Snapshots: Day 161

Snapshots: Day 161

The Snapshot: That man is our close relative; he is one of our guardian-redeemers.” (Ruth 2:20) As Ruth shares with Naomi, the older woman shares something more of her culture. In the families in Israel under the Law, when the husband died, the responsibility for the widow fell on the next of kin, (Deut 25:5) though he had the right not to marry her (see 25:7-10). There are the signs here of a possibility but not a guarantee. The circumstances may look favorable sometimes but we can never force the will of God. Holding our futures lightly before the Lord is wisdom. “Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him to help you do it, and he will.” (Psa 37:5 Living Bible). It may look right and good, but ask His guidance and, having taken it, leave it with Him to bring the best for us.

Further Consideration: The Law of the Redeemer is first seen in Lev 25:23-29 and applied specifically to God’s people in the Promised Land, for when someone fell on hard times, and was all about redeeming the land which was to be kept in the family. Much of the rest of that chapter was about making that happen, including when a family had to sell themselves into service.

As we have noted above, in Deut 25 that was extended to cover the situation involving widows. This picture was extended in New Testament times to explain what Christ has done for us (see 1 Peter 1:17-21 and Gal 3:13,14).

There is a recognition in this provision of God in Leviticus and Deuteronomy that in this fallen world, things can go wrong: businesses can fail, husbands can die. In order to make sure that the Land remained in the hands of His chosen people, the law of redemption was instituted and so any would-be purchaser of the land of another – who is selling it because he has fallen on hard times – had to realize he is merely a temporary steward of the land until the Year of Jubilee when it is to be returned to the original family (Lev 25:10).

When it came to a widow, to ensure both her protection and her provision, there was instituted in the Law this opportunity for a brother to marry her. With no government financial net to catch her, she could easily find herself without any means of support and become destitute and thus starve. The role of the Law was to say to the family of the husband who has died, the responsibility for caring for her for the rest of her life is now on you, and the only way that can be guaranteed is if one of you marries her. Arranged marriages may not go down well with many today, but they have a remarkable success rate sometimes.

This protective net of the Law was now there to protect and provide for Ruth and therefore also Naomi.

Snapshots: Day 151

Snapshots: Day 151

The Snapshot: “but Ruth clung to her…. 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.” (Ruth 1:14,16,17) If you want to know what that word ‘commitment’ (that is so often bandied about in Christian circles) means, this is it. Ruth demonstrates commitment that flows out of love. It is love not law that gets her to respond like this. It is love that should bind us one to another in ‘the church’, not rules, not requirements, not membership rolls, but love being worked out and demonstrated and when the world sees that they will be moved and challenged because there’s not much of the real stuff out there these days.  Let’s work on this love thing and shock the world!

Further Consideration: It may seem a strange place to start this continuation section, but there is a place where the apostle Paul says we, “are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory,” (2 Cor 3:18), referring to the natural work of the Spirit who is changing us into the likeness of Jesus.

I would like to suggest, although I’ve never heard it preached, that Ruth’s words, “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,” actually are expressions of the attitude that you and I are called to have when we come to Christ and follow him as a disciple. It was Thomas who, when Jesus is talking about going to raise up Lazarus, says, Let us also go, that we may die with him.” (Jn 11:16) Whether he meant, let’s go along on this hopeless quest with him, or whether he was inspired to refer to Jesus’ coming death, is uncertain, but whatever it was, it expressed the true calling of a disciple to go wherever the master went – wherever!

Ruth has been moved by the love and concern of Naomi for the two Moabite girls; why should she be concerned for two foreigners, especially ones who appeared unable to bear her any grandchildren? But she was, and perhaps it was that realization that moved Ruth to make this declaration. Should not Jesus’ demonstration of love for us – dying for us, accepting us just like we are – move us similarly, and if not, the simple realization of what it means to be called to be a ‘disciple’ of the Son of God, into whose likeness the Spirit of God is changing us?

If it was a TV series, this would be one of those emotional, “Aaaah,” moments that perhaps release a tear, but in the word of God it comes as an example of the calling and required response that we find in the New Testament for all those who would say they follow Jesus and, in that sense, it comes as a tremendous challenge that might evoke in us that response, “Lord, I do believe, help my unbelief.” (Mk 9:24)

Snapshots: Day 148

Snapshots: Day 148

The Snapshot: “So a man from Bethlehem in Judah, together with his wife and two sons, went to live for a while in the country of Moab.” (Ruth 1:1) We don’t often see the coming of a start of a story of anguish, for they tend to creep up on us quietly. Even more, the causes for such stories of anguish often elude us, or we just don’t realize what we are doing and find ourselves in circumstances that we would have preferred to avoid. This man, Elimelek, was an Israelite and his home was the land of Israel, and that’s where he should have stayed. Did he not know the story of Abram, who got into deep water trying to avoid a famine? (Gen 12:10) ‘Famines’ are best sat out as difficult as they may be. The alternatives are often worse. Cry to God for help sounds tough talk but it is the answer (1 Kings 17:1-6,16, 2 Kings 4:5)

Further Consideration: The circumstances of life sometimes seem to press on us and seem to require us to go down paths which, on a better day, we know are unwise. Famines occur a number of times in the Bible – before the days of refrigeration, and mass storage – as events that either naturally occurred or sometimes occurred as the disciplinary judgment of God. In one sense it doesn’t matter what the cause was, the big issue is how will we respond to it?

It doesn’t have to be a famine; it can be any trial or tribulation that appears on our horizon. It can be a multitude of different things but the common feature is that there is a threat to our future. How will we handle it, how will we act in the face of it?

It almost seems trite in such difficult times to quote scripture but the truth is there: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:6,7) Whatever the trial, whatever the pressure, whatever the mishap, the answer is the same – take it to the Lord. Hold on, cries the skeptic, I don’t just want, peace, I want answers, I want this situation changed! Yes, of course you do but IF you have prayed and the peace comes, it comes because as you prayed the awareness also came that you are in God’s hands and, as one who loves the Lord, you can know that “in all things God works for the good,” (Rom 8:28) your good!

Let’s not mutter about trite verses, these are the truth. We either learn to see they are the truth, or we will abandon our ‘land’ and end up in a foreign, hostile land where it goes even more wrong.  Stay where you are, seek God, receive His provision for your present circumstances and still be in the right place when the trial has passed. No, it’s not always easy, but it is right, until He tells you to move.

14. Ruth

Meditations of Old Testament Highlights: 14.  Ruth

Ruth 1:16,17   But Ruth replied, “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 anything but death separates you and me.”

These words spoken by Ruth to her mother-in-law, Naomi, are perhaps some of the greatest declarations of loyalty and faithfulness spoken in the Bible. In the Gospels, at one point, the apostle Peter said to Jesus when all others were abandoning him, Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” (Jn 6:68,69)  He had heard Jesus and recognized something special in Jesus and that was in no one else, so he was not going to leave it. But what was it that made Ruth reply as she had. Let’s note their circumstances.

Naomi and her husband had fled Israel when a famine struck. They went looking for food elsewhere and found it in Moab, a people who lived to the east of the Dead Sea. The record has it that they were descendants of one of Lot’s daughters (Gen 19:37).It had been the Moabites who hired Balaam to curse Israel, and for that reason Moses banned them for ten generations from entering ‘the assembly of the Lord’ (Deut 23:3,4).

Now there hangs the question mark. It doesn’t appear to prohibit marriage to a Moabite but if one did, then you would be excluded from participating in the rites and ceremonies of Israel, at least for ten generations after Moses. It would appear they are still in that period of prohibition which adds more to the significance of some of the things that happened. While living in Moab, where they appear to have settled, first Naomi’s husband dies, then Naomi’s two sons marry two Moabite women. Tragedy strikes the family and the two sons die. Is this judgment on the unfaithfulness of these three Israelite men for having abandoned Israel? We aren’t told, but Naomi is left with two daughters-in-law. When she hears that the famine is over in Israel she prepares to return to her homeland and tries to get the two daughters-in-law to remain in their own land. Perhaps she has in mind the probation we have already referred two. The first daughter agrees and remains, but the other, Ruth, makes this amazing declaration of loyalty.

Again we ask, what was it that made Ruth make such a declaration? A similar declaration was later made by Ittai the Gittite to king David when Absalom revolted and David had to flee. When David encouraged him to remain behind Ittai replied, “As surely as the LORD lives, and as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king may be, whether it means life or death, there will your servant be.” (2 Sam 15:21)  It is the same loyalty. Indeed David’s words, that provoked this response, show an even greater similarity to this present situation: “Why should you come along with us? Go back and stay with King Absalom. You are a foreigner, an exile from your homeland. You came only yesterday. And today shall I make you wander about with us, when I do not know where I am going? Go back, and take your countrymen. May kindness and faithfulness be with you.” (2 Sam 15:19,20) The previous verses shows that the Gittites were a contingent from the Philistines who had collaborated with David (v.18).  The Philistines had long had dealings with David and I believe it is fair to suggest that Ittai recognized greatness in David,  hence his declaration.

So back to Ruth, what was it that made her make this declaration? Now there is something strange about the book of Ruth and, although it explains how Ruth came to be part of the Messianic line (see Matt 1:5) and become the great grandmother of King David, there is no mention of God’s activity in Ruth and yet the multiple activities that bring this about, we have to say, are a demonstration of what theologians call the Providence of God (the behind-the-scenes working of God). What we don’t know because it is not said, and perhaps because Ruth the Moabitess probably would not recognize it anyway, is if the Lord spoke directly to Ruth to prompt her to feel as she did. It is a possibility, but we just don’t know.

Another possibility comes to the fore when we note her actual words: “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.”   Your God, my God? Using the covenant name, LORD, Yahweh, the I AM?  All this suggests that Naomi had talked about her home life, or at the very least the reputation of Israel was well known in Moab. Either way, Israel appeared to be doing what they were designed to do and attract the world. Clearly, in our above examples, Jesus attracted Peter and David attracted the foreigner, Ittai. It is just possible that that something about Naomi attracted Ruth’s heart, for it is very much a heart declaration.

Yet a further possibility is that Ruth felt concern for Naomi, who had lost her husband and then her two sons in an alien environment. If that is so it suggests she is a young woman of compassion. Again, whatever it was, the Lord used it to draw her together with Boaz (later in the book) and become part of the Messianic blood line. Everything about this story says that Ruth is a woman of immense grace who finds a husband in Israel who is equally full of grace. From our vantage point in history, what is so incredible about this is that the Lord happily takes Ruth into the life of Israel and highlights her presence by a record in Matthew’s genealogy.

Perhaps this should not be so surprising when, in that same genealogy, we read immediately before, Boaz, whose mother was Rahab.” Rahab of course was, at the best an innkeeper and, at the worst, a prostitute, and whichever, a Canaanite! She is another illustration of someone outside the chosen people who was drawn into them and is given a special place in the Messianic family tree. Perhaps that made it easier for Boaz to act as he did in wooing Ruth. Over both ‘transactions’ hangs the grace of God who has a chosen people but also a heart for the whole world. He will receive whoever will come to Him.

If the Pharisees of Jesus’ day had been around at both those times they would no doubt have rejected both Rahab and Ruth, and as for the thought that both these being foreign women, women from nations that practiced idol worship and did not know Yahweh…. well!  But God’s grace is bigger. If we look down on people who are obviously outside the kingdom (at the moment), “remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.” (Eph 2:12,13). I like the way the Message version puts it: It was only yesterday that you outsiders to God’s ways had no idea of any of this, didn’t know the first thing about the way God works, hadn’t the faintest idea of Christ. You knew nothing of that rich history of God’s covenants and promises in Israel, hadn’t a clue about what God was doing in the world at large. Now because of Christ—dying that death, shedding that blood—you who were once out of it altogether are in on everything.  Excellent! So be careful how you think of others!

In your own life, don’t be surprised if God uses the irreligious around you, people who do not seem to conform to your expectations. It may be they have a stronger heart for the Lord than you and me. The ‘Wise Men’ or Magi (Mt 2:1) fit into that category. Definitely not ‘proper’ people to be involved in the nativity story and as for being led by astrology and a star…well! But God is bigger than us. Rejoice in the wonder of that grace and pray that your may be enlarged to see His hand at work in those around you and the general affairs of the world.

12. History Rewarded

Meditations in Ruth : 12. History Rewarded

Ruth 2:10   At this, she bowed down with her face to the ground. She exclaimed, “Why have I found such favour in your eyes that you notice me–a foreigner?”

Boaz has shown great kindness in his approach to Ruth and this evokes the response in the verse above. There are times in our own histories where we go through life thinking it is not very significant and yet it is laying the ground for something that may happen even years later. That ‘groundwork’ can be either negative or positive. If we treat someone badly or have a bad break-up in a relationship,  that can so often come back to haunt us later in life. On the other hand, on a positive note, if we treat someone well and build a good relationship, that may come back to bless us in later years.

What is now happening to Ruth, we are about to see, is built on her behaviour in the years before now. But Ruth is amazed at how nice Boaz is being to her, especially as she is not part of the community of Israel, she is a foreigner. Perhaps back in her own country this would have been unusual behaviour. We do sometimes take for granted things that are culturally good in our own country assuming it is so worldwide, but it isn’t necessarily so; in fact it is often very different in other parts of the world. So Ruth wonders.

And so Boaz explains: Boaz replied, “I’ve been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband–how you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before.” (v.11) It is easy when casually reading a story to fail to realise the significance of things happening. We did note earlier on in these studies that common sense suggested that the two daughters-in-law returned to their own people, their own culture and their own familiar gods, but if they had done that it would have left now elderly Naomi entirely on her own and defenceless and prey to goodness knows what on the journey back.  Ruth had given up her past and committed herself to going with Naomi together with all that that might entail. That was no cheap commitment, and Boaz understands that. He recognizes that she had cared for Naomi – “what you have done for your mother-in-law” and that she had given up her old life to go with her – “you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before.”   Those two things counted in his value system, and he appreciated her for it.

But he’s also a godly man and therefore he invokes a godly blessing over her: “May the LORD repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.” (v.12) i.e. may God do you good for the good you have done (to Naomi), and may coming to live in this land bring all of His goodness on you.

When invoking a blessing, it is always important that we  comply with the revealed will of God or spiritual principles that operate. Right from the outset in the Ten Commandments we find, “Honour your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.” (Ex 20:12) The apostle Paul takes this command into New Testament Christianity: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honour your father and mother”–which is the first commandment with a promise– “that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” (Eph 6:1-3) Note how he refers to it as the first command that comes with a promise which he reiterates in a wider world context. Honouring parents may include honouring parents-in-law and Ruth has certainly done that.

Thus Boaz emphasises the principle that if you honour, protect, and care for your parents, you will receive God’s blessing, God’s goodness. Note also in passing the strong emphasis that Boaz is making. This is not just a rule or principle of life, it is something that God Himself specifically does to reward or honour those who comply with and conform to His will. It points to the Lord and emphasises to Ruth that because she is now in Israel and has been acting righteously, she can expect the One True God to cover her with His blessings or His goodness. It is easy to miss this but living in God’s kingdom isn’t just about us conforming to His will and following His leading, it is also about Him specifically acting into our lives to bring goodness. It is not chance and it is not some mechanical rule, it is God expressing His love in practical ways to us. He delights to do good for us and when we are living in accordance with His will, then opens the way for Him to come with His goodness and do and bring good to us.

For Ruth this started back in Moab when she chose to go with Naomi. That was a good starting point, but it continues when she comes into the land and goes out into the field to find provision for Naomi and herself. These are righteous acts and they will be rewarded by the Lord. This ongoing story about Ruth, is not just random chance, it is built upon her righteous responses to the circumstances before her. we should remember that the same applies to us: whatever the circumstances we find ourselves in, will we act righteously? Remember, those circumstances may appear quite negative, as they certainly were for Ruth, but the Lord looks to see if we will respond righteously in them whatever they are. As we look to Him and commit ourselves to Him, we will never be disappointed, for He will always bless us, He will always bring His goodness to our lives. Hallelujah!

1. Escape from Famine?

Meditations in Ruth : 1. Escape from Famine?

Ruth 1:1  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.

In some ways the book of Ruth reminds me of Job. No, there is no arguing going on and relatively little dialogue and mostly historical action, but the fact that it is largely (at least in the first part)  dark and everything appears to go wrong, has similar echoes to Job. With Job resolution comes in the knowledge of the background revealed in the first two chapters and then the encounter with Almighty God in the closing chapters. With Ruth, the resolution comes in a completely different way.

In Jesus’ family tree in Matthew’s Gospel we find something quite remarkable in what is largely a male listing: Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of King David.” (Mt 1:5,6)  Two women mentioned! One, Rahab, an innkeeper, possibly a prostitute from Canaan, and Ruth, a Moabite, both women from nations that opposed Israel. What an incredible message: Jesus does not mind being associated with hostile peoples, for even from within such nations can come those who will join the divine family. Incredible. Ruth is thus a signpost for us towards salvation and redemption.

But before we can see this we have to see some difficult things first of all. The story starts with an Israelite from the tribe of Judah who lived in the days following the Exodus, conquest and occupation of Canaan, during which judges led the people. From a reading of Judges we see it was a tumultuous time when again and again a cycle is observed: God blesses the people, the people eventually become complacent and drift away from Him, surrounding nations invade and Israel cry out to God and He sends a deliverer. So much of the time it was summarised by the closing words of Judges, In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.” (Jud 21:25)  Putting it in today’s language, it was a time when Israel were not in a spiritually clever position! Understatement!

So we are told that there comes a famine in the land. Now we are not told that the Lord specifically brought this famine but famine was one of the ‘curses’ of Deuteronomy 28, one of the ways life would ‘go wrong’ when the nation turned away from God. Whether it is specifically brought by God or whether the Lord withholds His hand of blessing (see Rom 1 for this principle) is a moot point. Famine is clearly a characteristic of life in the absence of God. Abundant blessing and provision is the characteristic of the blessings of Deuteronomy 28:1-14. So much for the origins of famines.

But the crucial issue we must consider is our response to a famine. This man that we are about to read about flees the land and goes somewhere that does not seem to be suffering famine, Moab. When there was a famine in Canaan in Abram’s day, we find he takes his wife etc. down to Egypt – where he gets into trouble! (Gen 12:10-20). When a famine came to the land in Isaac’s time he similarly starting heading south but only got as far as the land of the Philistines in the south before the Lord told him to stay there and not to go to Egypt (Gen 26:1-6). Of course it was a widespread famine that was at the heart of Joseph’s story and which ended with Jacob and the whole family settling in Egypt (Gen 41-47) and it was because of this that some four hundred years later the Exodus occurred.

Consider this more generally (we’ll go on to the detail of who and what in the next meditation). A famine is a time of trial in the form of shortage of resources which God either directly brings or allows to come when He withholds His hand of blessing. A trial is a time of disciplining where the Lord tests us to see how we will respond. The response of faith is to seek the Lord and repent for the state of the Land that has ultimately brought this about.  The response of godless unbelief is to do a runner!  We’ve already noted how Abram and Isaac went to flee a famine and how a famine forced Jacob into Egypt and now we find that the motivation behind all that follows is a desire to escape unpleasant circumstances by fleeing to an enemy nation.  In David’s remarkable story, in the time of his life when he was fleeing from Saul, at one point he found his only refuge was with the Philistines, another enemy nation. Eventually he had to get out of that and here in the present situation we are going to see that here at least, the Lord does NOT deliver this family from bad circumstances. In fact we might say that it will be a case of out of the frying pan into the fire, as far as the outcome is concerned.

What is going to be incredible about this story is the ultimate outcome that we have already referred to – that a Moabite woman is going to end up becoming part of the nation of Israel and, even more incredibly, that she will become part of the family tree of the most famous king in Israel’s history, David, and that of the Messiah. Pure chance? There are no signs of the hand of the Lord recorded as working in this book, it is just a record of circumstances and therefore it becomes a book that challenges us to see that the hidden hand of God must be there working in our circumstances.

Dictionary Definition: “Providence – God as prescient guide and guardian of human beings.” ‘Prescient’? Having foreknowledge.  This is a story of God (who is not mentioned)  who knows what is going to happen and who, behind the scenes so that He cannot be seen, guards and guides to bring a good outcome. Is this important? Absolutely, because this is what is so often happening with each of us.   Yes, we have, as Christians, the Holy Spirit working within us, cooperating with us and teaching and guiding us, but at the same time God is working in the background to bring good into our lives (Rom 8:28) but so much of the time we don’t see Him doing it, only the outworking. Watch this space! Oh, a warning: we need to co-operate in it all. We have a part to play as we’ll see in this story.

Walk into Oblivion

WALKING WITH GOD. No.14

Ruth 1:2 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.

This is the start of a disastrous story and a glorious story, and as such it tells us many things about walking with God. The story starts with a famine in Israel, which suggests a time of low spirituality (in the Law God promises blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience [which includes famine] – Deut 28). The times of the judges had been a time when the nation drifted from God and had to be rescued by Him in the form of those judges. But there is something else about the times of famines, they are times of testing and times of opportunity. Abram hadn’t done very well when a famine occurred in his new country (Gen 12:10 -). Isaac fell into the same trap for the same reason; only the Lord intervened and stopped him going to Egypt (Gen 26:1-6).

So, there was a famine in Israel and an Israelite from Bethlehem takes his family to Moab. Historically Moab was to become an enemy of Israel, a frequent thorn in their side. Instead of seeking God, this man rationalises the situation and moves into the world to cope. How many of us get into difficulties and seek the world’s way out instead of the Lord. This walk from Bethlehem (which means ‘house of bread’) to Moab (which means ‘child of its father’ – and Moab‘s father was Lot who drifted right into the world – Sodom) is a walk of flight into the world.

In Moab the man dies and later on after they have married two Moabite women, their two sons also die. The only person left of the original family is Naomi, the wife. Then Naomi sets out on the walk of restoration back to Israel. At Naomi’s urging one daughter-in-law returns home but the other one will not be put off and so goes to Bethlehem with her mother-in-law. For her, this is a walk into a new life and was to become a walk into the history books. For this family, the walk to Moab was a walk of death, and in what follows we might consider the walk back a walk of resurrection. God is going to do something very significant through this family. To cut a long story short, Naomi returns home with Ruth her daughter-in-law, and Ruth eventually marries Boaz and becomes part of the messianic family line (see Mt 1:5 for the place of honour that Ruth is given, being the mother of King David’s grandfather.)

So what again have we seen here? A man from Israel goes with the low spiritual level of the nation and when a famine comes, flees the land and goes to Moab. A poor response – a walk of unbelief. Then he and his sons die. It has turned out to be a walk into oblivion for this man, yet from it, Ruth is drawn into the nation of Israel and joins the family tree of King David, the family tree of the Messiah. There seems nothing spectacular about this story; it is the story of normal, if tragic, family events, yet somehow at the end of it we see how the family was used to draw a foreigner into God’s plans.

So what does it say? First of all, it warns us to hold firm to our faith in the face of difficult circumstances. In fact, the circumstances may indicate a low level of spirituality and the call is to rise up and return to God. Instead of fleeing into the world in a walk of unbelief, we are to stay where we are and seek the Lord.

Second, it shows us that the often invisible hand of God can yet bring about good, and He will take and use even those from the most unlikely backgrounds who will allow their hearts to be stirred by the Lord, to become part of His plans.

Perhaps we might consider are we an Elimelech, a Naomi or a Ruth? Elimelech baulked in the face of difficult circumstances and failed to seek God for provision. Are you in such a place? Seek Him. Naomi was faithful to her husband and was led into a bad place, but as soon as she had the chance, she returned to a place of blessing. Do you need to take steps to get back to the place of blessing? And then there was Ruth, an outsider who allowed her heart to be touched so that she joined the people of God and entered into God’s purposes. Are you someone who has been touched by what you have read, and something in you tells you that you want to have a sense of destiny, of being part of God’s plans?

A disastrous walk into oblivion, or walk of restoration, or a walk of destiny? Those are so often the options before us in our walk through life. The good news is that as long as we are alive, it doesn’t have to end as a walk into oblivion. The only trouble is that we don’t know how long we will live. If we have the courage to face the failure, it can turn into a walk into restoration and that so often becomes a walk into destiny. Make sure you make the right choice.