Friday, March 22, 2013

Methuselah and God's Patience

And all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred sixty and nine years: and he died.
Genesis 5:27

It all went wrong.  God had given humanity the precious gift of free will, yet man chose to turn from God to follow the foolishness of his own heart.  This led to a circumvoluted desire to do as one wished.  The word records, "And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually (Genesis 6:5)."  It all went wrong, yet in the face of such chaos and sin we see two pictures of longsuffering grace.

Tradition holds that God warned Enoch of the impending flood even before Methusaleh was born. The increasing wickedness and the attempt to destroy God's promise to Adam would lead to the destruction by the flood.  Even more specific, many feel that God warned Enoch that shortly after the death of Methusaleh the deluge would begin.  Enoch named his son with a name to remind the ungodly that there was a limit to God's kindness.  The name of the man, Methuselah, is very interesting.  In Hebrew his name means, "the man of the dart (or weapon)".  His name also can be interpreted as "his death shall bring judgment".  The sign that judgment would fall would revolve around this prayer warrior's son.

Imagine growing up next to Methuselah.  Every sniffle would send you to your knees in prayer.  Maybe the whole village held prayer vigils whenever he caught the flu?  At any rate, this tradition shows us something about the heart of God.  God's judgment on wickedness was certain. However, the LORD is clearly more interested with repentance and redemption than with judgment.  Methusaleh lived longer than any man in recorded history.  God in His mercy and grace gave mankind 969 years of time to repent.

Noah's ark building project, which can clearly be studied in scripture, also shows this loving heart of GOD who wills that none perish but all repent.  Though "...The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence (Genesis 6:11)", God gave men a long time to turn from their wickedness.  It is certain that Lamech, Methusaleh's son, knew of the prophecy.  He named his son Noah, meaning "Comfort", saying, "This same shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the LORD hath cursed (Genesis 5:29)."  Also, the LORD gave men 120 years to turn while Noah prepared the ark.  Every hammer blow and fallen tree was a sign that things were about to end as mankind then knew it.  Sadly, only 9* people were saved, but GOD still gave time.  The tradition above holds that Methuselah died seven days prior to the flood.  (*8 in the ark and one through rapture--Nine)  

This same longsuffering grace is available today.  How much more wicked can the world get?  According to scripture, a lot worse.  Thank GOD that He has yet to pay us what we deserve.  Should He do so, it would not be good. It is clear, however, that spiritual Methuselah has the sniffles.  Get ready!  The storm clouds are forming.  The Great Ark Builder by His own blood, sweat, and tears is about to call His church home.  Get ready!  Jesus Christ is Soon2Come and judgment is about to fall.  We will look at where it starts the next time as we consider some foreboding news.  

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Ruth's Revelation

"Moreover Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of Mahlon, have I purchased to be my wife, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance, that the name of the dead be not cut off from among his brethren, and from the gate of his place: ye are witnesses this day."
Ruth 4:10

Without a doubt, the story of Ruth is one of the greatest love stories in scripture.  Who has not been encouraged to see bitter and heart-broken Naomi joyfully exulting in the wedding plans of Ruth and Boaz?  Yet, as always, there is more to this glorious true story of God's providence than meets the eye.  This is also a very prophetic book and one that may settle the rapture timing issue when understood.  Let's come and see!

The story opens with Naomi's husband and sons dying in a foreign land leaving her alone and homesick for the land of Judah.  Orpah seems to make a run for it back to her world (her name means "gazelle") and leaves her grieving mother-in-law.  Her other widowed daughter-in-law, Ruth (Friendship) chooses to leave her world and follow her mother-in-law back to Bethlehem.  This is the choice of all mankind.  We either choose to run our own course or follow God's plan which ultimately leads us to a baby in a manger at Bethlehem of Judea.  Naomi is a shadow of the Jewish nation from whom the Redeemer comes.  God worked through this people to bring Christ the Savior to humanity.

In the course of time this gentile girl is found working in the barley fields eking out a meager existence.  Her mother-in-law has her in the right place but another agent is needed to get her to her future husband.  Chapter 2:6-7 tells us of the agency of an unnamed servant of Boaz who shows kindness to Ruth while giving her permission to work the field.  This servant also informs the questioning Boaz about the beautiful young lady working the field so diligently.  For those who find Christ, He is found only by the agency of God the Holy Spirit who reveals the Savior and the need for his redemption.

The apex of the story is the stressful scene where the land of Naomi's family is to be redeemed.  Boaz has a relative that is closer, but the relative refuses to marry Ruth as this was a part of the redemption price.  He did not wish to marry nor have children from an unwanted gentile girl thus marring his name.  Boaz, however, is in love and no price is too great.  Soon a deed would be prepared with writing inside and out giving all of the details of the transaction including the bride price.  Boaz later marries Ruth from who eventually comes the royal line of David and ultimately Jesus Christ.  It is also interesting to note that the moment Ruth is redeemed, the Hebrew text puts an untranslated "aleph-tav" in front of her name for the rest of the text.  It does not appear until the redemption is complete and then she is ever marked.  "Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts (2 Corinthians 1:21-22)."  By the way, this barley harvest revolves around the Feast of Pentecost--the churches birthday!  The LORD does nothing by accident!

This same scenario is portrayed in Revelation 4 and 5.  In Revelation 5, the LORD is given a scroll that has writing "within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals".  This is the title deed to the land Christ has purchased with His own blood.  Of course, a part of that deal would be the purchase of the bride who goes along with the world he has purchased.  It is at this point the bride, the church, begins to sing, "Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth (Revelation 5:9-10)." 

Now!  This event can't take place if the church is not standing beside the Groom who has brought her out of the world now can it? Of course that took place with the open door of heaven in Revelation 4:1 after Jesus addressed the church age.  Look up friends--we will soon be singing praises in His presence as He opens the deed!  After all--Jesus Christ is Soon2Come!