Anglican Morning Devotion, 10 February 2022 Anno Domini
a ministry of the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
“Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehemjudah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons. 2And the name of the man was Elimelech, and the name of his wife Naomi, and the name of his two sons Mahlon and Chilion, Ephrathites of Bethlehemjudah. And they came into the country of Moab, and continued there. 3And Elimelech Naomi’s husband died; and she was left, and her two sons. 4And they took them wives of the women of Moab; the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth: and they dwelled there about ten years. 5And Mahlon and Chilion died also both of them; and the woman was left of her two sons and her husband.” (Ruth 1:1-5; all scripture quoted is from the King James Version)
“And he said, A certain man had two sons: 12 And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. 13 And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.” (Luke 15:11-13)
Because of a famine in the land, brought about by disobedience, Naomi departed Bethlehem-Judah (House of Bread and Praise) and went into a far country (Moab) to live among those who knew not the God of Abraham. Naomi was profoundly vexed in the far country away from the people of God. She lost her husband and two sons to death in that land. Naomi later decided to return to her native land and, upon her return, blamed God for all the pain she suffered in a far country away from her Godly heritage and the people who knew the faith of Abraham. She returned to Bethlehem-Judah alone with her daughter-in-law, Ruth. On her return, we read: “So they two went until they came to Bethlehem. And it came to pass, when they were come to Bethlehem, that all the city was moved about them, and they said, Is this Naomi? 20And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me. 21I went out full, and the LORD hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the LORD hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me?” (Ruth 1:19-21) One never prospers in a far country away from the will of the Lord. Naomi and Ruth prospered on their return. In fact, Ruth (through Boaz) became the grandmother of King David and became part of the royal lineage of the Lord Jesus Christ – even though a Moabitess.
There are many simple and profound lessons to learn in the story of Ruth. I hope you will read my devotions on that Book available free and on request from our National Offices. One salient aspect of this story is this: Those who separate themselves from God by going out of His will into a far country (Naomi) are vexed and suffer loss; but those, like Ruth, who come from a far country into the will of God are richly blessed.
There is another story that illustrates a child of God who goes out of God’s will and sojourns there in a far country for a time. It is the story of the Prodigal Son (See Luke 15:11-32). There are three primary characters in this parable of our Lord taken from His parable – the Father (God), the prodigal son (a Christian who wonders into worldly acclaim), and the faithful brother who depicts the self-righteous and unforgiving members of the church.
The younger of the two sons demands the Father measure out to him his part of the inheritance that would legally only be required upon the death of the grantor. The Father realizes that this son is stubborn and intransigent, so, he measures out to the younger son his share of the inheritance. The young man wastes no time in departing his Father’s house. Many who are blessed greatly by God will become prideful and believe themselves above reproach in their manner of living which often devolves into prideful sin.
The young man goes off into a far country – far from the oversight of his Father. The people of a far country will have no use for a foreigner unless he is well endowed with riches. He spends all of his inheritance on wine, women, and riotous living until all is exhausted. The errant Christian, as well, often gets out of the will of the Father and spends his youth, his fortune, and his health in riotous living. The young man, now poor and despondent, joins himself to a man of that land who cares nothing for him except to use him. This is the devilish character of all who are citizens of that far land who knows not God.
By and by, the young man “comes to himself” and resolves to return to the Father. No one who leaves his godly inheritance and moves out of God’s will is in his right mind. In the meantime, the Father has known all along of his son’s depravity, but he neither goes for him or sends for him. He is still his son, but out of his will. He waits for the son’s return with patience. The old Father watches the road for his son’s return through summer sun and winter snow. Finally, he spots the haggard and filthy form of his son approach on the distant horizon. He runs to meet him and embrace him. God does the same for us when we go astray. But we must return to Him. He only cares that we are coming toward Him, not away.