May 14, 2020
The incident of the Levite and his concubine at Gibeah resulted in the civil war that we heard about yesterday. About 24,000 men died and many women and children as well. In certain things, the army inquired of the Lord, and the Lord gave answers at his sanctuary. In the way, they found wives for the decimated tribe of Benjamin, the men of Israel were repeatedly so concerned that they do not break their vows. Paradoxically, they did many other things without any concern whatsoever about acting according to God’s revealed will. Let’s consider that story as a warning. Beware of the human tendency of myopic obedience to a preferred list of rules, while living like a pagan in other respects. Again the theme statement is repeated in the last verse of the book, “In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.”
And now we turn to the book of Ruth. The Talmud attributes the authorship of this book to Samuel. The story of Ruth took place during the same time as the book of Judges, but the book of Ruth is a big contrast with Judges. Ruth shows that the times were not always as dark and sinful as what is portrayed in Judges. Ruth and her second husband, Boaz, figure in Jesus’ genealogy in Matthew 1.
The author of this poem— who was named Ethan, praises God for the covenant the Lord made especially with David. The first 3/4 is beautiful in the recitation of the wonderful promises given to Israel and to David. In these, we readers at this time often see fulfillment in Jesus, the ‘Son of David’. But suddenly at verse 38, the writer claims that God has broken his promises to David. We will hear that contrast tomorrow.
In the 4th chapter of 1 Timothy, Paul showed that he considered his era as ‘the last times’. For the Jews, the coming of the Messiah signaled the beginning of the end times. Paul's advice is just as appropriate to us as to Timothy. Half of that chapter was personal advice and encouragement to Timothy in his role as a pastor, and God has passed those words on to all in church leadership today.
GNT Translation note:
1Tim. 5:16 But if any Christian woman has widows in her family, she must take care of them and not put the burden on the church, so that [the church//it] may take care of the widows who are all alone.