Welcome to this series on the book of Ruth, a book that gives us hope in the face of despair and disappointment – just where the book’s first chapter (Ruth 1:1-22) takes us. It introdueces us to Naomi and to her husband Elimelech fleeing from their native Judah to the land of Moab along with their two sons, Mahlon and Chilion, who eventually marry to Moabitess women, Orpah and Ruth. With Naomi intent now on returning to Judah, what is Ruth to do? And how will God begin to bring about good from the sadness and loss that she and Naomi knew?
In this fifth and last of the parable recorded in Matthew 13, this one in Matthew 13:47-50, Jesus spoke of things that would have been familiar to those who lived on the shores of the Sea of Galilee – the everyday, ordinary practice of the people who made a living from fishing, and the associated sorting process that would follow… the not up-to-scratch fish thrown away and the best ones either sold or eaten. On this, Jesus taught that this was just a pointer toward the end of time, when people are sorted out into categories – some rejected, some not – and the only safe place to be to avoid such judgement.
In this fourth, and one of the smallest, parables found in Matthew 13:44-46, again we find that Jesus spoke to those who were around him about everyday common items. This time, the fairly well-known practise of finding buried wealth in a plot of land (which means it was yours if you bought the land!) and the search for a priceless, most valuable pearl. In the first case, the man who found the treasure gave all he could to gain something of greater value. In the second, the one who came across the pearl also gave up everything in order that he might have it. The Kingdom of God is like that. Worth more than anything else.
In this third parable of Matthew 13, Jesus speaks in Matthew 13:31-35 of two very common items from his day. The tiny mustrad seed which, which when grown, became a medium to large sized bush that would be the home for many birds, and an amount of yeast, which would turn a small amlount of leaven into a larger amount of bread. By these, Jesus again taught that the kingdom of God does not come by worldly means, but God brings it about silently and almost behind-the-scenes, leading us to always have hope that His Kingdom ‘will come’.
In this second parable that Matthew records Jesus teaching in Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43, the everyday item that Jesus used was wheat and weeds. To us, these might sound like two completely different items, but in his day the ‘weed’ was a ‘counterfeit wheat’ that was very hard to distinguish from the real. As Jesus explained the parable, it becomes clear that the point he was making is still so important for His people today, as we grow in the world along with the ‘counterfeit wheat’ – leading us to see the world around us through His eyes.
Of the 5 parables that make up Matthew 13, the first in one Matthew 13:1-23 is by far the longest. All of them have to do with the Kingdom of God, how and when it comes and how it grows, and what will be the consequences of not being part of it. In this parable, Jesus takes familiar agricultural themes and makes a point about listening, hearing and fruitfulness.
There’s no question that Daniel 7-12 are difficult chapters to understand and apply rightly. Less so with Daniel 7:1-28 in which Daniel saw a terrifying vision of kingdoms and beasts, but also a comforting vision of the rule of the Ancient of Days with the heavenly figure of the ‘Son of Man’. In the last in this series, this message seeks to explore these things and bring them to a place where they can be understood and applied to us, the readers who need to be assured that ‘Jesus will reign where’er the sun does his successive journeys run’.
In the flow of the stores recorded in the book of Daniel, the story of Daniel in the den of lions (Daniel 6:1-28) is perhaps the most well known and one every Sunday School student would have heard. But it’s far from a children’s story and is a wonderful story of courage, bravery, loyalty and faith – especially so when it brings us to the One who wasn’t saved from the ‘lion’s mouth’ but was willing to go there for our sake!
The text of Daniel 5:1-31 takes us to the rule of Belshazzar king of Babylon. Daniel is older now and seems to have been forgotten (or bypassed) for duties in the roal court, until the night of the King’s feast when a mysterious hand appeared to write a message on the wall in front of the king’s eyes. It was a message of judgement for this king (like chapter 4) and this judgement fell swiftly upon him. Daniel’s role in the matter was to translate the message and deliver it faithfully and observe yet another king come and go while he continued to faithfully serve his God.
In this message on Matthew 5:13-16, Hugh Price examines the two metaphors that Jesus used in the Sermon on the Mount to describe his followers. Salt in the ancient days was used mainly as a preserving agent, and light, (in the sense of the opposite of darkness) has one major purpose in all of our lives ever since God made the world. The challenge is of course, not just understanding these metaphors, but living them out in the world.