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The Book of Ruth
Commentary by Richard Arillotta
Spiritual Guidance
 

The Book of Ruth

 

WHETHER WE SEE THE PURPOSE OF GOD
 NOW OR NOT, GOD HAS A PURPOSE!

("Mara" - even in our bitter or pleasant times, God has a purpose!)  

Part One

Written  by  “The Puppet Man”
Richard Arillotta  
ă  June 2004
Used by Permission of the Author

It is more bitter for me than for you, because the Lord’s hand has gone out against me (Ruth 1:13b)!  Don’t call me Naomi (Pleasant), she told them.  Call me Mara,” (bitter) because the Almighty has made my life very bitter.  I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty.  Why call me Naomi?  The Lord has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me” (Ruth 1:20,21). 

Before going on to read this study, please read the Book of Ruth first.  The book of Ruth is one of the most beautiful stories because the circumstance seems as if there was no purpose in it, and it is a story that seems to lose hope, but God was there to fulfill His purpose, and to renew hope.  It goes on to talk about how Naomi lost everything: property, husband (Eliimelech), and her two sons.  Therefore, she said, “Don’t call me Naomi.”  For Naomi means “Pleasant.”  She didn’t see herself as “Pleasant.”  She couldn’t see God because her eyes were on the circumstances.  For that reason she said, “Call me Mara” which means “bitter.”   She thought the Lord has made her life very bitter, and felt that God had abandoned her.  Many of us perceive life like that.  As a result, we become very bitter, and we too say “Mara!”  Naomi was overwhelmed with the lost and was looking at the situation instead of humbly seeking God that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Heb. 11:6b).  The terms in Hebrew – “afflicted”  “The Lord has afflicted me” means “The Lord has brought evil upon me!”   How quickly we blame God when we are in a horrendous ordeal and misfortune just like Naomi.  We don’t trust Him no matter what happens to us.

At first, Naomi did not want Orpah or Ruth to be with her.  She was very depressed.  A depressed person has a tendency to want to be alone.  This is the last thing that a person can do for herself.   We need our brothers and sisters to minister to us, to comfort us, and encourage us to look for God when situations look so dim and it seems like there is no way out.  Of course, it is a time to grieve (to mourn) when our loved ones are gone.  But Naomi gave in to her emotions by saying - “Call me Mara,” and did not consider that God has a purpose or did not trust that God has a purpose.  Ruth was one of Naomi’s two son’s wives.  Naomi wanted to be left alone, and go back to Bethlehem.  But Ruth kept pleading and pleading to be with her.  Finally, Naomi let her come to Bethlehem to live, not realizing that God was using Ruth to bring Naomi out of her pit of misery.  At the time, Bethlehem was at the beginning of barley harvest (Ruth 1:22).   Moreover, not realizing, God has something there for them.  It is a place (Bethlehem) of destiny for the purposes of God to be fulfilled in Ruth and Naomi.  Bethlehem was a place where Jesus Christ was born.  The town Bethlehem means the “house of bread” and refers to Jesus Christ who is “the Bread of Life.”  Furthermore, Naomi was going back to the place where her hope would be reborn.  God puts us in the place where we are going to live whether we realize it or not - “And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their pre-appointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings” (Acts 17:26).   It is so the purpose of God can be fulfilled in us and through us.  I will tell what the purpose for Naomi and Ruth is, later on in this study.

Ruth was saying to Naomi no matter what happens, I am staying with you even to the point of death (Ruth 1:16, 17).  But remember, it was God who ordained Ruth not to leave Naomi.  It is interesting how Naomi’s other daughter-in-law Orpah didn’t go with her but went back to her people and to her gods (Ruth 1:15).  It was because God had a specific purpose for Ruth.  If Orpah went with them, perhaps Ruth and Orpah would be in conflict or clash (envy could have arisen) with each other over Boaz.  Remember Naomi says to her two daughters-in-law “I do not have any more sons to give to you for marriage.”  That is an indication that these women wanted to get married again.  It is interesting that “Orpah” means “neck” or “stubbornness.”  There must be something to that name.  Usually in the Bible, names signify the person.  Like “Jacob,” which means “heel catcher” or “supplanter,” etc.  Even though Orpah told Naomi that she wanted to go with her, her heart was not into it, and perhaps it was because of her stubbornness.  Being stubborn is the direct result of selfishness.  God said, “And stubborn is as iniquity and idolatry” (I Sam. 15:23).  These are very strong warning words.  There is a clear indication that Ruth was not selfish, and her heart was not like Orpah, for she was willing to give her life up for Naomi.

There must be a deep relationship between Ruth and her mother-in-law Naomi.  Evidently, Ruth loves Naomi to the point of giving up her life for her.  In fact, the name Ruth means, FRIENDSHIP!”   She lived up to her name.  This is a perfect example of what Jesus was saying, Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends (John 15:13).   Ruth was a type of the Spirit of Christ in this aspect – “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”   Jesus is the real Friend that lay down His life for His friends.   A friend has a deeper relationship than a servant – Jesus said, “No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing, but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you” (John 15:15).   This verse expresses intimacy with the relationship between Christ and His disciples.  A true friend is one who knows the person, and shares heart to heart.  The task, which a servant must perform, is often laborious, and burdensome with much effort, but a friend is compelled by love – “A friend loveth at all times” (Proverb 17:17).   This is another important aspect of God.  God wants to become our friend to each of us.  Jesus did not come to condemn the world.  Many of us think of God is ready to beat us up with a 2 by 4 (a piece of lumber) or to condemn us – “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that through Him we might be saved (John 3:17).   But no, God in the person of Jesus Christ wants to become our friend.   This kind of relationship is so special because the Spirit of God draws us to spend time with Him.  As a result, we want come to Him – “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you (James 4:8).  This kind of relationship is called, “Intimate!”   It is intimate because it requires spending quality time and quantity time with Him. 

There are three kinds of relationships.  The first one is acquaintance.  The second one is casual, and the third is intimate.  The acquaintance and casual require less time.  For example, we greet one another in church service, but we don’t know them intimately or casually.  This is called, “acquaintance.”  Another example is that, a politician has a lot of acquaintances.  Casual friendship is going to a ball game or doing different things every once in a while together.  We may have a lot of acquaintances and casual friends, but intimately, we only have two or at the most three.   The Lord Jesus is our best Friend.  He is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.  The most important example of “intimacy” other than the Lord is husband and wife.   The classic example of a true friend other than the Lord is David and Jonathan – “the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his soul (I Sam. 18:1).  There was a deep bond and unity between the two.   A true friend will look out for the best interest of the other.   The characteristics of a true intimate friend are trust and security.  An American songwriter and singer named Carole King wrote a song called, “You got a friend.”  The words of that song exemplify a true friend – “Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall, all you have to do is call, and I’ll be there, you got a friend.”   In addition, a true friendship is based upon trust.  To build trust takes a long time, and spending time is the only way.  That is what Ruth had with Naomi.  To give her life for Naomi tells us that she trusted her.  To trust someone is to know someone really well.  As a result, Ruth did everything Naomi told her to do (Ruth 3:5-9).  A true friend does not break trust with a friend, and vice-versa!  Sin violates the trust of God, but Jesus Christ restores our trust to God.  Trust is earned, and how to earn trust is based upon how we value a person.   So, treat trust like a valuable possession.  James 2:23 said, “And the scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”  And he was called the friend of God.”  Any friend of God is one who trusts and believes God.  God is the One we should value the most for friendship and for an intimate relationship.   Here is a poem on trust:

THE BEAUTY OF TRUST

The power of trust generated by honesty and openness.
Faithfulness is the way to succeed.
And loyalty is the builder of trust. 
To build trust with someone is sometimes like a long journey.
And to continue on that path,
will make the beauty of trust goes a long, long way.

But when trust is crushed and bruised,
Suspicion and pain will sweep like a flood.
All the foundation of trust will start trembling down.
And the oneness of life will become
as a total eclipse of the sun.

The healing of trust is sometimes endless.
Depending upon how deep the root of forgiveness is in one’s heart.
A relationship is at its best only when trust is involved.
So, treat trust like a valuable possession.
And the strength of love will not be broken.

Written  by  “The Puppet Man”
Richard Arillotta * Sept. 1992 ©
Used by Permission of the Author

Here was God’s main purpose for Ruth and Naomi, and it is in Chapter 4:14-17a, Boaz took Ruth in marriage and she had a son named Obed.   For “the women said to her” (Naomi): “Praise be to the Lord, who this day has not left you without a kinsmen-redeemer.  May be become famous throughout Israel!  He renews your life and sustains you in your old age.  For your daughter-in-law” (Ruth) “who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons has given him forth.  Then Naomi took the child, laid him in her lap and cared for him.  The women living there said, ‘Naomi has a son.   Boaz was a wealthy man.  Boaz was being a kinsman redeemer, which means he exercised a right by marrying Ruth and obtaining the property of her first husband’s father, a near relative.  He could not marry someone in a relationship from within (like Naomi, Boaz was Elimelech’s brother).   It would be incestuous (Leviticus 18:12, 13,17).   Out of that son (Obed) came Jesse, and Jesse had a son named David, and he became a king and out of David came the descendants of Jesus Christ.   Now Naomi had the purpose of God in her life, and God gave her a new hope.  But now with us it is not a hope that come from without (things that are seen with our natural eyes), but it is the Hope from within us – “Christ in us, the hope of glory!”   God used Ruth to bring Naomi out of her misery.  Ruth was serving God by ministering to Naomi.  Some Bible scholars say that Naomi had adopted the son.  But whatever the case may be, Naomi’s spirit was lifted up, and she had a sense of purpose.  Even in her old age, Naomi’s life was renewed.  We can see in the spiritual realm every little detail of God’s unseen purposes.  Naomi did not seem to have the purpose of God from the beginning.  Her purpose seemed dead.  But at the right time, God made His purposes alive in Naomi.  God restores her life by using Ruth and Boaz.  Now Naomi has a story to tell.  Naomi can call herself once again “Pleasant!”   Ruth was blessed and rewarded, and she has a purpose too (Chapter 3,4).  Ruth shifts from widow and poor to marriage and prosperity.  Ruth was a Moabite (a Gentile) and God used her.   The bitter situation turns the unseen purpose of God into sweetness.  Here is an interesting verse – “The full soul loathes a honeycomb.  But to a hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet (Proverb 27:7).  This verse means a hungry soul has been in many different situations to stay hungry enough in order to taste everything sweet.  In Naomi’s case, she had everything taken away, and became bitter - “Mara.”  She could not taste the sweetness out of the bitter because she fixed her eyes on the situation.  Therefore, she acquired the bitter taste.  Evidently, she was not hungry enough.  A hungry soul will cry out to God and seek Him because he is in a place of need – “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled (Matthew 5:6).   It is good to stay hungry for Him, so that God can become sweeter even in the bitter time.  There is nothing wrong with having the material things of life or good gifts - Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17 NIV).   However, God gave us the desire (for the material things of life or good gifts) to enjoy them, but we can use them for the wrong purposes.  When the natural or material things of life or good gifts are taken away from us, we should humbly come to Him and seek Him instead of blaming Him or resisting Him of His work in us.  Whatever situation we are in, God can even turn our bitter times into sweetness.   It is interesting how a person has everything is going smoothly and full, and yet he has a tendency to be not satisfied and be miserable - “The full soul loathes a honeycomb (Proverbs 27:7b).

The ultimate purpose of Ruth’s story is to bring the descendant of Jesus Christ into fulfillment – “Christ in us, the hope of glory.”   God uses the circumstances of Naomi, Ruth and Boaz to bring about the real Kinsman Redeemer – Jesus Christ.  Jesus Christ redeems us by purchasing us with His blood and so has taken us to be His “bride.”  Ruth, Boaz and Obed were recorded in the genealogy of Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:5).  By the way, “Obed” means “Worshipper!”  The meaning of the name was a prefiguring of David – the true worshipper of things to come.  Out of Obed came Jesse, and out of Jesse, David.  Obed was the grandfather of David.  That made Ruth the great-great grandmother of David. 

God did not reveal to Naomi His purpose from the beginning.  On the other hand, Abraham and Sarah knew the purpose of God beforehand.  You remember the three visitors (angels) came and said to Abraham, “Where is your wife Sarah?”  they asked him.  “There, in the tent,’ he said.  Then the Lord said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.”  Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him” (Genesis 18:9-10).   Then Sarah laughed because she was beyond childbearing age.  God told them that they would have a child out of their own body.  She had a son named “Isaac” which, means “laughter.”  So therefore, Abraham and Sarah knew the purpose of God beforehand, and God told them that Sarah would become the mother of all nations.  Nevertheless, Sarah and Abraham were beyond childbearing and their bodies were as good as dead; therefore, the plan of God for them had to be a miracle.  But before they had Isaac, they tried to help God out by using Hagar their maidservant, and she had a son named Ishmael.  It was about twenty-nine years later when they had Isaac.   Abraham and Sarah were trying to fulfill God plan’s in their way (it was cause by their unbelief).   Consequently, the Israelites have problem from the descendents of Ishmael (the Arab nations) to this present day.  Abraham and Sarah were over 90 years old when they had the promised child.  To all the senior citizens out there, God may not be finished with you yet!  He may still have the purpose of God yet to be fulfilled through you.
 

WHETHER WE SEE THE PURPOSE OF GOD NOW OR NOT, GOD HAS A PURPOSE!

(Mara, even in our bitter or pleasant times, God has a purpose!)

 

Part Two

 

Written  by  “The Puppet Man”
Richard Arillotta  
ă
Used by Permission of the Author

I take great comfort knowing that God has a purpose in my life whether I know it or not.  It is good not to know the purpose ahead of time, or we will be like Abraham and Sarah trying to fulfill His plan in our own strength or in our own ability by trying to help God out.  God does not need our help. We need to trust Him and rest in the fact that God will fulfill His purpose in us (Philippians 1:6).   However, God gave some men and some women of God to know their purpose is ahead of time for a specific reason.  Remember Joseph’s dreams (Genesis 37-50)?   Joseph needed the dream from the beginning because of the ordeals and trials he went through, so that God could work in him.  He wore a coat of many colors, wore it before his brothers, and it made his brothers envy him.   God had to do a work of humility in him by using his brothers to put him in the pit.  In addition, he was in prison etc.  In prison, whatsoever he did made everything prosper.  And while he was there in prison he learned more about being in authority, which led him to be second in command of Egypt.  There is another aspect of why he could sustain these ordeals and trials and we see it where the Scripture said, “The Lord was with Him” (Genesis39:23).  Therefore, he could say later on when he met his brothers, “But as for you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good” (Genesis 50:20).  He could not have said that if he did not have the dream from the beginning (ahead of time).  Another example is Jesus Christ – “who for the joy that was set before Him endured the Cross, despising the shame” (Hebrews 12:2b).  Jesus saw His purpose beforehand – bringing many sons and daughters in the Kingdom.  Jesus went through horrible ordeal – before the Cross and while He was hanging on the Cross.  Many of us can ask God to give us a peak into the future, so that we can endure with a purpose.  Be sure of this, we will go through a lot of adversities, obstacles and sufferings even to the point of despising the shame for the process of executing the purpose of God.  We need adversities and obstacles to ask Him for wisdom (James 1:5, 6).   Moreover, we need wisdom, so that the purpose of God can firmly fitly positional together.  Without wisdom, we would not know how to stand firm in the on-going process. 

The problem is that we focus fixedly on the future (goal or promise), and miss what God is doing now.  As a result, we miss seeing the important little details in the present.  Realize this: His daily plans for our lives are in this very moment.  The little details of now are the groundwork for the future.  We look to the future for big things, and forget the little things that God has given us now.  Therefore, God wants us to focus on the now.  Jesus said, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things.  Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:34).  In the verses before Matthew 6:34, Jesus was talking about the necessities of life.  The reason why Jesus says that is because He wants us to be free from the burden of caring for the future.

We do not praise Him for the little things.  In Zechariah 4:10 we read, “For who has despised the day of small things?”   God wants us to meditate on the small things, so that we can learn how to be thankful in all things – “In everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).   If we cannot learn to be thankful for small things, then we will not learn to be content.  It is in the small things that lead us to believe for bigger things.  How can we ask and believe God for the big things if we don’t ask and believe for the small things – “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much” (Luke 16:10)?   Our faith grows in the small things.  Do you remember king David?  Before he killed the giant Goliath, he was a shepherd, the least of all occupations, but he believed God enabled him to kill the bear and the lion (1 Samuel 17).  His faith did not begin with big things.  It began in his life as a shepherd, and then included the bear and the lion.  He believed that God could use him to kill Goliath with five smooth stones.   We often do not believe that small things are significant.  In God’s eyes, all small things are significant.

One time I was looking for my keys.  I couldn’t find them.  I kept on looking and searching.  I went to my bedroom and shut the door.  I sat on my bed, and asked God, “I can’t find my keys, help me Lord to find my keys.”  Then I heard Him say to me, “They are beneath you.”  I looked there, and it wasn’t there.  So I went and looked around the house again, and still I couldn’t find them.  I went back to my bedroom and asked God again, “Where did I put my keys?”  He said, “They are beneath you.”  I quickly took my blankets apart, but I didn’t see them there.  So again I looked around the house and still I couldn’t find them.  This time I went back to my bedroom irritated and frustrated.  I demanded in a loud voice to God, “WHERE ARE MY KEYS?”  Again He said, “They are beneath you.”  But this time I slowly removed my covers from the bed.  Guess what?  There they were, underneath the blanket.  My faith was encouraged.  I know that He is interested in the small things, too.  To God, all small things are significant to Him.  Our faith will grow in the small things.  That is why we should not despise the day of small things!

Jeremiah 29:11 said, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”  The problem with that (the future - knowing God’s purpose ahead of time) is that we try to make things happen and we are get ahead of God.  As a result, we accomplish the objective in our flesh (Remember Abraham tried to accomplish God’s purpose by using Hagar).

James (4:13-16) said, “Go to now, ye that say, Today or tomorrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain.   Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow.  For what is your life?  It is even a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.  For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will’s, we shall live, and do this, or that.  But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil.”  The plan or goal may never happen the way we want it to go.  God may show us what lies ahead (His plan), but if we are focusing on the future and getting ahead of God, then it can become evil.  It is evil because we become like a god knowing how and what to do, and it may not be the way God does it or He may never have intended that for us in the first place.  That is why we ought to say, “If the Lord will’s, we shall live, and do this, or that.”  The Apostle Paul gave us an example in the book of Acts 18:18-21.  “Paul stayed on in Corinth for some time.  Then he left the brothers and sailed for Syria, accompanied by Priscilla and Aquilla.  Before he sailed, he had his hair cut off at Cenchrea because of a vow he had taken.  They arrived at Ephesus where Paul left Priscilla and Aquilla.  He himself went into the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews.  When they asked them to spend more time with them, he declined.  But as he left, he promised, ‘I will come back if it is God’s will.’”  Paul made a promise, and knew that the plan might change, and he acknowledged God by saying “if it is God’s will!”   On the other hand, we should plan for the future or work toward the future plan – Jesus said, “Occupy till I come” (Luke 19:13)!”

God’s ultimate purpose is to conform us into the image of Jesus Christ (Romans 8:28, 29).  Every believer is enclosed in that purpose.  We have a story to tell of how God gave us a purpose in the midst of a bitter or pleasant situation.  The purpose of conforming us is that we will serve Him in a most excellent way.   Jesus said, “Yet shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant.  And whoever of you desires to be first shall be servant of all” (Mark 10:43,44).  Matthew 20:25,26 relates, “But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers if the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them.  Yet it shall not be so among you:  but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. 

The story recorded in the book of Ruth is about getting His purpose done through us, and to see that Jesus has called us His friend, not because we serve Him, but that a Friend loves His friend and will do anything for Him.

---------------------------

Richard Arillotta has  a nickname: “The Puppet Man!”  A college teacher once said that he "moved like a real live marionette puppet."  Richard says, "It was because of my erratic movement caused by my cerebral palsy.  My new name associates that, as 'a broken vessel' I can be used by God."  You may contact Richard at:  beholdhim@ez2.net


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