Ruth: What is True Repentance?
Have you ever found yourself in need of a comforter?
Life has just thrown you a curve ball of sorts. You find yourself walking the unexpected wondering – How did I end up here?
Join me in today’s episode as we continue our in-depth study on the Book of Ruth. We’re going to look at a time when Ruth found herself in the unexpected, and discover together, the choice presented to her.
During our last study we did a lot of background digging into the who, what, when, where – behind the scenes of this book.
Reminder as we look at this book we are remembering it’s taking place during harvest. We’re also keeping in mind the fun little fact — It’s read annually by Jews during the Festival of Weaks (aka Shavout, aka Pentecost)
This feast celebrates -> Harvest time, the giving of the law to Moses on Mt. Sinai, and their acceptance of it. We celebrate Pentecost the same as a type of Harvest time, a harvest of souls for the Kingdom. The giving of the Holy Ghost, and our acceptance of it.
Last study we mentioned – high level this book is about God’s call that goes out to all of us desiring us all to come to him, and our choice -> will we answer it or not?
We see this call go out and play out in a few different ways in these four little chapters.
Elimelech only desired to sojourn in Moab. This wasn’t supposed to be a permanent place for his family, (side note: this is a different sojourn then Abraham to Egypt & Isaac to the Philistines they hadn’t entered into the Promised Land – Elimelech was already there) but as we see he doesn’t make it home to the Promised Land, and unfortunately, neither do his children. Which is a sad truth that some times we see play out – the decision of the parent impacts their family. Whether in a good way or bad.
In verses 1-5 we also met:
Naomi – means pleasantness or my delight
Mahlon – means man of sickness
Chilion – means wasting away
Today we’ll meet:
Orpah – means back of neck, anticipates the decision she makes to go back to Moab rather than follow Naomi.
Ruth – means friend.
In this session we see God’s call going out and Naomi’s response to it.
We’re only 5 verses in Naomi is already a widow, and her sons have died childless. Naomi needs a comforter. She has a decision to make. She is in enemy territory living in Moab. Does she stay or go home? Will she go this way, or that way? Only she could make. Which applies to us – > A decision that only we can make. It’s our choice. Repentance and Conversion is our focus tonight. The decision she makes is to go back to the place of God’s blessing. The promised land, Bethlehem – the house of Bread.
Read Ruth 1:6-18
This is a picture of repentance, Naomi outlines for us what it looks like. It seems as though immediately after the death of her two sons she is thinking to return to Bethlehem. She’s been asking about home, the place of her Promise. Imagine Elijah, when a great drought was occurring, telling the servant to look for a evidence of rain, the 7th time he sees a cloud the size of a man’s hand.
Hosea 2:7, “When she runs after her lovers, she won’t be able to catch them. She will search for them but not find them. Then she will think, ‘I might as well return to my husband, for I was better off with him than I am now.”
What is repentance?
Genuine sorrow that leads to a turning.
I recently asked someone to define repentance – and their response was, telling God I’m sorry. NO NO NO.. That’s a step toward repentance – but that is not what it is. Repentance is yes, telling God your sorry, and turning away from that behavior. I’ve told God I was sorry a bunch of times until I came to the point drawing a line in the sand saying, ok Lord, I’m sorry and now I’m changing this behavior.
Psalm 119:59, When I think on my ways I turn my feet unto thy testimonies.
Have we ever found ourselves in a place like Moab? In need of repentance?
There is always a connection between repentance and revival. Someone is convicted of sin, and there is a turning, there is revival that happens as a result a ripple effect is set into motion. Naomi goes back to the House of Bread – and Ruth goes with her. It’s not just about her, just as our own isn’t just about us.
The prophet Joel explains what repentance involves:
Joel 2:12-13, Joel calls God’s people back to God – ALL of your heart.
12 “Now, therefore,” says the Lord, “Turn to Me with all your heart, With fasting, with weeping, and with mourning. 13 So rend your heart, and not your garments; Return to the Lord your God, For He is gracious and merciful, Slow to anger, and of great kindness; And He relents from doing harm.
2 Corinthians 7:8-11 Godly grief worketh repentance.
8 I am not sorry that I sent that severe letter to you, though I was sorry at first, for I know it was painful to you for a little while. 9 Now I am glad I sent it, not because it hurt you, but because the pain caused you to repent and change your ways. It was the kind of sorrow God wants his people to have, so you were not harmed by us in any way. 10 For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death. 11 Just see what this godly sorrow produced in you! Such earnestness, such concern to clear yourselves, such indignation, such alarm, such longing to see me, such zeal, and such a readiness to punish wrong. You showed that you have done everything necessary to make things right.
What stops us from choosing repentance? What causes us to resist?
Humility – lack of humility. Justify. Defend ourselves. Pride is our greatest enemy with the Lord.
Kids are not taught how to sin, they just know how to do it. Toddler’s refuse to confess, even when they know you’ve seen their poor choice.
Did you catch that statement that Paul made to the Corinthians. Though I was sorry at first, for I know it was painful to you for a little while… Some times what stops us from getting past the I’m sorry God and into repentance is the fact that repentance hurts. We are a people who do not like to feel.
Our teenage girls are bouncing from relationship to relationship because they choose not to feel the pain of a break out. We get bound by alcohol because we do not like to feel trials of life – rather then feel we distract ourselves. Rather than processing the pain and feeling the rain that falls on the just and unjust we choose to indulge in a pint of ice cream.
I’m not making light of any of these hard things – what I’m doing is speaking from a place of been there done that – These are coping mechanisms (unhealthy) that drive us further from repentance because they teach us to dismiss the idea – the thing about it however is they develop a callous over a piece of our heart. They harden us. Where God is desiring us to come close in this pain, these drive us further away. Some spaces of life cause us pain to acknowledge our need for Jesus, but it’s the painful places in life that often get us to the place of true and genuine repentance.
God calls us to repent.
It’s usually the beginning of a long road of restoration. There’s so much to do, it’s only the beginning. Sanctification is a process. Moab is about 50-60 miles from Bethlehem 7-10 day journey. Naomi was willing to walk it.
Are we willing to walk our way back to the Lord?
Hosea 14:1 – Return o’Israel to the Lord your God – you’ve stumbled.
Zechariah 1:3 – Return to me, and I will Return to you.
We have to move first. We move God moves.
Jeremiah 24:7 I will give them a heart to know – they shall return to me with their whole heart.
The Lord beckons us back – but how to do we repent?
Truly repent. It’s a determination. Hands off the situation. Turn back make the decision Lord I want to do what is pleasing to you.
We mentioned Revival doesn’t stop at us. There is a ripple effect that it sets into motion. Here we see Naomi takes her daughters-in-law with her at least part of the way.
We see in their desire to at least walk part of the way with her that Naomi was kind, and loving to them. They were united. Naomi however urges them to go back. At first they both seem to insist to go with her. She wants them to count the cost of following her. She has nothing to offer them, and wants them to really consider the decision ahead of them.
We all have to take time to count the cost. The Rich Young Ruler did, and we find the cost was too much for him to give as he couldn’t give up his riches, and walked away. We find the same is true of Orpah. Sunday, we talked about Standing Firm – Orpah didn’t have that desire. She didn’t love Naomi enough to push through, which is a picture of what we see play out around us some times. Some times we see people presented a choice to live for Jesus, and their love for other things is greater than their love for Him. Which is really a hard question to turn inward… do we love Him enough?
Ruth however is determined. She clave to Naomi. Naomi then tries to persuade her to consider the cost of following her again – yet Ruth refuses. She is immovable. This resolute stance silences the voice of temptation. Here’s what she says:
Whether thou goest, I will go – to a place she had never seen. Think, the Moabites would have talked bad about the Israelites, yet Ruth wants to go. Where thou lodgest I will lodge – she doesn’t care what her home looks like. Thy people shall be my people – Our character matters. Ruth must have been persuaded that because of Naomi’s character all other Israelites must have been the same. She judges them all by her. Ruth wants to be just like the Israelite people.
The same is true of us – our character should be such that it draws others to Christ, willing to let go of things of this world to have what we have. Thy God shall be my God. Where thou diest will I die.
There will I be buried. She has no desire to go back to Moab.
What we see play out here with Ruth is pattern for all true converts. Take up our cross and carry it.
We see Naomi living:
Jeremiah 24:7 – All day every day I can return to the Lord. I will give them a heart to know that I am the Lord and they shall be my people, and I will be their God they shall return to me with their whole heart.
We see them both living:
Acts 3:19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;
God desires our relationship to be rooted, and resolute. Naomi wanted Ruth to understand the decision she was making.
Much the same God wants us to understand the decision we make when it comes to being a true follower.
Questions to Consider:
Have you ever found yourself in a place like Moab? In need of repentance
What stops you from choosing repentance?
Stop and consider, make a list. What is it that stands in your way of true repentance? Is it your friend group? Is it addiction? Is it temptation. Be honest with yourself.
God is Omniscient. He sees our genuine, “sorry.” He sees the fact that we may actually like the environment we find ourselves constantly falling to sin in. If we can get to the place where we acknowledge truth of our circumstance and talk to Him about it, He will show us the way out. He’s on our side when it comes to wanting us to get to the place of true repentance.
When we sit and count the cost of following Christ, are we more like an Orpah who was really like the Rich Young Ruler (who went away sorrowful), or are we like Ruth in our desire and determination?
There is a cost to follow Christ.
Our path will not be expected – but it will be worth it.
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