The Book of Ruth exemplifies the love of God for humanity. It really comes down to God’s desire for the people of this world. What is that desire? Redemption! There is a verse in the Book of Zephaniah that tells of God’s delight of the redeemed. "The LORD your God is in your midst, A victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.” (Zephaniah 3:17) I firmly believe that it is a party in heaven when someone lays down his life and accepts Jesus Christ as his Lord. “For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.” (Romans 14:9 emphasis mine) “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” (Romans 8:11)
This is so important! Let’s read Romans 8:1-14, “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh-- for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” (Romans 8:1-14 emphasis mine)
“Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin;” (Romans 6:3-6 emphasis mine)
All of the above verses are a very good description of redemption. Redemption gives life through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. We no longer desire to live just for the pleasures of ourselves, but rather to be lead by the Spirit for His glory. I feel led right now to point out a very important aspect of Christ’s death that most people have not realized, or have chosen to ignore because it doesn’t fit with the teaching at their church. Jesus Christ was hung on a cross but He did not die by crucifixion! “Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, ‘It is finished!’ And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.” (John 19:30 emphasis mine) "For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father." (John 10:17-18 emphasis mine)
This is the sovereignty of the Godhead! The Trinity, the three in One was not created, He always was. He is the Creator, the giver of life! “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven. And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach-- if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister.” (Colossians 1:16-23 emphasis mine)
We must understand this in order to understand the gift of the Holy Spirit that resides in a truly born again believer. The power of the One who has authority over the heavens and the earth, is residing in you and me! That doesn’t mean we will never sin because if we are honest, we choose not to listen to the Holy Spirit and often do our own desires. However, a true disciple of Jesus Christ does not continually and intentionally have a lifestyle of being in control over his decisions. “For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE WILL INSTRUCT HIM? But we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:16) Take a minute and really allow these words to infiltrate your spirit. Have you ever tried to tell God what to do? WE ALL HAVE. Much of our prayer lives are pouring out our troubles and telling God how we want Him to fix things! That is not God’s way. And, therefore, because He knows our minds, He sent the Holy Spirit to live in us to give us wisdom and discernment to be in alignment with the Lord Himself! "I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.” (John 14:16-17) "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” (John 14:26) My dear friends, these are challenging words to live by. The question is, do you live by them? Who is in control of your life? Is it you or the Lord Jesus Christ?
Ruth was not of the lineage of Abraham. She lived in the land of Moab, a heathen nation that worshipped idols, a land not blessed by God. Ruth reminds me of so many people in the world today who hate the Lord God and worship their false gods. These people are oppressed and are living without hope. There is no hope in this world other than Jesus Christ. He gives life to the hopeless. He delivers from darkness and gives light. And this is the hope that Ruth discovered. It had taken a firm hold in her heart and there was no way she was going to let “the hope of her salvation” be taken away from her.
The Book of Ruth is about life. About choices that we make, both good and bad. Choices that can bring blessings and choices that will be a cause of God’s judgment. It should cause us to stop and ask the Holy Spirit to search our hearts to see if any sin and rebellion is present in us. This is critical for a true disciple of Jesus Christ. It is easy to look at our circumstances through natural eyes and not walk in faith. We call it self-preservation, but if we stop and look at that term, it tells us much. It is about “self”, it is not spirit led! The world may seem to be falling apart all around us and we “think” we need to do something to remove ourselves from that situation or place and do not ask God what He would have us to do. A very sobering Scripture that we should have memorized is 1 Samuel 15:23, "For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry..." God’s people were living in rebellion at this time, “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 21:25) Very much like today.
As a very short sidetrack, God was ruler over His people and He had appointed Prophets to speak His truth to the people. But the people did not like what the prophets spoke because the true prophets always spoke of God’s judgment for their sin and rebellious lifestyles. (They listened to the false prophets because they were always saying good things, (2 Timothy 4:3) things that did not come from the Lord. Please stop and consider this seriously because we, too, are surrounded by false prophets today who are leading the masses away from the Living God.) So at this time the people had decided they no longer wanted to be led by the prophets or God’s judges but wanted a king to rule over them, JUST LIKE ALL THE HEATHEN nations! It was this spirit of rebellion that deceived Elimelech to take his family from Bethlehem to Moab. (This is the same spirit that is now present in the world leading people away from God’s Word.) There was a famine in the land and rather than be obedient to God and remain in the land and walk by faith, he chose to leave and take his family to a forbidden nation. It is noteworthy that all the scholars believe that Elimelech was a wealthy man and rather than share his wealth with the needy in his hometown, he chose to selfishly leave so he didn’t have to share and help others through the famine. Greed destroys. There is nothing redeeming in greed. Greed brings death not only of the flesh but also of the spirit. Read the account of the encounter the rich young ruler had with Jesus (Luke 18:18-27; Matthew 19:16-26; Mark 10:17-27) The Lord’s teaching on financial responsibility is so important that the Holy Spirit lead the writers in three of the gospels to tell of it! Greed is not the same as being blessed of the Lord and being prosperous. There is a BIG difference!
It must have been a lonely life for Naomi. Her husband and sons were out working everyday. I am always reminded of this wonderful verse, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28) Those who are the Lord’s are to remember that God turns the ashes of our lives into beauty! There is always a purpose, a higher calling and a blessing that will come if we are willing to trust Him!
When Naomi shared the stories of God deliverance and redemption of His people Ruth not only heard the stories but hope filled her heart. She wanted to be in alignment with this God whom Naomi shared. She realized that without God there was no hope. She fell in love with the only true God who gives life. Ruth could not return to her old life, to a hopeless existence. She wanted to be where God was! Is that you my dear friend? Are you willing to allow God to take the brokenness of your life and turn it into something beautiful that can be used for His glory? That’s exactly what happened to Ruth!
There was evidence in Ruth’s life that she was changed. Can that be said of you my dear friend? Ruth’s heart was completely changed and she now walked in the ways of the Lord! In other words, the words of Naomi that were shared were planted in her heart and she owned them and began to walk according to the Word, the Torah! She walked by faith in the Word of God. That walking is called “abiding” in the New Covenant. "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5) What was that evidence? When Naomi announced she was returning to her hometown the told the two daughter-in-laws to return to their families and their old ways of life. Orpah cried because she was sad to leave Naomi but she returned to her home. Orpah’s heart was not changed, she was still living according to the flesh. She heard exactly the same thing that Ruth did but it did not change her heart.
Ruth on the other hand, clung to Naomi (Ruth 1:14) and then spoke these words which hold so much truth and evidence of her heart, “But Ruth said, ‘Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may the LORD do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me.’" (Ruth 1:16-17 emphasis mine)
Love! God’s love changes us, it sets us free. Ruth fell in love with the Lord God and nothing was going to stop her from pursuing Him! That love also caused her to not only embrace her mother-in-law from a love for her because she liked her, but to God’s covenantal love which meant that she loved her unconditionally and would take care of her no matter the cost that might be incurred to herself.
When we walk in God’s covenantal love we are placing ourselves, surrendering our lives, into His hands. “for we walk by faith, not by sight--” (2 Corinthians 5:7)
I am sensing in my spirit that this is where we end for today. The Lord has given us much to think about. He is asking us if we are really IN LOVE with Him and committing to follow Him no matter the cost? Is yours an all consuming love?
Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. “O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; my soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” (Psalms 63:1) “For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light we see light.” (Psalms 36:9) "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) You alone are love and Your love is what sustains me. You are my glory and the lifter of my head. (Psalm 3:3)
Thank You, Father, that You love me with a covenant love that can never be broken. Continue to renew my heart daily, hourly, each minute, as I take every thought captive and bring it before Your throne. Thank You for Your conviction when I sin and for Your forgiveness when I repent. You are my life! Thank You for Your Son Jesus Christ who willingly laid down His life for me, and then took it up again so that I too could be raised up to sit at Your right hand in communion with You. I humbly bow before You. I love You with every fiber of my being. In the precious name of the One and only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, Amen!