R uth 1:1-6
Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehem-judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons. And the name of the man was Elimelech, and the name of his wife Naomi, and the name of his two sons Mahlon and Chilion, Ephrathites of Bethlehem-judah. And they came into the country of Moab, and continued there. And Elimelech Naomi's husband died; and she was left, and her two sons. And they took them wives of the women of Moab; the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth: and they dwelled there about ten years. And Mahlon and Chilion died also both of them; and the woman was left of her two sons and her husband. Then she arose with her daughters in law, that she might return from the country of Moab: for she had heard in the country of Moab how that the Lord had visited his people in giving them bread.
What a paradox! There was a famine in the land. The land is Canaan, the promised land. The land of mountains and valleys, the land of milk and honey, the land of grapes so enormous that two men had to carry one bunch, the land of plenty, the land that many assert is a picture of heaven: and it isgripped by famine! The very thought is unthinkable.
And yet the New Testament parallel fares no better.
Amos 8:11-13 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord: And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord,and shall not find it. In that day shall the fair virgins and the young men faint for thirst.
Think of it! A famine of the hearing of the words of the Lord. And yet how very true this is today.
There are "revivals", "moves of God", and "refreshings" in signs, wonders and miracles. There is an abundance of "visions", "dreams", "prophecies", and "God speaking to people", yet a dearth in hearing the words of the Lord.
The famine came in a time when the judges ruled: a period immediately prior to the establishing of the prophets and kings. (A king in the Old Testament equates with an apostle in the New Testament).
Apostles and prophets, together with the Lord Jesus Christ, form the foundation of the Christian Church.
Ephesians 2:20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
What an accurate picture of this day. The judges are ruling. Every one is doing his own thing. Myriads of voices and echoes sound throughout the land. Confusion reigns supreme.
Judges 21:25 In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.
Bethlehem-judah means the house of bread and praise.
Elimelech: My God is King
Naomi: My Delight, Pleasant
Moab: of His Father
Elimelech died. Mahlon died. Chilion died.
Ruth's husband died! Now she is free to marry another.
Romans 7:1-4 Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth? For the woman which hath a husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from the law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man. Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.
Our first husband (firstborn nature) is dead. We have been set free to marry another.
Colossians 3:3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.
Naomi, Orpah and Ruth returned to Bethlehem-judah. They had heard in the country of Moab how that the Lord had visited his people in giving them bread.
This was a visitation! It was not times of refreshing. It was not mercy drops. It was not seasons of renewal. It was a visitation. It was a visitation of bread!
God has not visited His people with bread since 1948.
Bread is a symbol of the Word of God.
Matthew 4:4 Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
Hebrews 6:1-3 [Ampl. Vsn] Therefore, let us go on and get past the elementary stage in the teachings and doctrine of Christ (the Messiah), advancing steadily toward the completeness and perfection that belong to spiritual maturity. Let us not again be laying the foundation of repentance and abandonment of dead works (dead formalism) and of the faith [by which you turned] to God. With teachings about purifying, the laying on of hands, the resurrection from the dead, and eternal judgment and punishment. [These are all matters of which you should have been fully aware long, long ago.] If indeed God permits, we will [now] proceed [to advanced teaching].
J esus and the Day of Visitation
Luke 19:37-44 And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen; Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest. And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples. And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out. And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.
Judgment came upon Jerusalem because the people knew not the time of visitation.
Let us learn from history. Let us clearly discern the days in which we live. Let us understand beyond any doubt that today is a day of visitation: that today is a day when God is visiting His people with the Word of God.
Naomi left the place where she was. She, and her two daughters in law started on the way back to Judah!
Begin at the beginning. Repentance from dead works; faith towards God; the doctrine of baptisms; the laying on of hands.
Start on the way back to praise!
V erses 10-22
And they said unto her, Surely we will return with thee unto thy people.
Here is manifest true repentance. They changed their minds. They made up their minds. They started on the road to praise.
Turn again. Once you have repented, once you have turned, seek not to turn again, to revert back to the old ways, to head back to the land of Moab.
Luke 9:62 No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.
It grieveth me much for your sakes that the hand of the Lord is gone out against me.
Do not allow the experiences of life to make you bitter, to cloud your mind of the goodness of God directed towards you.
Orpah kissed her mother in law goodbye; but Ruth cleaved unto her. Even though Naomi sought to cast Ruth from her, Ruth would not be denied. She was of another spirit!
"Your sister in law has turned back. She has gone to her people. She has gone to her gods. Return, follow the path to Moab."
Hebrews 12:17 For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.
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: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if aught but death part thee and me. When she saw that she was steadfastly minded to go with her, then she left speaking unto her. So they two went until they came to Bethlehem.
The objective? Bethlehem, the House of Bread.
Ruth turned. She faced the reality of death. She made up her mind. She clung to the one that could take her to the house of bread. She determined that nothing would stop her, not even Naomi's pessimistic attitude.
What an example for every Christian believer.
Repentance and water baptism. The beginning of the life of faith.
Romans 6:3-14 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptised into Jesus Christ were baptised into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For it we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yeild yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.
Is this Naomi?
"Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, and the Lord hath brought me home again empty: the Lord hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me."
They came to Bethlehem in the beginning of barley harvest.
urt Not the Oil and the Wine
Revelation 5:6 And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.
Black is the colour of famine.
Lamentations 5:10 Our skin was black like an oven because of the terrible famine.
Barley and wheat are available, but at grossly inflated famine prices.
Three measures of barley sold for a day's wages, while one measure of wheat could be purchased at the same price.
The rider on the black horse is expressly commanded not to hurt the oil and the wine.
Oil and wine are end time commodities. They are the sustenance of the overcomers.
The early church has received both the barley and wheat harvests. The end time church has also.
Justification by faith, barley, under Luther, 1517 : Pentecost, wheat, [Topeka and Los Angeles, 1900/6]. How very true this is today.