Sunday, September 18, 2011

As we were interacting over Ruth last night, we explored the journey of Naomi a bit.  Her family, husband, two sons and her, left their ancestral home in search of food.  Two weddings and 10 years later, she finds herself with no blood family and in a foreign land. 

Walk through this with her.  She leaves her family, her friends, her neighborhood, familiar surroundings and moves to a foreign land - living in a country that really was not "friendly" to Israel.  A few years pass.  The family has made friends, figured out who lives in the neighborhood, figured out where to buy their meat and vegetables, found new vendors to supply cloth to make clothes, developed credit with the local bank, found out who the good and friendly people were in town - started a new life.  The sons found girl friends, dated and met the "fam".  They eventually got married.  What joyous occasions for Naomi - her sons getting married!  The hope of a future. The hope of grandchildren!

And then the unthinkable happens.  Someone dies.  We are not told who went and when, the only thing we are told is that her husband, her soul mate, died, as did her two sons.  Ten years after she left her homeland, she finds herself dealing with three deaths in her family - her blood line is gone.  She is alone.  No one to provide for her needs (widows needed to be taken care of in that culture; they had limited means to make money).  No husband  take care of her as she grew old.  No sons or grandchildren to take care of her as she grew old.  She was alone and in trouble.

She makes the decision to go back home.  She has heard that there is food there; the famine is over.  At least she can eat; maybe even sell her family's property to raise some funds to take care of her (if she can by it back from those who purchased it in their absence).  She is poor and out of options.

Notice what she says about her relationship with God when she gets home.  "Don't call me Naomi, call me Mara (bitter), because the Almighty has made my life bitter".  Strained at best.  She feels as if God has abandoned her; that he has it out for her.  Understandable or at least explainable based on what she has gone through.

Jump to the end of the book - joy has returned to her.  She has a grandson and is beaming!

What happened?  Boaz happened.  Actually, the obedience of Boaz happened.  Boaz allowed poor to glean in his fields according to the command of God.  Boaz, although much older than Ruth, redeemed the land and became the kinsman redeemer.  Her joy was restored as God worked and was faithful to her THROUGH the obedience of Boaz.

OK, so here's the question: are you going to be a Boaz?  Are you going to be obedient to the commands of God, allow God to work THROUGH you?  Who can you be an encouragement to today and bring them hope, hope in a Savior who loves them, hope in the midst of a sin cursed world?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Cycle of Madness

I have been studying Ruth for our couples Bible Study this weekend.  One of the interesting things that I have found is the setting for this book - the book of Judges.  Ruth's in-laws (Elimelech and Naomi and their two boys) had fled Israel during a famine.  They were from the town of Bethlehem and heard that there was food in Moab so they moved there.  As near as historians can figure, their moved happened about 100ish years before Saul become king or about 260 years into the 360 year period of the judges. 

A couple of things about Moab.  Not a cool place for an Israelite to move.  First of all, they were the nation that seduced the Israelites into sin a few centuries before.  There was a running feud between Moab and Israel that was in some sort of detente during this period of time. 

Another piece of the setting that is important is the "cycle" of sin that happens over and over again in the book of Judges.  The nation of Israel put themselves on a cycle of worship-disobedience-judgement by God-cry to God-restoration.  The issue becomes this was not a national trend - the WHOLE nation did not follow this cycle, but REGIONS of the nation fell into this cycle; usually only once.  If you want a cool map that illustrates this, look at this link:  The nations that God used to judge the Israelites for their unfaithfulness to Him didn't attack the whole nation of Israel, just regions.

OK, so by now you are probably saying, and.......Why is this important?  It speaks to me of the failure of Elimelech to spiritually lead his family.  I mean, come on, he WATCHED as regions around him fell into sin, were judged by God with raiding parties, foreign government take-overs, slavery, etc.  He had 200+ years of history repeating itself to serve as an example of what NOT to do.  And yet his response to what God was attempting to do to his region was to run away.  Not to worship and fall on his knees in repentance; but to run away to Moab of all places.  When Elimelech left the promised land, he was fleeing his heritage, his covering and his relationship with God.  There was no temple in Moab.  There was no place to worship God there.  He removed his family from where God wanted them to be and placed them in a heathen place.  Not cool.

OK, so here is the hard part.  How often do I make the same choice he did.  How often do I ignorantly walk through life and follow the SAME path that generations before me have followed.  How often does history repeat itself in my life and leadership of my family.  Way to often I am afraid.

I don't write this to condemn, I write this to inform and hopefully open our eyes to our actions.  I cannot change the past.  I cannot changed what happened in history.  However, I can learn from it and not do the SAME sins that my fore-fathers did or I have done in the past. 

PS - Take time to look into the fall of the Roman Empire and compare that with America today.  We are repeating the sins of the past and we WILL experience the same result.  God will NOT be mocked.  Start the revival in our country by starting it in you.