A LIFE TRANSFORMED The first story in The Lives of God’s Poor and Obscure

This is the first story I originally wrote as a stand-alone, not at that time anticipating the compiling of a book of short stories in this format. A Life Transformed was first published in the Pentecostal Testimony, the magazine of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. That was, I believe, back in 1997. I then submitted it to a contest which I did not win. Both venues required a different number of words, so I added to it and shortened it accordingly. For the magazine, I had to cut it in half. For the contest, I had to almost triple the word count from the magazine edition. For this book, I have taken it back closer to the original number of words. I have not yet done the final editing, so if you, my reader, see anything you feel is an error in spelling, grammar, punctuation or in story content or flow, please feel free to leave a comment below and I will take it into consideration before I publish.  This story sat for a while before I decided to choose other obscure people in the Bible and to create stories around them. Now I am nearing the time when I can publish the whole collection in my next book, The Lives of God’s Poor and Obscure” A Collection of Short Stories. See my last post to learn more about this book.

The Lives of God's Poor and Obscure Front Cover-001

A Life Transformed


It’s true. What they say of Him is true. I feel it. I know it. Because of this I am compelled to write an accurate record of my story so that others can believe, too. What I have to share is also important for the benefit of my children and their children after them.

My name is Malchus. Though it means, in my native Hebrew language, king, counselor or ruler, I am but the servant of the High Priest. Yet in a way I am a ruler in my own household: counselor to those I love dearly and for whose well-being I am fully responsible. My history is not exceptional. Born of Levite parents, Malchijah and Miriam, I have five brothers and three sisters. I am the oldest. I grew up in a strict Jewish home where my parents taught me to worship and fear God Almighty. Father constantly talked of the laws and commandments of God so that I became familiar with them at an early age. A good provider, he followed the Law faithfully. I was circumcised according to the Law and participated in all the feasts from the time I was of age. Mother was a wonderful, kind woman. An ancient proverb describes her exactly: An excellent wife is the crown of her husband.1 She complemented my father in every way so that they were as one being. Mother was a strong influence in my life both by her teaching and her example. Though she died several years ago, I still miss her.

When I was but a young boy, my parents betrothed me to the daughter of friends. As I grew into maturity, I watched this child grow and blossom into a beautiful young woman and eagerly anticipated the day of our marriage. Rachel has been my wife for several years now, and we have five children. My oldest son is my pride and joy. A handsome boy, full of life, he can be mischievous at times, but I am sure he will outgrow the youthful pranks. We have recently begun making arrangements to betroth him to Rebecca, the lovely little daughter of Joseph and Sarah, long-time friends of our family. I pray that when they do marry, they will be as happy and content as Rachel and I have been. May God bless them and grant them many children.

As a servant of the High Priest, I have faithfully served Caiaphas from the time I voluntarily bound myself to him fifteen years ago. Since the Romans took over the rule of our nation, they have appointed our high priests. Although they are still taken from the line of Aaron, now only those who are of political importance are chosen by Roman officials. Thus, sad to say, the spiritual quality of that privileged calling has now declined in favor of political power. I am sure God is very saddened by it all.

To begin my story, I must refer to a most amazing occurrence. One night, on orders from Caiaphas, I accompanied a large number of people gathered up by the chief priests, scribes and elders of Israel into a garden where we were to arrest a man named Jesus. One of His disciples, Judas, son of one Iscariot, promised to point Him out to us. He had come to the rulers a short while before with an offer to hand his Master over to them. They paid him the sum of thirty pieces of silver in advance, proving precisely how much they wanted to be rid of Jesus. I wondered, when I heard the rumor of this arrangement, why a man should be so anxious to betray his own Master and friend. I suppose some men are willing to do anything for enough money, but still, I thought it strange. Jesus taught openly in the temple and in public places, yet we had to have someone identify Him. And the multitude of men it took just to arrest one unarmed Man with a handful of mostly unarmed followers was inexplicable.

I had seen this Man from time to time at a distance, and heard snatches of what He spoke to the people. The leaders of the temple considered Him a troublemaker. The Pharisees and elders were so jealous of their exalted positions in Israel they could not bear to see so many enthusiastic supporters of One who had risen from obscurity. After all, He was only a carpenter’s Son from Galilee. No one of any significance ever came from Galilee. During the great Exile, this area was repopulated by a colony of heathens now looked down on as less than nobodies. But I, in my brief encounters, saw no real harm in Him. He certainly seemed to be popular with the common people.

This Jesus reportedly had healed many people from physical ailments and cast out demons. One day I even heard that He had raised a man named Lazarus from the dead. Nonsense, I thought, obviously a mere exaggeration spread by overzealous followers. But the rulers plainly took the incident seriously.

Numerous times the chief priests had tried to snare Him in His teaching, but no one succeeded. I often heard the rulers plotting, then reporting their failures. They sent different people to question Him, and some even pretended that they believed what He proclaimed. But with great wisdom, Jesus knew exactly how to reply to them. I heard the reports they brought back to the rulers. After the Lazarus rumor, the leaders stepped up their campaign to remove Jesus. They even plotted to kill Lazarus because many more people turned to Jesus because of him, and Lazarus himself was becoming very popular.

However, the first time I saw Him up close was on that unforgettable night in the garden called Gethsemane. A large group collected on the way to the garden that night after Judas informed us that this was to be the night. We first crossed the brook Kidron under a clear ebony sky alive with stars which silently spoke the wonders of God. From the south, a gentle warm breeze refreshed us after the heat of the day. The soft rustle of leaves in the olive trees was soothing, in deep contrast to the distressing undercurrent of our mission.

We entered the garden to find a number of peaceful, men with their leader. Their faces painted a picture of sadness overlaid with lines of worry and fear. Three of them actually looked as if they had just awakened from sleep. Judas approached and kissed Jesus—the sign agreed upon to identify Him. How hurt his Master must have been. I observed the face of this Man closely for a few moments. Heavy beads of sweat, thick as blood, coursed from His forehead down His cheeks into His beard. I will never forget that voice as Jesus spoke so clearly, calling Judas “Friend” and asking why he had come. He then reminded the multitude that He had taught openly in the temple and asked why they had not arrested Him at that time. No one responded. Subsequently He made a rather curious statement: Do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels? How then will the Scriptures be fulfilled, which say that it must happen this way?2

Astonishing! I remember wondering who He meant by His Father. And angels? Twelve legions of them? This was simply too much to fathom. But I will never forget His voice. So gentle, yet it came forth with so much authority that no one dared answer Him. In fact, after He spoke those words, we all fell backwards to the ground. Our legs had no power to hold us up. Again He asked the same question. Never once did He deny that He was the Jesus we had come to arrest. He had but one request—that we allow His disciples go safely. At that, all of His followers ran away. One young man had obviously, on sudden impulse, decided to follow the group into Gethsemane. He had nothing but a linen cloth wrapped around him. As he ran off, some of the men grabbed at him, snatched the cloth from him and left him to continue running naked. Had it not been such an intense and tragic occasion, I would have been overcome with the humor of the situation, although I suspect that the young man in question would not have considered it humorous.

But I must return to the most important part of my story. Even with all the unusual happenings that night, I should not have remembered it so vividly had not what I am about to tell you happened. I stood there in the front of the group, near some of Jesus’ disciples, when suddenly I saw the flash of a sword in the torchlight as it flew past me. I felt excruciating pain on the right side of my head. Looking down, I saw my ear—my ear!—lying on the ground at my feet. I instinctively put my hand to the side of my head and realized that blood was gushing out. I was in a state of shock. But that wasn’t even the most startling thing. As I was attempting to grasp the meaning of the whole situation, Jesus spoke to the man named Peter and rebuked him for having tried to defend Him. Most amazing of all, Jesus then put His hand where my ear had been, told me I wouldn’t have to suffer any longer, and wonder of wonders, when He removed His hand, my ear was perfectly restored where a moment before there had been nothing but a gaping wound. Hallelujah! Praise God. I couldn’t believe it. It was like a dream except the pain had been all too real, and the bloodstains on my robe were there to confirm it. I have never since had so much as an earache.

How could this Man perform such a miracle? Perhaps the stories that I had heard and put so little faith in had indeed been true. Perhaps I had been wrong. Now it was conceivable to me that the rulers were wrong in arresting Jesus, a Man who did not even try to defend Himself. This was an appalling mistake. How could this Man—about to be arrested, thought of by religious leaders as seditious, deserted by His friends—have enough compassion on a mere servant, a man He had never seen before as far as I know, to perform such a miraculous healing? Where did He get His power? Could it be that God actually was with Him, and that He had been wrongly accused? It frightened me to even think of the implications. Accusing God? Eliminating God’s Man? I could not comprehend the consequences of such an act. And it was our spiritual leaders who were responsible for this terrible thing. What is to become of our nation now? Our history has shown us just what God has done to Israel when our people refused to serve Him only. We are already ruled by Rome. Will we again be exiled to a strange land? When will our people learn to wholly devote themselves to Almighty God?

The Pharisees and elders were so anxious to dispose of Him that they put Jesus on trial before daybreak. While they were in the house of Annas, the father-in-law of Caiaphas, two of His disciples followed Him to watch the proceedings. One of them—I later learned his name was John—appeared to know the High Priest and brought in the other one—Peter, the one who had chopped off my ear. He stood and warmed himself at the fire along with the soldiers as though nothing unusual was about to take place. Three times the servants insisted that Peter had been with Jesus. Three times he denied the fact. One of my relatives happened to be there and told me these things. Simeon was in the garden and saw Peter use his sword, yet Peter denied to his face even knowing who Jesus was. Soon morning dawned, and a rooster crowed. Jesus turned around and looked at His disciple. Simeon said His look was full of compassion. Moments later, he watched as Peter ran out, his face contorted as if in anguish. Someone later told me he saw Peter crouched close to the wall weeping bitter tears.

The next day, after Caiaphas had sent Jesus to Pilate, the governor appointed by Rome, crowds gathered outside the Praetorium, the governor’s palace, screaming, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” The chief priests and rulers of the Temple had incited them. How amazing that people could so quickly change sides. One day they were praising the Man, hanging on His every word. The next day they were clamoring for His death. Pilate examined Him. He endeavored to save Him, but finally gave in to the crowd’s demands and handed Jesus over to the Roman soldiers, but not before he ordered Him to be whipped with metal-tipped leather thongs. I could not bear to witness as the barbs shredded the flesh on His back to expose muscle and bone. As if that were not punishment enough, even for a genuine criminal, the soldiers then took pleasure in mocking Him. They threw a purple robe over His bleeding body, handed Him a reed as a scepter, and wove a crown of horrible thorns which they forced down on His head. They began to beat Him about the head with reeds.

After ripping the robe from Him, they tied the rough wooden crossbar to His shoulders and forced Him to carry it to the hill Golgotha, the place of execution. Such cruelty in men is inconceivable to me. Jesus walked farther than I would have imagined possible under those conditions, but He finally fell to His knees and could proceed no further. All this time He spoke not a word. A soldier then summoned a spectator from the crowd to carry the burden the rest of the way. The crucifixion itself was too gruesome to even record here. The memory haunts me still. Some women gathered close by Him weeping, and His mother knelt at the foot of the cross with the disciple named John. I did not hear the conversation, but it must have been nothing short of heartbreaking for them all. Curses were shouted, and many voices mocked Him. The soldiers, as usual at these executions, cast lots for the clothing they had stripped from His body.

Though He had to be in excruciating pain of soul as well as body, Jesus never verbally abused His tormentors in return. I heard Him say, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”3 What love. What tenderness.

Victims of crucifixion experience a slow, cruel death by suffocation, but Jesus, after a comparatively short time, said with a strong voice, “It is finished,”4 and then died as if He had complete control of the Spirit leaving His body. I marveled greatly at this at the time, but since that day I have learned that, in reality, He did freely give His life. And He had power to take it up again when He rose from the dead three days later. After He died, a terrible, ominous darkness fell over the whole area and the ground shook as if in sympathy. It frightened us all. It must have been the judgment of God. What is worse, the thick veil in the Temple which separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the building was torn in half—from the top down to the bottom. How could this be?

I remember the commotion the elders made when they tried to cover up the fact that Jesus rose from the grave. Of course, they refused to believe it, and paid the guards to keep their mouths shut about what they actually saw. They spread the rumor that His disciples had stolen the body while the guard slept. Though they did not believe in Jesus, they were not willing for the public to learn what the guards could have told. Our rulers were more concerned about their own positions with the Roman government than the welfare of our nation. Why could our leaders, men who should know the signs of the times, men who have studied the prophets, not understand that this Man Jesus is the promised Messiah?

Though I did not at first believe either, after what transpired personally and what I saw during that Passover, I now must believe Jesus is the Son of the living God. My mind can yield no room for doubt. He is the Messiah. I have since heard many accounts of believers who saw Him after He rose from the dead. Our people have always been taught that two or three witnesses prove the case, and there have been many more than two or three who have seen Him. Now that I believe, I am thankful that my family, too, have believed in Him. I pray that whoever reads this document either now or in the future, may come to know Jesus in a personal way. He is truly the gentle, loving Savior Who came into the world to show us the Father, to die for our sins and bring complete salvation to all who will believe and trust in Him.

The priests and elders of Israel have ordered that anyone who professes to believe in Jesus must be put out of the synagogue. Some have already been denied the privilege of entering the Temple, but many are afraid to publicly proclaim their faith. Great persecution may await those disciples of Jesus who are not afraid to testify to what they believe. We may even have to leave our beloved land. But as I have undertaken to write this account, my faith has increased even more, and I now realize I am compelled, along with my wife Rachel, to publicly confess Jesus as our Savior. I know not what the consequences may be. I may even die for my faith. Only God knows. But one thing I do know: my God will keep me and strengthen me for whatever is ahead. Glory to His name. Amen.

I, Malchus, sign this document in affirmation that all that is herein written is true and reliable. May God bless all who read and lead them to a right relationship with His Son, Jesus.

Malchus, Jerusalem A.D 37

1 Proverbs 12:4

2 Matthew 26:53

3 Luke 23:34

4 John 19:30


Well, there it is. I hope you enjoyed the story. This is the first of an even dozen stories which will appear in my next book The Lives of God’s Poor and Obscure: A Collection of Short Stories. If you would like to find out more about my other two books, click here for Look for the Rainbows: A Journey of Spirit and Heart, and here for Shadows in My Valley.

Thank you so much for stopping by to read my post. I would really appreciate it if you would leave a comment in the box below. If you are not currently following my blog, please take a moment to click on the ‘Follow’ button at the top. You will receive e-mail notifications to let you know when I publish a new post. And please feel free to share this post on your social media. Invite your friends to stop by, too. You, my readers, mean a great deal to me.

Have a wonderful weekend. May God’s blessings be yours daily.



P1080033The book of Luke opens with the angel Gabriel appearing to Zacharias, an elderly priest, and to a young girl, possibly in her early teens, named Mary. In both instances he tells of the coming of a baby, one unexpected, the other looked for through several centuries. Both recipients were astonished at the angel’s appearance. Both asked a question. But how different were the motives of these questions and how different the angel’s response.

Zacharias had been chosen by lot to offer incense in the temple. As he was doing this, Gabriel comes to him. He tells him that his wife, Elisabeth, is going to have a son in her old age. He gives details about this child. How does Zacharias respond? He is afraid.

His question: How will I know for certain? He did not believe. He was filled with doubt. He wanted proof. I suppose you could say he got his proof, but not in the way he expected. He became deaf and mute until John was born.

On the other hand, when the angel comes to Mary, she responds in faith. Her question: How will this be since I am a virgin? She only wanted instruction as to what to expect. She believed Gabriel. The angel answered her question and told her all the details of how this miracle would take place.

Gabriel makes a third appearance–to Joseph, engaged to Mary. His first response when he heard of Mary’s pregnancy was to secretly divorce her to save her the public shame. But after Gabriel comes to him in a dream, he follows the instructions given to him and takes Mary as his wife.

One would expect the elder to have more faith than the younger. A priest should not doubt God where youth may not have lived long enough to gain that strength of faith. But here we find just the opposite.

We have no idea how these three people felt about the messages divinely brought to them. I’m sure if an angel suddenly appeared before us we would be afraid. If the message was something impossible to happen in the natural, we might doubt. But if the message was as great as that to Mary about the birth of the Christ-child, I think we might feel very humble and wonder how we could possibly carry out such an undertaking. Joseph must have wondered about taking a pregnant woman supposedly carrying the coming Messiah and how he could possible have a part in the fulfillment of this prophecy.

How often does the Lord send His messengers to us at unexpected times? How do we respond? Do we doubt, or receive by faith? Do we want proof, or do we want instruction as to the how-to?

These people were ordinary people, not kings or noblemen or famous or particularly gifted. But they were chosen by God for a specific purpose. He supplied them with everything they needed to carry out His will. We need not fear even the greatest task given by the Lord because He knows what He is doing. He always equips where He calls. And He is with us always to help us along the way.

With another year ending and a new one just ahead, let’s choose to respond like Mary and believe, receive and carry out God’s will for us on a day-to-day basis so that when those big things come along unexpectedly we will be ready to say a resounding “Yes!” to the Lord. And we will hear His “Well done, good and faithful servant” when we have finished the final task.

I pray God’s blessing on you. May you have a prosperous and healthy 2019.

Thank you for stopping by and reading my post. I appreciate all of you. And please take a moment to leave a comment in the box below before leaving. If you are not already following my blog, I would appreciate it if you would click on the “Follow” button at the top of this page to receive e-mail notifications of new posts. Have a wonderful day. And a very Happy New Year! God bless.


My heart was hot within me, While I was musing the fire burned…1

Sunset 020The flames leaped high into the darkness, illuminated the surrounding night with an eerie glow. Smoke filled the air. The neighbors stood around watching, waiting. Sirens screamed in the distance, then grew piercingly loud as the fire trucks screeched to a sudden halt in front of the house. By then the garage was almost consumed by the fire. A charred shell was all that remained the following morning. Water lay in huge puddles in the yard and on the cement pad that once supported walls and roof. The smell of burnt wood and chemicals hovered on the morning air. What only the day before had been a well-built and useful structure had, in a few moments, been completely destroyed. That’s the power of fire.

Wood is piled high. The match has been struck. The kindling that smoldered at the bottom of the heap ignites into blaze. Before long, huge flames are reaching for the sky. Seated in a circle around the fire are several campers, outdoor enthusiasts taking advantage of one final weekend of fair weather before winter sets in. The blaze gives off a welcome heat. Hotdogs sizzle on long skewers. The tantalizing scent of toasted marshmallows hangs on the air. This fire is a comforting presence on a chilly fall evening. This, too, is the power of fire.

Fire: a rapid, persistent chemical reaction that releases heat and light; especially, the exothermic P1090608combination of a combustible substance with oxygen.2

Desire: to wish or long for; want; crave; passion.3

Passion: any powerful emotion or appetite such as love, joy, hatred, anger, or greed.4

Desire is a fire, an emotional reaction that releases energies for good or evil.

What is your all-consuming passion? Is it a fire that consumes you, or is it, like the bonfire, a controlled blaze that will result in life, that will bring you the desires of your heart? Is it a combustion between a holy passion and the Spirit of God? Or is it an unholy alliance of the appetite of the soul and Satan’s offering of worldly ambitions and rewards?

“I would do anything to get that job!” “I want that car more than anything else in the world!” “I don’t care who I have to walk over to get to the top, I am determined to get there!” Declarations of this sort are daily voiced by people in all walks of life, especially in the area of finance, materialism and business. Yes, desire is a fire, a mighty force for destruction if misplaced, or a tremendous power for good when in line with the Word of God. If you want things, position or power above God, then they have become your god. Though you may eventually get what you want, you will have sacrificed a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ in the getting, and possibly an eternity which could have been heavenly. But if your desire is for God to move in your life and you are willing to sacrifice all else, you will receive the power of the Holy Spirit along with everything you need to walk in the way of life the Lord has purposed for you.

King David knew the fire of desire. He lusted after another man’s wife. After committing P1090708adultery with her and getting her pregnant, he tried to force her husband to lie with her so that it would appear that the child was his. But Uriah was an honorable man and refused to go to his wife when his fellow soldiers were in the middle of a battle. David was desperate. How could he cover up his sin? He threw on more logs, and the fire burned brighter. He sent orders, through the unsuspecting Uriah, to Joab, the leader of Israel’s troops, to have Uriah placed at the battle front, where the most intense fighting was taking place. Murder cannot be covered up. God is not blind, and He does not let sin go unpunished. David eventually took Bathsheba as his wife, but the Lord did not allow the child of their adultery to live.5 Sin always brings consequences.

But David had a repentant heart and returned to his passion for God with his whole heart. The fire of God burned once again in David’s life. “One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple.”6 His desire was focused and rightly placed once again. I can almost feel the depth of David’s cry to God. His desire was a fire that has burned in the hearts of God’s people throughout history right into the present. Have you been ignited?

Thought for the day: Check your fire power to make sure it is controlled by the Holy Spirit so you can burn brightly and productively for the Lord.

Prayer: Lord, I pray that we would check the fire in our hearts daily to make sure it is always kindled and always controlled. I pray for everyone reading this that they would know the warmth of Your fire burning deep within their hearts. I pray that this fire will never get out of control because of sin, but that it will warm the lives of all we come in contact with. I pray also that Your fire will burn up all the dross and purify our hearts day by day. May the glow of Your fire within us motivate us and draw others to the Christ within. Thank You, Jesus. Amen.

1 Psalm 39:3

2 The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language © 1969, 1970, 1971

3 Ibid

4 Ibid

5 See 2 Samuel 11 & 12

6Psalm 27:4 KJV


Welcome to my blog. Thank you for dropping by. I hope you have enjoyed your visit. While you are here, check out some of my other posts to see if anything might interest you for now or later. Please leave a comment in the box below. If you are following me, thank you. I appreciate that you take time to come to read what I have to share. If you are not following, please click the “Follow” button at the top so you will receive e-mails to notify you of my latest post. I hope I have brought some inspiration into your life through this post. I pray that you will experience the warming fire of God in your life today. May God richly bless you.


The record of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David…Boaz was the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse. Jesse was the father of David the king.1

Flowers and Port Stanley June 2010 037

Ruth, a beautiful love story

Of course, I realize that Ruth holds no place in my ancestral bloodline! I have not a drop of Moabite blood in me! Nor am I a Jewess. I am of English decent, born in Canada and Caucasian through and through. But spiritually, I believe I can, without taking liberties, claim to be a descendant of this woman of destiny. If I am a child of the Lord—and I am—and Ruth, according to the genealogical record in Matthew, is part of the ancestry of Jesus, it seems to me that it is a foregone conclusion. Besides, Paul tells us in scripture that we Gentiles have been grafted into the vine, so we are definitely of the same spiritual race as the Jews.2 I am proud to be associated with this precious woman of centuries past. I aspire to be like her.

So, what was she like? I invite you to transport yourself back in time to ancient Moab. You are a young Moabite girl brought up to worship Chemosh, the sun god. Picture the rolling landscape; sheep pasturing beside barley and wheat fields. To the west is the Dead Sea, then known as the Salt Sea. The Arnon River marks the northernmost border of your homeland. There is a great wilderness to the east, and the land of Edom lies to the south. You will have been taught about your ancestor Lot and his family’s flight from Sodom, before God rained down fire and brimstone to destroy the city. Lot’s wife, either out of curiosity or desire to return, disobeyed God’s specific direction to go and not look back. Result? She was turned into a pillar of salt! A nasty way to lose your life, or for that matter, your wife. You will have learned how his daughters seduced their father in order to continue their bloodline. The son conceived by one of these girls was named Moab. It was from this son that the country of Moab inherited its name. You will have seen, or perhaps even known some of the children who were slaughtered to appease your god Chemosh. Child sacrifice was the way of the Moabite world.

Jack Miners Sanctuary; Wytchwood Park; Babita's dog 121

Drought and famine

With this in mind, you will understand a little of Ruth’s life before she encountered the Israelite family from Bethlehem. Elimelech, during a period of famine, transported his family–Naomi his wife, and his two sons, Mahlon and Chilion–to the land of Moab. These Israelites worshipped a different God, and, unlike Chemosh, their God did not require human sacrifice. In fact, He abhored it. Elimelech very possibly spoke out against it. This family intended to stay only until the famine was over, but they became comfortable in their new home, began to make friends, and settled down to stay. They were probably neighbours of Ruth’s family. Eventually, Elimelech died and left his family alone in this foreign land. What would Naomi do now? What would you do in her place?

She did the only thing she could think of. She arranged for her two sons to marry Moabite girls.

Copy of Miscellaneous + Waterworks Park, Old Church, Belmont park 180

Death comes to the family

She must have been fully aware that this was in direct opposition to the laws of her God. The chosen people of the Lord had been forbidden marriage to people of any foreign nation. Yet she pursued her course. For Chilion, she chose a girl named Orpah. Her name means ‘stubbornness’.3 Since Chilion’s name means ‘pining, destruction, failing’,4 I would venture a guess that it wasn’t a particularly good match. Can’t you imagine? The wife perhaps stubbornly stuck to her practice of worshipping what, to Naomi’s family, was an idol, a false god. She may even have insisted that she have her own way all the time. I can picture her as the one who ruled the household. On the other hand, Chilion yearned for his homeland, his beloved Bethlehem, perhaps to the exclusion of all else. He didn’t take the responsibility of overseeing his wife and home. He sat around dreaming, pining, for what could have been his had he shown enough incentive to get up and return to Bethlehem. His negative attitude gradually destroyed him, and he died.

Ruth was Naomi’s choice for Mahlon. This, too, was not the best of matches, although with Ruth’s disposition (her name means friend, companion, beauty5), she would have made the better wife. Mahlon, meaning sickness, great infirmity,6 was obviously not a strong man, and succumbed to some illness and also died. I imagine Ruth tenderly caring for her sick husband until the very end. She would have mourned him along with his mother. She must have been a very gentle, open-hearted girl. But now Naomi was left with no family to support her and her two daughters-in-law. She probably was unsure how to deal with them.

Abundance in Bethlehem

One day she heard through the grapevine that the famine was over in Israel and food was there in abundance. After over ten years of living in Moab, away from the presence of her God, Naomi decided to return home. It was the only sensible decision she could have made. When we take the wrong course in life, we must choose to return to the place where we left the path the Lord has mapped out for us. Repentance and redirection are the way back to the land of prosperity.

At first, she considered taking the two girls with her, and the three started out on the journey. But Naomi had second thoughts. She decided to send them packing back to their own families and their god. She may have felt they would be too much of a burden to her, or that they would, once away from their familiar surroundings, succumb to homesickness. She may have foreseen the same fate for them as happened to her sons. Ruth and Orpah both protested, but it was rather weak on Orpah’s part. It didn’t take much persuasion for Orpah to be convinced. She turned around and followed the road back home.

But Ruth was a different kind of girl. She wasn’t about to be put off by a few words from her mother-in-law. She had no intention of returning to her own people. She had attached herself to Naomi come what may. You have to admire such loyalty. What, above all, caused Orpah’s decision to leave her was the fact that Naomi was too old to have more children, and that, even if she should yet by some miraculous intervention, bear sons, it would be years before they would be of marriageable age. Orpah wanted a husband and children before she got too old. All Ruth wanted was to be allowed to follow Naomi wherever she went, to worship Naomi’s God, and to be buried in Israel with Naomi. Ruth passed the test. She had been fully converted, and she was determined that nothing would separate her from her mother-in-law or her new-found faith in Naomi’s God. Naomi relented, and the two of them travelled, on foot, the sixty dusty miles back to Bethlehem. They arrived at the beginning of the barley harvest.

If you follow the story in the Book of Ruth, you will glean in the fields with her. You will meet


Love is beautiful

Boaz, a kinsman of Naomi. You will rejoice with Ruth as she, a perfect stranger in the land, a heathen in the eyes of the Israelites, found favour in the eyes of this righteous man. Ruth did the reverse of what Elimelech had done. He left his homeland to find sustenance in a foreign land and found only trouble and the curse of death. Ruth left the place of her birth to find new life and joy and redemption in her new home.

Ruth was a very industrious woman who wanted immediately to go out to work to help support Naomi. As we follow her relationship with her mother-in-law we find her to have a submissive spirit, willing to be guided by Naomi and, later, by Boaz. Ruth, in a genuine spirit of humility, accepted the help Boaz offered. She graciously received his provision both for herself and for her mother-in-law. She was fully aware that she was unlike his maid-servants and that she did not deserve such attention from this great man. Because Boaz himself was a man who gave generously yet humbly, it was easy for Ruth to welcome his praise and his gifts.

Though but a foreigner and a mere gleaner in the fields, Boaz raised Ruth up in the eyes of all his hired workers. Still, he did not elevate her position to that of reaper. He spoke highly of her because he had heard of the way she had conducted herself toward Naomi. He told the servants to draw water for her whenever she needed a drink. What comfort she must have found in his kind words and actions! She received all she needed from his hand. She ate and was satisfied. Boaz even commanded his maids to pull out some of the grain they were reaping in order that she would have an abundance to glean. She even had plenty left over to give Naomi to eat when she arrived home.

Boaz was a type of Jesus, our Provider and Protector. He was Ruth’s kinsman-redeemer.

Jack Miners Sanctuary; Wytchwood Park; Babita's dog 143

Meeting in the night

But Naomi was not satisfied that Ruth should be a gleaner for the rest of her life. She knew the power that Boaz held, and relied on his honesty, integrity and position to help in their time of need. Naomi taught Ruth the steps of preparation in order to present herself to Boaz. She needed redemption, and willingly followed all that Naomi told her to do. She washed herself, anointed herself with perfumed oil, put on her best clothes and went down to the threshing floor. This represents a place of testing and purification. Here the chaff is removed from the wheat. Ruth’s instructions were to keep out of sight until after Boaz had finished for the night and laid down to sleep.

What I like about Ruth is that she obeyed what must have seemed to some extent rather strange directions. Most of us would have questioned Naomi. A woman alone to go secretly to a place where she would be alone with a man? Not the thing usually done in those days, I suspect. Yet Boaz responded favourably to Ruth’s actions and petition. She humbled herself to ask him to buy her back. Not an easy thing for a woman to do, especially a foreigner. Again Boaz would not allow her to return to Naomi without provision, and he filled her cloak with grain. Most amazing of all, Boaz promised to do whatever Ruth asked of him! How like our Jesus! When we ask according to His will and with faith in our hearts, He has promised to do the ‘whatever’.7

What praise Boaz had for Ruth! He told her that his people knew that she was a ‘woman of excellence’. Ruth lived her life well before others. She has been a wonderful example to women down through the ages. The outcome of this whole experience was that Boaz married Ruth and she bore him a son who would, years later, become the grandfather of King David. What an honoured position she was elevated to when she yielded her life to this kinsman-redeemer! We, too, will be exalted in due time by our Kinsman-Redeemer, Jesus, if we will humble ourselves before Him.1

As you read the four short chapters of the Book of Ruth, you will notice that Ruth was a woman of few words. A wise woman indeed! When she spoke, her words were full of meaning and were very fitting at all times. Ruth was a listener. She listened to Naomi; she listened to Boaz. We would do well to pattern our lives after this woman of destiny if we desire to be men and women who live out the purposes of God. It takes a decision of the will. It will take time. You will need determination; you must put forth effort. It requires courage to follow it through. This life in Christ, our destiny, will not just happen. Listen for the instructions of the Lord. Receive His revelation. Obey His word. Be humble, be kind, be grateful. Speak His words. Be filled with His Spirit. Follow in His footsteps and you will become all you are meant to be. Allow Jesus, your Boaz, to redeem your life and fulfill your destiny.

Thought for the day: Always be willing to follow the Lord wherever He leads you, even to death.

Prayer: Jesus, I ask you to bless my friends who are reading this book. I pray that You will tenderize their hearts and mine, that You will awaken our spirits and that You will increase our faith in You. May our love for You grow daily until we are consumed by Your love. Make us all true people of destiny, willing and ready to answer Your call and to follow Your every instruction. Open the windows of heaven and pour out Your blessing upon us until we are filled to overflowing. Thank You, Lord. Amen.

1 Matthew 1:1,5,6

2 See Romans 11:17

3 The Zondervan Pictorial Bible Dictionary ninth printing 1968

4 Strong’s

5 Strong’s, The Bible Almanac (Thomas Nelson), and Scripture Proper Names and their Interpretation (circa 1910 John Ritchie, Publisher, Kilmarnock)

6 Ibid

7 John 15:7; 1 John 5: 14,15

1James 4:10; 1 Peter 5:6

I apologize for the length of this story, but I didn’t want to break it up. I hope you found it worth your time to read. I really appreciate your stopping by. Thank you. Please leave a comment in the box below and let me know what your thought of the story.

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