Ruth: 3:1-9; a study on chesed – our Lord’s use of the word.
Title: Ruth: 3:1-9; a study on chesed – our Lord’s use of the word.
Mat 9:12 But when He heard this, He said, "It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick.
Mat 9:13 "But go and learn what this means, 'I desire compassion [eleos], and not sacrifice, 'for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
The duty of keeping aloof from the polluted, in the sense of "having no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness," is obvious enough; but to understand this as prohibiting such contact with them as is necessary to their recovery, is to abuse it. This was what these pharisaical religionists did, and this is what our Lord here exposes.
The gospel is the cure for sin. We carry it. Should we avoid the sick? “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick.”
Jesus didn’t become a tax-collector, nor did He participate in the sins of the sinners who attended Levi’s dinner. They served Him their best food, and He brought mercy and devotion to the table. Due to His own chesed, Jesus was willing to lay down His life and suffer horribly so that everyone there could have life and victory over sin and death.
Jesus says, “Go and learn what this means,” and He quotes Hos 6:6.
Hos 6:4What shall I do with you, O Ephraim [Northern kingdom]?
What shall I do with you, O Judah [Southern kingdom]?
For your loyalty [chesed] is like a morning cloud,
And like the dew which goes away early.
Hos 6:5 Therefore I have hewn them in pieces by the prophets;
I have slain them by the words of My mouth;
And the judgments on you are like the light that goes forth.
Death by word or truth.
Hos 6:6 For I delight in loyalty [chesed] rather than sacrifice,
And in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.
Matthew, quoting Jesus, uses eleos (mercy, compassion) for chesed in Hos 6:6. God delights in it; has pleasure in it and it is paired up with truth (knowledge).
The same Hebrew word for delight is used by Samuel when confronting Saul, “Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.”
What Samuel says to Saul is quite similar to Hosea. Offerings are stated as the antithesis of obedience and mercy, both of which the Lord delights in. Obedience is linked with mercy because none of us would see or know the mercy of God if we did not follow Him in obedience to His word and plan.
One cannot come to know God well except by following Him in obedience.
God cannot be known fully by academics alone. If I don’t love as He loves than I don’t know love and I don’t fully know Him who is love. The same would be true of all divine virtues. As the Lord said to them in the upper room, “If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.”
If we do not come to know God through obedience then whatever mercy we might desire to show to someone will be misguided. Hence, chesed is linked with knowledge by Hosea, as it is linked with truth 20 other times in the OT. Truth guides mercy or lovingkindness in the right direction and in the right way and at the right time.
So chesed is linked with truth and with obedience. The lovingkindness of God must be seen, tasted of, experienced if we are to walk in it and have our lives engulfed in it.
The world is dark, sinful, and evil, but our souls are full of light from God. Open up your heart to Him through obedience to His word so that you may see Him fully, no matter how dark it may get around you. Your decisions today to obey the Lord are opening up opportunities for you to reveal His light to others in the future. You may think that no one sees and no one cares and it doesn’t matter much if it’s only a little situation, but it matters a great deal. To obey Him in the little things, if they should even be called little, is to obey Him in much.
God entreats us to give Him all of our will and He promises that it is to our great benefit.
It is the believer who has strived to obey God that carries His light to all he contacts. In this age, this is the light of the world to all who are enshrouded in darkness. Some of them will hate the light and persecute you, but some will see, and for those, no matter how few they may be, it makes it all worth it.
The chesed of most of the Jews at the time of the prophet Hosea, much like it was in their past, was fleeting. It might look like it was there, but soon, like the morning dew or the morning cloud, it would be gone.
Hosea prophesied just before the destruction of the northern kingdom, in about 750 BC.
Yet, a lack of chesed in the hearts of the people was a plague upon Israel for many generations before the captivity. When Christ arrived, things hadn’t changed.
Imagine the prophet Jeremiah standing at the gate of the temple, huge, magnificent, and looming behind him, and taking his stand in front of hundreds of Jews, shouting these words to the so-called worshippers.
Jer 7:1 The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying,
Jer 7:2 "Stand in the gate of the Lord's house and proclaim there this word, and say, 'Hear the word of the Lord, all you of Judah, who enter by these gates to worship the Lord!'"
Jeremiah likely did this at one of the three festivals in which the people of the land were to come to Jerusalem to worship; Passover, Pentecost, or Tabernacles.
Jer 7:3 Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, "Amend your ways and your deeds, and I will let you dwell in this place.
Jer 7:4 "Do not trust in deceptive words, saying, 'This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord.'
The false prophets told the people that as long as the temple was there and the offerings were given then no evil could come upon the city. Micah, prophesying about 150 years prior to Jeremiah:
Her leaders pronounce judgment for a bribe,
Her priests instruct for a price,
And her prophets divine for money.
Yet they lean on the Lord saying,
"Is not the Lord in our midst?
Calamity will not come upon us."
Therefore, on account of you, Zion will be plowed as a field,
Jerusalem will become a heap of ruins,
And the mountain of the temple will become high places of a forest.
Jer 7:5 "For if you truly amend your ways and your deeds, if you truly practice justice between a man and his neighbor,
Jer 7:6 if you do not oppress the alien, the orphan, or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place, nor walk after other gods to your own ruin [follow the Mosaic Law],
Jer 7:7 then I will let you dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers forever and ever.
Jer 7:8 "Behold, you are trusting in deceptive words to no avail.
Jer 7:9 "Will you steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and offer sacrifices to Baal, and walk after other gods that you have not known,
Jer 7:10 then come and stand before Me in this house, which is called by My name, and say,' We are delivered!' — that you may do all these abominations?
Jer 7:11 "Has this house, which is called by My name, become a den of robbers in your sight? Behold, I, even I, have seen it," declares the Lord.
So, who does this remind you of? Jesus would enter the temple and give a similar speech of rebuke.
Lack of faith in Yavah as the One true God, lack of understanding that in Him alone is blessing and goodness, and worshipping false gods, Baal, in Yavah’s stead frees the flesh to do without conscience of good or evil. Hence, there is stealing, murder, adultery, lies, and fleshly indulgence. We cannot reject God and His word and hope that these things will remain far from us. God tells them to turn away from the symptom of their unbelief and to practice that which they should and they will be allowed to dwell in the land. Nothing is said here about the eternal salvation of the individual Jew, which is of course through faith as Abraham. God is telling the nation what they must do to remain in the land. However, the majority of the people, and especially the leadership, lacked mercy in their hearts and the vicious, evil, selfish culture was the result.