Sunday, March 14th, 2021 (4th Sunday Lent)
(Denise Gelder - Diocesan Reader)
(Related Bible readings can be found here)
Prayer: Father help us to hear what you are saying to us today and help us to respond obediently.
Mothering Sunday, when we should be in church and receiving a pretty spray of flowers, lovingly put together by James and Eileen Curphey to present to our mothers! But here we are at home, reading our notes instead. It seems as though Ruth is on the Lord's heart for us today,
so let's see what the Lord wishes to teach us from this Moabitess.
Deuteronomy chapter 23 tells us, no Moabite or Ammonite should mix with the Israelites as they refused to help the Israelites when they were fleeing from Egypt.
Years later, their leader, Balak, hired a false prophet, Balaam to curse Israel.
But God would not allow this. So, bear this in mind as we look at our reading!
There was a famine in Bethlehem, so Elimelech and his wife, Naomi, and their two sons,
decided to go to Moab until the famine ceased.
Bethlehem means "House of Bread". They left there, the place of Redemption,
where their Messiah would be born, to go to a land of idolatry.
"House of Bread" means a place of provision, where needs are supplied; not just Bread!
This family didn't trust in their God to provide for them,
didn’t have faith in Him or believe in the many promise in the Torah and Tanakh.
Naomi's husband died. Her two sons married girls from Moab.
Two Jewish men marrying heathen women!
They dwelt there about 10 years, but the two men died, leaving Orpah and Ruth young widows.
Naomi had lost her husband and her two sons!
Sadly, there are consequences when we ignore, disobey God's teachings.
His guide laws are for our protection and benefit.
That family had removed themselves from God’s protection, His covering
and placed themselves under an idolatrous land and covering.
If God had told them to go there, He would have protected them,
but they didn’t consult their God, the One and Only God.
It was a wrong decision to go to Moab, but God was merciful to Naomi.
She heard the famine in Bethlehem had ended. She would return with her daughters-in-law.
So, they set off to the place of provision - Bethlehem - the place of Redemption.
On their way back, Naomi makes a bad decision.
She encourages Orpah and Ruth to go back to Moab!
They had married Jewish men, they would have been studying and worshipping from the Torah and the Tanakh (Hebrew scriptures), learning about the One and Only God, Yahweh!
Naomi was encouraging them to go back to their idolatrous ways and gods.
They would have less chance of finding Redemption.
When we embrace the truths of God our lives begin to change,
our human spirit begins to get fed and come to life.
Ruth recognised this and chose to go with Naomi, but Orpah made the wrong decision.
God is beginning to work in Naomi's life. He takes her back to where she should be,
even though she is still full of bitterness.
Ruth clung to Naomi.
This is a very strong word, meaning she wouldn't let go of her, she hung onto her.
Naomi should have been encouraging both women to go with her, to meet the true God, experience His love, His faith, trust and redemption.
But she was lacking in understanding and faith!
She urged them to go back to their gods (plural - gods) !
Yet God was merciful to her. He had a plan.
She was blaming God for her situation.
She couldn't see that she (and her husband) had removed themselves from God's provision,
His blessings and had brought it all on themselves.
But Ruth's heart was different.
She made the decision to come out of Moab, the idolatrous land of sin and idol worship
and make the wonderful declaration that she would serve and love the God of Israel.
God looks at the heart of everyone.
He is the only One who sees our heart and He saw a pure, chaste heart in Ruth,
a heart He could work on and make it like His.
Naomi and Ruth had put themselves back into a place where God could work on them.
They would be studying His Word and worshipping Him once again, with like-minded people. Ruth put herself under the Jewish laws and scriptures.
She gleaned grain from the edges of the field and from what was left over.
She looked after her mother-in-law.
Eventually she was blessed by marrying a relative of her husband and giving birth to her son Obed. Obed was the father of Jesse, Jesse of David
and he was the ancestor of Jesus the Christ, who bought us redemption.
His pure sinless blood was the price God accepted to pay for our sinful nature
and set us free to be His child and an inheritor of the Kingdom of God.
God doesn't force us to follow Him.
He wants us to make that choice out of love for Him.
Good choices can lead us to blessings, and bad choices can have disastrous consequences.
Whether we are a mum, or not, we are loved by our Maker,
the One who created us for His purposes.
He has a plan for each of us.
It's up to us to know God's Word so well that we make the right choices,
that we leave our 'Moab' and go to 'Bethlehem', the 'House of Bread',
where we will find Redemption.
Ruth blossomed when she made the right choice, by leaving the land of idolatry,
Moab and positioned herself in the place where she would blossom,
in the place where God could change her and work His plan out in her life.
Elimelech, Ruth's husband and his two sons were in a good place, in God's plans,
but made a bad decision and walked away from Redemption, to an idolatrous land
- a land of spiritual death.
They could have returned to be where God wanted them to be, at any time.
The question is:
Are you where God wants you to be? I am hoping I am.
It mightn't be where I want to be - but when I accepted Jesus and chose to follow Him,
I died to self, at the cross.
In a way, I don't have any rights anymore.
I have submitted to Christ and His plans for me.
Have you positioned yourself so God can have His way in your life,
so he can fulfill His powers and plans in your life?
We need to be soaked in God's Word, the Bible,
we need to pray - talk to Him and listen to Him.
We need to worship, praise and thank Him every day.
We need to allow Him to change us into the image of His Son, and more importantly,
we need to accept God as He is, not as we want, or expect Him to be.
It is as we submit and humble ourselves before Him that He moves in our life.
Then we begin to see His revelations and blessings.
Lord help us to be true followers of You.
As the days ahead get darker, we need to cling to You as Ruth clung to Naomi.
Please deepen that desire within us.
We cry out to You for Your help.