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Dave spoke this morning from the book of Ruth, which tells the story of an unlikely heroine. Ruth was a Gentile from Moab who would not be expected to be found in Jewish history, yet she is the great-grandmother of David and therefore one of Jesus’s earthly ancestors. Her faith and commitment are an inspiration to all generations.
The story of Ruth is set in the time of the judges, a time when Israel’s faith in God had given way to independence and rebellion (see Judges 21:25). In many ways, these days remind us of today, when personal choices seem to override obedience and everybody thinks their own way is right. Elimelech and his wife, Naomi, left Israel because of famine, intending to buy bread from Moab. Ten years later, all three men (Elimelech and his two sons) were dead and Naomi (whose name meant ‘pleasant’) is found to be bitter and resentful.
The decision to go to Moab was unwise (see Deut 23:3) and Elimelech, depsite his name (‘my God is king‘), seems to have had little deep faith in God as king. He left Bethlehem (the house of bread) and Judah (the place of praise) for Moab, and in stepping out of God’s will, he and his family undoubtedly suffered. What is more stunning, however, is how God was able to restore and bring something wholesome and positive from this sorry story. Ruth’s loyalty to Naomi and her willingness to choose God for herself (Ruth 1:16) and Boaz’s generosity and faithfulness in redeeming all that had belonged to Elimelech show us how God’s mercy and loving-kindness cover all our sins.
The road back to God (repentance) leads to revival. We often think of repentance as being a one-off turning back to God, but it is a process that happens more than once. It starts in the heart and the mind and we have to humble ourselves, pray, turn back and seek God (2 Chron 7:14). Only as we seek God for the end of the spiritual famine in our land and pray for His intervention and blessing will we see the spiritual revival for which we long. We have to be willing to pay the price, as Ruth was. If we are, God is ready, willing and able to send revival to this land.