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Category Archives: Bible Study

‘A Father in the House’

 
For Fathers Day 2017, Christian Educational Ministries has re-released Ronald L. Dart’s 28-minute program “A Father in the House,” which you may listen to by clicking below. This is the 4th program in the 8-part series Marriage and Family, from his nationally syndicated daily radio program Born to Win.

After an introductory discussion of the importance of having a father’s actual and active presence in his family, Dart uses a retelling of the charming and spiritual Biblical story of Ruth and Boaz to finalize his teaching on a man’s broader responsibilities inside his family. In addition, he explains many of the legal imperatives and cultural traditions of the time — without this knowledge, many elements of the story sound strange to modern ears. At the end of the program, a reminder of the identity of Boaz and Ruth’s great-grandson provides a strong context and finale.

Click this box to listen to Mr. Dart’s program:
A Father in the House

(If you would like to listen to all 8 programs in the Marriage and Family series,
you may do so at the Christian Educational Ministries site.)


 

Not surprisingly, the story of Ruth and Boaz has inspired artists throughout the ages to produce great works of art to memorialize them. Here are three I found while preparing this post. If you click on each, you will see a larger reproduction of the work. They are presented here in chronological order of their creation:


 
BOAZ MUST SEND RUTH AWAY from The Crusader Bible (ca.1244-1254)

The Crusader Bible


 
RUTH THANKS BOAZ FOR LETTING HER GLEAN by Philips Galle (1585)

Ruth Thanks Boaz


 
RUTH IN BOAZ’S FIELD by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld (1828)

Ruth and Boaz


 
But Ruth replied:
“Do not persuade me to leave you
or go back and not follow you.
For wherever you go, I will go,
and wherever you live, I will live;
your people will be my people,
and your God will be my God.
Where you die, I will die,
and there I will be buried.
May Yahweh punish me,
and do so severely,
if anything but death separates you and me.”
(Ruth 1:16–17 HCSB)

 

 

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‘Behold the Lamb of God’


The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said,
“Here is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)

He was oppressed and afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth.
Like a lamb led to the slaughter and like a sheep silent before her shearers,
He did not open His mouth. (Isaiah 53:7)

For you know that you were redeemed from your empty way of life inherited from the fathers … with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish. He was chosen, before the foundation of the world. (1 Peter 1:18-20)

Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us. Therefore, let us keep the feast.
(1 Corinthians 5:7-8 KJV)

 

 
Today, until sundown, is the 14th day of Abib (or Nisan, as the month is known today), the first month in the Hebrew calendar. Why is this day different from all other days? And why is it significant for Christians? The Lord told Moses, “On the fourteenth day of the first month, the Lord’s [Yahweh’s] Passover is to be held” (Numbers 28:16; also Leviticus 23:5). It was in the early hours of this day (what we would refer to as last night, after sundown) that Jesus observed the last Passover of His earthly ministry with His disciples:

Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover meal for us, so we can eat it.
“Where do You want us to prepare it? ” they asked Him.
Listen,” He said to them, “when you’ve entered the city, a man carrying a water jug will meet you. Follow him into the house he enters. Tell the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher asks you, “Where is the guest room where I can eat the Passover with My disciples?”’ Then he will show you a large, furnished room upstairs. Make the preparations there.
So they went and found it just as He had told them, and they prepared the Passover.
When the hour came, He reclined at the table, and the apostles with Him. Then He said to them, “I have fervently desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.
(Luke 22:8-16)


Passover is the first of seven of what God refers to as the Lord‘s festivals [“appointed times”; Hebrew: moed ], although they are sometimes dismissively referred to as merely and exclusively the “Jewish holy days.” And yes they are, on one level, replete with symbols of Israelite history and culture, and of that ancient nation’s special relationship with God.

But like so many things Biblical, there is a deeper, spiritual, universal level of meaning to the Feasts of God. Those of us Christians who observe them find each of them overflowing with the message of Christ, salvation, grace, and the coming Kingdom of God. God never changes, and His Plan has been unfolding since the words “Let there be light” were spoken. Scripture tells us, “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world” (Acts 15:18 KJV) and that the Lamb was “slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8 KJV). And perhaps most important, Christ died on the 14th of Abib. It should hardly be surprising, then, that God would use His 14th of Abib appointed time (and all of His other Festivals) as yet one more way to reveal and teach us His plan.

Every year, from Passover to the Last Great Day, the Gospel is acted out through these festivals, using their inherent drama to reinforce deep underlying messages. Once Israel began to observe them, the symbols of each festival (appointed time) became ingrained into their lives, minds, and spirits — so that when God’s true Passover Lamb appeared on earth and was sacrificed, the message and its significance were clear from centuries of repetition. (If you watch a movie enough times, you’ll eventually be able to recite the entire dialogue from memory. For proof, ask my brother- and sister-in-law’s offspring about The Princess Bride!)

Therefore, when John the Baptist pointed to Christ and called Him “the Lamb of God,” the reference must have been unmistakable to his listeners. Probably only Jesus and John knew, at that time, what this fully and truly meant. But the association of “Lamb of God” with the Passover must have been crystal clear to every lifelong resident of Judea who was present. Three and a half years later, as the “Lamb of God” hung on a stake and died, undoubtedly the tumblers began to fall, and the full meaning was unlocked for His followers.

The “Lamb of God” symbols of Passover did not stop there. Each year, four days before the actual Passover, households were to select a lamb for sacrifice, which was required to be “without blemish,” thus foretelling the perfect nature of the earthly life and ministry of Jesus. That this Lamb had come to “take away the sins of the world,” as John said, had been foretold by the sin offerings made throughout the year at the Temple. And, of course, the ultimate fate of the Lamb of God was a sacrificial death, also vividly portrayed in the annual Passover sacrifice.

That all of these Holy Days point directly to Christ is one of many reasons so many Christians — yes, including my wife and me — keep the Lord’s Feasts. They provide appointed times set aside for us to learn and grow in our knowledge of Christ and the grace and salvation He brought. But even this is not the main reason to keep the Feasts. It took a Rabbi friend of mine to cement in my mind the fact that there was a different, wholly transcendent reason.

He was a professor of mine, an Orthodox Jewish Rabbi — and you may be surprised to learn that he was the greatest statistics teacher I have ever had or known. Not only did he revolutionize my thinking about how to teach stats (Thank you, Shlomo!), he became a dear friend and great mentor. He was both mystified and bemused when he learned that I kept the “Jewish” Holy Days, and he asked me why I did so. As I remember the conversation, I turned the question back to him and asked, “Well, why do you keep them?” Without a second’s hesitation, he said, “Because I am commanded to.”

And he was absolutely correct. God’s commandments are both necessary and sufficient in all cases.

Some Christian friends (whom I love for being concerned about me and for caring for me) have asserted that what we are doing is archaic, anachronistic, legalistic, Judaizing, antiChristian, superseded by Easter — or some combination of these. But I ask them (and you) to at least concede this: these are not “Jewish” holy days. The Lord [Yahweh] Himself repeatedly called them “the Lord’s appointed festivals” (Leviticus 23:2,4-6,34,37; Numbers 28:16; Ezra 3:5; Hosea 9:5, etc.). Some have wryly gone further and asked me, “So do you kill a sheep every year?” No, dear friends, the perfect Lamb has already been sacrificed for us. Therefore, we keep the Feast with the New Testament symbols of unleavened bread and wine, as commanded by Christ:

On the night when He was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took bread, gave thanks, broke it, and said, “This is My body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.
In the same way, after supper He also took the cup and said, “This cup is the new covenant established by My blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.
(1 Corinthians 11:23-26)

 
Christ told us to remember Him every time we did “this.” Paul said we are proclaiming the Lord’s death when we eat “this” bread and drink “this” cup. What was the “this” Christ was doing? Which bread and cup were “this” one Paul referred to? Completely beyond question, Christ was celebrating Passover, eating the Passover bread and drinking from the Passover cup.

If there were any Biblical evidence that these festivals were for the nation of Israel only, or if Christ in the New Testament had abrogated them or provided substitutionary feasts, we would of course faithfully and gladly follow. But in our human, imperfect way, we attempt every year to believe and obey Christ literally, by taking the bread and wine at Passover in imitation and remembrance of Him.

These festivals were instituted to proclaim and teach the sacrifice of the true Passover Lamb, and the plan of salvation He made possible. They are therefore no less efficacious for me (and all Christians) today than they were in ancient Israel. Christ Himself kept the Feasts. So did His apostles and all the early church — even the Gentile ones. And prophecies show that in the Kingdom of God, all the nations will keep the Feasts (Zechariah 14:16-19).

We know that God does not change (Malachi 3:6; James 1:17), that His word stands forever (Isaiah 40:8), and that Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). So are not His commands and teachings equally immutable and everlasting?

And truly, that is the “prime directive” reason for those of us who keep Passover and the other Holy Days, using bread and wine, and with Christ-centered learning and worship. To paraphrase my Rabbi professor and friend, it is “because we are commanded to.”

I invite all my Christ-loving brothers and sisters to join us in the discovery of these ancient, God-designed moeds (appointed times). A great place to start is to memorialize the sacrifice of Christ, using the Passover bread and wine. Here are some suggested readings we often use in our Passover observance:
                        ●   Isaiah 53:1-9   the most beautiful and powerful of Messianic prophecies
                        ●   Luke 22:7-20   Christ’s last Passover until His Kingdom is established
                        ●   John 6:47-58   the new covenant of eternal life, symbolized by the bread and wine
                        ●   John 13:1-17   Christ’s lesson about and example of servant leadership
                        ●   1 Corinthians 11:17-32   the symbol of His body and blood in the bread and wine
                        ●   1 Peter 1:18-21   the Lamb without blemish, chosen before the foundation of the world
                        ●   1 Peter 2:19-25   the Perfect Messiah bore our sins, and we are healed

The Feasts of God are treasures and gifts of God beyond price.

“Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast.”

 
POSTSCRIPT

If the idea of the “appointed times of God” has caught your attention, and you would like to learn more, let me point you in the direction of my pastor, the late Ronald L. Dart (1934-2016). He studied and wrote about this extensively, and it was from him that I learned so much. Here are three sources from him.

The Thread by Ronald L. DartFirst, and most complete, is his book The Thread: God’s Appointments with History (see photo, left). In it, he teaches…
“The holy days of the Bible are about Christ.
“Few have understood the thread that runs from the beginning of the Bible to the end of the New Testament. When God acted in history, events commonly took place at appointed times. Once you pick up the thread, all manner of fascinating new connections present themselves. All of these appointed times of God took on names and customs which were related to the important events in history.
“Traditional beliefs say that the festivals came in with the old covenant and went out with the cross. But as you follow The Thread, there is good reason to doubt that. The feasts we find in the Bible are transcendent, and from the very beginning were pointed, not so much at Israel’s history, but at the much overlooked work and ministry of Jesus Christ in history.”
This is a book you will read again and again and give to others. You will gain understanding of how each holy day points to Christ and impacts your life.

 
Second, as part of his nationally syndicated daily radio program, he did a series of 24 half-hour programs on Christian Holidays. Here is a link to the introductory program, a compact, thorough, easily accessible examination of the appointed times.

Finally, at the bottom of this essay is an hour-long sermon he delivered on Why the Holy Days? It is an intelligent and thoughtful summary of the topic, delivered in his inimitably conversational style. I commend it highly.

I send my love in, of, and by Christ to all of you, and I hope that you will let me know your thoughts on these matters.


Why the Holy Days? — a sermon by Ronald L. Dart   (November 9, 1996) 53:08


Christian Educational Ministries has a large and wide assortment of
Ronald Dart’s writings, sermons, and radio programs available on its website.

 

 

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The Whisper of God

I want to introduce you to a Ministry which might be new to you, but one from which my wife Adrianne and I continually draw insight, inspiration, and instruction.

At that moment, the LORD passed by.
  … And there was a voice, a soft whisper.
When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle
and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.

1 KINGS 19:11-13 HCSB

Christian author and speaker Allison Cain writes a weekly Bible study/devotional which she makes available on her blog site and by email for those who sign up for the free subscription. Throughout these short, easily read studies, Allison practices what she encourages all of us to do — she looks around at the everyday occurrences in her own life, and then turns to Scripture to search out the “whats” and “hows” and “whys” located only there.

These drawn-from-life vignettes provide an immediate connection to her, and through her, to God’s word. Her style is informal, personal, humble, while at the same time determined, driven, and sometimes (when it’s needed) blunt. While absorbed in her writings, readers very soon are apt to smile and say, “Yep. I’ve been there. Felt that exact way.” From there, the teachings she brings from Scripture lift us to another whole level of perception about our everyday lives, which we might have easily missed, and been the poorer for.

Allison has adopted the following as the Mission for her ministry and (Adrianne and I know for a fact) for her own life: “Living at the foot of the cross, encouraging all women to see God in the ordinary.” I have only one quibble with this characterization, in that I know for certain we men can and should be blessed by her insights and teaching as well.

These intersections of scripture and one woman’s finding God in her daily life has caused her to listen acutely for God’s “whisper to my heart His desires and lessons for me” — and so she named her site The Whisper of God (1 KINGS 19:12). I truly think you will find comfort, strength, and uplifting by reading her offerings.

Most recently, she has completed a six-part series exploring aspects of the book of Jeremiah, and I have been particularly drawn to them. In them, she returns to the ancient prophet, to find that his words have elicited a combination of awe, expectation, inspiration, and revelation concerning her and our daily lives.

Here are all six of the Jeremiah studies. You can access any complete article by clicking on its title:


 
The Whisper of God
SIX BRIEF STUDIES IN THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH
 
29 DECEMBER 2015
WORD WATCHING :   Here is what God lit up in lights for me to see – … for I watch over My word to accomplish it. This is the kind of revelation and reminder that keeps me coming back day after day to God’s word. We often envision God looking down on us and watching over us, but have you ever considered that He watches over His word so that it is accomplished?!
5 JANUARY 2016
DIRTY UNDERWEAR :   Then the word of the Lord came to me a second time: “Take the underwear that you bought and are wearing, and go at once to the Euphrates and hide it in a rocky crevice.” So I went and hid it by the Euphrates, as the Lord commanded me. The Lord has placed a lot of things on my heart over the years, but He has never urged me to purchase underwear, wear it for a while and then hide in under a rock by the creek in our backyard!
13 JANUARY 2016
REPURPOSED :   I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, working away at the wheel. But the jar that he was making from the clay became flawed in the potter’s hand, so he made it into another jar, as it seemed right for him to do. God used this illustration to show Jeremiah how He could change His mind and relent from punishing the House of Israel IF they would turn from their evil ways. For me, it was a wonderful reminder that when I start down the wrong path I can always turn back to God so that He is able to make something new out of me.
18 JANUARY 2016
UNDER THE HOOD :   The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah a second time: “The Lord who made the earth, the Lord who forms it to establish it, Yahweh is His name, says this: Call to Me and I will answer you and tell you great and incomprehensible things you do not know.” It’s a wonderful reminder for us that all we need to do is ask God for help, wisdom, grace, forgiveness, patience … the list goes on and on.
25 JANUARY 2016
AN IRRIGATED GARDEN :   Their life will be like an irrigated garden, and they will no longer grow weak from hunger. What a beautiful image of what our life can look like with God in it…. I don’t know about you, but I want my life to be like an irrigated garden that never grows weak or weary, that produces fruit pleasing to our Father and sustains me through the splendor and the desert.
4 FEBRUARY 2016
PRESS PAUSE :   Now at the end of 10 days, the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah … [This] reminded me of the times I asked God for direction, got tired of waiting and acted on my own accord (never ending up very well). I know my life and all of our lives would look very different if we could seek the Lord for any and all direction we need, pause until we hear from Him and live out this example to our children and others. It’s a tall order in this world of instant communication, instant grits, popcorn, gratification. You name it, and we can access it any minute of the day.
******************** BOOK TABLE ********************

In the devotionals that have followed the Jeremiah series, she has visited Lamentations and Ezekiel. I like where this seems to be going!

Allison is also an author and has also published six books, which I highly recommend. You can see them all in the table below.


 
Books by Allison T. Cain

The Whisper of God
The Whisper of God: A 52-week Devotional to Take You Through the Year and Encourage You to See God in the Ordinary
 


2010, 120 pages
God in the Middle
God In the Middle: Keys to Keeping God in the Middle of All You Think, Do and Say
 


2011, 118 pages
Putting Down Roots
Putting Down Roots: Devotions That Empower You Through God’s Word
 


2012, 114 pages
Revision of a Heart
Revision of a Heart: Lessons Learned in an Old House and a New Lifestyle
 


2012, 80 pages
30 Days in Zechariah
Thirty Days in Zechariah:
An Ordinary Girl Takes on an Extraordinary Book

 


2013, 84 pages
The Whisper of God for Kids
The Whisper of God for Kids: 52 Week Devotional Encouraging You to see God in the Ordinary and Seek God Through Scripture
 


2013, 172 pages

It was my distinct honor to have been associated with Allison from the very beginning of her career as an international Christian speaker, for which purpose she is an absolute natural. You might consider having her come to your church to share her unique and Christ-centered vision. You will neither regret it nor forget her message.


“Let us be silent, so that we may hear the whisper of God.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson


 
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Posted by on February 17, 2016 in Bible Study

 

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