|Volume 23 Number 6 June 2021
Over three thousand years ago in the near east, a family tragedy led to events that would change the world. There had been hard times in the Promised Land, and an Israeli family sought a better life in the country of Moab. Things did not work out, and, sadly, three members of that family died. Three women were left widows, one a stranger in a strange land with foreign daughters-in-law, named Orpah and Ruth. In Ruth 1:15 we read that Orpah left to go back “after her gods.” Ruth refused and said, “Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God” (v. 16).
Ruth was a Moabite, an alien in Israel, but had little to fear in that regard. God had strong words regarding treatment of foreigners in His promised land. “And if a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not vex him. But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God” (Leviticus 19:33-34). She would face no prejudice because of her origins; in fact, God’s providence blessed her with a kind husband and a wonderful life.
Some have thought that this family was somehow superior to others, but this is an unfamiliar concept in the Word of God! Paul wrote, “What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin” (Romans 3:9). Furthermore, “For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him” (Romans 10:12). All are welcome in Christ’s kingdom who obey His Gospel call! This land is a place where, “there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all” (Colossians 3:11).
Notice that the way is open to all who desire to draw close to Jesus Christ. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:16-17). In Matthew 19:29, Jesus told of the blessings for those who seek His promised land. Ruth left everything she knew; most importantly, she left her gods for the true and living God! She was wise in that choice – a choice we can make today. We can turn from the worthless gods of pride, selfishness and greed (among many others) and forsake them for the riches of the true and living God. Paul said, “Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Ephesians 3:8). To quote W. Ormiston on this verse: “The sovereignty of the universe, the dispensations of providence, the government of the Church, the salvation of His people, the judgment of the world, and the throne of heaven, are His.”
Matthew 1:5 mentions Ruth in the genealogy of our Lord. There, we discover she is also the grandmother of David, the second King of the United Israelite Kingdom and Empire. By the way, there is a difference between a kingdom and an empire. David untied the twelve tribes and forged a kingdom; he then conquered his enemies and built an empire. His grandmother’s home country, Moab, became an occupied province of her grandson’s realm. Christ’s kingdom is singular, and His enemies have no place there.
Ruth had the wisdom to follow her mother-in-law, Naomi, to the Promised Land. We, too, must follow her most famous descendant – Jesus Christ. Our Lord said, “Follow me” at least 20 times in the New Testament! Will we follow Him into His Promised Land — Heaven? From wherever you come, whatever your origin, in Jesus you are something new (2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15). You are a Christian.
Ormiston, W. “Riches of Christ, The.” Biblical Illustrator, The: New Testament Volumes. Electronic Database. Seattle: Biblesoft, 2006.
Back when I was teaching school, a new school building was built, but there were no sidewalks yet to take students and others from one building to another. I remember someone questioning the superintendent, Al Whitten, about the lack of sidewalks on which to get around. I distinctly remember Mr. Whitten’s reply. He said, “When you see where students are going to walk, you build sidewalks.” Whoever would have thought about letting the students determine where the sidewalks were going to be! To me, that was a good bit of wisdom and insight. Every one of us has been where there were sidewalks on which to walk, but people created their own walkway, which was usually the quickest and shortest way to get to their desired destination. Those walkways were usually bare because the grass was trampled so much.
When God created the earth and all that is in it, “He saw every thing that He had made and, behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). God created only good, but He did have one exhortation for Adam and Eve as he said, “You shall not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil for in the day that you eat of it, you shall surely die” (v. 17). God’s walking plan was perfect and simple. He had one rule, and He expected Adam and Eve to stay on the sidewalk. However, that old serpent, the devil, knew how to tempt Adam and Eve to get them to sin, and we know how that worked out!
We read in Genesis 6:5-7, “God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth… and it repented the Lord that He had made man and it grieved Him at His heart and He said, ‘I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth…’” At this point, God saw how men were going to walk, and He determined to destroy them.
Yet, aren’t we thankful for Brother Noah? “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord… the earth was corrupt before God and the earth was filled with violence… and God said I will destroy them with the earth” (Genesis 6:8-13). At God’s commandment, righteous Noah built the ark, and he and his were saved from the flood. Afterward, Noah’s family began to repopulate the earth. Noah was righteous and did things God’s way rather than his way. He stayed on the sidewalk that God established.
As time passed, though, men began walking in their own ways that sinful men walk. They built their own sidewalks. God saw how this was playing out, and He came up with a better plan that would put men back on the best walkway to get them to the desired destination. [Rather than being reactionary, God foreknew man’s departures from His commands (Acts 2:23; 15:18), and He devised a plan for mankind’s redemption before He created anything (1 Peter 1:20; Titus 1:2-3). ~ Louis Rushmore, Editor]
God sent His only Son to this sinful earth to redeem man and become our walkway to Heaven. He gave us a walking plan. “Christ suffered for us, leaving us an example that we should follow His steps; He did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth… He bore our sins in His own body on the tree that we, being dead to sin, should live unto righteousness; by His stripes we are healed; we were as sheep going astray but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls” (1 Peter 2:21-25). Peter enumerated in the verses just prior to this quotation many sins that men commit, and then he told how to get back on the sidewalk and make things right with God. God’s walking plan is not like man’s walking plan.
God “will render to every man according to his deeds” (Romans 2:6). God saw where men’s walkways were, but He gave men instructions about the walkway that will put them on ‘the straight and narrow’ path that leads to Heaven (Matthew 7:14). We must follow God’s walking plan. May God bless you in doing so!