Clyde Crittenden - The Book of Truth - Australia - 1963

Chapter 1:1-7, "Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehem-judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons. And the name of the man was Elimelech, and the name of his wife Naomi, and the name of his two sons Mahlon and Chilion, Ephrathites of Bethlehem-judah. And they came into the country of Moab, and continued there. And Elimelech Naomi’s husband died; and she was left, and her two sons. And they took them wives of the women of Moab; the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth; and they dwelled there about ten years. And Mahlon and Chilion died also both of them; and the woman was left of her two sons and her husband. Then she arose with her daughters in law, that she might return from the country of Moab; for she had heard in the country of Moab how that the Lord had visited his people in giving them bread. Wherefore she went forth out of the place where she was, and her two daughters in law with her; and they went on the way to return unto the land of Judah."

 

I am sure we can say today that the Lord has visited His people in giving them bread, in giving them the "Bread of Heaven." He has called us together to feed us, and He wants us to see a little more clearly the wealth there is and the sufficiency we can enjoy in His Kingdom. I don’t believe Elimelech consulted God, as he should have done, before he made the move he did. At the beginning, we are told how Elimelech and his little family went to sojourn in the land of Moab. He was not the only one who made that mistake.


We read of Abraham, too, after God told him "To leave his kindred and country." The Lord said, "Now the Lord had said unto Abram, 'Get thee out…'" (Genesis 12: 1) There was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there. Genesis 12:10, “And there was a famine in the land and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was grievous in the land.” When the famine came, he went to Egypt. The King of Egypt rebuked him in verse 18, “And Pharaoh called Abram, and said, 'What is this that thou hast done unto me? Why didst thou not tell me that she was thy wife?'” It’s a humbling thought to think that a man of the world had to tell Abram how he should act and where he should be.


It’s sad to read of Elimelech, who made a choice that influenced his wife and two sons in the wrong direction. They intended to sojourn, to stay there for a little while, but it says, "They continued there…" Some people, who have known what it is to walk with God have tasted of His Spirit and the fellowship of the people of God, but have made a choice sometimes to go into the world. They intend to sojourn there for just a little while but have found it very, very difficult to return again. In the course of time, Elimelech died there, and his two sons took wives of the daughters of Moab. After a few years, they died also. It is sad to read of them losing their lives far away from the land of God.

 

Naomi did a wise thing. “Then she arose with her daughters in law, that she might return from the country of Moab, for she had heard that the Lord had visited His people in giving them bread." She did a wise thing in taking her daughters-in-laws. She applied a little TEST to the Mission, shall we say, that she had worked there. She said, “Turn again my daughters, go your way; for I am too old to have an husband.  If I should say, 'I have hope, if I should have an husband also to night, and should also bear sons,'" etc. (1:12) It tells us that one, Orpah, kissed her mother-in-law, and returned to her people and to her gods. Both daughters in law lifted up their voices and wept, but Naomi put on a little more pressure; one kissed her and went back to her people, but Ruth “clave unto her.” Ruth said those wonderful words, “…Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee, for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God. Where thou diest will I die, and there will I be buried, the Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.” Naomi saw that she was steadfastly minded to go all the way. Orpah returned to her own people and country, and we never hear of her again. She did not get to know the True Living God as Ruth did. Ruth came into fellowship with a people she had never known or seen before.


We sometimes sing, "Increase our Faith beloved Lord, release the cords of doubt that bind.” It takes faith to live for things eternal. Our brother spoke this morning from I Corinthians 13:13 about faith, hope, and charity, three very important things, but the greatest of these is charity, [or the Love of God]. It says, "Without faith, it is impossible to please God, and whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” It shows us that only the steps we take in faith please God. If we take those steps, then God has respect unto us. Ruth trusted in God and she trusted in Naomi. She trusted in God Who gave her that faith that enabled her to say, “Intreat me not to leave thee…” It is sad if we make reservations in our service to God and say, "I will go a certain distance but no further." It is good to be like Ruth and say, "I will put my life into this and I will be in it until death." There is nothing greater that we can do than to put our lives into this way. We might like to plan other things but they only bring disappointment. Jesus is the Altogether lovely One, the Chief among ten thousand.


We think of Samson, who got great strength from God and fought a nation single handed. He was born to that end that he might deliver Israel from the Philistines. In his last battle, when he took hold of the great pillars and asked God for strength to pull down that building, God gave it to him as he asked. He said, "Let me perish with them." Samson threw his life into this way. Those who gathered up the slain afterward, gathered Samson up as a conqueror. The Philistines gathered the bodies of the defeated. There was a man who made a stew once and he was asked how he made it. He said, “I put this and that into it, and then I threw myself into it!" If are half-hearted in the things of Christ, we could not hope to succeed. "Worship God in the beauty of Holiness," or as someone put it, "with whole-heartedness.” Even the world does not respect half heartedness. Ruth threw her all into following Naomi and the Lord rewarded her.

 

There was a great stir when Naomi returned to Bethlehem and word went around that Naomi had returned. She said, "Call me no more Naomi, call me Mara; for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, the Lord hath brought me home again empty…" (Verses 20-21) I thought of the famine of this woman, when she said, “I went out full." This woman could have easily blamed others, or her husband, perhaps. I remember preaching in another state some years ago, when a woman made her choice but seemed half-hearted about it. As a result, she became offended and was soon outside the fellowship. She went out in bitterness. Later, as the mission was on, I went and visited her and she came back to the meeting. Naomi was honest enough to say, "I went out" and the Lord has brought me back again. This woman came to the next meeting, and then she came again. I went and visited her after a little while, and she said, "I’m glad you never came earlier. Last week I was waiting for you but since, the Lord has dealt with me." We may not always understand others but if we are true to God, He understands all the different circumstances and our difficulties. He is looking for a people who will do their best even under difficult circumstances. Verse 19, “…all the city was moved about them…” when they saw that Naomi had returned.

 

The next thing we are told that Ruth said is in chapter 2:2, “And Ruth the Moabitess said unto Naomi, 'Let me now go to the field, and glean ears of corn after him in whose sight I shall find grace.'” She realised that she had been brought into a wonderful fellowship and a wonderful Kingdom, and she didn’t want to sit at ease. She didn’t wait to be told what to do but realised she could live for the prosperity of God’s Kingdom and was content to fill the humble place as a gleaner. She didn’t say, "I'd like to rule over this country." Humility is the grace we all need. If it were not for the grace and mercy of God, the Scriptures tell us, we would all be consumed.


Lamentations 3:22, “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not.” “By grace ye are saved through faith, not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” We are God’s people by His grace. It is not our own by merit; it is through the grace and mercy of God that we can have a place in His Kingdom. Ruth felt she would like to give herself to this Kingdom and she went to glean and look for a field to glean in. It was the beginning of the barley harvest. She came to a certain field and asked permission to glean there, and the servant granted it to her. Later on, the Lord of the Harvest came and spoke to the reapers and said, “The Lord be with you.” They replied, “The Lord bless thee.” It’s nice to see the relationship between the Lord of the harvest and those who laboured there.


He asked, “Who is this?” and was told about Ruth. His servant that was set over the reapers said, "It is the Moabitish damsel that came back with Naomi out of the country of Moab." Boaz was stirred by this. He was a relative of Elimelech's, and a kinsman, and he realised, “Here is someone that I have a responsibility towards.” He just felt, “I am my brother's keeper.” One of first questions asked in the Bible is, “Am I my brother's keeper?” It was asked in connection to Cain and Abel. Boaz realised he was his brother's keeper and was moved to show the kindness of God to Ruth. Ruth said “Why have I found grace in thine eyes, that thou shouldest take knowledge of me, seeing I am a stranger?” (Verses 9 and 10) She fell on her face, and bowed herself to the ground. Boaz said unto her, “It has been shewed me, all that thou hast done to thy mother-in-law since the death of thine husband and how thou hast left thy father and thy mother, and the land of thy nativity, and art come unto a people which thou knewest not heretofore. The Lord recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust.” We are told to not only trust in God's word but in God Himself — two things that can never lie. Ruth realised, "I can trust in the Living God." Boaz told her to abide in that field and glean and she fell on her face and asked, "Why hast thou dealt so kindly?" Boaz was a mighty man, a man of wealth, yet he showed the kindness found in God's kingdom. He was a type of what the Lord Jesus is to us today.


Jesus told His disciples, “To pray to the Lord of the harvest, that He would send forth labourers into His harvest.” (Matthew 9:37-38, “Then saith He unto His disciples, 'The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest that He will send forth labourers unto His harvest.”) Boaz encouraged Ruth to keep her eyes on the harvest field and co
mmanded his young men, "…Let her glean even among the sheaves, and reproach her not. And let fall also some of the handfuls of purpose for her, and leave them, that she may glean them, and rebuke her not.” (Chapter 2:15-16) She gleaned some heads and put them in her basket and rejoiced. You people have come here today with your baskets, and God allows you to put in them what He has given you. He speaks kind words to you.

 

Boaz spoke kind words to Ruth and encouraged her to abide by his maidens in verse 9, “Let thine eyes be on the field that they do reap, and go thou after them… and when thou art athirst, go unto the vessels, and drink of that which the young men have drawn.” Verse 14, “And Boaz said unto her, 'At mealtime come thou hither, and eat of the bread, and dip thy morsel in the vinegar.' And she sat beside the reapers and he reached her parched corn, and she did eat, and was sufficed, and left." Ruth enjoyed the water of life that others had drawn, as we enjoy it today in this meeting. At mealtime, Boaz gave her the parched corn. This speaks to us of royal dainties, a little reward. She began in the morning and continued until evening; she was diligent and conscientious, even as we seek to glean here today, to build up this Kingdom in us. The testimony Ruth bore was a wonderful one. “All the city of my people doth know that art a virtuous woman.”


Proverbs 31:10, “Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies.” This is the record of a virtuous woman and we’re told, “…her price is far above rubies.” If we have a little of the virtue of Christ in us and show it before others, we will be valuable to Him and enjoy our place.


Verse 15, “She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens." Verse 14, “She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar.” These are things we can be likened unto today:  having these virtues of faith, meekness, charity, etc.


II Peter 1:5-6, “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith, virtue; and to virtue, knowledge; And to knowledge, temperance; and to temperance, patience; and to patience, godliness; And to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, charity.” And that is only the beginning, “…let us go on unto perfection…" (Hebrews 6:1)


Ruth was in the field because she was diligent and a true gleaner. Verse 19, “And her mother-in-law said unto her, 'Where hast thou gleaned today?'” She had 40 or 50 pounds of barley. "Where did you get it?" she asked. That’s a good question to ask ourselves too, "Where have I gleaned today?" Ruth told Naomi of the field she had gleaned in and who it belonged to, and Naomi said, “The man is a near of kin unto us, one of our next kinsmen.” Naomi recognised it was the field of Boaz, her husband's brother. She said, “Let me seek rest for thee, that it might be well with thee." Chapter 3:1, “Then Naomi, her mother-in-law, said unto her, 'My daughter, shall I not seek rest for thee, that it may be well with thee?'” Isn’t that what the Lord seeks to do for us today? Naomi wanted to make the future of Ruth’s life secure. That’s a wise thing for us to do too, make our eternal future secure.


One man asked a preacher, "Are you an insurance agent?” and he said, “Yes, I am, and I want you to take out a double life policy, one for this life and one for the life that is to come.”


Ruth was told, “Wash thyself therefore, and anoint thee, and put thy raiment unto thee, and get thee down to the floor: but make not thyself known unto the man, until he shall have done eating and drinking.” This is a good thing to do when we approach our Redeemer, Christ Jesus. The Scripture says to keep ourselves unspotted by the world, to be a chaste virgin for Christ. We want to wash away that which would make us unacceptable to Christ. Ruth could have said, "It is a big thing to go into the presence of my Redeemer." But the Lord says, "I am in the position where I want to cleanse you from all sin and set you free and redeem you. I want to make you free citizens." Paul says, "Ye are no more foreigners, no more aliens and strangers, but you belong to the household of God." Ruth did as she was told, and lay down at her Redeemer’s feet. It’s not easy to submit and give in to another person, but Ruth gave herself to a wonderful Master, one who had a tender, compassionate heart. We are to lay hold on Christ Jesus and His righteousness and He will set you free from your past sins. He wants us to take His name and trust Him only.


At midnight, Boaz was aroused and said, “Who art thou?” and she answered, “I am Ruth, thine handmaiden..." She told him her position, and said, “I need redemption.” Boaz rose to the occasion. God sees possibilities in all our lives and He wants us to go from strength to strength, to be blessed, and be a blessing to others. Verse 10, “And he said, 'Blessed be thou of the Lord, my daughter: for thou hast shewed more kindness in the latter end than at the beginning, inasmuch as thou followedst not young men, whether poor or rich.'” He doesn’t want us to remain the same as we were - “Thou hasn’t shewn more kindness in the latter than at the beginning.”


Naomi said in verse 18, “Sit still, my daughter, until thou know how the matter will fall: for the man will not be in rest, until he have finished the thing this day.” Boaz was a man of action; when he began a thing, he finished it. That’s a wonderful mark to have. Our Christ Jesus won’t rest, either until we know full salvation. Think of Jesus interceding for us today — He wants to finish this work. Boaz, the very next morning, asked his brother if he would pay the ransom price and when that test came, his brother said, “…I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I mar mine own inheritance…”  It is sad that he spoke of his own inheritance. It proved that he didn’t have the love for his brother that he should have had and said, “I will not.”


Wouldn’t it have been sad if Jesus hadn’t been willing? It was said of Him, “His visage was marred more than any man and His form more than the sons of men.” He was willing to be marred and defaced, and to be of no reputation. He took upon Himself the form of a servant and died the death of the cross, as a criminal. He was marred in every shape and form. But Ruth was redeemed and set free and became the Bride of the Lord of the harvest. That same opportunity is set before us today in Christ Jesus and we can be very thankful that in His Love and mercy, He has redeemed us. I hope we will do what the Lord would have us do.


Think of all that Orpah, Ruth’s sister-in-law, missed. She was never heard of again. God has set before us a wonderful opportunity in Christ Jesus, and I would pray to have a willing heart like Ruth’s and a steadfast mind to travel on with Jesus, even though “other voices bid me stay.” I pray to be steadfastly minded and go all the way, doing whatever He bids me do. I trust it will be so. Amen.