Tuesday, October 7, 2014

RUTH+—An Illustrated Summary of Life Applications from Every Chapter of the Bible by G. Campbell Morgan

"On every page of the God-breathed writings are many thoughts that stretch out like long, clear arms of light across the darkness, discovering things otherwise hidden and illuminating wider areas than those of the immediate context. They are searchlights. From a multitude of these, I have selected one in each chapter of Scripture, for at least one central thought in every chapter should arrest the mind and affect the life," wrote G. Campbell Morgan, a wise, warm-hearted, careful Bible teacher who conducted a classic 3-year chapter-by-chapter study called Life Applications from Every Chapter of the Bible. Here are the fruits of that timeless study—summarized, illustrated, and amplified—on all 66 books of the Bible (posted one book at a time, cumulatively).
Ruth 1:16 "Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God." The book of Ruth stands in striking contrast to the book of Judges. We are told Ruth takes place during the trying time of the judges (when exactly we don't know), yet it's an oasis of faithfulness amid the spiritual infidelity of the Israelites. It illustrates the truth that God has never left Himself without witness, and also serves as a link in the chain of history: we see God moving forward to the central things of His redeeming purposes through faithful women and men. The highlighted words have often been used in wedding vows since they so movingly express the fidelity of love, but those uttering them seldom realize they were originally spoken by a young widow to her mother-in-law. The younger woman found her heart closely knit to the older one, and it is patent that Ruth's love for Naomi was created by the new faith she learned from her (however imperfectly Naomi represented it at times). The deepest note in her expression of devotion is, "Your God, my God." What a beautiful illustration of how overall faithfulness to God is used by Him to produce faith in others! This result is never obtained by the mere witness of lips, but is vindicated and reinforced by the witness of life as well.

Ruth 2:3 "She happened to come to the portion of the field belonging to Boaz." The Bethlehem homecoming of widows Naomi and Ruth was to poverty, so they immediately faced very practical problems. These were made more difficult by the fact that Ruth was a native of Moab, longtime enemies of Israel.  Yet she it was who went forth to solve their immediate need for food by gleaning. The field "she happened to come to" belonged to a godly relative able to provide for their long-term needs. That which Ruth came upon was that to which she was guided by God, who led this woman who had given up everything on the principle of faith to a man completely motivated by the same faith. The lines of his portrait are few, but they are strong, revealing a man of the finest quality. Ruth's meeting Boaz is a radiant illustration of the truth that God guides those who confide in Him in a most definite way. It may happen so simply and naturally that we can be tempted to think it just happened, yet the long view makes it clear it was not an accident but part of a covenant, ordered in all things and sure. When in loyalty we venture forward by faith in God, we are choosing the path that is safe and sure. There are no accidents in the life of faith.

Ruth 3:13 "Then I will do the part of the next-of-kin for you." These words manifest the nobility and faithfulness of Boaz. It is hardly possible to read this story without seeing that he loved Ruth and was perfectly ready to take the responsibility of the next-of-kin in Jewish law by marrying Ruth. There was, however, another relative with even closer ties to Ruth's family, so in obedience to God's law, Boaz gave that man his opportunity. Perhaps Naomi was unaware of this member of her late husband's family since she had been away from Bethlehem for many years, but Ruth's providential meeting with Boaz and his kindness to her made it natural for Naomi to look to him. Boaz, however, fulfilled his first obligation to the law by giving the first opportunity to the closer relative in a public setting. That man was willing enough to acquire Ruth's property but not Ruth herself because he didn't want to have children with her who would jeopardize his other children's inheritance. He had the right lawfully to abandon his claim since another kinsman was ready to assume it. God overrules to highest ends for those who walk by faith and carefully obey His Word.

Ruth 4:17 "They named him Obed. He is the father of Jesse, the father of David." The story ends with poetic simplicity and beauty: "Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife" (Ruth 4:13). Naomi at last was comforted indeed. The women of her own people sung the praises of Ruth, saying joyfully to Naomi, she "loves you and is better to you than seven sons" (Ruth 4:15). There is a stately simplicity in the concluding family tree. The period of the judges was characterized by the people's failure to realize the great ideal of their unique theocracy. They had no king because they were disobedient to the One King. Soon they would be clamoring for a king "like the nations," and the one they would get would give them 40 hard years of learning the difference between earthly rule and the direct government of God. Then David, the man after God's own heart, would succeed him, descended from Ruth and Boaz, who walked humbly with God. After centuries have run their course would come Another from the union of Ruth and Boaz in faith and love: Jesus, the One and only King of men. He was not only a Child born to Mary, but also the Son of God in all the fullness of that title. God, in love and might, ever moves on through human failure in cooperation with human faith to accomplish His high purposes.

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