Read His Words Before Ours!
“Friend, I just read your blog. I’m praying for you and I’m behind you, and I’m also reminded of Moses. When the Israelites fought against Amalek, Moses, Aaron, and Hur climbed a hill. When Moses’ hand was raised, Israel was winning, but when his hand lowered, they began losing. When he grew too weary, Aaron and Hur stood on either side of him holding up his hands. We will be here, holding up your hands as you grow weary and tired from battle. You won’t have to keep your hands raised on your own.”
I sent this text to a friend, as I thought of all she walked through in the last year. I’ve watched the Church gather around her family, holding up their hands.
Beautiful, God-crafted, community.
We see this theme throughout Scripture, beginning with God Himself. He exists in the community of the God-head: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Community . . . when God told Adam it wasn’t good for Adam to be alone.
Community . . . when Noah and his family boarded the ark.
Time and time again, community arises in the most unlikely circumstances. David’s closest community was the son of the man trying to murder him. Jesus’ earthly community included the man He knew would betray Him to death.
And the famous matriarch, Naomi?
Her community came from her Gentile daughter-in-law, Ruth.
Ruth, who was new to calling Yahweh her God.
Ruth, who was from a different culture, yet returned to Naomi’s homeland alongside her.
Ruth, who was so much younger than her grieving mother-in-law.
Yet, the unlikely Ruth, exemplifies Biblical community by holding up Naomi’s arms when she was overcome with weakness and her feelings that God had forsaken her.
You see, when Naomi and her family left Bethlehem for Moab, it was only supposed to last until the famine eased.
But Moab brought Naomi nothing but turmoil as she watched each member of her family die.
I’ve walked through grief, like so many of us have already, and all of us will someday. While God’s original plan for this earth did not include physical death, it’s now an inescapable part of our fallen world. But death never has the final word, and despite Naomi’s heartbroken belief she’d been forsaken, God wasn’t finished with her story.
After the death of her two sons, Naomi and her daughters-in-law began their return to Bethlehem. Eventually, Naomi convinced one of them to return to her Moabite family, but Ruth? She would not leave Naomi.
Naomi pleaded. She pushed Ruth away.
She tried to convince Ruth to abandon a hopeless life with a forsaken woman.
Her pleadings fell on deaf ears; Ruth was staying. She embraced Yahweh as her God and the Ephrathites from Bethlehem as her people, just as they were Naomi’s.
When Naomi was weak and weary, Ruth would not abandon her, and believed, in Naomi’s stead, that God’s favor would fall on them.
When they arrived in Bethlehem, Naomi announced the Almighty had made her bitter, replacing her once-full heart with overwhelming, all-encompassing, and inescapable grief Naomi was empty. Forsaken.
Ruth wouldn’t hear of it. Ruth believed favor would come, and she continued to serve Naomi, encouraging her, caring for her, and loving her. Naomi, in her heartache and sorrow, couldn’t see that Ruth was proof she wasn’t forsaken.
God had given her a daughter-in-law who was faithful, and their stories weren’t over.
Death wouldn’t have the final word!
The remainder of Ruth’s story overflows with the Lord’s kindly orchestrated favor and faithfulness to Naomi through Ruth.
As Ruth “just so happened” to gather fallen grain from the field of a man named Boaz . . .
As Boaz “just so happened” to notice Ruth and show her extravagant kindness . . .
As Boaz “just so happened” to have heard how Ruth left everything she knew to stay with Naomi . . .
And as Boaz “just so happened” to be a family redeemer: one who, we’ll learn in the next few studies, could provide Ruth and Noami with a hope and future.
When Naomi felt nothing but forsaken and empty from the deep sorrow consuming her,
Ruth’s faith and faithfulness carried Naomi through.
Ruth held up Naomi’s arms, refusing to allow her to crumble, refusing to allow her to believe she was alone and death would have the final word.
That’s community, friends!
We hold each other up, speaking life and favor over one another. We walk alongside one another during the darkest of days and the hardest of times. We point one another to Jesus over and over and over. We hold up one another’s arms during battle, like Aaron and Hur and Ruth.
I’ve seen true, deep community lived out in the Church. I’ve experienced it during my own battles. It is beautiful. It’s how God designed community to be lived out; as a reminder to each other we are favored, not forsaken!
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!