27 September 2010

God's Providence in Our Bad Decisions (Part 2)


Ruth 1:6-18

WHAT IS USUALLY THE NUMBER 1 THING YOU DO WHEN YOU (KNOW) THAT YOU HAVE MADE A BAD DECISION. Maybe this will help you answer that question. WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU TRY AND DO WHEN YOU MAKE A BAD DECISION SO THAT NOBODY FINDS OUT? You try to fix or hide it from others! Or worse try to pretend it never happened! That’s exactly what the flesh wants to do....what our sinful nature wants to do! Bad decisions or choices make us look bad on the outward appearance (At least that’s how most people feel)..... But my reply to that kind of thinking is.......to whom do you look bad to? We even do this in our Christian lives! When we deliberately sin or get caught up in a sin, we think that if we can hide it, nobody will ever know about it or talk about us or worse yet look down or different towards us; and call us hypocrites....or Pharisee’s. THE GREATEST EXAMPLE OF THIS IS FOUND IN THE BIBLE! Gen 3:7-11 “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, "Where are you?" So he said, "I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself." And He said, "Who told you that you were naked? But back in Chapter 2 we see that they had no problem being naked....but when they made that bad decision (in this case chose to sin) they were ashamed ....We try so hard to cover up our messes thinking that everything will be ok!We think that we can fix or make the problem go away and say “everything will be just fine” That’s not true. ANOTHER PRIME EXAMPLE WE FIND IN THE SCRIPTURE IS DAVID AND HIS ADULTERY! He does everything humanly possible to make things right but in the end it cost two people to lose their lives....As we continue in Ruth’s letter....we still witness the outcome of bad choices.......but we also see God’s sovereign providence in the lives of 3 women. Naomi is left holding the cards.....her husband has died.....and here two son’s (v5) She has some big decisions to make.....one is what to do, know that see is all alone! Naomi gets word that the famine has been lifted in the city of bread in the nation of praise. She starts of by making the right decision to go back......BUT her motives are wrong for returning to Bethlehem! The only reason I’m going back to my countryman is because there is food again! Her first idea to return was because they have food...not because I want to make it right with God. The underlining theme to the Old Testament has always been repent and return back to the Lord. God’s underlining theme is not return back because there is nothing left for you here and know there is food back home......Not come to me when you want something or when you have nothing left!! She decides to go back home after 10 long years away in a foreign.......despised......wicked nation that hated each other.....But this time she is going home alone without her husband and two sons.......Can you imagine the conversations of the little town of Bethlehem...the murmuring that would take place.....As she is walking home to a land that God said he would provide for and did....

• Here comes Naomi the doubter
• Here comes Naomi the one who run when times get tough
• Here comes Naomi the trader to her people

With a little sanctified imagination......I’m sure Naomi thought that! Otherwise she wouldn’t have said this in (verse 8-13) WE NEED TO UNDERSTAND SOMETHING ABOUT THIS STATEMENT! Naomi’s sons married Moabite women!! According to Jewish Law this was forbidden especially those from Ammon and Moab
Deut 7:2-4 “and when the LORD your God delivers them over to you, you shall conquer them and utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with them nor show mercy to them. Nor shall you make marriages with them. You shall not give your daughter to their son, nor take their daughter for your son. For they will turn your sons away from following Me, to serve other gods; so the anger of the LORD will be aroused against you and destroy you suddenly.” It was the Moabite women in Moses’ day who seduced the Jewish men into morality and idolatry. The cost of that bad decision was devastating, 24 000 people died because of this.....(recorded in the Book of Numbers 25). Naomi knew if I go back to my people what will they think...... pagan gentiles married my boys and all I’m left with is........... these gentile girls. The easiest solution is kick them lose and nobody will know. I’m really doing them a favour because I’m of age and there is no way I’m going to have more children for them to marry (v11-v13). Go back to your people and begin living out your young life! Was she doing this out of kindness and concern for her two daughters in laws? Or was she thinking that if I returned alone, the people wouldn’t see that her family broke the Law of Moses. I want to stop here for a moment! Why? Something bothers me about what Naomi says here .......How does a person who knows the truth ...in this case the true Living God. Tell these young women who she has gotten to know and love by the embrace and the emotions we see from all of them in this portion of scripture....What would bring a person to tell them to go back to their pagan idol worshipping lives. It would be like anyone of us.....telling our neighbour who worships false god’s false religions and say have fun worshipping Satan while I worship the true living God. AS I SAID BEFORE......"How much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize? How much do you have to hate someone to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?" Penn Jillette, an atheist comedian, magician. Why would you in good conscience tell the very women who married your sons go back to Satan and his crafty tricks. While I go back to the place where God protects and guides and provides for His children to those who obey His commands. Was she ashamed of her son’s choices...and her husband’s decision to come to this wicked place? Was she ashamed because she had little faith in the true Living God? Was Naomi trying to cover-up their disobedience by returning alone? AS ONE PERSON SAID “Many bad choices are made simply because we move through the decision-making process too hastily, basing our conclusions on emotions, bad information or impulses.” Naomi has lost everything and there is a sense of bitterness and selfishness as she said at the end of (v13) “the Lord has gone out against me” Whatever her motives were.........the underline message is don’t follow me!! Go back!! HOW DID THE TWO YOUNG LADIES RESPONSED? What decision did they make?

Orpah.................a person who loved her mother kissed her and went back to her pagan idolatry (v15)When I think of this...... I’m reminded of Lot’s wife who loved the city and the worldliness. It’s that person who bought into Satan’s lie and says this is far better then what Christ can offer you. The person who hears the message of salvation counts the cost and says “I can’t give up my pleasures to serve this God”. The person who looks back from the plough. The rich young man who went away weeping. The parable of sower and the seed
in Matt 13:22 “Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.” JOHN SAID IN HIS EPISTLE! 1 John 2:15-17 “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” Orpah had a decision to make.......what she chose would in a sense determine her fate! Her heart loved Naomi...but she loved Moab and this world more. She gave up and went the other way! Orpah chose the world......according to the Scriptures we never her named mentioned ever again! BAD DECISION!

Ruth...................a person who loved her mother by what we read here in this portion of scripture. There is something here we see that Orpah never did! (v14) “she clung to her” Clung (means) to stay by.....abide.....cleave.....to be joined together. The same example God gave us when it comes to marriage! Gen 2:24 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” DO YOU REALIZE WHAT THIS REPRESENTS? Ruth was willing to forsake her own people, her father's house; her native country, the chances of never having an husband...to follow Naomi. Ruth was willing to go and abide with her forever.

HERE IS THIS:

• A Moabite woman who comes from pagan idolatry (Num 21:29)
• A woman that comes from a nation that promotes or passionately encourages immorality
• A place of child sacrifice (2 Kings 3:26-27)
• A woman who comes from worshipping false gods
• A woman who has just lost her husband....father in-law.......and brother in-law
• A woman who is left with no support and has more obstacles than the average person has had in their entire life!

WHAT DO WE SEE? A person who by worldly standards say “she has ever right to anger, hurt, and the right to curse this God”. She has ever right humanly speaking to hate this God of Israel. But she doesn’t....she shows a greater faith........ than Naomi and..... sadly than most Christian’s today!! Not only did Ruth cling to Naomi....look at what she said (v16-v17) This is God’s sovereign plan in our bad decisions. This is the heart of a woman who is being transformed by the power of God. This is a woman who desires to follow after the living God of the bible
“I will go wherever you go”
“I will lodge wherever you stay”
“Your family will be my family”
“Your God will be my God”
“I will lay down my life for you”
“My hope is in your hope”
“I love you to the end and forever”
She had a godly sorrow and passion to follow Naomi and her God.  This is a prime example of what Paul wrote to the Corinthian church in his second letter....2Cor 7:9 “Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.” Ruth is pouring her heart to Naomi....Ruth is showing us her genuine heart and concern for her soul......Ruth passion is to live with God’s chosen people......Ruth willingly leaves everything behind to follow. Luke 9:23-24 “Then He said to them all, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.”  In John's gospel he wrote in 12:25-26 “He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.” Ruth wants to know this Living God......Ruth makes the smartest decision out of all these 3 ladies. Naomi does it out selfishness and lack of faith, because she has nowhere else to turn. Orpah does it out blindness and worldliness. Ruth does it with a heart of anguish and adoration to know the true Living God of the Bible and to live a life by faith! LET ME ASK YOU! Which category of lady can you relate to more this morning? The one who only has a little faith because of bitterness and pride, which is ultimately is affecting your decisions. The one who has no faith and is only looking out for self and what I can get out of this life. The one whose eyes have been open to the truth of God’s word and seeks to know His face to the very end......No matter what cost!! The one who says “I don’t care what life brings as long as Christ is at the center of it” The one who says “you can kill this body but you cannot kill my soul” The one that says “I’m with Him”. The one who clings to Jesus with all their might and never let’s go! That’s God’s providence in our lives.....even in our bad decisions! A tragedy that brings hope for Ruth and for many generations to come. As we close listen to this wonderful poem by the late great Richard Baxter

THE PATH WE TRED
From valley to valley out over the hilltops,
From sunshine to fog like the darkest of night;
So we follow the Lord down life’s winding pathway,
And walk much by faith and little by sight.
‘Twould be easy to see were His presence like lightning,
And easy to hear if like thunder His voice;
But He leads in the quiet by the voice of the Spirit,
And we follow in love for we’ve made Him our choice.
The path that we tread by the cross is o’er shadowed,
And the glory at times by pain is made dim;
Temptations assail and the spirit grows weary,
Yet we’re ever sustained by the vision of Him.
The years of our lives be they few or be many,
Will soon pass away as dreams of the night;
Then we’ll step through the portals on eternity’s morning,
And greet Him in glory as faith turns to sight.

1 comment:

Carlos said...

Thanks for the great post Mike.