Decisions

Decisions.  I love a good story.  My husband loves to watch sports on TV and most of the time I could take it or leave it, but when a biography sketch comes on about a player’s life, I am captivated.  I love to hear how they took what they were given and worked hard to overcome the circumstances in their lives to become a great athlete. Those stories always give hope to people who are wallowing in their circumstances hoping to make something successful out of the pieces of their lives.

Decisions. Ruth is just that kind of story. The events of Ruth took place during the time of the judges (Ruth 1:1) as a famine was taking place.  Difficult times call for action in our lives.  If we are injured or gravely ill, we seek medical assistance.  If a person breaks their arm they do not sit around and wait for their arm to heal, rather they go to the emergency room or the doctor’s office and seek medical assistance.  One summer we were driving home from a week-end away, and the tire on the boat trailer popped.  After we safely pulled over, my husband changed the tire and we continued on our way.  We did not sit by the side of the road and hope that someone would come along and change the tire for us, nor did we sit in our car and wait for the police to come to solve this problem.  No, we got out of the car and changed the tire.

Decisions.  The story of Ruth actually begins with Elimalech taking his family: Naomi, his wife; and Mahlon and Chilon, his two sons, to Moab to find food due to the famine in Israel.  Now we can look at these circumstances from two different perspectives.  In essence, we see that Elimalech had two different choices before him.  He could have stayed in Bethlehem and trusted that God would provide for their needs, or he could have left Bethlehem and gone to another country that did not have a shortage of food from the famine.  Recall from Israel’s history how Jacob sent his sons to Egypt to buy food, and only later did they move to Egypt due to the position of Joseph, Jacob’s son.  Abraham went to Egypt with Sarah in search of food during a time of famine.  Searching for food during a time of famine was not uncommon to the Israelite people as their ancestors had also done this.  When we make big decisions, it is important to seek God and ask for His direction in our lives.

Decisions.  There is no written record of Elimelech seeking God for direction in this major decision.  However, we may find a clue that he did seek God’s direction by looking at the meaning of Elimelech’s name, my God is king.  As we submit to the Lordship of God in our lives, we must also see that recognizing God as King means seeking God for direction in major decisions.

Decisions.  Elimelech set out with his family to Moab which is located on the east side of the Dead Sea.  Moab was not suffering from the famine so this was a place Elimelech could take his family and provide for their needs and also not travel too far from home.  The story quickly goes from bad to worse as Elimelech dies followed by the death of his sons.  Now Naomi is left in a foreign country with two foreign daughters-in-law.  So the story unfolds now with the stage set.  Calamity upon calamity for Naomi and she takes this to heart and wants her name changed to “Mara” which means “bitter.” (Ruth 1:20)

Questions:

  1. Read Ruth 1 and record the events that are significant to the story.
  1. Read Genesis 19:30-38 and record where Moab came from.
  1. According to Ruth 1:6 what news did Naomi hear and what decision did she make?
  1. What did Naomi tell her daughters-in law to do in Ruth 1:8?
  1. Initially it seems the daughters-in-law were going to go with Naomi back to Bethlehem, but then Naomi seemed to insist that they return home to their mother’s home. What seems to be Naomi’s hope according to Ruth 1:9 for her daughters-in-law?
  1. We can see the ancient custom of marrying the husband’s sibling if the husband passes away, especially if there are no offspring to carry on the name of the deceased husband. Why was Naomi so insistent that her daughters-in-law return home? See Ruth 1:11-14.
  1. In Ruth 1:14, we see that Ruth and Orpah made different decisions. The word “clung” in Hebrew means “loyalty or devotion.”  Orpah left and went back to her parents’ home, but Ruth remained loyal to Naomi, her mother-in-law.   As you read the next part of the story, Ruth 1:15-18, describe this kind of loyalty and devotion in your own words.
  1. What is the difference between what Naomi said about Orpah in Ruth 1:15, and what Ruth said in Ruth 1:16?
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You aim for nothing, you hit it every time.

We need something to guide our life. Without a guide for our lives we are living by the old adage, “You aim for nothing, you hit it every time.” If we walk through life aimlessly there will be no direction and without direction, you will be lost. If the basis for your direction is always wavering, then what direction will you be headed?
David said in Psalm 119:105 “Your Word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.” God’s Word, the Bible, can be a lamp and a light to the path of our lives. How do we know that God’s Word is an unwavering source of truth that will lead us in a clear direction and not like a leaf blowing in the wind?
Here are a few facts about the Bible. There have been over 6 billion copies of the Bible published. The Bible was written over a period of 1500 years by 40 different authors and yet it all fits together. Many events that happened in the New Testament were foretold at least 500 years before the event actually took place. The theme throughout the Bible is evident even though it was written by 40 different men. This theme is clearly seen as man’s problem (sin) and the cure for man’s problem (Jesus Christ).
So how do we know that “God’s Word is truth?” (John 17:17). There are 5 tests that have been used through the ages of time to determine the canonicity (a standard by which writings are recognized as Biblical) of Scripture. These tests are questions that each book in the Bible must be able to answer. Through the ages many councils have come together to determine whether the books included in our Bibles are actually the Words of God given divinely through humans as the expressed Words of God.
1. Is it Authoritative? The Prophets in the Old Testament were recognized as having authority by their characteristic words, “And the Word of the Lord came unto the Prophet” or “The Lord said unto…” or “God spoke.” Books that were rejected are fanciful and magical and do not have enough evidence to support their claim. “When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.” (Deuteronomy 18:22)
2. Is it Prophetic? In the Old Testament we see time and again things that were foretold come true in the New Testament. Isaiah writes about the coming Messiah as a baby in Isaiah 9:6 “For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
3. Is it Authentic? Many books were rejected by the Jewish Fathers and early Christian Fathers based on there being historical inaccuracies and moral incongruities. There must be coherence with books that were already established as books that were a part of the canon.
4. Is it Dynamic? Does the book come with the power of God? Hebrews 4:12 “The Word of God is quick and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword…”
5. Is it received? Has this book been accepted by the people of God. As the people of God met together to discern the truth did they see inconsistencies with the whole of Scripture that caused doubts in their minds?
These five questions are primarily used for the canon of the Old Testament. There are also five statements used to determine the canonicity of the New Testament. Those will be the topic of my next blog.
Overarching above all of these questions is “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (II Timothy 3:16, 17). If the passages were not inspired by God than they did not come from God and they are not to be included in the canon. These questions have helped man to determine whether the words they were reading were indeed inspired or breathed out by God and written for man for “our learning” (Romans 15:4).