Ruth 1:6: “Then she arose with her daughters in law, that she might return from the country of Moab: for she had heard in the country of Moab how that the Lord had visited his people in giving them bread.”
We as God’s people would like to think that in every generation the Church has always been well fed spiritually; yet here in the Book of Ruth the Bible tells us there was a time when there was a famine in the land of Israel (1:1).
I believe we need to be humble enough to admit that there have been times of famine for the Church. There have been times when the Church was starved spiritually. This might be difficult to discern particularly in a generation where there appeared to be abundant riches on every front and where God’s people failed to question the basis or the nature of those riches.
For example, in our generation we have had the gospel of material prosperity, good health and general well-being preached on a universal scale, and the Church somehow came to believe that what this gospel taught was the true blessing that God promised Abraham.
This gospel has brought untold suffering and disillusionment, especially in Africa where people have literally been promised the world in the Name of Jesus, but have failed to see the realization of this dream.
The Bible says that even though Abraham truly was a rich man in worldly riches, yet he looked not to these things, nor indeed revelled in them. The Bible says of the father of our faith: “By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Heb. 11:9-10). Abraham did not live in big mansions, nor did he seek to. The Bible says he and the other fathers of our faith desired “a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city” (v.19).
Our spiritual fathers looked to something different than the material riches that they had. “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (v.13). In spiritual terms this means that they did not consider anything of this world as the thing they were seeking for, even though they had it all. Rather, they looked to something purely spiritual.
In the same way, it is true that the Lord blesses us with earthly things, sometimes to the point of overabundance. But we are not to look to these. Healings, financial success, etc. are all good things, but, just like with Abraham, these things are not what we are truly called to aspire after.
Nowhere in the scriptures can we find the basis for boldly declaring that the gospel of material prosperity that we have been hearing in our generation is indeed the gospel that Christ died for. It certainly cannot be said to be the spiritual food that was meant to bring God’s Church to spiritual maturity, for we have seen failure and defeat in many Christians lives, and especially those who ‘confess’ victory.
It is true that in His day, Jesus also went about doing good, healing the sick and feeding the hungry. But one day, He let the Hebrews know that He had brought them something far more profound than the earthly goodies he was generously dishing out to them. In fact, he told them clearly, “Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed” (Jn. 6:27).
Then he dropped the bombshell: “I am the bread of life” (Jn. 6:35). They would have to eat of His flesh and drink of His blood, He told them. He was talking about partaking of His sufferings and death.
The Jews said, “This is an hard saying; who can hear it?” (Jn. 6:60). i doubt it would have been any easier for us to receive. The Cross is still a hard teaching today. Partaking of the sufferings of Christ and His death is not easy. The flesh does not accept it.
But praise God, the Apostle Paul received a revelation of Christ crucified. Henceforth he would preach nothing else. He told the Corinthians, “We preach Christ crucified…” (1 Cor. 1:23). In fact, says he “determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (2:1-2). Paul preached the Gospel of the revelation of the Cross.
Jesus Christ, and Him crucified is the true spiritual food for the Church. This was the food that Paul and the early apostles fed the Early Church.
This is the gospel that the Church and the world needs today. A gospel that will deal with the flesh, and that will mature men and women into the Kingdom of God.
Even in the Old Testament, the only people who made any impact are those to who received a revelation of the sufferings of Christ in their hearts, and who lived accordingly.
For us here in Africa, this is the gospel that has come to us through the revelation that God gave to Brother Miki, and that has been carried in the hearts of countless servants of God who are coming into contact with this revelation through the CTMI ministry.
Today we can say with Naomi: ‘God has visited his people in giving them bread.’ That is bad news for the flesh, and for the Christian who stubbornly wants to remain in the carnal realm.
But for those who want to truly serve the Lord, those who truly desire spiritual fruit in their lives, they will embrace the Cross and the death it brings to self.
How can we do anything but rejoice at the Good News as Naomi did, and embrace it. “Then she arose with her daughters in law, that she might return from the country of Moab: for she had heard in the country of Moab how that the Lord had visited his people in giving them bread.”