Food for the Soul
Food for the Soul
1 John 2:1-2
2 My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
God solved the sin problem for good! Jesus came so we have an advocate before the Father. Not only for each of us individually but for the whole world too. It’s hard to believe sometimes when we look at how messed up we make things or how mucked up the world seems. But God promised and Jesus followed through. What a blessing.
Thank you Lord that You have made a way for each of us. Thank you Jesus that You were obedient and took on the burden of our sin. Help me to remember daily the blessing You have made available. Amen.
Written by Therese Manning
1 John 1:5-10
5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. 8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.
Verse 9 is one of those “everyone knows” kind of verses. A good Sunday School verse. I forgot that this verse starts with the word “But…” It means I need to know verse 8 as well.
“If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth.”
How often have I done that. I think I’m ok. I justify my actions and decisions by saying they’re not that bad. Life sometimes get murky and grey.
I don’t want to be a dogmatic, black and white kind of Christian but when it comes to sin it’s either one or the other. I can’t be speeding and not speeding at the same time. I’m either lying or I’m telling the truth. I’m either stealing or not stealing. Sin can’t be wrong and right at the same time.
Lord help me not be a fool when it comes to sin. Help me see the right path and have the courage and conviction to take it. I can’t begin to thank you for the forgiveness and cleansing I receive through Jesus when I get it wrong. Amen
Written by Boudy van Noppen
1 John 1:1-4
1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 2 The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 3 We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4 We write this to make our joy complete.
All Christians waiver in their faith from time to time. Sometimes caused by a lack of attention to the disciplines of faith or sometimes it signals a prelude to significant spiritual growth. Which ever it is, it can be uncomfortable.
Add to that, the voices that deny the existence of God in our society are many and loud and it’s not surprising we need to hear strong faith declaration along the path of our own faith journey to keep us moving forward. This is the reason we fellowship together.
The Bible is also a voice that influences our faith but rarely are there places in the Bible like this passage where the apostle John, with firsthand knowledge of Jesus, testifies directly to you of the truth about Jesus and what he has seen.
This passage was written at the end of John’s life and demonstrates he held true to this testimony his entire life.
So, take another moment today to re-read this passage and allow John as a first-hand witness to testify to you ‘personally’ regarding the truth and allow his faith to add to your faith today.
Lord, I ask that you take this testimony from the apostle John and strengthen our faith in you.
Written by David Newton
29 So Queen Esther, daughter of Abihail, along with Mordecai the Jew, wrote with full authority to confirm this second letter concerning Purim. 30 And Mordecai sent letters to all the Jews in the 127 provinces of Xerxes’ kingdom—words of goodwill and assurance— 31 to establish these days of Purim at their designated times, as Mordecai the Jew and Queen Esther had decreed for them, and as they had established for themselves and their descendants in regard to their times of fasting and lamentation. 32 Esther’s decree confirmed these regulations about Purim, and it was written down in the records. 10 King Xerxes imposed tribute throughout the empire, to its distant shores. 2 And all his acts of power and might, together with a full account of the greatness of Mordecai, whom the king had promoted, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Media and Persia? 3 Mordecai the Jew was second in rank to King Xerxes, preeminent among the Jews, and held in high esteem by his many fellow Jews, because he worked for the good of his people and spoke up for the welfare of all the Jews.
It’s quite amazing that thousands of years later, the feast of Purim is still held annually by those of Jewish faith. The only feast recorded that was not appointed by God but one which He fully approved as we have it’s record preserved.
This story is really about two ordinary family members living their lives in the circumstances they find themselves in, being faithful to their belief in the sovereignty of God over the affairs of men. Stepping out and stepping up in courage, wisdom and perseverance, resulting in an extraordinary event which saved the Jewish nation. Esther and Mordecai were nation changers.
We may never know how our actions, prayers or lives may play out in history but we can be certain that as we remain faithful to God, loving Him with all our heart, soul and mind (Matt 22:37), He will use our lives for His purposes, just as He used Esther and Mordecai.
Lord may we always keep our focus on you, use our lives to bring about your purposes for your people and Kingdom.
Written by Suzie Hodgson
20 Mordecai recorded these events, and he sent letters to all the Jews throughout the provinces of King Xerxes, near and far, 21 to have them celebrate annually the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month of Adar 22 as the time when the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month when their sorrow was turned into joy and their mourning into a day of celebration. He wrote them to observe the days as days of feasting and joy and giving presents of food to one another and gifts to the poor. 23 So the Jews agreed to continue the celebration they had begun, doing what Mordecai had written to them. 24 For Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of all the Jews, had plotted against the Jews to destroy them and had cast the pur (that is, the lot) for their ruin and destruction. 25 But when the plot came to the king’s attention,[a] he issued written orders that the evil scheme Haman had devised against the Jews should come back onto his own head, and that he and his sons should be impaled on poles. 26 (Therefore these days were called Purim, from the word pur.) Because of everything written in this letter and because of what they had seen and what had happened to them, 27 the Jews took it on themselves to establish the custom that they and their descendants and all who join them should without fail observe these two days every year, in the way prescribed and at the time appointed. 28 These days should be remembered and observed in every generation by every family, and in every province and in every city. And these days of Purim should never fail to be celebrated by the Jews—nor should the memory of these days die out among their descendants.
9 On the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, the edict commanded by the king was to be carried out. On this day the enemies of the Jews had hoped to overpower them, but now the tables were turned and the Jews got the upper hand over those who hated them. 2 The Jews assembled in their cities in all the provinces of King Xerxes to attack those determined to destroy them. No one could stand against them, because the people of all the other nationalities were afraid of them. 3 And all the nobles of the provinces, the satraps, the governors and the king’s administrators helped the Jews, because fear of Mordecai had seized them. 4 Mordecai was prominent in the palace; his reputation spread throughout the provinces, and he became more and more powerful. 5 The Jews struck down all their enemies with the sword, killing and destroying them, and they did what they pleased to those who hated them. 6 In the citadel of Susa, the Jews killed and destroyed five hundred men. 7 They also killed Parshandatha, Dalphon, Aspatha, 8 Poratha, Adalia, Aridatha, 9 Parmashta, Arisai, Aridai and Vaizatha, 10 the ten sons of Haman son of Hammedatha, the enemy of the Jews. But they did not lay their hands on the plunder. 11 The number of those killed in the citadel of Susa was reported to the king that same day. 12 The king said to Queen Esther, “The Jews have killed and destroyed five hundred men and the ten sons of Haman in the citadel of Susa. What have they done in the rest of the king’s provinces? Now what is your petition? It will be given you. What is your request? It will also be granted.” 13 “If it pleases the king,” Esther answered, “give the Jews in Susa permission to carry out this day’s edict tomorrow also, and let Haman’s ten sons be impaled on poles.” 14 So the king commanded that this be done. An edict was issued in Susa, and they impaled the ten sons of Haman. 15 The Jews in Susa came together on the fourteenth day of the month of Adar, and they put to death in Susa three hundred men, but they did not lay their hands on the plunder. 16 Meanwhile, the remainder of the Jews who were in the king’s provinces also assembled to protect themselves and get relief from their enemies. They killed seventy-five thousand of them but did not lay their hands on the plunder. 17 This happened on the thirteenth day of the month of Adar, and on the fourteenth they rested and made it a day of feasting and joy. 18 The Jews in Susa, however, had assembled on the thirteenth and fourteenth, and then on the fifteenth they rested and made it a day of feasting and joy. 19 That is why rural Jews—those living in villages—observe the fourteenth of the month of Adar as a day of joy and feasting, a day for giving presents to each other.
Two of King Xerxes decrees came into effect on the same day. One decree allowed the enemies of the Jews to go into battle against them while the other allowed the Jews to defend themselves. This battle was to take place across the 127 provinces of Persia. The expected wiping out of the Jewish people did not occur. The reverse happened – the Jews were overwhelmingly victorious! The enemies of the Jews were afraid of them largely because of the reputation and influence of Queen Esther and Mordecai. In fact, rather than standing against, the nobles, officials and governors came to the assistance of the Jewish people. The Festival of Purim commemorates this victory to this day.
On first glance this passage speaks of God’s sovereignty and his care of his people. This is true of our lives as well. We can never be reminded enough that God loves and cares for us. What also can’t be shied away from is the battle! Bringing God’s purposes to pass will bring opposition. For Queen Esther and Mordecai this purpose was life preservation for the Jewish people who lived in the provinces of Persia under King Xerxes rule. Whatever our purpose we can be encouraged by their stand and their ultimate victory.
Dear God, thank you for your sovereignty in our lives. Help us to bring about your purpose in our lives Amen.
Written by Ps. Ainslie Woods
9 At once the royal secretaries were summoned—on the twenty-third day of the third month, the month of Sivan. They wrote out all Mordecai’s orders to the Jews, and to the satraps, governors and nobles of the 127 provinces stretching from India to Cush.[a] These orders were written in the script of each province and the language of each people and also to the Jews in their own script and language. 10 Mordecai wrote in the name of King Xerxes, sealed the dispatches with the king’s signet ring, and sent them by mounted couriers, who rode fast horses especially bred for the king. 11 The king’s edict granted the Jews in every city the right to assemble and protect themselves; to destroy, kill and annihilate the armed men of any nationality or province who might attack them and their women and children,[b] and to plunder the property of their enemies. 12 The day appointed for the Jews to do this in all the provinces of King Xerxes was the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar. 13 A copy of the text of the edict was to be issued as law in every province and made known to the people of every nationality so that the Jews would be ready on that day to avenge themselves on their enemies. 14 The couriers, riding the royal horses, went out, spurred on by the king’s command, and the edict was issued in the citadel of Susa. 15 When Mordecai left the king’s presence, he was wearing royal garments of blue and white, a large crown of gold and a purple robe of fine linen. And the city of Susa held a joyous celebration. 16 For the Jews it was a time of happiness and joy, gladness and honor. 17 In every province and in every city to which the edict of the king came, there was joy and gladness among the Jews, with feasting and celebrating. And many people of other nationalities became Jews because fear of the Jews had seized them.
What a terrific account of God’s faithfulness and faithful people seizing opportunity!
There have been events in my life when God’s hand was the powerful force of change. Change of circumstances and situations, where everything was beyond my control. These are exciting times, seeing God act, but also challenging, waiting for God’s timing. Just as I’m sure the waiting did for Esther and Mordechai, it builds my faith and patience.
As the king honours Mordechai, this opens the way for him to influence the plight of God’s people. Xerxes agreed and the edict travels out across the lands. What an incredible change of circumstances, that a Persian king would entrust a Jewish elder with this authority (this reminds me somewhat of Pharaoh and Joseph!) Our faithful God saved his people and remained true to his covenant promises.
I remember that God is the same in my life. He does not leave anything to chance when he acts. He transforms situations in response to my faith.
Esther and Mordechai show me something else – that I need to be open to opportunities to be used by God. God was at work through Esther and Mordechai, especially bringing them favour with the king. However they needed to act. Situations for me to do the same could mean confronting fear of the consequences, and uncertainty of what to say. However there is no uncertainty that God is with me through it all.
Lord Jesus, the incredible elevation of foreigners in King Xerxes court demonstrates your amazing power to transform situations beyond our wildest dreams. Position me Lord to be a change conductor as you give me opportunities.
Written by Claire Moore
8 That same day King Xerxes gave Queen Esther the estate of Haman, the enemy of the Jews. And Mordecai came into the presence of the king, for Esther had told how he was related to her. 2 The king took off his signet ring, which he had reclaimed from Haman, and presented it to Mordecai. And Esther appointed him over Haman’s estate. 3 Esther again pleaded with the king, falling at his feet and weeping. She begged him to put an end to the evil plan of Haman the Agagite, which he had devised against the Jews. 4 Then the king extended the gold scepter to Esther and she arose and stood before him. 5 “If it pleases the king,” she said, “and if he regards me with favor and thinks it the right thing to do, and if he is pleased with me, let an order be written overruling the dispatches that Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, devised and wrote to destroy the Jews in all the king’s provinces. 6 For how can I bear to see disaster fall on my people? How can I bear to see the destruction of my family?” 7 King Xerxes replied to Queen Esther and to Mordecai the Jew, “Because Haman attacked the Jews, I have given his estate to Esther, and they have impaled him on the pole he set up. 8 Now write another decree in the king’s name in behalf of the Jews as seems best to you, and seal it with the king’s signet ring—for no document written in the king’s name and sealed with his ring can be revoked.”
How does one approach a king?
Verses 3-6 show Esther falling at the king’s feet, weeping and begging him to help her. She then very humbly requests that the king prevent her people from being destroyed.
I don’t know that I’ve ever fallen on my knees weeping and begging (except maybe as a toddler chucking a tantrum!). However, the point is not the act itself, but the heart behind it. Esther was so passionate for her people, so committed to their wellbeing and survival, and yet unable to help them by her own strength. She needed the king to intervene and yet she recognised that he had no obligation to do so. She approached him passionately, yet humbly.
It’s uncommon for any of us to have mass genocides to prevent (phew!) But there are purposes and priorities God has put in our lives which demand our passion, our commitment, and our weeping and begging before our King. God is good and gracious, and thankfully He isn’t limited by our poor attitudes when we try and do it in our own strength. But these verses should encourage us to recognise our place in His kingdom, and to approach Him accordingly – with passionate humility.
God, thank You that You reign. You are King, You are Lord, You are sovereign. Help us as Your people to approach you with both passion and humility, as we seek Your intervention in our lives.
Written by Matt Samperi
7 So the king and Haman went to Queen Esther’s banquet, 2 and as they were drinking wine on the second day, the king again asked, “Queen Esther, what is your petition? It will be given you. What is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be granted.” 3 Then Queen Esther answered, “If I have found favor with you, Your Majesty, and if it pleases you, grant me my life—this is my petition. And spare my people—this is my request. 4 For I and my people have been sold to be destroyed, killed and annihilated. If we had merely been sold as male and female slaves, I would have kept quiet, because no such distress would justify disturbing the king.” 5 King Xerxes asked Queen Esther, “Who is he? Where is he—the man who has dared to do such a thing?” 6 Esther said, “An adversary and enemy! This vile Haman!” Then Haman was terrified before the king and queen. 7 The king got up in a rage, left his wine and went out into the palace garden. But Haman, realizing that the king had already decided his fate, stayed behind to beg Queen Esther for his life. 8 Just as the king returned from the palace garden to the banquet hall, Haman was falling on the couch where Esther was reclining. The king exclaimed, “Will he even molest the queen while she is with me in the house?” As soon as the word left the king’s mouth, they covered Haman’s face. 9 Then Harbona, one of the eunuchs attending the king, said, “A pole reaching to a height of fifty cubits stands by Haman’s house. He had it set up for Mordecai, who spoke up to help the king.” The king said, “Impale him on it!” 10 So they impaled Haman on the pole he had set up for Mordecai. Then the king’s fury subsided.
How we weave our own traps! Here we see Haman develop an elaborate trap to kill off the Jews, yet instead of snaring them he snares himself. I wonder how often the traps I set for others are actually sprung on me. I should remember the principle of life that God’s Word gives us, we reap what we sow (Gal. 6:7). How often do I allow my anger to burn brightly and cause me to dream up various plans and schemes that sound fool-proof except for the fool called me. I need to remember to forgive often, freely and that vengeance is mine – SAYS the LORD – and that for all my schemes and plans it is not for me to take vengeance!!
Father help me to forgive freely and not hold grudges or let the sun go down on my anger.
Written by Ps. Richard Botta
6 That night the king could not sleep; so he ordered the book of the chronicles, the record of his reign, to be brought in and read to him. 2 It was found recorded there that Mordecai had exposed Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s officers who guarded the doorway, who had conspired to assassinate King Xerxes. 3 “What honor and recognition has Mordecai received for this?” the king asked. “Nothing has been done for him,” his attendants answered. 4 The king said, “Who is in the court?” Now Haman had just entered the outer court of the palace to speak to the king about impaling Mordecai on the pole he had set up for him. 5 His attendants answered, “Haman is standing in the court.” “Bring him in,” the king ordered. 6 When Haman entered, the king asked him, “What should be done for the man the king delights to honor?” Now Haman thought to himself, “Who is there that the king would rather honor than me?” 7 So he answered the king, “For the man the king delights to honor, 8 have them bring a royal robe the king has worn and a horse the king has ridden, one with a royal crest placed on its head. 9 Then let the robe and horse be entrusted to one of the king’s most noble princes. Let them robe the man the king delights to honor, and lead him on the horse through the city streets, proclaiming before him, ‘This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor!’” 10 “Go at once,” the king commanded Haman. “Get the robe and the horse and do just as you have suggested for Mordecai the Jew, who sits at the king’s gate. Do not neglect anything you have recommended.” 11 So Haman got the robe and the horse. He robed Mordecai, and led him on horseback through the city streets, proclaiming before him, “This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor!” 12 Afterward Mordecai returned to the king’s gate. But Haman rushed home, with his head covered in grief, 13 and told Zeresh his wife and all his friends everything that had happened to him. His advisers and his wife Zeresh said to him, “Since Mordecai, before whom your downfall has started, is of Jewish origin, you cannot stand against him—you will surely come to ruin!” 14 While they were still talking with him, the king’s eunuchs arrived and hurried Haman away to the banquet Esther had prepared.
This passage shows the king recognising where honour is due, and giving it generously. Mordecai warned the king about Bigthana and Teresh’s plans to kill him, so the king wanted Mordecai to be honoured well. I am particularly drawn to the word, “Quick!” (in vs 10), as this indicates that the king wanted to waste no time in recognising Mordecai’s deeds.
I am encouraged by this passage, to look at the people in my world and become more aware of where they deserve honour and acknowledgment for what they do. This king was prompt and generous in his honouring of Mordecai, and that is what I desire to be to those where it is due. This means being more outwardly focused.
God, I thank You for calling us to spur each other on in life. Please help me to see the people around me who I can bring honour to and show my appreciation towards. In Jesus’ name.
Written by Laura Samperi
5 On the third day Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the palace, in front of the king’s hall. The king was sitting on his royal throne in the hall, facing the entrance. 2 When he saw Queen Esther standing in the court, he was pleased with her and held out to her the gold scepter that was in his hand. So Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter. 3 Then the king asked, “What is it, Queen Esther? What is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be given you.” 4 “If it pleases the king,” replied Esther, “let the king, together with Haman, come today to a banquet I have prepared for him.” 5 “Bring Haman at once,” the king said, “so that we may do what Esther asks.” So the king and Haman went to the banquet Esther had prepared. 6 As they were drinking wine, the king again asked Esther, “Now what is your petition? It will be given you. And what is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be granted.” 7 Esther replied, “My petition and my request is this: 8 If the king regards me with favor and if it pleases the king to grant my petition and fulfill my request, let the king and Haman come tomorrow to the banquet I will prepare for them. Then I will answer the king’s question.” 9 Haman went out that day happy and in high spirits. But when he saw Mordecai at the king’s gate and observed that he neither rose nor showed fear in his presence, he was filled with rage against Mordecai. 10 Nevertheless, Haman restrained himself and went home. Calling together his friends and Zeresh, his wife, 11 Haman boasted to them about his vast wealth, his many sons, and all the ways the king had honored him and how he had elevated him above the other nobles and officials. 12 “And that’s not all,” Haman added. “I’m the only person Queen Esther invited to accompany the king to the banquet she gave. And she has invited me along with the king tomorrow. 13 But all this gives me no satisfaction as long as I see that Jew Mordecai sitting at the king’s gate.” 14 His wife Zeresh and all his friends said to him, “Have a pole set up, reaching to a height of fifty cubits, and ask the king in the morning to have Mordecai impaled on it. Then go with the king to the banquet and enjoy yourself.” This suggestion delighted Haman, and he had the pole set up.
What a contrast!
Haman is obsessed with himself: boasting about his wealth and perceived honour; and consumed with hatred for any who don’t share his elevated view of himself. Esther comes humbly and respectfully to Xerxes.
Haman is so overwhelmed by his hatred that he rushes to set up the public destruction of his enemy before he has even mentioned his plan to the king. Esther is patient: though she’s been offered up to half the kingdom she patiently builds anticipation of her request to save her people.
Haman takes a big risk (building the spike before asking the king) to build his own self-esteem and destroy others. Esther takes a big risk (coming into the king’s presence uninvited) to rescue others.
I can’t help but be reminded of what Paul says about love. “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)
Hatred is life transforming … to destruction. Love is life transforming … to life.
Father, I want to “get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior” (Ephesians 4:31). Holy Spirit, transform my heart to love like you love.
Written by David Cornell
4 When Mordecai learned of all that had been done, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the city, wailing loudly and bitterly. 2 But he went only as far as the king’s gate, because no one clothed in sackcloth was allowed to enter it. 3 In every province to which the edict and order of the king came, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting, weeping and wailing. Many lay in sackcloth and ashes. 4 When Esther’s eunuchs and female attendants came and told her about Mordecai, she was in great distress. She sent clothes for him to put on instead of his sackcloth, but he would not accept them. 5 Then Esther summoned Hathak, one of the king’s eunuchs assigned to attend her, and ordered him to find out what was troubling Mordecai and why. 6 So Hathak went out to Mordecai in the open square of the city in front of the king’s gate. 7 Mordecai told him everything that had happened to him, including the exact amount of money Haman had promised to pay into the royal treasury for the destruction of the Jews. 8 He also gave him a copy of the text of the edict for their annihilation, which had been published in Susa, to show to Esther and explain it to her, and he told him to instruct her to go into the king’s presence to beg for mercy and plead with him for her people. 9 Hathak went back and reported to Esther what Mordecai had said. 10 Then she instructed him to say to Mordecai, 11 “All the king’s officials and the people of the royal provinces know that for any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned the king has but one law: that they be put to death unless the king extends the gold scepter to them and spares their lives. But thirty days have passed since I was called to go to the king.” 12 When Esther’s words were reported to Mordecai, 13 he sent back this answer: “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. 14 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” 15 Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: 16 “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.” 17 So Mordecai went away and carried out all of Esther’s instructions.
Anyone who has ever faced something overwhelmingly unjust, or a situation where events are completely out of your own control, will have glimpsed Mordecai and Esther’s world. I have never been a royal queen like Esther, but I think at times we all face situations that are much bigger than we are and over which we seem to have no control. It is reasonable to question ‘where is God?’ in the midst of a crisis when feelings are running high. But the answer to that is easy. God is ALWAYS there and has already dealt with everything. Mordecai did not know how, but he definitely knew that God had a plan. He was confident in the big picture – God would rescue the Jews.
So in the middle of the crisis, when there seems to be no hope, are you and I prepared to step up and be brave and trust God? Esther had no way of knowing she wouldn’t be killed for approaching the King, but she was challenged to be brave (ie do it scared but do it anyway) and play her part. The ‘brave’ thing is trusting God, the outworking of that faith and trust is the actions that we take. Esther could have said ‘no’, God would have found another way. But by choosing to step up Esther was rewarded with being able to help save her people and her inspiring actions have gone down in history.
Are we trusting God, regardless of the situation or how we feel? Our challenges may not be as big as Esther’s, but big or small God calls us to trust in Him. Are you and I prepared to be brave and step up to play our part in God’s plans when the time comes?
Lord God help me keep my eyes on you. Help me to be brave and act with your wisdom and grace. Help me Lord to trust in you at all times. In Jesus name. Amen
Written by Christine Knight
12 Then on the thirteenth day of the first month the royal secretaries were summoned. They wrote out in the script of each province and in the language of each people all Haman’s orders to the king’s satraps, the governors of the various provinces and the nobles of the various peoples. These were written in the name of King Xerxes himself and sealed with his own ring. 13 Dispatches were sent by couriers to all the king’s provinces with the order to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews—young and old, women and children—on a single day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, and to plunder their goods. 14 A copy of the text of the edict was to be issued as law in every province and made known to the people of every nationality so they would be ready for that day. 15 The couriers went out, spurred on by the king’s command, and the edict was issued in the citadel of Susa. The king and Haman sat down to drink, but the city of Susa was bewildered.
Hasn’t the Jewish race suffered incredibly over history. This passage is yet another account of the severe persecution that the Jews are about to face by this decree to have them all slaughtered in a single day. And why? We need to refer back to what we have read previously in this chapter. The Jews were different. They kept themselves separate, their customs were different, and they did not obey the king’s laws. King Xerxes was therefore advised that this should not be tolerated, and that they should be destroyed.
I ponder with what God is teaching us today by this passage. I believe a key challenge is “conformity”. If the laws of our land changed in a way that was contrary to God’s laws and ways, how would I respond? If our Christian customs, eg being part of a church community, prayer meetings, connect groups etc all suddenly became illegal, would I remain faithful to God, even to the point of death?
I like to think that I would remain steadfast, and it is a worthy challenge for us all to contemplate how we would personally respond.
Thank you Father that we live in a tolerant country, and that our expression of our faith and belief in You is not illegal. Continue to build our faith such that in any scenario of potential persecution, we grow in strength of faith. Amen.
Written by Steve Fell
7 In the twelfth year of King Xerxes, in the first month, the month of Nisan, the pur (that is, the lot) was cast in the presence of Haman to select a day and month. And the lot fell on[a] the twelfth month, the month of Adar. 8 Then Haman said to King Xerxes, “There is a certain people dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom who keep themselves separate. Their customs are different from those of all other people, and they do not obey the king’s laws; it is not in the king’s best interest to tolerate them. 9 If it pleases the king, let a decree be issued to destroy them, and I will give ten thousand talents[b] of silver to the king’s administrators for the royal treasury.” 10 So the king took his signet ring from his finger and gave it to Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of the Jews. 11 “Keep the money,” the king said to Haman, “and do with the people as you please.”
As we dive down to the low point of this story I am reminded that evil sometimes looks like it is winning. In fact this part of the story goes further, not only is evil succeeding but those who are being faithful to God are being singled out to be the recipients of disaster.
These are the moments we most ask ‘why?’
No answer is found in this short passage of scripture. I must read on in the story, hoping that the author has a plot change in store. This is the message to me: in life I must trust and hope in the Author of my salvation. If my life takes a plot twist where evil is winning and faithfulness seems futile, I must hang on to the Author, knowing that this is not the end of His story!
Author of my salvation, right now I see that not all is right, much evil needs to be overturned. Thank you for destroying the evil in my life, increase my hope for your Kingdom to come and your will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Written by Andrew Mellor
3 After these events, King Xerxes honored Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, elevating him and giving him a seat of honor higher than that of all the other nobles. 2 All the royal officials at the king’s gate knelt down and paid honor to Haman, for the king had commanded this concerning him. But Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor. 3 Then the royal officials at the king’s gate asked Mordecai, “Why do you disobey the king’s command?” 4 Day after day they spoke to him but he refused to comply. Therefore they told Haman about it to see whether Mordecai’s behavior would be tolerated, for he had told them he was a Jew. 5 When Haman saw that Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor, he was enraged. 6 Yet having learned who Mordecai’s people were, he scorned the idea of killing only Mordecai. Instead Haman looked for a way to destroy all Mordecai’s people, the Jews, throughout the whole kingdom of Xerxes.
Here is a story about various men who hold influential leadership positions in the King’s kingdom. We find them sitting at the king’s gate: Haman, Mordecai, and two royal officials.
In the previous passage, Mordecai had overheard a plot to assassinate King Xerxes. He uses his position of influence to save the life of the King by passing the information onto Queen Esther who in turn tells the King. As a result, Mordecai is honoured.
In this passage, we read that Haman was honoured, and by the King’s command, all his servants were to bow down to him. However, Mordecai refused to. Here we see some interesting reactions: the two royal officials stir up trouble by constantly harassing Mordecai. They take the matter further and report it to Haman to see how he would respond. They even do a bit of mud-slinging, saying that Mordecai is a Jew. Haman reaction is one of rage against Mordecai and the Jewish people.
By contrast, Mordecai is a man of integrity. He knows what he stands for and will not be persuaded or pressured by those around him. His heart is motivated by the plight of his people.
As I read this, I cannot help but ask myself what kind of person am I? What does my leadership look like? Do I live according to integrity and conviction? Do I live with others in mind? Or am I insecure and get jealous or self-serving?
Lord help me to lead from a position of integrity and strength that is found in You. May I do what I can to help others and influence others for good.
Written by Gab Martin
19 When the virgins were assembled a second time, Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate. 20 But Esther had kept secret her family background and nationality just as Mordecai had told her to do, for she continued to follow Mordecai’s instructions as she had done when he was bringing her up. 21 During the time Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate, Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s officers who guarded the doorway, became angry and conspired to assassinate King Xerxes. 22 But Mordecai found out about the plot and told Queen Esther, who in turn reported it to the king, giving credit to Mordecai. 23 And when the report was investigated and found to be true, the two officials were impaled on poles. All this was recorded in the book of the annals in the presence of the king.
Esther was a foreigner in the king’s palace. She was hiding her identity from those around her, and I imagine that in the palace there was always someone around her. The text does not speak to it, but I wonder if it was difficult to hide her identity? I wonder if she felt like a foreigner? I wonder if there were customs and practices that offended her or violated her sense of what was sacred? I wonder if she felt alone or not truly accepted?
How vital Mordecai would have been to her in the palace. Someone who knew her, who loved her and was for her, because of who she was rather than her physical appearance or political status.
Thank you God that Mordecai captures something of your character. You know us, love us and accept us for who we are, rather than our appearance or usefulness. We’re your family. Help me to be like Mordecai, a person with whom others can rest, knowing that they are loved and accepted for who they are, sons and daughters of the Most High God. Amen.
Written by Bethany Waugh
12 Before a young woman’s turn came to go in to King Xerxes, she had to complete twelve months of beauty treatments prescribed for the women, six months with oil of myrrh and six with perfumes and cosmetics. 13 And this is how she would go to the king: Anything she wanted was given her to take with her from the harem to the king’s palace. 14 In the evening she would go there and in the morning return to another part of the harem to the care of Shaashgaz, the king’s eunuch who was in charge of the concubines. She would not return to the king unless he was pleased with her and summoned her by name. 15 When the turn came for Esther (the young woman Mordecai had adopted, the daughter of his uncle Abihail) to go to the king, she asked for nothing other than what Hegai, the king’s eunuch who was in charge of the harem, suggested. And Esther won the favor of everyone who saw her. 16 She was taken to King Xerxes in the royal residence in the tenth month, the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign. 17 Now the king was attracted to Esther more than to any of the other women, and she won his favor and approval more than any of the other virgins. So he set a royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti. 18 And the king gave a great banquet, Esther’s banquet, for all his nobles and officials. He proclaimed a holiday throughout the provinces and distributed gifts with royal liberality.
Esther is an intriguing character in the Bible and this is one of the more… um… uncomfortable passages of the old testament.
We have a dodgy beauty pageant, which leads to a night with the pagan king, that he is so impressed by, that he wants to marry Esther. It all sounds very dodgy.
And what does God say? Not much. In fact, God isn’t even mentioned in the book.
Yet God’s blessing on Esther, Mordecai and even on the king is evident throughout the narrative of the book.
This passage is a reminder for me, that the kingdom of God is primarily about God’s love for us, even though we don’t deserve it.
Lord, thank you for your grace, that while we were yet sinners, you loved us, and send Christ to save us through his death in our place.
Written by Ps. Justin Ware
2 Later when King Xerxes’ fury had subsided, he remembered Vashti and what she had done and what he had decreed about her. 2 Then the king’s personal attendants proposed, “Let a search be made for beautiful young virgins for the king. 3 Let the king appoint commissioners in every province of his realm to bring all these beautiful young women into the harem at the citadel of Susa. Let them be placed under the care of Hegai, the king’s eunuch, who is in charge of the women; and let beauty treatments be given to them. 4 Then let the young woman who pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti.” This advice appealed to the king, and he followed it. 5 Now there was in the citadel of Susa a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin, named Mordecai son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, 6 who had been carried into exile from Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, among those taken captive with Jehoiachin king of Judah. 7 Mordecai had a cousin named Hadassah, whom he had brought up because she had neither father nor mother. This young woman, who was also known as Esther, had a lovely figure and was beautiful. Mordecai had taken her as his own daughter when her father and mother died. 8 When the king’s order and edict had been proclaimed, many young women were brought to the citadel of Susa and put under the care of Hegai. Esther also was taken to the king’s palace and entrusted to Hegai, who had charge of the harem. 9 She pleased him and won his favor. Immediately he provided her with her beauty treatments and special food. He assigned to her seven female attendants selected from the king’s palace and moved her and her attendants into the best place in the harem. 10 Esther had not revealed her nationality and family background, because Mordecai had forbidden her to do so. 11 Every day he walked back and forth near the courtyard of the harem to find out how Esther was and what was happening to her.
The Jews find themselves in Babylon, which is probably the last place they expected to be. After all, Israel was their promised land.
As I read this passage, I began to think of what it would have been like to be a Jew in this story. Where was God? Had he abandoned them? What about his promises to Abraham? And to David? The king was no longer on the throne, in fact he was a slave to the Babylon King. Cut of from their land, did they have a future?
The big question is, where was God in all of this?
God was there, even if they didn’t see him. God was definitely at work, putting key people into key positions for events that were yet to happen.
This particular story is how Ester was positioned by God, to be the next queen. Why Ester? She had no idea now, but later she would.
I have also asked the same question, where is God in all of this – in my life when things are not as I expected or planned?
Even though Esther had no idea what was to come, God was working things out for Israel. Specific moves – Esther to queen (sounds like chess) to counter the move Haman would later make against the Jews.
In the same way, God is working on my behalf, for things that are ahead of me that I don’t yet see.
God’s promise to us never changes – that he causes all things to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.
Father I thank you that you are at work on my behalf. I don’t need to know how, but I trust you, because you do.
Written by Andrew Martin
10 On the seventh day, when King Xerxes was in high spirits from wine, he commanded the seven eunuchs who served him—Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, Abagtha, Zethar and Karkas— 11 to bring before him Queen Vashti, wearing her royal crown, in order to display her beauty to the people and nobles, for she was lovely to look at. 12 But when the attendants delivered the king’s command, Queen Vashti refused to come. Then the king became furious and burned with anger. 13 Since it was customary for the king to consult experts in matters of law and justice, he spoke with the wise men who understood the times 14 and were closest to the king—Karshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena and Memukan, the seven nobles of Persia and Media who had special access to the king and were highest in the kingdom. 15 “According to law, what must be done to Queen Vashti?” he asked. “She has not obeyed the command of King Xerxes that the eunuchs have taken to her.” 16 Then Memukan replied in the presence of the king and the nobles, “Queen Vashti has done wrong, not only against the king but also against all the nobles and the peoples of all the provinces of King Xerxes. 17 For the queen’s conduct will become known to all the women, and so they will despise their husbands and say, ‘King Xerxes commanded Queen Vashti to be brought before him, but she would not come.’ 18 This very day the Persian and Median women of the nobility who have heard about the queen’s conduct will respond to all the king’s nobles in the same way. There will be no end of disrespect and discord. 19 “Therefore, if it pleases the king, let him issue a royal decree and let it be written in the laws of Persia and Media, which cannot be repealed, that Vashti is never again to enter the presence of King Xerxes. Also let the king give her royal position to someone else who is better than she. 20 Then when the king’s edict is proclaimed throughout all his vast realm, all the women will respect their husbands, from the least to the greatest.” 21 The king and his nobles were pleased with this advice, so the king did as Memukan proposed. 22 He sent dispatches to all parts of the kingdom, to each province in its own script and to each people in their own language, proclaiming that every man should be ruler over his own household, using his native tongue.
This is one for all the girls out there…
You are not an object to be exploited – to be looked at and ogled.
You are not to be disadvantaged because you have the courage to say no.
You are valued and loved by God. You are elevated by Him, even when men try to push you down.
You deserve to be respected – your thoughts and opinions matter.
You deserve to have a husband that treats you right – a man that says “I will fight for ‘oneness’ with you. Not dominance over you”
You deserve to have a husband that says “I love you and I will sacrifice my life for you because that’s what Jesus did and I will follow His example”
You are a daughter of the King! There is no higher standing!
Written by Boudy Van Noppen
1 This is what happened during the time of Xerxes, the Xerxes who ruled over 127 provinces stretching from India to Cush: 2 At that time King Xerxes reigned from his royal throne in the citadel of Susa, 3 and in the third year of his reign he gave a banquet for all his nobles and officials. The military leaders of Persia and Media, the princes, and the nobles of the provinces were present. 4 For a full 180 days he displayed the vast wealth of his kingdom and the splendor and glory of his majesty. 5 When these days were over, the king gave a banquet, lasting seven days, in the enclosed garden of the king’s palace, for all the people from the least to the greatest who were in the citadel of Susa. 6 The garden had hangings of white and blue linen, fastened with cords of white linen and purple material to silver rings on marble pillars. There were couches of gold and silver on a mosaic pavement of porphyry, marble, mother-of-pearl and other costly stones. 7 Wine was served in goblets of gold, each one different from the other, and the royal wine was abundant, in keeping with the king’s liberality. 8 By the king’s command each guest was allowed to drink with no restrictions, for the king instructed all the wine stewards to serve each man what he wished. 9 Queen Vashti also gave a banquet for the women in the royal palace of King Xerxes.
Although I have read this narrative many times, I’ve never really stopped to take note of the level of detail in the early part of this chapter, which sets up the whole story.
For instance, I noticed for the first time that King Xerxes held celebrations and feasts for all of the nobles of the region that lasted 180 days – about 6 months of partying! Some of the things that we read about later in the book of Esther make a sense when read in this context.
There is an old saying “the devil is in the detail”. Wikipedia tells me that this idiom is said to be derived from an earlier phrase “God is in the detail”, expressing the idea that details are important.
As we continue to read the book of Esther we will see that indeed, God is in the detail, in that He uses all of the many details of this story to bring about His purposes for His people.
I can certainly testify to this experience in my own life – God can and has worked things together for His good purposes even when I had no idea what He was up to.
I am grateful that God is in the detail!
Written by Shelley Witt
13 So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. When he made love to her, the Lord enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son. 14 The women said to Naomi: “Praise be to the Lord, who this day has not left you without a guardian-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel! 15 He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth.” 16 Then Naomi took the child in her arms and cared for him. 17 The women living there said, “Naomi has a son!” And they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David. 18 This, then, is the family line of Perez: Perez was the father of Hezron, 19 Hezron the father of Ram, Ram the father of Amminadab, 20 Amminadab the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon, 21 Salmon the father of Boaz, Boaz the father of Obed, 22 Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David.
This passage gets me excited! Not because of the love making but because of where it fits in the history of humanity!
Ruth and Naomi were on death’s door, living as widows with no means for income. Ruth was within her rights to leave her mother-in-law Naomi, but she stayed and attached herself to the fate of Naomi and entrusted herself to the God of Naomi.
I may feel confused or lost, but I can attach myself to God’s people, throw my lot in with them, even when I am unsure of where I am going. In doing so their blessing becomes my blessing, their clarity my clarity. I become more aware of the goodness of God in the community of God’s people.
Ruth is grafted into God’s people and over time received blessing, provision and clarity – we see the culmination of this here. She would become the grandmother of the greatest king ever to rule in Israel, King David, and she would be an ancestor in the human blood line of Jesus Christ.
Lord I am not an island, I throw my lot in and acknowledge that without your people I will wither and die. I am attached to the body of Christ – the Church. I suffer with the Church and rejoice with the Church. Ultimately I will live forever with the Church and our Saviour! Amen
Written by Andrew Mellor
7 (Now in earlier times in Israel, for the redemption and transfer of property to become final, one party took off his sandal and gave it to the other. This was the method of legalizing transactions in Israel.) 8 So the guardian-redeemer said to Boaz, “Buy it yourself.” And he removed his sandal. 9 Then Boaz announced to the elders and all the people, “Today you are witnesses that I have bought from Naomi all the property of Elimelek, Kilion and Mahlon. 10 I have also acquired Ruth the Moabite, Mahlon’s widow, as my wife, in order to maintain the name of the dead with his property, so that his name will not disappear from among his family or from his hometown. Today you are witnesses!” 11 Then the elders and all the people at the gate said, “We are witnesses. May the Lord make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the family of Israel. May you have standing in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem. 12 Through the offspring the Lord gives you by this young woman, may your family be like that of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah.”
I love Boaz. He’s such a compassionate, honourable man.
He probably could have simply married Ruth, but he takes an enormous risk in offering both Naomi’s property and Ruth to the closer relative. Fulfilling both the spirit and the letter of the law, down to every detail of witnesses and sandals was important to him. In the process he not only redeems Ruth, he also redeems her inheritance and the promise for Ruth and her children.
He’s another of those people that God puts throughout the Old Testament who are pictures of Jesus: Jesus who fulfilled both the spirit and every letter of the law; Jesus who paid an enormous price to redeem me, to bring me back into my rightful family (with God as father); and Jesus who redeemed my inheritance and promise and future.
I love Jesus too. I love that he redeemed me in just the right way. There is no legal loop hole that I can fall through.
Written by David Cornell
4 Meanwhile Boaz went up to the town gate and sat down there just as the guardian-redeemer he had mentioned came along. Boaz said, “Come over here, my friend, and sit down.” So he went over and sat down. 2 Boaz took ten of the elders of the town and said, “Sit here,” and they did so. 3 Then he said to the guardian-redeemer, “Naomi, who has come back from Moab, is selling the piece of land that belonged to our relative Elimelek. 4 I thought I should bring the matter to your attention and suggest that you buy it in the presence of these seated here and in the presence of the elders of my people. If you will redeem it, do so. But if you will not, tell me, so I will know. For no one has the right to do it except you, and I am next in line.” “I will redeem it,” he said. 5 Then Boaz said, “On the day you buy the land from Naomi, you also acquire Ruth the Moabite, the dead man’s widow, in order to maintain the name of the dead with his property.” 6 At this, the guardian-redeemer said, “Then I cannot redeem it because I might endanger my own estate. You redeem it yourself. I cannot do it.”
V1. Boaz went to the town gate and took a seat there.
I like Boaz. He has family business to attend to – so he goes straight to it – positioning himself at the town gate – where the town people pass by, positioning himself for success in his family business. He has promised Ruth he will sort things out for her future – and he immediately puts it at the top of his agenda. There is no mention of anything else Boaz does after he speaks to Ruth – except this.
I live in a culture where it is easy to put family business lower down on the agenda than it belongs. For me – family business is God’s business. They are not in opposition. Just as it was for Boaz – his commitment to Ruth was part of God’s plan.
I want to do what I say I will do, when I say I will do it. I want to position myself where I need to be. I want to sort out things that need to be sorted out in order to move forward. Lord I need your help to do this. Thank you for hearing me and answering me today.
Written by Ps. Linda Quinn
6 So she went down to the threshing floor and did everything her mother-in-law told her to do. 7 When Boaz had finished eating and drinking and was in good spirits, he went over to lie down at the far end of the grain pile. Ruth approached quietly, uncovered his feet and lay down. 8 In the middle of the night something startled the man; he turned—and there was a woman lying at his feet! 9 “Who are you?” he asked. “I am your servant Ruth,” she said. “Spread the corner of your garment over me, since you are a guardian-redeemer of our family.” 10 “The Lord bless you, my daughter,” he replied. “This kindness is greater than that which you showed earlier: You have not run after the younger men, whether rich or poor. 11 And now, my daughter, don’t be afraid. I will do for you all you ask. All the people of my town know that you are a woman of noble character. 12 Although it is true that I am a guardian-redeemer of our family, there is another who is more closely related than I. 13 Stay here for the night, and in the morning if he wants to do his duty as your guardian-redeemer, good; let him redeem you. But if he is not willing, as surely as the Lord lives I will do it. Lie here until morning.” 14 So she lay at his feet until morning, but got up before anyone could be recognized; and he said, “No one must know that a woman came to the threshing floor.” 15 He also said, “Bring me the shawl you are wearing and hold it out.” When she did so, he poured into it six measures of barley and placed the bundle on her. Then he went back to town. 16 When Ruth came to her mother-in-law, Naomi asked, “How did it go, my daughter?” Then she told her everything Boaz had done for her 17 and added, “He gave me these six measures of barley, saying, ‘Don’t go back to your mother-in-law empty-handed.’” 18 Then Naomi said, “Wait, my daughter, until you find out what happens. For the man will not rest until the matter is settled today.”
This passage of scripture, with some straightforward observations speaks really loudly.
The first for me is the way Ruth describes herself. Previously Ruth was introduced to us as Ruth the Moabitess or as Naomi’s daughter in law. Now, as Ruth is beginning to get on with her life she describes herself as Boaz’s servant. Here is Ruth describing her future. She is proposing marriage, by lying at his feet, and this description doesn’t reflect on her past, or her nationality, it is future focused, vision oriented.
How do you describe yourself? Do you do so in relation to others, I am the son of, the daughter of, the employee of, the friend of. There is nothing wrong with this of course. Do you describe yourself in relation to your role, husband, father, mother, wife, builder, plumber, doctor, accountant… again nothing wrong here. Or do you describe yourself with the future in mind?
In different situations we describe ourselves differently, at work, at church, at home, in a team.
Yet there is an important power to describing ourselves with the vision of God in mind. How often do you do this – for Ruth it was “I am your servant…” Speaking what we believe is a powerful principle of faith (2 Corinthians 4:13) Let’s continue to practice this principle.
Father, fill our mouths with vision that we speak out over our lives!
Written by Ps. Richard Botta
3 One day Ruth’s mother-in-law Naomi said to her, “My daughter, I must find a home[a] for you, where you will be well provided for. 2 Now Boaz, with whose women you have worked, is a relative of ours. Tonight he will be winnowing barley on the threshing floor. 3 Wash, put on perfume, and get dressed in your best clothes. Then go down to the threshing floor, but don’t let him know you are there until he has finished eating and drinking. 4 When he lies down, note the place where he is lying. Then go and uncover his feet and lie down. He will tell you what to do.” 5 “I will do whatever you say,” Ruth answered.
This is one of those passages where it’s tricky to work out what to say. It may mean more than is appropriate to talk about in such a blog – we don’t really understand some of the ways they approached matchmaking. However, we can look at Ruth and how she approached life to see what we can learn.
Ruth was committed to supporting Naomi, her mother in law. She had come with Naomi from her home to be with her in Naomi’s home. That’s a big deal. Naomi tried to talk her out of it a number of times. Ruth held true to what she believed she was to do.
In this passage Naomi is trying to look after Ruth in return (and herself). Ruth again stays true to what she believes. She trusts Naomi to know what is appropriate and good for her. She doesn’t argue or question. I find her approach amazing – going to parties is not my favourite thing and putting myself in risky situations is also something I struggle with. But Ruth trusted that Naomi knew what was needed and was looking to help provide a future for Ruth.
We have times when we struggle to do what God has asked us to do. Sometimes we don’t want to do whatever it is, sometimes we are scared, sometimes we just think we heard wrong. But look at Ruth’s response – I’ll do it!!
Lord help us to learn from You what the plan for our life should be. Help us to choose to stick with that plan even when it gets tricky. Help us to be willing to follow You, to choose to believe that You are for us more than we can possibly imagine and You are trustworthy.
Written by Therese Manning
14 At mealtime Boaz said to her, “Come over here. Have some bread and dip it in the wine vinegar.” When she sat down with the harvesters, he offered her some roasted grain. She ate all she wanted and had some left over. 15 As she got up to glean, Boaz gave orders to his men, “Let her gather among the sheaves and don’t reprimand her. 16 Even pull out some stalks for her from the bundles and leave them for her to pick up, and don’t rebuke her.” 17 So Ruth gleaned in the field until evening. Then she threshed the barley she had gathered, and it amounted to about an ephah. 18 She carried it back to town, and her mother-in-law saw how much she had gathered. Ruth also brought out and gave her what she had left over after she had eaten enough. 19 Her mother-in-law asked her, “Where did you glean today? Where did you work? Blessed be the man who took notice of you!” Then Ruth told her mother-in-law about the one at whose place she had been working. “The name of the man I worked with today is Boaz,” she said. 20 “The Lord bless him!” Naomi said to her daughter-in-law. “He has not stopped showing his kindness to the living and the dead.” She added, “That man is our close relative; he is one of our guardian-redeemers.” 21 Then Ruth the Moabite said, “He even said to me, ‘Stay with my workers until they finish harvesting all my grain.’” 22 Naomi said to Ruth her daughter-in-law, “It will be good for you, my daughter, to go with the women who work for him, because in someone else’s field you might be harmed.” 23 So Ruth stayed close to the women of Boaz to glean until the barley and wheat harvests were finished. And she lived with her mother-in-law.
Boaz continues to provide food & opportunity for Ruth to work & harvest from his fields. It is not until the end of the day that Ruth finds out who Boaz is – a relative.
I see in these paragraphs a story of reputation. Ruth’s reputation has gone before her – her faithfulness and loyalty precedes her and has been told to Boaz. Boaz’s responds to Ruth’s reputation and shows kindness, safety and generosity towards her due to her relationship with Naomi. His reputation is now forever recorded.
Kindness, faithfulness, loyalty, generosity & security – I have thought about these character traits and wondered about my reputation, what precedes me to others? Am I showing Christ like character? How do I respond to others … is it in kindness, generosity, do I offer security to others, am I loyal and faithful in my relationships?
Father thank you that you have challenged me through the character of both Ruth and Boaz, that reputation is something to be valued and guarded and more importantly it is to be a reflection of you in my life.
Written by Suzie Hodgson
2 Now Naomi had a relative on her husband’s side, a man of standing from the clan of Elimelek, whose name was Boaz. 2 And Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go to the fields and pick up the leftover grain behind anyone in whose eyes I find favor.” Naomi said to her, “Go ahead, my daughter.” 3 So she went out, entered a field and began to glean behind the harvesters. As it turned out, she was working in a field belonging to Boaz, who was from the clan of Elimelek. 4 Just then Boaz arrived from Bethlehem and greeted the harvesters, “The Lord be with you!” “The Lord bless you!” they answered. 5 Boaz asked the overseer of his harvesters, “Who does that young woman belong to?” 6 The overseer replied, “She is the Moabite who came back from Moab with Naomi. 7 She said, ‘Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves behind the harvesters.’ She came into the field and has remained here from morning till now, except for a short rest in the shelter.” 8 So Boaz said to Ruth, “My daughter, listen to me. Don’t go and glean in another field and don’t go away from here. Stay here with the women who work for me. 9 Watch the field where the men are harvesting, and follow along after the women. I have told the men not to lay a hand on you. And whenever you are thirsty, go and get a drink from the water jars the men have filled.” 10 At this, she bowed down with her face to the ground. She asked him, “Why have I found such favor in your eyes that you notice me—a foreigner?” 11 Boaz replied, “I’ve been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband—how you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before. 12 May the Lord repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.” 13 “May I continue to find favor in your eyes, my lord,” she said. “You have put me at ease by speaking kindly to your servant—though I do not have the standing of one of your servants.”
I could focus today on the return of kindness to Ruth, after she showed so much dedication and selflessness toward Naomi, as described in Chapter 1. This is a strong message coming through, but I am strangely more captured by a peripheral message.
When Boaz arrived from Bethlehem, he greeted the harvesters with “The Lord be with you” (NIV). They answered with “The Lord bless you”.
David Guzik writes “The LORD be with you: This shows us something of the heart and character of Boaz. Apparently, his workers loved him and had a good relationship with him. You can often tell the real character of a man in authority by seeing how he relates to his staff and by how they think of him.”
This principle applies to many situations of life and in many forms of leadership. Respect, care, humility, concern for wellbeing of others, kindness etc, are all traits of a Godly person in authority.
The harvesters returned the greeting with “The Lord bless you”, and so they obviously had great respect for Boaz, their employer, but likely because he respected them first.
Father, in all of my roles of authority and leadership, I pray that I might always reflect Your heart of love and care for those I lead. Forgive me for when I have not, and continue to transform me into the leader with character that You desire. Amen
Written by Steve Fell
15 “Look,” said Naomi, “your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods. Go back with her.” 16 But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” 18 When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her. 19 So the two women went on until they came to Bethlehem. When they arrived in Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them, and the women exclaimed, “Can this be Naomi?” 20 “Don’t call me Naomi,” she told them. “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. 21 I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The Lord has afflicted[d] me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.” 22 So Naomi returned from Moab accompanied by Ruth the Moabite, her daughter-in-law, arriving in Bethlehem as the barley harvest was beginning.
I am always struck by Ruth’s complete dedication to Naomi. The complete dedication she shows to her mother-in-law and her God. Surely it would have been tempting (and easier) to go back to what she had known. But Ruth shows such resolution to stay with Naomi. The choice she made cannot have been easy but it placed Ruth in a position where God could bless her in ways she could not have imagined.
I think there are times in all our lives when we have to be brave – make determined choices and ‘stick to our guns’. Ruth did the right thing. This was a big decision but there are decisions big and small every day that we face. I hope my choices show the same resolution to do the right thing as Ruth showed. I don’t know about you but I want to be positioned so I can do and receive all that God has for me.
Heavenly Father help me to be courageous in my choices. Help me to choose wisely every day and bring Glory to you. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.
Written by Christine Knight
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