Title: Ruth 4:8-12. Final chapter - an excellent wife.
Last time we came to understand what it means to be clothed with Christ’s power.
We investigated this due to the blessing upon Ruth to be an excellent wife. The Hebrew word chayil means strength, wealth, courage, and virtue.
The blessing upon Ruth was that she should be an excellent woman and the Book of Proverbs tells us that such women are hard to find. It doesn’t say that they don’t exist, but only that you have to look for them. We might conclude that the not-so-excellent women, and the same would have to be true for men, are more abundant, and while that may be true, Proverbs simply tells us that the non-excellent are just easier to find.
Proverbs goes on to say that the excellent woman makes an excellent home. We will study this. But before we do, we must understand that this woman is a type of Christ, who is the only One who has made for us a true and lasting and satisfying home.
Getting back to the New Testament and the apostle Paul, he informed us that to be clothed with the power of Christ we must be able to glory in our weaknesses.
2CO 12:7 And because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me — to keep me from exalting myself!
So many have concerned themselves with what this “thorn in the flesh” may have been. I am starting to wonder if Paul purposely chose the phrase for the purpose of simply covering any and everything that the kingdom of darkness can throw at us.
2CO 12:8 Concerning this I entreated the Lord three times that it might depart from me.
2CO 12:9And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness [lack of strength]." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast [Greek: kauchaomai - glory in] about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me.
2CO 12:10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults [invasion by the arrogant], with distresses [imposed upon by the evil], with persecutions [to be pushed], with difficulties [pressured or having anguish], for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
I post this verse so that you may be reminded again of the nuances of the Greek words used, that you and I not be misguided by our own bias definitions of the English words.
It took Paul time to learn this truth before he could actually put it into practice. It certainly required that Paul strive with God in the quest of doing God’s work in God’s way. Even though Paul’s request to have the thorn removed was misplaced, and so answered negatively, he was actively in pursuit of worshipping God and getting God’s will done in the best way possible.
I think that this shows that to be motivated and misguided is better than not being motivated at all. God can correct a diligent believer who lacks knowledge, for he is willing to learn. How does God correct an indifferent person who cares nothing for the glory of his Creator or for Jesus, the Son of God?
We noted that all of these weaknesses are put upon us, in other words, they are external. They have nothing to do with personal sin, lusts, or anything from within us, even physical maladies. Those things are not mentioned here.
They are for Christ’s sake, meaning that they come upon us because we worship and follow Christ. So, we walk in righteousness or in our calling, which takes the power of the word of God and trusting in the Spirit of God, and others invade, impose, push, and pressure us, or really, against us as we move forward following Christ.
As in EPH 6:12, Paul indicates that these weaknesses (invasion, imposition, pushing, and pressure from others) are from Satan. “We wrestle not against blood and flesh…”
Such suffering for Christ’s sake is inevitable. It is promised multiple times in the scripture, and from Christ Himself, that the world would persecute us, and Jesus called us blessed when they did. We are all to suffer for His name’s sake.
Now, it is what we do in response to this external pressure that furthers our strength. It took power to get us to walk in a manner worthy of persecution, but we all know that power can increase infinitely, and our response of contentment and glorying in these weaknesses will clothe us with the power of Christ.
Remember, the weakness addressed here is a result of external persecution. It is a weakness because it sets out to sap our strength and stymie our momentum as we pursue the plan of God.
And also remember, that it is not the mere presence of weaknesses that clothes us with Christ’s power, but that we glory in them and are content with them.
This truth is intimately tied to the home that the woman of excellence makes in Pro 31. Her way is tied to the way of Christ as a type of Him.
All of us were exiled from the Garden of Eden. Israel was exiled to Babylon and then later exiled to the nations of the world. Exile is a major theme in the Bible narrative and the instance of it in history is a picture of every creature, for every one of us has been exiled away from God. Christ came so that He could show us the way home.
The excellent woman makes an excellent home. Our only home is with Christ who has prepared it. We must leave the homes of our own making and remain in His.
All of us have gone astray. Each has turned to his own way. But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall upon Him. He has proclaimed release to the captives. He has died so that we may live.
“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me.”
He has given us His peace and He has overcome the world. It is not longer just I who lives and also it is not the old I who lives. I’ve been changed, and a new man or woman needs a new home.
Our first great structure as independent mankind was the Tower of Babel. God confused us and scattered us over the surface of the planet, but in each place we settled we got to work building other structures of the same kind, and I don’t mean great big buildings in town squares, but our individual lives, our homes, our families, our chosen ways - for a great many people independent of God.
GEN 11:1 Now the whole earth used the same language and the same words.
GEN 11:2 And it came about as they journeyed east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar [Babylon] and settled there.
GEN 11:3 And they said to one another, "Come, let us make bricks and burn them thoroughly." And they used brick for stone, and they used tar for mortar.
GEN 11:4 And they said, "Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name; lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth."
“let us make for ourselves a name” - to make a reputation and memorial to maintain unity. They were afraid of dispersion, which is proof that their inward bond of unity was already broken by sin.
Mankind, moving east after the flood, realized that they would disperse and be without unity. Therefore, they sought to establish a name, or reputation, to set up a memorial.
The real motive therefore was the desire for renown, and the object was to establish a noted central point, which might serve to maintain their unity. The one was just as ungodly as the other.
For, according to the divine purpose, men were to fill the earth. They were to spread over the whole earth, not indeed to separate, but to maintain their inward unity notwithstanding their dispersion.
But the fact that they were afraid of dispersion is a proof that the inward spiritual bond of unity and fellowship, not only "the oneness of their God and their worship," but also the unity of brotherly love, was already broken by sin.
Inwardly, unity was destroyed by sin and independence from God. Man sought to build a home that would unify his inward self.
His error was to think that outward unity, having a shared name or structure, would heal his inward conflict and sinful isolation and separation from God and his fellow man. Mankind continues to fix himself in the same way. It is a home of his own making.
Consequently the undertaking, dictated by pride, to preserve and consolidate by outward means the unity which was inwardly lost, could not be successful.
God’s intervention was not to punish man for this attempt, but to help him to see that his solution was vain.
Only God has an eternal name and therefore inward unity.
Who caused His glorious arm to go at the right hand of Moses,
Who divided the waters before them to make for Himself an everlasting name,
Everyone born into this world eventually feels this inward brokenness and lack of unity. He lacks unity within himself and with his fellow man. This is why teenage years are so tough on us and why peer pressure works so well on us. The whole cause is his disunity with his Creator.
All of us try what they did in Babel, but usually on a much smaller scale.
We have each made for ourselves a home in which we tried to get along reasonably well and find happiness and peace, but those desired things never came to us.
We built what we could: a place, a career, a family, a type of personality, and we added in some hobbies and skills, some entertainment and some identities. We sprinkled in some friends and neighbors and tried to forge unity with them. We added in some trends, new and old; some learning, some projects and some pursuits, and we waited for the perfect peace and strength to enter our home and clothe us. We waited and waited and they never came. We thought they did from time to time, only to find that we fooled ourselves. We did it all without God and we built a house of cards.
Ironically, all of us lived in an exile of our own making, and so many still do.
Even when Israel (Judah) returned home from Babylonian captivity, nothing much changed in their home or their homemaking, for they continued in their old ways and matured this ungodly way to the point where they were able to crucify the Lord of glory.
The Son of God went into exile along side us so He could show us the way home.
Man was to rule the earth. The best of us failed. Christ became a man and so became the only one qualified to rule. Man was to spread out over the whole earth and fill it, and as he did so he was to remain unified to his fellow man in brotherly love, in which all worshipped the one true God, loving Him and so loving one another. Yet the first brother murdered his own kin.
Christ not only unified us to the Father through His cross, but He unified us to one another.
Christ unified us to the Father and made us a home in heaven, which exists in our hearts now. He also unified us with one another in the royal family of God.
We can see how asinine and out of character it is for us to cause division or to not commune with God consistently. We are to be unified in love. We can see how important this is. When we are not, we are like Babel, like fallen man, like alone, isolated, afraid man. Christ has set us free!
JOH 13:31 When therefore he had gone out, Jesus said, "Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in Him;
JOH 13:32 if God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself, and will glorify Him immediately.
JOH 13:33 "Little children, I am with you a little while longer. You shall seek Me; and as I said to the Jews, I now say to you also, 'Where I am going, you cannot come.'
JOH 13:34 "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
JOH 13:35 "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."
JOH 13:36 Simon Peter said to Him, "Lord, where are You going?" Jesus answered, "Where I go, you cannot follow Me now; but you shall follow later."
JOH 13:37 Peter said to Him, "Lord, why can I not follow You right now? I will lay down my life for You."
JOH 13:38 Jesus answered, "Will you lay down your life for Me? Truly, truly, I say to you, a cock shall not crow, until you deny Me three times.
JOH 14:1 "Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me.
JOH 14:2 "In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.
14:3 "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.
14:4 "And you know the way where I am going."
One would think He was saying that we know of some secret pathway through a hidden door that will take us to heaven, but He is not.
Thomas steps up and states what all of us would have wanted to say:
JOH 14:5 Thomas said to Him, "Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?"
JOH 14:6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.