel and know what we are. Hence springs true humility, which consists in this, that a man makes no claims for himself, and depends wholly on God.” (John Calvin, Com­mentary on Isaiah at 6:5).

What is the secret of Isaiah’s long and faithful work, even when discouraged? His vision of the thrice holy God ought to encourage you to be faithful in the work to which God has called his church. As you are confronted with God’s holy glory, confess your sinfulness. The live coal is a sign of cleansing. What Isaiah felt symbolically, you experience in Jesus Christ. The glory that Isaiah saw is, according to John 12:41, the glory of Jesus. In him alone is there forgiveness. Catch the vision of God’s holiness, experience the cleansing work of Christ, and in the power of the Holy Spirit go with the good news.

 

The Kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory, Amen!

1Chron2911This evening’s Bible study concludes a lengthy series on prayer. We have recently focused on the Lord’s Prayer.

Looking at 1 Chronicles 29:11 we see that God is eternally God. Kingdom, power, and glory belong to God eternally. He is unchanging, and thus able to hear and answer your prayer. Do not neglect to praise God for who he is.  God can and will hear you, for he is your God in Jesus Christ. The kingdom, power, and glory are his forever and ever. Amen.

“This clause . . . teach[es] us, that our prayers, which are here dictated to us, are founded on God alone, that we may not rely on our own merits.” (John Calvin, Commentary on the Gospels).

 

 

The New Heaven and New Earth

tulip_9095cpThe Christian takes profound comfort in the knowledge that even death does not separate him from his Savior. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. In Revelation 21:1-8 John takes you to an even deeper comfort. He shows you, and all whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life, what happens to you after the final judgment.

“‘All thy works shall praise thy Name, in earth and sky and sea.’ To sing that line from this well-known hymn is to confess that the present praise of creation is not merely pre-eschatological, destined in the end for the silence of eternal extinction. The present creation awaits the eschatological voice it will receive when, free at last from its ‘bondage to corruption,’ it will ‘obtain the freedom of the glory of the sons of God.’ With this obtaining together with the sons of God, creation’s praise— beyond all sighing and in a manner beyond present comprehension— will heighten their enjoyment of that freedom and glory in the new creation of God. (Richard B. Gaffin, Jr., “What ‘Symphony of Sighs’” in Redeeming the Life of the Mind, pp. 160-161).

According to Scripture the present world will neither continue forever nor will it be destroyed and replaced by a totally new one. Instead it will be cleansed of sin and re-created reborn, renewed, made whole. While the kingdom of God is first planted spiritually in human hearts, the future blessedness is not to be spiritualized. Biblical hope, rooted in incarnation and resurrection, is creational, this-worldly, visible, physical, bodily hope.” (Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. 4, p. 715).

[A]ll who overcome the dragon, the beasts, and the harlot through humble, persevering faith are heirs of everything. The homestead they inherit is not the first heaven and earth, sin-stained and curse-infected, but the new heaven and earth in which every impurity, pain, and sorrow has ceased to be.” (Dennis E. Johnson, Triumph of the Lamb, p. 307).

Keep the reality of the new heavens and earth in mind as you look for comfort in the face of death. Keep it in mind as you struggle with temptation, as you endure suffering. Nothing that you face can possibly be compared with the glory of the direct presence of God in the new heavens and earth. Take courage! Stand firm! Overcome!

From the Reflection for Trinity Presbyterian Church of the OPC.

Books Were Opened

Rv2012“The big one is coming. We all know that. We also know the big one might turn out to be the very big one. The 700-mile-long Cascadia subduction zone that’s just off the coast of California, Oregon and Washington will, sooner or later, produce a mammoth earthquake, scientists say.” So writes Douglas Perry in the Oregonian last Friday. Historically, the big one has come at roughly 300–500 year intervals, and the last big one was in 1700. Telling people it is coming (8.7 to 9.2 on the Richter scale) is one thing. Getting us to take some kind of action is another. It may happen soon, or it may not happen until you have been dead and buried for a couple hundred years—in which case you likely will not notice. In Revelation 20:11–15 John writes of an event that will most certainly happen, though we do not know when. And it will involve, not only the living, but also the dead—every single person who has ever lived will stand before God’s throne.

“Injustice and suffering never escape God’s eye. Those who persecute and those who practice injustice can never win. God will judge every deed, all wrongs will be righted, and all attempts to dethrone God and enthrone oneself will be completely frustrated. The prospect of final judgment ought to be a terror to God’s enemies and a fountain of assurance to the saints.” (Vern S. Poythress, The Returning King, pp. 182–183).

“The ‘life’ granted the saints in association with the book comes from their identification with the Lamb’s righteous deeds, and especially his death, which means likewise that they are identified with his resurrection. . . . The Lamb acknowledges before God all who are written in the book. . . .” (G. K. Beale, The Book of Revelation, p. 1037).

From the Reflection for Trinity Presbyterian Church of the OPC.

The Branch of the Lord and the Song of the Vineyard

Is0402Studying Isaiah 4:2–5:6: God not only commands you to bear good fruit—he also sends the true vine. Only as you are grafted into him can you be the fruitful branch you should be.

“Light and darkness, salva­tion and judgment go togeth­er and form the concept, the Day of the Lord.” (E. J. Young, The Book of Isaiah, Vol. 1, p. 173).
“The Branch is of the Lord, it is His, and comes from Him.” (Young, p. 175).

“Using the metaphor of a vineyard, Isaiah’s song retells Israel’s history from their initial ‘planting’ in Canaan to their continual failure to bear righteous fruit (5:1–7). While Isaiah sees destruction coming in the fu­ture (5:5–6), the psalmist lat­er writes from the midst of it and pleads for God to ‘have regard for this vine’ (Ps. 80:14). This is the back­ground to Jesus’ announce­ment, ‘I am the true vine’ (John 15:1). He is the True Vine who bore the fruit of righteousness that Israel and all of us failed to pro­duce.” (Drew Hunter, Isaiah: A 12-Week Study, p. 16).