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.
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Blog by Matthew Janzen. Lover of Yahweh, Yeshua, my wife and 5 children. All else is commentary.