"For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth." ~ Deuteronomy14:2

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Raising the Standard: Decisiveness is Devoting All My Energy to a Course of Action Which I Know Is Right

A young widow's determination was rewarded because she did what she knew was right. The desires to dwell in the land of God's people, to provide for her mother-in-law and to perpetuate her husband's name were all granted because of the spirit and pure motivation with which she pursued these goals.
How Does Scripture Illustrate Decisiveness In Devoting Energy To Right Action? God gave explicit instructions to a man. "Leave your father's house and come to a land that I will show you." This man obeyed and brought his nephew with him: however, the land wasn't adequate to support both of their fast flocks and herds.
The uncle suggested to his nephew, "You choose the land which you want and I'll take the remainder." The nephew saw and chose the lush, green valley of the Jordan, certain that it would meet all his needs. But in that country lived the wicked inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah. Years later, God's judgment fell on those immoral cities, and the man barely escaped with his own life and those of his two daughters. They had lost everything. Most of all they had lost God's standards of morality. As a result, both of his daughters became involved in immoral acts, and from one sinful union the nation of Moab began. Many years later, God's judgment fell upon his own nation. Armies invaded the land, and famine and disease destroyed their harvests and their healthy. The famine in Israel drove a sickly family of four to the land of Moab. A young woman became a part of their family through marriage. But then her husband died as well as her brother-in-law and father-in-law. Now she was faced with a decision - return to her mother's house and their false gods or go back with her mother-in-aw to Israel. She knew that the true God was worshipped in the land of Israel, so with all of her heart and mind and soul, she spoke those famous words to her mother-in-law. "Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after the: 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. Where thou diest, I will die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if aught but death part thee and me." Her mother-in-law marvelled at her decisiveness because she knew that there was no more hope of her fulfilling the desires of her daughter-in-law. But this young woman looked beyond her mother-in-law's inabilities and was content to receive whatever God had for her as long as she was in the right place and serving him. As if to underscore how basic her decisions were to illustrate the whole Gospel message, Ruth not only met the man of God's choosing, but from their children came the line of Christ. ~ From Ruth 1 Ruth Was Rewarded For Her Devotion In A Decision She Knew Was Right When God judged his people in Israel with a severe famine because of their disobedience, Elimelech had to decide how he was going to provide for his wife Naomi and two sons. Rather than trust God to provide their needs during the crisis, he decided to leave the land he had inherited from his father.
A Journey To A Strange Land
He sought refuge in the fertile but ungodly land of Moab. He could not have fared any worse had he remained in his own land. Within ten years Elimelech and his two sons died, leaving three penniless widows to fend for themselves. The brreaved Naomi and one Moabite daughter-in-law gathered their meager belongings and began the four to five day journey back to Naomi's former home in Bethlehem of Judah. Orpha, the widow of her younger son, reluctantly remained with her family in Moab. But Ruth decided to help care for Naomi and refused to stay behind.
Benefitted By A Law That Provided For The Poor
Their arrival in Bethlehem coincided with the spring grain harvest, a period which lasted from mid-April to about mid-June. A large supply of grain waited to be cut by young men. Young women then bound the grain into bundles called sheaves. According to the Mosaic Law, the poor were to be allowed to follow the binders and gather the random stalks that were left behind (Leviticus 19:9, 10). The once proud and prosperous Naomi was now among the destitute of Bethlehem. She had sold her husband's land to meet her need for shelter, and Ruth offered to go into the fields and glean for food. In a rapid sequence of events, Naomi's bleak prospects for the future brightened. The first field in which Ruth obtained permission to glean happened to belong to Boaz, a relative of Elimelech. He had heard of Ruth's noble decision to leave her family and come to a foreign land in order to comfort and povide for Naomi. He instructed his workers to intentionally leave som stalks of grain for her to gather easily.
A Noble Plan To Perpetuate A Name
After the harvest, Naomi instructed Ruth to approach Boaz and formally ask him to marry her. Boaz immediately recognized Ruth's pure motives in this request and praised her for her willingness to provide Naomi with a grandson that could maintain the family name. Although Boaz was drawn to Ruth's beautiful character, he was not immediately free to accept her proposal. It was custom of the day for the nearest relative to have the first opportunity to provide for the widow. When the younger relative declined, Boaz was free to marry the young Moabitess without critism. He bought back the property that Naomi had sold and provided his grateful young wife with a son by the name of Obed.
Rewarded For Her Devotion
Because of Ruth's decision to exchange her pagan customs for the worship of the true God and to accompany her lonely mother-in-law to a foreign land, she had the privilege of comforting Naomi in her sorrow and became a key figure in the history of the nation of Israel. Her son Obed was the father of Jesse, and Jesse became the father of King David whose house, kingdom and throne were established forever (II Samuel 7:16).
Why Did Naomi Encourage Ruth To Remain In Moab?
Naomi was concerned for Ruth's welfare. Ruth was a MOabite and faced a hostile reception in Israel. The Moabites were descendants of Lot's son, Moab. The nation had begun as the result of an incestuous relationship, and the impure rites of their fertility cults and their ractice of offering human sacrifices were an abonimation to the people of Israel. It had been Moabite women, under the counsel of Balaam, who caused the min of Israel to become involved in immorality and idolatry (Numbers 25:1-3). Because of this sin the Israelites were to have nothing to do with the Moabites for at least ten generations (Deuteronomy 23:3-6).
Why Did Boaz Praise Ruth For Asking Him To Marry Her?
Boaz was aware of the motive behind Ruth's seemingly indiscrete request. She was not seeking her own pleasure and security but was pleading with Boaz to deliver Naomi from her shame of having no male descendant. She was appealing to one of the ancient customs of Israel which provided for a childless widow to marry her dead husband's nearest willing relative. The first son of this marriage was to maintain the name of the dead husband and keep the family property intact by becoming the leagal heir. Ruth's first son would become Naomi's legal grandson and inherit her husband Elimelech's name and property.
Why Didn't Elimelech's Nearest Relative Want To Marry Ruth?
When Boaz asked the younger and nearer relative to purchase back Naomi's property he quickly agreed. But when he found out that he would also have to marry Ruth, he reversed his decision (Ruth 4:3-5). His consideration to buy the land was purely economic. For a moment he shrewdly saw an opportunity to increase his property. But since Naomi had no legal heir, his first son by Ruth would become heir to the property under Elimelech's name, hot his (Ruth 4:6). The gain that he would have made in property by the marriage would be lost since, according to the Mosaic Law, property reverted back to its original owner or legal heir every fiftieth year (Leviticus 25:10). The badger is a member of the weasel family. Measuring thrity inches in length, this low-slung ground-dweller inhabits dry, open country. The female gives birth to a litter of two in an underground nest lined with grass. Silent by nature, the bager follows a definite pattern in his nocturnal prowls.
How Does the Badger Illustrate Decisiveness In Devoting Energy to Right Action? The sheepherder gazed over the large expanse of pasture. It was a beautiful time of year. A promise of life was in the air as buds began to unfold their leafy contents. Fields of grass were beginning to turn grean and would soon provide feed for his prize sheep. He credited his high quality of stock to his rich pasture lands. It was important to him that the trazing lands be correctly managed. Careful not to allow the sheep to overgraze any one area and destroy the root system of the grass, he rotated the flock on a systematic basis.
His purpose this day was to make sure that the fences were in good repair to contain his sheep and strong enough to discourage predators from entering. His livelihood depended on how well he was able to manage and provide for the sheep. His was a one-man operation, and he had to work long, hard hours caring for his stock. He took great pride and satisfaction in owning this five-hundred acre ranch. Within a few weeks the young lambs arrived. These small, woolly animals were wobbly at first on their uncertain legs, but soon they playfully ran about enjoying their new world. They grew rapidly. Early one morning as the sheepherder made his routine rounds to check the flock, he noticed something strange in the dirt by the north fence row. He knew and feared what this mound represented. The burrow had been made by an animal which would probably never attack the sheep but which still represented a major threat to their well-being. Because of an unpleasant encounter two years earlier, the sheepherder recognized the mound as the work of a badger. He knew that to protect his flocks he must quickly eliminate it. Two years before he had had to shoot some of the sheep which had broken their legs as they stumbled into the underground shafts. A strong digger, the badger makes long extensive tunnels in an effort to secure food. It periodically breaks the surface creating dangerous holes which can easily cripple livestock. The sheepherder immediately moved his flock to a grazing area free from the hazardous pits. He then came back with a shovel and filled in the threatening holes. Aware of the badger's nocturnal habits, he returned to the field early that evening. He had used the last of his ammunition during the previous hunting season and had not had an opportunity to make the long trip to town to purchase shells. Armed with only a shovel, he decided to dig the animal out and dispose of it. As he began his vigil, a slight movement several hundred yards away caught his eye. Hurriedly, he started toward the movement and picked up speed when he realized that the badger had spotted him. But by the time he reached the badger, it had already dug itself out of sight. Furiously, he began digging in pursuit. The more he dug, the deeper the badger went -- easily outdistancing the man and staying out of range of the shovel, He waited for the animal to make another appearance until it grew too dark to see. Discouraged, the man went home. The next morning he returned to the field to see what further damage the badger had done. To his surprise there was no additional tunneling and a search each evening for the next few nights revealed that the badger had wisely sought a safer hunting ground. The badger's life was saved by its decisive nature which prompted it to swiftly dig itself free from danger and leave the area.

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