Oct. 6, 2016

As I attended Bible College way back in the day one of the sayings that I heard my professors say was, "... Christ is in the Old Testament concealed and in the New Testament revealed." The more I reflect on these words the more I increasingly become aware that there are numerous instances where various characters and stories found in the Old Testament's thirty-nine books seem to point toward the reality of this saying.

One particular incident that may shed light on this idea was when the gospel writer Luke penned the account of the two men that encountered a stranger while they were walking the seven miles from Jerusalem to Emmaus following the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth. The account is found in Luke 24:13-35. One part that is so interesting relates to how this stranger "opened the scriptures" (the Old Testament) to these two men beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, explaining to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself and the funny thing is they didn't even recognize him. That is until he did something very familiar in the breaking of the bread while having fellowship around the supper table and all of a sudden their eyes were opened and he, Jesus, vanished from their sight. 

Another incident occurred in Nazareth, the place where Jesus grew up. It occurred on a Sabbath day. While seated in the local synagogue he is handed the scroll of the Prophet Isaiah. He finds the place in this book and standing up he reads, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me because He has anointed Me to preach the good news to the poor; He has sent Me to announce release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to send forth as delivered those who are oppressed to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord."  He later tells those in the synagogue that this Scripture has been fulfilled in their hearing. Jesus is quoting from Isaiah chapter 61: 1-2. Of course in Jesus' day there were no chapter and verse numbers but what Jesus is telling each of them is that He is the one to whom the Prophet Isaiah was writing. 

My reflection today is centered around the Old Testament book of Ruth and how the character Boaz becomes a type of savior for Naomi and her daughter-in-law Ruth. Naomi returns to Bethlehem from Moab with Ruth. It is at the time of year when the barley grain is being harvested. Because Naomi and Ruth were both widows they had no one to assist them as a husband would by caring for their needs. Eventually Boaz notices Ruth as she is gleaning in one of the fields and inquires as to who she is. Once he discovers that she is Naomi's daughter-in-law he begins to take some interest in her by placing her in protected places to glean after the harvesters giving strict orders to the young men working in the fields not to touch her.

 When Ruth inquires about Boaz Naomi is recorded in the second chapter of Ruth verse twenty these words, "And Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, Blessed be he of the Lord who has not ceased his kindness to the living and to the dead. And Naomi said to her, the man is a near relative of ours, one who has the right to redeem us." In the Jewish property and relational law the kinsman redeemer was that person who had the right to redeem a relative who had gotten into trouble. Perhaps they had to sell all their property due to a debt they could not pay and if that didn't satisfy the debt they may have had to sell themselves into slavery. The kinsman redeemer, because of his prior relationship with them, had the right to redeem that person and get them out of trouble. 

What I hold up to you to consider is the kinsman redeemer does not become related to you when you accept the redemption he offers. The only reason he is able to redeem you is because he is already related to you. If Jesus Christ is our kinsman redeemer then his ability to be that redeemer is because he already has a relationship with us. The moment Naomi alerts Ruth that Boaz is their kinsman redeemer an awakening or an awareness occurs within her that she already belongs. When we discover that our relationship with God in Christ Jesus already exists and that relationship does not come by our doing, then we can rest in the knowledge that our redemption is secure within our kinsman redeemer Jesus the Christ because he paid our debt!

Sep. 28, 2016

As I have aged it has become apparent to me that there are just some things I don't remember. Even when my friends and family tell what they recall about a certain event, of which I was a part, I still have trouble remembering it. And of course they look at me like I have lost all my marbles. That is not to say that I don't remember most stuff but there are some things that seem to escape my memory.

Have you ever thought about the word remember? We use this term probably more than we realize. "Hey! do you remember what she said last week?" "Do you remember what pair of shoes I wore with this outfit last time?" I'm sure if you thought about it you would agree that remembering is something we do often without even giving it much thought.

As I have pondered this word I decided to look up the first part of the word remember or the "re" part of the word to see what the dictionary said about it. This is what I found, "a prefix, occurring originally in loanwords from Latin, used with the meaning 'again' or 'again and again' to indicate repetition, or with the meaning 'back' or 'backwards' to indicate withdrawal or backward motion." What this amounts to, at least in my understanding, pertains to the idea that to re-member would suggest that one would be brought back to their original condition. Take the word return for instance. To re-turn would suggest that one had to have turned away from their original path and by returning they would in essence come back to their origin or beginning.

In my personal studies I have come to a certain awareness of the term "remember." In this reflection I would like to share how my new understanding of this term has opened up an amazing thought process of which I am eager to share with you.

While listening to a youtube video of Andre Rabe he was sharing information concerning his ideas related to how he believed God sees each of us. He indicated that on the night that Jesus shared the passover meal with his disciples just before his death he is recorded as saying, " this in remembrance of me." Now we could say that Jesus just wanted his disciples to remember him as a friend who had fellowshipped with them for some three years and when they broke the bread and drank from the cup they would have fond memories of those times spent together. Or maybe to re-member him meant something much deeper and more profound. I would suggest that Jesus wasn't indicating an earthly remembrance of himself to his twelve disciples.

Is it possible that what Jesus wanted us to remember was our origin in Him or to put it another way to awaken to our true design? As I have reflected on this over and over again it has assisted me to hear how "remember" has been used in other ways. For instance, Steve McVey, in his book, 52 Lies Heard in Church Every Sunday speaks of God remembering our sins no more, Hebrews 8:12. He uses an illustration about someone having one of their fingers accidentally cut off. They are rushed to the hospital to have their finger reattached surgically. He then indicates that to have that finger reattached could also be described as "remembering" the finger. 

For God to choose not to remember our sins would mean that he simply severed us from our sins and does not reattach them to us. I believe the scriptures indicate that God removes our transgressions from us as far as the east is from the west. So if Jesus wanted each of us to "re-member" him then perhaps it stands to reason that we were and are originally attached to him in our beginning because all things exist and consist in Christ. In Him we breathe and move and have our being. What I have found so intriguing about remembering is the idea that sin does not separate us from God. For Jesus to invite us to remember him is an indicator of our original and eternal attachment to him for you cannot remember unless you were a member once.