Thursday, March 30, 2006

Another Religious Conversation

The Exclusive Brethren girls at work had another conversation about the Bible with a non-Christian employee today.

They explained to the non-Christian girl, from 1 Corinthians 11, why they wore their hair long and why they wore headscarves in public. However, they did not seem able to explain why they had to wear skirts and never trousers (a rule that the non-Christian girl had to obey at work).

I joined in the conversation towards the end when they started talking about the laws of the Old Testament.

I suppose one of the advantages of a standard of modest dress that is so distinctive from the world is its potential to generate conversation with unbelievers. I suppose the same might be said for some of the Exclusives other rules, such as the ban on computers.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Good Conversation

The two Exclusive Brethren girls at work were having an interesting conversation with the marketing consultant about life after death. The two girls are daughters of the big boss. The marketing consultant is not a Christian. They talked about such subjects as the soul, spiritualism, resurrection, the rapture and end-times prophecy. The girls' father joined in at one point in the conversation and read some Scripture out.

I was filing at the other side of the office, so I did not join in until towards the end, though I listened to some of what they said. The girls' comments sounded quite edifying.

The younger daughter revealed that she was a bit resentful about the constraints of being an Exclusive sister. That is quite understandable. It must be difficult being required to follow so many rules all the time.

Keep it Up, Ken!

I mentioned the inflammatory remarks of Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London the other day.

'Red Ken' has been reported to the Standard Boards of England after describing the United States ambassador in London as a 'chisseling little crook.' This is because he apparently refused to pay the congestion charge.

If the mayor has anything else to say, be sure that I will post it here.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Election Holiday

I heard on the news today that the election is a public holiday in Israel.

They ought to do that in Britain. That might get more people voting.

Shoes Off at the Door, Please: This Week's NATIONAL ETIQUETTE AWARD

Shoes Off at the Door, Please: This Week's NATIONAL ETIQUETTE AWARD

My award to countries in which removing shoes in homes is customary.

Disappointing Results in the Ukrainian Election

For those who hope to see Ukraine move away from Russian influence towards the West, the election results there are rather disappointing.

Yankovych's Pro-Russian party came first with 27.1% of the vote. The beautiful former prime minister and Orange Revolutionary, Yulia Tymoshenko came second with 23.6%. Sadly, the president and Orange Revolution leader Yushchenko only acheived 16.3%.

The best hope is that Tymoshenko and Yushchenko make peace with each other and form a coalition government.

I rather hope that Mrs. Tymoshenko becomes prime minister again. It would be nice to see her blonde plaited hairstyle in the newspaper more often. I daresay I would have voted for her, had I been a Ukrainian; I find women like her to be most beautiful, middle-aged, long-necked, fair-skinned with long, golden hair. Women like that have a very graceful look (guess my favorite female character in the Lord of the Rings movies).

I Thought It Was Nice

In Waterstones bookshop yesterday, I saw a book '101 Worst Places in the World'. It was a list of cities that the author did not consider worth visiting.

Included in this book of 'awful places' was Helsinki, the capital of Finland. The author considered Helsinki to be a really boring place.

I thought Helsinki was the most lovely place I had ever been. I suppose that just shows how boring I am.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

An Egyptian

I met an Egyptian at church today. He is a doctor who has lived in the UK for some years and married to an Englishwoman.

He was converted in the Excluisve Brethren in Egypt. I guessed that he might be from a Brethren background before he told me, as I was aware of a strong Brethren presence in Egypt and he was very interested in my thesis on J.N. Darby. He knew very little about the history of the Brethren. He was probably converted in the Kelly Exclusives. He was surprised to learn that the Taylorites, the main party of Exclusive Brethren in the UK were stricter than the Exclusives he knew in Egypt.

Clocks Changed Last Night

Last night I put my clock an hour forward. Thus begins British summertime officially.

This means I am now six hours ahead of those of you on the East coast of the USA.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

J.N. Darby on Denominations

By John Nelson Darby

"In the first place, it is not a formal union of the outward professing bodies that is desirable; indeed it is surprising that reflecting Protestants should desire it: far from doing good, I conceive it would be impossible that such a body could be at all recognised as the church of God. It would be a counterpart to Romish unity; we should have the life of the church and the power of the word lost, and the unity of spiritual life utterly excluded. Whatever plans may be in the order of Providence, we can only act upon the principles of grace; and true unity is the unity of the Spirit, and it must be wrought by the operation of the Spirit. In the great darkness of the Church hitherto, outward division has been a main support, not only of zeal (as is very generally admitted), but also of the authority of the word, which is instrumentally the life of the church; and the Reformation consisted not, as has been commonly said, in the institution of a pure form of church, but in setting up the word, and the great Christian foundation and corner stone of 'Justification by faith', in which believers might find life. But further, if the view that has been taken of the state of the church be correct, we may adjudge that he is an enemy to the work of the Spirit of God who seeks the interests of any particular denomination; and that those who believe in 'the power and coming of the Lord Jesus Christ' ought carefully to keep from such a spirit; for it is drawing back the church to a state occasionrd by ignorance and non-subjection to the word, and making a duty of its worst and antichristian results. This is a most subtle and prevailing mental disease, 'he followeth not us,' even when men are really Christians. Let the people of God see if they be not hindering the manifestation of the church by this spirit. I believe there is scarecely a public act of Christian men (at any rate of the higher orders, or of the higher orders, or of those who are active in the nomminal churches), which is not infected with this; but its tendency is manifestly hostile to the spiritual interests of the people of God, and the manifestation of the glory of Christ. Christians are little aware how this prevails in their minds; how they seek their own, not the things of Jesus Christ; and how it dries up the springs of grace and spiritual communion; how it precludes that order to which blessing is attached- the gathering together in the Lord's name. No meeting, which is not framed to embrace all the children of God in the full basis of the kingdom of the Son, can find the fulness of blessing, because it does not contemplate it- because its faith does not embrace it.

Where two or three are gathered together in His name, His name is recorded there for blessing; because they are met in the fulness of the power of the unchangeable interests of that everlasting kingdom in which it has pleased the glorious Jehovah to glorify Himself, and to make His name and saving health known in the Person of the Son, by the power of the Spirit. In the name of Christ, therefore they enter (in whatever measure of faith) into the full counsels of God, and are 'fellow-workers under God.' Thus whatever they ask is done, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. But the very foundation on which these promises rest is broken up, and its consistecy destroyed, by bonds of communion not formed on the scope of the purposes of God in Christ. I say not, indeed, that they may not find a feeble measure of spiritual food; which, though generally partial in its character, may be suited to strengthen their personal hope of eternal life. But the glory of the Lord is very near the believing soul, and in proportion as we seek it, will personal blessing be found. It puts me in mind indeed (as all doubtless have some separate portion of the form of the church) of those who parted the Saviour's garments among them; while that inner vest, which could not be rended, which was inseparably one in its nature, was cast lots for whose it should be; but in the meanwhile, the name of Him, the presence of the power of whose life would unite them all in appropriate order, is left exposed and dishonoured. Indeed, I fear that these have fallen too much into the hands of those who care not for Him, and that the the Lord will never clothe Himself with them again, viewed in their present state. Indeed, it could not be when He appears in His glory. I say it not in presumption or dislike (for the reproach of it is a grievous burden, it is an humbling, most afflicting thought): but that second temple that had been raised by the mercy of God after the long Babylonish captivity, we have learned to trust in too much as 'the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord are these'; we have been haughtybecause of the Lord's holy mountain; we have looked at it as adorned with goodly stones and gifts; and have ceased to look to the Lord of the temple- have ceased almost to walk by faith, or to have communion in the hope of the return of the messenger of the covenant to be the glory of this latter house. The unclean spirit of idolatry may have been purged out; but the question remains, Is there the effectual presence of the Spirit of the Lord, or is it merely empty swept and garnished? If we have been at all blessed, are we not disregarding Him from whom it came, by pride, and self-complacency, and seeking to turn it to our own instead of to His glory? Let us then pass, brethren beloved of the Lord- ye who love Him in sincerity, and would rejoice in His voice- to the practical exigency of our present situation. Let us weigh His mind concerning us. The Lord has made known His purposes in Him, and how those purposese are effected. 'He hath made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath puposed in himself, that in the dispensation of the fulness of times, he should gather together in one all things in Christ,whether they be things in heaven or things on earth, even in him, in whom we have also received an inheritance'- in one and in Christ."

The Nature and Unity of the Church of Christ in Collected Writings of JN Darby volume 1, p.24-26

German Supermarket

I visited the German supermarket today. It sells low-priced imported goods. It is always an interesting place to visit; you never know what they will have on their shelves.

As I might have expected, I saw some East European people, probably Poles. East Europeans are cool, in my book.

I just bought a couple of salamis and some beer. Being a cheap sort of place, you have to pay for the carrier bag.

Maybe I am Right

Not long ago, I suggested that maybe the reason we have not been visited by Jehovah's Witnesses in our current address was because we had JWs living here before us. Perhaps the Watchtower people have not updated their records.

Well I might be right. I saw a a woman and a teenager who were smartly dressed visit the house next door. They did not call on us. They looked very much like Jehovah's Witnesses doing the rounds.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Ken Livngstone: Another Silly Man in High Office

I am sure most people would agree that the position of Mayor of London is a deeply magnificent and eminent office suitable only to a man of grave, noble and sober disposition. Unfortunately, Ken Livingstone, the current occupant of that office and the first to be elected to it, is a Socialist, an anti-semite and a man of evidently poor taste and judgment.

'Red Ken' is a very skillful and charismatic politician. He is extremely confident at communication. However, somehow he cannot seem to help saying dumb things. He makes sneering remarks about George Bush and the United States, but worse than this he is an anti-semite.

Only a few days ago, he made anti-semitic remarks to two Jewish businessmen. This is not long after receiving a temporal suspension from office for describing a Jewish reporter as a 'concentration camp guard'. You would think after the fuss about that comment that he would have learnt to be more careful about saying nasty things about Jews.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Pig Roast

I attended a pig roast on Friday. It was in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Christian school I went to.

I was not really looking forward to it that much. If I had known it would involve standing around outside on a freezing cold night, I would not have gone. It was not the best thing to attend when one has a cold.

Nobody from my old class attended. I saw a few people I knew, mostly teachers and parents.

The freshly roasted pork was lovely, though I did not get a lot of it. I did not stay very long.

Some ex-pupils of the school, like my sister, are rather bitter about their experiences at the school, but I have many fond memories of it.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

With Harps and with Viols

With harps and with viols there stands a great throng
In the presence of Jesus, and sing this new song:

Unto Him Who hath loved us and washed us from sin,
Unto Him be the glory for ever! Amen.

All these once were sinners defiled in His sight,
Now arrayed in pure garments in praise they unite:

Unto Him Who hath loved us and washed us from sin,
Unto Him be the glory for ever! Amen.

He maketh the rebel a priest and a king,
He hath bought us, and taught us this new song to sing:

Unto Him Who hath loved us and washed us from sin,
Unto Him be the glory for ever! Amen.

How helpless and hopeless we sinners had been,
If He never had loved us till cleansed from our sin!

Unto Him Who hath loved us and washed us from sin,
Unto Him be the glory for ever! Amen.

Aloud in His praises our voices shall ring,
So that others, believing, this new song shall sing:

Unto Him Who hath loved us and washed us from sin,
Unto Him be the glory for ever! Amen.


Arthur Tappan Pierson

One great hymn of praise.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Communal Living

I have always had a soft spot for the idea of living in a Christian commune (perhaps this word is a little tainted by its associations with hippies and Maoists).

Most Christians on hearing the word 'communal living' will start watching out for the Kool-Aid. However, I have never been that impressed with arguments against a communal lifestyle. Naturally, I have never lived in a Christian commune, so I cannot speak from experience.

I think the idea of communal living appeals to me because it is opposed to the instincts of my personality. I am very introverted and love solitude. While the need for privacy is something that needs to be accomodated, there are great dangers of isolation for those who are introverted like me. I think communal living would be a helpful discipline to check my natural tendency to isolation.

There are many single Christians, both young and old, who feel very lonely and exist on the fringes of Church life. A Church which practised some kind of communal living would help them to integrate into the Church community.

It is not just single people who would benefit from a communal or semi-communal lifestyle. Many married couples with children have to deal with huge pressures and yet are often very isolated and are very dependant on their own resources. These days, may families live huge distances from extended family and so do not have the benefits that grandparents, aunts and uncles would have given to previous generations. Their needs are often not understood by others in the church, who would be well-placed to offer social support. A more realised church community would be able to give families some of the support that extended familiy would have provided in the past.

One of the key arguments levelled against Christian communal living is that it hinders evangelism by separating the church from the world. However, most churches whose members live conventional lifestyles are ineffective at evangelism anyway.

When a person is converted, they often need to make a clean break from old lifestyles and to separate from old companions who would lure them back into sin. This is very difficult if there is no strong Christian community for them to become part of. I would suggest that the individualistic lifestyle of most Christians hinders this process.

The individualistic lifestyle of Christians is remarkably unhelpful in reaching out to those on the margins of society. If a homeless person becomes a Christian, how many Christians would offer this person shelter in their homes? This is quite understandable, because providing shelter for such people would not fit in with the kind of family life that Christians live. The result is that it is incredibly difficult for such people to separate from their old habits and company.

One of the more well known attempts at a Christians communal lifestyle is the Jesus Army. I am well aware of the faults and errors of that fellowship. Even when I still clung to Charismatic theology, I was wary of them. Nevertheless, the radical communal lifestyle of the Jesus Army made them very effective at reaching homeless and drug-taking people and helping to get them out of desperate situations.

I do not think that a communal lifestyle is mandated by Scripture and it has weaknesses. However, I do not think that more conventional, nuclear family-centred lifetyles are mandated by Scripture either. I see clear weaknesses in the conventional nuclear family lifestyle lived by most Christians.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

It made Bible Reading seem so Dull

For years, I was deprived of any enjoyment from Bible reading by a thing called YSL.

When I was 12 or 13, my Christian school was sent booklets produced by the Young Searchers League (YSL). These booklets asked questions for which the answers were obtained by looking up verses in the New Testament. We had to write out the answers to these questions, which were posted back and succesful completion was rewarded by certificates and badges. The idea was to reward children for studying the Bible.

There were some pupils, mostly girls, who really loved YSL. They would work really hard at completing their YSL booklets in order to get the prizes.

I absolutely hated YSL. I probably had a far greater hunger for the Word than my peers, but I just found these comprehension questions mind-numbingly boring.

For years, the New Testament epistles were tainted in my mind by the experience of having to write out those answers to YSL questions.

I think YSl was an highly effective way to kill off any interest in the Word of God.

Monday, March 13, 2006

My Sister got back from Tunisia

My sister returned from her holiday in Tunisia. She had gone away for a few days with some girlfriends.

Heather had enjoyed it quite a lot, seeing a very different culture.

The aggressive behaviour of the men there spoilt it a bit. The men there consider foreign women to be of low moral character and so show very little respect at all to women who are not accompanied by men.

Heather and her friends met some young men from Finland while they were there. This was interesting for her and for me to hear about them, as I have been to Finland and am learning Finnish.

Heather brought me back a present of some middle eastern slippers, as I asked. They are leather with pointy, up-turned toes (like those worn by the Calormen in the Chronicles of Narnia). They are handsome, if a little unusual. However, I doubt I will wear them that often. They have the unforgivable fault of making black marks on the kitchen floor. They are also not as comfortable as my usual slippers.

Sir Ian Blair in a Big Mess

The Metropolitan police commissioner, Sir Ian Blair has managed to land himself in a fine pickle. He has admitted to tape-recording a phone conversation with the attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, without asking his permission. Ironically, the conversation was about phone-tapping.

I rather hope this affair leads to Sir Ian Blair's resignation. He is a left-wing control freak who is a key ally of Tony Blair's Labour government. A police chief should be politically neutral and yet Blair has consistently proclaimed his support for Tony Blair's government.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Conversation with Myself

After I had lunch with my grandmother today, I came home and had a rather intense conversation with myself about some of my problems. I often talk to myself aloud when I am alone.

I got a bit upset and cried a bit. I often tend to feel quite sad on Sundays. I think seeing all those people in church makes me feel rather lonely.

I know that the Lord is with me and that His plans for me are good, but I have no idea what the future holds. I have failed so miserably at taking responsiblity for myself. Am I really living the life of a mature and responsible adult? I have serious doubts.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

J.N. Darby on the Evil of Clericalism

John Nelson Darby wrote:

"In the statement which I make here, I make no rash or hasty expression of feeling, but what I believe the Lord would press upon the minds of Christians, and that which they must receive: that, the converse of which He might bear with in practise, while it did not interfere with and oppose the purposes of His grace, winking at the ignorance, but cannot when it does.

The statement which I make is this, that I believe the notion of a Clergyman to be the sin against the Holy Ghost in this dispensation. I am not talking of individuals wilfully committing it, but that the thing itself is such as regards this dispensation, and must result in its destruction: the substitution of something for the power and presence of that holy, blessed and blessing Spirit, by which this dispensation is characterised, and by which the unrenewedness of man, and the authority of man, holds the place which alone that blessed Spirit has power and title to fill, as that other Comforter which should abide for ever.

If the notion of a Clergyman has had the effect of the substitution of anything which is of man, and therefore subject to Satan, in the place and prerogative of that blessed Spirit exercising the vicarship of Christ in the world, it is clear, that however the providence of God may have overruled it, in the ignorance which He could wink at, it does, when stood upon and restedin against the presence and work of the Spirit, become direct sin against Him- pure, dreadful, and destructive evil- the very cause of destruction to the church. I must be observed to say nothing whatever against offices in the church of Christ, and the exercise of authority in them, whether episcopal or evangelical in character. It were a vain and unnecessary work here to prove the recognition of that on which the Scripture is so plain. But they are spoken of in Scripture as gifts from on high: 'He gave some apostles' Eph.4:5, 7, 11; so in 1 Corinthians 12, they are known only as gifts. My objection to the notion of a Clergyman is, that it substitutes something in the place of all these, which cannot be said to be of God at all, and is not found in Scripture. Now, I believe the whole priciple of this to be contained in this dispensation in the word clergyman, and that this is the necessary root of that denial of the Holy Ghost which must, from the nature of the dispensation, end in its dissolution.

I am quite aware that people will say, that this is not the sin against the Holy Ghost, that it may amount to resisting the Holy Ghost, but sin against the Holy Ghost is quite another thing. It is not so much another thing as people would suppose. At any rate the cause of the destruction of the Jewish system was this very thing: 'Ye do always resist the Holy Ghost; as your fathers did, so do ye.' And I am perfectly satisfied, however this dispensation may be prolonged in order to the gathering of souls out of the world, of God's elect, it has sealed its destruction in the rejection and resistance of the Spirit of God. But I go a great deal farther, and I affirm, though that were sin enough, that the notion of a Clergyman puts the dispensation specifically in the position of the sin against the Holy Ghost, and that every Clergyman is contributing to this. The sin against the Holy Ghost was the ascribing to the power of evil that which came from the Holy Ghost: and such is the direct operation of the idea of a Clergyman. It charges the testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ, which the Spirit gives by the mouth of those whom He chooses, whom they are pleased to call laymen, and the rigteousness of conduct which flows from the reception of that testimony, with disorder and schism. Now, God is not the author of confusion or disorder, nor of schism, but the enemy of souls is; and to charge the plain testimony which the Holy Ghost gives concerning the Lord Jesus Christ, and the effects which it produces, with disorder and schism, is to charge the work of God with being evil, and from the evil one. But if clergyman have the exclusive privilege of preaching, teaching, and ministering communion, which they claim, and which is the very sense and meaning of their title, then must it be all evil. That is, the notion of a Clergyman necessarilly involves the charge of evil on the work of the Holy Ghost, and therefore, I say, that the notion of a Clergyman involves the dispensation, where insisted upon, in the sin against the Holy Ghost.

Sinners are converted to God, souls called out of darkness, the truth preached with energy an love to souls, with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven, in constraint and constancy (in whatever weakness) of the Redeemer's love: men are gathered from evil and wickedness (for I will put the fullest case my adversaries could wish) into the communion of the Lord's love, to bear witness to their sole dependence on His dying love; and this is producing confusion and schism- of which God is not the author, but Satan- because they are not, nor are brought together, by clergymen! What is this but to charge the work of divine grace with proceeding from, and having the character of, the author of evil, which is blasphemy? and this is the immediate and direct effect, the necessary effect, of the notion- the exclusive notion of a Clergyman."

Taken from The Notion of a Clergyman Dispensationally the Sin against the Holy Ghost in Collected Writings of J.N. Darby, vol.1, p.39-40

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Jehovah's Witness Magazines

The heresies of the Jehovah's Witness cult are absolutely deadly. However, I just love reading their magazines.

I think Watchtower and Awake! are really attractive and readable publications. They are very interesting and are effective in communicating their doctrines.

I just love the artwork, though. Those pictures really make me want to live in Paradise on Earth! The photography is very good too.

I have not actually read any copies of those magazines for a long time. Since moving to this house, we have not had any visits from Jehovah's Witnesses. Probably, because there were JWs living here before us. Perhaps they have not updated their records.

It would be fantastic if there was a Fundamentalist Christian magazine like Watchtower, that I could give to unbelievers. I dare say there might be some such publication in the USA, but I have not come across anything as good in the UK.

I dislike most Christian magazines. Most Christian magazines are too overproduced and use designs that are too obviously aimed at the younger generation. They also have minimal doctrinal content. 'Creation' magazine, published by Answers in Genesis is an exception.

Going back to Watchtower, there used to be a website called Watchtower Quotes, It was fantastic. It published quotations of old copies of Jehovah's Witness magazines that demonstrated changes and inconsistencies in their doctrine. Unfortunately, this website was shut down after the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society took legal action. It is funny how religious groups that forbid their members from getting involved in politics are happy to use the law to assert their rights and enforce their will. The Taylorite Exclusive Brethren are the same.

The good news is that much of the material has now been republished on the website Watchtower Information Service, a site dedicated to showing the scarier side of the Jehovah's Witnesses.

My Birthday Today!

I am 25 today. Quarter of a century old. I suppose I am no longer in my early twenties.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Recipe for English Person Matt's Chilli and Ginger Stir-Fry of Vaguely Oriental Character

I cooked this tonight and it was okay.

Ingredients

Onion, chopped
Beef, cut into thin strips
Green pepper, chopped
Beansprouts
Soy sauce
3 tsps of ground or grated ginger
2 tsps of crushed chillies
1 tsp of ground coriander
1 tsp of sugar

1. mix the soy sauce, ginger, crushed chillies, coriander and sugar with a quarter of a cup of water.
2. Fry the beef, then the onions.
3. Add the pepper, simmer gently for a minute.
4. Add beansprouts and the mixed ingredients.
5. Simmer for ten minutes.

Serve with noodles or rice.

Do They Really Need to Sell That?

I received a copy of the latest Answers in Genesis catalogue through the post today, along with their magazine.

I was disappointed to see that they are now selling the MacArthur Study Bible. That guy gets everywhere!

Is it really appropriate for Answers in Genesis to promote more general Bible study material that takes a clear doctrinal stand on divisive issues other than Creationism? This book may take a Creationist view of Genesis, however, they already sell Henry Morris' 'Defender's Study Bible'. Maybe they wanted a study Bible in the NKJV as well as the KJV.

I realise that Answers in Genesis have been selling Henry Morris' 'Genesis Record' for years and that it does have its own doctrinal distinctives. However, the promotion of that book is appropriate because of its clear relevance to Creation Science. The promotion of the MacArthur Study Bible only sends the message that Answers in Genesis favour the theology of John F MacArthur.

This is yet more evidence that Calvinism is becoming doctrinal orthodoxy among cool, fundamentalist, Creationist, homeschooling, Bible-believing type people. It is becoming very lonely being a Non-Calvinist.

It certainly is interesting that while the mainstream, less conservative elements of Evangelicalism seem to be drifting further and further from Reformed theology, those on the fundamentalist side of Evangelicalism are increasingly becoming more Reformed in theology. Non-Calvinist Fundamentalism seems to be in a sorry state these days.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

J.N. Darby on the Book of Ruth

Ruth, a stranger, and the grace of God in the midst of evil

The Book of Ruth tells us also of the days of the judges, when there was no king in Israel; but it shews us the fair side of those days, in the operations of the grace of God, who (blessed be His name!) never failed to work in the midst of the evil, as also in the steady progress of events towards the fulfilment of His promises in the Messiah, whatever may have been the simultaneous progress of the general evil.

Ruth, a stranger seeking shelter by faith under the wings of the God of Israel, is received in grace, and the genealogy of David, king over Israel according to grace, is linked with her. It is the genealogy of the Lord Jesus Himself after the flesh.

The typical character of the book

This book appears to me to set before us in type, the reception in grace of the remnant of Israel in the last days, their Redeemer (the kinsman, who has the right of redemption) having taken their cause in hand.

Eli-Melech (which signifies God the King) being dead, Naomi (my delight, my pleasure) becomes a widow, and eventually loses her children also. She typifies the Jewish nation, who, having lost her God, is like a widow and has no heir. Yet there shall be a remnant, destitute of all right to the promises (and therefore prefigured historically by a stranger), who will be received in grace (similarly to the Gentiles and the assembly [1] )—who will faithfully and heartily identify itself with desolate Israel; for Ruth clave to her and to her God (see chap. 1: 16). God will own this remnant, which, poor and afflicted itself, will in heart obey the commands given to the people.

Naomi, who in her destitution is a type of the nation, acknowledges her condition: she calls herself Mara (bitterness).

He who was nearest of kin, who would willingly have redeemed the inheritance, refuses to do so, if Ruth must be taken with it. The law was never able (nor the assembly either) to re-establish Israel in their inheritance, nor to raise up in grace the name of the dead.

Boaz, the Kinsman-Redeemer

Boaz (in him is strength), upon whom the remnant had no direct claim (and who typifies Christ risen, in whom are the sure mercies of David), undertakes to raise up the name of the dead, and to re-establish the heritage of Israel. Acting in grace and in kindness, and encouraging the patient humble faith of the remnant, the meek of the earth, he shews himself faithful to fulfil the purpose and the will of God with respect to this poor desolate family. Nothing can be more touching and exquisite than the details given here. The character of Ruth, this poor woman of the Gentiles, has great beauty.

"Naomi took the child that was born to her, and laid it in her bosom"; and they said, "There is a son born to Naomi." In fact the heir of the promises will be born unto Israel as a nation, although the fulfilment of the promise affects the remnant only, which, fully identifying itself with the interests of God's people, has sought neither the rich nor the poor, but, in faith and obedience, has kept the testimony of God amongst the people in the path appointed by Him.

The contrast between the books of Ruth and Judges

Thus, if on one side the Book of Judges shews us the falling away of the people of Israel, and their failure under responsibility, even when God was their helper, on the other side this touching and precious book sets before us, as the dawn of better things, grace acting in the midst of difficulties, securing the fulfilment of promise, and embellishing this scene of misery and sin by lovely and beautiful instances of faith, precious fruits of grace, whether in weakness and devotedness, or in strength and kindness, and always in accordance with the perfect will of God, and assuring by this touching history, as a type, the full restoration of Israel to blessing according to promise. It is a refreshing and lovely picture in the midst of the hard-mindedness and sorrows of Israel.

Ruth as the intermediate link between Israel's fall and prophecy

In the succeeding books we shall see prophecy, and the history of God's dealings, developing the body of events which tended to the fulfilment of His designs, the first principles, the elements, of which are laid down in that which is shewn us in this. For Ruth furnishes a kind of intermediate link between the fall of Israel under God's immediate government, and the future fulfilment of His purposes.

Prophecy, which unfolds these purposes and gives moral proof of this fall, begins with Samuel: we learn this from the apostle Peter, and that Christ is the object of prophecy (see Acts 3: 24).

Eli, the last judge and priest, departs; his family is to be cut off; the ark of the covenant is taken by the Philistines; and Samuel, consecrated to God in a new and extraordinary manner, comes in with the special testimony of the Lord.


(Synopsis Vol.1)

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Peachee

I have just tried a non-alcoholic drink called Peachee. It is made by an Australian company called Bundaberg. I tried that Root Beer and found it to be quite delicious.

Peachee, as its name suggests, is made from peaches; the nectar specifically. It is fizzy and cloudy in appearance.

Yes, I can drink this again. I probably will not drink it that often. I got it from Waitrose, an expensive supermarket that specializes in fancy stuff. I do not go there very often.

Street Preaching Today

I stayed out on the streets for about an hour. Not as long as the other people who came out, but it was very cold. I misjudged the temperature and wore a lighter coat than I should have done.

I preached just once. My text was Isaiah 14:12-15. I spoke about Satan, warning that he was no joke and that he hated people and sought to destroy them. I then explained how Christ came to save sinners.

We were joined by another full-time preacher from the Open-Air Mission. He had preached in Worcester many times before on week days and once or twice on saturdays.

A couple of boys of about 12 years of age spoke to myself and Andrew. I think I had met one of them before. They were not interested in serious discussion about Christ. However, I was surprised by their pleasent manner. There was none of the insults and disgusting humour that I often hear from boys that age. I do not know if Andrew managed to communicate to them more than I did.

Friday, March 03, 2006

New Liberal Democrat Leader

The Liberal Democrat party has voted for a new leader. They have chosen Sir Menzies Campbell, know as 'Ming'. We will forever be hearing jokes about 'Ming the Merciless' from now until the next election.

Ming is quite an old man. Some people say he is far too old. Being a Conservative party member, I hoped the Lib Dems would make a really bad choice of leader, but I think they have made a sensible choice.

Ming has experience and is very skilled as a politician. He also takes a more Right-wing, free market approach than most of his party and so will be more in tune with the public. This is not exactly brilliant news for the Conservative party. If the Lib Dems become more effective, they could steal votes from us.

I am surprised that the Lib Dems chose Ming. He is so much more Right-wing than the more Left-leaning party membership. They obviously have more sense than I thought.

However, in the long run, the future sucess of the Liberal Democrats will depend on whether the next leader will be as capable. Ming is far too old to make a big impact on British politics. David Cameron, the Conservative top man, is young, handsome and smart. He could well be a future prime minister, but probably not after the next general election.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

A Good Sign

At the front door of the office where I work, there is a sign which informs visitors that the owners are Christians and asks them not to take the Lord's name in vain. I wish some of the offices I had worked in the past had posted such a sign.