fullness of the Gentiles includes
full number saved,
fullness of godly character and power,
fullness of God’s narrative,
resulting in the
fullness of God’s purpose.
is a powerful example of how we are to give allegiance
to God even when we do not know what the future holds.
When we surrender to Him,
God sometimes works in unexpected ways to
show His power and reveal His love.
When reading the
book of Ruth
recently, it dawned on me that the opening scene is a pertinent metaphor for our situation today as believers. Especially when you take into account the
Hebrew names of the key characters.
“Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.”
That image of Ruth clinging to Naomi has a lot to say to
the church in the West
in a time when many are tempted and pulled back by the
“spirit of the age”
Here are my thoughts.
Sands are shifting,
and the world
is screaming that good is bad and bad is good…
as followers of Jesus, we can foolishly think we are above all that. It’s so very human of us to think that we know what’s really going on, and be convinced by our own opinions.
But the Bible warns over and over again about a
a strong delusion, a mass
This could only come about because people are deceived, and people are deceived because they are tricked. They are led to believe something is good when it is not. We think we know the difference, but unless we have a healthy appreciation of our limitations, we are in danger too. Pride comes before a fall. We need to humbly admit that it is possible for our human minds and hearts to fall prey to deception.
Who then can stand? Since we all have fallible hearts and minds? In the context of this end times lawlessness and delusion, Paul gives us a sturdy mast to cling onto – the factor by which we will perish or be saved: Love of the truth
“They perish because they refused
to love the truth and so be saved.”
(2 Thessalonians 2:10)
those who do not love the truth perish, and conversely,
those who do love the
will be saved.
What does loving the truth look like?
HERE’S WHERE THE PICTURE OF RUTH AND NAOMI COMES IN.
Naomi in some manner represents the people and the
God of Israel-- the
about God and His Word--
out in the nations. If Naomi is a representative of the people and God of Israel, Ruth and Orpah
can be seen as representatives
of the nations
that have been
invited into that Jewish family.
Both loved Naomi,
but when hardship hit and Naomi decided it
was time to go back to Israel,
the two women respond differently.
Both loved her, embraced her, valued her and kissed her, but
Ruth clung to her and
not let her go.
Interestingly, the Hebrew names (as so often happens in the Bible (https://oneforisrael.org/bible-based-teaching-from-israel/bible-teachings/bother-reading-lists-bible/)) are highly significant.
The root letters of Orpah (ערף)
refer to the back of one’s neck, or back.
It is the word that God often uses when describing the
Israelites as being stiff-necked,
and has connotations of
Orpah’s name has an additional letter at the end,
ה (ah), which in Hebrew
often indicates direction when attached to a word.
The word “smol” means
and “smolah” means “to the left”,
home is “beit”, and if you say you’re going home, you’re going
Orpah, although it means gazelle, can also look like,
I’m “turning back”.
Ruth, (רוּת) on the other hand, means friendship,
from the word for companionship.
In the story, and the parable that it is for us today,
– and most importantly of all –
Naomi (נׇעֳמִי) means
How do you feel about the Bible?
Because there are many Christians today
who claim to love Jesus,
but when the
word of God takes a different path
wisdom of the world,
end up separated.
God’s word for dear life.
Ironically, the Jewish return to Israel
of so frequently in the Bible
is one of the matters
that divides many Christians today.
What about the Palestinians? That can’t be right? Surely the State of Israel is not the work of God, but the actions of men?
And so many
to mean something else,
other than the promised literal regathering of God’s people to the Land.
In doing so,
they miss out
on a lot of amazing promises
in the Bible which we should
pay attention to as we watch and wait for
(By the way, God has certainly not forgotten the
Palestinians, Ezekiel 47:22-23,
even as he continues to fulfil his promises to Israel.
If you know him, you’ll know he can be trusted to do all things well and that he’s completely just.)
Like Orpah, they are too fond
the life and culture they know
to go the way
of the wild with God and his people.
They will not follow the
God of Israel
along a path that defies commonly
because they do not know God
well enough to
trust that he knows what he’s doing,
and that he is
in what he says.
Things often get pretty alarming
bewildering with God,
it’s just how he rolls.
Instead they choose to lean on their
They adapt the Bible to say what they wish it said,
seeing God’s word
HANG ON TIGHT!
But Ruth was welded
to her beloved Jewish family through
She decided she was willing to risk everything to be with
Naomi and the life she’d found with her.
The risks were great
and there were many unknowns, but like
chosen the most important thing.
Her mind was made up,
she knew the
she was following.
The deceptions are strong and confusing,
but we can come to God and ask him
wisdom and insight whenever we need it.
Sometimes it’s quite the
understanding his heart on a matter,
but he does promise that those
In the meantime, hang in there,
trust that he does know where he’s going!
Here are some other illustrations the Bible gives us of clinging to God
for dear life:
Moses didn’t dare take a step without God
and Jacob refused to let the Angel of the Lord
go until he was blessed
In Song of Solomon,
(representing us, God’s beloved)
clings to her bridegroom.
Like Ruth, the
Shunamite refuses to budge:
“I found the one my heart loves.
I held him
and would not let him go.”
(Song of Solomon 3:4)
Don’t be an Orpah-- be a Ruth!
Hold on tight, friends, and
don’t let go.
The road is getting rocky,
great future to look forward to.