Friday, May 4, 2012

The Depth of Love

The Book of Ruth, A Love Story
The Depth of Love
Ruth 1:11-18
And Naomi said, Turn again, my daughters: why will ye go with me? are there yet any more sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands?  Turn again, my daughters, go your way; for I am too old to have an husband. If I should say, I have hope, if I should have an husband also to night, and should also bear sons; Would ye tarry for them till they were grown? would ye stay for them from having husbands? nay, my daughters; for it grieveth me much for your sakes that the hand of the LORD is gone out against me. And they lifted up their voice, and wept again: and Orpah kissed her mother in law; but Ruth clave unto her.  And she said, Behold, thy sister in law is gone back unto her people, and unto her gods: return thou after thy sister in law.  And Ruth said, 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 ought but death part thee and me. When she saw that she was stedfastly minded to go with her, then she left speaking unto her.
As the love story unfolds, picture these women traveling along the road toward Bethlehem. Their hearts are broken by death, they’re in despair and somewhat afraid. Naomi stops them on their journey and lovingly reminds them of the reality of their devastated lives. She relays to them that she has no more children for them to marry and if she would have children, they would be too young to marry, they would be better off going home to their families then to continue with her.
Orpah, showing great love for Naomi, kisses her mother-in-law good-bye and with tears streaming down her cheeks, walks away This is a pivotal decision in Orpah’s life––to return to her homeland and unto her gods. Ruth is grieved and weeps as Orpah disappears forever out of their sight––not to be seen again. This must have been an overwhelming moment in the lives of these dear women. With already so much tragedy, suffering and heartache they have endured, to know Orpah, would cease to exist in their lives from this time forward would seem unbearable.
Ruth, on the other hand, cleaves to her mother-in-law, expressing words of love and devotion to Naomi and to her God. Whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: These are words that have been read at wedding ceremonies, immortalized in music and written in poetry. Ruth’s words confirm her devoted love for Naomi but most importantly, they show Ruth’s obvious conversion from worshipping Chemosh to the God of Israel, JEHOVAH.
We need to note the character that Ruth displayed in her choice to abandon the god, Chemosh,  seeing the complete humility she embodies in her decision to follow Naomi as an alien and stranger in the land of Bethlehem, Judah. Ruth was a product of a disgraced and degraded race, the Moabites. The race began with an incestuous act between Lot and his daughters in a cave outside the fallen city of Sodom. Who could do anything with an ancestry such as that? Who but God, could take fallen man, a sinner, and change them by His wonderful, transforming grace.
The Apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians 2 about the hopelessness of the Gentiles in their degradation: They were . . . “Dead in their trespasses and sins . . .  children of disobedience .  .  . fulfilling the desires of the flesh . . .  children of wrath . . . aliens . . . strangers . . . with no hope . . . and without God.”  All seemed so despairingly hopeless then, Paul, with these life giving words, stirs up hearts in saying: But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast (Ephesians 2:4-9).
Thought:  If you have ever wondered how God could save such a sinner as you, as Ruth, or for that matter, any fallen man, remember, you will never understand the meaning of the cross, or understand why Jesus had to die, or understand what His death means until you understand how deep His love truly is. A transcendent love, an extreme sacrifice Christ was willing to pay to accomplish your eternal salvation. Christ is why you are loved with an everlasting love that will not let you go.

O Love That Will Not Let Me Go
by George Mattheson
O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.
O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from thee;
I lay in dust life's glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.
 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand (John 10:28).

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