Monday, 12 March 2012

Matriarchs on a Monday....The book of Ruth - Part 1

Ohhhhhhhh yes!  Part 1.  How can I deal with Ruth in one little blog post!? How can I deal with Naomi, without it dealing with Ruth as well?   There is just so much to think about, and to learn from, that I want to deal with it as a book, whilst dealing with both ladies, and divide it up into however many parts it becomes!!

The first chapter of the book of Ruth is a heart-rending one.  Emotion runs from despair, to disappointment, to delight.

First of all, we learn that there is a famine.  That alone is a trial.  However, the way in which Elimelech deals with it, is one of these "would I or wouldn't I" questions.  Our desire, as parents, is to care for our family.  In the face of extreme famine, and when food is scarce with a risk of starvation, would *I* be tempted to run off to a land of plenty?....even if that land was not a good place to be.  A place associated with sin, and those who did not love God.

I CAN understand his plight, but I think it indicates a lack of faith and trust, that he didn't stay where God wanted His people to be, and look to the Lord for provision.  Look at the widow of Zarapheth. Well, we will, whenever we get to that part of the Bible on Mondays! *smiles*

So, he takes his wife,and his two sons, and goes to the land of Moab, which the famine has not touched.  However, things go from bad to worse. First of all, Elimelech dies.  Naomi and her sons, Mahlon and Chilion, are left without a father, in a strange land.

Then, the sons take Moabitish women as their wives - Orpah, and Ruth. They took wives of a nation which the Lord had told the Israelites NOT to take wives from.  In direct disobedience to His command.

Interestingly, it doesn't mention which man married which woman.  I suppose it doesn't really matter.  Because, ten years later, they also die.  We don't know how or why, but they die. So, Naomi is left with no husband, and no sons - only two foreign daughter-in-laws.   She decided to go back to Israel, where word was heard that

"the LORD had visited his people in giving them bread"
Ruth 1:6

Had they stayed in Israel, God would have provided for their needs.   Those who had stayed, were provided for.  Oh, how easy it is to go our own way, thinking that it is better than God's way!  That we can provide for ourselves, better than God can! Life must have been tough for those left in Israel, but they were still provided for, whilst living in the knowledge that they were in the place God wanted them to be.

Better to be struggling, humanly speaking, whilst following God's way, than have plenty whilst living your own way.

So, Naomi makes the decision to go back home. Back to the land of her birth.  Back to where the Lord was blessing His people.   She made the choice to turn away from the place of sorrow, and return to the blessing of the Lord.

Do we find ourselves in a time of struggle, due to the unwise choices we have made?  It could be something as simple as taking on a commitment that we couldn't fully give our time to, and it's messed up our whole schedule and flow in the family.  It could be that you have made a purchase that you didn't think about carefully, and it's been a disaster.  It could be that you have spent money you didn't even have, and debt has been a struggle ever since.  Curriculum choices.  Friend choices.  Marital choices.

All because we read scripture our own way....or didn't choose to heed it....or plain just didn't check to see what God said about it first at ALL?

Maybe you thought it was even too small a thing to matter, and SURELY God did have a point of view on it? I think you will find, if you look hard enough, that the Bible has answer, or certainly wisdom relating to, pretty much everything....IF you look hard enough.

Look at the sorrow experienced by Naomi, because of the choice made by Elimelech.  We don't know if she went along willingly or not, but it certainly was Naomi left, at the end of the day, to bear the most heartache over the matter!  She was left husband-less, childless and with 2 daughters-in-law for which she could not even give the promise of another son to give to them as a husband in place of the one they lost.

So much sorrow, in fact, that we see her request at the end of chapter 1

"Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me."

Naomi means pleasant - Mara means bitter.   

What a declaration, and what a sad situation to be in. One that may have been avoided, by staying in the place that God wanted His people to be. 

Oh, what a warning.  A warning that we should be careful to take heed.  

Are we walking and living in the way the Lord wants you to?  

Are we obeying His leading?  

Are we following His purposes for your life?

Are we making choices that correspond with the Word of God, or the wisdom of man?

Let us guard our hearts and lives, so that we should never have occasion to change our names, even if only by thought, to Mara.

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