|Vol. 14 No. 12 December 2012||
The Book of Ruth could be called a book about love. One certainly can see the great love exhibited by a daughter-in-law toward her mother-in-law and the loving qualities of this remarkable young Moabite lady. “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” (Ruth 1:16-17 NKJV) are the words Ruth spoke to her mother-in-law, and years ago these words were often repeated as wedding vows between a husband and a wife.
We can learn many valuable lessons from this remarkable young woman. One lesson is the need to follow the God of the Bible.
Ruth the Moabitess was reared in a land that worshipped idols. The Moabites were descendants of Lot and his incestuous relationship with his daughter. Being descendants of Lot, these people should have had knowledge of the God of the Bible and His prohibition about worshipping idols. However, over the course of time, they neglected God and turned their affections to the idol Chemosh.
Sometime during Naomi’s ten-year stay in Moab, her family influenced Ruth to leave the false religion of her people and obey the God of the Bible – the God Who created the universe and all that is in it (Genesis 1:1-2:25). God had said, “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Deuteronomy 5:7).
The New Testament clearly teaches there is one God. Consider the following verses: “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Ephesians 4:4-6). “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3). “Yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live” (1 Corinthians 8:6).
Romans 1:17-32 teaches that one can see the power of God by observing the created world. Furthermore, a correlation is made between the unrighteous who worship things made by the hands of men and their evil activities. When mankind forgets God, evil abounds! Ruth left the worship of idols to worship the God Who created the universe. God is clearly defined throughout the pages of the Bible.
With this knowledge of God, Ruth realized that simply following the religion of her parents was not good enough. She understood the need to abandon her ancestral religious practices and turn to the One True God. Ruth determined to leave her family, homeland and all that was familiar so that she could serve the one and only God. She did not sit back and say, “What is good enough for mom and dad is good enough for me.” She realized the need to change in hope of a heavenly reward.
The Old Testament plainly teaches that we cannot allow family members to influence us to sin.
If your brother, the son of your mother, your son or your daughter, the wife of your bosom, or your friend who is as your own soul, secretly entices you, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods,’ which you have not known, neither you nor your fathers, of the gods of the people which are all around you, near to you or far off from you, from one end of the earth to the other end of the earth, you shall not consent to him or listen to him, nor shall your eye pity him, nor shall you spare him or conceal him. (Deuteronomy 13:6-8)
Jesus gave the same lesson in the New Testament. “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26). The word “hate” means to “love less.” To be a faithful follower of God, the love and obedience one has for family members must be less than the love and obedience one has for God.
Are you willing to follow the example of Ruth? Do your religious practices follow the one true God of the Bible? Have you studied the Bible to know what God wants from you, or are you simply following the example of your parents?
He Lifted Up His Eyes
Betty Burton Choate
Two men walked along a road on a bright summer day. Bob stooped to retrieve a small sheet of paper fluttering at his feet. “What’s this?” he asked. “Oh. Nothing important — just a young child’s school paper, maybe even homework. Look, what a struggle it was to form the numbers — he’s probably in first grade. And here he’s missed an addition problem: 2+2=5! Wrong!” he laughed. “No, your explanation requires purpose and intelligence,” Bill disagreed. “I would say that over several million years that paper slowly and gradually formed itself. What seems to be a child’s writing and arithmetic problems is only the effect of weathering through the ages.” Bob looked incredulous, but he said nothing. A little further down the way they topped a rolling hill. Stretching away as far as the eye could see were fields of knee-high ripening grain. “The man who runs this farm is a powerful organizer!” he remarked. “What kind of planning and equipment would it take to cultivate and harvest thousands of acres like this?”
“You’ve got it wrong again,” Bill responded. “This just looks like a farm, but it isn’t that at all. Millions of years ago little rows began to develop, and then finally when the soil was just right seeds began to blow in from great distances and to settle here. The result is what you see, but it took millions of years to happen.”
“Do you mean no thought and no expertise went into this at all?” Bob asked. “Nope. It just happened. You know, given enough time, anything can happen!” Just then a sporty red car whizzed past, and Bob jumped aside to keep from being hit. “Man! Did you see that? He must have been going a hundred and fifty miles an hour! I wonder who made a car with that powerful of an engine to go that fast.”
“Well,” Bill answered, watching the car whip out of sight, “nobody made that car. You know, given enough time, things just gradually evolve. Through a natural selection process, they improve themselves so that now you see that bright red car flying down the road at a terrific speed. But such a marvel didn’t happen overnight! It took hundreds of millions of years.” Topping another hill, they could see the outline of a city in the distance. “You know, some smart architects designed those buildings,” Bob said. “It’s a huge city, but beautiful. Sometimes I wonder how anybody has the daring or vision, or whatever it takes, to launch into the planning and construction of such monstrous complexes. I wouldn’t know where to begin!”
“Where you begin is billions of years ago, when all of this was a primordial plain, with cooling volcanoes and hot-house gases,” answered Bill. “You know that physics and chemistry contain all the laws necessary to pull these elements together. Being here, and given enough time, those laws demanded that things come together like this — and so, there you have it! There was no great architect behind the design! And there was no mighty builder laying foundations and putting up walls and making it happen. It had to happen because the laws of the universe demand that it happen — given enough time.”
By the time night fell, Bob and Bill had reached a wooded area beside a stream. They set up their tent, built a campfire, cooked and ate their dinner, and then stretched out by the fire for a period of relaxation. “You know,” Bob said thoughtfully, “when I look up at the stars like this, I’m overwhelmed at the greatness and the power of God! They say there are hundreds of millions of galaxies, that space is endless — yet God had the power to make not only all that is out there, but everything that is in every microscopic cell of every living thing! It makes you wonder what it will be like, one day, to actually be in His presence, to see Him as He is! What will it be like to be judged, to answer for the way we’ve lived the life He gave us?”
“When I look at those stars,” Bill said with a laugh, “I think of the fourteen and a half billion years it took for all of this to make itself! And I don’t think of God at all. I made up my mind a long time ago — there’s not any God! We’re never going to round a corner of existence and suddenly open our eyes to see some powerful spiritual Being whose presence is everywhere. When the writers of the Bible talked about Him being so great and glorious that everything around Him just automatically fell at His feet and worshiped Him, they were lying. There’s no great God, and there’s no Jesus Christ!” That night Bill died, and “…he lifted up his eyes” (Luke 16:19-31).