Saturday, August 17, 2013

ruth: the house of bread and praise (part 1)

Since finishing our last study on the book of Jonah, the Holy Spirit has been pushing me to share another study with DW: the book of Ruth. Just like Jonah, Ruth's story is quite brief - only four chapters. However, each chapter carries several mighty messages that ultimately lead us into the genealogy of our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ! WOW!

So, my lovely DW ladies... I invite you to join me again in God's Word. This time, let's learn about a little pagan girl from Moab who came to know the Lord God of Israel, "under Whose wings thou art come to trust." (Ruth 2:12)

We'll begin our quest with the Holy Spirit as He reports to us through scripture the time, the place, the details surrounding this incredible story...

In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land, and a man from Bethlehem in Judah, together with his wife and two sons, went to live for a while in the country of Moab. The man's name was Elimelech, his wife's name Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Kilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem, Judah. And they went to Moab and lived there. Now Elimelech, Naomi's husband, died, and she was left with her two sons. They married Moabite women, one named Orpah and the other Ruth. After they had lived there about ten years, both Mahlon and Kilion also died, and Naomi was left without her two sons and her husband. When she heard in Moab that the LORD had come to the aid of his people by providing food for them, Naomi and her daughters-in-law prepared to return home from there. With her two daughters-in-law she left the place where she had been living and set out on the road that would take them back to the land of Judah. (Ruth 1:1-7)

Now, I know what you're thinking, "Why on earth are these details important, Victoria?" Well, let me paint the historical picture for you...

"In the days when the judges ruled..." Those were dark days, ladies.

Recall with me the life of the Israelites since their captivity and deliverance from Egypt. Remember that God had redeemed them and brought them through the wilderness? Remember their troubles against Pharaoh? Remember their trials in the dessert? Then remember God giving them the Ten Commandments instructing them in how to live His Way? And remember, once they received His laws for a healthy life, God granted them entry into the Promised Land - a land flowing with milk and honey. Yes, God brought the Israelites into a new home filled with every provision they could have ever hope for. God offered the people of Israel a blessed future as His own and established His everlasting covenant with them. How amazing is the love of God!?!!!

So, here we see a new generation of Israelites who have settled into the Promised Land. Life is good. Life is full. For a short while, they enjoy this new life in worship - following and serving the God who they had pledged their loyalty. Crediting the One who saved them from captivity and death. But then, the Israelites forget the lessons of their forefathers and the rigors of their slavery in Egypt. Sadly, they soon begin to forget their blessed Redeemer and collectively fall into all forms of worldliness and moral corruption.

Throughout the text of the book of Judges (the book before Ruth), we read time and again the same theme: (1) Israel turns away from God. (2) Confusion, compromise, and corruption emerges. (3) Israel cries to God for help. (4) God mercifully sends a "judge" or "deliverer" to rescue them from their depravity. "In the days when judges ruled" are these dark days.. days of scandal, defeat, famine, hopelessness. The list of sins cataloged in this time frame include idolatry, murder, sexual perversion, conspiracy, prostitution, infidelity, gang rape and kidnapping. In these terrible days, Israel repeatedly rebels against the Lord and falls prey to an invading nation and into the sins of their enemies.

What is most interesting about the book of Ruth is that we start this story "in the days when the judges ruled" in a little town called Bethlehem.

Wait, what? BETHLEHEM? Where Jesus was born?

Yep. Without the book of Ruth, we could not connect the dots of the house of David with the tribe of Judah - an important genealogical link in the chain of scripture that began in Genesis and leads us to Christ's humble stable in Bethlehem. It is no accident that the Author makes a point to tell us that Elimelech was Ephrathite. Scripture tells us, "Now David was the son of an Ephrathite named Jesse, who was from Bethlehem in Judah." (1 Samuel 17:12)

Yes, the book of Ruth is very important. In fact, the meaning of the name "Bethlehem, Judah" that is mentioned is quite significant. According to the original text, Bethlehem means "House of Bread," and Judah means "Praise." I find it very interesting that this is where Ruth's story begins and ends... The House of Bread and Praise. Later, God will set the stage to use Bethlehem to formally introduce the Savior, Jesus Christ, to all the world. In the backdrop of a place that once housed man's darkness moments, God lovingly continues to honor His covenant and provides for us the Bread of Life - the Solution to our depravity. How cool that here we are introduced to the One worthy of all praise in the House of Bread and Praise!

So, this is where we will begin our study, ladies. In our own darkest of days... hungry from famine... desperate and in need of deliverance from sin and selfishness. Here, we will begin the story of Ruth and endeavor to catch a glimpse of the Master's plan... the King's covenant... the Saviors sacred, romantic, redeeming love.

I invite you to join me tomorrow as we accompany this Ephrathite family to Moab and later return home to the land of Judah. Until then, I encourage each DW to spend some time getting familiar with these passages. Pray for the Lord to give you a teachable heart and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal where you have turned away from God's presence. Ask Jesus to shine His Light and expose where you have been living lost in the darkness of worldly confusion, compromise and corruption. Seek after the power of the Holy Spirit so that you will be motivated to spew out what is lukewarm and wretched. We must always strive to fill our lives with His fulfilling Bread of Life and nothing less.

This is the day to rejoice and be glad - for Jesus came to redeem us! Let us no longer be contributors to the problem of sin. That is the old way. Rather, let's choose His new life and continually pledge our loyalty to His throne! We must never forget His magnificence, ladies. For He is the One worthy of all praise. In Jesus Name, we are promised every provision a people could ever hope for. We are offered a blessed future as God's own. So, let's embrace His plan. Let's worship His authority. Let's acknowledge His covenant and rekindle our hearts toward the sacred, romantic, redeeming love of the Savior!

I can't wait to dive further into these passages with you. I love a good love story! Until tomorrow. XOXOXOXO ~Victoria

Blessings!
Blog Posting Written By Victoria Anderson

1 comment:

  1. I just was thinking about how through my struggles after the car accident how my husband, my mother and father, and my brother and sister-in-law are Jesus to me. My kinsman redeemers...today's blog is a wonderful confirmation of TRUTH. Thank you Lord for my sister Victoria who through your Holy Spirit ministers to me. Life's so good and so is HE.

    Even though we are sinners..redeption is our through Jesus... Barabas is another example of how True this is... HE sets the sinner free.
    EstaAnn

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