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Lowell Brueckner

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A Rest


Our text today is taken from the book of Ruth and the words are spoken by a mother-in-law, Naomi, to her daughter-in-law, Ruth.

Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, "My daughter, should I not seek rest for you, that it may be well with you?        Ruth 3:1

Ruth determined to follow Naomi back to her native land: “Where you go, I will go,” she said, “Your people shall be my people and your God my God.” In chapter 2, she begins to take part in the benefits and blessings of this Promised Land. She actually had no rights to it, because she was a Moabitess and her people were forbidden to even enter the land. However, long before she existed, God devised a plan, and Ruth, though not one of the people of God, but a foreigner, was received into His plan. That was a high and undeserved privilege, but it was not the end of the story.

Ruth’s mother-in-law desires more for her. It already was going very well for Ruth, but Naomi would look for a “rest” for her. What does she mean by “rest”? She meant that Ruth should find a place of satisfaction and fulfillment, that would secure her future. It was a place, where she could put down roots, settle in, and be established. She was speaking of a home.

Naomi knew the ways of God with His people and carried His nature in her heart. The desire of God for His own, was the same desire that Naomi wished for her daughter-in-law… God settles the solitary in a home (Psa 68:6). God uncovered His heart in the history of the entire nation. The nation of Israel was enslaved in Egypt without hope for a free future. Egypt was a powerful force in those days and governed Israel with an iron hand. In their misery and bondage, they called upon the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and He heard their cry. Through a series of supernatural plagues, Egypt released its grip and Israel escaped after 400 years of slavery.

At last they were free, through His mighty deliverance. However, far from having a homeland, now they lived in a wilderness in tents. It was certainly a huge improvement from their former lifestyle in slavery, but not a place of security and fulfillment. In short, it was not a place of rest. To be sure, the purpose of God was that they should be free, but His plan went beyond that, to give them a Promised Land, a homeland, where they could prosper, grow, and find meaning in life. He brought them out of Egyptian slavery, to bring them into a land of rest.

Moses sent 12 spies into that land and only two of them captured the wonderful significance of it. Joshua and Caleb looked with eyes of faith and saw a future homeland that actually would be theirs, not only for centuries, but for millenniums. They said to all the people, The land, which we passed through to spy it out, is an exceedingly good land. If the LORD delights in us, he will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land that flows with milk and honey do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us. Their protection is removed from them, and the LORD is with us.” (Num 14:7-9) 

Not only was that land a perpetual homeland for the children of Israel, but it was a resting place for their God. “For the LORD has chosen Zion; he has desired it for his dwelling place: This is my resting place forever; here I will dwell, for I have desired it” (Psa 132:13-14). He would be their God and they would be His people. They would dwell together in harmony and communion.

The God of Israel became man and dwelt among His people. He opened His heart to them, healed their sick, delivered them from many bondages, as He invited them to “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest (Mat 11:28). Many refused to recognize their emptiness and spiritual poverty. They were asleep to the riches that He offered and the significance of the eternal rest. He wept over them, but they refused to allow Him to be their Lord and Savior.

The Gospels, however, give us one example of a home and the people who lived there, who opened the door for Jesus. There was no room for Him in the capital city of Jerusalem and the Gospels never mention that anyone offered lodging to Him there. Instead, He walked to nearby Bethany to be with two sisters and their brother, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house” (Luk_10:38).   There a love relationship developed. When the brother became sick: “The sisters sent to him, saying, Lord, he whom you love is ill(Joh 11:3). Two verses later, it states, Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus” (Joh 11:5).  Lazarus was a friend of Jesus and all the disciples: Jesus said to them, "Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him." 

With these thoughts in mind, we will return to the story of Ruth. All this is a story of the triumph of the love of God, working and motivating the hearts of the people involved. All that has to do with the Kingdom of God is motivated by His love. Ruth’s husband and Naomi’s son, Mahlon, died in the country of Moab and so, Ruth was a widow, when she came with Naomi to Bethlehem. It is evident that she loved her mother-in-law. The law required, when a husband died, that the nearest relative should purchase his land, take his wife, and raise up children for the dead husband, so that his land would belong to those children. Boaz, a notable man in Bethlehem and a relative of Mahlon, will join with Ruth in a marriage covenant, as this story about the love of God continues. There is a problem involved. There is a nearer relative to Mahlon than Boaz, so Boaz resolves to deal with the problem. And now it is true that I am a redeemer. Yet there is a redeemer nearer than I (Rth 3:12). 

He confronted the nearest relative before the elders of the city of Bethlehem and in the end he was unable to perform his lawful duty. Then the redeemer said, I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I impair my own inheritance. Take my right of redemption yourself, for I cannot redeem it(Ruth 4:6). Boaz willingly and lovingly could redeem and therefore Ruth became Boaz’s wife and together they became the ancestors of King David and played their part in the eternal plan of God, in bringing the Son of David, Jesus Christ, into the world.

We will consider the spiritual implications of that story. In order that we might have a future with God in Christ Jesus, a rest, in which we find security, satisfaction and enter into a love relationship with Christ (as Lazarus), we are first confronted with a problem. As in Ruth’s case, we must meet the requirements of the law. The law demands that we keep it without fail. Only by perfect compliance with the law can a human be right before God. A close examination of every life in this room will reveal that not one of us has been able to do that. Our moral weakness prohibits us from coming under the blessing of God through keeping the law. Therefore by the keeping of the law we can never come into spiritual rest.

All the religious efforts in the world cannot deal with the problem. Religion requires that we be faithful to do good deeds in order to satisfy the demands of our conscience. Mankind is wrapped up in this effort, but the truth is that all is in vain. As the near relative confessed, so it is true of the law that it cannot redeem. What then can be done for our hopeless situation. Hear the Scripture from the Apostle Paul: For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh,  in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit (Rom 8:3-4). 

Because of our moral weakness, we can never please God through good works. Our best efforts are simply manifestations of human arrogance and they are offensive to God. The entire meaning of the gospel is this: That God has done a work for us that we could not do. God, the Son, became a perfect human being, without sinning. He took our sin (our failure to keep the law) upon Himself, went to the cross, fulfilled the righteous death sentence for our sin, that all who deposit their trust in Him to save them, should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Your lives and your future are in the hands of the Savior, Who died that you might live forever. You are trusting Him and He cannot fail you. If you have longed only for the will of God. What you sought, you have found. This means more than any one of us present can imagine, for the designer of your lives has an eternal purpose to perform through you for Italy and for this center. As Joshua and Caleb, may you capture the wonderful significance of it. You will become established upon a firm foundation and fulfillment and satisfaction will be yours, because your lives carry a purpose, not only to be revealed in this time on earth, but throughout eternity. You will not be alone, for the Friend of Lazarus, Martha and Mary, will live with you. You will find rest, because He will carry with you every burden and responsibility. It will be well with you, says the Lord.  


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