Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Came to Bethlehem


19
Now the two of them went until they came to Bethlehem. And it happened, when they had come to Bethlehem, that all the city was excited because of them; and the women said, “Is this Naomi?”
20 But she said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. 21 I went out full, and the LORD has brought me home again empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the LORD has testified against me, and the Almighty has afflicted me?”
22 So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess her daughter-in-law with her, who returned from the country of Moab. Now they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest.
(Ruth 1:19-22, New King James Version)

Came to Bethlehem

It was a bittersweet time! After about 10 years of absence, Naomi came to Bethlehem, creating no small stir.

And it happened, when they had come to Bethlehem, that all the city was excited because of them; and the women said, “Is this Naomi?”

But she said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me.

The name, Naomi, means pleasant, and the name, Mara, means bitter. It must have been very hard for her to return to her city of birth empty handed, poor, and bitter. Little did she know that through Ruth, God was going to bless her with kings for descendants. Not only the kings of Judah, but the King of Kings, the Lord Jesus Christ would come from the line of Judah.

We do not live an easy life. Why is that? Recently my son and I read the history of the church, from Christ to Constantine, by Eusibius. He made some very interesting comments regarding the church during that time. The early church was resisted, and the early Christians suffered much persecution under the Roman rulers. After one particularly long time of peace for the Christians (long meaning about 20 years), Eusebius stated that the church became complacent. When a new king was placed upon the throne, however, the persecution resumed in even greater force. Yet, the church grew more under the times of persecution than in the times of peace.

That is really something we should think about. That does not mean that every time a Christian sins, God zaps him or her, but it does mean that God does not want us to get too comfortable with this world. This world is not our source of peace and happiness; the effects of sin have destroyed that possibility. Our only true peace and happiness rests in the Lord Jesus Christ; He alone guides and keeps us and will bring us safely into His kingdom to live with Him forever!

The book of Ruth is such a great book to study, as we see the lives of Ruth and Naomi transformed through the events God brought into their lives. That was certainly not evident at this time, but they would come to understand it later.

How often is God blamed for the bad things that happen to people, causing them to turn away from Him forever? Oh how little do they understand the amazing love that God has for His people, that will be revealed through time. As a parent scolds and corrects their children so that they may set them on the right course for live, so God channels His children through all of the experiences of life, good and bad, so that they will go the direction He has planned for them to go.

Ruth and Naomi came to Bethlehem and their life would change forever! We, too, need to come to Bethlehem, the birthplace of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, so that our lives will also change forever!

That reminds me of the Hallelujah chorus written by Handel.

Forever, and ever, and ever, and ever,
King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.
And He shall reign forever and ever.
King of Kings; forever and ever,
And Lord of Lords; forever and ever.
And He shall reign forever and ever.
Hallelujah!

God Bless You,
Linda

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