Ruth and Esther are the two Bible books named after women. Benjamin Franklin was so fond of Ruth he pulled a prank on his cronies in Paris as the Ambassador to France. He often attended the “Infidel’s Club,” a group of intellectuals who read literary masterpieces but spurned the Bible. He told them he found a piece of ancient literature worthy of their consideration. Then he read them the Book of Ruth but changed the names and locations so they wouldn’t recognize it. When he finished, they raved that it was one of the most touching stories they’d ever heard and begged him to print it so the public could read it. He grinned and said, “It is already in print, it is a part of the Bible you ridicule.”
The Midianites invaded Israel like a swarm of grasshoppers. God let them oppress His backslidden people for seven years and chastise them for their chronic idolatry. The Israelites survived by hiding in caves during the invasion. The enemy swooped in at harvest time and destroyed their crops causing a dire food shortage. On the brink of starvation, Israel desperately cried out to God in repentance. Mercifully, He raised up an unlikely hero to deliver them—Gideon, God’s reluctant general. Hungry and scared, Gideon was hiding behind a wine press threshing wheat to gather enough grain to make bread. Suddenly, an angelic encounter rocked his world and launched him into spiritual leadership.Read More
Albert Einstein believed, “Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.” Some discount the book of Esther because none of God’s names appear in it. While His name is absent, His hand is present and clearly seen protecting His people. Esther shows how God sovereignly orchestrates events to serve His purpose. Imagine God as a master maestro conducting the orchestra of nations, world leaders and global events. Like pawns on His chessboard, He maneuvers them at will to fulfill His bidding. “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord . . . He turns it wherever He wishes” (Pr. 21:1, NKJV).
How great was King Solomon? So great that Jesus spoke of his glory and wisdom nearly a thousand years after his death (Mt. 6:29; 12:42). Solomon, by his own admission, had it all, saw it all and did it all—but it all left him empty (Ec. 1:12-18; 2:1-11). This proves that earthly possessions and pursuits do not produce true happiness. Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes, which means “teacher or preacher,” as an aged man reflecting on his life experiences. The tone is rather pessimistic and depressing because he realized and regretted the folly of pursuing selfish goals. He was like the man who spent his whole life climbing the corporate ladder only to find out it was leaning against the wrong wall.Read More
The Gospel of John is unique from the “synoptic Gospels” (Matthew, Mark and Luke), so called due to their similar content. The synoptics cover many of the same miracles, parables and events of Jesus’ life and ministry. There is a lot of overlap, repetition and even some parallel passages that are nearly identical. Generally speaking, the synoptics tell us what Jesus said and did; John tells us who Jesus is. The synoptics focus on the signs and sayings of Christ; John emphasizes the identity of Christ. Early church father Clement of Alexandria called John “the spiritual Gospel” because of its deep insight into Jesus’ divinity. Notice these unique features of John’s Gospel: