Ruth 2: 1-7
Luke 2: 25-32
I have a simple thought about this matter of continuance, how we continue and why we continue. Someone has said that continuance is the proof of reality. I think that is very testing. Things are real. This young woman we read about, Ruth, had quite a testing time until this moment. Her history had not been an easy one but there is this said about her, “And she ... has continued from the morning until now”. Well, this is the “now”. We have continued until now. It is the way that she continued. Think of the testings in this particular day in which she was. She continued in dependence. She knew what dependence was. We have been reminded a good deal about it in this place, these past months and years; she knew what it was to be a suffering, devoted woman, but she “continued ... until now; her sitting in the house has been little as yet”. Her conditions did not alter her attitude and characteristic feature which was that she was continuing in relation to what she had committed herself to at the outset, “thy people shall be my people ... where thou diest will I die”, chap 1: 16. She had commenced from that position and continued. She continued before she had a link with Boaz, because she knew about him. Naomi spoke about Boaz, the kind of person he was, and this, I think, was what caused Ruth to continue until now. I think that is how most of us are. We have known something from our parents, older brethren who have spoken about Jesus and what He means, what is going to be for His pleasure in this dispensation, this time, and we have continued until now. I feel the need of this being a genuine exercise, beloved, that we continue in this way, we continue as she continued in relation to the food line and what was going to be secured as a result. You think of all that she went through in the heat of the day, and she was only gathering a small amount of corn as she went along, but she had in mind in her devotion an inner dependence. These things are meant to test us. We are living in a very affluent time and many of us do not know very much even about material dependence, I think we would have to say that, but Ruth was one who was altogether dependent. She had no resources of her own. She was gleaning in the fields. In one sense we have no resource of our own. That is why we need one another. That is why we need the company of the saints. That is why we have these gatherings that we might just glean something, but she needed her own committal. She continued because she understood and realised that if she was going to survive it required that she was kept in this position, in this field. She had found favour, and here was a field of Boaz, I think all indicating what was foremost, what was to come to light further on in the book, all that was to be secured was going to be in relation typically to Christ. What comes out as a result, beloved, what there is as fruit from these exercises that she had, is that we get the worshipper (chap 4: 17 footnote), we get something that answers to the heart of God, that answers in our day to the heart of Christ. “She ... continued ... until now”. I feel that as we are going through these exercises at the moment. Look at the older sisters we have had amongst us and how they have continued in the testimony, gone on in faithfulness and in the simplicity of their links with and their love for Christ. That is to mark every one of us from the youngest to the oldest. We have to pass that on. We have a responsibility. Naomi passed it on to the young; she fulfilled that responsibility. She had been wrong but she got right and she passed it on. She was a recovered person. That is how I want to apply it that she was a recovered person and she brings the young woman into this same line, “she ... continued ... until now”. That is an exercise, I think we should all feel, that we have so many young people in this place and we are glad to see them when they come out. Seeing children, you think of the vitality of what is there potentially for the testimony and for Christ. It is not for our aggrandisement, but it is for the aggrandisement of what is here for our Lord Jesus Christ in the assembly. I think Ruth had some appreciation of that, and she continued.
I read about Simeon because he was at the end of his life. He had continued. He was a just and pious man, “awaiting the consolation of Israel”, but he had some insight as to how God was operating and what was going to come to pass, and he was continuing in that in dependence. I feel burdened about that tonight, beloved, how independent my history is, but God would draw us to the need for being dependent. He “was just and pious, awaiting the consolation of Israel”. He was obviously a very heavenly, devoted man, and it says, “and the Holy Spirit was upon him”. The Holy Spirit had not come at this juncture, but the Holy Spirit had come upon him, marked him out in that sense. “And it was divinely communicated to him” - think of these communications in one who continues in this area of dependence - “by the Holy Spirit, that he should not see death before he should see the Lord’s Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple”. Think of how he came to the meetings. What an influence he had. He must have brought something very special with him. Like John who was in the island Patmos and he “became in the Spirit on the Lord’s day”, Rev 1: 10. Sometimes you get a touch of that when some brethren come in and they just bring an influence like this into the meeting. I am not saying anything against any: but I feel a need for a touch of this, to come in like this, to gather like this, and I think it comes from the way that Ruth committed herself, the way that she continued, and “her sitting in the house has been little as yet”. She did not sit at home; she did not think, ’Oh, I am tired tonight, I am late tonight’. I have known these things and I am not saying anything against anybody else. I have known these things, but Ruth did not, she continued and she brought something. Think of what she took home, think of what she brought into the local meeting, and I think Simeon was like that too. “And he came in the Spirit into the temple; and as the parents brought in the child Jesus that they might do for him according to the custom of the law”, but this man was able and it says, “he received him into his arms”. Think of holding that precious Babe, all that was embodied in that Baby. This man was able to do that, and he understood something of what was involved in it, what Jesus meant to him and what He would mean to the whole world. “He received him into his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now thou lettest thy bondman go, according to thy word, in peace”. He continued until he came to this point where he was able to receive the Child Jesus. The whole embodiment of all that was in God’s heart was set before him in this Child. You are frightened to say too much about it, careful as to how you speak about the Lord Jesus in these circumstances, but what was in this Child was going to set forth the fulness of the love of God, and here was a man that was able to receive Him. He did not just hold Him. There is something more precious than that in it, “he received him”. There was a reception, a place where He could be held and could be appreciated. He continued until this moment.
Well, beloved, I just feel the simplicity of what I have said but I feel the need of being in that condition. You get a sister later on in that chapter who continued until she was very aged. Think of the sisterhood in this place and how they have continued. Many have been many years in the testimony. Long lives have been devoted to Christ. I think it would be an example, be an encouragement, be a stimulation to us that we might continue in living relationship to what is here for Christ, to what is here for His pleasure. It is not for our pleasure although we get benefits from that, but the main thing is that the assembly is here for Christ and I can come into the benefits of that, I can bring something in of this character as I continue until now.
4th November 2008