Bible reading for weekend Aug 8.
"But Ruth said, 'Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the LORD do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.'" (Ruth 1:16-17)
A ROMANCE. What a beautiful story, full of nobility and kindness in unexpected places! The Moabite woman Ruth pledges faithfulness to her mother-in-law after Naomi had told her to go back to her gods in Moab. There are seven poetic statements Ruth makes, and the central phrase is, "your God [shall be] my God" (v 16; cf Exodus 6:7). Here a Moabite woman is declaring her faith in the one true God, the Lord, a faith that should have been shared also by the people of Israel at that time, but largely wasn't. The scene of the story is Bethlehem, birthplace of the future King David and of the "Son of David", the Messiah. Boaz, a relative of Naomi, is a noble and godly man of integrity, who shows kindness to Ruth. He blesses Ruth: "The LORD repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!" (2:12) And he blesses Ruth and Naomi with food, too, and provides Ruth with protection at work during that lawless age.
GOD IS GUIDING THE STORY. The first Hebrew word of the story, "va-yehî", is sometimes not translated, but when it is, it is translated as "now it came about" or "and it came to pass". This is the same word used in the Genesis creation account, after God speaks, "let there be", followed by "and it was so". That is, it came about. Creation and history "come to pass" by God's wise decrees. In Ruth this is also highlighted by a word used in 2:3... "So she set out and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers, and she happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the clan of Elimelech." The Hebrew word for "happened" is a word used to denote chance, luck, or something random. But this is written tongue-in-cheek. The point is, what was seemingly random to Ruth -- in what portion of the field she was gleaning -- was actually God's hand guiding her to a godly, single, near-relative of Naomi.
"And I said, 'Who are you, Lord?' And the Lord said, 'I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles - to whom I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.'" (Acts 26:15-18)
TESTIMONY (26). Paul relates his testimony to Festus, Agrippa, and Bernice. We learn that there is a longer version of what the Lord said to Paul on the road to Damascus (vv 14-18). We also hear another name used for believers in Christ, which is "Christian" (v 28). The hearers, though not convinced, were impressed by Paul's defense. Yet, he had appealed to the emperor's court, and as a Roman citizen he would be sent there. One nice thing: his travel expense via ship would be picked up by the Roman government!
ON BOARD (27). His trip to Rome was quite eventful, but God spared them from loss of life. Many scholars have noted that Luke's detailed account of the journey is historically accurate. Here are some examples.
Image credits. Photo of the first page of Ruth in the Castro Pentateuch (1334), Germany. The initial word panel is "Va-yehi", or, "Now it came to pass..." (KJV).
We are following the Robert Murray M'Cheyne (RMM) two-year reading schedule, as arranged by D. A. Carson.
Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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