Christianity 201

November 1, 2013

The Book of Boaz

Kinsman Redeemer 1

But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.” Ruth 1:16 (NIV)

“Truly I tell you,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.” Luke 18: 29-30 (NIV)

I am currently reading Jesus on Every Page by David Murray, published this summer by Thomas Nelson. The book is all about how the Old Testament reveals Jesus, and the activity of Jesus during Old Testament times. If it were possible, I would blog the whole book here. It’s that good. Part of my motivation for reading is that there were other books on the pre-incarnate Christ I wanted to read, but missed the opportunity. Here is a very small excerpt:

Jesus on Every Page - Davd MurrayThe Old Testament was originally written for “the church in the wilderness.”  That’s why instead of jumping immediately to ask, what does this mean for me? we must pause and ask, what was the original message to the original readers of this Old Testament passage? …

Example:  When we turn to the book of Ruth and ask this fundamental question, what is the coming Saviour like? our focus shifts radically from Ruth to Boaz.  The book might equally be named after him because he is the center and pivot of the book.  Chapter 1 begins with a bitter Naomi, and the book ends with a blessed Naomi. What made the difference?  Three chapters of Boaz.  All eyes should be on him.

The key word in the book also dramatically spotlights Boaz.  The Hebrew word ga’al appears twenty-one times.  It is variously translated, but it basically combines two elements:  relation and redemption.  It refers to a close family member who steps into defend, protect and provide for the needy.   It’s a word used to describe God’s past action of redeeming Israel out of Egypt, and the later prophets also used it repeatedly to describe a future redemption that God would accomplish.

When Mr. and Mrs. Israelite were reading in Exodus about God’s past redemption or in Isaiah about God’s future redemption, they would perhaps turn to each other and ask, “Isn’t there another book about redemption somewhere in the Scriptures?  Oh, yes, that little book about Boaz has lots about redemption.   Let’s read there and find out what kind of Redeemer God is and what kind of Redeemer the Messiah will be.”

If you want to read Ruth like Mr. and Mrs. Israelite did, then ask, what is the Messiah like?  And if you do, you will discover the beautiful answer:  The Messiah is like Boaz.  Notice Ruth’s important genealogical postscript that further boosts the messianic momentum by tracing her descendants to King David.

pp. 61-63

Today’s two-for-one special: The graphic at the top of the page and the two scripture verses which introduced today’s thoughts are from a seminar by Brian Lindman of Christ Presbyterian Church in Bradenton, Florida.  Click here to listen.  The sermon is part of a series, “Jesus in All of the Bible,” which is similar to the theme of the above book.

May 22, 2012

Song of Songs (Song of Solomon): What’s it ‘Really’ About?

“I am the rose of Sharon,
The lily of the valleys.”

“He has brought me to his banquet hall,
And his banner over me is love.”

~Song 2:1 & 4 (NASB)

Remember the old Certs commercial? “It’s a candy mint. It’s a breath mint. No, it’s two, two, two mints in one.”  Do we apply this logic to the book of Song of Solomon? Can it be about the love relationship between a man and a woman and be about the relationship between Christ and his bride, the church?

I’ve always leaned toward the latter view. The best explanation is that within the Godhead we have a relational model — God is three in one — and we see dynamics of that relationship in various parts of both the old covenant and new covenant scriptures.

But lately, it seems like every radio, TV, internet and megachurch speaker is doing a sermon about sex.  Someone has observed that the church needs to talk more about sex, but pastors need to talk about it less.  Suddenly a host of subjects that would never be mentioned in the church gym on a Thursday night are getting addressed from the pulpit on Sunday morning; and books that Christian bookstores might not have carried a few years ago are being displayed front and center. The sex pendulum is currently swinging away from the place of balance, leaving people asking, “Why can’t the pastor just speak about Galatians like he used to?”

So how do we interpret this book which our forebears chose to include in the canon of scripture?   I was glad to see Dave Bish address this a few days ago…

Six reasons for a Christological reading of the Song of Songs

I’m persuaded that The Song of Songs has a BOTH-AND meaning. It has much to say about marriage and also much to say about the True and Greatest Marriage, the Typical Marriage, the Real that all marriages echo and shadow – the marriage of Christ and his people. Because:

#1 Marriage is really about Christ.
This is Paul’s argument in Ephesians 5. Really, he’s talking about Christ and the church, though he’s talking about marriage. That doesn’t mean husband’s and wives don’t apply Ephesians 5 to their marriages, but that they’re meant to finally look to Christ and his church. The greater and eternal marriage sets the stage for our smaller and temporal human marriages.

#2 History
By far the dominant reading of this book historically is to take it Typologically, pointing to Christ. This is to say we’ve got really got to it’s meaning, intention or application if we’ve not heard it speak of Christ’s love for his people. We might draw a true word for human relationships but the road goes further. Sometimes Typological commentators slip into fanciful allegory – but those who leave the song in the human bedroom do the same! To say it’s *just* about human marriage a popular view today, but is the minority view in the story of the church. The Reformers, Puritans and Church Fathers, Edwards and Spurgeon were not bad handlers of the Bible. They were persuaded that Christ casts his shadow over all of it.

#3 The Language of The Song

This isn’t just love poetry it’s love poetry about a Shepherd King and the one he loves, with wilderness and myrrh, about ‘the lover of my soul’ and love that’s strong as death. The Song is written in the language of the Pentateuch, the language of the LORD’s relationship with his people.  It’s not just any old poetic language and imagery, it’s gospel-laden.

#4 The Beauty of Christ
Christ is beautiful and we need the wasfs of The Song, the love poems that call us to dwell upon the beauty of Christ, to let our hearts sing of him. Human marriage needs the intense contemplation of poetry too, but so does the church’s relationship with her Saviour.

#5 He loves us
Some are reluctant to speak of this, suggesting it’s not substantial enough or is subjective etc. The Love of Christ for his people, demonstrated at the cross, won at the cross, flowing from the eternal love of the Trinity is unmatched and has to be sung of forever. The Song gives words for this relationship – and we do sing it even when we might not realise it. “For I am his and he is mine”, “Altogether lovely”. The Song serves, in this, as an antidote for individualism because it invites our first thought to be of Christ and the church, though Galatians 2:20 tells us he also loves ME, leading careful exegetes to say that The Song does speak of the church but also of each of her members.

#6 The Divine Romance
Martin Luther lifts his language for the gospel from the genre of The Song, Hosea and Ezekiel to speak of the King who marries a prostitute. Why should divine romance OK from Hosea, Ezekiel and Psalm 45 but then not The Song? Jesus is the husband to the church, who has a divine jealousy for us – whose love burns when we’re seduced away, whose love laid down his life for us, whose love is our hope. Human marriage has union between husband and wife because there is union with Christ through the gospel…

~Dave Bish


*Note, the word wasfs in Dave’s 4th point is not a typo, see here and here.  It refers to an enumeration of the physical traits of a bride and groom. 

Looking for more of this type of article?  Here’s six approaches to the story of Joseph; there are more “six” articles at Dave’s blog.