My Soul Sister, Ruth

What person in the Bible do you most identity with? I hear busy moms often say Martha. The bold, but sometimes wavering people say Peter. The doubters say Thomas. Those that have endured great trials, say Job. I would have to say; I feel a special connection to is Ruth. Like me, Ruth was a gentile. She was a simple girl from Moab that married into a Jewish family. Now, I did not marry a Jewish man but the spiritual covenant is so cool! I will explain as we go…

Ruth’s first husband,  Mahlon, his brother, Killon, and his father, Elimelek, all died during the famine that hit at that time. So Ruth, her mother-in-law, Naomi, and her sister-in-law, Orpah, were all left widowed and destitute. Naomi, who was originally from Bethlehem, had journeyed with her husband and boys to Moab- which is where her boys found their wives. But after the deaths of the three men and the scarce work because of the famine, the women were forced to find work elsewhere. They decided to return to Bethlehem, their Unknown-11original home. Ruth began gleaning the fields that belonged to a man named Boaz.

It was a Jewish law that if a woman lost her husband, the next of kin to the husband was to marry the woman- to ‘redeem’ and preserve the family name. He was also obligated to take on all the financial duties and pay off any debts that may have been left with her. This role is called the kinsman redeemer. In Ruth’s case, the next of kin to her husband declined the offer, so the next in line was Boaz, and he graciously accepted the responsibility (Ruth 4:1-9).

Fortunately for Ruth, Boaz was a generous, kind and wealthy man- and a man that quicklyboaz and ruth became smitten with her. It was love at first sight. Their courtship is a beautiful story of love, commitment and grace. Boaz married Ruth and gave her a new identity, a new purpose and a new life!

The story of Ruth also describes a unique friendship that grows between Naomi and Ruth. A popular verse we often hear recited is Ruth 1:16, where Ruth is declaring her loyalty and commitment to Naomi. She chooses to stay with her- leaving her old identity and life as a Moabitess and following Naomi to Israel.

Ruth 1:16

images-4But 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.”

And then in chapter 4, there are two very prophetic blessings and promises that are spoken – first by the elders at the city gates (:11-12) and then by the women in the new city (:14-15).:

Ruth 4:11-12

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. Through the offspring the Lord gives you by this young woman, may your family be like that of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah.”

Ruth 4:14-15

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! 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.”

So this amazing story is now taking place in Bethlehem. How awesome, that Boaz, the Kinsman Redeemer of Ruth, was from the same town our Messiah and Spiritual Kinsman Redeemer, Jesus Christ was born! Boaz is a beautiful picture of Jesus- one whose name means, “Strength is with him,” who is full of love, forgiveness and grace. (He ‘forgave’ Ruth of all her debts, remember!)

This story keeps getting better and better…. Ruth and Boaz of course got married, gave birth to a son named Obed, who then had a son, Jesse, who then had a son, David. David becomes king! So Ruth is the great-grandmother of King David! Isn’t it amazing how the Father wove a woman from Moab into the royal lineage of Israel? And it didn’t stop there. The royal and priestly lineage of King David continued all the way to Jesus Christ- the King of Kings, Lord of Lords and Prince of Peace!

Ruth is a picture of all gentile believers in Jesus who are spiritually brought into the lineage of our Savior!

Well, we can’t forget Naomi in this story. She is a picture of Israel- a natural descendant of Israel. Ruth’s commitment was first to Naomi. As gentile believers, we must also remember our relationship with Israel. And it is because of this lineage that we are given the opportunity to have a covenant relationship with the King of Kings.

Gentile believers don’t become Israel, but Jews and Gentiles are reconciled and become ‘one man’ through Christ. Let’s examine this passage in Ephesians chapter 2 for a better understanding:

Ephesians 2:11-22

Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands)— remember that at that time you were separate from Christ,Ruth-wheat excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.’

This in part, is happening right now, and has been happening for over 2,000 years! Both Jews and Gentiles are being redeemed by the same Lord, Jesus Christ (or Yeshua HaMashiach, in Hebrew)! This promise will eventually come to complete fruition in God’s perfect time!

How eternally grateful I am, to be given the invitation to enter into the Lord’s family- just like Ruth. To be sought out, loved and cared for. To be redeemed and forgiven of all sin. And to be given a new name, a new life and a new destiny! To Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen!

*** Here’s a cool side note…. The name, Bethlehem, is ‘bet lekhem’ in Hebrew-, which means, ‘house of bread.’ When you read the full story in Ruth, you will see that the story takes place in a field that belonged to Boaz. And Boaz is the prophetic picture of the coming Messiah, who declared hundreds of years later, “I am the Bread of Life.”

Just as Ruth gleaned the field belonging to Boaz, may we all experience the blessing of gleaning the treasures we find in our Savior’s field! Reap and be satisfied!

One Tree, Many Branches

One special field the Father has cultivated in me over the years is my love for Israel- His Covenant People and also His Covenant Land.  About twelve years ago, the Lord truly broke my heart. I had been clicking around the tv channels one day when I came upon a show covering a religious service. The two men on the stage were a Lutheran minister and a Jewish rabbi. The minister was asking forgiveness on behalf of his Christian brethren to the  rabbi and the Jewish congregation. He referred to the Jews as their ‘elder brother.’ I just wept. I had never heard this type of public confession or this choice of relationship with the Jews from a Christian leader in my life- at least that got my attention like it did this time. I was finding myself also asking forgiveness for the atrocities that were committed during the Holocaust- especially for those that were committed by professing Christians. During this somber moment, I clearly remember the Lord telling me, “Pray for Israel.” Honestly, I had never before had an inkling of a desire to do such a thing and at the time I didn’t really understand what He was asking of me. “Who is Israel?” was my first question! And my second question was, “Why would I, a 32 year-old American gentile woman care about a country the size of New Jersey on the other side of the world, or a people group I had very little interaction with?” It didn’t make any sense to me. But I could not deny what the Lord was telling me or the ache I felt in my heart. I knew I needed to first figure out who Israel was if I was to obey His instruction to pray.

I started with a few phone calls. My only Jewish-Christian friend gave me some guidance, though I could tell my inquiry baffled her a bit. When she came to accept Yeshua (Jesus) years before I met her, she seemed to have left most traces of her past Jewish heritage- at least from what I saw at church. I didn’t know her all that well. What she did in her home may have given me a different perspective than what I saw during Sunday morning. Though I do remember she loved to dance during worship. That may have been influenced by her Jewish upbringing. I would watch her with admiration, wishing I could express myself that freely and joyfully!

The Lord was so gracious to me as He continued to plant seeds of truth. Below are a few verses He led me to that helped me figure out how this ‘holy whisper’ about Israel fit into my life (and into the bigger story unfolding according to the biblical account):

Genesis 12:1-3

The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.

“I will make you into a great nation,
    and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
    and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
    and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
    will be blessed through you.”

Psalm 122:6

‘Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
    “May those who love you be secure.’

The next passage of Scripture explaining the relationship between Jews and Non-Jews is a bit long, but it is well worth a complete read through, so don’t skim! I’ve chosen The Message translation because it speaks my language very clearly. I hope you are blessed by it. Please look up another translation if you prefer.

Romans 11:11-31 (The Message) ‘Ingrafted Branches’

‘The next question is, “Are they down for the count? Are they out of this for good?” And the answer is a clear-cut No. Ironically when they walked out, they left the door open and the outsiders walked in. But the next thing you know, the Jews were starting to wonder if perhaps they had walked out on a good thing. Now, if their leaving triggered this worldwide coming of non-Jewish outsiders to God’s kingdom, just imagine the effect of their coming back! What a homecoming!

But I don’t want to go on about them. It’s you, the outsiders, that I’m concerned with now. Because my personal assignment is focused on the so-called outsiders, I make as much of4449810873_bbbc35e470 this as I can when I’m among my Israelite kin, the so-called insiders, hoping they’ll realize what they’re missing and want to get in on what God is doing. If their falling out initiated this worldwide coming together, their recovery is going to set off something even better: mass homecoming! If the first thing the Jews did, even though it was wrong for them, turned out for your good, just think what’s going to happen when they get it right!

Behind and underneath all this there is a holy, God-planted, God-tended root. If the primary root of the tree is holy, there’s bound to be some holy fruit. Some of the tree’s branches were pruned and you wild olive shoots were grafted in. Yet the fact that you are now fed by that rich and holy root gives you no cause to crow over the pruned branches. Remember, you aren’t feeding the root; the root is feeding you.

It’s certainly possible to say, “Other branches were pruned so that I could be grafted in!” Well and good. But they were pruned because they were deadwood, no longer connected by belief and commitment to the root. The only reason you’re on the tree is because your graft “took” when you believed, and because you’re connected to that belief-nurturing root. So don’t get cocky and strut your branch. Be humbly mindful of the root that keeps you lithe and green.

If God didn’t think twice about taking pruning shears to the natural branches, why would he hesitate over you? He wouldn’t give it a second thought. Make sure you stay alert to these qualities of gentle kindness and ruthless severity that exist side by side in God—ruthless with the deadwood, gentle with the grafted shoot. But don’t presume on this gentleness. The moment you become deadwood, you’re out of there.

And don’t get to feeling superior to those pruned branches down on the ground. If they don’t persist in remaining deadwood, they could very well get grafted back in. God can do Unknown-10that. He can perform miracle grafts. Why, if he could graft you—branches cut from a tree out in the wild—into an orchard tree, he certainly isn’t going to have any trouble grafting branches back into the tree they grew from in the first place. Just be glad you’re in the tree, and hope for the best for the others.

I want to lay all this out on the table as clearly as I can, friends. This is complicated. It would be easy to misinterpret what’s going on and arrogantly assume that you’re royalty and they’re just rabble, out on their ears for good. But that’s not it at all. This hardness on the part of insider Israel toward God is temporary. Its effect is to open things up to all the outsiders so that we end up with a full house. Before it’s all over, there will be a complete Israel. As it is written,

A champion will stride down from the mountain of Zion;
    he’ll clean house in Jacob.
And this is my commitment to my people:
    removal of their sins.

From your point of view as you hear and embrace the good news of the Message, it looks like the Jews are God’s enemies. But looked at from the long-range perspective of God’s overall purpose, they remain God’s oldest friends. God’s gifts and God’s call are under full warranty—never canceled, never rescinded.

There was a time not so long ago when you were on the outs with God. But then the Jews slammed the door on him and things opened up for you. Now they are on the outs. But with the door held wide open for you, they have a way back in. In one way or another, God makes sure that we all experience what it means to be outside so that he can personally open the door and welcome us back in.’


So, this was the beginning stage of my newfound love of Israel. I consider it the closest thing to a life transformation, next to my salvation in Jesus. I guess I could better describe it as the fruit that flourished from my wild branch because of the strong vine it was now connected to!


Cascadian-FarmEcclesiates 3:1-8

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

God’s timing and purpose is amazing. There is truly a season for everything. And God is consistent and harmonious with all of His Creation. He is the Author and Perfector of life! Just as He puts the agricultural and natural life cycles into being, we, too, go through the same cycles in our spiritual lives- both personally, and corporately. The Holy Spirit tills the soil in our hearts. Seeds of truth are sown. Then there is a long summer waiting period of learning and preparation, during which the ground is watered frequently and the sun

Unknown-7shines warmly. This is the season we don’t yet see fruit, but in time, we eventually do. (Just like a teenager rests and eats during growth spurts, so does our spirit.) Then several weeks later, signs of life emerge from the ground. And by late fall, the crop is ripe and ready for harvest.

But there is one more piece of the agricultural cycle that occurs. As a sown seed lies buried in the soil, it must ‘die,’ in a sense, before new life (and more seeds) can spring forth from it.

I love how God’s Word uses the natural aspects of this life to explain the supernatural. Let’s listen to the words of Jesus- a message he gave to his disciples, Philip and Andrew.

John 12:24 (The Message)

“Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal.”

Jesus died, was buried and then came back to life.Our own salvation follows the same cycle. Our old seed (self) dies, is buried with Christ and we are given new life!

Galatians 2:20

‘I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.’

I Peter 1:23

‘For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.’

The life starts to take on the appearance and function of the kind it came from. As the new life grows up, it begins to bear fruit. If we are born of the Spirit, we will produce this fruit:

Galatians 5:22

‘But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.’

And what function do we now have in this new life?  To know Christ and to make Him known! To do good works in the Name of Christ! To share the Gospel of hope,  eternal life and salvation to a dying world. To love others like Jesus loves us.

Ephesians 2:10

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

What’s a Lizard Doing in a King’s Palace?

wstlnd-green-gecko-351Years ago, I remember my Pastor speaking about Proverbs 30:28, which states, The lizard you may grasp with the hands,
 yet it is in kings’ palaces.’ I thought at the time, “What an obscure verse to base a sermon on!” But as he shared the meaning behind the biblical passage, I understood and was encouraged. But I would’ve never guessed how that message would again resurface in a fun and profound way soon after that service!

I was preparing to leave for my trip to Israel when I was sitting in church listening to this ‘lizard in the palace’ message. The basis of it, was that you never know where God may place you. He might just position you, (as small and seemingly insignificant as you think you are) in the King’s Palace. I immediately thought of Esther. I wondered if, as a young Jewish girl, she ever imagined herself as ‘Queen Esther.’ But there she was, chosen amongst all those beautiful ladies, to be Queen of the mighty Persian Empire! Now, that’s being placed in a position of influence!

Fast-forward two weeks from the sermon; I am touring a miniature model of Jerusalem,

2templ_modelright outside the actual city of Jerusalem. It was a beautifully intricate piece of art, depicting what the Temple would’ve looked like at the time right before it’s destruction in 70 A.D. We could walk all around the temple. We could locate where the Holy of Holies would’ve stood, where the Gentile Court would’ve been, and the covered Portico where all the Israelites walked around, hustling and bustling with their families and friends. I guess the portico would’ve been like our church lobby today- full of activity, people and exuberant conversation.

And then, I spotted an interesting site- the place where the presiding King resided during His stay in Jerusalem.  Just as I was taking a quick photo of the King’s quarters, a small gecko runs into the picture! (Oh, how I wish I could locate that photo once again! If I do, I will add it here!) It was an amazing moment. Instantly, I thought of that sermon I had heard two weeks prior. Was this a prophetic sign to me? I don’t know, but it tickled me. It also gave me confidence to know that if that happened to be my journey and I suddenly found myself in a place of great influence, I could trust that God would be with me and that He put me there for a purpose!

I don’t believe things happen by chance, but sometimes we don’t see these opportunities coming. Just as Esther was put in a royalty position at that important time of history, I believe He can choose to do that with any of us at any time. But there’s always a choice to trust God and be courageous…or not.

Esther’s relative, Mordecai, says to Esther, ‘For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?’ (Esther 4:14)

Esther had to make a choice. Thankfully, Esther sought the Lord’s wisdom and guidance through prayer and fasting before taking action. The result was that her patient, courageous and God-led plan influenced King Xerxes to save the Jewish community living in Persia (which were her relatives and herself, as well) from annihilation! I might add, it also led to the vengeance of their enemies (Haman the Agagate and company).

We are not to think of ourselves as bigger or smaller than we really are. Instead, we are to trust in our God who is bigger than any challenge we may face.  May God be truly glorified in and through our lives!

The Lord is looking to-and-fro for Esthers of the world who will be courageous and trusting wherever He may place them. The great news is, He will never leave us or abandon us when He calls us to stand for Him!