Lessons from Two Weddings
The battle between good and evil, the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent, continues to play out in ancient Israel even in the Promised Land. Two weddings demonstrate the reality of this battle in vivid terms but also remind us of Who ultimately has won this conflict.
[Note: This post is based on last week’s reading: Judges, Ruth].
Trouble in Paradise
After the relatively upbeat book of Joshua, we come to Judges. The contrast between these books is impossible to miss. Joshua relates how God has kept His word to Israel and the land has been parceled out to the twelve tribes. Admittedly, they have not conquered all their enemies, but there is hope that the future will be bright even after Joshua’s death.
But our hopes are dashed when we read Judges. From the first chapter we see that things are not going to go well. After some victory and Joshua’s death, we find a summary of the history which is about to unfold (Judges 2:16-23). There would be repeated cycles of sin, suffering, calling on the Lord, and deliverance by God through judges.
The cycles keep repeating until the author wraps up by focusing on a couple of examples of the kind of evil and chaos that existed when there was no king in Israel and everyone did what was right in his own eyes (17:6;18:1;19:1;21:25). There was a fight over a Levite who was installed as a private priest for a man named Micah in Ephraim. Civil war erupted from an incident of a gang rape and murder of a concubine of another Levite in the town of Gibeah in Benjamin. The story is grotesque but real. We are meant to be convinced that something had to change. We find ourselves sympathetic to the idea that Israel must have a king.
Faithfulness in Troubled Times
Next we come to the lovely and idyllic book of Ruth which opens with the words, “in the days when the judges ruled.” There was apostasy and anarchy in Israel but there were still good and faithful people, like Boaz and Ruth, the Moabite who was a paragon of virtue. The book which bears her name tells a story of the faithfulness and love of a man and woman and of a God who was unfolding His plan of redemption even in the darkest of times.
Two Very Different Weddings
Nothing more fully epitomizes the contrast between the personal lives of God’s faithful people and those who disregard His law and His wisdom than two weddings which are chronicled here: the one of Boaz and Ruth (Ruth 4) and the other of Samson to the unnamed Timnite woman (Judges 14-15). In the first case, a godly man obeyed God’s law and married the believing Gentile widow, Ruth. She conceived Obed the grandfather of King David and ancestor of our Lord Jesus Christ. Samson despising God’s commands and the wisdom of his parents willfully became engaged to an unbeliever. His bachelor party turned into a murderous disaster and resulted in war with the Philistines not the marriage Samson had anticipated.
Nevertheless, these stories demonstrate how God uses even the wrath of man to praise Him and He surprises with blessing those who faithfully obey Him during times of famine and trial (Psalm 76:10; Psalm 16). God works in history, then and now, to bring about His plans to redeem a people for Himself out of a fallen world where the powers of darkness seem unavoidable. Nothing can thwart Him. He has won the victory through Jesus our God and Savior.
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:56,57 (ESV).
More about that in this week’s reading: 1 Corinthians