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A Woman Of Grace (Ruth 1:1-22)

Testimony on 31 May 2020 by Ps Caleb

Today, we are going to read a testimony of a beautiful lady, her name is Ruth from the Book of Ruth. But before we read her testimony, let us read Jeremiah 29:11-14 and Romans 8:28.

Jeremiah 29:11-14

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. 12 In those days when you pray, I will listen. 13 If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. 14 I will be found by you,” says the Lord. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.”

Romans 8:28

And we know that God causes everything to work together[a] for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

As we look at the book of Ruth in chapter 1 the book started with a bad and evil and unbearable both natural and spiritual environment. Judges 21:25 says in those days there was no king in Israel everyone did what was right in his own eyes. Then it goes on to chapter 1 of Ruth, it started with it came about in the days when the judges were governing, there was a famine in the land. The passage I just read in Jeremiah 29 and in Romans 8 tells us that God is always working in the lives of His people wherever they are, working His purposes through them and the end of all His work is always beautiful.

And so it is in the life of Ruth, we will see in the word of God how she honoured God, who unfolded His grace in her life and rewarded her because of her faith and commitment to God as she remained loyal to Naomi. She was a worshipper of idols but she became a committed worshipper of Yahweh the Holy God of Israel. She became a lover of God, a lover of the temple of God. She became a lover of God’s people as she continued to remain loyal to Naomi not as a daughter-in-law, but like a daughter. And later in the book of Ruth, we will see how God honoured her by giving her a place in the history of Israel. That place that was given to her was she became the great great grandmother of King David.

Faith and faithfulness in God has great rewards and that is what happened in the life of Ruth. So as we continue in this passage, we will see that due to famine and the evil that was prevailing in the land of Israel, Elimelech a Godly man took his family, his wife, Naomi, whose name is pleasant and their sons Mahlon and Kilion and they went to Moab. When they were there, they worked there as a migrant worker for a living and they stayed for a season of time and then Elimelech passed away. Then, the two sons took wives for themselves in the land of Moab. One was Orpah and the other was Ruth. But not long after the 2 sons died. Here was Naomi, a broken-hearted woman and she was bitter because she felt that God had dealt heavily with her by taking her husband and the sons and had deserted her. Because she felt that by leaving her land, leaving her God and leaving the temple behind, she felt that God’s hand was upon her.

Then, a while later, she heard that God visited Israel and God visited the land that she came from and there was food. So she decided that instead of staying in Moab, she decided to go back to her land. She told her two daughter-in-laws and they left the place where they stayed and the bible says that as they were going to a certain distance, she stopped and started talking to her two daughter-in-laws. And she said to them go back to your mother’s house, go back, get married and have children because if you follow me to my land, you will be a stranger. People will have no relationship with you and people will have no knowledge of you. And it will be a hard time for you to live there because I am a widow and I have no other children to give to you. She urged them to go back.

Finally, Orpah decided to go back but Ruth clung to Naomi and Ruth held on to the hands of Naomi pleading, saying, I want to go with you. Where you are, there I will be。Your land will be my land, your people will be my people, your God will be my God. She began to declare her faith in Yahweh. Now that was amazing because prior to this, there was no information of Ruth and Orpah believing in Yahweh. But at that moment, when Naomi was telling her to go back, she began to confess, she began to declare her faith in yahweh and her commitment to become a worshipper of God of Israel, the true and living God.

How did Ruth become a worshipper of Yahweh? Now Ruth came from Moab, a place where they worship the idol called Chemosh. Chemosh was a destroyer, the arch-god who has no mercy and no compassion. He is a destroyer and all her life she lived with that and so we want to see the conversion of Ruth in the span of that short years when she was married before her husband died.

So I believe that the conversation could have gone this way. She was asking her husband where did you come from? The husband could have said, from Bethlehem. And what does Bethlehem mean, the “House of Bread”, a house where God provides all. And what is your father’s name? And he says, my father’s name is Elimelech and it means “Yahweh is king”. What about your mother’s name? My mother’s name means blessed or sweet. Then what is your name and your brother’s name. And he said my name and my brother’s name combined together means we are weak, we are sick and we are dying.

The question was asked, why did your father name you and your brother such a name when their names are great names of your God. And so this was a conversation that took place between the husband and the wife and he went on to say that our names speaks of the spiritual condition of the land and the people that we came from. We are Abraham’s descendant, worshipper of the true and living God. And the God who is merciful and compassionate, righteous and just and who loves to be in the midst of His people. He is a great God who has blessed His people. At the same time, when the people sinned against Him, He held back the blessing and when the people repent before Him, He restores the blessings.

And then I believe as the nation of the Israelites love to do, they will repeat the history of the nation how from the time of Abraham and Jacob and then Joseph and then it goes on how they lived in Egypt in 400 years and became a slave in the land and God raised Moses and took them out of the land of Egypt and brought them through the wilderness and in the wilderness how they were fighting against the Amalekites and God gave them victory after victory. But when they rebelled against God, they have to walk a journey of 40 years. And then the Lord brought Joshua and led a new generation of people and they crossed the Jordan river and went into the promise land and God raised the nation to become an army of God to possess the inheritance.

I believe that Ruth was told this beautiful story and incidents of what God was doing in the nation of Israel. And all those information that was given about Yahweh about the goodness of God the greatness of God brought great conviction in Ruth’s life and she became a worshipper of Yahweh because she knew that this God is a real God. He is a living God and He is compassionate and merciful not like her own gods of the family she came from. So within her heart, she turned her back, renounced the god of her family, and she became a worshipper of God.

Now sometimes we wonder how God works in the lives of the people? We know it is the Holy Spirit who takes the word and convicts people of sin, righteousness and judgement. It is the Holy Spirit who convicts us and sanctifies us and gives us the faith to believe in Lord Jesus Christ. The moment we commit our lives to God, He rescues us from darkness and sets us free from the idols and the past and makes us a new person and that was what happened to Ruth.

When I came back from the Philippines in 1996, I heard a voice at the airport where the Lord said, my father will pass away. And I told the Lord how is it possible, I serve, I obeyed you by serving you in the Philippines for 10 years and I am back home and now You are telling me my father will pass away. No, he shouldn’t, let me spend enough time with him, give me 5 years to spend time with him and share the gospel of Christ so that he will know who Jesus Christ is. Now my problem at that time was I forgot my own Tamil because in the Philippines with all the languages brought a lot of confusion that even when I speak, I thought I am speaking Malay, but my wife told me I am speaking Tagalog so that kind of confused me.

But I took the opportunity to talk to my father and the other problem I had was that my father didn't speak English so I had to speak in Tamil. For 5 years, I was visiting him 3-4 times a week, I would sit beside him and I would tell him. I will just sit there and whenever he falls sick, he will call me and I will say let me pray for you. And I prayed in English, my father didn’t understand anything then in the little words in Tamil, I will say believe in Jesus, believe in the blood of Jesus and over a period of time, his health start failing and I knew it was time to get someone who can speak in Tamil to share the gospel with him.

So I invited a Pastor from Malaysia, Johor and he shared the gospel with my father. And then, after praying, my mother and my sisters were all watching him accept Christ and he committed his life to God. And then the pastor told me this statement, he said Caleb, your father already accepted Christ a long time ago. What do you mean by then? He had faith in Jesus all this while. How is it possible? It is because of the word that was spoken. The testimony, the little little testimonies that were shared with him he began, little by little to put his faith in Jesus and he believed in Jesus and that is what happened in the life of Ruth.

The testimonies that the husband shared, the word of God, what God was doing in the nation of Israel that was shared, she began to become a believer and a worshipper of God. And the time came when she was at a crossroad to make her decision when Naomi was telling her time to go home to your mother’s house, she decided to start proclaiming publicly to Naomi that she is a worshipper of Yahweh.

With that statement, she said that your God will be my God. And her commitment was so powerful that she cut her relationship with her own land with the god of her family, with the culture of her family and she chose to embrace Yahweh as her God, the culture and the laws of God as her laws.

Church, it's a story that we can say that in the midst of disobedience and tragedies and hardships, the gospel of Jesus Christ can still be preached as a witness to the unsaved so that they will know the ways of God and when they begin to hear the ways of God, it is the work of the Holy Spirit to bring conviction, to bring faith in their heart to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and to become God’s people.

Naomi, her name was pleasant. Though she was confession about Yahweh but she was talking a number of things that were very negative and she was complaining about how God has punished her by taking the husband and the sons away because she turned her back on God but what she didn’t know that God was working in their life, God was working through their lives and this happened when Ruth began to confess her worship, her faith in Yahweh.

As I said earlier, faith and faithfulness in God has great reward. So my encouragement to all of you, may we be like Ruth, a worshipper of the true and living God. May we be like Naomi and her sons, preaching the good news of God in spite of the famine and the disobedience and the evil that is prevailing in the land, we still can share who our God is. We can still declare the goodness and the greatness of our God because we are called to be witnesses of God.

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