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.
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)
RUTH THANKS BOAZ FOR LETTING HER GLEAN by Philips Galle (1585)
RUTH IN BOAZ’S FIELD by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld (1828)
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.”
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? Yehovah told Moses, “On the fourteenth day of the first month, Yehovah’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.”
Passover is the first of seven of what God refers to as Yehovah’s festivals [“appointed times”; Hebrew: moed ](singular); ]moedim ](plural)], 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. 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 Yehovah’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 keeping the Holy Days is archaic, anachronistic, legalistic, Judaizing, anti-Christian, 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. Yehovah Himself repeatedly called them “Yehovah’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.”
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.
“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.
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.
Ronald L. Dart — Christian apologist, educator, author, minister, broadcaster, college Dean, and founder of Christian Educational Ministries — has died at age 82. His wife Allie Dart told us in a message that he “died peacefully in his sleep early this Sabbath morning, January 23rd, from a prolonged battle with cutaneous T-cell lymphoma.”
He was truly “a gifted teacher of the Word of God. People around the world have come to appreciate Ron’s easy style, his non-combative approach to explaining the Bible, and the personal, almost one-on-one method of explaining what’s going on in the world in the light of the Bible. People say they get hooked on Ron’s depth of insight into the Bible and appreciate the unique gift for clarity and simplicity that enable him to hold an audience.” Primarily and most personally, he was for Adrianne and me our friend, pastor, and teacher — as he was for so many others across the nation and throughout the world.
In the essay My Giants associated with this website, I listed Ron among those who have been “my personal giants, on whose shoulders I gratefully (if sometimes shakily) stand.” It remains as true today as when I wrote it that “I have learned more about the Bible from Ron Dart than any of my other pastors and professors — and quite possibly than all of them combined.”
My first reaction on hearing the news this morning was tearful grief at the loss of someone so special in our lives. And that emptiness remains as I write this. But we know, thanks in large part to Ron’s teaching, that he has fallen asleep and awaits Christ’s return and the Resurrection. We draw great solace and hope in that. And we give overwhelming praise and thanks to God our Father for Ron’s release from his physical infirmities and the trials of this world, as well as for the certainty of his eternal life to come.
In 1995, Ron retired from a career as a minister, administrator, and educator, to found Christian Educational Ministries. CEM is a service ministry with two major goals: first, to share the Gospel with the world, to evangelize, to make disciples for Jesus Christ; and second, to teach those who are disciples of Jesus all that He commanded His disciples to do. This Mission became the springboard for his daily 30-minute nationally syndicated radio program, titled Born to Win. Hundreds of his Born to Win programs and his sermons (in .MP3 format) are available for download on the CEM Born to Win website.
I have included here a video of one of Ron’s sermons, titled A Doctrine of Grace, which typifies what has been called his “remarkable gift of clarity and love and understanding of the Bible.” Below that are links to information about his three books, and finally a brief bio. Years ago, with his permission, I reproduced Ron’s Confession of Faithon my website, and I commend it to you.
In all of this, we cannot forget to express our deep admiration and love for Allie, Ron’s extraordinary wife and partner-in-ministry. Our hearts and spirits are with you, Allie.
We will all miss having Ron Dart with us, but we thank God for the gift of his teaching, his intellect, his humor, his leadership, his generosity, him as role model in our quest to become children of God, and — his grace.
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A Doctrine of Grace — a sermon by Ronald L. Dart (October 19, 1997)
******************** BOOK TABLE ********************
Christian Educational Ministries has a large and wide assortment of Ron Dart’s writings, sermons, and radio programs available on its website.
******************** RON DART BIO ********************
A BRIEF BIOGRAPHY : Ronald L. Dart was born to young parents on a farm just south of Harrison, Arkansas. His father worked for the railroad and also sang bass with the Melody Four Quartet. He started school in a one room schoolhouse in Gaither, Arkansas and finished high school in Houston, Texas where he met his wife to be, Allie Driver. He joined the Navy in September of 1952 and earned the rating of petty officer first class in four years. After the Navy, Ron attended Hardin Simmons University in Abilene, Texas for two years, and Ambassador College for two years, earning a bachelor’s degree. Ron served as a pastor of a church, returned to college to get his Master’s Degree, and then went to the University of Texas in Austin and did work towards his doctorate in Communications. It is through his continued studies in theology and communications that Ron’s gift for teaching the Word of God became evident. He has taught Old Testament Survey, Epistles of Paul, and public speaking. He has CDs of sermons he has given on virtually every book in the Bible. After retiring from teaching and church administration in 1995 he started Christian Educational Ministries and the Born to Win radio program.
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