Many people think that the Book of Ruth in the Old Testament is just an account of the idyllic romance between Boaz and Ruth, or the inter-generational love between Naomi and Ruth. According to this writerˇ¦s reading of the Bible however, God wants to show His chosen people through this book the proper attitude to have when they are living in the bountiful land of Canaan. One by one, God listed the splendid relational examples of the saints as models ˇV including those between mother- and sister-in-law, master and servant, relatives, and neighbours. If man determines to obey God in His commands, decrees and laws, he will be prosperous once again in the land bestowed by the Lord, though he may be in adversity (Deuteronomy 30:1-10). Even a Moabite woman could receive the blessings of God when she turned to the Lord (Ruth 2:12).
As well, God uses the Book of Ruth to instruct saints on what attitude to adopt as a sojourner on this earth and how to separate from the world and follow Christ. Campbell Morgan described 2 important values in the Book of Ruth: 1) The secret of sainthood, and 2) God will surely bestow abundant grace on those who consecrate themselves and rely on Him. Through the first chapter of Ruth, this writer hopes to share with you 4 important attitudes for holy disciples in their pursuit of a spiritual life:
1) Separation to God ˇV Ruth was widowed while still young. She had absolute freedom to redirect her own future and happiness. Yet she determined to leave her own country, people and her fatherˇ¦s household to follow an old widow to a foreign land, and live among a people who did not know her. She chose Jehovah, the God of Israel as her God, just as Abraham listened to the Lord and left his own country, people and his fatherˇ¦s household. In following God, saints must also have the determination to ˇ§separateˇ¨. If we resolve to be close to a Holy God (Holy means separation in the original text), we must turn away from the world and its corrupt traditions.
2) Follow due to love - Pastor Stephen Chiu has described Naomi as gracious in her mouth (always saying words of benediction, comfort and encouragement), her heart (thinking of others), her way (turning back to God) and her person (full of love). Because of her selfless love, her two daughters-in-law revered her. Attracted by Naomiˇ¦s love, Ruth also deeply loved her, and even resolved to follow closely by her to Canaan. When we follow God, we are also attracted by His great, sweet love, for He left His glorious heavenly home for us and came to earth to seek and save us lost sinners.
3) Binding choice ˇV In following Naomi to Canaan, Ruth had to pay a heavy price. She determined to accept the Jewish way of life and regulations, turn to rely on Jehovah and be willingly bound by Godˇ¦s law. The accounts of the harvesting, redemption of land and redemption of people in the Book of Ruth reflect the holy people living under the holy covenant and laws of God. While living on earth, saints should also willingly offer themselves to be bound by the Spirit of God and the words of the Bible (Romans 12:1).
4) Determination to follow ˇV Because of her love for Naomi, Ruth had the resolve to follow. ˇ§But Ruth replied, ˇĄDon'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 anything but death separates you and me.ˇ¦ˇ¨ (Ruth 1:16-17) As saints, we should have the same attitude to follow Jesus Christ. Wherever the Lamb goes, we resolve to follow His footsteps, even into the land of the shadow of death (Revelations 14:4).
At the beginning of a new year, God has given our church a new opportunity and a new venue to bear witness. The writer hopes that everyone will seize this opportunity and follow the example of Ruth, learn the attitudes in pursuit of a spiritual life and continue to grow under Godˇ¦s bounty and glory.
By: Daniel To