Friday, August 5, 2011

Knowing the Names Changes the Story

If you were living a a town called the House of Bread, you would have certain expectations. Just as you would if your husband's new job were to be in Pleasant Grove. Pleasant Grove conjures up pastoral images of tree shaded pastures. So, House of Bread leads one to believe there would be ample provision of bread.

There was famine in the House of Bread, and I think they may have been long hungry years. So long in fact that the man "God is King" named his firstborn son "Sickly." Had his wife's life-giving body been so poorly nourished that Sickly appeared half-starved at birth? Or had the father simply despaired of the future for his newly born child? Then as the months passed, the House of Bread remained empty. A second son was born in this dark home and as he burst forth upon this life, his father named him "Wasting Away." The baby's first cry began his long decline.

Then "God is King" turned from the King of All Life, he walked away from that house of famine and made his home in a new land. But this isn't just about where he pitched his tent. He could not escape God. God acted as King and stretched out His hand, not in grace but in judgment and took the very life this man had been struggling to preserve. He left behind sickly, wasting boys and a wife who would call herself "Bitter."

Who are they? The faithless man was Elimelech. Taking his lovely, pleasant wife, Naomi, by the hand he led her away from the hungry city of Bethlehem and into the land of Moab. He led her away from God's promises and God's law. He spurned repentance and refused to offer sacrifices for sin that might have ended the famine. Instead his hope of life was with the enemies of God's people. In Deuteronomy 23 God had excluded the Moabites from His people for ten generations. Now you know the story, don't you? His sickly, wasting sons lived long enough to marry, then followed their father into a soul hungry grave. For we cannot turn our back on the true Bread of Life and live without Him.

And so Naomi, bitter now and wishing to be called Mara, returns to her own people, but with a friend at her side. Ruth.

Ruth whose name means friend. Ruth the Moabitess, meant to be excluded from the congregation of God's people for ten generations. Ruth who sought refuge under the wings of God (2:12).

Ruth, the friend of God.

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