On Sunday, March 1, 2009 we celebrated the 70th Anniversary of Alameda Bible Church. I preached from Psalm 48. The theme of this Psalm is Jehovah, the one true God of Israel and His holy city, Jerusalem.
Whereas, Jerusalem and the Temple were the glory of God’s people, Israel; Christ Himself is our glory as His Church. Let us, His Church, glory: not primarily in a church, a building, or a location; but in Christ Himself.
ISRAEL GLORIED IN JERUSALEM
Israel gloried in Jerusalem and in their temple location, Mount Zion. They gloried in Jehovah who dwelt with His people in Jerusalem, the city of Jehovah.
In Isaiah 6:1-3 we learn that Jehovah’s glory filled the temple. In fact, His glory fills the earth. The major theme of Psalm 48 is that Jehovah God is the glory of Israel.
At the same time, Israel was God’s glory, as we learn in Isaiah 46:13
The world boasts that Rome is the “eternal city”. The Bible teaches that Jerusalem is the eternal city. Founded about 1400 BC, it has been in existence for over 3400 years. For one thousand years after religious and political Rome is destroyed, as prophesied in Revelation 17-18; Christ will be reigning over the whole earth from Jerusalem. So with 1,000 years to go, it will have been in existence for at least 4400 years.
ISRAEL REJECTED THEIR GOD
Though Israel gloried in the Temple and in their city, Jerusalem; they rejected their God throughout Old Testament history. As early as 700 BC they were trodden down by gentile nations in this order: Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome. As Jesus prophesied in Luke 21:24, since Israel has been back in her homeland, she has continued to be trodden down by her neighboring nations. Most horrible was the brutal attempt to annihilate them by the Nazi’s during World War II.
In spite of that miserable treatment, Psalm 48 prophesies that the day is coming when Jerusalem will be the mountain of God‘s holiness, the joy of the whole earth and the city of the great King, referring to Jesus. Zechariah prophesies in chapter 12-14 of his prophesy that in the Millennium, Jesus will reign over the whole earth from Jerusalem.
THE CHURCH’S GLORY
Zion as Jerusalem, referred to in this Psalm, is a type of Christ’s Church. As Israel gloried in their city Jerusalem as the joy of the whole earth; so in this Church Age, we His Church, glory in Christ alone. We share Paul’s testimony in Galatians 6:14. “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me and I unto the world.”
We are thankful for our Church and for those who years ago sacrificed that we might have this prime location and this church plant debt free. We’re thankful for those who built this church on God’s Word and passed on to us a church that stands faithfully on the Fundamentals of the Faith, in particular,
Our primary glory is in the eternal, unchanging God of Israel, who by God’s grace. is our God today.
WHO IS THIS GOD WHO WILL BE OUR GOD FOREVER AND EVER?
He’s certainly not the God of our imagination or opinion; but the holy, eternal God revealed in Scripture. This God we have made our God by personally receiving His Son as our Saviour from sin. With Thomas, who met Jesus after the Resurrection, we gladly acknowledge Him as “our Lord and our God.”
When we trust Christ as our Saviour and as we begin reading and studying His Word and attending a Church where it is faithfully taught, we grow in our knowledge of God.
1. We recognize the God of the Bible as our God, our Lord, our Shepherd and the foundation for our lives. Without Him we have nothing and are nothing and can do nothing.
2. We begin to understand that He is great and sovereign in the affairs of men and nations and in control at all times.
3. We understand that Christ is Holy and that His spiritual Kingdom is His Church, according to Colossians 1:13. At the same time, we understand that His literal, holy Millennial Kingdom will one day be a reality.
4. As God, He demanded holiness from His people Israel. Leviticus 20:7 So in this Church Age, He demands holiness from His people today, as He taught in His Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:48. Since none of us has any ability to live that holy life of ourselves, He graciously provides it.
First He imputes His holiness to our account when we trust Him as Savior.
Then He imparts it to us by His Word and by His Holy Spirit.
5. We understand that He desires and is worthy of our praise continually, even when we don’t feel like praising Him. Learn the secret in Hebrews 13:15.
6. We understand that God is immutable. That is, He is unchanging in this constantly changing world. The changes in our world are usually for the worse. Rejoice that He never changes. Malachi 3:8 and Hebrews 13:8. His moral standards do not change. His plan of salvation does not change. It’s always been by God’s grace through our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ who died and rose again to pay the penalty for our sins. In Old Testament times, Israel was also saved by faith in the promised Saviour. In accordance with God’s laws, they sacrificed innocent animals for their sins, which sacrifices pointed to the coming sacrifice of Jesus, the Lamb of God,
the perfect and final sacrifice who takes away the sins of the world.
7. We understand that God is eternal. Deuteronomy 33:27 assures us that “The eternal God is our refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms.” Because He is eternal, we are eternal. Each of us will spend eternity in Heaven or in Hell.
8. Thank God for His eternal, inspired, infallible Word, the Bible to which we all have access. Proverbs 29:18 speaks of its importance. “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” The vision is not speaking of dreams, but of God’s Word. Those who know His Word and feed on it are growing. Those who ignore and rebel against His Word are perishing.
The Bible and Christianity were the foundation upon which our nation was founded. In recent years the Bible has systematically been removed from school classrooms and from our national life. As a result, America is in rapid decline. America is crumbling before our eyes: morally, economically and politically.
Into such a nation, state and city, Alameda Bible Church was planted seventy years ago in 1939. I was a first grader in the pubic schools of Toronto, Canada. Little did I dream then that I would one day be a pastor in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Such has been my privilege for these last almost twenty years. We were planted here to be a light in the midst of spiritual darkness.
THE GOD OF OUR PAST
Years ago a Christian family donated land on El Pueblo Rd. in the North Valley of Albuquerque to be the home for a Gospel preaching church which was named Alameda Community Chapel. Years later the name was changed to Alameda Bible Church.
This church was born at a time when Bible believing churches were departing from the Faith to compromise with Liberalism. I don’t know what battles this church fought then, but I know that in the mid fifties and sixties, I was fighting battles with Liberalism. As a result two churches left a liberal denomination to become thriving, growing churches, faithful to the Word of God.
Almost thirty years ago God led this church to found a Christian School as a ministry of the church. Over the years we have operated a K-12 Christian
School and have graduated over 100 students.
The God of our Fathers, is our same God today. Thank God that although we are far from perfect saints and won’t be until we stand glorified in His presence; yet we are growing in love and unity. By God’s grace, our church stands just as true to the Bible as it was when it was founded seventy years ago.
We never want to forget what God has done for us, nor forget the sacrifices and the steadfastness of our forefathers. At the same times, we don’t want to get stuck in a rut of living in the past. As we remember and are grateful for our past, at the same time, we are open to what God wants to do through us now and in the future.
We don’t want to ever get in the depressing mental and stagnant state of thinking, “It can’t be done! or “We never did it this way before!”
THE GOD OF OUR PRESENT
We must learn the balance of staying true to unchanging Biblical truth; and at the same time, learning to relate to and reach this generation with the uncompromising Truth of God’s Word.
As Jerusalem at over 2500 feet in elevation and surrounded by mountains, was pictured in Psalm 48 as “beautiful for situation”; so our church has been strategically placed in the beautiful North Valley at 5000 feet and bordered on the east by 10,000 feet mountains. We are accessible to two major arteries of Albuquerque. It’s less than a twenty minute drive from just about any part of the city. We must reach out to people as Ambassadors for Christ.
THE GOD OF OUR FUTURE
Let us never forget that it is Christ who is building His Church and we are privileged to be a part of His work as well surrender to Him. No matter what happens politically, we have Christ’s promise that He is building His Church and the gates of Hell cannot stop our onward progress.
John Wesley’s mother wrote to her son at Oxford University. “Whatever weakens your reason, Impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God, or takes away the delight for spiritual things, whatever increases the authority of your body over your mind, that thing is sin.”
A pilot came on the loud speaker of a plane and said, “I have good news and bad news. The bad news is we have lost all instrumentation and don’t know where we are. The good news is that we have a tail wind and are making great time. So relax, think positively and enjoy your flight.”
”The church that does not evangelize will fossilize.” — Oswald J. Smith
“I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice will not sleep forever.”
Thomas Jefferson 1781
The story of Boaz and Ruth is one of the most beautiful love stories in the Bible and is a picture of our relationship with Christ, who is our Kinsman Redeemer as we, His Church, are His spiritual bride.
Let me give you a little background on how I came to include this love story in this message from the Gospel of Luke, which just so happened to be preached on February 15, 2009, the day after Valentine’s Day. I did not plan this in advance.
Actually, for the last six years we have been working our way through the Gospel of Luke and as I write this, we are in the 20th chapter dealing with the events that occurred as Jesus prepared to go to the cross to be sacrificed for our sins. Many of the messages from this Luke series cover a wide variety of topics that can be found on this web site under the following links: Beatitudes, Discipleship, Hypocrisy, Kingdom, Lost and Found, Prayer, Prophecy, Service, Stewardship,and others. I’m constantly amazed at the wide variety of topics I cover just by preaching through books of the Bible verse by verse; sometimes, topics that I would normally try to avoid.
In Luke 20:27-36 we observe the continued efforts of the Pharisees and Sadducees to snare Jesus in their traps and find reason to turn Him over to the Roman authorities for crucifixion.
A SILLY ‘WHAT IF’ QUESTION OF THE SADDUCEES
The Pharisees were the Legalists and the Sadducees were the Liberals of His day. The Sadducees, as the Liberals today, did not believe in a literal, bodily resurrection.
Though the Pharisees and Sadducees were enemies, they were united in their common hatred of Jesus to have Him killed. In the Luke passage before us the Sadducees asked a silly “what if” question concerning the Resurrection. These “what if” questions, usually a waste of time and a distraction from the more important issues of life, were presented to Jesus to try to trip Him and find a cause to destroy Him and His powerful influence.
This “what if” question concerned a woman whose husband had died and she married his brother. The brother died and this was repeated until the woman had been married to seven husbands. “In the Resurrection,” they asked, “which husband of the seven will she have?”
A STRANGE MOSAIC LAW
They are referring to the Mosaic Law in Deuteronomy 25:5-10. It concerns a man who marries and then dies childless. It was the responsibility of the next marriageable brother to marry his deceased brother’s widow to give her one child in the name of his deceased brother so that his descendents could receive their inheritance.
To refuse to take this responsibility was considered shameful and it was the custom for the rejected widow to remove a shoe from the one who rejected her and spit in his face. Yes, that sounds crude to us, but that was the law according to Deuteronomy 25:5-10
One selfish drawback to fulfilling this responsibility was that by raising up a seed to receive his brother’s inheritance, he was diminishing his own inheritance as it was divided among more people.
Of course, the Sadducees were taking this law to ridiculous extremes in order to try to trap Jesus. Jesus takes the opportunity to teach important truths concerning the resurrection which we will consider in the next message.
THE LOVE STORY OF RUTH AND BOAZ
The story of Ruth and Boaz is a wonderful love story, illustrating some facets of the Deuteronomy 25 law concerning marrying widows. Let’s enjoy and be blessed by the love story of Ruth which occurred in Bethlehem a thousand years before the baby Jesus was born there in a stable.
I encourage you to read the story directly from the Book of Ruth. Let me summarize it for you.
Elimelech and his wife Naomi of Bethlehem went down into Moab to escape a famine in their region. They took their two sons, Mahlon and Chilion with them. Their sons married Moabitess girls: Mahlon married Ruth and Chilion married Orpah. Then trouble and grief came to the family. First, Elimelech died leaving Naomi a widow; and then the two sons died, leaving their wives as widows.
Distressed, Naomi decided to return to Bethlehem with Ruth and Orpah. As she began her journey, she turned to her daughters-in-law and encouraged them to stay in Moab with their families. She was growing old and had no other sons to offer them as husbands.
Orpah agreed with her mother-in-law and decided to stay in Moab. Ruth, on the other hand, had a special bond with Naomi and with Nomi’s God who had become her God. Listen to her beautiful soliloquy in Ruth 1:16-17, often used at weddings.
“Entreat me not to leave thee, nor to return from following after thee; for whither thou goest, I will go. Where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God, my God. Where thou diest, I will die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if aught but death part thee and me.”
So Ruth returned to Bethlehem with her mother-in-law. Back in Bethlehem she was providentially led to glean grain in the fields of Boaz, a wealthy young man who was related to Elimelech, the deceased husband of Naomi.
Note Ruth’s prophetic statement of faith in Ruth 2:2 “Let me now go to the field, and glean ears of grain after him in whose sight I shall find grace.”
Note in Ruth 2:3 that “her hap was to light on or to glean in the fields of Boaz. There are no happenstances with God. Every detail of our life is important to God and He orchestrates and guides all our steps.
BOAZ SMITTEN BY LOVE FOR RUTH
It didn’t take Boaz very long to discover this new gleaner working in his fields and he asked his workers about her. It was not difficult to see that he had a very special interest in this young lady.
He invited her to continue gleaning in his fields and gather all she needed. He was also concerned about her safety among the workers and instructed her to stay close to the other women gleaning in the fields. He also commanded the male workers to leave her alone and to allow her to drink the water they drew for themselves. Ruth bowed herself before Boaz and was amazed at the grace and love he bestowed on her, a Moabite stranger.
The reasons Boaz was drawn to Ruth is found in verse 11. He was impressed; not only by her beauty, but by the beautiful relationship between Ruth and her mother-in-law, Naomi. He was impressed that Ruth loved Naomi and Naomi’s God enough to leave her Moabite family and friends to come to the people of Israel and to Israel‘s God.
Boaz blessed Ruth in verse 12. “The Lord recompense thy work and a full reward be given thee of the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust.” Ruth responded to him in gratitude and humility and they had dinner together.
Boaz instructed his workers to leave handfuls of the barley untouched on purpose to make it easier for her to glean more. One thing was obvious about this young lady. She was a hard worker and continued gleaning until evening and harvested over a bushel of barley for her own needs.
NAOMI, A WISE MOTHER-IN-LAW
Naomi was very aware, as most mothers are, when their daughters are in love. In Ruth 3:1-4 Naomi instructed Ruth concerning her next very delicate steps in regard to Boaz who at night was winnowing barley on the threshing floor and sleeping there. She was to wash herself, anoint herself with perfumed oils, put on a clean dress and make her way down to the threshing floor. She was to keep hidden from the men, including Boaz.
After he had eaten supper, he would lie down on the threshing floor, cover himself with a blanket and go to sleep. Before dark she was to take note of that spot. Then in the darkness, she was to slip into the room quietly and gently uncover his feet and lie down at his feet. When Boaz awoke, he would tell her what to do. Ruth followed Naomi’s instruction and crept into the room when all were asleep and uncovered Boaz’s feet and laid down at his feet, sharing his blanket.
Can you imagine Boaz’s shock and fear when he awoke at midnight and found a woman sleeping at his feet? He asked her who she was.
She replied that she was Ruth, a near kinsman to him. Boaz may have been a brother of Mahlon, her deceased husband. She asked Boaz if he would spread his skirt over her, reminding him of his responsibility as a near kinsman- as though he needed to be reminded!
In Ruth 3:10-11 Boaz blessed her for her virtuous reputation and he admitted that he was her kinsman and had a responsibility to her; however, he said, “there is a nearer kinsman than I.”
Boaz said to her, Let’s get some sleep and in the morning we will check with the nearer kinsman and see if he is willing to take his responsibility. If he is not willing, then I will fulfill my responsibility.
Next morning Ruth returned to Naomi with more grain from Boaz. With excitement she told her mother-in-law all that had happened that night. Both Boaz and Ruth were honorable and pure. They were simply following Jewish custom under those circumstances. Naomi gave her daughter-in-law some valuable advice, advice that every mother should give her daughter at times like this.
She said, “Sit still, my daughter, until you know how the matter will fall.” She knew Boaz and recognized the signs of love for her in his eyes. She continued, “This man is not going to rest until this matter is settled.”
THE WEDDING CEREMONY
Next morning Boaz went up to the city gate, known today as City Hall. He gathered ten elders of the land together to witness a legal transaction and instructed everyone to sit down.
Acting on behalf of Naomi, he was about to sell some of her land that had belonged to Elimelech, her deceased husband. This land would have been inherited by her deceased son, Mahlon. Because Ruth had been Mahlon’s wife, marrying her was part of the land deal.
Just then, the nearer kinsman of Mahlon came by, as Boaz expected. This nearer kinsman had the first chance to buy the land. Then Boaz explained to the elders Naomi’s sad story of losing her husband and sons. He told about Ruth, her widowed daughter-in-law. Then he spoke to the kinsman. “Naomi is come again out of the country of Moab and she needs to sell a parcel of land which was our brother, Elimelech’s.
The kinsman agreed to buy it. Then Boaz explained that the one who buys the land must also marry Ruth and raise up a child in Mahlon’s name to carry on his inheritance in Israel.
The Kinsman answered just as Boaz hoped he would. “I cannot redeem it for myself lest I mar or diminish my own inheritance. I cannot redeem it!
Part of an interesting custom took place, as we read in Deuteronomy 25 earlier. Because Ruth was not present at the proceedings, she did not remove his shoe or spit in his face. The kinsman took off his own shoe and gave it to a neighbor as a testimony that he could not, nor would not redeem the land and take his responsibility as near of kin.
Boaz immediately did what he so wanted to do. He bought the land and he took Ruth as his wife as these proceedings were witnessed by the elders of Bethlehem. Boaz and Ruth were now married. He took her to his home and in time Ruth bore a son who became the grand-father of David. Now Ruth the Moabitess, was in the royal line of whom Jesus was born one thousand years later.
Not only were Boaz and Ruth blessed with their baby boy, but Grandma Naomi was also blessed. It was as though her beloved son Mahlon was in her arms once again. Would you note that her friends and neighbors observing her joy, named the baby, Obed, a Hebrew word that means worshipper.
For a very interesting sequel to this story, go to VIRGIN BIRTH https://hiddentreasures.wordpress.com/category/virgin-birth/ on this web site and learn of the significance of that list of names in the genealogies found in the last five verses of the fourth chapter of Ruth.
“Carnal believers often find great pleasure in listening to Dispensational and eschatological discourses, attending what are called “prophetic” conferences; but what such really need is the trumpet-like call to consider their ways, rather than eloquent and beautiful discourses about things to come.
The Haggais may not be so popular with the crowds as the Zechariahs, but their ministry is ever a much needed one. He who goes on with God will welcome Truth, and will thus hold the Truth in its right proportions.”
H.A. Ironside, beloved Bible preacher of the early 20th century.