RUTH ~ How to Find Jesus in the Book of Ruth (Plus a Short Summary)

How to find Jesus in the Book of Ruth. Click to read a short summary of Ruth and a less than short summary with fascinating connections between the book of Ruth and Jesus Christ our Redeemer. (www.JeanWilund.com)


RUTH ~ Book #8

“Then the women said to Naomi, ‘Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without a redeemer, and may his name be renowned in Israel!'” ~ Ruth 4:14


Super-Short Summary:

In Ruth, God uses an unlikely romance to spotlight His faithful promise to provide His destitute Bride a Redeemer.


Less-Than-Super-Short Summary: 

If you’re reading the Bible in order, you’re probably still numb from reading the book of Judges, where everyone did what was right in his own wretched and perverted eyes.

As we saw:

Joshua focuses on the Israelites conquering the Canaanites physically.

Judges focuses on the Canaanites conquering the Israelites spiritually.

Ruth focuses on the hope of God’s promise to provide a Redeemer for His destitute bride.

(I got those three descriptions from a great Bible teacher and my friend, Dede Gavlin. Thanks, Dede!)

While Judges enrages our hearts, Ruth lifts them with its unusual love story and reveals a hope that doesn’t disappoint.


The Destitute Bride (Ruth 1)

When we flip to the first page of the book of Ruth, we discover God had crushed the land of Israel under a famine.

(If you’re curious about why God would do that to His own people, check out the book of Judges. Trust me, you’d have crushed them, too.)

To flee the famine, Elimelech of Bethlehem took his wife, Naomi, and their two sons to sojourn—not stay—in the land of Moab.

(This was a strange choice since the Moabites were enemies of God.)

In the land of Moab, tragedy befell them. Thrice. (That’s old-fashioned for “three times.”)

1. Naomi’s husband Elimelech died

Painful, BUT, praise God, their two sons could care for Naomi.

The sons then married Moabite women — depsite God’s law forbidding Israelites to marry Moabites. Perhaps Naomi thought they could provide her with grandsons to care for her as well.

2. One son died

Tragic, BUT, praise God, Naomi still had one more son to care for her and his brother’s wife. And perhaps they could give her a grandson or two?

3. The other son died

Devastation.

Sure, Naomi and her two daughters-in-law were still alive, but they were now destitute. Utterly destitute. Neither daughter-in-law had even given birth to a child who could grow up and care for them.

Naomi looked around at her foreign home and helpless state. She had nothing left but God. (Which means she had all she needed, but she didn’t quite realize that yet.)


Hope (Ruth 1-2)

Word reached Naomi that the Lord had given His people food in Israel.

It was time to go home.

Naomi’s daughters-in-law set out with her, but Naomi urged them to return to their families in Moab and their gods.

Orpah hugged Naomi and left.

Ruth clung to Naomi. She refused to leave her.

 But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” And when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more. ~ Ruth 1:16-18, NASB

(Interesting Note: This passage is quite popular for weddings. I wonder how many realize this declaration of love wasn’t voiced to a beloved groom by his bride, but by a daughter-in-law to her mother-in-law. Take that, mother-in-law jokes!)

Naomi returned to Jerusalem with an empty belly and a bitter heart. But she still had Ruth. Sweet, faithful Ruth.

Ruth rose early to glean—to scavenge pieces of grain dropped by the harvesters in the fields.

It just so happened that she found herself gleaning in the field of Boaz, one of Naomi’s rich relatives. (It so happened? Yeah, right. We can be sure it was God’s hand at work.)

Boaz learned of Ruth’s stellar reputation and kindness to Naomi. He, in turn, showed Ruth kindness. He gave her extra grain to share with Naomi and a doggy bag from lunch.

When Ruth told Naomi that Boaz owned the field, Naomi’s heart leaped, and her faith set down new roots because she knew something Ruth didn’t:

Boaz was their kinsman redeemer!


Education Intermission — Kinsman Redeemer

I interrupt this story for a quick lesson on the Kinsman Redeemer.

 

“The kinsman-redeemer is a male relative who, according to various laws of the Pentateuch [the first five books of the Bible], had the privilege or responsibility to act on behalf of a relative who was in trouble, danger, or need. The Hebrew term (go el) for kinsman-redeemer designates one who delivers or rescues (Genesis 48:16Exodus 6:6) or redeems property or person (Leviticus 27:9–2525:47–55).” (quoted from GotQuestions.com)

 

The kinsman-redeemer could redeem property or even a widowed wife by marrying her and caring for her.

 

But only a family member who was willing and able could pay the redemption price.

He had to be free of personal debt.

 

Back to Our Story . . .


Ruth Gets a Redeemer (Ruth 3 & 4)

How to find Jesus in the Book of Ruth. Click to read a short summary of Ruth and a less than short summary with fascinating connections between the book of Ruth and Jesus Christ our Redeemer. (www.JeanWilund.com)Following Naomi’s instructions for appealing to Boaz as her kinsman redeemer, Ruth prepared herself as a bride.

Then she waited until he fell asleep on the threshing floor and lay down at his feet.

(I agree if this sounds strange to you. But it made sense in those days. Boaz slept on the threshing floor to protect the grain from thieves. And Ruth’s lying at his feet was actually a respectful way to say, “I’d like you to be my kinsman redeemer.”)

Boaz was both willing and able to redeem Ruth. Yay!

But there was a man who was an even closer relative than Boaz. This man must be given the chance to redeem Ruth. Ugh.

Boaz sat down with this other relative (along with witnesses), and just as he’d hoped, the man was able to redeem Ruth but not willing.

With much joy, Boaz redeemed Ruth and took her as his beloved bride.

Ruth, the Moabite, had once been an enemy of God. But through her faith in Him, she became a friend of God and her kinsman redeemer’s bride.

In time, the Lord blessed Ruth and Boaz with a son, Obed.

No longer destitute or without a family, the salvation of the Lord through their kinsman redeemer filled them with joy and peace.

Ruth and Naomi praised God as Naomi cradled her grandson and the women of Israel called her blessed.

The book of Ruth closes with a peek into the future and a fun fact:

Ruth and Boaz’s son Obed was the ancestor of King David, Israel’s greatest king, and of Jesus Christ, our Kinsman Redeemer.


Jesus, Our Kinsman Redeemer

How to find Jesus in the Book of Ruth. Click to read a summary of Ruth with fascinating connections between the book of Ruth and Jesus Christ our Redeemer. (www.JeanWilund.com)The kinsman redeemer is one of the Old Testament’s most powerful pictures of Jesus, our Kinsman Redeemer.

Only Jesus could ever qualify to serve as our Redeemer.

  • Jesus was free of all debt. Born of a virgin, He was free of inherited sin.

The rest of us are born with sin. It’s passed down from our first father, Adam.

Despite Satan’s best but futile efforts to tempt Jesus in sin, He never fell for any of Satan’s lies. He remained debt-free of sin.

  • Which means, Jesus was willing and able to pay our redemption price through His death on the cross.

Out of His great love and riches, Jesus redeemed us.

  • All who accept Jesus as their Kinsman Redeemer become members of His precious Bride, the church (aka known as the family of Believers).

He bought us with a bride price much greater than the price Boaz paid for Ruth. He bought us with His own shed blood on the cross.


Today is the Day of Salvation

If you’ve not accepted Christ as your Kinsman Redeemer, today is the perfect day for it. Naomi’s husband and sons remind us we’re not promised tomorrow.

God alone knows the number of our days. Trust in your Kinsman Redeemer Jesus today.

(And please let me know when you do, so I can celebrate with you.)




JUDGES — Dipping Our Toes into the Book of Judges

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JUDGES - Dip your toes into the book of Judes. A Super-Short Summary and Less-Than-Super-Short Summary (Welcome to the Bible series) via www.JeanWilund.com

JUDGES ~ Book #7

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

Super-Short Summary:

In Judges, God reveals the stark reality that there’s no depth of evil to which mankind won’t sink unless God’s hand restrains us. It’s only because of His inexplicable love, grace, and mercy that we can receive salvation through Jesus.


Less-Than-Super-Short Summary: 

The book of Judges is exactly that: a book about the 12 judges of Israel and several despicable guys.

Judges opens with a dash of fleeting hope as Israel looked to God for guidance.

“Who shall go up first for us against the Canaanites, to fight against them?” (Judges 1:1).

God chose Judah – the tribe through which Jesus would come – to lead them into battle.

Charge!

Like Jesus conquering sin and death, Israel defeated their enemy. But not all of them.

They failed to complete the conquest. (Jesus didn’t fail His conquest.)

They failed because they refused to obey God.

“But you have not obeyed MeTherefore I also said, ‘I will not drive them out before you; but they will become as thorns in your sides and their gods will be a snare to you” (Judges 2:2-3).

Israel’s unfaithfulness thrust them into a vicious cycle that ramped up to a horrifying crescendo of pure evil.

There’s a reason most of the stories from the book of Judges doesn’t show up in children’s books. Not even Samson’s full story makes it past the cutting room.

Thankfully, God’s promises and power stand strong regardless of mankind’s worst moral failures and outright rebellion.

The Gospel in Judges

God used 12 judges to save Israel and give us a picture of Jesus as our Deliverer.

Unlike Christ, however, these judges weren’t perfect.

Judges shows Israel’s desperate need for a godly king to rule them and points to the perfect King, Jesus Christ.

Ring Around the Rosie, We All Fall Down

Early in Judges, Israel displays the vicious cycle they repeated – their ring around the wretched rosie until they all fell down:

        1. Israel chooses evil (Judges 3:7).

2. God lets them fall into the hands of their enemy (Judges 3:8).

3. Israel cries out to God (Judges 3:9).

4. God raises up a deliverer – a judge (Judges 3:9-10).

5. Israel enjoys peace (Judges 3:11).

What God reveals about the nature of man through Judges is downright depressing:

We are so much worse than we imagine, and we can’t save ourselves.

What He reveals about Himself and Jesus is straight up encouraging:

God is more forgiving than we can imagine. He sent His Son Jesus to be our perfect Rescuer and our Salvation.

A Glimpse of the 12 Judges:


(Click on the red names below to jump to a more detailed summary of each judge.)

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Judge #1 ~ Othniel

(Judges 3:7-11)

Israel ran after other gods. After life turned hard at the hands of their enemy, they cried out to God.

Enter Othniel, the first judge God appointed to rescue Israel.

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Judge #2 ~ Ehud 

(Judges 3:12-30)

The left-handed judge Ehud delivered Israel from the rotund king of Moab using a sleight-of-hand trick with a dagger, a sneaky escape, and some embarrassed guards.

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Judge #3 ~ Shamgar 

(Judges 3:31)

Shamgar saved Israel and killed 600 Philistines with an ox goad (a long stick with a metal tip used to control oxen).

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Judge #4 ~ Deborah 

(Judges 4 – 5)

Deborah (and a brave woman named Jael with a tent peg – yikes) saved Israel when Barak refused to fight the Canaanites without her.

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Judge #5 ~ Gideon 

(Judges 6 – 8)

God used the meek fleece-laying Gideon to save Israel from Midian (after whittling his army of 32,000 men down to 300) and give us a picture of the humanity of Jesus.

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Three Years of Trouble

(Judges 9)

Between Gideon and the next judge came three years of trouble that included the death of 70 of his sons. (I’m still trying to wrap my brain around having 70 sons.)

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Judges #6 & #7 ~ Tola & Jair 

(Judges 10)

Tola judged Israel for 23 years. And then he died.

Jair was a wealthy man who judged Israel 22 years. And then he died.

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Judges #8 ~ Jephthah 

(Judges 11-12)

Foolish Jephthah. He freed Israel from the Ammonites but made a vow that broke his father-heart.

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Judges #9, #10, and #11 ~ Ibzan, Elon, and Abdon 

(Judges 12:8-15)

Ibzan judged Israel seven years. And then he died.

Elon judged Israel ten years. And then he died.

Abdon judged Israel eight years. And then – surprise, surprise – he died.

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Judge #12 ~ Samson 

(Judges 13-16)

Samson, the most famous of the 12 judges, was also Israel’s final judge.

He delivered Israel from their enemies and suffered great personal loss because of his ungodly choices.

Nevertheless, he gave us some poignant pictures of Jesus.

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Israel Descended into Unspeakable Evil

The book of Judges ends with two stories that exposed how mankind can sink to the lowest of lows when we turn our backs on God, and He leaves us to ourselves.

Micah, the Levite, and Some Evil Men from Dan 

(Judges 17-18)

This first of the final two stories reveals that, apart from Christ, every man has a price. That price can be brutal because people can be.

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A Levite, His Concubine, and the Horror in Gibeah 

(Judges 19-21)

The final and most barbaric story reveals there’s no depth of evil to which man will not sink unless the Lord intervenes and restrains. (Warning: This story includes rape and body parts in the mail.)

Final Words For Today

The book of Judges closes with somber words and a final reminder of Israel’s (and our) deep need a godly king. (You’d almost think Judge’s final sentence was written about us today.)

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

By your grace, Lord, open our eyes to see our need for You. Give us faith to believe and to follow you as our perfect King.

Amen.

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More Detailed Summaries of The Judges:

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Judge #1 ~ Othniel 

(Judges 3:7-11)

Israel ran after false gods so God showed His righteous anger over sin and got their attention by letting the king of Mesopotamia defeat them.

It worked.

Israel cried out to God, and He raised up Othniel to set them free and to serve as their judge.

They enjoyed rest for 40 years.

And then Othniel died.

Return to Short Summary of Othniel


 

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Judge #2 ~ Ehud

(Judges 3:12-30)

Israel ran back to evil, so God allowed the King Moab to defeat Israel.

God then raised up the left-handed judge Ehud to deliver Israel from the rotund king of Moab.

Ehud used a sleight-of-hand trick with a dagger and a sneaky escape.

When the king’s guards checked on him and found his door locked, they assumed he was unavailable because he was attending to “nature’s call.”

They were wrong. He was dead.

Ehud then led Israel against Moab and defeated them.

They enjoyed peace for 80 years. And then he died.

Return to Short Summary of Ehud


 

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Judge #3 ~ Shamgar

(Judges 3:31)

Shamgar saved Israel and killed 600 Philistines with an ox goad (a long stick with a metal tip used to control oxen).

That’s all I have on Shamgar. God only gave us one sentence on him.

Return to Short Summary of Shamgar


 

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Judge #4 ~ Deborah

(Judges 4 & 5)

Israel leaped back into evil so God sold them into the hand of the king of Canaan.

Then God raised up Deborah, who led Barak (and Israel) in battle because he refused to go without her. Perhaps he wasn’t willing to take the calling for himself since she was God’s chosen judge.

Whatever compelled him to follow Deborah rather than take the lead, we know he did it by faith since he made it into the Hebrews Hall of Faith: Hebrews 11:32-34.

After Israel routed Canaan’s army, their commander hopped off his iron chariot and ran away. But he got stuck in a tent (yes, literally) by Jael, a brave Israelite woman holding a tent peg and a hammer.

Israel enjoyed rest for 40 years under this godliest of judges. She continually pointed Israel to God.

But then she died.

Return to Short Summary of Deborah


 

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Judge #5 ~ Gideon

(Judges 6 – 8)

Israel nosedived back into evil and worshipped idols, so God let them fall into the king of Midian’s hands.

The angel of the Lord visited fearful Gideon – the least of the least of Israel – and called him to lead Israel in battle. Through God’s power, Gideon was to deliver Israel.

Gideon gives us a beautiful picture of Jesus’s humanity. He came in the meek form of man. In weakness, Jesus delivered us through the cross. In divine power, He gives life (2 Corinthians 13:4).

Jesus was meek, but He wasn’t timid like Gideon. Analogies are rarely, if ever, perfect.

Gideon faced obstacles bigger than himself as an array of armies converged on Israel.

Gideon called Israelites to battle, but then he ran to talk to God. He wanted to confirm that God really was going to give them into Israel’s hands.

Gideon used a wool fleece to determine God’s will. Twice. (Judges 6:36-40)

God confirmed His promise to give Israel’s enemies into Gideon’s hands.

God whittled Gideon’s army of 32,00 men down to a meager 300 to ensure Israel understood that they couldn’t save themselves. He was giving them the victory.

Likewise, we can’t earn our salvation or make our own way to heaven. Christ alone is our salvation and the one way to the Father.

Gideon and his army enjoyed a rousing victory.

Sadly, Gideon let it inflate his ego.

Nevertheless, Israel enjoyed peace for 40 years.

And then he died. But not before he had 70+ sons.

Return to Short Summary of Gideon


 

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Three Years of Trouble

(Judges 9)

Abimelech, one of Gideon’s sons attempted to slaughter the rest of the 70 sons to become king.

One managed to escape, which then led to Abimelech’s downfall but not before he tramped over the people with much evil and treachery.

In the midst of his last heinous crime, a woman dropped a stone on his head, and his self-proclaimed rule of three years ended.

In the meantime, Israel had deepened their bent toward evil.

Return to Short Summary of Three Years of Trouble


 

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Judges #6 & #7 ~ Tola & Jair

(Judges 10)

Unfortunately, there’s no more info on these two judges.

Return to Short Summary of Tola & Jair


 

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Judge #8 ~ Jephthah

(Judges 11-12)

Jephthah was a mighty warrior from Gilead and the son of a prostitute. His half-brothers hated him. So he ran away.

As soon as the Ammonites rose up against Israel, Gilead called their warrior back home to save them.

God gave Jephthah the victory, but Jephthah made a stupid vow to sacrifice the first thing that walked out the door of his home upon his return from victory.

His daughter walked out to congratulate him.

Jephthah judged Israel only six years, and then he died.

Return to Short Summary of Jephthah


 

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Judges #9, #10, and #11 ~ Ibzan, Elon, and Abdon

(Judges 12:8-15)

Ibzan had 30 sons and 30 daughters. He judged Israel seven years, and then he died.

Elon judged Israel ten years, and then he died.

Abdon had 40 sons and 30 grandsons who rode on 70 donkeys. Wealthy. He judged Israel eight years, and then – surprise, surprise – he died.

That’s all I have on them.

Return to Short Summary of Ibzan, Elon, and Abdon


 

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Samson ~ Judge #12

(Judges 13-16)

The most famous of the 12 judges was also Israel’s final judge.

The popular children’s story paints the picture that evil Delilah tricked God’s innocent Samson into giving her the secret to his supernatural strength, but his hair grew back and allowed him one final display of his strength.

There’s truth in the children’s account. (Delilah was evil and God did give Samson a final victory.)

But there’s also plenty of missing pieces to the story, and at times the truth appears foggy.

Samson’s Lovely Locks

For instance, Samson’s lovely locks of hair weren’t really the secret to his strength. God was.

His luscious locks never held magical power. God was always the one in control.

Before Samson was born, God told his parents Samson was to be a Nazarite, dedicated to God from the womb. (https://www.gotquestions.org/Nazirite-vow.html)

Being a Nazarite vow came with many rules. One rule was that his hair should never be cut.

Jesus Sighting: The angel of the Lord visited Samson’s parents to prepare them for Samson’s birth (Judges 13:8-25). This was an appearance of Jesus before He came down in flesh as a baby born in a manger.

After Samson’s last girlfriend, Delilah, cut his hair, God removed the super-strength He’d given Samson.

And fortunately, the young children’s books also leave out the part where the Philistines then gouged out Samson’s eyes (Judges 16:20). Yikes.

Godly Samson? Not!

Also, contrary to the godly man we see in picture books, Samson wasn’t innocent.

Not only did he let himself be seduced by Delilah so that she cut his hair, but he broke at least two other Nazarite rules: no drinking wine, and no touching the dead.

John the Baptist was also a Nazarite from birth (Luke 1:13-17). He was faithful.

While Samson did great things for Israel, he was far from godly. He broke many of God’s rules through his wild, women-chasing years. And yet God still used him.

God isn’t limited in who or what He can use for His purposes. Sometimes He chooses to use even ungodly men like Samson. (That’s good news for us far-from-perfect ones.)

Samson judged Israel 20 years. And then he died a brutal death, but not before he saved Israel by stretching out his arms and dying.

When Samson stretched out his arms, he pushed down the two pillars that held up the building and killed more of his enemy than he had in all his previous escapades.

And although Samson was by no means a perfect model of Jesus, Samson’s death gave us a picture of Christ stretching out His arms on the cross and dying to save us from our enemies – sin, Satan, and death.

Return to Short Summary of Samson


 

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Micah, the Levite, and Some Evil Men from Dan

The first of the final stories (Judges 17-18) reveals that, apart from Christ, every man has a price. The price can be brutal. It this story, brutal is an understatement.

Judges 17 opens with a man named Micah, who stole silver from his mom. After he returned the silver, his mom paid a silversmith to fashion an idol out of it so they could worship it.

Meanwhile, a Levite – one of God’s chosen priests – had gone out in search of a better life. Apparently being chosen by God to serve in His tabernacle and cared for by God wasn’t enough.

Micah offered the Levite ten shekels and a shirt to become his personal priest.

But then the tribe of Dan came along and increased his pay. They stole Micah’s silver idol and his priest. But at least they left him his life and his mom, which is more than they did for the quiet town of Laish.

The men of Dan slaughtered the unsuspecting people of Laish and set their city on fire.

Afterward, they set up Micah’s silver idol, and the Levite and his sons “served God” alongside it.

In the New Testament, we see Jesus’ disciple Judas had a price, too: 30 pieces of silver for the Son of God (Matthew 26:15).

But Jesus’ apostle Paul considered his life of no value for the opportunity to testify of Christ (Acts 20:24).

Praise God that Jesus was willing to pay the price for our sins so we don’t have to. He offered up His own life to God for the salvation of all who will believe (John 3:16, Philippians 2:8).

Return to Short Summary of Micah, the Levite, and Some Evil Men from Dan


 

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A Levite, His Concubine, and the Horror in Gibeah

The most barbaric story of Judges involves a wretched Levite, his concubine, and some evil men in the city of Gibeah.

It’s so hideous I can’t bring myself to write the details. But you can read the story for yourself: Judges 19.

The horror reveals there’s no depth of evil to which man will not sink unless the Lord intervenes and restrains them.

After the men of Gibeah committed their heinous crime, which the evil Levite and his host allowed, Israel finally looked to God again.

God sent Israel out against Gibeah, but Gibeah destroyed 22,000 men of Israel.

Israel wept before God and sought His help again.

This time Gibeah destroyed 18,000 Israelites.

Israel finally understood how far they had turned away from God.

This time they wept before God, fasted and prayed, and offered burnt sacrifices to Him for their sin as well as peace offerings of thankfulness to Him.

God said, “Go up, for tomorrow I will give them into your hand” (Judges 20:28).

With Israel finally humbled before God and depending on His power alone, God gave them the victory.

Return to Short Summary of A Levite, His Concubine, and the Horror in Gibeah


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If you’re new to the Welcome to the Bible Series, catch up on the other posts by clicking this link:

Welcome to the Bible Series

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DEUTERONOMY ~ Dipping Our Toes into the Book of Deuteronomy

DEUTERONOMY - Dip your toes into the book of Deuteronomy. A Super-Short Summary and Less-Than-Super-Short Summary (Welcome to the Bible series) via www.JeanWilund.com

Book #5 ~ DEUTERONOMY

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” ~ Deuteronomy 6:4-5 ESV


Super Short Summary:

In Deuteronomy, God prepares Israel for entering the Promised Land and, through Moses’ final words, gives a picture of what the Christian life should look like.

Less Than Super Short Summary:

The curtain opens on Deuteronomy at the end of Moses’ life and the beginning of Israel’s new life in the Promised Land, the land of Canaan.

In Exodus, God had brought Israel out of slavery to Egypt, which gave us a picture of Jesus setting sinners free from slavery to sin.

In Numbers, Israel wandered the wilderness because of their unbelief. Even though God had promised to give them a land and His blessings to enjoy, they’d refused to believe Him.

Through Israel’s unbelief, God gave us a picture of Christians who’ve trusted Jesus to save them from sin and give them eternal life but refuse to trust Him for today’s challenges. Their fears and selfish pride keep them in a barren, wilderness-type life.

They never enjoy the full freedom Jesus promises to Christians who walk by His Spirit rather than by human effort. Bondage to fear and unbelief (often expressed by the less convicting word “doubt”) send them stumbling into sin and discouragement.

God provided for Israel in the wilderness, but He didn’t design the wilderness to be their permanent residence.

He brought them (us) out of slavery to Egypt (sin) for the purpose of bringing them into the Promised Land. There they could enjoy the fruit of His blessings (victorious Christian living).

All who refused to trust Him suffered loss. And Christians do, too. They will be saved from an eternity in hell separated from God, but they’ll miss out on God’s blessings in this life – the blessings of unshakable peace, joy in Christ, and much more.

Moses’ Final Words

In Numbers, God had told Moses he wouldn’t enter the Promised Land with the Israelites because he didn’t honor the Lord before the Israelites at the life-giving rock (Numbers 20:10-13).

In Deuteronomy, Moses was now 120 years old, but his eyesight hadn’t weakened, nor had his strength given out (Deuteronomy 34:7). Regardless, Moses’ apprentice Joshua would lead Israel into the Promised Land, not Moses (Deuteronomy 31:1-3).

But first, Moses had some final words for Israel – words they must always remember and never forget.

(The Hebrew name for Deuteronomy, Debarim, means the words.)

Always Remember, Never Forget

Moses began by reviewing Israel’s past since the time they’d left Mt. Sinai 40 years earlier. He reminded them of their rebellion and the painful consequences.

The rebels, however, weren’t Moses’ audience. Their children were. Their defiant parents had died.

But God’s promises lived on. Faithful to His Word, God was going to give the Promised Land to the children.

Before they entered, Moses made sure they remembered, through vivid recollections, how easily and often their parents had made empty promises to trust and obey God.

He then commanded this generation to remain faithful and obedient to God rather than to idols – worthless scraps of metal or wood, or anything they’d place over God.

He reminded them of God’s rules, regulations, and commandments (Deuteronomy 5), which were designed to lead them into right living and allow them to dwell safely in God’s presence.

The Shema

God then gave a command that later became a daily prayer for Israelites known as the Shema.

The word shema means to hear and listen in such a way as to elicit a response.

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. ~ Deuteronomy 6:4-5 ESV

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. ~ Deuteronomy 6:4-5 ESV

The Shema is still prayed today by orthodox Jews.

Jesus quoted it when asked what was the greatest commandment.

Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’” ~ Mark 12:29-30 ESV

Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’” ~ Mark 12:29-30 ESV

Warfare

To further prepare Israel for entering the Promised Land, Moses taught Israel how they must handle warfare.

They were to treat the people of the Promised Land (Canaan) differently than those outside it. The hearts of the people in Canaan overflowed with sin, making them ripe for judgment. God commanded they be devoted to destruction (Deuteronomy 9:4).

But those outside the Promised Land were to be shown mercy.

It can be hard to understand how a loving God could order entire cities to be devoted to destruction until you understand the depth of those nation’s sin and the mercy they could’ve enjoyed had they bowed to the Lord rather than raising their swords against Israel.

God is a righteous judge. The wonder isn’t how God could order Canaan’s destruction, but rather how He could have offered anyone extravagant grace and mercy.

Guard Your Heart

Toward the end of Deuteronomy, Moses addressed the condition of the Israelites’ hearts and alerted them to the many ways they’d be tempted to sin.

And he warned them that God would test them.

God would allow prophecies made by false prophets to come to pass in order to expose the true condition of the Israelites’ hearts. They needed to see for themselves when they saw their signs and wonders that they’d run after the false prophets’ idols rather than stay true to the one true God.

Everyone would see they didn’t want a true King. They wanted a Burger King. (Have it your way! Have it your way!

Blessing and Curses, Life or Death

Moses detailed the blessings God would pour out on them if they obeyed Him.

Astounding blessings! Surely Israel would faithfully obey so they could enjoy the many undeserved blessings the rest of their lives. (They didn’t!)

Moses also detailed the curses God would reign down on them if they disobeyed.

Terrifying curses! Certainly, they’d never risk forfeiting the great blessings by disobeying God and thus suffering the horrific curses. (They did!)

Regrettably, we’re not much different – if different at all. Too often we’d rather be our own god than serve the one true God.

Moses stood before Israel and commanded they choose. Life or death. Blessings or curses. (Deuteronomy 30:19-20)

Life and blessings were the obvious choices, but – Spoiler Alert – Israel often chose shocking sin over life-giving blessings. (Just wait until we get to the book of Judges! Oh my!)

God predicted Israel’s rebellion. He gave Moses a song to teach Israel which would stand as a witness against them that they’d been warned (Deuteronomy 32).

Moses then pronounced a blessing on each tribe of Israel (Deuteronomy 33). God’s grace in action.

Farewell, Moses

As the book of Deuteronomy closes we see Moses, the leader and prophet God called His friend, walking up to the top of Mount Pisgah. There the Lord showed him the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 34:1-4)

Then Moses, the servant of the Lord, died (Deuteronomy 34:5). He entered his rest and reward.

Hello, Joshua

Israel’s leadership passed to Joshua, who may have penned the final verses in Deuteronomy and this beautiful testimony to Moses:

“And there has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face, none like him for all the signs and wonders that the LORD sent him to do in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land, and for all the mighty power and all the great deeds of terror that Moses did in the sight of all Israel” (Deuteronomy 34:10-12).

 

 

 




What is the Bible, Anyway? (by Tim Challies)

What is the Bible Anyway? by Tim Challies (via www.JeanWilund.com)


I found a great article that fits well with my Welcome to the Bible series:

What is the Bible Anyway?

by blogger, author, and book reviewer Tim Challies.

Enjoy!


And in case you like to share on Pinterest: What is the Bible Anyway? by Tim Challies (via www.JeanWilund.com)




NUMBERS ~ A Super-Short Summary (and a Less-Than-Super-Short Summary)

If you're new - or sort of new - to the book of NUMBERS - Dip your toes here in the Welcome to the Bible series via www.JeanWilund.com

Book #4 ~ NUMBERS

God is not a man, that He should lie, or a son of man, that He should change His mind. Does He speak and not act? Does He promise and not fulfill? ~ Numbers 23:19 BSB


Super-Short Summary:

In NUMBERS, God reveals the stubbornness of man’s heart and the kindness of His own as they disobey Him despite His faithfulness. And He points forward to the cross, where His righteous anger over sin and His grace, mercy, and love toward sinners would meet in the death of His Son Jesus.


Less-Than-Super-Short Summary:

In Numbers, the action picks up after a slow opening – the account of a census (Numbers 1).

1, 2, 3, 4 .  . . zzzzzzz.

The first census counted 603,550 men able to fight (Numbers 2:32).

(The census gave the book of Numbers its English title. The Hebrew title is Bemidbar, which means In the Wilderness because the action takes place in the wilderness. I like the Hebrew title better.)

The census proved God was fulfilling His promise to make a large nation from Abraham. With God as their ruler, they’d grown to more than a million Israelites. This certainly qualified them to be a nation.

Bird’s Eye Cross

After the census, God mapped out where each tribe would set up their tents whenever they camped along the way to the Promised Land (Numbers 2).

(From a bird’s eye view, the tribe placement resembled a cross. Interesting.)

He then instructed the tribe of Levi how to serve the Lord in the tabernacle and detailed more rules and regulations for Israel (Numbers 3:1-10:10). Throughout these chapters, God reminded them of His holiness — and mankind’s struggle with it.

God’s Holiness: No analogy of God is perfect, but imagine God’s holiness is like the sun. We couldn’t live without it, but we’d better approach the sun properly. Even if we wear proper viewing glasses, the sun’s infrared heat can warm the tissue and liquid in our eyes. Boiled eyeballs?! 

Camping With God

For a year, Israel had been camped at Mt. Sinai as God prepared them for their journey to the Promised Land.

His presence would now lead Israel from a cloud by day and from a pillar of fire by night. That must have been an intimidating sight. (Numbers 9:15-23.)

Now organized by God, Israel left Mt. Sinai and headed into the wilderness by tribes for the first time following the cloud (Numbers 10).

You might expect the priests to be the first to head out after God, but the tribe of Judah led the way. How fitting since Jesus descended from the tribe of Judah.

No sooner had Israel headed out, than it began again. They showed their true colors, and it wasn’t pretty.

Incessant Whining and Mutinous Plots

Incessant whining and mutinous plots fill the book of Numbers. Each time, God responded in dramatic fashion.

Israel’s worst offense came when they rebelled against God and refused to enter the Promised Land. (Numbers 13-14). (God wasn’t just saving them from slavery. He’d promised them a new life in a land of their own.)

Moses sent twelve spies into the land. Ten came out with their knees knocking because they saw giants. Two (Joshua and Caleb) came out itching for battle.

But the ten spies melted the hearts of the people, and the Israelites refused to budge.

Their unbelief fueled their rebellion and turned an 11-day hike into a 40-year wandering because they chose to fear men rather than trust God.

You’d think Israel would’ve learned their lesson by now. JustBelieve. God.

Mutiny in the Wilderness

As the Israelites wandered, they continued their mutinous ways, even worshipping worthless idols.

Israel’s sins cost them. And God answered in jaw-dropping ways.

The ground swallowed some (Numbers 16), Aaron’s staff grew flowers and almonds (Numbers 17), and a plague ravished those who worshipped the false god Baal (Numbers 25).

A donkey even talked. (Yes, really – Numbers 22.)

An evil king had hired a certain prophet to curse Israel, but it didn’t work out well for the king. After the donkey and the Angel of the Lord talked sense into the greedy prophet, God used him to bless Israel and prophecy about King David and Jesus.

The prophet later met his doom at the end of a sword when he battled against Israel – Numbers 31:8. More proof that mankind’s heart is stubborn and slow to learn. Who forgets what a talking donkey taught you?

(Questioning whether to believe a donkey talked? God gave mankind the ability. And parrots. And apparently a Siberian Huskey. He can give it to a donkey, too. Nothing is hard for the God who created the heavens and the earth.)

Correcting God

Sin played Israel, but even faithful Moses wasn’t exempt from its traps.

Moses heard God’s instructions to speak to a specific rock and God would bring water from it. But he had a better plan. He chose to alter God’s instructions and struck it instead – twice (Numbers 20:2-13).

Even though Moses sinned, God brought life-giving water from the rock and displayed for Israel how Jesus, the Messiah, would one day give them living water. (Numbers 20:11; John 4:10)

Living water is a metaphor of the type of life Jesus gives.

“Correcting” God cost Moses dearly. God banned him from entering the Promised Land.

Tip #1: If you ever find yourself disagreeing with God, stop and consider which one of you is most likely wrong. In case you’re wondering, it’s you. It’s always us. Never God.

Tip #2: Sin always costs. And it never affects just you.

In another display of Israel’s true heart, they “loathed” God’s miraculous care of bread (manna) He sent each morning from heaven (Numbers 21:5 NASB).

So He gave them serpents. (Remind anyone else of the first sin in the garden?)

He also gave them a powerful picture of Jesus lifted up on the cross. Jesus Himself referred to it (Numbers 21:4-9; John 3:14-15).

Poised for Victory

As God led Israel throughout the wilderness for 40 years, we see a mixture of battles, sin, mercy, consequences, and victory.

By the end of their wandering, everyone who’d refused to trust and obey God and enter the Promised Land had died.

But their children were ready. They’d grown in wisdom and faith through God’s training.

Numbers comes to a close with another census (601,730 fighting men—Numbers 26:51) and Israel standing poised on the border of the Promised Land.

What's the big deal about the book of Numbers? Dip your toes in and find out. #Biblestudy #Godsword #Jesus Click To Tweet