Yes! There Is Good News!
Bill Rollins has been publishing each week a column in the local Elk Horn, Iowa paper for the past several years.
Note the original publication date on each blog post
Note the original publication date on each blog post
It may very well be argued that the gist of the bible story concerns a betrothal and a marriage. We have been talking about this in our discussion of the 45th Psalm. The Psalmist advises the bride to “Forget your people and your father’s house.” Strong words, we said, for a young bride-to-be; but ones that truly apply to the Bride (i.e. the Church) who is betrothed to her Husband, the Messiah.
We left our previous article with Ruth’s most amazing statement of faith to both her mother-in-law and to God. “Your people shall be my people and your God my God,” she said to Naomi. Her words echoed the Psalmist’s; she would not go back to her people.
I have mentioned in the past that much of the Old Testament uses shadowy references and types to teach us concerning the ideas and concepts that God would have us to know. The book of Ruth is one of these types. The actual terminology to use with this book is “allegory.” The book of Ruth is an allegory of the courtship and marriage of Jesus Christ and the Church. She was a real character in history, dwelling in the Middle East some thirty five hundred years ago. God uses this event to teach us the lesson.
As God would have it, Ruth found herself working (actually gleaning behind the harvesters) in the field of a man named Boaz. When Boaz comes to the field and meets Ruth he says to her, “Now, listen, my daughter, do not go to glean in another field or leave this one, but keep close to my young women. Watch the field that they are reaping, and go after them.” Such words the Messiah uses to tell us to keep our eyes upon Him and not to stray after false ideas and doctrines.
Yes, they do become betrothed and eventually marry. Their union produces the lineage of our Savior. Boaz and Ruth are the great grand-parents of King David. I will say it again; it is a beautiful story and well worth your time to read!
Brethren and friends, there is a future wedding, and if we would consider ourselves a part of the bride of Christ we must take to heart the words of the Psalmist, “Forget your people and your father’s house.” We would do well to adopt Ruth’s words as our own, “Where you go I will go and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the LORD do so to me and more also if anything but death separates me from you.”
The institution of marriage was ordained by God to foreshadow the upcoming union of Jesus Christ and His bride, the Church. “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. …. Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.” (Ephesians 5:25-32) There is a beautiful future ahead for those who belong to Christ, and yes, that is good news!!
Our Savior, our King, the Anointed one of God is the one who will take to Himself a bride at the conclusion of this age. We have been looking at Psalm 45 in regards to this topic and have covered the verses that apply to “the groom.” Let us now consider His bride.
I said last week that we do not know whom the Psalmist was writing about – the bride and groom of his day has not been revealed to us; although we do know that the groom is a king! We have seen indications that these verses have implications concerning the ultimate wedding of the future and have in view the wedding of Jesus Christ and the church. What does this Psalm have to say about the bride – the bride of Christ?
Verse 10 says this, “Listen, O daughter, consider and give ear: forget your people and your father’s house.” There is a threefold admonition given to the bride: listen, consider and give ear. The psalmist is serious about what he is going to say. The first word is from a Hebrew term which means “to give undivided attention.” The second word means “to observe or perceive,” and the third literally means “to stretch forth the ear.” I guess we’d better take notice of what comes next!
On the heels of this threefold admonition the bride is told to “forget your people and your father’s house.” Strong words for a new bride. But this is no ordinary bride; this bride is the church. Everyone alive today has a lineage that goes back to Adam. We have what may be called an “Adamic nature,” and it is this family line and this father that we would do well to forget. The Apostle Paul uses the words “the old man,” for the Adamic nature and he tells us in Romans 6:6 that “the old
man has been crucified with Christ that the body of sin might be done away with.” In Ephesians 4:22, Paul tells us to, “Put off the old man which is being corrupted by deceitful desires, … and put on the new man, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” And again in Colossians 3:9, “…. You have taken off the old man with its practices, and have put on the new man, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.” So forget your family.
This is reminiscent of one in the lineage of Christ. Her name is Ruth. You would do yourself well to read this very short 4-chapter book. It is filled with faith, hope and love. It has suspense, relationship, and romance. And so much more!! Ruth
is a Moabitess whose Israelite husband has died and her widowed mother-in-law
urges her to return to her family. Ruth’s reply is beautiful, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the LORD do so to me and more also if anything but death separates me from you.”
Wow!! There is no need to guess about this young lady’s faith. More on this next time. Good news to you all!
“My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the King; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer.” Psalm 45:1
This is how the Psalmist begins the great wedding song of the Psalms. In the physical realm of ancient times, we do not know who was getting married. What was the king’s name and who was his bride? Some speculate that King David commissioned this Psalm to be written for his son the future King Solomon and that may be true.
However, as with much of the Old Testament, we have here a picture painted for us of a future wedding being planned for the true and righteous King of kings and Lord of lords; the Son of God, Jesus Christ. The “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” will have a wedding feast. We read about this in the 19th
chapter of Revelation, “Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great
multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, ‘Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory, for the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure’— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.”
Now that will be the wedding for all time – there will be nothing like it in all of creation, in all of time.
Let’s go back to Psalm 45!! Starting in verse 2 we read, “You are the most excellent of men and your lips have been anointed with grace, since God has blessed you forever.” I consider this to be a prophecy of that future wedding. Jesus Christ is the most excellent of men – is he not? And His lips, what words they speak!!
In John 6:68 Peter says to Christ, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
The imagery of Psalm 45 talks about ‘a sword’, a ‘Mighty one’, clothing of ‘splendor and majesty’ (verse 3). He ‘rides forth victoriously’ in ‘truth, humility and righteousness’. (verse 4) The ‘nations fall beneath His feet’ (verse 5).
These are the same images that we find in Revelation 19, “Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. … He is clothed in a robe … and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. … From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations and he will rule them with a rod of iron. … On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.
Our Savior, our King, the Anointed one of God and the one who will take to Himself a bride at the conclusion of this age, is awesome in might and power and wisdom and honor and glory. We shall talk about His bride next time. Stay tuned!!
I will assume that everyone reading these articles has attended a wedding at some time or the other. They are joyful occasions. Indeed they are probably near the top of the list of joyful occurrences for which a man and woman make plans.
What is your favorite part? The music starts, the crowd stands and the bride walks down the aisle; or how about when the two exchange vows, the pastor asks the question, “do you take this man/woman….”, and the bride and groom answer “I do!” Maybe your favorite part is when the two are pronounced “husband and wife;” they kiss and then turn to walk down the aisle for the first time as husband and wife. And then there is the reception – always a lot of fun-filled joy.
Yes, weddings are a special event. Sally and I get to attend a wedding on the first of September and it will be the first time in a long time that I am not the one officiating. We are both looking forward to going.
But have you ever stopped to wonder why weddings are such a big deal? They are planned for months and if the couple is not careful, they may end up costing thousands of dollars. So what’s the big deal?
The institution of marriage was ordained by God Almighty. It was He who said, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” (Gen. 2:24) I have a friend who would probably answer the above question stating, “It’s a God thing.” I often find it curious when a couple who are professing atheists make sure that they plan for a wedding and make it a big deal. They do not believe in God and yet they are portraying, or should I say, “acting out” a very symbolic aspect of the Gospel of the kingdom of God.
In the Old Testament, God intimated through many of the prophets that He had taken Israel for a wife and then chastised the Israelites for not remaining faithful. (See especially Hosea 1 & 2; Ezekiel 16) This also is an interesting symbolism – it is a “template” placed upon the reality of what God will do with His Son, Jesus, and the Church.
The Apostle John alludes to this in his gospel when he quotes John the Baptist saying, “You yourselves bear me witness that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’ The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. He must increase, but I must decrease.”
John the Baptist understood the reality of the wedding that will take place in the heavenly realm. In some ways, one might say that this future marriage is the fulfillment of the Gospel, i.e. the Good News. Let’s consider this future event in a future article.
Yes indeed, the word of God is filled with good news! From beginning to end, from Genesis to Revelation we find that God, our God, not only desires good things for His creation but continues to let us know that He has blessings for us.
Sometimes we look at our lives and think that, because things have gone awry, God doesn’t care about us. We cannot see beyond the clouds and rain and storm; sometimes our prayer is just a cry out to God, “Why? Why is this happening to me?” Have you ever consider that He may be trying to get our attention and so teach us something?
Oft times we human beings will only consider our situation when things go wrong! When we have all that we need and our lives seem to be moving along quite nicely, we have a tendency to forget about the One who cares about us more than we could ever comprehend.
Some time ago a wise friend posed a question to myself and some others, “Why is it,” he asked, “that we only seek God in earnest when we are in trouble or having problems? What if we would learn to seek Him when things are going well in our lives, and then we might watch the blessings of grace and mercy flow from the one we call our Father?”
I have striven to break that old habit. I try to remain mindful of the reality that God is always near, and I can and should talk with Him often, praising Him and telling Him of my love for Him. There is an old hymn from the late 1800s titled, “Take Time to be Holy.” I truly enjoy singing it. The opening line goes like this, “Take time to be holy, speak oft with thy Lord. Abide in Him always, and feed on His Word.”
King David put it this way in the 34th Psalm, “I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be on my lips. My soul makes its boast in the LORD; let the humble hear and be glad. Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together!”
David first tells us what he is going to do “at all times” and “continually.” And then he invites us to join him in “magnifying the LORD” and “exalting His name.” I do not believe there ever was a person, from this earth, who desired to please God more than David!! He wrote a little later, in this same Psalm, “Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.”
You know, I really like ice cream and when I find a flavor that tastes wonderful, I want to taste more!! My friends, God is more than wonderful. He is better than anything this world has to offer. In 1 Peter 2:2, the apostle Peter writes this, “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up to salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.”
If indeed!! I know of nothing that tastes better.
Picking up where we left off last month: Solomon, in 1 Kings 8:29, asks that God’s eyes would always be opened toward His temple night and day. The temple Solomon built existed 3000 years ago; the temple God dwells in today is within His chosen ones. Solomon’s words were prophetic. He spoke of the physical temple that was a type of the spiritual temple today.
We can see this connection in the book of Hebrews 3:1-6: “Therefore, holy brothers, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Jesus; who was faithful to him who appointed him, as also was Moses in all his house. For he has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who built the house has more honor than the house. …. But Christ is faithful as a Son over his house; whose house we are.”
In view of this, let us consider this prayer of King Solomon; he asks God to listen to the prayers of His servants and to “hear from heaven, your dwelling place and when you hear, forgive.” (8:29-30) Again and again, Solomon beseeches God to hear the prayers of His servants for their several sins: “When a man wrongs his neighbor …” (Verse 31). “When God’s people have been defeated by an enemy (Satan?) …” (Verse 33). “When there is no rain - because of sin (the spiritual rain of blessing?) ….” (Verse 35). When famine, plague or blight come (a famine of the Word?) … (Verse 37). … Etcetera.
Solomon finishes this prayer with these words, “And if they turn back to you with all their heart and soul … and pray … toward this temple I have built for your name, then hear their prayer and their supplication in heaven, your dwelling place, and maintain their cause; and forgive your people who have sinned against you.” 1Kings 8:48-50)
Earlier, we tied this prayer of Solomon to the topic we were considering, namely, “walking humbly with our God.” And we led into this topic with this quote, “O LORD, God of Israel, there is no God like you, in heaven above or on earth beneath, keeping covenant and showing steadfast love to your servants who walk before you with all their heart.”
Walking in the presence of God with all of our heart – what an awesome responsibility this is. It is the answer to the question we asked several weeks ago, “How do we walk worthy of the calling we have received?”
If we are serious in our desire to honor God; if we really want to understand what it is like to be in God’s presence; then we must learn to “walk humbly with our God."
Oh, how I wish that all of us who are reading these articles could get together and discuss this “Christian adventure” we have been embarking on. I find that nothing on earth has delighted me more and I hope you will feel the same!!
Until next time, may your reading of the word of God bring you good news!
In writing these articles I have gone far and wide in considering and studying the word of God. We have looked at many subjects and have looked into many of the books of the bible. But I do not want to lose track of the purpose that was established several years ago, and that purpose is that even though we see, in the world around us, things that are quite problematic, the word of God promises good news.
Having recognized this “good news” of the Kingdom of God some 40 years ago, I do ponder and wonder why so many of the people I meet will have nothing to do with the word of God. Most of the time, I see that the reason has much to do with a lack of education. I hope these articles will have some remedial effect on that. Others do not seem to have the time to put forth the effort to read and study just how God loves them in their lives today. I speak the truth when I say that this love of God is the true driving force and creative activity of the good news we seek!
Many people think that God (if they believe in God) is somewhere afar off and unconcerned about them. But this could not be farther from the truth. Ah, truth; isn’t this what we really need in the age in which we live? Friends, I state unequivocally, the only real, honest and full truth is found in the pages of the Bible. God’s love is real!!
Still others have received incorrect instruction concerning the scriptures and wonder how a good God could allow such problems and to evil exist in this world. Let me state right here that the bad things that happen on this earth grieve God and fill His heart with pain. His hand is not here to stop the inebriated person’s car from starting and eventually killing an innocent bystander. And I believe His heart grieves. I can answer this seeming dilemma in one word; freedom! Adam and Eve chose a certain path and it was not a path of freedom but slavery. And yet God (who “changes not”) still allows us the freedom to go out and get drunk and try to drive home.
God has now, once again, given us the choice between freedom and slavery. There are so many instances of God reaching out to His creation with a choice. And let me lay out my heart right here and state my wish, hope and prayer, “May you, who read these pages, ponder His invitation to freedom. His true freedom is through His Son Jesus Christ. In Him we are free. Free to not sin. Free to love Him. Free to walk before Him in true righteousness and holiness. We all know that freedom is not free and Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice. He paid the ultimate penalty for us so that we may once again be truly free.
So, how devoted to freedom are you? Moses posed the question this way, “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your children may live, and that you may love the LORD your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life.” (Deut. 30:19) You are free to choose; choose life. My love to you all!
We have been on the subject of “walking with God” and we have seen that God desires those who would walk humbly with Him – this being a quote from the Prophet Micah. It is interesting that we find a very similar statement from the apostle Paul in his letter to the Ephesians.
In this letter, Paul goes much further in his admonition to the Church. Let’s take a look! Ephesians 4:1 reads, “Therefore, as a prisoner for the Lord, I urge you to walk worthy of the calling you have received.” So far so good; we are to have a walk with God. But it is interesting how Paul introduces us to the concept; Paul tells us that he is a prisoner of the Lord. This is no throwaway line of fake humility on Paul’s part. Paul wrote this letter while in prison in Rome! Some translators use the word “for” in this line. Paul considered himself to be in prison “for the Lord” – he was incarcerated because of his belief in Jesus Christ. I have never been in prison “for the Lord,” but I can only imagine it must have been a humbling experience for Paul.
The next thing we see is that he is “urging” us to walk worthy. This is a strong word; Paul is imploring or exhorting us to walk worthy, not just suggesting. But what does it mean to “walk worthy?” What is this worthy walk we are urged to take? What does it consist of?
Let’s read on: Verse 2, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” This is what Paul means by the words “worthy walk!”
First let’s notice the word “humble”. Since Paul and Micah are together in this, it must be an important concept. But they are not alone.
Peter and James use it also. In James 4:6 we read, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” And in 1 Peter 5:5 we see, “All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another.”
God desires His children to walk humbly. This is but one of God’s many great attributes and if we walk with a humble God, we too must be humble. To quote the author, Jerry Bridges, “Humility is the soil in which all of the other traits of the fruit of the Spirit grow.” The problem with humility is that when we claim to be humble, we lose the humility!! Our ego and our vanity get the best of us in that case.
One great tool that God has given us so as to attain to humility is fasting. Ezra 8:1 tells us this, “I proclaimed a fast there, at the river Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God.” King David tells us in Psalm 69:10, “I wept and humbled my soul with fasting.” This is not an easy tool but the bible tells us that it is effective.
Oh, there is so much more to this “worthy walk” with God. Shall we consider it next time?
Bill Rollins resides in Elk Horn, IA, with his wife, Sally, and has pastored the Church of God of Omaha, NE for more than 35 years.