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Questions: Moab, Jesus’ Ancestry, & Ruth


Dear ______,

Thank you for your Questions:

1. Why were Moabites & Ammonites forever denied admission to the congregation of God?
2. Where in the Bible can you find the different names of King David’s sons in the Genealogy of Christ?
3. What Law did Elimelech’s two sons violate in marrying Moabite Women?

1) I presume your first question refers to Deuteronomy 23:3.

No Ammonite or Moabite shall enter the assembly of the LORD; even to the tenth generation none belonging to them shall enter the assembly of the LORD forever.

Many times, you can find answers to questions you have about a text simply by reading the surrounding context, or even reading the text itself carefully. A careful reading of Deuteronomy 23:3 will show that “forever” is not literal, for the verse says “until the tenth generation.” In the context, this is in contrast to “the third generation” prohibition on the Edomite and Egyptian (verses 7-8). The verses that follow give the reason for the prohibition:

…because they did not meet you with bread and with water on the way, when you came forth out of Egypt, and because they hired against you Balaam the son of Beor from Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse you. Nevertheless the LORD your God would not hearken to Balaam; but the LORD your God turned the curse into a blessing for you, because the LORD your God loved you. You shall not seek their peace or their prosperity all your days for ever. (Deuteronomy 23:4-6)

The incidents mentioned in these verses occurred near the end of the wilderness wanderings. Moab and Ammon were sons of Lot, the nephew of Abraham (see Genesis 19). The Moabites and Ammonites (not to be confused with the Amorites, who were a different nation) were their descendants. Thus, they were related nations, but when Israel attempted to cross Moab to enter Canaan, the Moabites and Amorites attempted to have the prophet Balaam curse them. This is the Balaam whose donkey spoke to him (Numbers 22 -24). God turned those attempts to curse Israel into blessings. Moab, at Balaam’s suggestion (Deuteronomy 31:15-17; 25:1-3ff), enticed Israel to join them in worship to Baal at Peor. This is the reason behind the restriction.

2) The genealogy of Jesus is in Matthew 1:1-17 and Luke 3:23-37. These differ as far back as David, but converge there through two of his sons – Solomon and Nathan. Most Bible students believe Matthew gives the genealogy of Joseph, which established Jesus’ legal right to the throne of Israel as the King of the Jews and son of David. Luke gives instead his actual genealogy through Mary.

3) In Exodus 34:15-16 Moses warned Israel,

Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land; for when they prostitute themselves to their gods and sacrifice to them, they will invite you and you will eat their sacrifices. And when you choose some of their daughters as wives for your sons and those daughters prostitute themselves to their gods, they will lead your sons to do the same.

Strictly speaking, this did not include Moab, which is where Elimelech’s sons got their wives. The land of Moab was not part of the promised land; it was adjacent to it.

Ruth, one of those wives, elected to go back to Israel with her mother-in-law. See her declaration in Ruth 1:16, one of the most beautiful statements of love and faith anywhere in literature. Many marriages include this as part of the ceremony, though Ruth said it, not to her husband, but to his mother after both of them became widows.

Ruth became an ancestress of King David (Ruth 4:16), and thus also of the Christ (see also Matthew 1:5).

TRAITS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH: Unshakable Love for God & Neighbor (Part 3)


In a church where I once preached, an elder was speaking about love in a devotional talk on a Wednesday evening. His tone, however, was not what you would expect. He said something to the effect, “There are too many people who do not want to talk about anything except love.” He made it sound like a dirty word, or at least something not to get us very excited. He is not alone, for too many take a similar tone.

God, however, put His love at the very heart of the good news. The good news is that

God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

Take this away from the New Testament and there is not much left. Without God’s love, there would have been no annunciation scenes. John the Baptist would have had no one for whom to prepare the way. The disciples would have lived out their lives as unknown fishermen, tax collectors, and so forth. The brilliance of Paul would have been wasted in trying to uphold the Law that could not save – and in congratulating himself on how well versed he was in the rabbinic tradition that enslaved men by the thousands.

Jesus Himself more than once declared that to love God with all of one’s heart, soul, mind and strength is the first and greatest commandment. He also added, “The second is like it. You must love your neighbor as you love yourself.” He added, “On these two hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

The “Law and the Prophets” meant the entire Old Testament system. Love was the lynch pen of the Law. The social laws attempted to codify behavior that would have sprung naturally from love. If people loved God and each other, there would be no need for Law.

I have often heard the quote, but do not know the origin of it – though I have heard it comes from St. Augustine of Hippo: “Love God and do as you please.” Once I was preaching at the Broadway church in Mt. Clemens, MI, a predominantly black congregation. At that time, they had two services, and when I said “Love God and do as you please,” you should have seen the face of the associate preacher. He was almost shocked white – until I added, “because if you love God, it will please you to please Him.” In the second service, when I came to that line, he grinned and said very strongly, “Now, tell them the rest of it!”

Do we love God as the psalmists of old loved Him and longed for fellowship with Him?

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? (Psalm 42:1-2)

How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God…. Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. (Psalm 84:1-2, 10)

For us, loving God like that sounds like a mystic experience – and we are not much into mysticism! That is o.k. God knows we are material creatures, and need something tangible to love. This is perhaps one reason Jesus, after naming love for God as the most important command, added “The second is like it. You shall love your neighbor as you love yourself” (Mathew 22:39).

John must have had this in mind when he wrote, “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen” (1 John 4:20). The gateway into a deeper love for God is a deeper love for one another.

Perhaps that is at least one reason there is so much emphasis on loving one another in the epistles. Love fulfills the Law.

Paul wrote in Romans 13:8-10,

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

Love is so critically important to Christianity that Jesus told His disciples at the Last Supper, “This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples – when they see the love you have for each other” (John 13:35, The Message).

He had just said to them, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” To “love your neighbor as yourself” was not new. That was in the Law (see Leviticus 19:18). Jesus quoted this and called it the “second” most important commandment (Matthew 22:39).

The novelty of the new command that made it different from previous commands to love one another is the quality of the love. Jesus said, “Love one another – as I have loved you.” The standard of our love for one another is Jesus’ love for us.

How much did Jesus love us? That same night, following the Supper, Jesus led His disciples out toward Gethsemane. On the road, He continued His discourse with them. In John 15:9, He made this amazing statement:

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.”

We are to love each other as Jesus loves us. Jesus loves us in the same way the Father loves Him. We are to have the same love for one another that exists in heaven between the Father and the Son.

WOW!!!

No wonder Jesus said people would know we are His disciples by the love we have for one another.

Is this what the world sees among the followers of Jesus today? If not, why not?

Nearly every congregation claims to be a place where love abounds among the members. The question, though, is whether our love has the quality of love that Jesus spoke of for His disciples. Or is our love like that which Jesus said existed among the publicans and pagans who loved only those who loved them – in contrast to loving even our enemies as the Father loved us when we were His enemies? (See Matthew 5:43-48 and Romans 5:10.)

What difference would it make if we took this teaching seriously? The early Christians did take it seriously. And the world was turned upside down.


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