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Monthly Archives: October 2015

Count The Cost And Come

“For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?” Luke 14:28

Ten years minimum is how long Naomi had spent in the far country of Moab.  Ten years that from what we know had brought her nothing but heartbreak and misery. She has spent enough time away from God to know what it means to be under his favor. So it should be no surprise that when Naomi hears in the fields of Moab that the LORD has returned to his people and they have food again, she wastes no time delaying but sets out for home.

It must have been a strange sight for anyone that day to see three women hauling all the possessions they had in the world down the road that led out of Moab.  Even stranger when, for what to passers by must have seemed like for no reason, these three women stop moving completely and have a “sob fest” right in the middle of the road.  As a man I can tell you I would have just felt absolutely awkward even walking near a group of crying women.  Why are they so sad? Why are they in the middle of the road? How do i keep from making this more awkward? All these and more would have been questions going through my mind.  Yet what happened in that road is probably one of the most profound moments in the Book of Ruth (a book just jammed with profound moments.)

Naomi doesn’t want to be a burden. Like so many people, older people especially, she just wants to finish out her life with a little dignity.  She doesn’t want to drag these young ladies down with her to a situation that they were in some ways obligated to follow.  Naomi decides to give them an out. If you have ever seen, Harry and the Hendersons, you will know the situation well.  Naomi knows how hard it is to join another culture first hand, and so she is throwing all the facts at these women she can to get them to run away, “for there own good.”

There is allot you can unpack from this segment of scripture, but one I want to focus on is this, Naomi is telling these girls to count the cost of giving up everything, and at the same time telling them what they will have to endure.  To come with her means conversion to Jewish tradition, laws, and religion.  There is an undeniable cost to that situation.  How often are we then this honest with people about the cost of following Christ.  Christ himself was very clear that it was a hard road.  Do we tell people what to expect and what will be expected, or do we try to hide the details until we think they are ready?  What is amazing is that as Naomi describes the struggles we see the very two reactions that come from honesty about the cost of A life with Christ.

Orpah (The Realistic World)  Orpah gives us a picture of, if the scripture is to be believed, is the majority of our worlds response to the Gospel.  She is in no way an evil person she loves Naomi, weeps over her leaving, and kisses her goodby in a genuine way.  Orpah’s problem is the same as many of our friends in the world they may “believe” in God and even think his way of life is best, but when the cost is laid out for them they find that they love there life in the world much more than they love God.  If only they didn’t have to give up their pleasure, their power, or there free will to follow Christ.  If only the cost was not so high.  Instead they leave like the rich young ruler,  “But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property.” Mark 10:17-27

Ruth (The Blessed Believers)  Ruth is the beautiful opposite to Orpah.  Orpah took the easy way out and went home.  Ruth throughs all her previous life at Naomi’s feet and tells her that all she ever was or had know was now her past and her future is all with Naomi.  What Ruth did was brave, and also scandalous.  Just like that we as believers were once presented with the truth and had to count the cost.  It was laid out in Mat 10, “For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household.”  To follow Jesus is to abandon anything we once had and any family who does not believe and take up our cross and follow Him.

That is it then as we go through our lives we have been presented with an honest choice, and are obligated to give others the same honesty.  Go back to the world and live in peace till judgement, or take up your cross and follow Christ.  The second is infinitely harder, but also infinitely better.

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Posted by on October 28, 2015 in Ruth, Through the Bible

 

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An Ordinary Beginning

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” Romans 8:28

Ruth is one of the most amazing books in the Bible.  In just four short chapters it discusses the themes of distrust, pain, redemption, blessing, providence, and many many more that would take too long to name.  It is hard to believe sometimes that the story of two widows struggle to survive could so explain the effect of Gods providential grace.

The awe of how amazingly ordinary this story is cannot be accurately described until we understand that it was set “in the days when judges ruled…”.  To compare, the time of Judges was marked by amazing wars, and even more amazing victory’s. It is the time of Gideon, Ehud, Samson, and Debora, and yet during all of this chaos going on in the world we are treated to the tale of a young widow, her mother, and there struggles. There is no flash. No amazing miracles. Just two women doing what they know is right and reaping the blessings and favor of God.

The story opens during a famine brought with the oppression of Moab as a punishment for Israel’s sin and distrust of God. We are then introduced to Elimelech who while the entire country is being punished by God decided that the wisest course of action was to abandon his home and everything he knew, further distrusting God, and go to settle in the land of Moab.  He sided with his nations enemy rather than trust that God would provide.  There is no exact time frame of how long they lived in Moab as a family, but the next thing the verses reveal is that Elimelech dies and leaves his family to continue as strangers in a strange land.

The sons Mahlon and Chilion rather than return to there homeland decide to double down on there rebellion and marry two women from Moab, Ruth and Orpah. Fast forward ten years. Both sons have died with no children to carry on there family name.  They leave behind nothing but there wives and mother Naomi.

It is important to note that even in these times of trouble God is still moving and working.  He uses all of the bad decisions made by this family to ultimately bring His plan of salvation into the world.  That doesn’t mean that what Elimelech did had to happen and so it was right, but that God worked even Elimelech’s sin and distrust into ultimate good.

It is in verse 6, however, that we start seeing what will become one of the major themes of Ruth.  Naomi rises from Moab and heads home, because she heard the LORD had returned.  Without any discussion or, from what we can see, forethought, Naomi does what she knows is right and heads home to Bethlehem.

P.S. : It is funny to note that Hebrew names were often spot on or ironic in there meanings, I will discuss it more as I get into Ruth but to give you some here Elimelech means “to whom God is King” even though he abandoned God and his Homeland, Mahlon means “sickly or weak” good name for a child who dies young, and Chillion means “deathly”…just saying if you want your kid to survive adulthood long maybe don’t name them “sick dead guy”.

 
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Posted by on October 21, 2015 in Ruth, Through the Bible

 

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