Gospel Wednesday | Rosebrough’s Ramblings through Ruth

GWToday, will be our last Gospel Wednesday post for this 2015. We will be taking a break for a few weeks for Christmas and the New Year. The plan for now is to work through the Gospel of Mark for Gospel Wednesday and then, perhaps, work through the book of Revelation, but I’ll need to get a lot of studying done before that project. Today, I wanted to share a Bible study of Ruth provided by Pr Chris Rosebrough. For this study, we’ll be listening to an episode of Fighting for the Faith. Have you ever read through the book of Ruth? Please do so… most of my blog posts are longer than the whole of Ruth… 😉

Rosebrough’s Ramblings Through Ruth

Email your questions or comments to: talkback@fightingforthefaith.com

The full text of Ruth:

Ruth 1-4 (ESV)

Naomi Widowed

In the days when the judges ruled there was a famine in the land, and a man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons. The name of the man was Elimelech and the name of his wife Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. They went into the country of Moab and remained there. But Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died, and she was left with her two sons. These took Moabite wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. They lived there about ten years, and both Mahlon and Chilion died, so that the woman was left without her two sons and her husband.

Ruth’s Loyalty to Naomi

Then she arose with her daughters-in-law to return from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the fields of Moab that the Lord had visited his people and given them food. So she set out from the place where she was with her two daughters-in-law, and they went on the way to return to the land of Judah.But Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go, return each of you to her mother’s house. May the Lord deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me. The Lord grant that you may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband!” Then she kissed them, and they lifted up their voices and wept. 10 And they said to her, “No, we will return with you to your people.”11 But Naomi said, “Turn back, my daughters; why will you go with me? Have I yet sons in my womb that they may become your husbands? 12 Turn back, my daughters; go your way, for I am too old to have a husband. If I should say I have hope, even if I should have a husband this night and should bear sons,13 would you therefore wait till they were grown? Would you therefore refrain from marrying? No, my daughters, for it is exceedingly bitter to me for your sake that the hand of the Lord has gone out against me.” 14 Then they lifted up their voices and wept again. And Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.

15 And she said, “See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” 16 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. 17 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.” 18 And when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more.

Naomi and Ruth Return

19 So the two of them went on until they came to Bethlehem. And when they came to Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them. And the women said, “Is this Naomi?” 20 She said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. 21 I went away full, and the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi, when the Lord has testified against me and the Almighty has brought calamity upon me?”

22 So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabite her daughter-in-law with her, who returned from the country of Moab. And they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest.

Ruth Meets Boaz

Now Naomi had a relative of her husband’s, a worthy man of the clan of Elimelech, whose name was Boaz. And Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain after him in whose sight I shall find favor.” And she said to her, “Go, my daughter.” So she set out and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers, and she happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the clan of Elimelech. And behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem. And he said to the reapers, “The Lord be with you!” And they answered, “The Lord bless you.” Then Boaz said to his young man who was in charge of the reapers, “Whose young woman is this?”And the servant who was in charge of the reapers answered, “She is the young Moabite woman, who came back with Naomi from the country of Moab.She said, ‘Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves after the reapers.’ So she came, and she has continued from early morning until now, except for a short rest.”

Then Boaz said to Ruth, “Now, listen, my daughter, do not go to glean in another field or leave this one, but keep close to my young women. Let your eyes be on the field that they are reaping, and go after them. Have I not charged the young men not to touch you? And when you are thirsty, go to the vessels and drink what the young men have drawn.” 10 Then she fell on her face, bowing to the ground, and said to him, “Why have I found favor in your eyes, that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?” 11 But Boaz answered her, “All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told to me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before. 12 The Lord repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!” 13 Then she said, “I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, for you have comforted me and spoken kindly to your servant, though I am not one of your servants.”

14 And at mealtime Boaz said to her, “Come here and eat some bread and dip your morsel in the wine.” So she sat beside the reapers, and he passed to her roasted grain. And she ate until she was satisfied, and she had some left over.15 When she rose to glean, Boaz instructed his young men, saying, “Let her glean even among the sheaves, and do not reproach her. 16 And also pull out some from the bundles for her and leave it for her to glean, and do not rebuke her.”

17 So she gleaned in the field until evening. Then she beat out what she had gleaned, and it was about an ephah of barley. 18 And she took it up and went into the city. Her mother-in-law saw what she had gleaned. She also brought out and gave her what food she had left over after being satisfied. 19 And her mother-in-law said to her, “Where did you glean today? And where have you worked? Blessed be the man who took notice of you.” So she told her mother-in-law with whom she had worked and said, “The man’s name with whom I worked today is Boaz.” 20 And Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “May he be blessed by the Lord, whose kindness has not forsaken the living or the dead!” Naomi also said to her, “The man is a close relative of ours, one of our redeemers.” 21 And Ruth the Moabite said, “Besides, he said to me, ‘You shall keep close by my young men until they have finished all my harvest.’” 22 And Naomi said to Ruth, her daughter-in-law, “It is good, my daughter, that you go out with his young women, lest in another field you be assaulted.” 23 So she kept close to the young women of Boaz, gleaning until the end of the barley and wheat harvests. And she lived with her mother-in-law.

Ruth and Boaz at the Threshing Floor

Then Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, “My daughter, should I not seekrest for you, that it may be well with you? Is not Boaz our relative, with whose young women you were? See, he is winnowing barley tonight at the threshing floor. Wash therefore and anoint yourself, and put on your cloak and go down to the threshing floor, but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking. But when he lies down, observe the place where he lies. Then go and uncover his feet and lie down, and he will tell you what to do.” And she replied, “All that you say I will do.”

So she went down to the threshing floor and did just as her mother-in-law had commanded her. And when Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of grain. Then she came softly and uncovered his feet and lay down. At midnight the man was startled and turned over, and behold, a woman lay at his feet! He said, “Who are you?” And she answered, “I am Ruth, your servant. Spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer.” 10 And he said, “May you be blessed by the Lord, my daughter. You have made this last kindness greater than the first in that you have not gone after young men, whether poor or rich. 11 And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you all that you ask, for all my fellow townsmen know that you are a worthy woman. 12 And now it is true that I am a redeemer. Yet there is a redeemer nearer than I. 13 Remain tonight, and in the morning, if he will redeem you, good; let him do it. But if he is not willing to redeem you, then, as the Lord lives, I will redeem you. Lie down until the morning.”

14 So she lay at his feet until the morning, but arose before one could recognize another. And he said, “Let it not be known that the woman came to the threshing floor.” 15 And he said, “Bring the garment you are wearing and hold it out.” So she held it, and he measured out six measures of barley and put it on her. Then she went into the city. 16 And when she came to her mother-in-law, she said, “How did you fare, my daughter?” Then she told her all that the man had done for her, 17 saying, “These six measures of barley he gave to me, for he said to me, ‘You must not go back empty-handed to your mother-in-law.’”18 She replied, “Wait, my daughter, until you learn how the matter turns out, for the man will not rest but will settle the matter today.”

Boaz Redeems Ruth

Now Boaz had gone up to the gate and sat down there. And behold, the redeemer, of whom Boaz had spoken, came by. So Boaz said, “Turn aside, friend; sit down here.” And he turned aside and sat down. And he took ten men of the elders of the city and said, “Sit down here.” So they sat down.Then he said to the redeemer, “Naomi, who has come back from the country of Moab, is selling the parcel of land that belonged to our relative Elimelech.So I thought I would tell you of it and say, ‘Buy it in the presence of those sitting here and in the presence of the elders of my people.’ If you will redeem it, redeem it. But if you will not, tell me, that I may know, for there is no one besides you to redeem it, and I come after you.” And he said, “I will redeem it.” Then Boaz said, “The day you buy the field from the hand of Naomi, you also acquire Ruth the Moabite, the widow of the dead, in order to perpetuate the name of the dead in his inheritance.” Then the redeemer said, “I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I impair my own inheritance. Take my right of redemption yourself, for I cannot redeem it.”

Now this was the custom in former times in Israel concerning redeeming and exchanging: to confirm a transaction, the one drew off his sandal and gave it to the other, and this was the manner of attesting in Israel. So when the redeemer said to Boaz, “Buy it for yourself,” he drew off his sandal. Then Boaz said to the elders and all the people, “You are witnesses this day that I have bought from the hand of Naomi all that belonged to Elimelech and all that belonged to Chilion and to Mahlon. 10 Also Ruth the Moabite, the widow of Mahlon, I have bought to be my wife, to perpetuate the name of the dead in his inheritance, that the name of the dead may not be cut off from among his brothers and from the gate of his native place. You are witnesses this day.”11 Then all the people who were at the gate and the elders said, “We are witnesses. May the Lord make the woman, who is coming into your house, like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the house of Israel. May you act worthily in Ephrathah and be renowned in Bethlehem, 12 and may your house be like the house of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah, because of the offspring that the Lord will give you by this young woman.”

Ruth and Boaz Marry

13 So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife. And he went in to her, and theLord gave her conception, and she bore a son. 14 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! 15 He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age, for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.” 16 Then Naomi took the child and laid him on her lap and became his nurse. 17 And the women of the neighborhood gave him a name, saying, “A son has been born to Naomi.” They named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.

The Genealogy of David

18 Now these are the generations of Perez: Perez fathered Hezron, 19 Hezron fathered Ram, Ram fathered Amminadab, 20 Amminadab fathered Nahshon, Nahshon fathered Salmon, 21 Salmon fathered Boaz, Boaz fathered Obed,22 Obed fathered Jesse, and Jesse fathered David.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

CTT | Train Up a Child in Gender Roles

With all of the craziness in the news and crawling across social media, it is tough to keep steady and steadfast without getting completely frustrated. Maranatha! Today, we will be addressing a relatively new cultural phenomenon and how Christian parents need to respond to the culture in a way that we haven’t had to in a long time. We need to teach our children, in plain language, Biblical gender roles and Biblical sexual identity. God created us male and female. The gender binary is Biblical, it is God’s design, and man cannot change it.

Let us begin by looking at Proverbs 22.

Proverbs 22 (ESV)

22 A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches,
    and favor is better than silver or gold.
The rich and the poor meet together;
    the Lord is the maker of them all.
The prudent sees danger and hides himself,
    but the simple go on and suffer for it.
The reward for humility and fear of the Lord
    is riches and honor and life.
Thorns and snares are in the way of the crooked;
    whoever guards his soul will keep far from them.
Train up a child in the way he should go;
    even when he is old he will not depart from it.
The rich rules over the poor,
    and the borrower is the slave of the lender.
Whoever sows injustice will reap calamity,
    and the rod of his fury will fail.
Whoever has a bountiful eye will be blessed,
    for he shares his bread with the poor.
10 Drive out a scoffer, and strife will go out,
    and quarreling and abuse will cease.
11 He who loves purity of heart,
    and whose speech is gracious, will have the king as his friend.
12 The eyes of the Lord keep watch over knowledge,
    but he overthrows the words of the traitor.
13 The sluggard says, “There is a lion outside!
    I shall be killed in the streets!”
14 The mouth of forbidden women is a deep pit;
    he with whom the Lord is angry will fall into it.
15 Folly is bound up in the heart of a child,
    but the rod of discipline drives it far from him.
16 Whoever oppresses the poor to increase his own wealth,
    or gives to the rich, will only come to poverty.

Words of the Wise

17 Incline your ear, and hear the words of the wise,
    and apply your heart to my knowledge,
18 for it will be pleasant if you keep them within you,
    if all of them are ready on your lips.
19 That your trust may be in the Lord,
    I have made them known to you today, even to you.
20 Have I not written for you thirty sayings
    of counsel and knowledge,
21 to make you know what is right and true,
    that you may give a true answer to those who sent you?

22 Do not rob the poor, because he is poor,
    or crush the afflicted at the gate,
23 for the Lord will plead their cause
    and rob of life those who rob them.
24 Make no friendship with a man given to anger,
    nor go with a wrathful man,
25 lest you learn his ways
    and entangle yourself in a snare.
26 Be not one of those who give pledges,
    who put up security for debts.
27 If you have nothing with which to pay,
    why should your bed be taken from under you?
28 Do not move the ancient landmark
    that your fathers have set.
29 Do you see a man skillful in his work?
    He will stand before kings;
    he will not stand before obscure men.

Society Used to Promote Gender Roles

American Society used to promote gender roles as healthy and desirable qualities in men and women. Though the picture of a “man’s man” or a “fine lady” have gone through trends and fads, they were always there. Since WWII, however, things started changing on that front, and several progressives have pushed throughout the past 3 decades an agenda of dissolving gender roles, to the point where society is even unwilling to accept biological limitations on gender. The goal is (and always has been) to dissolve the family unit, so that there is only the State and a collective of individuals who obey it. The currency for this obedience from the individual is “empowerment” to do “what feels right for the individual”. Scholarly dissertations could be written mapping out the progressive movement’s assault on the family throughout the 20th century, but for our purposes we need only acknowledge society’s current state.

When I was growing up, my parents didn’t have to go out of their way to teach gender roles. Society accepted (at least in general) the fundamental differences between men and women. Our clothing was distinct (except for women’s jackets getting shoulder pads in the 80s… that, was odd) and for the most part men were expected to be a certain way and women another, and it was what we looked for in the opposite sex. Now, that is not to say that the gender roles within the family were right… culturally we had abandoned the notion of a single-income family, and latch-key kids were being raised by the public school system and television. The visible church was in the televangelist boom with Oral Roberts and the like promoting egalitarian views to keep in step with the feminist movement, and it was during this time also that Rick Warren and Bill Hybels were starting their movements. The family was on shifting sands at this point, but the fruit of such compromise wouldn’t manifest until the mid 90s. One such bad fruit would become apparent in the Columbine massacre. Society had abandoned teaching its kids right from wrong, had put down the rod of discipline in favor of more self-esteem psycho-babble, and we left our children to be brought up by the world. Fast forward a couple of decades and we have large swaths of evangelicalism abandoning the inerrancy of Scripture, the Biblically prescribed gender roles within the church, and even on the applicability of sexual immorality as sin. We are left with full-on rebellion against God’s design in cases like Bruce Jenner and Stephonknee Walschtt (Warning: both links are NSFL or Not Safe For Lunch) being tolerated and even celebrated.

Romans 1:22-32 (ESV)

22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. 24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. 28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents,31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

Christian Parents Now Must Teach Gender Roles Properly

I can remember a time while growing up when the cool fads in accessories for men were considered feminine in nature, such as bracelets and earrings. My parents didn’t need to point to any scripture to enforce the gender distinction, they simply had to hold the line at “those are for women, not men”. Whenever we bought a button-down shirt, we needed to know which side the buttons were on so that we wouldn’t be wearing a “woman’s shirt”. My point being that my parents’ role regarding training us up in gender roles was one of discipline and reinforcement of societal norms. Was this right? No, because we ended up allowing the world to push us into an egalitarian mindset, but it was the norm, and that’s what is new for our day as parents… it is no longer the norm. Insanity is the norm. Full-on post-modern, post-christian, delusion is now the norm. We now have to teach explicitly what most of us never thought would ever have been questioned. We have to teach our kids that their gender is bound to their biology and that it was all carefully and wonderfully made by God before they were even born. Sin has corrupted our flesh, and allowed death to enter into the Earth, but God’s design for sex, procreation, gender roles, sexual purity, and marriage remain. We now have to teach these things to our children plainly and without relying on society to enforce it. In fact, we must accept the truth that the world seeks to destroy our children’s minds and teach them to hate God’s plan for the family and even hate their own bodies that were given to them by God.

Ephesians 6:1-4 (ESV) | Children and Parents

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Matthew 19:3-6 (ESV)

And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said,‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

Genesis 5:1-2 (ESV) | Adam’s Descendants to Noah

This is the book of the generations of Adam. When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them Man when they were created.

I decided to walk this progression backwards, from Paul’s writing, to a quote of Jesus’ response to the Pharisees all the way back to Genesis. God created man, and He did so with a binary gender, not a fluid one. Our gender is bound to our bodies, and designed to become one flesh in marriage. That is by design, and man cannot simply annul a marriage covenant much less is he qualified to redefine gender or sexuality. Teach your kids to love their gender, their God-appointed gender, a gender that is bound to their biology and cannot be changed by man. Remember what we saw in Proverbs 22:15 Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him. Children must be taught in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. 

Titus 2 (ESV)

Teach Sound Doctrine

But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. Bondservants are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, 10 not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.

11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people,12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

15 Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.

Conclusion

My children are still very young… and we already have to teach God’s plan for men and women. We’ve taken the homeschooling route, and I’ve been working through Luther’s small catechism with them. We’ve not yet explained procreation, but we’ve already had to address cross-dressers, and the fact that my son will always be a boy and my daughter will always be a girl and that their differences will always be there, and that those differences are a good thing even if they don’t see it yet. We have to teach what is appropriate conduct for boys and girls, and my wife and I weep when we think of how much malice the world harbors for our children and their innocence. While in our flesh we are troubled, and we worry, and we so desperately want to protect them from the hate of the world, we are comforted knowing that we serve a Living God who is not unfamiliar with our struggles. We find rest in Him, and we pray the same for you.

Hebrews 13:20-21 (ESV)

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus,the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

Gospel Wednesday | A look at Law and Gospel in Zephaniah

GWI apologize for getting this post published a day late. Today we’ll be looking at one of the minor prophets, Zephaniah. Since the book is a short book, I thought it would be great for us to read through the whole book together. I’m going to assume that most of you have never read through Zephaniah, much less with your mind on birth of Jesus Christ. If your church follows a 3 year lectionary, you’ll probably be reading through the end of the book soon. Let’s work through this book of prophecy with Advent in mind. As with our look at Jeremiah last week, there is going to be an immediate context for this book of prophecy regarding the coming Babylonian exile and return to Jerusalem, which is itself a foreshadowing of the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that is the power of Salvation from our own sin and the Wrath of God.

Zephaniah 1-3 (ESV)

The word of the Lord that came to Zephaniah the son of Cushi, son of Gedaliah, son of Amariah, son of Hezekiah, in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah.

An interesting introduction to who the author of this book of prophecy was. Zephaniah traces his lineage to King Hezekiah who ruled over Judah during the attack of the Assyrians under Sennacherib (2 Kings 18-20). Hezekiah ruled while Isaiah was the Prophet of the LORD. We are now 4 generations after Hezekiah and Isaiah. Notice also the phrase in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, which we saw last week in Jeremiah:

Jeremiah 1:1-3 (ESV)

The words of Jeremiah, the son of Hilkiah, one of the priests who were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin, to whom the word of the Lord came in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign. It came also in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, and until the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah, the son of Josiah, king of Judah, until the captivity of Jerusalem in the fifth month.

Now, Jeremiah spans several rulers into the captivity of Jerusalem, but Zephaniah’s prophecy coincides with the earlier prophecies of Jeremiah. We’ll see some similarity between Zephaniah’s prophecy and Jeremiah’s prophecy of coming judgement against Judah. The northern Kingdom of Israel has been scattered by Assyria and Judah’s exile is coming. Now that we have our historic context, let us continue reading through Zephaniah.

Zephaniah 1:2-6 (ESV) | The Coming Judgment on Judah

“I will utterly sweep away everything
    from the face of the earth,” declares the Lord.
“I will sweep away man and beast;
    I will sweep away the birds of the heavens
    and the fish of the sea,
and the rubble with the wicked.
    I will cut off mankind
    from the face of the earth,” declares the Lord.
“I will stretch out my hand against Judah
    and against all the inhabitants of Jerusalem;
and I will cut off from this place the remnant of Baal
    and the name of the idolatrous priests along with the priests,
those who bow down on the roofs
    to the host of the heavens,
those who bow down and swear to the Lord
    and yet swear by Milcom,
those who have turned back from following the Lord,
    who do not seek the Lord or inquire of him.”

The declaration of coming judgement is reminiscent of God’s anger with creation in the time of Noah. We know that God made a covenant with Noah that He will never again destroy the earth with a flood, but a full destruction is coming, the wicked will be judged. v2-3 points to the final judgement, while the details of 4-6 are a bit more specific to the sins of Judah (though as we see in Romans 1, these sins ARE the sin of all mankind).

Zephaniah 1:7-18 (ESV) | The Day of the Lord Is Near

Be silent before the Lord God!
    For the day of the Lord is near;
the Lord has prepared a sacrifice
    and consecrated his guests.
And on the day of the Lord‘s sacrifice—
“I will punish the officials and the king’s sons
    and all who array themselves in foreign attire.
On that day I will punish
    everyone who leaps over the threshold,
and those who fill their master’s house
    with violence and fraud.

10 “On that day,” declares the Lord,
    “a cry will be heard from the Fish Gate,
a wail from the Second Quarter,
    a loud crash from the hills.
11 Wail, O inhabitants of the Mortar!
    For all the traders are no more;
    all who weigh out silver are cut off.
12 At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps,
    and I will punish the men
who are complacent,
    those who say in their hearts,
‘The Lord will not do good,
    nor will he do ill.’
13 Their goods shall be plundered,
    and their houses laid waste.
Though they build houses,
    they shall not inhabit them;
though they plant vineyards,
    they shall not drink wine from them.”

14 The great day of the Lord is near,
    near and hastening fast;
the sound of the day of the Lord is bitter;
    the mighty man cries aloud there.
15 A day of wrath is that day,
    a day of distress and anguish,
a day of ruin and devastation,
    a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of clouds and thick darkness,
16     a day of trumpet blast and battle cry
against the fortified cities
    and against the lofty battlements.

17 I will bring distress on mankind,
    so that they shall walk like the blind,
    because they have sinned against the Lord;
their blood shall be poured out like dust,
    and their flesh like dung.
18 Neither their silver nor their gold
    shall be able to deliver them
    on the day of the wrath of the Lord.
In the fire of his jealousy,
    all the earth shall be consumed;
for a full and sudden end
    he will make of all the inhabitants of the earth.

Again, the day of the LORD had an immediate fulfillment in the fall of Jerusalem, but it also points ahead to the return of the LORD Jesus Christ, the final day of Judgement on mankind. Notice what is in the hearts of the idolaters toward the end of v12, ‘The Lord will not do good, nor will he do ill.’ They have no faith in the LORD God to do anything. In their worship of false gods and man-made idols, they’ve forgotten that the One True God is a Living God with a strong and mighty hand. We live in a time now that is aptly described as “post-modern”, but it is also rightly described as “post-Christian”. The world used to give mental ascent to the idea of Christian morality, but those days are past… we are predominantly a secular, humanist people willfully bowing to false gods while boasting in the LORD Gods apparent inaction. May God have Mercy on us. 

Zephaniah 2 (ESV) | Judgment on Judah’s Enemies

Gather together, yes, gather,
    O shameless nation,
before the decree takes effect
    —before the day passes away like chaff—
before there comes upon you
    the burning anger of the Lord,
before there comes upon you
    the day of the anger of the Lord.
Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land,
    who do his just commands;
seek righteousness; seek humility;
    perhaps you may be hidden
    on the day of the anger of the Lord.
For Gaza shall be deserted,
    and Ashkelon shall become a desolation;
Ashdod’s people shall be driven out at noon,
    and Ekron shall be uprooted.

Woe to you inhabitants of the seacoast,
    you nation of the Cherethites!
The word of the Lord is against you,
    O Canaan, land of the Philistines;
    and I will destroy you until no inhabitant is left.
And you, O seacoast, shall be pastures,
    with meadows for shepherds
    and folds for flocks.
The seacoast shall become the possession
    of the remnant of the house of Judah,
    on which they shall graze,
and in the houses of Ashkelon
    they shall lie down at evening.
For the Lord their God will be mindful of them
    and restore their fortunes.

“I have heard the taunts of Moab
    and the revilings of the Ammonites,
how they have taunted my people
    and made boasts against their territory.
Therefore, as I live,” declares the Lord of hosts,
    the God of Israel,
“Moab shall become like Sodom,
    and the Ammonites like Gomorrah,
a land possessed by nettles and salt pits,
    and a waste forever.
The remnant of my people shall plunder them,
    and the survivors of my nation shall possess them.”
10 This shall be their lot in return for their pride,
    because they taunted and boasted
    against the people of the Lord of hosts.
11 The Lord will be awesome against them;
    for he will famish all the gods of the earth,
and to him shall bow down,
    each in its place,
    all the lands of the nations.

12 You also, O Cushites,
    shall be slain by my sword.

13 And he will stretch out his hand against the north
    and destroy Assyria,
and he will make Nineveh a desolation,
    a dry waste like the desert.
14 Herds shall lie down in her midst,
    all kinds of beasts;
even the owl and the hedgehog
    shall lodge in her capitals;
a voice shall hoot in the window;
    devastation will be on the threshold;
    for her cedar work will be laid bare.
15 This is the exultant city
    that lived securely,
that said in her heart,
    “I am, and there is no one else.”
What a desolation she has become,
    a lair for wild beasts!
Everyone who passes by her
    hisses and shakes his fist.

Notice that God isn’t just proclaiming judgement on His rebellious people. He will judge the unbelieving nations as well, even the agents of destruction used by God to punish Judah… they, too, will be judged. God is Sovereign over His creation. But this is not connected with any kind of comfort to Judah. There is a promise of a remnant of Israel being preserved… but this is not glad tidings at this point. Notice the list of Woe to the nations, and we get a Woe to the rebellious and defiled here at the start of the next chapter. Remember when Jesus proclaimed His list of woes in Matthew 11 and again in Matthew 23?

Zephaniah 3:1-8 (ESV) | Judgment on Jerusalem and the Nations

Woe to her who is rebellious and defiled,
    the oppressing city!
She listens to no voice;
    she accepts no correction.
She does not trust in the Lord;
    she does not draw near to her God.

Her officials within her
    are roaring lions;
her judges are evening wolves
    that leave nothing till the morning.
Her prophets are fickle, treacherous men;
her priests profane what is holy;
    they do violence to the law.
The Lord within her is righteous;
    he does no injustice;
every morning he shows forth his justice;
    each dawn he does not fail;
    but the unjust knows no shame.

“I have cut off nations;
    their battlements are in ruins;
I have laid waste their streets
    so that no one walks in them;
their cities have been made desolate,
    without a man, without an inhabitant.
I said, ‘Surely you will fear me;
    you will accept correction.
Then your dwelling would not be cut off
    according to all that I have appointed against you.’
But all the more they were eager
    to make all their deeds corrupt.

“Therefore wait for me,” declares the Lord,
    “for the day when I rise up to seize the prey.
For my decision is to gather nations,
    to assemble kingdoms,
to pour out upon them my indignation,
    all my burning anger;
for in the fire of my jealousy
    all the earth shall be consumed.

Note the charges against Jerusalem. Are they not the charges Jesus levied against the chief priests and elders of Jerusalem? That they do violence to the Law in preaching the commandments of men, the traditions of the elders? Notice that it is Jerusalem who will not listen, who will not submit, and will not accept correction. She is faithless and unbelieving.

Zephaniah 3:9-13 (ESV) | The Conversion of the Nations

“For at that time I will change the speech of the peoples
    to a pure speech,
that all of them may call upon the name of the Lord
    and serve him with one accord.
10 From beyond the rivers of Cush
    my worshipers, the daughter of my dispersed ones,
    shall bring my offering.

11 “On that day you shall not be put to shame
    because of the deeds by which you have rebelled against me;
for then I will remove from your midst
    your proudly exultant ones,
and you shall no longer be haughty
    in my holy mountain.
12 But I will leave in your midst
    a people humble and lowly.
They shall seek refuge in the name of the Lord,
13     those who are left in Israel;
they shall do no injustice
    and speak no lies,
nor shall there be found in their mouth
    a deceitful tongue.
For they shall graze and lie down,
    and none shall make them afraid.”

And now the Gospel: God will save, He will grant mercy, He will give His remnant saving faith… even from among the nations. The Gentiles will be saved. This is wonderful news for us. This next portion might be included in your Advent readings/lectionary.

Zephaniah 3:14-20 (ESV) | Israel’s Joy and Restoration

14 Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion;
    shout, O Israel!
Rejoice and exult with all your heart,
    O daughter of Jerusalem!
15 The Lord has taken away the judgments against you;
    he has cleared away your enemies.
The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst;
    you shall never again fear evil.
16 On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem:
“Fear not, O Zion;
    let not your hands grow weak.
17 The Lord your God is in your midst,
    a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
    he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.
18 I will gather those of you who mourn for the festival,
    so that you will no longer suffer reproach.
19 Behold, at that time I will deal
    with all your oppressors.
And I will save the lame
    and gather the outcast,
and I will change their shame into praise
    and renown in all the earth.
20 At that time I will bring you in,
    at the time when I gather you together;
for I will make you renowned and praised
    among all the peoples of the earth,
when I restore your fortunes
    before your eyes,” says the Lord.

Amen. As surely as Israel was restored from their Babylonian Exile, so will those who are of the Household of Faith in the LORD Jesus Christ be restored in the New Heaven and the New Earth after Jesus Christ has returned to judge the nations, indeed all of creation.

The LORD Our God is in our midst, by Faith in His Promise.

Matthew 28:18-20 (ESV)

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Amen.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

DiM | “Gospel” Grammy Nominations 2016

trebleclefDecember 8, 2015. With yesterday’s Billboard release of the Grammy Nominations for 2016, I thought we might take a look at the songs being nominated under the “Gospel” category. We’ll be taking a break on the DiM posts for the rest of the year. We’ll jump back into our DiM posts in January, 2016. I’m sure there will be lots of new songs on the top charts.

Billboard Grammy Nominations 2016 (link)

Billboard Grammy Results 2016 (link)

Best Gospel Performance/Song

Okay, so in this first category of Grammy Nominations, I only recognize one artist, Kirk Franklin. We haven’t covered any of these songs in our DiM posts, and I think that is because I don’t really follow the “Gospel” genre that is more of a style of music completely divorced from the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the power of God unto Salvation.

Worth [Live]
Anthony Brown & Group Therapy
Anthony Brown & Group Therapy; Anthony Brown, songwriter
Track from: Everyday Jesus [Live]
[Tyscot Records; Publisher(s): Key Of A Music/Tyscot Music]

Video / Lyrics. DiM Comments: The focus of the title and the song is on our worth. The song begins with the idea that everything God did for us was based on what He thought we were Worth. We believe that sort of philosophy to be inconsistent with what the Bible teaches, and it flies in the face of Soli Deo Gloria (to the Glory of God alone). The “power” of this song (and the genre of “Gospel Music”) is in how it’s sung/performed, not really in its lyric… though self-esteem boosting is a common lyrical theme.
DiM Verdict: Disapprove.

grammy-statueWanna Be Happy?
Kirk Franklin
Kirk Franklin; Kirk Franklin, songwriter
[RCA Records/Fo Yo Soul Recordings; Publisher(s): Aunt Gertrude Music Publishing admin. by Universal Music-Brentwood Benson Songs and Irving Music, Inc. admin. by Universal Music Publishing]

Video / Lyrics. DiM Comments: This song dilutes the message of the Gospel down to an Osteen-like question of happiness. The question the listener is told to ask themselves is “do you wanna be happy”. The listener is told to let Jesus take the wheel… and at some points told to just say “yes” to Jesus… but nothing clearly stated. Apparently the listener isn’t happy, but that’s because they are in the way and apparently haven’t been asking themselves the question, or something. The song is worthless.
DiM Verdict: Disapprove.

Intentional
Travis Greene
Travis Greene; Travis Greene, songwriter
[RCA Inspiration; Publisher(s): Greenlight InternationalVNavidavi Music]

Video / Lyrics. DiM Comments: Okay, so at least this song is slightly better than the other two. But seriously, the whole song consists of 2 Christian ideas: Be anxious for nothing (Phil 4:6a); God works all things for good (Rom 8:28). There is a third idea (seriously, the whole song is repetition of 3 thoughts) that God is Intentional. This is odd wording and its goal is to allude to the Sovereignty and Goodness of God while suggesting that whatever is going on it’s because God is doing something good for you in it. That concept can lose traction and flip sideways very quickly. One plus in the song is that it acknowledged that sometimes the hard times are indeed allowed by and even sent by God. That’s a good truth to hold onto, but it isn’t always for your good… it’s ALWAYS for His Glory, and there is not greater good than God’s Glory. The repetition in this song is absolutely mind-numbing.
DiM Verdict: Listen with Discerning ears, hearts, and minds.

How Awesome Is Our God [Live]
Israel & Newbreed Featuring Yolanda Adams
Israel & Newbreed Featuring Yolanda Adams; Neville Diedericks, Israel Houghton & Meleasa Houghton, songwriters
Track from: Covered: Alive In Asia [Live] (Deluxe)
[RGM Newbreed/RCA Inspiration; Publisher(s): Integrity’s Praise! Music, RGM-Newbreed Publishing, Sound Of The New Breed, Aaron Lindsey Publishing, CCMG Publishing, Neville D. Publishing]

Video / Lyrics. DiM Comments: As far as what is in the lyric, if you can get beyond the repetition, (… I mean… it’s bad… which goes to show that “gospel music” is all about the singing and musical crescendo and frills… the lyrics are just a means for hearing the voice) the song is a legitimate song of praise and thanksgiving from the regenerate Christian to the God who Saved them. If sung/performed within the context of faithful believers, I believe this song could serve as fitting worship and thanks to God when sung by each believer, regardless of their musical ability.
DiM Verdict: Listen with Discerning ears, hearts, and minds.

Worth Fighting For [Live]
Brian Courtney Wilson
Brian Courtney Wilson; Aaron Lindsey & Brian Courtney Wilson, songwriters
Track from: Worth Fighting For [Live]
[Motown Gospel; Publisher(s): ACER/Aaron Lindsey Music/Capitol Christian Music Publishing admin. by Capitol CMG]

Video / Lyrics. DiM Comments: Okay, have you ever heard of a “humble brag”? It’s when someone goes on and on about how humble/meek/undeserving they are in such a way that actually serves to brag about their accomplishments. That’s this song. It’s all about the singer’s worth, potential, destiny, purpose… but it’s cloaked in a sort of pious deference to God’s acknowledgement of the singer’s worth. It was so bad I stopped the audio after the first verse and just read the lyric without music. Nope.
DiM Verdict: Disapprove.

So, if there has to be a winner in this category, my vote would be for How Awesome is Our God by Israel & Newbreed Feat. Yolanda Adams.

Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song

Okay, so this category we are well acquainted with. In fact, I’m happy to report that we’ve already covered each of the songs nominated for a Grammy. None of these songs are DiM Approved, so as long as one of the flat-out disapproved songs doesn’t win, I’d consider that a small victory.

grammy-statueHoly Spirit
Francesca Battistelli
Francesca Battistelli
Track from: If We’re Honest (Deluxe Edition)
[Fervent/Curb/Word]

DiM | “Holy Spirit” by Francesca Battistelli
DiM Verdict: Disapprove

Lift Your Head Weary Sinner (Chains)
Crowder
Crowder; Ed Cash, David Crowder & Seth Philpott, songwriters
Track from: Neon Steeple (Deluxe Edition)
[sixstepsrecords/Sparrow Records; Publisher(s): sixsteps Music/worshiptogether.com Songs/sixsteps Songs/Worship Together Music admin. at CapitolCMGPublishing.com/Alletrop Music]

DiM | “Lift Your Head Weary Sinner (Chains)” by Crowder
DiM Verdict: Listen with Discerning ears, hearts, and minds.

Because He Lives (Amen)
Matt Maher
Matt Maher
Track from: Saints And Sinners
[Essential Records/Provident Label Group]

DiM | “Because He Lives (Amen)” by Matt Maher
DiM Verdict: Listen with Discerning ears, hearts, and minds.

Soul On Fire
Third Day Featuring All Sons & Daughters
Third Day Featuring All Sons & Daughters; Tai Anderson, Brenton Brown, David Carr, Mark Lee, Matt Maher & Mac Powell, songwriters
Track from: Lead Us Back: Songs Of Worship (Deluxe)
[Essential Records/Provident Label Group; Publisher(s): DATAMAMA MUSIC, Thankyou Music, Sony/ATV Tree Publishing, I Am A Pilgrim Songs]

DiM | “Soul On Fire” by Third Day
DiM Verdict: Listen with Discerning ears, hearts, and minds.

Feel It
Tobymac Featuring Mr. Talkbox
Tobymac Featuring Mr. Talkbox; Cary Barlowe, David Arthur Garcia & Toby McKeehan, songwriters
[ForeFront Records; Publisher(s): Achtober Songs/Universal Music – Brentwood Benson Publishing/D Soul Music admin. by CapitolCMGPublishing.com/Castle Bound Music, Inc./We Be Pawtying]

DiM | “Feel It (feat. Mr Talkbox)” by Tobymac
DiM Verdict: Disapprove.

Conclusion

I had hoped to work through the remaining Album categories, but that’s a lot more work than I have time for at this point. We really don’t do much in the way of Albums because they fit a different context from what concerns us. These days I think it is rare that folks listen through a whole album in a sitting. I could be wrong, but I think most folks just buy the songs they like on iTunes and throw them into their mixes. I’m not happy with the current state of Contemporary Christian Music, and pray every week for a reformation to take place. We need to wake up and acknowledge the importance of discernment in what we hear repeatedly and set to a tune. Most Christians spend far more time listening to this music than reading their Bibles… that’s also something that should change.

Ephesians 3:14-21 (ESV) | Prayer for Spiritual Strength

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being,so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think,according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Amen, indeed.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

 

DiM | “Real” by Nichole Nordeman

disapproveToday we are doing a Christmas Edition of “Discernment in Music” (DiM), here at Faithful Stewardship (2 Corinthians 10:4-6 (ESV)). I mentioned in yesterday’s post that I’d be addressing CCM radio stations’ treatment of the Gospel during this Christmas season, but I got distracted by this song so we’ll push that discussing back a bit.

December 3, 2015. Today we’ll be taking a look at a contemporary Christmas song by Nichole Nordeman called “Real”. This song is beautifully sung… and poetically written. It stands apart from most of the holiday sugar-pop that plays in shopping malls and diners… this song attempts to look beyond the commercialism and the hype to the “real meaning of Christmas”. How does it fare? I find myself in a quandary, on the one hand we need a lot more serious Christmas songs; on the other hand, we need Christmas songs that proclaim the Truth, not some fanciful re-envisioned version of history shaped to tug on our heart-strings.

The story of Jesus’ Birth is real. There were witnesses. We have the history recorded in Scripture. You don’t have to imagine the facts, you just have to read and believe them. There are cases where our imagination can help us understand the facts, but our imagination doesn’t get to rewrite them. If you are caught up in the false spirit of Christmas, and this song helped wake you up, Praise the Lord… but don’t stop there… read the real account, recorded in Luke 1-2 & Matthew 1-2.

Nichole Nordeman VEVO Video

“A Walk One Winter Night” by Al Andrews

I shared the second video because it was credited as the inspiration for Nichole Nordeman’s song “Real”. It shouldn’t come as any surprise to my readers, that I object to the premise of this song. I find it odd, even frustrating, that a song purporting to correct the listener’s misconceptions of Mary, or the night of Jesus’ birth would be inspired by a work of fiction, itself also containing some misconceptions of the manger, the “inn”, and those who were present on that night. Do we really need to turn to works of fiction to realize the Truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Is that where we are as a Church today? For the vast majority of Western Evangelicalism… the answer is “yes”. Pulpits are replaced by performance stages, and Pastors no longer preach the Word of God, they preach their own ideas, their own fantasies, their own fiction… and people flock to them, because their fiction is so “relevant” to them, so “real”. We’ve traded what is REAL for what we want to hear. 

Lyrics (via MetroLyrics)

Real

Frozen statues in the cold
Washed in moonlight, blue and gold
Mary’s babe in plastic hay
Quiet wonder on her face
Mary you look so serene
Far too pretty, much too clean
We might think we know you well
But what stories would you tell?
Of all the dirt and dust and shame
Everybody burning labour pain

And as I turn to walk away
I hear you say
I am real
Don’t turn me into memory or myth
Let me be real
And I’ll show you what it means to love like this
To be real

Shepherds bending to the ground
Bethlehem is safe and sound
Joseph you look brave and true
Do we know what it was like to be you
How many sleepless nights awake
Found you desperate and afraid

And as I turn to walk away
I hear you say
I am real
Don’t turn me into memory or myth
Let me be real
And I’ll show you what it means to love like this
To love like you don’t even care about the hurry and the hustle
Like you are unaware December comes with so much trouble
‘Cause you believe a baby came, not in paintings or in plays
But every minute, every hour, every day
To be real, real

You are real, real

Show us what it means to love like this
To be real
To be real

More than a memory
More than a story
Real

Read more: Nichole Nordeman – Real Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Discussion

Both the book and the song it inspired engage in mystical fiction. Statues don’t talk and Mary and Joseph are not speaking to anyone today, much less for direct revelation. Evangelicalism is awash in mysticism today, so I feel it necessary to point this fact out explicitly.

Once we get past the feel-good revelation of, “hey, this isn’t just a holiday with lawn decorations, this is about a real story that took place”… the songs lyrics have some troubling elements. Why is Mary begging to be real to the observer? Mary is begging to be real to the observer in exchange for her demonstrating to the observer what it means to love like this. So, Mary wants to be real so that she can demonstrate her love. Mary is pointing to Mary? No. Mary would be pointing to Jesus. We don’t need Mary as an intermediary to Jesus. Mary isn’t the point of the story, Jesus is.

There are some details in the song that are good and even interesting to ponder, like what it must have been like for Mary and Joseph to have been visited by the shepherds, and their story of seeing the angelic host. I’m sure Mary and Joseph had many a sleepless night, as with any first-time parents in the first century.

Conclusion

The key to not letting the Gospel fade into memory or myth, is to have it preached from the Word of God on a regular basis. Faith comes by hearing the word of Christ, not by having your heartstrings plucked by some work of fiction. Preach the Word, be ready in season and out of season. Jesus took on the form of man for one reason, to live a life we couldn’t live and pay a price we couldn’t pay so that we can have a forgiveness we don’t deserve.  That’s the Grace of God found only in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 (ESV)

Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.

Amen.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge