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Ruth Redeemed

By Watchman | October 20, 2009

“And she [Naomi] said, ‘Look, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.’  But Ruth said: ‘Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from following you; for wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people and your God, my God.  Where you die, I will die, and there will I be buried.  The Lord do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts you and me.’ ”  (Ruth 1:15-17)

“So she fell on her face, bowed down to the ground, and said to him [Boaz], ‘Why have I found favor in your eyes, that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?’  And Boaz answered and said to her, “It has been fully reported to me, all that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband, and how you have left your father and your mother and the land of your birth, and have come to a people whom you did not know before.  The Lord repay your work, and a full reward be given you by the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge.’  Then she said, ‘Let me find favor in your sight, my lord; for you have comforted me, and have spoken kindly to your maidservant, though I am not like one of your maidservants.'”  (Ruth 2:10-13)

     Very few stories in Scripture appear that have no relevance to people in other ages and societies.  Nearly all of Scripture contains permanent truths that the Father wants us to know and live by, rules for Godly and righteous living and constant examples of God’s great mercy and grace which provides for the salvation of those who choose to follow Him.   The story of the widow Ruth, her relationship with her mother-in-law, Naomi, and her subsequent winning of the heart of  the “kinsman-redeemer” Boaz is no exception.  Though the Book of Ruth appears to be somewhat  of an unnatural break between Judges and 1st Samuel, it actually tells us a great deal more than the romantic story of how King David’s great-grandparents came to marry:  it provides us, in one short book, with a picture of how the Messiah Jesus would eventually redeem His people, how loving hearts within familial (even in-law!) relationships can bring about the accomplishment of God’s plans and how His grace and mercy cleanses us from sin to the point that we can stand before Him in righteousness, no matter who we were and what we’ve done in life and have Him see us only as His beloved children.

     It was never God’s intention to be separated from the hearts of men.  We are created in His image (Genesis 1:26) and for His own pleasure.  Immediately after Adam’s and Eve’s fall from grace, the plan of redemption was put in place to be fulfilled at the appointed time.  Hints of the salvation to come were exemplified  in the lives of several Old Testament figures:  Joseph, who saved the Lord’s people from dying out during the world-wide famine; Moses, who delivered God’s people from the tyranny of the Egyptian Pharoah; and Boaz, who redeemed the property sold by his kinswoman Naomi, bringing it (as well as Naomi and Ruth) back into the line of the family inheritance.  Boaz, in buying back the property lost and taking Ruth as his own wife, did nothing unusual for the day.  He performed what he called “the duty of a close relative” (Ruth 3:13) –redemption of land that had belonged to his own relative Elimelech so that Elimelech’s name and that of his family would not be cut off from their position within the family.  Brothers and sisters, has not Jesus done this for us?  Redeeming the hearts and souls of those He considers to be His children by the incalculable price of the shedding of His precious Blood,  He has set us back into the positions which He intended us to hold, although we did not pay the price of the lost ground and instead created a vast chasm between ourselves and the God Who loves us so completely and unselfishly!  How thankful Ruth and Naomi must have been to receive again their place in society, although they arrived in Naomi’s native town of Bethlehem with nothing.  Through their reliance on their kinsman-redeemer and through Ruth’s having subjected herself to his will, they received new lives and new honors.  How much more cause will we, who subject ourselves to the will of our Kinsman-Redeemer Jesus, have to celebrate as we receive new lives and new positions in His heavenly kingdom!

     The entire story of Ruth would have never taken on any meaning or importance had she not shown such incredible love and loyalty to her late husband’s mother.  We know that Naomi must have been an exceptional mother-in-law since both of her daughters-in-law loved her and hated the idea of leaving her to return to their respective families, and Ruth must have likewise been an exceptional daughter-in-law to have left her home, her family and her false gods in order to accompany Naomi back to Bethlehem where she herself would probably have felt like an outcast.  Perhaps this story may well shed some light on some of the marital problems existant between husbands and wives today because of disagreements about the in-laws!  Mothers-in-law:  have you accepted your child’s spouse as your own child?  Have you understood that “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife; and they shall be one flesh”?  I have a dear friend who has struggled for over thirty years with her mother-in-law’s jealousy over another woman having influence over her son.  She has prayed for her mother-in-law and wished for a Godly and loving relationship with her, but the mother’s  jealousy has turned into anger and resentment which may or may not be ever overcome.  Married children: have you allowed the natural closeness between your spouse and his/her mother or father to lead you to feeling unappreciated or not enough “as one” with your spouse?  Of course, certain aspects of a parent’s relationship to his/her child must necessarily change when the child takes a spouse; when it does not, the newly-wedded child cannot grow into a mature,  married adult.  But to object to one’s spouse wanting to see to the needs of an ailing, aged or unhappy parent is to invite rancor into the marriage, and it is in direct opposition to God’s admonitions to care for those who first cared for us.  Can you look upon your spouse’s parents as upon your own?  This is exactly what Ruth did, and she has provided us with an excellant example of loyalty to and acceptance of  the new family into which God has seen fit to place us.  This loving heart toward her mother-in-law was what first drew the attention of Boaz to her–for a loving heart is more attractive and more enduring than the flawless skin and  beautifully made-up face of a discontented and godless person.

     Although much more could be gleaned from this biographical book of the Old Testament, I’d like to focus here on what strikes me as one of the most important lessons we can take away after reading Ruth:  If the heart is sound and open to the things of God, He will remake us into that image He first had of us at the time we were conceived.  Remember that Ruth was not a Hebrew; she was a Moabite.  The Moabites were the descendents of the first Moab who was the son of Lot and his eldest daughter (see Genesis 19:30-37).  Although in  later days they were enemies of the Hebrews, they seem to have gotten along well enough with them in the earlier days, as evidenced by their allowing Elimelech and Naomi to move into their territory (their kingdom was east of the Dead Sea in what would now be west central Jordan) during a time of famine.  They spoke and wrote a language which was quite similar to Hebrew.  Unfortunately, they had long since forgotten the God that their ancestor Lot had known, and had become a nation of polytheists.  The national deity of Moab was Chemosh, who was honored with some extremely perverse and cruel practices which included the sacrificing of children in return for power and prosperity.  His female counterpart was Astar-Chemosh, and worship of this pagan goddess led to certain sexual excesses in the performance of the rites.   One of the reasons God frequently cautioned the Hebrew people against marrying outside of the tribes of Israel was that too often the Hebrew who married outside of his religion would end up adopting the god(s) of the family into which he married.  That this did not happen to Elimelech’s family meant that he must have indeed been a Godly man and one who raised up his family to know the true God.  Yet both sons married Moabite women–and one would think that these would be among the last women in the world God would choose to become the great-grandmother of King David and a direct antecedent of the Messiah Jesus!  God, infinately wiser and more merciful than man, looked only upon the good that was in her heart and accepted her into His family when she told Naomi, “..Your people shall be my people and your God, my God.”  From that day forward, she was a spiritual  Jew.  Children of God, do you see the inference?  If God could take this pagan Moabite girl and turn her into a woman worthy of producing the line from which would come the only true Royalty ever born of woman, he can take each one of us, no matter how lowly or sinful, and use us in His divine service! No matter what our background is, no matter what we’ve done in the past, no matter what has happened to us:  God can cleanse and heal us, and renew a right spirit within us!  He brings blessings from cursings and pools of living water from what was arid ground.  He has brought people like me up from the depths of sin and exchanged the hell to which I was busily working my way for the promise of eternal life with Him! 

     The book of Ruth is one of only two books of the Old Testament in which God does not directly speak, yet His voice is heard throughout each chapter, each line, each precept.  His hand is displayed in every key turn in Ruth’s life, just as it will be displayed in the lives of all who truly turn to Him and worship His Son, Jesus the Christ–our very own Kinsman-Redeemer.

 

Maranatha!

Topics: Kingdom Living | 1 Comment »

One Response to “Ruth Redeemed”

  1. Shirley Says:
    October 23rd, 2009 at 10:08 am

    This is one of the best posts I’ve read. It brought tears to my eyes. What an insight God has given you concerning the Book of Ruth! Thank you for sharing this.

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