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April 19: Virtue and Redemption

Ruth and Naomi: Virtue and Redemption Vision ViewpointVision Viewpoint continues its look today at the "rule of the invisible" and its functions within the world around us and its ability to cause men to discern beneath the mere appearance of matters in life. A Christian radio program, Vision Viewpoint is a ministry of Reformation Hope Church in Hartford, WI.

One of the great histories of Scripture is also a very personal one, embedded in the book of Ruth in the Old Testament. It’s one of the most powerful stories, no doubt of love, but also of faithfulness, and if we were to put it into terms of an economy, it represents the law of invisible social capital.

This might sound very formal, but here’s what it amounts to: where there is virtue, there will be redemption – temporal redemption, in this case. Ruth, knowing that her mother-in-law Naomi, bereaved of her husband and her sons, had to travel back to Israel in times of famine, so Ruth went back and assumed responsibility for the care of Naomi. Naomi reciprocated with her wisdom and her guidance, and expressed these traits, which later become invaluable in helping Ruth surmount the difficulties attended with making a living, as an unskilled laborer, and having to pay for two people in a very depressed economic environment.

This was the law of invisible social capital: the faithfulness of Ruth and the love and care of Naomi that she demonstrated, refusing to leave Naomi’s side. Ruth knew that Naomi would go back and likely starve, so Ruth went back with her, telling Naomi, "Entreat me not to leave thee, nor to return from following after thee, for whither thou goest, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge, and your people shall be my people, and your God, my God." Ruth emulated the faith of her mother-in-law; she observed Naomi’s faithfulness, and as a result, that faith in the Lord moved her to assume to walk in the virtues that that faith commends.

In economic terms, that is a true invisible social capital. Ruth would become a wise young woman, whom God would eventually bless. She became wise because she was instructed by Naomi in practical matters of life, as well of in her faith. They both understood that underneath the material surface of the world around, there was the invisible world – not the mystical world, but the very powerful "rule of the invisible."

Sir Isaac Newton knew this as well; for example, when he observed the law of gravity in the famous episode of the apple falling to the ground. He saw the effects of gravity – a rule of the invisible. Newton went on to determine that law, the law of gravitational attraction. We see the effects of the apple falling to the ground; the law we don’t see except in its operation.

The same is true in the social, political, and economic realm. The Bible teaches us that there is the "rule of the invisible" – the laws of God, whether they be the laws He has encoded into nature (such as physics, chemistry, and medicine might teach us, and where the laws are predictable, and therefore useable), or the laws of human action in the hearts of men (where the soul is not neutral, though it is fallen). These particular laws – those that operate within the souls of men – respond to things that are determined by the invisible. Men, for example, will worship, but this is a concept we won’t find this in the animal world. There is no house of devotion that the animals go to once a week. We find this desire for worship, however, a regular function of man’s character. It only is left to determine which God is the true God, and that, too, has its answer.

But the point here is that there is the "rule of the invisible," and those who understand virtues understand, as Ruth did, that the material world that we look upon is moved by these virtues. It was Ruth’s love and care and her having assumed responsibility for and faithfulness to Naomi that saved their lives, and, in fact, built them a new life in Israel. The law of invisible social capital ultimately goes to virtue and wisdom. The Bible teaches us this, as opposed to that which is not biblical; namely, mysticism. The Bible teaches us that there is a depth of understanding beneath the surface, and those deemed to be "carnal," are those who look in appearance only. Those who are "spiritual" are those distinguished by just this point: they understand the rule of the invisible. Ruth, by her love and care, walked in responsibility stewardship for two, and redeemed her mother-in-law, Naomi, whom she loved.

Vision Viewpoint will continue its series in looking at the "rule of the invisible" throughout this week in its broadcasts as a Christian radio program and ministry of Reformation Hope Church in Hartford, WI.

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