Archive for the ‘choices’ Category

Choice of Faith

Even with the death of 75% of Naomi’s family, I still feel a great relief to be out of the book of Judges! At least in the first chapter of Ruth, the deaths seem to be a bit more natural and less gruesome.

But Ruth 1 is a chapter full of choices, and I’m wondering if I have the faith to make choices based on a word from God rather than on my own reasoning (and just what is the difference between reasoning and rationalization, anyway?)

Elimelech reasoned to himself,

“there is a famine in the land God has told us to occupy, but I have a family to feed. I hear the territory God told us NOT to occupy has food. Maybe I’ll head on over there just for a wee visit and get our family some grub.”

Remember, this was during the times of the judges, and we have discovered the theme of those days were:

“Every man did what was right in his own eyes.”

So Elimelech did what was right in his own eyes and took his family to Moab. It only makes sense after all, he has a family to feed, and the place the Lord has led him to is suffering a famine.

And just like the book of Judges, death ended up being a result.

Naomi made a choice to return to the place she left. To go back to Bethlehem, which means the House of Bread. (interesting to note that the Bread of Heaven was born in the House of Bread!). Though she felt bitter, she knew her only hope was to return to where God had told them to lodge.

Orpah made a choice. The reasoning of her mother-in-law (and just what is the difference between reasoning and rationalization, anyway?) convinced Orpah that it would be a death-sentence to follow after Naomi and her God.

Ruth…ah dear Ruth. She made a choice. And oh how I desire to be like Ruth. She made a choice that presented all kinds of problems and barriers and hopelessness. Yet she made a choice to pursue after Naomi’s God.

Come poverty, singleness, permanent widowhood, abuse, hard times, homelessness, barrenness, victim of prejudice or hate…she was committed to Jehovah. It seemed she was walking right into a definite losing situation. It went against all reasoning and rationalizing. It was social suicide. And yet, she seems to have heard the Word of the Lord, and followed after it.

What a choice of faith. As Robert Chapman says,

“To act when your path is clear of difficulties is not faith,
but to act despite the difficulties the Word of God apparently creates for you…this is the kind of faith that pleases God the most.”

What a woman of Faith. What a choice of Faith. And hopefully we will see how God is going to transform this choice of social suicide into something beautiful. If He can trannsform the Cross into the Salvation of Mankind…He can transform our hard trials and circumstances into something shockingly marvelous.

O Lord, my heart trembles at the question, “do you believe in God’s transforming power?” I fear I would rather trust my own reasoning and pretend I don’t hear You, instead of making a choice of faith like Ruth did. I believe, Lord. Help Thou my unbelief.

After reading Judges 17-21, Ruth is like a lovely lily in a stagnant pool. Here, instead of unfaithfulness, is loyalty; and instead of imoorality is purity. Here, instead of battlefields are harvest fields, and isntead of the warrior’s shout is the harvester’s song. We are in for a treat with this book!

The Costliness of Poor Choices

These last few chapters are an unusual read especially when I study them right after asking the Lord to communicate with me. “Lord speak to me. Show me Your mind.” And then to read about a prostitute gang raped leading to her death. Hmmmm.

Today’s no exception to this puzzling response from the Lord to my request. Judges 20 has me scratching my head, wandering what is going on with the children of Israel.

It seems like the last 5 chapters of Judges show an internal breakdown of Israel’s worship and unity. A whole disintegration of Israel seems to be occurring. As soon as we behave in an ungodly fashion (ie, neglecting God), unrighteousness is soon to follow, until we get outright wicked in our ways.

Aside from the bloody civil war that has occurred within Israel, the most noticeable element of this account was how often the concept of “one man” or “unity” is mentioned. I’m thankful to see that at least everyone else understood the atrocity of what was done to this lady.

What was Benjamin thinking? Why rally all your men to protect the guilty perpetrators? Where is their outrage? How did they manage to get unanimity in this decision to protect these murderers?

Whether it was tired of being the “little tribe” or the “youngest brother”, or being confronted by so many at one time, or a soft compassion for the rapists that thought the law of Moses was too harsh, their choice had far-reaching ill effects.

  • A civil war broke out.
  • 40,000 Israelites were slain.
  • 21,000 Benjamites were killed.
  • The whole city of Gibeah, men, women and children, up in smoke.

The only folks who needed to be dealt with were the men who raped and murdered the woman of chapter 19. But Benjamin’s choice cost so much more.

Conviction for me comes from the two battles that were fought and lost by the zealous children of Israel who inquired of the Lord.

  • A tenth of the men of Israel, were lost in that battle with Benjamin.
  • God demonstrated that the “race is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong.”
  • Attempting great exploits for God by trusting in our power and schemes shall always fail.
  • Israel had their own sins that needed to be addressed. (we need to remove the plank from our own eye before dealing with the iniquitous sliver in a brother’s eye)
  • And we must not think it strange that a good cause should suffer defeat for a while.
  • Nor should we judge the merits of a cause by the success of it.
  • Loss and affliction humbles us like no other impetus

Lord Jesus Christ, may my responses be in accordance with Your will. Preserve me from choices that are motivated by selfishness or ego. Gently humble me so I might perceive the world through Your eyes.