BOOKS ofthe BIBLE
THE BOOK OF RUTH
REPRESENTING ISRAEL, REDEEMED,
A Remarkable Example of the Hebrew Law of Redemption
Two books in the Bible bear women's names, - Esther and Ruth. Ruth was a Gen- tile who married an Israelite, while Esther was an Israelite who married a Gentile. Both these cases supply suggestive illustrations of the great truth of Jew and Gentile becoming one in the salvation and blessing of God.
The book of Ruth is a rare document which contains a rich co-mingling of adversity and prosperity, of sorrow and joy. The happen- ings occurred in the days when the Judges ruled, periods which were dark and sinister in the nation's history. At a time when the faith- lessness of Israel stood out gaunt and ugly in its bare nakedness, the faithfulness of Jehovah shone forth in all its crystal clearness.
The occasion was marked by a small party of four setting out for the land of Moab to escape the drought and discontent that had spread over Israel's inheritance. This act in itself was a departure from one of the straight- forward injunctions of the law of the Lord, wherein they were told to stay in the land and verily they would be fed. God's hand of chastisement could bring desolation in Moab as well as in Canaan, and, in the end, Naomi alone remained after the scourge of death had smitten the once-happy family. The happy wife and mother had become a sorrowful widow, and stands forth as a representative figure of the nation in its hapless plight of affliction and destitution. She herself suggest- ed the changing of her own name from Naomi, which means 'pleasantness,' to Marah, which means 'bitterness.'
Maybe the cold reception she received awoke an angry agony in her soul at the very thought of her name, and her wild words are not without a dash of satire as she considered her distasteful plight. The picture of a dis- tressed widow is frequently used in Scripture to represent this nation in the calamities that overwhelmed them as the result of disobedi- ence. A very suggestive portion dealing with the subject will be found in the book of Num- bers, ch. 30, where the nation is pictured in subjection, as a daughter, in submission, as a wife, in sorrow, as a widow, and in separation, as a divorced woman. It is mainly with the third of these that the book of Ruth deals. Associated with Naomi's widowhood are the two daughters of Moab, Ruth and Orpah, and in relation to the former, the remarkable romance of the story is woven. Her experi- ences with Boaz, who fulfils the role of Aven- ger, Kinsman, Redeemer and Husband, make the book one of the most remarkable in Old Testament history. The title "kinsman" occurs twenty-five times in the brief record, and places the person of the redeemer in greater prominence than the stranger he re- deems. The thrilling story supplies a graphic illustration of the cardinal virtues of faith, hope and love. Quality is independent of quanity, and the brevity of the book in no wise detracts from its beauty.
The days when the Judges ruled were in- termingled with periods that were dark with crime and overcast with vice, but these deep shadows only served to set forth the fair shades of true virtue in clearer light. The nation had fallen upon evil days, and if we review the situation religiously, the condition was one of apostasy. Socially, their civic life was in a state of chaos, while, politically. the situation could be best described as that of anarchy. Yet right there in the midst of those revolutionary conditions the Divine testimony persisted. Even though Abel may be slain, God appoints a Seth to maintain His cause. When the earth became corrupted and ripe for judgment. God selected Noah to preserve the witness. Later, when idolatry swept over the civilization, Abraham was called out to found a new society. Likewise, in this day of decay and departure in Israel, the chivalrous and noble character of Boaz stood as a tower of strength in the midst of apathy and distress. Dr. Maclaren, when remarking on the cir- cumstances of the situation, says, "Thank God! The blackest times are not as dark in reality as they look in history. There are clefts in the grim rock, with flowers blooming in the clefts. The peaceful pictures in this little book, multi- plied many times, may be set as a foreground to the lurid background of the days when the judges ruled. These happily remind us of what we are apt to forget in reading such pages, that no times are so wild but in them are quiet corn- ers, green oases, which are all the greener be- cause of their surronndings, places where life glides on in peaceful isolation from the tumult, spheres where men and women live and work and weep and laugh. The gossips of Bethlehem talked of Naomi's return as they met at the city well . . . Boaz stands among his corn and no sound of war disturbs the land."
The facts of the record seem at first sight very insignificant, but the issue of the stream that began to flow from this small beginning results in an immense river which changes the whole landscape of national life and issues in a salvation which spreads to the ends of the earth. Two way-worn women wended their weary footsteps to Bethlehem, the House of Bread, and ere long the blood of Ruth coursed in David's veins and eventually of this stock appeared David's greater son who made the Bread of Life available to all mankind.
A Remarkable Example of the Hebrew Law of Redemption.
EMIGRATION. EDUCATION. EXPECTATION. EMANCIPATION.
The Teat The Trust The Task The Triumph
Ruth Ruth Ruth Ruth
Proved. Prospered. Protected. Purchased.
FAITH'S CHOICE. FAITH'S COURAGE. FAITH'S CONFIDENCE. FAITH~S COURAGE.
Her Good Choice. The Grace Shown. The Guiding Hand. The Gate of Witness.
Her Glad Cheer. The Grand Supply. The Glowing Hope. The Governor's Word.
Her Crave Case. The Great Surprise. The Generous Help. The Genuine Wedlock.
RELATIONSHIP. RESOURCE. RIGHT. RESOLVE.
The The The The
Notable Kinsman. Honourable Avenger. Capable Redeemer. Desirable Husband
Ch. 1. THE EMIGRATION The Test -
The first section of the chart deals with the emigration of the family to Moab. In the description given we are introduced to Elime- lech, Naomi. Mahlon and Chilion, as they leave their God-appointed inheritance and after arrival in a strange land the two sons marry into an accursed race. In seeking to evade the Divine chastisement upon unfaithfulness which was prevailing in Bethlehem. (see Deut. ch. 28. ver. 48), they were plunged into graver sorrow. This mistake was frequently made, and in later years when the priests arranged for doing away with Christ, the reason they gave suggested that if He were allowed to, continue the Romans would come and take away their place and nation. So they cruci- fied Him, and the very thing they sought to evade by their action overtook them, John ch. 11, ver. 48. What effect would the action of this family have had upon Rahab's house- hold? She had left her untoward associations and been identified with Israel, and evidently lived in this same town where Elimelech and Naomi resided, for it was her son Boaz who was later responsible as a near-kinsman for the redemption of Eimelech's estate. Ruth, the daughter-in-law, was wedded to this mighty man of wealth.
Her Good Choice.
After the sad experience in Moab, three grief-stricken widows set out to return to Bethlehem. Before the journey was completed Naomi persuaded Orpah to return to her home- land. This is frequently rehearsed as a dis- credit to the mother-in-law who sought to turn a younger widow back to idolatry, but there is certainly another side from which we should consider the matter. Here again let us quote from Dr. Maclaren's exposition of the case.
'Who shall decide which of the two was the more noble and truly womanly in her self- forgetfulness. The elder, sadder heart, which strove to secure for others some of the joy of fellowship at the price of its own deepened solitude, or the younger, devoted soul which steeled itself against entreaties and was willing to cast away friends and country for love's sweet sake?" If Ruth's sacrificial vow be considered comely. Naomi's sacrificial virtue is in no wise less choice. Gentle lives that have touched our own weld links of love and ties of tender sympathy that are heart-breaking when severed.
Her Glad Cheer.
Looking at the matter from this viewpoint, it was hard for Ruth and Orpah to forsake their natural associations of life and cleave to an old widow in her solitude, and accompany her to a land where they would be despised as strangers. But was it not harder for Naomi to ask them to return and thus deny herself the only remaining link of human sympathy and love? She was venturing out into the sor- rowful and unsympathetic world to tread her unenviable road of solitude alone. Ruth re- fused to be entreated and resolved to go to Bethlehem - the house of bread.
Spurgeon reminds us of yet another aspect we are too apt to forget. He remarks that when a woman as virtuous as Ruth inherited the wealth of Boaz, she would not live on in com- fort, unconcerned about her sister-in-law in Moab. With such resources available she would have the wherewithal to pay Orpah a visit, or at least send one of the servants to, invite her to Bethlehem. Naomi's faith and example were sufficiently in evidence to in- struct and influence Ruth to follow her steps and to trust under the shadow of Jehovah's wings of gentleness and grace. What we know of Ruth entitles her to a prominent place among the heroines of the Old Testament. Her character of fidelity is blended with modesty and beautified with devotion. Her faith was robust and real, her courage was as great as it was genuine. and her decision was as strong as it was sincere.
Her Grave Case.
Legally her case was a hopeless one because she came of a people who were pre-eminently cursed. Even Edomites and Egyptians had a far more hopeful case in relation to Hebrew law than the Moabites. No Moabite was to be admitted to the congregation, even to the tenth generation, Deut. ch. 23. ver. 2. But faith is able to scale mountain barriers. Yea, Christ Himself commended one Canaanite woman for removing the three mountains of silence, strangership and alienation, Matt. ch. 15. vers. 21-28. Therefore the suggestion is that grace in Christ, the ultimate Redeemer, would surmount all legal, social and national barriers and reconcile aliens by bringing them into the household of God. We may all find comfort in the lesson of this woman's faith, and encouragement in the fact of the great reward given, by which God paid tribute to its genuineness. Why do we so often grudge, in our surrender to God, the things which we are willing to give gladly to earthly objects of our love?
Ch. 2. THE EDUCATION. The Trust -
Circumstances do not really make or mar a real saint, although poverty is frequently a conducive environment in which faith flourish- es. Adventurous faith is expressed in the second verse when Ruth says to her mother- in-law, "Let me now go to the field and glean ears of corn after him in whose sight I shall find grace." This expectant hope soon ob- tained a recompense, for in ver. 10 we read, "Why have I found grace in thine eyes. seeing I am a stranger?"
The Grace Shown. Vers. 1-10.
Strong assurance immediately follows and we are taught by this lesson that the best way to increase faith is to exercise what we already possess. Inactivity is not the highway to in crease. Boaz, with his observant disposition, was not slow to notice the stranger. He is spoken of as both mighty and wealthy, a com- bination of character that is not recorded of any other personality in Scripture. His first words to this Moabitish stranger are singularly expressive. "Hearest thou not, my daughter? Go not to glean in another field, neither go from hence, but abide here, fast by my maid- ens." With what cheer this would thrill the soul of the newcomer and make her feel right welcome! There was no fear of shortage in the extensive fields of this good man's estate. In addition to an ample supply for his house- hold. Boaz had plenty to spare for all the gleaners. Is this not true also of our Lord in Whom all the treasures of wisdom and know- ledge reside? In the light of the inexhaustible resources that are centred in Christ, what need is there for any Christian to wander in the fields of philosophy, tradition or materialism? Through all the centuries His own people have drawn upon the rich revenue of His grace and the repleteness of His goodness without lower- ing the ocean level of His fulness. The Grand Supply. Vers. 11-17.
Boaz next commands that the reapers should let fall some of the handfuls of purpose for Ruth, that she might glean the ears without rebuke. ver. 16. The confidence of her trust was now beginning to reap an abundant har- vest. She finds in Boaz one who perfectly appreciates her diligent labour. for nothing seems to escape his observant eye, and he re- ual instincts which are begotten in His people were originally intended to respond to Divine signals, but materialism and formalism, yea, and unbelief in the revealed Word of Truth, have so dullened the sensibilities of a large section of God's people that they fail to see the providential Hand at work.
The Guiding Hand. Vers. 1-6.
Naomi, who in ch. 1. had been willing to sacrifice the sympathetic and loving compan- ionship of Ruth by asking her to return to her home, at this stage shows the same self-sacri- fice when, instead of claiming any advantage that she might have in the estate of her late husband, she is willing to forego all claim that she may promote betterment in Ruth's posi- tion. The instruction given to her daughter- in-law is based on legal rights, and Ruth's submissive reply is the true secret of a happy life. "All that thou sayest unto me I will do." Three generations later Jonathan said to Ruth's great grandson. David, "Whatsoever thy soul desireth, I will even do it for thee." 1 Sam. ch. 20. ver. 4. Let us not forget the appeal made in later centuries by the mother of our Lord, "Whatsoever He saith unto you, do it." John ch. 2, ver. 5.
The Glowing Hope. Vers. 7-13.
With a radiant spirit of expectancy, Ruth left home to do Naomi's bidding. The many mercies that had been strewn in the pathway of her experiences during the harvest season were a rich foretaste of the greater bestow- ments that lay in the offing. The instruction that had been given was doubtless based upon Deut. ch. 25. ver. 5, and Ruth, knowing that she had law on her side, made the chivalrous venture. She is soon commended by Boaz for her own obedience and he speaks of her as a virtuous woman, avows his kinsman relation- ship, but interposes with a statement which at first sight seems a regrettable fact. There is a brother who holds a prior claim, and the matter of redeeming the inheritance must first of all be submitted to him. There is a deep spiritual lesson to be learned from this custom, for it teaches that the defenceless soul has a claim on Christ for protection, for, as Son of man, He became the near-kinsman of all man- kind. John Wesley has expressed this vital matter in his beautiful hymn:-
"All my hope on Thee is stayed.
All my help from Thee I bring;
Cover my defenceless head,
With the shadow of Thy wing."
The Generous Help. Vers. 14-18.
How different is the gift bestowed by Boaz in comparison with that received from the servants in ch. 2. Boaz does not give any straw with the grain he bestows, and the full six measures is the utmost he can impart with- out giving himself.
What an illustration this supplies of the free grace that Christ is willing to offer! In con- junction with that He offers Himself to us to dwell in our hearts by faith in order that we may be filled with all the fulness of God. If we were to trust the Master and give Him more of our time and fellowship we would secure greater supplies in five minutes than in weeks of self-effort without him. Truly the gift of Boaz was measured, but the gift our Lord imparts of Himself is immeasurable, and with- out price.
The new lustre of a radiant cheer illumines the little home as Ruth rehearses to Naomi her romantic experiences, and sets forth the liberal expression of good-will that she had received as an earnest of what was yet to follow. The advice the aged widow gives to her daughter- in-law in very befitting. "Sit still, my daughter. until thou know how the matter will fall." The kinsman who had undertaken to relieve the destitute Moabitess was known to be possessed of a faithful character, so what are we to say of our Kinsman Redeemed? "Faithful is He that calieth you, Who also will do it." "Happy are they whose God is the Lord."
Ch. 4. THE EMANCIPATION. The Triumph
- Ruth Purchased.
Fresh air and bright sunshine greet us in the closing chapter. The numerous links in the chain are now to reach their full fruition. Boaz triumphs and Ruth is purchased.
The Gate of Witness. Vers. 1-8.
In every city in Israel there was a gate of justice to which witnesses were called to give evidence for the determining of the case that had to be decided. Boaz called upon the one that was nearer of kin than he to sit down in the gate, and then selected ten men who were elders of the city to determine three matters that needed settlement - the right of ransom must first be established ere redemption could be effected, the resource must also be available to settle the transaction, and the relationship proved beyond the shadow of a doubt ere the task could be undertaken. There was no doubt about this kinsman's ability to satisfy all three demands, and when asked if he would redeem the inheritance of the dead, he replied. "I will redeem it." He was then informed that when he purchased the field it was incumbent upon him to buy also the Moabitess, Ruth, the wife of the dead, to raise up the name of the dead upon the inheritance. When the kinsman heard this he declared it to be an impossible demand. The law that required him to raise up a name to the dead refused him permission, for instance, to marry a second wife. The ten witnesses that were called to hear the case supply a figure of the ten commandments of the law, and according to the law, Ruth could not be received into the congregation of Israel even to the tenth generation, no, nor forever, Deut. ch. 23. ver. 3. Therefore what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, Christ undertook to do by redeeming us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us.
The Governor's Word. Vers. 9-12.
Boaz said to the elders and to all the people. "Ye are witnesses this day that I have bought all that was Elimelech's . . . moreover Ruth the Moabitess the wife of Mahlon have I pur- chased to be my wife to raise up the name of the dead upon his inhentance . . . ye are wit- nesses this day." The richest man in the land takes the poorest stranger to be his bride. Her loneliness was lost in real union with a worthy lover. There is no instance in the Scripture, prior to this, where faith was compensated so speedily on so grand a scale. Nor did ever a widow's two mites freely given, yield such an overweight of joy through the overruling hand of God.
Our Lord, although rich, yet for our sakes became poor. that we through His poverty might be made rich.
The Genuine Wedlock. Vers. 13-21.
Grace and mercy, acting amid the environ- ment of difficulty, secures the fulfilment of promise and illuminates the scene of sorrow with exhibitions of kindness and kingliness. When we recall the depressing atmosphere of the book of judges, with its background of lurid shadows, the brilliant colours and thrill- ing beauties of the story are the more glowing. The uniting of these two souls in happy union, to live together as heirs of the grace of life, became the vehicle of expression through which God proceeded to fulfil His eternal pur- pose. 1 Peter ch. 3, ver. 7. Pharez, whose name signifies a breach from nature, is the one whose household is mentioned because of the special blessing God granted as compensation for his breaking with natural things that he might obtain spiritual blessings. An enrich- ment of similar sort is now evoked upon Ruth because she broke with natural ties and linked herself with the God of Israel. The first-born is named Obed, to whom was born Jesse, the father of David. The famous David, the long desired Shepherd-King of Israel, was born in this very place and through this very line, I Sam. ch. 17. ver. 12. Six hundred long years elapsed ere the prophet Micah, the far-visioned seer, burst forth into song and reassured us of the coming glad day. Micah ch. 5, vers. 2, 5, "But thou Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been of old, from everlasting. Therefore will he give them up, until the time that she which travaileth hath brought forth: then the rem- nant of his brethren shall return unto the children of Israel. And he shall stand and feed in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God, and they shall abide: for now shall he be great unto the ends of the earth. And this man shall be the peace, when the Assyrian shall come into our land; and when he shall tread in our pal- aces, then shall we raise against him seven shepherds and eight principal men." Yet 700 years more passed away before over the still night air of Bethlehem's plains, burst on the hearing of the shepherds the sweeter note, "Behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, for unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Saviour which is Christ the Lord."
What colour these wondrous events of his- tory lend to the story of this book!
We would like to draw attention finally to the four words below the chapter divisions, namely Relationship, Resource, Right and Resolve. Apart from these four there could be no salvation, and Boaz was not only proved to be related to Ruth's late husband, but he was blessed with the resource required to play the part of a kinsman-redeemer. He is de- dared to have been "a mighty man of wealth." In addition to these qualifications it was neces- sary for him to establish his right if he were legally to undertake the work of redemption. Yea, and what is more, these three grand credentials are not enough in themselves if the most important of all should be lacking. With- out resolution there could be no achievement after all, but Boaz was resolutely willing to undertake the task and he did it right royally and valiantly. These four features are out- standing realities in the life of our Lord Jesus Christ. His relationship to mankind on ac- count of His becoming Son of man is indis- putable. His infinite resource is declared variously in the New Testament, inasmuch as "All things were made by Him," "All things were committed to His hands," "In Him are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge," "His riches in glory," and scores of other well-known passages express His ability to undertake for human need. But to Christ be- longs also perfect right, for "He took not on Himself the nature of angels but the seed of Abraham that He might become a merciful and High Priest in things pertaining to God."
"No man can by any means redeem his brother nor give to God a ransom for him, for the cost of redemption is preciousness." "Unto you therefore which believe He is the preciousness." Christ fully established His right, so there is but one thing remaining -- the grand resolve. Was this lacking? Nay, verily, "for the joy that was set before Him He endured the Cross, and despised the shame," yea, He took away the necessity for compulsory sacrifices and offered Himself vol- untarily without spot to God, delighting to do the will of God. "He came not to be minis- tered unto, hut to minister and to give His life a ransom for many.
These four determining factors naturally in- troduce the four vocations of the book which Boaz undertook to fulfil on behalf of Ruth the outcast. The one who appears to repre- sent the stranger and maintain her cause must first of all be a Kinsman, apart from which relationship he cannot become a Redeemer. Furthermore, without these specific qualifica- tions the Kinsman-Redeemer could not act as an avenger and see that justice was done in the case of the distressed. If this Kinsman- Redeemer who has the title to vindicate, under- takes at any time to ransom the estate of a widow and is himself unmarried, his next duty is to play the part of a husband and marry her.
These four offices contribute the supreme value of the book, and we shall consider each one in brief in order to learn that a Greater than Boaz is here.
(a) The Notable Kinsman.
Among the necessary qualifications of a kinsman which are fully described in Lev. ch. 25. is the indispensable requisite of close rela- tionship. No outsider could intermeddle in this sacred business of Hebrew domestic life. Only a kinsman and a brother could play the Goel's part. "I am thy near kinsman" said Boaz to Ruth.
Does any more need to be said to express love and grace? When the great "I am" under- took to become our near of kin, He was born of a woman and was found in fashion as a man, as bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh. He it was Who said, "I will declare thy name unto My brethren." Heb. ch. 2, vers. 14-17. As Son of man He drew near and established His relationship and while we were yet without strength and encumbered with heavy burdens, fettered with the servitude of debt, He played the Kinsman's part and be- came our Saviour and Deliverer. He relinquish- ed the debt, released from bondage and rein- stated our liberty. The heavenly heritage of fellowship and joy that once belonged to man as a spiritual being, but which he forfeited, has now been recovered by this heavenly Kinsman. So, here, this lonely, restless, sor- row-stricken widow found that by the kindly hands of love, stepping-stones had been placed across the turbulent waters of alienation, to lead her over into the green fields of peace and plenty. Therefore we also can exclaim, "Blessed be the Lord which hath not left us this day without a near Kinsman.
(b) The Honourable Vindicator.
Far too seldom is our Lord's redeeming grace linked with His retributive justice. The near- kinsman who redeems is also the Avenger who judges. The chapter in the New Testament which begins with the words, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God," is the one that contains the assurance, "Ven- geance is mine, I will repay. saith the Lord." The sentimentalism of to-day teaches us that the appeal which asks, "How long, 0 Lord, holy and true, dost Thou not judge and avenge our blood on those that dwell on the earth?" is not Christian. The wrath of the Lamb is to them a stone which the builders still reject. Who, say they, would dream of connecting wrath with the Lamb and think of linking vengeance with the Redeemer? The Bible is not given to, poetic exaggerations. Pollock has expressed the matter as follows:-
"Mercy, weary with beseeching.
Retires behind lhe sword of lustice,
Red with ultimate and unrepenting wrath."
Because Christ holds His people in high regard and exercises a tender care over them, He will not brook the enemy's interference. In perfect sincerity our Lord, like Boaz, calls heaven and earth to witness, He sold all that He had to purchase the field, Matt. ch. 13, ver. 44. In the book of Numbers, ch. 36, the near kinsman took up the sword of justice to pursue the guilty offender. The word "re- deemer" is here rendered by the strong equiv- alent, "revenger", - to avenge a brother's blood. Have the redeemed of the Lord no wrongs to redress? Is the great spoiler of hum- anity, the destroyer of souls, the dread apol- lyon never to be brought to account? Have we no one to stand up for us against his destruc- tive rampage? Yes, we have an Avenger who will destroy him who has the power of death, that is, the Devil, and deliver those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. The poor widow of Luke ch. 18 cried in her distress, "Avenge me of mine adversary." Will this plaintive appeal go forever unheeded?
Nay, we have a Redeemer whose Word prevails, not in the gates of Bethlehem, but within the gates of the Celestial City. Our Kins- man-Redeemer has bound the strong man, the usurper of the inheritance, and has delivered the captives. Mark ch. 3, ver. 27. "Blessed be the Lord Who has,,not left us this day with- out a great Avenger.
(c) The Capable Redeemer.
No base coin from alien hands was allowed to pass as currency in the great transactions of Israel's redemptive policy. A kinsman only could play a Redeemer's part if an Israelite lost his property through poverty, or became a bondslave because of hardship and misfor- tune. Clear instructions were given to release his land and redeem his life from bondage. The price paid for the estate or his own per- son was to be furnished by one of his own brethren, Lev. ch. 25, ver. 48. When an heir became insolvent and his heritage was lost, it was certainly useless to look within for deliver- ance. God had said to the whole nation through the prophet Isaiah in ch. 50, ver. 1, "Ye sold yourselves."
Likewise, we were by nature slaves and weighed with a terrible debt, or to use a New Testament statement, Sold under sin." Is there any one to redeem us from so helpless a plight? Yes, but one only, the true Goel and Redeemer. Boaz said to the elders of the city, "I have purchased," "I have bought."
But the price paid by the Son of God was not in silver or gold, for Peter says, "We are not redeemed with silver and gold . . . but with the precious blood of Christ as of a lamb without spot and without blemish." I Pet. ch. 1, vers. 18-19.
"As Christ also hath loved us and hath given Himself for us." Eph. ch. 5, ver. 2.
The Lord Jesus Christ looked upon our distress when there was no other eye to pity and no other arm to save, and His eye pitied and His arm brought salvation. He stood in the breach as our Protector and Preserver and by His ennobling purpose and emancipating power wrought out a full and complete deliv- erance. Christ inducts those who are strangers to His love into an acquaintance with His generous grace. He displays His redeeming sacrifice by means of which the Spiritual in- heritance which had been foyfeited through sin is recovered. The design He has in view is to conduct foreigners and strangers into the realities of a permanent estate.
"A home eternal, beautiful and bright,
Where the joys supernal, never are dimmed
There is a striking example illustrating this beneficent law of Redemption in Jer. ch. 32, where Hanameel came and said, "Buy my field, I pray thee, that is in Anathoth, which is in the country of Benjamin; for the right of inheritance is thine, and the redemption is thine; buy it for thyself." Ver. 8. "Take these evidences, this evidence of the purchase, both which is sealed, and this evidence which is open, and put them in an earthen vessel, that they may continue many days." Ver. 14.
Revelation ch. 5, supplies the great fulfil- ment of all this in Christ. The book of cvi- dence sealed and unsealed is produced and the Redeemer takes it from the hand of Him that sitteth upon the throne. The seven seals prove the authority of His title; the seven wounds in the body prepared for Him is the earthen ves- sel; and these combined supply the evidences of the purchase-right. The seven horns pro- claim His power and resource to take over the estate, while the seven spirits of God express to all the world the witness to the legality of His claim.
As the elders chant their song, "Thou hast redeemed to God by thy blood men of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation," Heaven resounds with praise and adoration.
(d) The Desirable Husband.
Strange paradox and thought provocative, the stern avenger becomes the sympathetic husband. Isaiah ch. 35, ver. 4. "Say to them that are of a fearful heart, be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompense; He wIll come and save you.
"With mercy and with judgment
My web of time He wove,
And aye the dews of sorrow
Were lustred in His love."
One important part of a Goel's duty was to espouse a brother's widow, redeem the de- ceased's heritage and perpetuate his name. Deut. ch. 25, vers. 5-10.
There were occasions when the near of kin oblected, sometimes through motives of self- interest or because of aversion towards the would-be-bride. When it was possible for the brother of the deceased to marry and he re- fused, a heavy penalty was involved. "I like not to take her" was considered a breach of duty and a dishonour to the worthy name of Goel. In such cases men were disgraced and degraded and oft-times spat upon, and were known throughout the tribe by the satirical sneer so eloquent to eastern ears, "That man had his shoe loosed." Boaz proved a genuine Goel and right royally he performed the kins- man s part and took Ruth to be his wife, and most tenderly he loved her.
Oh, what a wondrous illustration is this of how the Lord takes the unlovely and unworthy soul to His very heart of infinite love. When He looks out upon the alien and stranger, He sees no purity, no beauty, yet He does not spurn the sinner. Oh, amazing grace! The whole aggregate of the redeemed of earth go to make up His society, His bride.
"From heaven He came and sought her,
To be His holy bride;
And with His blood He bought her,
And for her sake He died."
"He loved the church and gave Himself for
her." Eph. ch. 5, vers. 25-27.
Believe it, "For Thy Maker is thy Husband,
the Lord of Hosts is His name. and thy Re-
deemer the Holy One of Israel . . . With ever
lasting kindness will I have mercy on thee,
saith the Lord thy Redeemer." Isaiah ch. 54, vers. 6, 8. "Thou shalt be called by a new name." Isaiah ch. 62, vers. 2, 3. "I am My beloved's and My beloved is mine, yea, we are one for ever and ever." "The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance and my cup. "Thou maintainest my lot." "I will betroth thee unto Me forever; yea I will betroth thee unto Me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in loving kindness, and in mercies. I will even betroth thee unto Me in faithfulness; and thou shalt know the Lord." Hos. ch. 2. ver. 19. "Blessed be the Lord which hath not left me this day without a Bridegroom."
Christ is the only fully-qualified Kinsman, Avenger, Redeemer and Husband, in all the realm. His capabilities are so blended and balanced that He meets perfectly every claim- ant cry and challenging condition.
Where is there any other champion of our cause among regal rulers and coronated kings who overcame so many foes, secured so, many privileges, ratified such precious promises, ful- filled such vital offices, obtained such immortal blessings, and bequeathed so glorious an in- heritance as Christ has done?
The heart-breaks of life are over, the sor- rows and solitude are past, the poverty and hardships are ended, the servitude and suffer- ings harass no more. The joy and fellowship of an eternal Lover, the unsearchable riches of an abiding heritage, usher in the eternal day.
"The sands of time are sinking,
The dawn of Heaven breaks,
The summer morn I've sighed for,
The fair, sweet morn awakes.
Dark, dark has been the midnight,
But day-spring is at hand,
And glory, glory dwelleth,
In Immanuel's Land."