THE ROAD TO REDEMPTION
Table of Contents Introduction......................................................................................................................................... 1. Devastation - Life can be Cruel…................................................................................................ 2. Tough as it is - Move forward in God........................................................................................... 3. The Anticipation of Kindness and Redemption.......................................................................... Conclusion........................................................................................................................................... Works Cited.........................................................................................................................................
Life is cruel, sometimes brutal and often down right devastating. We frequently find ourselves exposed to situations and circumstances that are undeniably beyond our sphere of control. Have you ever felt like you’ve been thrown or cast into a “lion’s den”? Or swamped with a suffocating sensation that there is absolutely no natural way out? Perhaps you find yourselves surrounded, backed up against a wall, and find yourself between a rock and a hard place. This is the vicious reality of inhabiting a hostile and fallen world. However, there is hope. The Bible is jam-packed with pulsating narratives of people facing devastating and seemingly catastrophic outcomes until the God of “kindness and redemption” heroically steps in and alters the destiny of an elect person. This is “good news”!
Throughout the scriptures God sets the precedent of supernaturally intervening and changing the outcomes of the most dire and perplexing situations. Are you in need of God’s supernatural intervention? This article is about a story of two women’s lives that had been heartlessly wrecked by the inevitability of life. These women had their lives devastated. They urgently needed to experience the kindness and redemption of God. Are you in desperate need of the “stepping in” of God?
They discovered “The Road to Redemption”. You can too!
1. Devastation - Life can be Cruel
The fascinating story of Naomi and Ruth unfolds in the splendour of the Old Testament account of a family that had been ruthlessly relocated from the “House of Bread” (Bethlehem) to the land of “Incest” (Moab). The Moabites insidiously descend from Lot’s incestuous relationship with his two daughters (Gen 19:30-38). Naomi’s family expected to live out a successful and prosperous life in the land that flowed with “milk and honey” but this is not how things played out. Life has a nefarious way of bringing you down to the stark reality which screams— “It’s not always fair!”
The narrative describes Israel as being ravaged by a severe famine that swept the land. This horrific segue was not foreseen in a covenant-keeping, God-fearing family. After all, God promises supernatural blessing and unspeakable favour on all those that obey His commandments (Deut 28:1-14). The Deuteronic promises made to Israel are staggering and unapparelled in all of human history. This is the “Theocratic Blessing” and prosperity of God flowing in all its majesty. Obedience to God’s commands procured all this splendour, provision, protection and favour. However, being thrust into a debilitating famine would raise many questions in a Jewish mind. “Have I sinned? Have I offended God? Have I broken the Theocratic covenant in Deuteronomy 28 that ensures supremacy in the earth?” This is a very real scenario that would have plagued the mind of Naomi as they were forcibly driven towards a demonically ruled country! The Old Testament is explicitly clear in many places, that if God’s people broke His covenant, they would be overcome and overridden with every curse imaginable (Deut 28:15-68). These words are pitiless, brutal and ruthless. Thank God, we are living in the age of “Grace”.
However, the narrative begs the question, “What did they do so very wrong that released the wrath of God?” Guess what? Nothing has changed in post-modern 21st century Christianity. Sometimes, we are faced with devastating circumstances that lead to countless unanswered questions. “What have I done? Why is this happening? Why is there such a famine on multiple levels playing out in my life?” These are some of the questions Naomi and countless Christians are asking themselves today. My purpose in writing this article is not to discover why the “hedge of protection” was removed or why such devastation was allowed to hit the “House of Bread” but to point out that this is an unadulterated reflection of everyday living for millions of people. Devastating stuff happens! Period! Just ask Job!
In fact, Clarke (1826) emphatically points out that the sworn enemies of Israel, the Philistines and Ammonites caused the famine due to their ravaging, pillaging and plundering of the “Promised Land”. To our knowledge Naomi’s family might have been innocent in the eyes of the Lord but bore the brunt of unfair existential circumstances unfolding all around them. Perhaps, in a very similar way, you feel that everything that is taking place in your life is simply “out of your sphere of control!” Simply put — unfair! Existential crisis situations like self-mutilating choice, bankruptcy, loss of a job, divorce or the unforeseen decisions of others can quickly spiral your life into the abyss of no hope! Life is not fair. It’s a given that at some point in your life you are going to be faced with circumstances that are beyond comprehension and your ability to solve them. Chaos ensues. As you embrace and delve deeply into the story of Naomi, you can sense the profound despair gyrating out of control into complete resentment. She distraughtly changes her name to Mara — “Bitterness”. This is unfortunately the sad outcome of many people’s lives. When faced with hardship, tragedy or despair and not being dealt with correctly, it invariably ends in a hateful and bitter existence. Have you ever met someone who is rotten with bitterness to the core? This has been designed to chain you to perpetual defeat.
This is the backdrop to Naomi’s and Ruth’s story. I have found myself in similar circumstances. So, will you!
2. Tough as it is - Move forward in God
The historical account of Naomi plays out in the Book of Ruth. The story devolves from very bad to horrifically devastating. The tragedy that unfolds is epic in its downward spiral of hopelessness and despair. Apart from losing her land, business and being forcefully driven from their earthly inheritance, Naomi’s worst nightmare comes to pass. Her husband, the strength of her life — dies. To add insult to injury, her two sons pass away — the hope of her life. I cannot imagine the depths of sorrow, despair and anguish she was automatically plunged into. Surely these are the common words that echoed out of her broken heart, “Why God?” Perhaps, you are asking God the same forlorn question.
When you delve deep into a spiritual analysis of this emotionally gut-wrenching story, one comes to the realization that everyone is subject to the horrors of this corrupted world-system. However, in the midst of all this pain and anguish God is still supreme. It has proven to be the case, when you hit rock bottom, only then can you really start beginning to perceive the light at the end of the tunnel. I am convinced that God allows certain things to not only happen in one’s life but arranges circumstances that bring about His perfect will in our lives. More than often this kind of statement will leave us with more questions than answers. However, God is God for a very good reason. Who am I to argue with an omniscient Creator! Isaiah 45:9 emphatically states, “Woe to him who strives with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth! Shall the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’ Or shall your handiwork say, ‘He has no hands’?” The Apostle Paul develops this prophetic thought thoroughly by adding this to it in Romans 9:18-23, “Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens. 19 You will say to me then, ‘Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?’ 20 But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why have you made me like this?’ 21 Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor? 22 What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory."
You are in the very complex process of being made into something spectacular. Who am I to question the method God uses to bring me into useful maturity? It’s a multifaceted thought to comprehend that there are people created for destruction and some fabricated for mercy! The complexity of life can be extremely difficult to fathom. This has driven many a well-intended philosopher around the bend. Plato, the influential Greek philosopher honestly and rightfully quotes Socrates through his “Socratic Paradox”, “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” This from a purely human perspective is categorically true. I personally believe that God has set things up this way for one reason and one reason only: To learn total dependency upon God. This is the sum of all learning. Read that again!
Throughout the Bible God has placed individuals and nations in positions to learn this priceless lesson that is often overlooked and never comprehended by the majority of mankind. Learning to depend on God’s leading and mercy in times of tragedy or hardship is paramount in the discipling process. Can you grasp this? It is necessary that this takes place. It will move you from point A to B in your spiritual journey. First Moses learnt this in the wilderness then later Israel as a nation, “And you shall remember that the LORD your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.” Moses talks from experience and lists three vital lessons God would have us learn individually and as a corporate collective in times of tragedy, hardship and despair:
To learn humility.
To test what’s in your heart.
Obey His leading/commands.
I could spend pages unpacking these three incredible truths but this is not the main focus of this composition. Suffice to say that a wilderness, a Moab or seemingly insane tragedy is all used by God to bring you to a place of spiritual maturity and ultimate destiny. One of the greatest spiritual lessons a Christian can learn is found in Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” This is easier quoted than lived out on a daily basis or throughout a faithful life that is “rested” in Him. You must realize that your life is a complex mystery that you are beginning to discover.
Things begin to change for Naomi. They inevitably do. This is encouraging. She, providentially hears that God had supernaturally restocked the “House of Bread”. There is food and provision in Israel once again. She begins the arduous “journey of faith” from Moab back to Bethlehem. It’s in times like these that the man or woman of God grounded in the unshakable promises of God comes to the forefront of life itself. The courageous character of the believer in an almighty God “who calls those things that are not as if they were” comes piercing forth like the fiery dawn (Romans 4:17). The only thing left to do—is to follow the leading of God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. To all of you who find yourself in a spiritual or a literal famine, to those that have been brutally struck down by the complications and horrors of a sinful world, I echo to you the words of Paul, “But one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.15 Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind (Philippians 3:13-15). Maturity in the Lord will always cause you to press on into your prophetic destiny. Don’t be deceived you definitely have one. Naomi and Ruth start the return journey to Israel with muted anticipation. God will always make a way. They had discovered God’s “Road to Redemption”.
3. The Anticipation of Kindness and Redemption
Built up inner anticipation of the supernatural power of God becoming manifest toward an individual has its primal roots in the undeserved lovingkindness and redemption of a God of infinite “grace”. The narrative of Ruth points to a “greater” truth than just the “Levirate Marriage” which runs through the entire legacy of the Bible. It transcends the deepest philosophical truth, leaves man-glorifying religions in its wake and sheds light on mankind’s most needed remedy—the manifest kindness of God in the ultimate redemption of Jesus Christ.
When Jesus states in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” these are not mere words of an enlightened philosopher or some revered “holy man”. These are the very words of the One who spoke everything into being. He is the One through whom all things exist. This is the ultimate antidote to chaos! He is the only answer to devastation. He is the “House of Bread” manifest for you. Jesus is your Kinsman-Redeemer! The kindness of God can be experienced today! Redemption from any situation can be your testimony. None of us are immune from facing the harsh realities of life. However, in Jesus, everything can be recycled. Click to get my book for more on this in, Living a Supernatural Life on the Road Less Traveled. Even death itself is no longer to be feared because of the redemption in the “finished” work of Jesus.
With this illuminating knowledge, it sets the tone for the rest of the story which is about to unfold in all its beauty. This is truly a biblical “love story” of massive proportions. The Biblical text sets up the narrative in such a way that anybody with a sheard of spiritual insight is able to understand the “principle” of the Jewish “kinsman-redeemer”. To cut a long story short, Ruth connects with a man called Boaz whose name means, “quick or swift” or literally “in him strength” (CWS 1993). This is a great “thought-picture” of the character of Jesus. He is always willing to move swiftly and purposefully on your behalf. The law of the “Levirate Marriage” or kinsman-redeemer is laid out in Deuteronomy 25:5-10 and Jesus Himself deals with this in Matthew 22:25-27 when confronted by hypocritical Sadducees. The principle lays forth the idea of a brother or male family member marrying a dead brother’s wife in order that she would not slip into poverty and lose the family inheritance (land=security). Without getting into all the technicalities of the law and the cultural allusions of the day, suffice to say, we will focus on what Naomi commanded Ruth to do in order to evoke Boaz’s kindness and ensuing redemption. Naomi commands Ruth to do three things:
1. Wash yourself.
2. Anoint yourself.
3. Put on your best garment.
All three instructions have deep spiritual meaning of significance to the Christian who is in the life long process of making themselves presentable for the return of the King of kings. These are very deep spiritual truths that deal with a successful outcome at the Bema-Seat of Christ, which in turn will determine your qualification to rule and reign with Him in a governmental capacity in the “Millennium” (2 Cor 5:9-11; Rev 2-3). However, I would like to simply focus on a statement made by Ruth after receiving specific instructions from Naomi which says, “All that you say to me I will do.” This is the key that will unlock the bolted door to undeserved lovingkindness and the redemption of God. It’s so unassuming, so profound that not many comprehend its simplicity. Every Christian needs to understand that we are no longer under the idea of doing what is right and wrong. We are no longer bound by the ministry of death of the Old Testament (2 Cor 3:7). We are now living according to the New Testament principle of being led by the Holy Spirit (Jer 31:31-34; Rom 8:14; 2 Cor 3:8).
This is the true secret to finding “The Road to Redemption”. A life that is in and led by the Holy Spirit. This is the key to everything! All of us make mistakes and commit monumental failures but everything is redeemable in Christ. The secret is listening to what the Spirit is teaching and commanding you to do! Then, it’s up to you to implement the precise instruction of the Holy Spirit. Just look at these words spoken by Jesus Himself, “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” This is the only way to step into the kindness and redemption of God on any level. This is also an important thing to understand. God’s redemption can play out on many levels such as seasons, ministries, relationships, material things, etc. My point is that you need to listen and do exactly what He is telling you to do. You might say, “I don’t hear God. He doesn’t speak to me!”. That’s an excuse that doesn’t cut the mustard! It is absolutely possible to develop a relationship with the Holy Spirit. He is willing and it’s your responsibility to cultivate one with Him. Stop making excuses for why you can’t hear God. He is speaking. You are not listening! That’s the simple truth!
Jesus said these three things:
“And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you” (Matthew 14:16-18; NKJV).
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you”(Matthew 14:26; NKJV).
“Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come” (Matthew 16:7&13; NKJV).
I’m not going to break down these verses. I think the average child is able to understand them. The onus is on the individual Christian to develop a relationship with the Holy Spirit. He is more than capable in telling you what to do down to the minutest detail. Listening and obeying Him is the only way to find the “Road to Redemption”. I’m not going lie, this is not always easy to figure out—which relationship is? But, it’s the only way! Ruth and ultimately Naomi experienced kindness and redemption through Boaz because she was able to follow instructions. This is the kindness and redemption of God in full flow. Life can be devastating and throw anyone a curve ball at any given moment. However, the path that leads to redemption can only be accessed through obeying the Holy Spirit. Allow the anticipation of God’s kindness and redemption to build within you. Just do what He is telling you to do! A story in God ends well. Naomi’s name means “pleasantness or delight”. Through God’s redemption Naomi’s life situation was restored to one of enjoyment and favour. Out of this seemingly devasting story, a rainbow of promise appears at the end of the storm with Ruth giving birth to the great-grandfather of King David which ultimately brings forth mankind’s “Kinsman-Redeemer” — Jesus!
It’s inevitable that life can throw you a devastating curve ball at any moment. The Bible is full of stories of lives that have suffered at the hands of fallen creation, mankind and an incumbent ruler. However, the kindness and redemption of God found in Jesus can be experienced by you today. The story of Naomi and Ruth is a harrowing and a stark reminder of the reality of this world but ends in the kindness and redemption of God who really cares for His elect. The secret to finding the “Road to Redemption” is allowing the Holy Spirit to give you distinctive instructions regarding your situation and then obeying them until the kindness of God breaks forth bringing redemption to your life. Expect the supernatural intervention of God. Everything is redeemable in Him.
Clarke A 1826. Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible. Accessed from e-Sword Bible study
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