Today’s selected reading continues in the first New Testament epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto Timothy who was his spiritual son in the faith and co-laborer in the work of the gospel concerning Jesus Christ and of the kingdom of God. More specifically, today’s selected passage is found in verses twelve through twenty-five of the fifth chapter. If you begin reading the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto Timothy in this particular chapter you will notice and discover how the chapter begins and opens up with the apostle Paul writing unto Timothy concerning how to treat and behave toward an elder within the church. More specifically, the apostle Paul wrote unto Timothy concerning his behavior—not only towards the elders of the church, but also towards the younger men, the elder women, as well as the younger women. When writing and speaking concerning Timothy’s behavior and actions toward the elders of the church, the apostle Paul instructs him to intreat them as a father. In other words, the apostle Paul was in a way declaring that within the house of the Lord the elders could most readily and most easily be perceived and received as fathers within and fathers of the faith. Similarly, within the body of Christ, and within the house of the Lord we find the apostle Paul seemingly suggesting that the elder women within the body of Christ could most easily and most readily be seen and treated as mothers among those present in the church. What’s more, is that the apostle also seems to suggest that the younger men could be perceived, received and treated as brothers in Christ and brothers in the faith, and the younger women could be received, perceived and treated as sisters in Christ and sisters in the faith. I previously wrote concerning the first verse of this chapter how it almost seems the apostle Paul is directly connecting the reality and concept of family within the house of the Lord, and is somehow suggesting that the body of Christ is more than simply a gathering together of like-minded men and women, but also those who were gathered together—first as sons and daughters of the Father, and then as you progress beyond the reality of everyone within the body of Christ as sons and daughters of the Father, you will find that we are all brothers and sisters in Christ. What’s more, is that within the body of Christ we find the reality and concept of family as directly connected to our being brothers and sisters in Christ, there are also elder men and elder women who can and should be perceived, received and treated as mothers and fathers within the house of the Lord.
Before I move and delve any further into the reality of what is found within the fifth chapter of the epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto Timothy, I feel it necessary to once more present you with the tremendous reality of what the apostle Paul wrote in his first epistle unto the saints which were at Corinth. If you turn and direct your attention to the twelfth chapter of the first New Testament epistle which Paul wrote unto these dear saints. If you begin reading with and from the twelfth verse of the twelfth chapter of this epistle you will find the following words written concerning the body of Christ, which is present and manifested within the earth:
“For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have not need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: and those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: that there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular” (1 Corinthians 12:12-27).
With these words the apostle Paul clearly sets forth the wonderful and powerful distinction that exists within the body of Christ—that which is most certainly marked with and by distinction and diversity in nature and character. If there is one thing I find to be absolutely remarkable and tremendous when reading the words Paul wrote in this particular chapter, it is that the apostle Paul clearly sought to present the reality of one body with many members, but also one body with many members which each had their own specific role, purpose and function. We dare not quickly dismiss and move beyond this particular reality, for if we are to truly understand that which the apostle Paul wrote in the fifth chapter of the first epistle he wrote unto Timothy, it is absolutely imperative and necessary that we understand this concept of the body of Christ which is comprised and made up of many members. One of the most beautiful reality’s and concepts concerning the body of Christ is the diversity that allows absolutely everyone within the house of the Lord to maintain their own uniqueness and individuality without compromising who and what they are. If there is one thing I absolutely love about this passage of Scripture, it’s that the apostle Paul invites us to remain who we are without compromising who we are, or feeling the need to somehow change ourselves into someone or something else to somehow appease those around us. If you are part of a body where you are pressured and/or even manipulated to change and transform yourself into anyone other than Jesus Christ, I would strongly caution, warn and urge you to move on from that place. The beauty of being a member within the body of Christ is that while we are continually changing and being transformed into the image of Jesus Christ, He never asks, expects or demands us to sacrifice or even compromise our own uniqueness and individuality. It is absolutely incredible that while we we are striving to be transformed and changed into the image, the character and the likeness of Jesus Christ, we are never instructed or required to lose who we are as it pertains to our individuality, our uniqueness, and that which makes us special in the sight of God. Did you know that it is possible to be changed, transformed and conformed into the image and likeness of Jesus Christ, and yet still be you? Did you know that it is possible to be like Christ—to look like Him, to talk like Him, to walk like Him, to think like Him, to feel like Him, to act like Him, and the like—and yet still maintain your own unique place within the body? The beauty of the body is that we can daily be changed and confirmed into the image and likeness of Jesus Christ, and yet we can still be our own unique and individual member within the body of Christ.
The more I continue along the lines of the body of Christ, and how the many members are all joined together as separate members, yet making one body, the more I can’t help but be reminded of the words which we find in the New Testament book of Acts. If you recall, the New Testament book of the Acts of the apostles is the second treatise which the beloved physician Luke wrote unto the most excellent Theophilus. The first treatise which Luke wrote unto this particular individual described and detailed with great measure the life and ministry of Jesus who is both Christ and Lord. This second treatise which Luke wrote unto Theophilus doesn’t so much describe the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, but rather, the life and ministry of His body within and upon the earth. If you read the New Testament book of Acts you will quickly discover that although Jesus ascended to the right hand of the Father, and although the Head remains seated at the right hand of glory, the body remains within and upon the earth. This is one of the greatest New Testament mysteries concerning and regarding the church which was birthed by the direct manifestation of the Holy Spirit, who was released and revealed on the Day of Pentecost. Within the first chapter of the New Testament book of Acts we find a group of one-hundred and twenty individuals within an upper room praying and interceding before the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ. It was the manifestation of the Holy Spirit that fateful day which gave birth to the Church of Jesus Christ within and upon the earth, and established the body of Christ among men. For three and a half years Jesus the Christ walked among us in the form of human flesh, and for three and a half years He taught us, healed our sick, delivered our oppressed, and confronted our legalism, religion and hypocrisy. What we find in His absence is not what we would expect, for in the absence of Jesus, but in and with the presence of the Holy Spirit, the body of Christ was established within the earth. Although Jesus Christ Himself was absent from within and upon the earth, His body would remain in the earth carrying out that which He began three and a half years earlier. Within and through His body here on the earth, Jesus Christ would accomplish more than He could have ever accomplished while walking among us. Pause for a moment and consider that reality—the reality that Jesus Christ can accomplish more within and through His body here on the earth than He ever did or ever could while He walked upon the earth. There is a reason why Jesus declared that “greater works than these” shall we do because He goes unto His Father, for in the form of human flesh He was limited in that which He was able to do. When He took on the form of human flesh He relinquished His omnipresence, which meant that He could only be in one place at one time. In the form of human flesh it was absolutely impossible for Jesus to be in two places at one time, and was therefore limited by the flesh. Thus, everything the gospels we record Jesus doing and saying while on the earth took place in one single place—the place where Jesus is. With the body of Christ now present within and upon the earth, Christ can accomplish more than He ever could while on the earth, for the body of Christ is not limited, nor is it confined to a singular place. The body of Christ is leaving, breathing, and active, and is comprised of members within and throughout the entire earth. Therefore, since the body of Christ is present within and throughout the various countries of the earth, the life and ministry which Jesus Christ demonstrated and manifested while on the earth can continue and carry on in an even greater measure.
Concerning the presence and impact of the body of Christ within and upon the earth, I feel compelled to bring your attention to two specific passages found within the New Testament book of Acts. If you journey to the end and the conclusion of the second chapter of this New Testament book you will find a powerful description of how the early church was in a single day transformed and multiplied from a group of one-hundred and twenty, to a group of around three thousand one-hundred and twenty. When you come to the end of the second chapter of the New Testament book of Acts you will find the original one-hundred and twenty still present, for it was them speaking in the tongues of all those from other nations and countries visiting Jerusalem that caught the attention of the city in the first place. In the final verses of this particular chapter you will find the apostle Peter speaking unto all those who gathered around the one-hundred and twenty who heard their own native language being spoken by these seemingly unlearned men and women who were present within the upper room. What I so absolutely love about this particular passage of Scripture is not only that the number grew from one-hundred and twenty to three thousand one-hundred and twenty, but also how the early church moved and operated within the earth during those early days. If you begin reading with and from the thirty-seventh verse of the second chapter you will find the account of the response of all those who heard and listened to the words which the apostle Peter spoke on the day of Pentecost, the response of many on that day, and the first description of the newly formed body of Christ upon the earth. Consider if you will the account of the early church as it is recorded by the beloved physician Luke in this particular chapter:
“Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. And with many other words did He testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles> And all that believed were together, and had all things in common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:37-47).
This particular passage found within the New Testament book of Acts is one that perfectly and powerfully demonstrates and reveals the tremendous truth concerning the body of Christ, which was established and formed by the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. This particular passage brings us face to face with one of the greatest pictures of that which the body of Christ should in all reality be within and upon the earth—a reality which serves as a pattern and model for which the body of Christ in this generation should look like. Perhaps the single greatest question that must be asked is whether or not the body of Christ in this generation looks like Jesus Christ and resembles the Head at all. Upon reading the words which are found and contained within this passage of Scripture we can clearly see that the church which was formed on the day of Pentecost, and the church that existed for the next several years did in fact look like and resemble Jesus who is both Christ and Lord. What Luke records of the body of Christ in this passage of Scripture is that they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. This is perhaps such a wonderful and powerful picture of community found in the entirety of Scripture, fo pause for a moment and consider what it’s like when the body of Christ continues in the breaking of bread, and in prayers, as well as the fellowship and doctrine of the apostles. What’s more, is that as you continue reading this passage of Scripture you will encounter the reality that all those which believed were together, and had all things common. The early church which was formed on the day of Pentecost truly did embody the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the saints which were at Philippi. Consider if you will the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the epistle which was sent and delivered unto the congregation at Philippi: “If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any Bowles and mercies, fulfill ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strive or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:1-8).
There are two other passage of Scripture which I feel must be presented unto you who are reading this writing in order for us to truly understand that which the apostle Paul wrote unto his spiritual son in the faith, Timothy. While it is true that the final and concluding verses of the second chapter of the New Testament book of Acts describes the body of Christ within the earth, you will find in the fourth chapter of the same book another description of the body of Christ as described by Luke. Beginning to read with and from the thirty-second verse of the fourth chapter of the book of Acts we find and read the following words concerning the church and body of Christ: “And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all. Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of things that were sold, and laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need. And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus, having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet” (Acts 4:32-37). There is within this passage of Scripture yet another reference to the early church—not only having all things in common, but also being of one accord and one mind—a reality which the apostle Paul emphatically wrote when writing unto the saints which were at Philippi. When we consider the reality of the body of Christ within the earth it is absolutely necessary and imperative that we understand the tremendous importance of not only being of one accord, but also of having all things common. What’s more, is that when we read concerning the early church, we find that they all sold of their possessions and distributed unto the necessarily of the saints as each had need. Concerning the body of Christ we discover that no one’s need was too great or too small, and that no ones need was left unattended and not cared for. It is absolutely incredible that within the church and within the body of Christ all those present found a community of brothers and sisters, but they also found their needs being supplied by Jesus Christ through His body within and upon the earth. It is absolutely imperative that we recognize and understand that God supplied all the needs of the early church through the riches of Jesus Christ His Son through His body which had been established in the earth. We dare not miss or lose sight of this reality, for to do so would miss the tremendous importance of what we find in the twelfth chapter of the New Testament epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto the saints which were at Rome. Consider if you will the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto these saints beginning with the ninth verse of the twelfth chapter:
“Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another, with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:9-21).
With all of this in mind, it is now necessary to journey back to the fifth chapter of the New Testament epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto Timothy. What began in the fifth chapter with the apostle Paul writing concerning abstaining from rebuking an elder, but intreating him as a father, would continue on to include the younger men of the body, the elder women of the body, as well as the younger sisters of the body. When I previously wrote concerning this passage of Scripture I was immediately struck by the tremendous reality that within the body of Christ we not only find everything we have been longing for, but also everything we have needed. If the church and company of saints and believers who gather together with each and every week are truly the body of Christ and resemble the head which is Christ, then you should be able to find in the body that which your heart has longed for, and that which you have needed. When I read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture I am immediately struck with the apostle’s words concerning the elders, the elder men, the younger men, and the younger women, and the direct connection between the body of Christ and family. What’s more, is that as you continue reading this passage of Scripture you will find the apostle Paul going on to write concerning widows which were present among them within the body of Christ. Consider if you will the words which the apostle Paul writes unto Timothy within the fifth chapter of this epistle beginning with the third verse: “Honour widows that are widows indeed. But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to shew piety at home, and to require their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God. Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trustees in God, and conintiueth in supplications and prayers night and day. But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth. And these things give in charge, that they may be blameless. But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than in infidel. Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man, well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints’ feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work. But the younger widows refuse: for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry; having damnation, because they have cast off their first faith. And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not. I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully. For some are already turned aside after Satan. If any man or woman that believeth have widows, let them relieve them, and let not the church be charged; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed” (1 Timothy 5:3-16).
When we read the Scripture we speak a lot about the nation and people of Israel as being God’s chosen people within the earth, and having been such since the day Abraham was called out of Ur of the Chaldeans and instructed to go unto a land which the Lord would show him. As we read Scripture—particular within the New Testament—the focus seems to shift and transition from the nation and people of Israel to the church of Jesus Christ as a newly established chosen people in the earth. We have spent a considerable amount of time focusing on these two groups of people that we completely neglect the fact and reality that there is another group of people within Scripture who has a special place in the heart of Almighty God. We love talking about Israel, and we love talking about the Church, however, there is another group which we rarely talk and speak about. There is another group of people with whom the Lord takes great interest, as well as great delight and pleasure. Lest you think for a moment that what I am speaking of and suggesting is somehow false and fictional, I would bring your attention to the final verse of the first chapter of the New Testament epistle which was written by James the brother of Jesus: “Pure religion and undefined before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world” (James 1:27). In all reality, I am convinced that there is a forgotten people of God within the earth whom we rarely take any thought of, or even pay any mind or attention to. I am convinced that there is a forgotten people within the earth which we more often than not overlook, neglect, and perhaps even despise, reject and overlook. In the fourteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of John we find Jesus declaring unto His disciples that He will not leave them comfortless, nor would He leave them orphans and fatherless in the earth, but would send unto them another Comforter who would come in His own name. It is true that Jesus would and could not leave us comfortless, nor could and would He leave us as orphans and fatherless in the earth, however, with that being said we must recognize and understand that there are those who have been and are being left fatherless within the earth. There are those among us in the earth who are being left as orphans and fatherless, as well as those who are left as widows in the earth. Tell me—how can the church of Jesus Christ not be fatherless or comfortless, and yet permit and allow so many within, upon and around the earth continue to live as such? How can the body of Christ which is made up of brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers leave so many orphans and fatherless without the attention and affection of a father and mother? How can the body of Christ which is made up of brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers, leave so many widows without the attention and affection of a community which gathers around and supports them?
I am utterly and completely convinced that there is present within the earth a group of people which I would like to refer to as “God’s Forgotten People.” I believe with all my heart that there is present within the earth a forgotten people which are not only despised and rejected, but also marginalized and ignored. There is a forgotten people within the earth who are receiving absolutely no attention, absolutely no affection, absolutely no care—despite the fact that it has been commanded and instructed throughout the years. I would direct your attention to the words which the Lord spoke unto Moses while he stood before Him in His presence atop the mountain of God. Beginning with the twenty-first verse of the twenty-second chapter of the Old Testament book of Exodus we find and read the following words: “Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt. Ye shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child. If thou afflict them in any wise, and they cry at all unto me, I will surely hear their cry; and my wrath shall wax hot, and I will kill you with the sword; and your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless” (Exodus 22:21-24). I fully recognize that this is incredibly strong language, yet not only was this language spoken by the Lord Himself, but this language is also found in the New Testament when James the brother of Jesus declared that pure and undefiled religion before God our Father is to care and look after the fatherless and the widows. We would be incredibly naïve to think—even for a moment—that the words which the Lord spoke unto Moses countless centuries and millennia ago no longer has any application for us within this generation. There is within this particular set of verses a description concerning treatment of the fatherless child and the widow, but also strangers which are present among us. In all reality, I would dare say that this forgotten people of God within the earth is not only made up of the fatherless children and widows, but it is also made up of the strangers which are present among and all around us. Consider if you will the words which Moses spoke unto the children of Israel as they prepared to enter into the land which the Lord swore unto their fathers and ancestors. Beginning with the twelfth verse of the tenth chapter of the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy we find the following words:
“And now, israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all His ways, and to love Him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, to keep the commandments of the Lord, and His statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good? Behold, the heaven of heavens is the Lord ‘s thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is. Only the Lord had a delight in thy fathers to love them, and He chose their seed after them, even you above all people, as it is this day. Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiff-necked. For the Lord your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regarded not persons, nor taketh reward: He doth execute the judgment of the fatherless and widow, and loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment. Love ye therefore the stranger: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt. Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God; Him shalt thou serve, and to Him shalt thou cleave, and swear by His name. he is thy praise, and He is thy God, that hath done for thee these great and terrible things, which thine eyes have seen. Thy fathers went down into Egypt with threescore and ten persons; and now the Lord thy God hath made thee as the stars of heaven for multitude” (Deuteronomy 10:12-22).
Within this particular passage Moses declares of the Lord that He not only loves the stranger, but He also executes the judgment of the fatherless and the widow. Thus, within this particular passage of Scripture we find a powerful declaration for just how involved the Lord is on behalf of the fatherless children, the widows, as well as the strangers which were present among the children of Israel. The more I read and the more I consider the reality of the strangers, the fatherless, and the widows which were present upon the earth during that time, the more I can’t help but be confronted with the fact that in the children of Israel such individuals should find the care and compassion of the living God. The nation and people of Israel should have been a source of comfort, compassion, attention and affection for the fatherless children, the widows, as well as the strangers—not only such people from among themselves, but also for those from the nations and peoples round about them. Please pay attention to the reality and concept of strangers within the Old Testament, for it was possible that strangers among them could not only be married couples with their children, but it could have also been fatherless children and widows. Lest you think for a moment that this is in no way true and is inaccurate I would present you with the reality concerning Ruth who was a Moabite woman who married into a Jewish family. Consider if you will the account of Ruth and her relationship with and connection to the Jewish people:
“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 Bethlehem-Judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons. And the name of the man was Elimelech, and the name of his wife Naomi, and the name of his two sons Mahlon and Chilton, Ephrathites of Bethlehem-Judah. And they came into the country of Moab, and continued there. And Elimelech Naomi’s husband died; and she was left, and her two sons. And 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. And Mahlon and Chilton died also both of them; and the woman was left of her two sons and her husband. Then she arose with her daughters in law, that she might return from the county of Moab: for she had heard in the country of Moab how that the Lord had visited His people in giving them bread. Wherefore she went forth out of the place where she was, and her two daughters in law with her; and they went on the way to return unto the land of Judah. And Naomi went on the way to return unto the land of Judah. And Naomi said unto her two daughters in law, Go, return each to her mother’s house: the Lord deal kindly with you, as ye have dealt with the dead, and with me. The Lord grant you that ye may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband. Then she kissed them; and they lifted up their voice, and wept. And they said unto her, Surely we will return with thee unto thy people. And Naomi said, Turn again, my daughters: why will ye go with me? Are there yet any more sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands? Turn again, my daughters, go your way; for I am too old to have an husband. If I should say, I have hope, if I should have an husband also to night, and should also bear sons; would ye tarry for them till they were grown? Would ye stay for them from having husbands? Nay, my daughters; for it grieveth me much for your sakes that the hand of the Lord is gone out against me. And they lifted up their voice, and wept again: and Orphas kissed her mother in law; but Ruth clave unto her. And she said, Behold thy sister in law is gone back unto her people, and unto her gods: return thou after thy sister in law. And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou longest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me. When she saw that she was steadfastly minded to go with her, then she left speaking unto her. So they two went until they came to Bethlehem, that all the city was moved about them, and they said, Is this Naomi? And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me. I 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? So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabites, her daughter in law, with her, which returned out of the country of Moab: and they came to Bethlehem in the beginning of Barry harvest” (Ruth 1:1-22).
While it is true that Naomi was Jewish by birth and the Jewish people were here heritage and lineage, Ruth was not of the children and stock of Israel, but was a daughter of Moab. When Ruth entered into the land of Israel—and specifically the town of Bethlehem—she did so as both a stranger and a widow. WHEN THE WIDOW IS A STRANGER AND THE STRANGER IS A WIDOW! Through the life and account of Ruth we not only see and find one who became a widow in her own land, but one who also entered into a foreign land—not only as a widow, but also a stranger. Perhaps the most beautiful picture we find within the Old Testament book of Ruth is how Boaz took care of Ruth while she gleaned in his field, but also how he would eventually take her unto himself as a wife. What’s more, is that when you read the account of Ruth and Boaz, you will find that as a direct result of their union—as a direct result of his man’s taking care of, and taking unto himself this stranger and widow—the lineage and seed of the Messiah would continue to be manifested within the earth. In the final verses of the fourth and final chapter of this Old Testament book you will find the lineage of David who would not only be a man after God’s own heart, but one through whom the Messiah Himself would be manifested in the earth. Consider if you will the final verses of the fourth chapter of this Old Testament book: “Now these are the generations of Pharez: Pharez begat Hezron, and Hezron begat Ram, and Ram begat Amminadab, and Amminadab begat Nakhon, and Nakhon begat Salmon, and Salmon begat Boaz, and Boaz begat Obed, and Obed begat Jesse, and Jesse begat David” (Ruth 4:18-22). As a direct result of Ruth’s commitment to Naomi—despite the fact that she was a Moabitess and a widow—and as a direct result of Boaz’s willingness to care for a stranger and widow within the town of Bethlehem, the seed which would bring forth David into the earth was passed, and the seed which would ultimately bring forth the Messiah into the earth would be passed on through the generations. It is absolutely necessary that we recognize that more often than not it is in our care for the fatherless, the widows, and the strangers in our midst that the person and life of Jesus the Christ can be manifested among us in our midst. We must remember Jesus’ words when He described that when those whom He separated to His right hand who fed the hungry, those who gave drink to the thirsty, those who clothed the naked, those who visited the sick, and those who visited those in prison did so unto Him, thus manifesting His life among them in their midst. Perhaps the single greatest question we must ask ourselves in this generation is what we are doing with God’s forgotten people in the earth, and whether we are truly willing to look after, care for and intreat them among us in our midst.