Judges 21:1-Ruth 1:22
The book of Judges ends with the men of Israel doing what they can, in an attempt to undo what they’ve already done. The tribe of Benjamin is left with only 600 men after a vicious civil war and no Jewish women to marry. The men of Israel who have fought in the war, have vowed not to give any of their daughters as wives to the Benjamites…so they weep bitterly and lift up their voices:
Judges 21:3 (NKJV) “and said, ‘O LORD God of Israel, why has this come to pass in Israel, that today there should be one tribe missing in Israel?’”
What happens next are further illustrations of a nation that has turned their back on God. They’re illustrations of that old adage, “Two wrongs don’t make a right.” Or, “The ends don’t justify they means.” They decide to slaughter their brethren – all the men, and all the women who have known a man, and all the children, in order to provide brides for the men from the people of Jabesh Gilead. After that, they kidnap (“take”) two hundred virgins who are out dancing to the LORD.
When I read these stories I ask myself, “Where would I be without the LORD as the Lord of my life? Where would I be without the Word of God, left to myself to try and figure things out?” I would be in the book of Judges. The truth is, even WITH the Spirit and the Bible, I need to guard my heart from not living life as they did in those days:
Judges 21:25 (NKJV) “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”
So much unnecessary heartache.
We will see that the book of Ruth is a beautiful picture of Jesus and the church, but it begins with heartache. First the famine in Israel which led Elimelech and his family to the country of Moab. While they were there, Elimelech died, along with his two sons, Mahlon and Chilion.
After ten years in Moab, the widow Naomi decides to return to Israel and she encourages her daughter’s in law to remain in Moab and get married. What follows next is truly touching. One daughter-in-law Orpah resists a a bit, but gives in, kisses Naomi and decides to stay in Moab. But her other daughter-in-law, Ruth, cannot be swayed, she clings to Naomi and resolves to stay with her, willing to stay single (if necessary) in order to serve her mother in law. I wonder if it’s because Ruth had become a believer in the LORD. We read those beautiful words of commitment:
Ruth 1:16–17 (NKJV) “But Ruth said: ‘Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from following after you; for wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. 17 Where you die, I will die, and there will I be buried. The LORD do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts you and me.'”
Beautiful words of love and commitment – words that my wife and I exchanged as wedding vows.
We are about to see the way God honors the integrity of this amazing young woman named Ruth, how God is in all the details of our lives, able to transform tragedies into victories.
Naomi doesn’t see it yet, she’s a bit bitter, but eventually even she will see the wonder in God’s wonderful plan.
Jesus wanted to reach out to a Samaritan woman, so He needed to go through Samaria (John 4:4). This was a bold move on Jesus’ part because we read in John 4:9 that Jews have no dealings with Samaritans, and we notice in John 4:27 the shock of Jesus’ disciples that He even spoke with a woman, for Rabbi’s wouldn’t engage in conversation with ladies…they looked down on them. But Jesus didn’t bow down to that, He broke down the political and social barriers.
Usually the Jews would take a different road to avoid Samaria altogether, even though it would mean an extra week of travel time. “One [main road] led…from Jerusalem past Bethany to Jericho, then north up the Jordan Valley and the west side of the Sea of Galilee toward Capernaum. To avoid Samaria, whose inhabitants the Jews despised, Jews often traveled this road in going between Galilee and Judea.”– A Survey of the New Testament.
But Jesus went through Samaria, He wanted to reach her.
After the journey, Jesus was weary and thirsty. Women normally drew water in the evening (Genesis 24:11), but this woman came at noon, when there would be less people (if anyone) – she undoubtedly was looked down upon. Why? Because she had been married and divorced five times and was now shacking up with the sixth guy. She was looking for love and fulfillment in a human relationship, and as time wore on, her heart had been broken so many times she may have thought she was beyond the love of anyone. She had sort of given up…but then God shows up.
Jesus didn’t judge her. He only wanted to reach her and prove Himself to her. He offered her living water so that she’d never “thirst” again. As we’ve seen frequently in the Gospel of John, she’s thinking physically, but Jesus is speaking spiritually.
Jesus offered her what her heart truly longed for – love and life. The reality is, everyone and everything else, will leave us dissatisfied, it will never be enough. The only One who can quench our thirst is Jesus. The only One who can save us is Jesus.
The woman begins to talk religion, Jacob, history, and geography, but the Lord steers her in a different direction. Jesus tells her (and us) that the Father is seeking those who worship Him in Spirit and in truth. Her view of Jesus grew from a Jew, to sir, to a prophet, and ultimately to the Christ. Jesus reached her and saved her and she in turn spread the news to the rest of the people in her village; they also believed in Jesus when they were introduced to Him and heard His word.
How important it is that we stay sensitive to the Holy Spirit. “Lord, where do I ‘need‘ to go today?” Who can I reach out to? Am I aware that the harvest is ripe and ready? That there are people out there who are hurting, who just need someone to go to them?
O Lord, may I come to a place in my life where this is more important than food for my body, where my sustenance and satisfaction is just to do Your will.
This Psalm is primarily an expression of praise for all the good God had done for Israel – their history of overall victory.
Give thanks, call upon His name, make known His deeds, sing to him, talk of all His wondrous works, glory in His name, let hearts rejoice to seek the LORD and His strength; seek His face evermore!
There’s the Abrahamic covenant – when he had nothing, God promised him the land flowing with milk and honey, descendants as the stars in the sky and the sands of the sea.
Even when Abraham and Isaac ventured out and failed in foreign lands, we read in:
Psalm 105:14–15 (NKJV) “He permitted no one to do them wrong; yes, He rebuked kings for their sakes, 15 Saying, “Do not touch My anointed ones, and do My prophets no harm.”
I praise God for the grace He’s given to Israel, to His church, and especially to me. He’s called and He will carry us through life…and all the way home.
Back then this spoke of one’s testimony at the city gates – nowadays it speaks of our testimony in court, in front of a judge and jury, we swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, nothing but the truth – and if we’re honest we might be instruments of justice.
But it’s also applicable to our spiritual witness – we even use that word “witness” when we tell others about Jesus – just being honest – this is what He did in my life – here’s the gospel truth, and we share.
Christians are called “witnesses” seven times in the book of Acts.
What an amazing thought! We can be used by God to deliver souls! Have you shared the Gospel with anyone lately? Pray for God to open those doors, and then go out and start “knocking,” let’s see what He does.
If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.