May 12: The Bible in the Developed World
Ruth 1:1–2:23; 1 Timothy 1:1–11; Psalm 73:1–10
In our developed world, we don’t consider famines very often. If there were a famine in our lands, we could navigate through it because of our importing infrastructure. This isn’t the case for the developing world: famines mean walking miles to find food and water, and often dying or suffering terrible violence just to stay alive. (Currently there are two major famines in Africa bringing these desperate situations to life.) When I used to read about famines in the Bible, I thought of hunger, but I didn’t necessarily think of pain and persecution. Now that I’m more aware of what’s happening in the world, stories of famine in the Bible are very vivid for me.
Consider Naomi, whose husband died during a famine, and the pain she must have felt over that loss and the loss of her two sons (Ruth 1:1–7). She was left with her daughters-in-law. As widows, they were completely desolate. Women were considered a lower class at the time; they could not own property and could not provide for themselves in an agriculturally based society. When I see photos of hurting women in the Horn of Africa, I’m reminded of Ruth and Naomi.
I think this is what the Bible is meant to do. We’re called to read it historically and culturally. But we’re also called to read the Bible with a sense of urgency about what’s happening in our world today. We know there is no end to extreme global poverty and unnecessary pain. We can’t rightfully imagine that those of us who have resources and who can help will have stepped up to eradicate these issues. But we can make the biblical story our story. We can feel their pain and think as they think. And we can act. Imagine God showing providence in your life like He did Ruth’s and Naomi’s, and then help those who need you.
What can you do today to make a difference in the life of a person living in extreme poverty?
JOHN D. BARRY
- In the time that the Judges ruled, there was a dearth in the land, and a man of Bethlehem Judah went for 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 names of his two sons, Mahlon, and Chilion, Ephrathites of Bethlehem Judah: and when they came into the land of Moab, they continued there. Then Elimelech the husband of Naomi died, and she remained with her two sons, Which took them wives of the Moabites: the one’s name was Orpha, and the name of the other Ruth: and they dwelled there about ten years. And Mahlon and Chilion dieth also both twain: so the woman was left, destitute of her two sons, and of her husband. Then she arose with her daughters-in-law, and returned from the country of Moab: for she had heard say in the country of Moab, that the Lord had visited his people, and given them bread. Wherefore she departed out of the place where she was, and her two daughters-in-law with her, and they went on their way to return unto the land of Judah. Then Naomi said unto her two daughters-in-law, Go, return each of you unto her own mother’s house: the Lord show favor unto you, as ye have done with the dead, and with me. The Lord grant you, that you may find rest, either of you in the house of her husband. And when she kissed them, they lift up their voice and wept. And they said unto her, Surely we will remain with thee unto thy people. But Naomi said, Turn again my daughters: for what cause will ye go with me? are there 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, and if I had an husband this night: yea, and if I had borne sons, Would ye tarry for them, till they were of age? would ye be deferred for them from taking of husbands? nay my daughters: for it grieveth me much for your sakes that the hand of the Lord is gone out against me. Then they lift up their voice and wept again, and Orpha kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth abode still with her. And Naomi 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 answered, Entreat me not to leave thee, nor to depart from thee: for whither thou goest, I will go: and where thou dwellest, I will dwell: 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 depart thee and me.When she saw that she was steadfastly minded to go with her, she left speaking unto her. So they went both until they came to Bethlehem: and when they were come unto Bethlehem, it was noised of them through all the city, and they said, Is not this Naomi? And she answered them, Call me not Naomi, but call me Mara: for the Almighty hath already given me much bitterness. I went out full, and the Lord hath caused me to return empty: why call ye me Naomi, seeing the Lord hath humbled me, and the Almighty hath brought me into adversity? So Naomi returned and Ruth the Moabitess her daughter-in-law with her, when she came out of the country of Moab: and they came to Bethlehem in the beginning of barley harvest. Then Naomi’s husband had a kinsman, one of great power of the family of Elimmelech, and his name was Boaz. And Ruth the Moabitess said unto Naomi, I pray thee, let me go to the field, and gather ears of corn after him, in whose sight I find favor. And she said unto her, Go my daughter. And she went, and came and gleaned in the field after the reapers, and it came to pass, that she met with the portion of the field of Boaz, who was of the family of Elimelech. And behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem, and said unto the reapers, The Lord be with you: and they answered him, The Lord bless thee. Then said Boaz unto his servant that was appointed over the reapers, Whose maid is this? And the servant that was appointed over the reapers, answered, and said, It is the Moabitish maid, that came with Naomi out of the country of Moab: And she said unto us, I pray you, let me glean and gather after the reapers among the sheaves: so she came, and hath continued from that time in the morning unto now, save that she tarried a little in the house. Then said Boaz unto Ruth, Hearest thou, my daughter? go to none other field to gather, neither go from hence: but abide here by my maidens. Let thine eyes be on the field that they do reap, and go thou after the maidens. Have I not charged the servants, that they touch thee not? Moreover when thou art athirst, go unto the vessels, and drink of that which the servants hath drawn. Then she fell on her face, and bowed herself to the ground, and said unto him, How have I found favor in thine eyes, that thou shouldest know me, seeing I am a stranger? And Boaz answered and said unto her, All is told and showed me that thou hast done unto my mother-in-law, since the death of thine husband, and how thou hast left thy father and thy mother, and the land where thou was born, and art come unto a people which thou knewest not in time past. The Lord recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust. Then she said, Let me find favor in thy sight, my lord: for thou hast comforted me, and spoken comfortably unto thy maid, though I be not like to one of thy maids. And Boaz said unto her, At the meal time come thou hither, and eat of the bread, and dip thy morsel in the vinegar. And she sat beside the reapers, and he reached her parched corn: and she did eat, and was sufficed, and left thereof. And when she arose to glean, Boaz commanded his servants, saying, Let her gather among the sheaves, and do not rebuke her. Also let fall some of the sheaves for her, and let it lie, that she may gather it up, and rebuke her not. So she gleaned in the field until evening, and she threshed that she had gathered, and it was about an Ephah of barley. And she took it up, and went into the city, and her mother-in-law saw what she had gleaned: Also she took forth, and gave to her that which she had reserved, when she was sufficed. Then her mother-in-law said unto her, Where hast thou gleaned today? and where wroughtest thou? blessed be he, that knew thee. And she showed her mother-in-law, with whom she had wrought, and said, The man’s name with whom I wrought today, is Boaz. And Naomi said unto her daughter-in-law, Blessed be he of the Lord: for he ceaseth not to do good to the living and to the dead. Again Naomi said unto her, The man is near unto us, and of our affinity. And Ruth the Moabitess said, He said also certainly unto me, my daughter, that thou go out with his maids, that they meet thee not in another field. Then she kept her by the maids of Boaz, to gather unto the end of barley harvest, and of wheat harvest, and dwelt with her mother-in-law.. Ruth 1:1–2:23
- Paul an Apostle of Jesus christ, by the commandment of God our Savior, and of our Lord Jesus Christ our hope, Unto Timothy my natural son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father, and from Christ Jesus our Lord. As I besought thee to abide still in Ephesus, when I departed into Macedonia, so do, that thou mayest warn some, that they teach none other doctrine, Neither that they give heed to fables and genealogies which are endless, which breed questions rather than godly edifying which is by faith. For the end of the commandment is love out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned. From the which things some have erred, and have turned unto vain jangling. They would be doctors of the Law, and yet understand not what they speak, neither whereof they affirm. And we know that the Law is good, if a man use it lawfully. Knowing this, that the Law is not given unto a righteous man, but unto the lawless and disobedient, to the ungodly, and to sinners, to the unholy, and to the profane, to murderers of fathers and mothers, to manslayers, to whoremongers, to buggerers, to menstealers, to liars, to the perjured, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to wholesome doctrine, Which is according to the glorious Gospel of the blessed God, which is committed unto me. 1 Timothy 1:1–11
- Yet God is good to Israel: even to the pure in heart. As for me, my feet were almost gone: my steps had well near slipped. For I fretted at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. For there are no bands in their death, but they are lusty and strong. They are not in trouble as other men, neither are they plagued with other men. Therefore pride is as a chain unto them, and cruelty covereth them as a garment. Their eyes stand out for fatness: they have more than heart can wish. They are licentious, and speak wickedly of their oppression: they talk presumptuously. They set their mouth against heaven, and their tongue walketh through the earth. Therefore his people turn hither: for waters of a full cup are wrung out to them. Psalm 73:1–10