The higher the original price tag, the better you feel about the savings made on your purchase.
Sometimes in life, we get stuck with ‘mark-down labels’ that are not God’s original estimation of us.
These are definitions that others or we place upon us, that are not consistent with our God-given identities.
This can occur, for example, if we have been through an extended time of hardship. And it can happen not only to individuals, but also families, churches, even geographical regions.
When this happens, we need to peel back the label, and recover our God-given identity.
Last week, we looked at how Gideon received a life-changing insight into his identity and destiny when God spoke it over his life. Today we look at another story set in the Old Testament time of the Judges, from the book of Ruth.
1. Bethlehem – House of Bread
Remove the Label of Barrenness and see God’s label of Fruitfulness
‘In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land, and a man from Bethlehem in Judah, together with his wife and two sons, went to live for a while in the country of Moab.’ (Ruth 1:1)
In scripture, a God-given name is synonymous with identity and can speak of destiny.
The name Bethlehem means ‘House of Bread,’ and its original name, Epharath, means ‘fruitful,’ or ‘fertile,’ so we know from the scripture that this was a fertile region.
Bethlehem destined to be the birthplace of David, a future king and deliverer of Israel, and the birthplace of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world—one of whose names would be, ‘The Bread of Life.’
So the name, ‘House of Bread,’ was both descriptive and prophetic.
And yet for some reason, as the book of Ruth opens, there is no bread in the ‘House of Bread,’ and there is a famine in the place that was named ‘fruitful.’
For a season, Bethlehem becomes synonymous with famine and hardship. But that is not the last word—it is not God’s Word. 
Remove the Label of Insignificance and see God’s label of Significance
Bethlehem was a small town in Judah. It was deemed to be so insignificant, that when Joshua and Nehemiah listed the cities of Judah, they left Bethlehem out. 
And yet the Prophet Micah was later to say, “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah,out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel.” (Micah 5:2)
And in the Father’s eyes, you are significant. With Him, there are no little people and no little places.
2. Naomi – Pleasant
Naomi’s husband Elimilech, did not wait for God’s hand to bring Bethlehem through the tough time to its destiny. Perhaps he thought,
‘My household needs bread, and God’s not providing here, so I’ll go and find it myself.’
And he took his family to go and live outside of Israel, in the land of Moab.
The sad thing is, that the very thing that he had thought to escape from came upon his family. And he lost his life and the life of his sons in the process.
Now, Naomi is now alone and without support. In this place of devastation, she hears ‘Good News’—a message of hope that there is a move of God back in her hometown of Bethlehem.
She hears that God has ‘visited His people’ and that once again, there is bread in the ‘House of bread’. Bethlehem’s identity is once again emerging. And so she turns her face towards Bethlehem.
Remove the Label of Bitterness and see God’s Identity of Sweetness
‘“Don’t call me Naomi,” she told them. “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the LORD has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The LORD has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.”’ (Ruth 1:20-21)
Naomi’s name means ‘pleasant.’ This is her God-given identity, but severe hardship has robbed her of the ability to believe it. She says, “Call me Mara.” Mara means bitter.
Although Naomi does not know it at this time, God’s word to her is, “I have named you ‘Pleasant,’ pleasant is your identity, and pleasant your life shall be.”
3. Ruth – A member of God’s Family
Remove the Label of ‘Not Belonging’ and see God’s Identity of Chosen
Ruth, who is Naomi’s widowed daughter-in-law, enters Bethlehem alongside Naomi as a foreigner relying on charity.
In the first part of the book of Ruth, she is known as ‘the Moabitess.’ Her perceived identity is that of a stranger, a foreigner.
But her true identity from God—one of belonging—is about to be established.
The Redeemer Makes the Difference
The key to the recovery of Naomi’s identity—and the key to the discovery of Ruth’s identity—lies in the identity of a man called Boaz.
Boaz is a member of Naomi’s husband’s family, a ‘Kinsman Redeemer’, and has the ability under the laws of Israel, to marry Ruth and restore the family line and inheritance. 
Boaz marries Ruth, and they bear a son named Obed—the grandfather of King David.
Naomi’s rejoices in the birth of Obed, and her life, which was bitter for a season, is pleasant once more.
And Ruth now belongs to God’s people Israel, fulfilling her destiny—to be included in the Messianic lineage that will bring forth kings and our Saviour, Jesus Christ. (Matt 1:5)
Prophesy a word of God’s Goodness
A lengthy time of hardship can start to impact upon your sense of identity.
But we too have a Redeemer—Jesus, who has paid the price to restore our lives to God’s original intention and design.
It is time to prophesy a word of God’s goodness over your life, over your family, your church, or your geographical area.
It is time to pull off the labels that history, hardships, the viewpoints of people, even your own perspective, have placed upon you.
And whatever the perception that events have caused your life, your town, city or region, your family or church to be synonymous with, today we can declare again the Father’s Word.
Do you have any experiences or questions to share on this topic, or difficulties you are facing that you would like us to agree with you in prayer for? I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment in the comments box below. If the comments box is not visible, click on this link and scroll down.
 I believe God is speaking to someone today regarding persevering in your current situation–His hand is on it and will bring it through to that place of fulfilment.
 For a concise definition of a kinsman-redeemer and scriptural references, check here: http://www.gotquestions.org/kinsman-redeemer.html
© Helen Calder 2011 Enliven Blog – Prophetic Teaching
On team with David McCracken Ministries: Prophetic Ministry That Empowers The Church