“Till Death Do Us Part”

Posted: September 6, 2014 in Christian Life, Death, Decision Making, Ruth

When my wife and I got married she included in her vows to me these words: “…wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, and your God my God” (Ruth 1:16). She has kept that vow and has been a great help to me during our marriage.

But these words were uttered initially by a young Moabite widow toward her bitter, Jewish mother-in-law, who was also a widow. Both of them were headed back to the land of Israel after a famine in Bethlehem (House of bread). Both women were in desperate need of assistance and mercy from God and others. Their futures were very uncertain. One might ask, “Why was there a famine in the land of Israel?” God had made it clear to the Jews that if they kept His commandments they would be blessed, and if not they would be cursed (Leviticus 26; Deuteronomy 28).

Crises. “Life’s tragic circumstances often lead to despair and depression; sometimes we have no sense of the immediate presence of God. Even so, He may bring others alongside to encourage and strengthen in time of need – whether or not we are receptive.” – Gary Phillips. Has someone come by to help you in your distress? Are you helping others in their time of need?

Depravity. The events in this love story took place during some very dark days in the nation of Israel. If you want, you can read about them in Judges 17-21. Be warned – it’s gruesome. Considering our world today, things haven’t changed much. The depravity of humanity was on display when people were doing what was right in their own eyes (Judges 21:25) but which was an abomination to God. Against this black backdrop two people emerge to shine as pure pearls in the bright light.

Ruth. She was from the land of Moab. The Moabites came into existence when Abraham’s nephew Lot was seduced by his own two daughters into an incestuous relationship with their father after they got him drunk. This took place shortly after God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah for their wickedness (Genesis 19). The descendants of Moab and Ammom became enemies to the people of Israel. When the Jews, who had been slaves in Egypt, came out of there on their way to the land of Canaan, that God had promised to give to them (Genesis 15:18-21), the king of Moab called on the soothsayer Balaam to come and curse the children of Israel (Numbers 22-25). But God wouldn’t allow him to do that so he gave King Balak some advice.

Seduction. He told him to send the most beautiful Moabite girls into the camp of the Jews and seduce the men and get them involved with the Moabites in immorality and idolatry (Numbers 30:16). Consequently, twenty-four thousand Jews died by a plague (Numbers 25:9). Later Balaam himself was slain with the sword (Joshua 13:22). Even though Balaam has been dead for thousands of years, his influence is still being felt in the world today (2 Peter 2:15; Jude 1:11; Revelation 2:15).

Eglon. He was a king of Moab whom God allowed to oppress the Jews for 18 years because of their sinful behavior. But then Ehud, a left-handed judge in Israel, killed him with his dagger and set the Jews free for 80 years (Judges 3:12-30). The Book of Judges records seven cycles when the Jews went from rest in their land into rebellion, retribution, repentance, and restoration. They just didn’t seem to learn from the mistakes of others. Are we any different today?

Players. Other Jews who play a part in this story are Elimelech whose name means “My God is King.” But he didn’t trust God very much when he left Bethlehem for Moab in a time of famine. Because of this, he died in Moab. Naomi, His wife, whose name means “Pleasant one” ended up as a widow. To add to her grief, her two sons, Mahlon (meaning “Sick”), and Chilion (meaning “Pining”) married two Moabite girls but both of her sons died in Moab too (Ruth 1:1-5).

Famine. One might ask, “Why was there a famine in the land of Israel?” God had made it clear to the Jews that if they kept His commandments they would be blessed, and if not they would be cursed (Leviticus 26; Deuteronomy 28). As Christians, we have to be careful that we don’t try to claim the promises that were given exclusively to the Jews. The Church hasn’t replaced Israel. (Replacement Theology – http://www.gotquestions.org/replacement-theology.html) When Naomi heard that God had lifted the curse on the land of Israel, she wanted to go back to Bethlehem. She had gone out full, but now she was returning empty (Ruth 1:21). Needless to say, she wasn’t happy about her condition. Rather than take responsibility for herself, she blamed God for her plight.

Persuasion. Naomi tried to persuade her daughters-in-law to go back to their people and their gods (Ruth 1:11-15). That was terrible advice and she even evoked God’s name and blessing on such actions. Israel, not Moab, was the place of blessing, and for her daughters-in-law to go back there would mean that they might marry pagan men and worship their gods. Sometimes well meaning Christians, who are out of fellowship with God, lead fellow Christians away from God’s will for their lives. “Whatever is not from faith is sin” (Romans 14:23). How many things do you do while you have doubts in your mind?

Thoughts. The injustices obedient Christians experience in life will not go unnoticed by God (Romans 8:18; Hebrews 6:10). The end doesn’t justify the means (Romans 3:8; 2 Timothy 2:5). God will keep His promises whether we believe them or not (Titus 1:2). Our attitude + Our aptitude = Our altitude (Philippians 4:4; 2 Timothy 2:15; James 4:10). Do you need an attitude adjustment (Galatians 6:1)? The decisions we make and the actions we take have consequences (John 3:18, 36). The most important decision we’ll have to make in life is, What will we do with the Lord Jesus Christ? Will we place our faith in Him alone as the One who died for our sins…and rose again bodily from the dead, or reject God’s offer of deliverance from the lake of fire to heaven?

Help. If you’re sincerely concerned about your future and need some help from God’s Word, we invite you to contact us at 805-238-3549 or visit our website at www.kelseypeach.com.  If you’d like to receive future articles as they come out, click on “Follow.”

 

 

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