While studying to teach the book of Ruth at the local congregation I attend, I noticed something in the first chapter that spells out for us what is happening today in the lives of so many individuals who attend churches - false repentance. What I mean is this; there are multitudes of people who feel a worldly sorrow for doing "bad things" and these people may even weep buckets of tears over what they have done. However, in the end they always go back and do the same things all over again.
What caught my attention (in this regard) was the account of Naomi, Orpah, and Ruth in chapter 1 of the book. As Ruth, after losing her husband and two sons, journeys back to Bethlehem, she (weeping) tells her daughters in law (Orpah and Ruth) to stay in the land of Moab rather than coming with her. All three of them weep and the two daughters say that they will go with Naomi. Shortly thereafter the discussion continues and Orpah and Ruth cry some more. This time Orpah goes back to Moab, but Ruth clings to Naomi, venturing to an unknown land, people, god, etc. We hear much of Ruth after this, but Orpah travels into the oblivion and is never - to my knowledge, mentioned in Scripture again.
Orpah had false repentance. Yes, she cried tremendously, but there was still a longing to her to go back to what she was used to. I think Naomi may have been testing the two girls to see where there heart was. If they truly wanted to turn their life over to the Elohim of Israel they would continue on with this bitter 'ol woman that Naomi was at the time. As we know, Ruth did stay with Naomi and made awesome promises too her and to Yahweh. Orpah went back to her old ways.
Do we not see this happening with people today? We see people who have committed sin, sometimes heinous, and they feel sorry for what they've done, but it's not a righteous sorrow. They still do not realize that they've wronged the sustainer of them and the universe. They ask for prayer, cry sometimes greatly, and you think that something great has happened. You may see them for a little while at church, but soon thereafter you don't see them anymore and they go back to their old way of life. What happened here was visible repentance, but not true repentance. They didn't change their direction; they didn't really have an encounter with Yahweh in their heart of hearts.
On the other hand we may experience true repentance with people who never even shed a tear. I'm not against crying, I'm just saying someone can really have an encounter with God and it be a "dry encounter." Crying and outward sorrow doesn't automatically equal true repentance. If a person is practicing sin and they confess, repent, and believe and you begin to see a true change in a persons life, but they never weeped over their sin, don't be presumptuous and think that they weren't serious enough. Yahweh works with different people in different ways. If there is a change of life then it is Yahweh. If they stay on the Biblical course then it is Yahweh. If it seems like they are sorry but they continue to do the things that God hates then it was a work of man.
If there was ever a passage that is extremely relevant to this day and age it is 2 Timothy 4:1-4. Here Paul (the apostle) encourages young Timothy to proclaim the truth message - preach the word - as some translations put it. He tells him to do so whether it's convenient or not. The KJV says whether it is in season or out of season. I take him to mean most likely when it is popular or when it is not popular. Whatever the case, it is the word that must be preached. This is an oddity today, because most men who call themselves (or whom others call) pastors do not preach the word, they preach a "get rich quick" or "self esteem" message that is about as shallow as possible. In such, people are becoming less and less capable of listening to a genuine sermon/bible study becaue they think a sermon is a 20 minute lesson that exalts mans "goodness" and contains a hint of Scripture here or there.
Paul knew that such times would come, therefore he writes to Timothy that the time will come when people will not be able to tolerate sound doctrine. Does this sound familiar? It surely should because there are thousands of people in the church-world today who do not tolerate sound doctrine. They pick their "home church" based upon programs, music ministry, number of people, how good they feel, etc. They should rather ask themselves if the true message of Scripture is being taught from the pulpit and if God is being glorified rather than man. If a preacher never preaches expositorily or exegetically; if a preacher never teaches deep bible study; if a preacher's messages are always titled "You Can Make It" or "Living to Your Fullest Potential," the chances are you are going to one of the visible "Christian" churches in the world rather than to a true Christian assembly.
Paul tells Timothy that people will heap to themselves teachers having itching ears. The HCSB says that these people have an itch to hear something new. This translation then gives a footnote that says "or, to hear what they want to hear." People run to find a multitude of professing teachers so that they might be able to find a few that will lie to them and make them feel better about their sin. How often this is the case today. Paul concludes by saying they will turn away from hearing the truth and turn aside to myths/fables. It is sad, but such happens so very often with people today.
Paul tells Timothy in verse 5 to basically persist in teaching properly. He says that Timothy must keep a clear head, endure hardship (persecution for teaching Scripture), and continue in the work of the ministry. If you are a teacher out there, Pauls words are calling out to you today, and if you are a listener out there who wants there ears tickled, repent and turn to Yahweh's truths before you are cast into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels.
Blog by Matthew Janzen. Lover of Yahweh, Yeshua, my wife and 5 children. All else is commentary.