May 16, 2013

“Come Unto Me…”

My current online course is a survey of the Old Testament. During one of the lectures, the professor said that God seems to have created us with a built-in desire to love and be loved, to experience romance. His goal is to woo us to Himself, creating a perfect relationship of love and intimacy through redemption. This requires that we put our faith in Him and accept His offer to provide all that we need.

With that, I’m noticing things in the OT that I never noticed before. For instance, today’s verse is about the love of Naomi for Ruth and this woman’s desire to take care of her daughter in law after her husband, Naomi’s son, had died.

Then Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, “My daughter, should I not seek rest for you, that it may be well with you?” (Ruth 3:1)

The author of today’s devotional points out that the word for “rest” is important. An unmarried woman in those times was not secure. She was in danger of being mistreated and dishonored. However, a husband’s home was her “menuchah” or place of rest. She would be protected there from a life of servitude, neglect, and license.

This word also applied to the nation. When God handed the commandments to Moses, he relayed them to the people. In his charge to them, he said, “You shall not do according to all that we are doing here today, everyone doing whatever is right in his own eyes, for you have not as yet come to the rest and to the inheritance that the Lord your God is giving you” (Deuteronomy 12:8–9).

Because they were not yet in the land God promised them, a land of peace, safety, and rest, they needed to pay attention to God’s laws lest they suffer judgment and perish before crossing into that place of rest. Much later, Solomon was able to stand and bless the people of Israel. He said, “Blessed be the Lord who has given rest to his people Israel, according to all that he promised. Not one word has failed of all his good promise, which he spoke by Moses his servant.” (1 Kings 8:55–56)

The Bible often affirms that God is the true rest or menuchah of humankind. The OT prophets predicting that when the Messiah came, the whole world could enter into a relationship with Him that offered true rest. Jesus gave the invitation:

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matthew 11:28–29)

This is an offering of love from the Bridegroom to His bride meaning all those who believe in Him and have surrendered their lives to Him and His love. We strive and struggle, becoming caught up in the busy activities of life and complaining that we have no time or energy, forgetting or neglecting that God has given us a “menuchah.” Jesus is our Lover and our Beloved (typified by Naomi), our place of rest sent by God that our life may be well for us, that we might have an eternal inheritance and experience all that He has promised.

The remainder of Ruth’s story tells how she found love and security in that place of safety and rest, all because she trusted Naomi and accepted her offer.

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