Murray Keene - Book of Ruth - Rochedale, Greater Manchester, England Convention - 1978

The book of Ruth: Ruth's choice and the completeness of her Choice often speaks to me. 1:15, "Thy sister-in-law has gone back, return thou." Ruth said, "Entreat me not to leave thee," and then Naomi left off speaking to her. Ruth and Naomi very closely united. Naomi was away in Moab - away from God's country, Bethlehem - Judah - she had only gone to sojourn there, and continue for a time, but they stayed longer than they intended to do. It was the only thing Naomi could do, to go along with her husband.

Her husband died and her sons married these women of Moab, and then the two sons died, also. They had been good young women, they had dealt kindly with the dead and with Naomi. She heard the Lord had visited His people in giving them bread. Both daughters-in-law had made a start, but Naomi recognised if these go back, just for the sake of going with me and they have nothing else in their hearts, it would be a very foolish thing to encourage them to go or with her. She asked them to go back, "I can promise you nothing in my own land, nothing naturally." People can come to serve God by right motive or they can be motivated by some other thing; bribe them and give them something naturally, and we know how useless that is, as they never prove Christ in their own lives: nice Christians - just in order to get something do they profess.

In one place, some Pentecostal people gave a great dinner, and then a big turn-out, and a picture taken to show that all these people have been converted - even giving them financial help to some. God said, "In the world you shall have tribulation." It takes a hero to follow Jesus. The world never tells you about anything you have to surfer to be a Christian, but  Jesus told His disciples some of the things they must suffer, and what they could expect, "Deny yourselves, take up your cross and follow Me." Naomi had some of the same understanding when she talked to those two younger women, "You return and find rest in your mother's house." Orpah kissed her mother-in-law. "Thy sister-in-law has gone back" - to the idols of Moab; her choice was made that day and she went back.

Naomi was testing Ruth, "Return thou, you do the same thing as your sister-in-law," but that is when Ruth said those words, "Entreat me not." She showed she had counted the cost, and she was prepared to break with Moab. Entreat me not - don't ask me to go back: she was prepared to take the pathway that led to the country or God. Although people do not understand much they have a conviction in their hearts that this is where hope for the future lies.

What if Ruth had stayed in the land or Moab? She would never have had the experiences or her first days in the land of Judah, and her name would never have been recorded. Moses was in the place where he could have enjoyed all that Egypt had to offer but Hebrews 11 says, "By faith, He chose to suffer affliction with the people or God rather than enjoy all that Egypt had to offer, for He had respect unto the record - pence of the reward." We know that it is necessary to begin to serve God, and to be convinced that the future lies in the Kingdom of God for me. When Ruth chose, she said, "Where thou goest, I will go" – and she also knew that Naomi had been in that land before. What Naomi had in her life did not stem from Moab, but she had held on to what she had in Judah, "Thy people shall be my people - where thou goest I will go." If people do not make a complete break, it can be the greatest hindrance to them.

Some visitors came to a home where one of the friends had a meeting in her home - she simply said, "Go away and come again when the meeting is over." The visitor said, "Why do you bother so much about these people and you don't bother about us? You put these strangers before us." "Thy God and Thy people, my people." She had received something of the faith in Naomi's God - for without faith, it is impossible to please Him. She made a complete choice and a complete break. You think of the 'time element' - "Till death." A good thing to have that settled and settled for all along the way; this is for life and forever. Preparation not for 4 days only but for eternity; my choice is forever. Decision she made was a definite one. One man made his choice and went along for two years, but he realised, "I am not putting much into this, but from now I am going to put my best into it."

The barley harvest in Judah. When Naomi left there, there had been a famine. Someone had stayed behind and had been faithful in sowing in order for there to be a harvest now. It is so needful to hold on in the lean times as well as the good times. "He that overcometh will I make a pillar." A pillar is good for the weight it holds up. Aim at being a pillar - to stand and share the weight. Naomi was like that even though she had gone through such a discouraging experience. Ruth saw there was something to be done - "Go to the fields and glean." Will anyone accept me when I get to the land of Bethlehem - Judah - she knew no Moabite was to enter into Israel until the tenth generation. She fitted into that category, of a Moabite becoming an Israelite.

The gleaners: women picking up the little grains. Never let your hands be idle - just because we cannot do some great thing. Necessary in the work and family of God. Little boy asked to pick up the papers and he said, "I am too big for this job." Ruth was not "too big" for the job of gleaning. You may be able to do what I cannot do, but I want to do what I can. Her hap: it happened thus, and God had a hand in it, and she was led to glean in this field. Others asked, "Who is she?" The reapers said, "She is a Moabitish damsel that came with Naomi," and they could give a good report or her constancy.

Boaz spoke to her himself, "Gather after the reapers and go not to another field - go after the reapers; let thine eyes be on the field." Young people - let your eyes look on the harvest field. Things that help us to look upon "the field" and don't go to glean in any other field.

Chapter 2. Naomi said to Ruth, "It is good that you go with the maidens and that they do not meet thee in any other field." We would be missing the best by going into another field. I know a young musician who had great talent and that talent took her into another field and today she is outside the Kingdom because she did not resist the temptation to go into other fields. She did not see, "This is not going to help me in the Kingdom of God."

Ruth gaining in favour with Boaz - he was taking notice of her humility. She said, "If I have found grace in thine eyes." He said, "It hath been fully shown me all that thou hast done." The Lord of the harvest appreciated the stand she had taken, and how good she had been to her mother in-law. Boaz saw it all, and the Lord is not unrighteous to forget our work and labour or love; God puts that in His book and it is not forgotten. God allows every effort that is put into serving Him, not only the time we spend in reading and praying but everything a person does, he shall receive a reward from the Lord.

Beat out an ephah of barley - probably equals 38 litres. Not only what had she been able to glean, but some let fail on purpose for her. In my first days in the work of God, my companion had to go away and whilst he was away, a little babe died and the grandfather asked me to bury that child. It was a hard experience for me, and a matter of explaining a few things to the people, but we got through somehow. When things "fall to us," it is up to us to do the best we can about it all. Boaz commanded the reapers to let some handfuls fail on purpose. Ruth continued to take advice from her mother-in-law. She did not neglect Naomi even when in favour with Boaz - same as with Esther and Mordecai - still subject to the good counsel that had fallen from them. 

The rest that she offered to her was a closer fellowship with the Lord of the harvest. When she left the land of Moab, she never had any idea what would befall her, and she valued the counsel of Naomi and it led her to being redeemed and to her becoming one in the great lineage of Jesus - the great-grandmother of David. Naomi felt her return so much, "I went out full and came back empty." Bitter experiences, but so glad to be coming back to her own. "Blessed be the Lord which hath not left us." In old age, she became a nurse to the child. Out of her sorrow and bitter experience, she still had a right influence and could help others and she became a "nourisher" in her old age. Job spoke of returning to the days of his youth.

Read this story and think of Ruth and what she became in the family of God, and how much Naomi's faithfulness meant to others and think of her returning and bringing back someone else that could mean so much more to God and His family. There is so much more for us than there is against us. The young man said, "Alas, Master, what shall we do?" But the older man prayed and he saw chariots of fire - II Kings 6:15, "More for us than against us."