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528. Naomi, Orpah, and the Second Temptation. Apr 18, 2024



KEY SCRIPTURES: Ruth 1:8-14

8 And Naomi said unto her two daughters in law, Go, return each to her mother's house: the Lord deal kindly with you, as ye have dealt with the dead, and with me. 9 The Lord grant you that ye may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband. Then she kissed them; and they lifted up their voice, and wept.10 And they said unto her, Surely we will return with thee unto thy people.

11 And Naomi said, Turn again, my daughters: why will ye go with me? are there yet any more sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands? 12 Turn again, my daughters, go your way; for I am too old to have an husband. If I should say, I have hope, if I should have an husband also to night, and should also bear sons;13 Would ye tarry for them till they were grown? would ye stay for them from having husbands? Nay, my daughters; for it grieveth me much for your sakes that the hand of the Lord is gone out against me.14 And they lifted up their voice, and wept again: and Orpah kissed her mother in law (to say goodbye); but Ruth clave unto her.


RELEVANCE

When offered a wrong temptation for the first time, you resist, giving it little consideration. However, after you've turned down that offer, how do you respond to the follow-up question, "Are you sure?"


This cunningly devised left hook is how the serpent trapped Eve, how desire trapped Naomi's daughter-in-law, Orpah, how I got trapped, and how you have probably been caught at some time.  


This second allurement has deceived more people than we care to know, from potential buyers and sellers of goods losing their cash to smooth salespeople to Christians trying to resist sin. Today's message will show us something we all face—that second temptation that catches us off guard. 


I'll introduce the topic with an excerpt from Chapter 7 of my book, FINDING MYSELF INSIDE. Those of you who have read my book might remember it. 

"At this stage, I was working three jobs, my main employment with PMG along with part-time jobs, as I was trying to save up some extra money. One night of part-time work, the mate I was working for pulled his truck up to a bottle shop and asked, “Niv, would you like a can of gin and tonic?”


I thought it was odd he’d even ask but instantly replied, “No thanks, mate, just a Coke will do.”

The next week I didn’t see the devil coming. My mate pulled up at the same bottle shop and asked me the same question. But this time he added, “Come on, Niv, one won’t kill you!”


For some strange reason I still don’t understand except that Satan must have been working overtime, this time I responded, “Yeah, okay.”


Within six months after consuming that cunningly delivered Trojan Horse dressed in a can, I found I was drinking more heavily than I had in earlier years. This time I’d really earned the title of hypocrite."


You can see how that one follow-up question caught me off guard at a time when I wasn't even conscious about being on guard, so brightly burning was my spiritual life. Yet, it got me. 


EVE'S TRAP Genesis 3:1-5 

Temptation 1: The serpent spoke to Eve. Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?

Eve replied, God said we shall surely die if we do.  No thanks.


Temptation 2: The serpent's follow-up comment. Ye shall not surely die:

Eve's response to the second temptation? Hmmm, okay then, I'll try it. 


Former world boxing champion Mike Tyson had a knockout punch that came out of nowhere, catching opponents off guard and dropping them to the canvas. That was why he achieved 44 knockouts from 50 wins. Despite his opponents studying Tyson's style, particularly that punch, for months before a fight, he still trapped them with the combination. What does that say about human awareness and the subtlety and swiftness of the enemy? 


How easy is it for the one-two combination to catch us unprepared—the one we're ready for, followed by the one that gets us? 


The second temptation is used in many industries as an inducement strategy to get you over the line, and Satan uses it daily in his industry of sin.


Orpah's Trap (from our key passage)

The background sees Naomi, her husband, and two sons leaving Judah during a great famine in the time of the Judges (V1). In those days when famines hit, people had what they had. If they didn't have it, they went without. If they had little to begin with, that little bit was lost or spent to stay alive. The ground was dry and barren, crops didn't grow, plantations died off, and jobs became scarce. Due to the failure of primary production, markets also ceased operation as stallholders had little to sell, and the prices of what was left rose astronomically. 


Naomi and her husband needed to make a decision: remain in Judah and possibly die or have one of the children die, or leave everything behind and move to an unaffected or less affected region. Naomi and her husband decided to move to Moab. Moab and Bethlehem, their hometown, had a reasonable relationship, at least far better than when Balak, the former King of Moab, tried to annihilate the Israelites in Moses' time. Moab was also where Moses died. (Deueteronomy ( 34:5).


Naomi's family dwelt in Moab long enough for the two sons to marry local Moabite girls, Orpah and Ruth, and for those husbands and their father, Naomi's husband, to die in that land. 


So today's message commences at the second drought—that of no future prospects for three women—where another decision must be made to leave behind what they had built. 


Because Naomi was now leaving a foreign country to go home, she gave Orpah and Ruth the option to remain with their birth family in Moab rather than follow her to Judah, the Kingdom of Inheritance. Naomi offered go, return each to her mother's house. 


Reading carefully, we see that Naomi's suggestion concerned their natural existence, not their spiritual existence. Neither girl took up this offer. Then Naomi gave them a second opportunity: turn again, my daughters: why will ye go with me? (e.g. what's the point of you following me?)

This second temptation, this Mike Tyson combo punch, caught Orpah. She subconsciously questioned herself, just enough to change her mind. 


For that simple decision, Orpah became a forgotten person in Moab, and Ruth became the great-grandmother of Israel's greatest King, David, and an ancestor of Jesus Christ. 


In Orpah's case, her desires were shallower than Ruth's. She was called but not chosen, and this is where the rubber hits the road. Ruth's connection with Naomi reached all the way to her spiritual heart, where clearly God resided.


We must watch the second temptation, as we can inadvertently get caught. We don't mean to end up on the canvas wondering how it happened, but we can.


I remember reading about Charles Finney, a great revivalist preacher of the 1800s. He was up at 4:00 a.m. and prayed until he was called for breakfast at 8:00 a.m. One Winter, all he read was the Bible, and God showed him revelation after revelation. Smith Wigglesworth arose and danced before the Lord in praise and worship for the first 20 minutes of the day, remaining in the Word and Spirit for the rest. This is how you stay out of range of that second temptation.  


These instances remind us to consider how many times we've changed our minds based on that second question, that left hook. How often did our gut say NO!? But we still said yes, anyhow.  

 

PRAYER

Dear Lord, many times I have been blind and deaf to those second temptations. Please help me see them coming and decide with the Holy Spirit.  

Photo by Richard Stovall

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