Ruth: Be the faithful among the mainstream of unfaithfulness. 

Praise songs lead by Weiting and Priscilla.
Prayer topics were 1. let what we learn today change our lives, and
2. Friday night service. Minyoung closed the prayer.
Read Ruth chapters 1-4.

Ruth is a woman outside of Jewish society. She was a Moabite woman. She was married to a Jewish man who died when she was still young. When her husband died, she was given an option to go back to her hometown instead of following Naomi – her mother-in-law who suffered deaths of her husband and two sons. Ruth refused the offer and decided to stay with her mother-in-law.

There was a man named Boaz in Bethlehem. He was a long relative of Naomi. Ruth did not know about it when she approached his land for food. However, when Boaz found out about Ruth’s faithfulness toward her family, Boaz granted protection and allowed her to pick wheat and to get water. Boaz and Ruth both had characters of faithfulness which both saw from each other.

Naomi found Boaz as a redeemer for Ruth. However, there was another closest relative who had the rights to redeem Ruth. Boaz initiates a conversation with the man and lets him know that Naomi has both land and a daughter-in-law from Moab. The closest relative refuses to redeem Ruth. Then, Boaz redeems Ruth and takes her as his wife. Ruth gives birth to Obed who eventually is a grandfather of King David.

What did we see from the story?

First, the background of this period of time was not such a good time in God’s eyes. People were rebelling against God, and they were punished by God by attacks from different nations. Even in this large flow of unfaithfulness, we see two very faithful people – Ruth and Boaz – who know and fear God and do what is right. It is an easy excuse to follow the current trend and worldly view. Yet, what we must remember is that God remembers us individually. He glorifies those who glorify His name.

Second, God loves and blesses individuals regarding their backgrounds. Ruth was a Moab woman. She was a gentile which God had forbidden His people (sons of Israel) not to marry. However, she becomes part of God’s promise. She is now included as a family in the lineage of Abraham, David, and Jesus. God blessed this gentile woman to be part of His great scheme of salvation of all men from sin.

Lastly, the Bible does not fail to show in every part how God is planning for the salvation. When Ruth approaches Boaz, her confession to him is that he is the redeemer. When we end up losing everything through a mishap or a mistake, what we need is a redeemer. As we are all bound to our sinful self, we lost what God had given to us in Eden. Our loss cannot be gained through our effort – just like how Ruth and Naomi could not save themselves from the despair. We must confess that we need a redeemer and that the only redeemer we can have for restoring what God had originally provided us is through Jesus Christ, God Himself.

Torah: Just remember

During 2018 Winter Retreat, student members read the first five books of the Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Number, and Deuteronomy. It took us 2 nights and 3 days to finish. All participated members finished the reading goal.

Just like other books of the Bible, each book of Torah has numbers of stories and even more lessons. We did lose much by rushing through the reading aiming to finish “reading” rather than studying it. We will have another chance to come back to each story. Meanwhile, I would like to point out a few points in Torah.

First, remember God in the story of Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve departed from trusting God by going against His order and deciding to become the ultimate decision maker for him/herself. What is good and what is evil was set by God and God alone. However, when given a chance, man – ignoring God’s warning against it – falls into the deception which the serpent presents. Seeing the fall of Adam and Eve, God did two things. Both of them out of His identity – love. God keeps the tree of life away from the sinful men knowing that it would be a doom if men lived forever with sin. Second, God sacrifices an animal and covers the shame/sin that men brought into his life. Men initially tried to cover on his own using leaves, but God covers the sin in His way through a sacrifice.

Second, remember God in the story of Abraham. God makes promises that seem impossible, and He – with His own power – faithfully fulfills it. The promise lasts longer than Abraham’s lifetime.  God promised to bless Abraham’s descendants, and he keeps the promise through the books of the Old Testaments even after the death of Abraham. As faithful as God is, He seeks for those who are faithful. God reveals His plans to those who are faithful. God does not let the righteous perish with the unrighteous.

Lastly, remember God in the story of Exodus. His glorious power and authority over all other gods of Egypt. His selective protection of His chosen people. His guidance and protection in the wilderness.  His relationship with Moses when the sin of the people of Israel raised His anger. How he provided manna and quail. Splitting and drying up a sea. How God brought victories to His people from their enemies. And, God emphasizes to His people to remember. God wants His people to remember so that they will keep God’s words and not perish; so that they will teach their children to keep God’s words and not perish. That is how much God loved His people.

Throughout Torah, throughout the Bible, we see how men fall, disappoint God, and sin against God. And every time, we see how God provides ways to be saved. We see how God keeps His promise with Abraham so faithfully by continuing the line of blessing in Abraham’s descendants. Even when the people have forgotten Him, even when Abraham is dead, even when we were sinners. God’s love extends beyond our imagination. He does not ignore one single individual who is faithful in the sight of Him. We must remember how powerful God is, how great His love is, and how God rejoices in those who are faithful and acceptable to Him.