Identified With Him
(Helpful to Sunday School Lesson of April 25, 1920, Ruth 1)
“There was a famine in the land.” When there is nothing left God does His mightiest work. So often in the hour of famine God gives a record of mighty work in the Bible. It was a famine that drove Naomi’s husband into this land of Moab, but no blessing could come upon him while there.
Abraham tried to get relief by leaving Canaan in a time of famine. We often try to get relief by turning to the world in a time of spiritual darkness, but there is no relief. It is only back “in the land” or back in the Spirit that relief comes. If it was a famine that took you out of the will of God and out of the blessing and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, it will be another kind of famine that sends you back.
“The Lord had visited his people in giving them bread.” This is what Naomi heard, and it made her lift up her eyes toward Canaanland. Wonderful are the visitations of God in His blessing. The Scriptures say of the early church, “Great grace was upon them all,” the free and bountiful working of God. How often when the grace of God is being manifested and the blessing of God is being outpoured, Christians do not realize their opportunity and go in for all that God has for them, not appreciating the grace of God and unthankful for His wonderful mercies and blessings. God is bound to bring us to a place of gratitude, and has therefore let the drought come and the famine come. Thank God there is a life where praise abounds, and where bread abounds, and where milk and wine flow freely and the “honey out of the rock” is plentiful. This place, the soul that praises God has found. There is a place of constant abiding. It is the place of constant praise; it is the place of constant gratitude. The heart of God must long for a real sense of appreciation to sweep over the souls of the saints as the Holy Spirit throws the light upon the great inheritance which is theirs in Jesus. The Lord is visiting His people in giving them bread, and there is no need for any Christian to be lean in his soul. There is plenty and to spare. Dare to go back to the land.
“And they said unto her, Surely we will return with thee unto thy people.” Ruth and Orpah had both heard the testimony of the living God in the land among His people, and now that Naomi’s face was turned toward the land and the famine of death had cut them off from their former vocations they must make the choice, either to abide alone in the old life, or go into Canaan with Naomi. This is the test that must be made constantly by Christians in separating from the things of the flesh and going on with those who are going deeper into God and appropriating all the possessions purchased by the working of Christ, or else finding pleasure in the things of the old life.
The church just now is facing this crisis: Shall she turn to men’s ways and men’s methods and the practices of the Moabites, or shall she rise and go on the way with Jesus, taking the spit and the scoff of the world, but separated unto Him? Ruth makes this choice, and cries, “I will go.” She means to go all the way, for she says, “Where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.” (Oh for a consecration as deep as this for every child of God); going on to say, “Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried.” At the cross He died. Let us die there to all our self and all our sin, and fully realize what it means. Then it will be, “Not I, but Christ,” wonderfully, by Holy Ghost enabling, identified with Him in His death. In His resurrection!”