Judgment runs rampant in our society, especially on social media where we can hide behind our phone/computer screens and bravely (cowardly) lash out our opinions. I know when I’ve felt judged, I’ve also felt misunderstood.
Why does judgment sting so badly? Is it just me? I don’t think so. Granted, some people handle it better than others. Some don’t care what others think, but I dare say that those few who don’t care may struggle with the thought that one day they will be judged by an all-knowing God.
We Don’t Like Judgment
We don’t like to be judged by our peers, and we would rather talk about God’s grace than His judgment. I love grace. I could talk about God’s gracious Chesed (loving acts of kindness and mercy) all day long. But there is no need for grace if there will be no judgment. So, we really need to study both.
. . . But the truth is: his grace wouldn’t be needed if it weren’t for his judgment. He is a holy and righteous God who from the very beginning of time created us to live with him. That was his purpose. His plan. He doesn’t want religion. He wants relationship–a relationship that fills, transforms, and makes eternal beings. But there is a catch. We must realize and recognize our sin, our need for a Savior. When we acknowledge and repent of our sin, we are asking Jesus to be our Savior and fill us with himself.Ruth Bible Study, 54.
God’s Judgment is Perfect; Ours Isn’t
A few years ago a well meaning friend judged my desire to publish A Mary Like Me: Flawed Yet Called. Granted, I probably let too much of my desperation to grow my blog number show. If you aren’t in this industry, it’s hard to understand why we need the traffic and followers to grow on our websites. Her judgment hurt. I cried, repented to God, and struggled under a heavy cloud of condemnation all day.
I knew that was not God. He doesn’t condemn. So I kept wrestling with Him over her words and my heaviness. I’d repented! Why didn’t I feel better? Later that evening a memory flashed through my mind of another time someone I respected influenced a life-altering decision that caused me to stop following Jesus for a year. God whispered in my soul, “Your idol is not the calling to write and publish. Your idols are people who you trust over me.” The moment Holy Spirit spoke this truth, His conviction freed me. I was ready to lay them down to worship and follow only the voice of my King.
Have I done it perfectly? No. I still need a lot of grace and prayers in this department!
I Think We’ve Misjudged Orpah
Who? Did you mean Oprah?
No, Orpah. She is a character in the book of Ruth. Last week we studied Naomi’s instruction for Ruth and Orpah, her daughters in-law to return back to Moab and not follow her to Bethlehem.
This week our scripture focus is Ruth 1:11-14 and the Hebrew word Nashaq. (Each lesson focuses on a Hebrew word.) At first, both daughters in-law refused to leave Naomi, but after much weeping and wailing and Naomi’s insistence to return to their families, Orpah obeyed while Ruth refused.
At this they wept aloud again. Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye, but Ruth clung to her.
Orpah Was Not Stiff-necked
I’ve always thought less of Orpah for not clinging to Naomi too. Many commentators teach that her name means “stiff-necked” because she did not turn to God. But some commentators teach her name means “back of neck.” Ruth and Naomi watched as they sadly said goodbye to their dear daughter/sister-in-law who obeyed her mother-in-law’s instructions to go home. I believe I have misjudged her.
Rather than being “stiff-necked,” I think Orpah simply obeyed. Look at verse 14 again. It says that Orpah kissed Naomi. This kiss holds an important meaning. Nashaq was a kiss of devotion, and it denoted respect. I hope most of us know what it’s like to obey an elder even when we didn’t want to.
It’s Not Time to Judge
Scripture teaches that one day we will all stand before God to be judged. But This Judge is pure and holy. He is complete goodness and kindness. He sent Jesus, the image of the One True God so that we would not only know Him but also be forgiven. Jesus was God in action loving, forgiving, and healing all who asked, and sacrificed Himself, taking our punishment so that one day we could stand before the throne free from condemnation. I love this admonition from Paul:
1 Corinthians 4:5
Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.
Bite of Bread Reading Plan and Printable
Join me this week as we continue our study on the book of Ruth. If you don’t have the book, you can download/print off the verses below. Just click the links for the printable.
Monday: But Naomi said, “Return home, my daughters. Why would you come with me? Am I going to have any more sons, who could become your husbands? 12 Return home, my daughters; I am too old to have another husband. Even if I thought there was still hope for me—even if I had a husband tonight and then gave birth to sons— 13 would you wait until they grew up? Would you remain unmarried for them? No, my daughters. It is more bitter for me than for you, because the Lord’s hand has turned against me!” -Ruth 1: 11-14 (NIV)
Prompt: If you can, look up other translations of these verses. The NIV makes it seem as if Naomi felt her plight more bitter than Orpah’s and Ruth’s, but that’s not the case in other translations. Write down the ESV and KJV or any other ones you find different. How do they change the meaning? Does this affect your view of Naomi?
The great day of the Lord is near—
near and coming quickly.
The cry on the day of the Lord is bitter;
the Mighty Warrior shouts his battle cry.
15 That day will be a day of wrath—
a day of distress and anguish,
trouble and ruin,
a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of clouds and blackness— -Zephaniah 1: 14-15
Prompt: What day do these verses refer to? What will the cry be? This is the same word Naomi used when she described her circumstances. “Bitter” has been translated from Mar. Naomi felt her sin had caused the tragedy of her sons’ deaths and the grief of Orpah and Ruth. Have you ever felt like your “sin” caused pain for those you love? What did you do for them?
Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me,
for in you I take refuge.
I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings
until the disaster has passed. –Psalm 57:1
Prompt: Where does the psalmist find shelter? The word refuge has been translated from Hassah which means “to confide in, have hope, make refuge, (put) trust” (Ruth Bible Study 281). Using the definitions of this Hebrew word for refuge, how do we find refuge in God? Is this hard for you? Why?
Thursday: So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment?4 Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance? -Romans 2:3-4
Prompt: He waits so patiently for us. Has God’s kindness ever led you to repentance? How is this different from other methods of trying to bring people to Jesus?
Friday: But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. -Romans 2:5
Prompt: “Repent” actually means to change the way one thinks. Ask the Lord to reveal the thoughts that are not aligned with His. Confess those to Him and ask for the mind of Christ.
Wednesday Night Live Fellowship and Study
I pray you have a rich week filled with joy and purpose. Dig deep into His Word, my friends! The Lord loves you. There is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus! (Romans 8:1).