Thursday, June 17, 2010

Sit Still and Do His Works

Good Morning!

The Lord has recently led me to the book of Ruth, which in turn took me to several other books of the bible studying some of the questions He has laid upon my heart. I am so excited and filled with joy to have the opportunity to share these words with you. I pray they will bless you and that you will search out the scriptures as well, asking God to reveal to you even more knowledge and insight of who He is. I encourage you to leave things on here that He has taught you as they will encourage His children. I love to see how God works...”that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Colossians 2:2-3

After reading and re-reading the book of Ruth over the years, I always felt as though the whole book was simply about a virtuous woman and what she looked like. After going through the scriptures, I’ve realized there is so much more that the Lord is showing us in this book. And it is breathtaking...

Has God ever sent you on a journey and along the way He teaches you small things that fill you with so much joy, but you continue on because you just know that He is going to use those small things to show you the big picture? It’s as if He’s laying the foundation. That is the feeling I have had for the last few days. He showed me one verse that would correspond with another somewhere else in the Word and then another. What kept me searching was the feeling of knowing that there was more He was wanting to pour out. I love how God’s Word is perfect. It is without fault. And when He gives you the grace to desire His Word...He will show you so much of Him.

I’m not sure where to start so let’s just dig in...

Ruth had lost her husband. She also lost her brother-in-law and her father-in-law. She was left with only her sister-in-law, Orpah, and her mother-in-law, Naomi. Now Ruth was from Moab. Her husband’s family had come to Moab from Bethlehem during the time when the judges ruled and many people were living in idolatry and serving other gods. “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” Judges 21:25. His family had come to Moab because of the famine that was in Bethlehem. (Notice they left God’s people during a time of drought; testifying their lack of faith in the Lord and then they died).

Now Naomi decided to head back to her homeland in Bethlehem because she had heard that the Lord had visited His people by giving them bread (1:6). On the way, Naomi tries to convince Orpah and Ruth that it would be better for them to stay in Moab and find for themselves rest in the house of a husband. Orpah and Ruth’s desire is to follow Naomi, but Naomi questions how she would ever be able to provide them with husbands again in her old age. Take a moment to think about a time that you felt God calling you somewhere in faith, but in your head it didn’t make any sense...

Orpah makes the decision to return back to her homeland in Moab, but Ruth clings to Naomi and makes a very bold statement in saying, “Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from following after you; for wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there will I be buried. The Lord do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts you and me” (1:16-17). Her love and devotion for Naomi is astounding...

In verse 20, Naomi tells her people not to call her Naomi anymore, but Mara, meaning, “bitter,” for the Lord had had dealt very bitterly with her. Didn’t God save her from the pit of death?

“..Now they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest” (1:22). This verse is actually what caused me to search out the scriptures. It is almost as if the Lord had highlighted this verse. Why did He choose to add in this verse about when they returned to Bethlehem? What significance does it hold in the Word? Although barley and wheat were both planted in the autumn, barley matured faster and would be harvested sooner. The firstfruits of grain offered during the Festival of Unleavened Bread would have been barley. "In the early stages of the Israelite settlement the most important cereal was barley...because of the necessity to settle fringe areas and barley's tolerance of harsh conditions" (Oded Borowski, Agriculture in Iron Age Israel, 1987. Keep this scripture in mind...

Upon entering Bethlehem, Ruth tells Naomi she desires to go to the fields and glean heads of grain after him in whose sight I may find favor. And she said to her, “Go my daughter” (2:2). Boaz is not working the field, but says to the reapers, “The Lord be with you!” and they answer back to him, “The Lord bless you!” This shows Boaz’s care and love for his servants and their respect for their master. Boaz takes notice of Ruth in vs. 5 and tells Ruth, “You will listen, my daughter, will you not? Do not glean in another field, nor go from here, but stay close to my young women. Let your eyes be on the field which they reap, and go after them. Have I not commanded the young men not to touch you? And when you are thirsty, go to the vessels and drink from what the young men have drawn.” So she fell on her face, bowed down to the ground, and said to him, “Why have I found favor in your eyes, that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?” (Being Gentiles should we not also be asking God the same question?) Boaz responds...”It has been fully reported to me, all that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband, and how you left your father and mother and the land of your birth, and have come to a people whom you did not know before.” Ruth did not let the death of her husband cause her to stop working. By the grace of God, she endured, and pressed on for God’s greater calling. She was doing His good works. “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Matthew 9:37-38).

Is this not the complete picture of God’s will for us? To be a servant of Christ and work His fields? To stay close to Him and not wander into any other field? Does He not desire for us to eat from His table and drink of His living water that is freely provided for us? Has he not called us to leave our father and mother to be the bride?

Ruth returns to Naomi in the evening to share with her mother-in-law all that Boaz has done for her. Naomi reminds her again to stay close by the young women of Boaz and not to let anyone meet her in another field, and to glean until the end of the barley and wheat harvest. Ruth is obedient in her calling and does not rest until the end of the harvest. For in the same way that the Lord worked for six days and rested on the seventh, so shall we also enter into that rest when we have ceased from our works here on this earth. “There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His” (Hebrews 4:9-10). “And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief. Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to come short of it” (Hebrews 3:18-4:1).

Naomi discusses with her daughter-in-law Ruth’s need for a husband. “Now Boaz, whose young women you were with, is he not our relative? In fact, he is winnowing barley tonight at the threshing floor; but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking. Then it shall be, when he lies down, that you shall notice the place where he lies; and you shall go in, uncover his feet, and lie down; and he will tell you what you should do. And she said to her, “All that you say to me I will do” (3:2-5). **Barley has two parts, the seed and the chaff. Boaz would use the seed for food and the chaff would be scattered in the wind. “His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (Matthew 3:12).

Now Boaz stirs in his sleep and finds Ruth lying at his feet. “Who are you? So she answered, ‘I am Ruth, your maidservant. Take your maidservant under your wing, for you are a close relative.’ Then he said, ‘Blessed are you of the Lord, my daughter! For you have shown more kindness at the end than at the beginning, in that you did not go after young men, whether poor or rich. And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you all that you request, for all the people of my town know that you are a virtuous woman.

When Boaz says to Ruth that she had shown more kindness at the end than an the beginning, I questioned what he meant. What time frame was he looking at? He was talking about the time of the harvest. Remember what Boaz told Ruth in vs. 11? ”It has been fully reported to me, all that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband, and how you left your father and mother and the land of your birth, and have come to a people whom you did not know before.” He continues by saying, The Lord repay your work, and a full reward by given you by the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge.” She had shown more kindness because of her obedience. As believers, we have been faithful to answer when He called, but have we been obedient in doing His calling? “Therefore my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58).

Boaz tells Ruth that he will perform the duty of a close relative, marrying her, if the relative that is closer shall choose not to redeem Ruth’s dead husband’s land. “ shall be that if he will perform the duty of a close relative for you-good; let him do it. But if he does not want to perform the duty for you, then I will perform the duty for you, as the Lord lives!” (3:13). We see the excitement in Boaz to honor the Lord with this marriage. Yet, Boaz’s desire to marry Ruth does not keep him from being willing to surrender her to the relative that is closer to him, honoring God and the laws that were set during that time.

I believe in God’s permissive will and His perfect will. I believe God sets opportunities before us to choose our desire or the choice to be obedient. In this case, Boaz chose to surrender his desire to the Lord and be obedient. In his choice to be obedient, God blessed Boaz and gives him the desire of his heart; Ruth. “Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:3-4).

Boaz gives Ruth six ephahs of barley (somewhere between 180-250lbs!) before she leaves to return home to Naomi. I believe Boaz choose to give Ruth this gift as a promise that he would fulfill his vow to her.

Ruth returns home and shares with Naomi all that Boaz had done for her. I love Naomi’s response to Ruth, “Sit still, my daughter, until you know how the matter will turn out; for the man will not rest until he has concluded the matter this day” (3:18). How I wish someone would have shared these words with me. “Sit still.” How often do we see God moving and act upon how we think it might turn out? Do you know the mind of God? Certainly not! “For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16). Walk in faith, but do not walk until God has made your steps firm, lest you fall.

“Now Boaz went up to the gate and sat down there; and behold, the close relative of whom Boaz had spoken came by. So Boaz said, ‘Come aside, friend, sit down her.’ So he came aside and sat down. And he took ten men of the elders of the city, and said, ‘sit down here,’ and they sat down” (4:1-2). Boaz explains the matter to the relative and shares with him that if he chooses not to redeem the land, and take Ruth as his wife, that he will redeem it. So the relative tells Boaz to buy it, for he could not redeem it. “You are witnesses this day that I have bought all that was Elimelech’s and all that was Chilion’s and Mahlon’s, from the hand of Naomi. ‘Moreover, Ruth the Moabitess, the widow of Mahlon, I have acquired as my wife..”(4:9-10).

Boaz and Ruth are married and the Lord gave them a son, Obed. Obed is the father of Jesse and the grandfather of David; giving Ruth and Naomi a place in the lineage of Christ.

The book of Ruth is a perfect illustration of how God grafted us in. “For is the firstfruit is holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root is holy, so are the branches. And if some of the branches were broken off, and you being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, do not boast against the branches. But if you boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, ‘Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in.’ Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either. Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God; on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cutoff” (Romans 11:16-22).

Ruth was from Moab, a land of foreigners, and walked in faith to Bethlehem, the land of God’s people. She continued in His goodness and did His works, reaping the harvest. She was made into a bride because of her obedience, just as we also are called to be the bride of Christ. God rewarded Ruth for her work in that He grafted her in with His Son at the time of The Harvest.

“Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and on the cloud sat One like the Son of Man, having His head on a golden crown, and in His hand, a sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, “Thrust in Your sickle and reap, for the time has come for You to reap, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.” So He who sat on the cloud thrust in His sickle on the earth and the earth was reaped.” Revelation 14:14-16

“We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers, remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father, knowing, beloved brethren, your election by God.” 1 Thessalonians 1:2-6

Sit still and do His works today.

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