Posts Tagged ‘creation’

Ruth 2:1-23 (Part 5 of 5)
Ruth Gleans in Boaz’s Field

We will have to go all the way back to creation. Those who do not believe in the existence of God or see Him as some remote force that is not a being with a personality and character would have us believe that the universe began for no apparent reason. They will dazzle with their understanding of how the universe operates upon universal laws that have existed since the beginning of time. The major overriding law of the universe that governs and is superior to all other laws of nature and the universe is cause and effect. In their godless universe, it all works very nicely and neatly if you want to ignore God. Everything since the beginning of time is cause and effect. Even as our world rotates around the sun here in what we, as man, call the 21st century, it is the continuing and ongoing result of the law of cause and effect. It will continue to be so until the end of the universe in this form as we know it. Sounds all nice, neat and tidy. It is a continually working law and the whole universe operates on it. It all works well until you go back to the moment the universe began.

Everything created has a moment of creation. It is not different with the physical universe within which we exist. So, the universalists would have you believe that the universe spontaneously erupted billions of years ago. Not debating the age of the universe here, but the moment of its creation. If the universe has always operated and will continue to always operate on the laws of cause and effect then what caused the universe to be created to begin with? Those who do not believe in a being with personality and character and purpose known as God would have us believe that there was this spontaneous big bang that occurred that started the whole universe. What caused this big bang? They would have you believe that it occurred spontaneously. However that would require that you suspend your belief in that overriding and evident law of the universe, the law of cause and effect. They would have you believe that it was suspended for just a moment at the most critical moment in the history of the universe, its beginning. What was the cause? To them, it was nothing. It was just a spontaneous thing. No cause, only effect.

That’s where I believe differently from those who do not believe in God. I believe science is our limited attempt to explain what God has done in the universe. This amazingly intricate and expansive universe even on this earth’s planetary is mind blowing. There has to be a being with personality, character, and intelligent will to have created the universe and it is He who created the law of cause and effect in His infinite intelligence and will that governs the universe to this day and beyond. It is then, and therefore, illogical to assume that at the moment of creation there was not a divine moment of the institution of the laws that govern the evolution, past, past and future, of the universe. A universe that happily operates on that law must have therefore had a moment of cause, the first cause, that set all this into motion. That first cause is God himself. When He spoke the universe into creation, it was the big bang. He was the cause and the universe is the effect which is now and everspinning set of actions and reactions, causes and effects, set off by the initial cause in God (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit). God started it all be speaking the universe into creation. Whether the universe is 6,000 years old or billions and billions of human years old, I do not care to debate because literally we do not know beyond a shadow of doubt how old the universe is. Scientist can make educated guesses based on sets of predisposed assumptions. Creationist who believe in the existence of God can debate with the evolutionists all day long about the time frame. But none of us really know. And we won’t know until we move to our eternal destination in heaven or hell in the eternal, non-temporal side of existence. Thus, the debate of the age of the universe is a debate that can never be definitively won.

But at that moment of creation there is a flaw in the argument of those who do not believe in God and say that there was no cause to the beginning of the universe. To them it randomly and spontaneous created itself. There is no Higher Power to them. Thus, the universe has to suspend its own laws to be created. I had rather believe that cause and effect law was operating at its best at that moment. God created the moment of creation. He is Creator. The created cannot create itself. The created must be created by a creator. In this case, the Creator is God. He set all of this intricacy that we call the universe into motion the moment that He as the infinitely wise, eternal One spoke the universe into creation, the first cause. He created the universe because as the intelligent being with character, feelings, and purpose WANTED it to be created. It was created for no other reason that God WANTED it created. The universe thus is testament to the existence of a reasoned, intelligent, willful, purposeful Creator.

It gives me great comfort to know this fact. That was the thing that struck me when I read this passage/chapter of Ruth for the fifth of five reads through this morning – how there are no coincidences in God’s kingdom. Just like there are no coincidences in how the universe was created, there are no random acts in God’s universe. That includes us as his created beings. He leads us. There are no coincidences. Let’s read through Ruth 2:1-23 once again today:

2 Now there was a wealthy and influential man in Bethlehem named Boaz, who was a relative of Naomi’s husband, Elimelech.

2 One day Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go out into the harvest fields to pick up the stalks of grain left behind by anyone who is kind enough to let me do it.”

Naomi replied, “All right, my daughter, go ahead.” 3 So Ruth went out to gather grain behind the harvesters. And as it happened, she found herself working in a field that belonged to Boaz, the relative of her father-in-law, Elimelech.

4 While she was there, Boaz arrived from Bethlehem and greeted the harvesters. “The Lord be with you!” he said.

“The Lord bless you!” the harvesters replied.

5 Then Boaz asked his foreman, “Who is that young woman over there? Who does she belong to?”

6 And the foreman replied, “She is the young woman from Moab who came back with Naomi. 7 She asked me this morning if she could gather grain behind the harvesters. She has been hard at work ever since, except for a few minutes’ rest in the shelter.”

8 Boaz went over and said to Ruth, “Listen, my daughter. Stay right here with us when you gather grain; don’t go to any other fields. Stay right behind the young women working in my field. 9 See which part of the field they are harvesting, and then follow them. I have warned the young men not to treat you roughly. And when you are thirsty, help yourself to the water they have drawn from the well.”

10 Ruth fell at his feet and thanked him warmly. “What have I done to deserve such kindness?” she asked. “I am only a foreigner.”

11 “Yes, I know,” Boaz replied. “But I also know about everything you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband. I have heard how you left your father and mother and your own land to live here among complete strangers. 12 May the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge, reward you fully for what you have done.”

13 “I hope I continue to please you, sir,” she replied. “You have comforted me by speaking so kindly to me, even though I am not one of your workers.”

14 At mealtime Boaz called to her, “Come over here, and help yourself to some food. You can dip your bread in the sour wine.” So she sat with his harvesters, and Boaz gave her some roasted grain to eat. She ate all she wanted and still had some left over.

15 When Ruth went back to work again, Boaz ordered his young men, “Let her gather grain right among the sheaves without stopping her. 16 And pull out some heads of barley from the bundles and drop them on purpose for her. Let her pick them up, and don’t give her a hard time!”

17 So Ruth gathered barley there all day, and when she beat out the grain that evening, it filled an entire basket.[a] 18 She carried it back into town and showed it to her mother-in-law. Ruth also gave her the roasted grain that was left over from her meal.

19 “Where did you gather all this grain today?” Naomi asked. “Where did you work? May the Lord bless the one who helped you!”

So Ruth told her mother-in-law about the man in whose field she had worked. She said, “The man I worked with today is named Boaz.”

20 “May the Lord bless him!” Naomi told her daughter-in-law. “He is showing his kindness to us as well as to your dead husband.[b] That man is one of our closest relatives, one of our family redeemers.”

21 Then Ruth[c] said, “What’s more, Boaz even told me to come back and stay with his harvesters until the entire harvest is completed.”

22 “Good!” Naomi exclaimed. “Do as he said, my daughter. Stay with his young women right through the whole harvest. You might be harassed in other fields, but you’ll be safe with him.”

23 So Ruth worked alongside the women in Boaz’s fields and gathered grain with them until the end of the barley harvest. Then she continued working with them through the wheat harvest in early summer. And all the while she lived with her mother-in-law.

In this passage, we see that though Ruth may not have always recognized God’s guidance, He had been with her every step of the way. She went to glean and “just happened” to end up in the field owned by Boaz – who “just happened” to be a close relative. This was more than mere coincidence. As you go about your daily lives and the tasks within it, God is working in your life – in ways that you may not even notice. We must close the door on what God can do. Events do not occur by luck or coincidence. We should have faith that God is directing our lives for His purpose for our lives and for His overall glory.

The universe was not some random uncaused creation. It was purposefully done by God. He has purpose in everything even when we do not believe He exists. This world would be a random and purposeless and hopeless existence without God. To know that He has an ordered purpose for everything and that it begin with the beginning of the universe gives me great comfort and purpose to my life. Without God, this existence is entirely meaningless and all is wasted effort while we are here. We are forgotten in three to four generations. Our existence on this side of eternity is futile in the absence of God. I do not care if we have the most knowledge as man that we ever have had at this moment in time. But it is based on the collective work of man leaving it behind for the next generation to build on. However, for each individual, in the absence of God, the end of our life is the end of our existence. This is it. 70, maybe 80, years and you are done. No more existence. Gone. The knowledge you gained and imparted stays here and you are worm food. No existence. God, my God, how depressing and futile then does life seem in the eyes of someone who does not believe in God.

There is an answer. God does exist. He created the universe and ordered its workings from the beginning of time. And because we were given free will be our creator that gives us the ability to gain knowledge about our universe that He created, God took a chance that we would use it appropriately. We did not. Our world is in the mess that it is in now not because of God but because of the sinful nature of man. In order for our perfect God who is without sin to accept us to Himself with our flawed sin nature, He had to send His Son, who is of one and same essence as the Father, to take the punishment for our sins and make us imputedly clean again through this act of taking on the wrath of the perfect God against sin. All we have to do is believe that God exists, is an intelligent being who has a design and plan for everything including reconciling ourselves to Him through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross and being of the same essence as God that Jesus arose from the dead to give us hope, and a purpose and a future in Him through His resurrection. All this is meaningful. All this has purpose. This is evidence of God caring about you and as individual. Through Christ, there is an eternal existence in heaven. There was a meaning for you to have this temporal existence. There was no coincidence about it. You were put here for a reason and it was to give glory to God, the Creator of all things.

There are no coincidences in the universe He created. And there are no coincidences in your life. God has a plan. He had a plan for Ruth. He has a plan for you!

Amen and Amen.

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Judges 13:1-20 (Part 1 of 3)
The Birth of Samson

Sarah, Rachel, Rebecca, Manoah’s wife, among others in the Old Testament, and Elizabeth in the New Testament. All three are women who had been barren (unable to conceive a child though she was married) for many years. All become pregnant after years of barrenness.

With Sarah, God told her husband, Abraham, that he would father descendants who would outnumber the stars in the sky (Genesis 15:5). Sarah knew all about the prophecy and as she became old and still no baby arrived, she encouraged her husband to be with her maid, Hagar, so he could have children with her. Sarah utilized Hagar as a sort of surrogate, giving her the opportunity to bear children with Abraham. However rather than expressing gratitude to Sarah, Hagar taunted Sarah and demeaned her for her inability to conceive. “When [Hagar] saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes (Genesis 16:5). Three angels and one miracle later her son Isaac arrived (Genesis 21:1).

Sarah’s daughter-in-law Rebecca (Rivkah) faced a similar trial, she did not conceive for the first twenty years of her marriage to Isaac. Prayer worked for the couple, and Rebecca conceived. Though having to bear a difficult pregnancy, Rebecca was awarded with twin sons Jacob and Esau, who became patriarchs of the Jewish and Edomite nations, respectively.

In the next generation, the complexities of fertility vs. infertility were played out between two of Jacob’s four wives, the sisters Rachel and Leah. “And when God saw that Leah was hated, He opened her womb and Rachel was barren.” During biblical times, generations after that and even in certain circles today, women were valued for their ability to bear children – especially boys. Leah gives birth to four boys, and Rachel is consumed with envy. She pleads with Jacob: “Give me children or else I die” (Genesis 30:2). To encourage Rachel to pray to God Jacob responds “Am I in the place of God who has withheld from you the fruit of your belly.” God does finally listen to Rachel beseeching prayers as she has to first bear the shame of not only her sister having more sons, but their respective maids as well. “God remembered Rachel and God heard her and God opened her womb” (Genesis 30:22). After giving birth, Rachel says: “God has taken away my shame.”

After years of prayer, an angel appears to Samson’s mother and says “Now you are barren and have not given birth. You will become pregnant and give birth to a son.” There are conditions and stipulations associated with this promise. The angel leaves explicit instructions on how this child is to be raised, as well as how the mother is to behave during the pregnancy, since that too would affect the growing fetus. The angel returns at Manoah’s request to verify what he had told his wife, and shortly thereafter the woman conceives and later bears a son she names Samson. “And the woman bore a son and called his name Samson. And the child grew and the Lord blessed him. And the spirit of the Lord began to move him…” (Judges 13:24-25)

Why do you think that there is this theme of barrenness and then miraculous pregnancy among these important moms of the Bible? That was the question that struck me this morning. How these stories of barren women who became mothers of children of great promise each one. Let’s ponder on that issue as we read through today’s passage, Judges 13:
13 Again the Israelites did evil in the Lord’s sight, so the Lord handed them over to the Philistines, who oppressed them for forty years.

2 In those days a man named Manoah from the tribe of Dan lived in the town of Zorah. His wife was unable to become pregnant, and they had no children. 3 The angel of the Lord appeared to Manoah’s wife and said, “Even though you have been unable to have children, you will soon become pregnant and give birth to a son. 4 So be careful; you must not drink wine or any other alcoholic drink nor eat any forbidden food.[a] 5 You will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and his hair must never be cut. For he will be dedicated to God as a Nazirite from birth. He will begin to rescue Israel from the Philistines.”

6 The woman ran and told her husband, “A man of God appeared to me! He looked like one of God’s angels, terrifying to see. I didn’t ask where he was from, and he didn’t tell me his name. 7 But he told me, ‘You will become pregnant and give birth to a son. You must not drink wine or any other alcoholic drink nor eat any forbidden food. For your son will be dedicated to God as a Nazirite from the moment of his birth until the day of his death.’”

8 Then Manoah prayed to the Lord, saying, “Lord, please let the man of God come back to us again and give us more instructions about this son who is to be born.”

9 God answered Manoah’s prayer, and the angel of God appeared once again to his wife as she was sitting in the field. But her husband, Manoah, was not with her. 10 So she quickly ran and told her husband, “The man who appeared to me the other day is here again!”

11 Manoah ran back with his wife and asked, “Are you the man who spoke to my wife the other day?”

“Yes,” he replied, “I am.”

12 So Manoah asked him, “When your words come true, what kind of rules should govern the boy’s life and work?”

13 The angel of the Lord replied, “Be sure your wife follows the instructions I gave her. 14 She must not eat grapes or raisins, drink wine or any other alcoholic drink, or eat any forbidden food.”

15 Then Manoah said to the angel of the Lord, “Please stay here until we can prepare a young goat for you to eat.”

16 “I will stay,” the angel of the Lord replied, “but I will not eat anything. However, you may prepare a burnt offering as a sacrifice to the Lord.” (Manoah didn’t realize it was the angel of the Lord.)

17 Then Manoah asked the angel of the Lord, “What is your name? For when all this comes true, we want to honor you.”

18 “Why do you ask my name?” the angel of the Lord replied. “It is too wonderful for you to understand.”

19 Then Manoah took a young goat and a grain offering and offered it on a rock as a sacrifice to the Lord. And as Manoah and his wife watched, the Lord did an amazing thing. 20 As the flames from the altar shot up toward the sky, the angel of the Lord ascended in the fire. When Manoah and his wife saw this, they fell with their faces to the ground.

21 The angel did not appear again to Manoah and his wife. Manoah finally realized it was the angel of the Lord, 22 and he said to his wife, “We will certainly die, for we have seen God!”

23 But his wife said, “If the Lord were going to kill us, he wouldn’t have accepted our burnt offering and grain offering. He wouldn’t have appeared to us and told us this wonderful thing and done these miracles.”

24 When her son was born, she named him Samson. And the Lord blessed him as he grew up. 25 And the Spirit of the Lord began to stir him while he lived in Mahaneh-dan, which is located between the towns of Zorah and Eshtaol.

When I think of these women and the shame felt in a society that measured women by their ability to bear children, I cannot help but think of that great song by Jars of Clay from their Grammy winning 2001 album, The Eleventh Hour, called “Something Beautiful” and the lyrics go like this:

If you put your arms around me
Could it change the way I feel
I guess I let myself believe
That the outside might just
Bleed it’s way in
Maybe stir the sleeping past
Lying under glass
Waiting for the kiss
That breaks this awful spell
Pull me out…of this lonely cell

[chorus]
Close my eyes and hold my heart
Cover me and make me something
Change this something normal
Into something beautiful

[verse]
What I get from my reflection
Isn’t what I thought I’d see
Give me reason to believe
Never leave me incomplete
Will you untie this loss of mine
It so easily defines me
Do you see it on my face?
And all I can think about
Is how long
I’ve been waiting to feel you move me

[chorus]
Into something beautiful
Into something beautiful

[bridge]
And I’m still fighting for the
Word to break these chains
And I still pray when I look
In your eyes, you’ll stare right
Back down into something beautiful

[chorus]
Into something beautiful
Into something beautiful
Into something beautiful

When we think of taking nothingness and making it into something beautiful, we must think first of God and his universe. There was nothing. I mean nothingness. Grasp that. There was no universe. Only God existing in His eternal trinity. There was nothing else. Blankness. Nothingness. And God did not need anything to be complete. He existed in community and among Himself with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. They have co-existed in community since always. They trinity of God pre-exists everything including the universe. Thus external to God there was nothing. Nothing at all. But God created the universe out of nothing. He was the catylyst, the spark, the cause for the big bang. He spoke the universe into being. At that moment, the grand explosion that began the universe happened and SOMETHING was created out of NOTHING. Think about that. That is the miracle of the highest order. Think of the complexity of the universe. Think of how everything exploded outward from that finger of God and voice of God that created the spark that created the universe. Everything shoots out from that spark and the mass of energy from the finger of God that exploded into the massive universe that is so big that we don’t even know how big it is. It exploded forth and has created such a complex universe that we are just now beginning to understand it. Even our planet is so freaking complex that we understand more about outer space than we know about our oceans. We think we know so much but we know so little and what we know is only what God has allowed to be revealed so that we can handle it with our feeble minds. Amazing universe out of nothing. That’s my God!

When we think of barrenness and making it into something beautiful, we must think of what these women being renewed and giving forth new life. Just as God created a miracle of a universe, God miraculously gave life to a barren desert of a female womb and caused it to become fertile ground that gave forth life. This reminds us as well that there will be dry seasons in our lives. There will be barrenness. There will be times on our lives where we think nothing good will ever come of the desert in which we find ourselves. We are parched and weary and just want some water. We are dry. We are crawling on the ground. And by all indications there is no relief in sight. These barren woman were given fertile wombs by God after much prayer and supplication. They humbled themselves before the Lord. These women remind us of the power of prayer. These women remind us that even in the toughest times, God will give us the miracle we need in His timing. He listens to the prayers of those who seek Him. God will deliver us from our desert dryness. He will deliver us from our shame and oppression. He will deliver us when we seek Him, especially in the difficult times. We must remember that it is in the hard times, our barren times, that we can learn the greatest lesson of all – dependence on God. We can learn thanksgiving as well. Without the desert, dry and barren times, how can we ever adequately appreciate the mountaintops that God sets us upon when He delivers us. These women remind us that God never fails.
Finally, these women remind us of our salvation in Jesus Christ. Man’s greatest purpose for why he is here is to give God glory. We are designed by God to give Him glory. We are wired that way. That is why we seek to fill our souls with something, we know not what, until we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior. That emptiness that we try to fill with things, people, idols, lusts, sensual pleasures, as our reason for being, but none of it works in the end. Only God fills the God hole in our lives. We call it something else, our yearning for meaning of life. God put that yearning there to make us want Him. But the fall distorted it such that we try to fill the hole in our soul with anything and everything other than God – the purpose for the hole in our soul. It is meant to be filled by God. We are barren without God in the womb of our soul. We are barren because sin is the endometriosis of the womb of our soul. Sin makes us barren an unable to find life. Sin makes us barren and empty inside. We are barren and empty. We are nothingness. We are a wasteland and there is no life. We are nothing but decay and death with sin. It is only through the miracle of salvation that we are changed. Jesus dresses our womb in new life. Jesus makes our womb be capable of fulfilling its purpose. Jesus gives us new life. After salvation, the womb is made clean and holy. After salvation, the Holy Spirit comes to dwell. Through the Holy Spirit, our womb comes alive to bring forth fruit. Through the Holy Spirit’s work, we bear fruit and our womb gives forth life to the world around us. We are made whole and complete. We are now fulfilling our purpose – to give God glory. We were once barren and lifeless and now through the miracle of God through the covering of Jesus Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit, we are full of life. We bring forth the promise of God to the world around. Instead of nothingness there is something beautiful in the saved soul. Turning nothing into something beautiful. That is a mighty miracle of God.

Amen and Amen.