From the Pastor

Taking the Pressure off Marriage

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"15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
18 Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” 19 Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. 21 So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said,

                  “This at last is bone of my bones
      and flesh of my flesh;
                  she shall be called Woman,
      because she was taken out of Man.”

24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed." 

~Genesis 2:15-25

Here we have the first wedding in human history.  God walks Adam and Eve down the aisle.  He gives Adam a 'helper', who is like Adam but different.  They share the same nature, being human, but are different persons. 

Sinclair Ferguson comments: 

Adam's "instinctive response to his first sight of Eve was to recognize that she was someone different from him (she was another person and a woman!).  yet she was someone in whom he could see himself - in distinction from all the other life forms in creation she was 'fit for' or 'corresponding to' him (Genesis 2:18-20).  In this sense Eve was the one companion fully suited to him, who would turn the 'not good' of his being alone into the 'very good' of a new, covenant relationship in which he would discover at a new depth what it meant to be the image of God, sharing now - as his Triune Creator had done from all eternity - in a world of intimate fellowship with another who shared his nature."1

  "...[Adam] would discover at a new depth what it meant to be the image of God, sharing now...in a world of intimate fellowship with another who shared his nature."

Here's what Ferguson is saying:  Marriage, a one-flesh relationship between a man and a woman, was intended to give us a taste of God's love, experienced as intimate fellowship.  God is love (1 John 4:7-12).  The Bible's teaching is that God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  They are the same in substance, all God.  They are of the same nature.  But God is three persons.  For all of eternity God has been in a loving intimate fellowship with another who is of the same nature.  The Father loving the Son and the Son loving the Father and the Spirit binding them together in love. 

Therefore, marriage is a gift from God designed to bring two different persons (a man and a woman) together who are similar (both image bearers of God) to be an image of God's self-less love.  Marriage is a good thing, but not a god thing. 

The apostle Paul tells us more in Ephesians 5:31-32.  He quotes Genesis, "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh," and then drops a bombshell: 

Adam and Eve's marriage and intimacy refers to Christ and the Church!

God created marriage to show us how Jesus loves His people, the church.  Eve was given to Adam to picture God giving Jesus the Church.  Jesus looks at the church, His bride, with a married kind of love.  Paul calls it a mystery, even as He tells us why Jesus died.  Jesus' sacrificial love is ours in order to make His bride:  holy and without blemish.  He loved us so much that he became like us (flesh of my flesh) so that we might become like Him (righteous). 

"For our sake [God] made him [Jesus] to be sin who knew no sin so that in him, we might become the righteousness of God"

2 Corinthians 5:21

Do you hear the similarities?  Jesus, someone of another nature (God) became like us on the cross, so that we might become one (in Him), being like Him.

This takes the pressure off marriage because Your spouse is not Your reason for living.  He or she cannot give you the affection that our hearts crave because we were made to find marital satisfaction in relationship to Jesus Christ.  Which means we can be married or single and find a deep satisfaction in Christ's covenant love for the Church, His bride.  This makes us unusual because we can say that it is not good for anyone to be alone.  We are made to be in relationships.  But we can also say that it is good to be single in Christ because Jesus died to make us His spouse.  And it is good to be married in Christ because Jesus died to make us His spouse. 

Do you know how to experience this kind of satisfaction in Christ?

 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.    ~Ephesians 2:8

 

 1Sinclair Fergusion, Faithful God: An Exposition of the Book of Ruth, 90.

Posted by Nate Thompson with

The Radical Love of Ruth

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Here is this week's study guide for Ruth.  Please take time to pray for God to help us apply these things.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Daniel Block, Judges & Ruth, 1999.

Elyse M. Fitzpatrick & Dennis E. Johnson, Counsel from the Cross, 2009.

C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves, 1971.

Paul Miller, A Loving Life, 2014.

Head:  Understanding the Bible

 

1) Read Ruth 1:6-18.  Where does the conversation between Naomi and her two daughter-in-laws take place?  Why does she try to get rid of the only family she has?  What specifically does Naomi pray God will do for her daughters?

Hesed—Hebrew for covenant love.  It is in verse 8, “May the Lord deal kindly with you.”  Sometimes it is translated steadfast love or unfailing love.  Hesed is tricky to translate because it includes all of God’s positive attributes committing to his people.  God is stuck with us because of His hesed.  Or a better theological way of saying this would be: God voluntarily binds himself to us with his hesed.  He is willingly trapped in a relationship with you.  Love in this case is being used not as a feeling but an action.1

 

2) Were Ruth and Orpah followers of Yahweh at the time of this conversation?  (Read vs. 15 closely)  How does your answer shape your view of Ruth’s commitment to Naomi?

 

3) What is Ruth giving up to stay with Naomi?  What does Ruth have in her possession as she walks towards Bethlehem?  How will a depressed widow like Naomi survive alone? 

 

4) Read Genesis 12:1-3.  Compare Abraham’s sacrifices made in faith with Ruth.  How did God bless Abraham’s faith?  How then should we expect God to work through Ruth’s faith?

 

5) Compare Ruth’s deeds of faith with Jesus’ description of the deeds demanded by faith in Mark 8:34-38.  Who seems to have a better understanding of God’s hesed:  Naomi or Ruth?

 

Heart: Using the Gospel on Our Affections

“We draw people to Christ not by loudly discrediting what they believe, by telling them how wrong they are and how right we are, but by showing them a light that is so lovely that they want with all their hearts to know the source of it.”            ~Madeleine Engle2

6) Why is a Ruth-like commitment so difficult?  What is your natural reaction to hard relationships? 

 

“There is no safe investment.  To love at all is to be vulnerable.  Love anything and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken.  If you want to be sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal.  Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness.  But in that casket – safe, dark, motionless, airless – it will change.  It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable…The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and [anxieties] of love is Hell.”    

~C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

 7) Compare Ruth’s sacrifices made for Naomi with Jesus’ sacrifices made for us.  What do each have to put up with in this hesed relationship?  Whose sacrifice is greater?  Describe Jesus’ love for his people in your own words.

 

 

8) Read Ephesians 5:1-2.  How does Ruth model the principle of love as we have been loved, even before Jesus came?

 

 

Hands: Applying the Gospel to Our Lives

 

“...walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us…” ~Apostle Paul, Ephesians 5:2

 

9) Who is Jesus calling you to do hesed for?  In light of the command to do hesed, what do we need to repent of?

 

 

10) How can we model hesed in our relationships at home, in the workplace, and at Hope Church?  Make sure to process this question in light of the little word, as, in Ephesians 5:2. 

 

God’s disposition toward us is entirely different because we are beloved.  He isn’t simply tolerating us, regretting that he opened the door to the likes of us.  No we’re beloved.  This is the same word the Father used to describe his disposition to his Son, Jesus (see Matt. 3:17; 17:5; Eph. 1:6)3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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