Love and Redemption

Posted: February 19, 2015 in Route 66, Ruth

Route 66: Ruth, “Love and Redemption”

Tell me if you’ve heard this plot before: boy meets girl – boy loses girl – boy wins the girl again – they live happily ever after.  It’s the classic love story.  The book of Ruth is also a love story, but it’s a bit less conventional: boy meets girl – boy and all his family die – girl is left destitute with her mother-in-law…and things go from there.  Not exactly like something you’d find in a 30-minute sitcom TV show!

Although it starts with tragic beginnings, the book of Ruth goes on to tell one of the greatest stories of love and devotion recorded in history.  We think of Ruth as a love story (and it is), but it is actually two love stories.  There is the relationship between Ruth and her future husband Boaz, but there is also the relationship between Ruth and her mother-in-law Naomi.  It isn’t the romantic love, but the sacrificial love that shines through in all of these relationships.  Ruth is willing to lay everything aside for Naomi, and Boaz is willing to extend mercy and grace to Ruth.  Both Boaz and Ruth show the extent to which they will give of themselves to protect another.  Not only are they great examples to us, but they wonderfully foreshadow the full sacrificial love of Jesus for us.  No one gave more for our protection and provision than Jesus; He gave His very life at the cross so that we could be forgiven and live eternally with God.

That said, this is no mere fictional account.  The book of Ruth is not a parable or an allegory to try to teach us spiritual truths about Jesus.  We most definitely do see spiritual truths and illustrations here, but this is a historical account about real people.  These people really did suffer, and they really did both demonstrate and experience the redemptive grace of God.  That’s one of the most beautiful aspects about it.  If THEY could demonstrate the true sacrificial love of God for each other during their worst times, surely we can demonstrate the sacrificial love of God for one another during our time.

Like many other Biblical books, Ruth is anonymous.  It never mentions its author, nor does it give an exact time for its setting and writing.  It does give some general information, and that is enough for us to get the background of the book.

We’re specifically told the setting takes place during the time of the judges (we’re not told which judge), but the writing of the book was certainly during the days of the monarchy.  The final few verses of the book demonstrate the reason for its writing: it was to chronicle the family tree of David.  If we go backwards via the generations listed in David’s genealogy, then it’s possible that the events of Ruth take place in the 12th century BC, during the days of Gideon.  Obviously Gideon (or his son Abimelech) had little to no impact on the story – the events taking place with them happened much further to the north (closer to Galilee than to Bethlehem and Judah).

Who exactly during the monarchy was the person responsible for writing the book is unknown.  Tradition ascribes it to Samuel, though some imply that he could not have done it due to the mention of David.  Of course, this isn’t exactly a problem.  Samuel himself anointed David to be the next king of Israel.  Even though Samuel didn’t live to see David’s coronation, he certainly knew what the plan of God was concerning him.  The argument against Samuel is that David’s mention implies that he was well-known among Israel & not just to the author – but again, David was a national hero long before he was king.  In any case, the author could have been Samuel, or perhaps even Nathan, or some other unknown writer.  We simply do not know.

Of course, it is named for Ruth (one of the main characters), and it is only one of two books of the Bible named after women (Esther being the other).  What makes this particularly interesting is that in Ruth’s case, she was not born a Hebrew, but was a Moabite convert.  The Moabites were off/on enemies of Israel (one of the early judges, Ehud, had delivered Israel from the Moabites), but they shared a similar family history with Israel.  The nation of Moab is one of two nations descended from Lot (the nephew of Abraham).  Lot and his two daughters had escaped the destruction of Sodom (via the miraculous intervention of God), and fearing to enter into another city that may yet be destroyed, Lot & his daughters took refuge in the mountains.  His daughters panicked thinking that they might never go back to civilization, and tricked their father into getting drunk so that he would impregnate them and their lineage could live on.  Thus Moab and Ben-Ammi were born, from whom came the Moabites and Ammonites (Genesis 19).

That’s a pretty sordid story.  Yet it’s out of THAT history that Ruth emerges.  When we think of Ruth, we don’t think of someone like Paul who was a Hebrew of the Hebrews.  Nor do we think of someone with strong ties to the Patriarchs or any other distinguishing Jewish feature.  We think of a Gentile – and not just any Gentile, but a Gentile from a nation born out of incest.  What kind of background is that?!  What can God do with someone like that?  Apparently, quite a lot!  God uses people from the most unlikely of backgrounds to highlight His mercy and salvation.  It’s interesting that all of the women included in Jesus’ personal genealogy had some sort of seedy or questionable background: Tamar had to sleep with her father-in-law to get pregnant (Mt 1:3), Rahab was a Gentile prostitute who came to faith (Mt 1:5), Ruth was a Moabitess, and so forth.  Even Mary was caught up in scandal, simply by virtue of the virgin birth.  It doesn’t matter what our backgrounds are – it doesn’t matter what other people might think about us – technically, it doesn’t even matter what WE think of ourselves…God can do amazing things in seemingly impossible circumstances.  God does amazing things to highlight His grace.

One of the most amazing things ever accomplished by the Lord is that of redemption, and that’s the undergirding theme throughout the entire book of Ruth.  Ruth and her mother-in-law Naomi find themselves in the position of needing to be redeemed, and God raises up a redeemer on their behalf. 

The Hebrew word is ga’al, and (in various forms) is used 22 times throughout the book.  It refers to restoration & reclaiming something.  In the specific context of this story, it refers to the restoration of inheritance, and is based directly out of the law of Moses.  Deuteronomy 25:5–6, "(5) “If brothers dwell together, and one of them dies and has no son, the widow of the dead man shall not be married to a stranger outside the family; her husband’s brother shall go in to her, take her as his wife, and perform the duty of a husband’s brother to her. (6) And it shall be that the firstborn son which she bears will succeed to the name of his dead brother, that his name may not be blotted out of Israel." .

This is the law of levirate marriage.  Remember that the land itself was a gift of God to the various tribes of Israel.  It had been portioned out very carefully among the people, and the book of Joshua went into great detail to show who inherited what.  That land was supposed to be passed down through the generations, from father to son, that the people of God would live on as a perpetual glory to God.  So what happened when the son died & the father had no other children to which to pass the land?  Would it go fallow?  Would it be taken over by foreigners?  Would the name and lineage of the father truly perish?  Levirate marriage was the safeguard against this.  In the worst-case scenario when all hope seemed lost, the brother (or close relative) would come in, marry the widow, and raise up children for the dead brother.  His name would live on, and the land would stay as the inheritance of Israel.

At least, that was what was supposed to happen.  Not everyone followed the law, and not everyone was willing to sacrifice for his brother (as we’ll see in Ch. 4).

This same idea of redemption carries over to the New Testament.  In our sin, we are also dead.  We are the ones who are lost and hopeless, and unless Someone steps into restore us and reclaim us for God, then we face an eternity of death and suffering.  And that is exactly what Jesus did for us by dying on the cross for our sin, and rising again from the dead.  1 Peter 1:18–19, "(18) knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, (19) but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot." .

Jesus paid an immense price for us!  He didn’t give a payment of gold or silver for the title deed over real estate; He shed His own blood so that the price of our sin could be paid.  Jesus IS the redemption for all who have faith in Him.  Without Jesus we are lost; with Jesus we are redeemed!

That’s what the book of Ruth shows the Christian today.  It highlights the sacrificial love of Christ for us as He gave Himself to be our Redeemer.  It truly is a love story, and the greatest love of all is between Christ and the Church.

This is the shortest book we’ve encountered so far in the OT, with only four chapters.  The plot divides fairly easily among the traditional chapter divisions:

  • Hope is Lost (1)
  • Hope is Restored (2)
  • Redemption Promised (3)
  • Redemption Accomplished (4)

The fall and rise of hope is seen through the promise and fulfillment of redemption.  That’s no less true with the characters of Ruth as it is with us.  Our grand hope is in our Grand Redeemer – and there is no better person in which it can be found.

Hope is Lost (1)
The Setting (1:1-5)
It begins like the ending of a classic Shakespeare play: everyone dies.  Everything that could go wrong was going wrong:

There was hopelessness in the nation.  This is seen in two ways:

  • First, the judges were ruling (1:1).  Remember that this was basically the dark ages of the history of Israel.  Judges 21:25 closed out the book of Judges with the summary statement that “there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”  The law of God was actively being ignored – the people of God were living as pagans.  The moral and civil state of the society could hardly have been worse.  Even if these events were concurrent with the judgeship of Gideon, we need to remember that the Hebrews of Gideon’s day were anything but faithful to God.  When Gideon was called by God, his first act was to tear down a pagan altar in the middle of the town square, which almost began a riot (Judges 6:28-30). People were more willing to take a stand for the pagan idol than they were for the Living God who had delivered them out of Egypt and given them the land in which they currently lived.  That’s a pretty sad state of affairs!
  • Second, there was a famine in the land (1:1).  Obviously there were many famines during the history of Israel, but we need to remember the times in which ancient Israel lived.  God had promised them that if they lived according to His covenant, that the land would always be fruitful (Deut 28:4), and that the famines would only come if they were unfaithful and disobedient (Deut 28:18).  Thus because there was a famine among Israel, it emphasized the faithlessness of the people, and how the nation was overridden with sin.

There was hopelessness in the family.  A man of Bethlehem left his inheritance given by God to go dwell in Moab.  Remember that this was the land of milk & honey – the land that was so abundant that the Hebrews would forever remember how God had given them this land as a gift, and the inheritance was to pass on through the future generations.  Now things are so bad due to the sin of the people, that this man was willing to abandon his inheritance from God and go live among the pagans.  He had lost all hope.  There is no small irony that a man from the town called “A house of bread” is in the midst of such a bad famine that he feels that he needs to leave.

  • What do you do when you lose hope?  Sooner or later, all of us are going to find ourselves in a situation that is so tragic that we don’t quite know what to do.  How do you hold on?  DO you hold on?  For many, they feel like a ship tossed at sea, and they’ve got nothing anchoring them to any foundation.  We need to be solidly anchored – and that’s what we have in our Lord Jesus.  As He taught in the Sermon on the Mount, the winds and storms can come, but when our faith is in Him, then He is our anchor; He is the solid rock upon which we can stand.

Pay attention to the names as we go through Ruth – they seem to have special importance.  Again, this is not a parable or allegory, but God does use the names of these historical people to highlight some of their role within the story.

  • Elimelech = “God of the King.”  This name is purely ironic.  Elimelech is a true Hebrew who should have been worshipping God, but his actions indicate the opposite.  Granted, we don’t know his heart, and the Bible doesn’t say much about him at all, but he certainly does not seem to be trusting in the true God of Israel as he flees Israel, abandoning the promises of God.
  • Naomi = “Pleasant.”  This comes up later in Ch. 1 in a specific play on words.  Naomi is well aware of the meaning of her name, and once tragedy befalls her, she feels as if life is anything but pleasant.
  • Mahlon = “Sick;” Chilion = “Consumption / Failing.”  These seem like terrible names to give to our children!  It’s possible that these names were chosen by the author as foreshadowing, rather than their historical names.  Whatever the case, their names are certainly fitting to what takes place.
  • Orpah = “Mane / Neck (stiff-necked).” How this relates to this other daughter-in-law is unknown; perhaps it’s a reference to a bit of stubbornness on her part.  Just a bit of trivia: this was supposed to be Oprah’s name, only it was mispronounced.
  • Ruth = “Friend.”  Truly this is a name that befits the historical Ruth well!  She was a friend to Naomi when all other friends had abandoned her.

Of course the problem is that all the men die.  Elimelech had taken his family to Moab for survival, and they experienced the opposite.  First Elimelech died, and instead of returning to Bethlehem at that time, his sons (and their mother) stay in Moab for another 10 years, having married Moabite women.  They had completely settled there when they died, leaving all three women as childless widows.

The Survivors (1:6-18)
Things are pretty bad for the women, and Naomi hears that the famine is over back home.  She makes preparations to leave, and tells her two daughters-in-law to go home to their families.  There was no way for Naomi to provide another child to give to either of them a levirate marriage (besides, there would be a generation’s gap between them!), and Naomi didn’t see any other option.

  • It’s difficult to fault Naomi in this.  After all, what else could she do?  She could either starve among the people of Moab, or go back home to Israel & perhaps starve there.  At least in Israel she would have access to the benevolence in the law of Moses (as long as people were following it).  Naomi may show herself to have lost hope, but it seems that she never truly abandoned her faith in God.

Two daughters-in-law; two responses.  They both initially refused to leave Naomi & wept with her, but it didn’t stay that way.  Orpah left Naomi (presumably to go back to her family), but Ruth remained.  No matter what Naomi said to her, Ruth refused to leave her side & spoke some of the deepest words of personal commitment found in the pages of Scripture: Ruth 1:16–17, "(16) But Ruth said: “Entreat me not to leave you, Or to turn back from following after 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. (17) 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.”" .

  • These words are often quoted in wedding ceremonies, but notice this is not the love between a husband and wife, but between a daughter and her mother-in-law.  Whatever the relationship was between Ruth and Naomi, it was deep – and Ruth could not bear to be parted from her.  She was willing to give up her home, her security, her background, even her religion to be with Naomi.  She already expressed faith in the one true God as she committed herself to Naomi for life.
  • It may not have been spoken between a husband and wife, but it certainly is a good measure of commitment between husband & wife!  That “two become one flesh” is far more than a statement of physical intimacy, but it is something that takes place on a spiritual level.  They become one person, fully committed to one another for life.  When that sort of commitment is made, with the Lord at its center, it is a beautiful thing!
  • Notice one more thing Ruth does here in regards to her faith: she burns her bridges to the past.  By committing herself to Naomi (and specifically to Naomi’s God), she cuts herself completely off from any pagan religion she had in the past.  She placed herself under the hand and discipline of Almighty God for the possibility of turning back…that was something that just wasn’t going to happen.
    • When we come to faith in Christ, it’s a full 100% commitment.  To follow Jesus as our Lord isn’t to keep the door cracked to something else.  Jesus said that we cannot serve two masters; it’s impossible to do so.  Yet that is exactly what so many people attempt to do.  Burn your bridges to the past.  Make a full commitment to Jesus & follow Him alone!

The Sadness (1:19-22)
The two women return, and though over a decade has passed, the people of Bethlehem recognize Naomi, though they can hardly believe that it’s her.  But the person they remembered was gone.  Naomi had no more “pleasantness” in her heart; it was filled with bitterness instead & she attempted to take a new name to herself (“Mara”) to reflect it.  She blamed God for her affliction, and was prepared to settle in her discontent.

  • It brings up a good question: could God have stopped the death of her husband and sons?  Yes.  Why didn’t He?  We can’t say.  Knowing the rest of the story, we know how God ultimately used this tragedy in Naomi’s life: He brought forth David & eventually the Lord Jesus.  What started in deep bitterness ended in tremendous glory!  Yet at the time for Naomi, she had no way of knowing this & all she experienced was mournful bitter sadness.
  • This is one area in which faith becomes so important.  We don’t know why God allows certain things & not others.  We do know that God is sovereign & whatever He wants to do, He will see done.  Sometimes that matches up with our desires; other times it doesn’t.  What do we do with it all?  Trust the God who knows us and loves us.  Trust that God is indeed powerful enough to take all things and use them for His good and His glory.  Far better to trust God with unanswered questions than to grow bitter and angry at Him for not answering the way we want Him to.

Hope is Restored (2)
Enter the Redeemer (2:1-18)
Another character introduced: Boaz.  It’s uncertain what his name means, though it likely has something to do with strength.  One of the pillars of Solomon’s temple was later named “boaz.”   Who was he?  He himself was a strong pillar of a man: Ruth 2:1, "(1) There was a relative of Naomi’s husband, a man of great wealth, of the family of Elimelech. His name was Boaz." .  He was not an immediate brother of Elimelech (which would have definitely fallen under the levirate laws), but he was a family member of some sort.  And he was a family member with “great wealth.”  Quite the contrast with these two widow-women!  They were destitute, unable to use the former lands of her husband.  They would be living off the barest resources and mercies of others.  Boaz, on the other hand, was a wealthy well-respected member of the community with fields and servants a-plenty.  If anyone could potentially help these two women, Boaz could.

In order to eat, Ruth and Naomi would have to glean from the fields.  This was basically the ancient Hebrew form of food-stamps: Leviticus 19:9–10, "(9) ‘When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not wholly reap the corners of your field, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest. (10) And you shall not glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather every grape of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger: I am the Lord your God." .  The landowner would harvest the fields for himself, but he wasn’t supposed to do so careful a job that every single bit of fruit or grain was plucked.  Some of it was supposed to be left behind for the poor to come and get some food for themselves.  (There’s an interesting difference here between the Biblical practice of gleaning & many modern ideas of welfare.  The landowners weren’t commanded to pick the fields for the poor; they were just to leave some fruit behind.  The poor had the responsibility to come in and pick their own food for themselves.  Benevolence did not absolve anyone of personal responsibility.)

This was the practice that Ruth was to engage in if she and Naomi were to eat (presuming that Naomi was too old to glean for herself).  She asked Naomi for permission to go, and she did.  Although Ruth had no idea, she was guided by God to a very specific field to glean: the field of Boaz. 

  • Just in this we see the supernatural sovereign hand of God!  Ruth was a stranger to the town & virtual stranger to Naomi’s family.  She didn’t have a clue who was related to whom.  All she knew is that she needed to work to bring home food for her and Naomi to eat that night, and this was the way she was allowed to do it.  She was faithful with what she knew; God did the rest.  God took her to precisely the right field at the right time in the right way that would ensure her provision was cared for not just that night, but the rest of her life.
  • Again, we may not understand everything God is doing in our lives, but we can be faithful with the things we have in front of us.  Be faithful with what you know; leave the rest to God.  He is more than capable of working things out for His glory!

The long and the short of it is that Boaz sees Ruth in the field, learns who she is from his servants, and commands his servants to both protect her and to provide for her.  He ensures that no one will bother her while she’s working, and gives her the freedom to drink water that his servants have already drawn from the well. 

Why did he do it?  Because he knew the compassion and commitment that Ruth had shown Naomi, and he understood how God was glorified by it all.  Ruth 2:11–12, "(11) 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. (12) 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.”" .  Ruth had come to faith in God, and had come under the protection of God.  This Moabitess acted more like a true Hebrew than many others in Israel, and that was something that Boaz knew was worthy of praise.

  • People will take notice of the way we deal with tragedy.  Some of the greatest witnessing in your life might be done when you haven’t spoken a word.  When our faith is put into action, it speaks volumes. (Just as it does with inaction)

In addition to everything else Boaz had already provided for Ruth, he also invited her to dinner, take home the leftovers, and commanded his servants to leave even more barley behind for Ruth to glean.  He was abundantly generous with her, overflowing her with grace and mercy.  (Not unlike how God is with us!)

Recognizing the Hand of God (2:19-23)
When Ruth gets home that night, Naomi immediately sees what has happened.  Ruth had brought home around 26 quarts of barley grain (not to mention the dinner leftovers) – far more than what could have been expected from a “normal” day of gleaning!  She quizzed Ruth on the landowner, and upon learning it was Boaz, she erupted into praise! Ruth 2:20, "(20) Then Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “Blessed be he of the Lord, who has not forsaken His kindness to the living and the dead!” And Naomi said to her, “This man is a relation of ours, one of our close relatives.”" .

  • Quite the contrast to Naomi’s earlier expression of bitterness!  She had felt afflicted by the Lord, but now realized that God had not forgotten her at all.  God had been providing in ways she could not have imagined, and she couldn’t help but giving praise to God.
  • We can’t see everything God is doing, but we can always trust that He IS working.  Trust Him in the midst of your circumstances, and praise Him for the provision you haven’t yet seen.

Notice that Naomi recognized Boaz as being “a relation…a close relative.”  Already she is seeing the provision of God that perhaps Ruth does not recognize.  Naomi is looking beyond the 26 quarts of grain to the possibility of levirate marriage and redemption.  She sees the potential of a redeemer on the horizon, and her hope is born once more.  Naomi tells Ruth to stay in the fields of Boaz throughout the barley and wheat harvest & see what will happen.

Redemption Promised (3)
The Matchmaking Mother-in-Law (3:1-5)
Time has passed, and the barley season has come to an end, and the winnowing has begun (when the grain is separated from the chaff).  There would be no more gleaning for a while, and Naomi believes the time is right to take the next step.  Due to their closeness with Boaz’s harvest, Naomi knew when Boaz would take his turn to guard the winnowed barley (keeping animals away at night), and Naomi hatches a plan.  She tells Ruth to get cleaned up and perfumed, and dress in her very best & go to Boaz once he settled down after dinner.  He would take things from there.

The practice sounds a bit unusual to our ears, but this would be an acceptable way for Ruth to present herself to Boaz as being available for marriage.  Ruth would no longer be in the garments of mourning, and she would present herself at Boaz’s feet, as a sign that she wanted to come under his protection.  Some have tried to imagine something unsavory here, but everything that is described was culturally considered chaste and honorable.

The Redeemer’s Commitment (3:6-15)
Boaz discovers Ruth, just according to Naomi’s instructions, and understands completely what it is Ruth is asking him to do.  He has a desire to be the kinsman-redeemer for her (completing the act of levirate marriage), but he also knows things need to be done in their proper fashion.  There was another relative that was closer to Elimelech than Boaz, and that other relative needed to be given the first opportunity.  Yet Boaz swore to see Ruth redeemed in marriage, be it through the other relative or himself.

He once more gave her a gift of food (perhaps 80 pounds worth of barley!) as a sign of his commitment to provide for both her and her mother-in-law, and sent her home in secret in order that the other relative could be approached without any bias.

Faith in the Promise (3:16-18)
Upon Ruth’s return, Naomi sees the gift of food and knows that the matter is settled.  She has faith that Boaz is going to be true to his word: Ruth 3:18, "(18) Then she said, “Sit still, my daughter, until you know how the matter will turn out; for the man will not rest until he has concluded the matter this day.”" .

  • What is so wonderful about this statement is how it parallels with the work of our Savior.  Though Ruth was not yet redeemed, she could rest in peace as though she already were…Boaz would see the work done by the end of the day.  The work for OUR redemption has already been accomplished.  That work was finished the moment Jesus gave His last breath upon the cross, and it was confirmed when He rose from the dead three days later.  We’ve placed our faith and trust in Christ, and we’ve been saved!  Yet we still live here – we still struggle with our own flesh and temptation – we still have our own trials and hardships.  We know that one day we will see Jesus & we will be delivered from the things of this life, but what do we do in the meantime?  Rest!  Though we are not yet physically with Jesus, we can rest in His grace as though we already are.  God will complete the work He has begun in us (Phil 1:6) – we never need doubt the final outcome of our faith.  God is good to His word & He will conclude the matter!

Redemption Accomplished (4)
The Public Redemption (4:1-12)
Another character is introduced, but notice he has no name.  He is referred to as “the close relative,” and Boaz calls him, “friend,” but it is striking that for all of the other names in the book, this one very important character is anonymous.  “Friend” could be translated “So & so, such & such” – there seems to be a deliberate attempt from the author NOT to name him.  His name is not worthy to be mentioned.  The name and inheritance of Elimilech, Boaz, Naomi, and Ruth would live on through this single act of redemption, but the name of the man who refused to follow the Lord’s direction is lost from history.

Boaz had approached the man publicly and respectfully.  In front of the elders, Boaz presented the case for Elimelech’s inheritance to be redeemed.  Mr. “So & So” was interested in acquiring the land, but not so interested in acquiring another wife and an additional mother-in-law.  He was unwilling to follow through on the duties of levirate marriage, and publicly waved his right, giving it over to Boaz.  Boaz then made the redemption transaction in the full view of all the townspeople, and committed himself to perpetuating the inheritance and name of Elimelech, according to the law, and thus taking Ruth as his own wife.

What was the response of the people?  Joy & blessing!  Their wish was for Boaz and Ruth to be prosperous and numerous, like Rachel and Leah bringing forth the children of Israel.

  • It was an act worthy of giving praise to God, so that’s what people did.  That’s exactly what our actions ought to cause people to do.  Our lights are supposed to so shine before men, that they would see our good works and glorify our heavenly Father (Mt 5:16).  Let all that we do, be done for the glory of God!

Hope is restored (4:13-17)
The hope that had been reborn as a glimmer in Naomi came into full bloom.  When Naomi had first returned to Bethlehem, she had told the women to call her “Mara” (bitterness) because God had afflicted her.  Now everything changed, and these same women recognized it. Ruth 4:14–15, "(14) Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without a close relative; and may his name be famous in Israel! (15) And may he be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age; for your daughter-in-law, who loves you, who is better to you than seven sons, has borne him.”" .  Had God afflicted Naomi?  No!  To be sure, He had allowed her to go through some tragic heartache, but God had not abandoned her.  God had provided a redeemer for Naomi, and God’s hand had been in this since Naomi first acquired Ruth as a daughter-in-law.  If it had not been for Ruth, there would have been no hope for Naomi – God had laid the seeds for Naomi’s redemption long before Naomi could have ever have fathomed there would be a need.

When did God lay the seeds for our redemption?  Long before we can imagine!  We quoted 1 Peter in regards to our redemption earlier: 1 Peter 1:18–19, "(18) knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, (19) but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot."  Obviously the text doesn’t end there.  It goes on… 1 Peter 1:20–21, "(20) He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you (21) who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God." .  The seeds for our redemption were placed before the very creation of the world!  Think of it this way: before Adam sinned, Jesus saved.  Before the sin of Adam created a need for redemption, the redemptive work of Christ was already planned out by God.  It was finally revealed when Jesus went to the cross, but it had been the plan of God all along.  God’s plan was always to extend His salvation to you & me, that we might be redeemed to His own glory.

Genealogy of the King (4:18-22)
Although this is a bit of an appendix to the story, this really seems to have been the primary purpose of the book in the 1st place.  Whoever the writer was, he desired to give an account for David’s genealogy, which turned out to show that an act of redemption was not only made for Naomi and Ruth, but the seeds were laid for a far greater act of redemption for the nation of Israel.  No longer would there be the days of the judges, in which every man did what was right in his own eyes; there would be a king – one that would follow after God’s own heart.

Ultimately, this all leads to a far better Redeemer…the Greater-than-Boaz & Greater-than-David: the Lord Jesus Christ.  He has redeemed us, not just from hopelessness, but from death itself.  We had nothing without Christ, but now we have everything IN Christ.  He has blessed us with every spiritual blessing (Eph 1:3), and we have an eternal spiritual inheritance in Him.  All of it comes through His sacrificial love and all-sufficient redemption.

We can praise God for Ruth’s loving commitment and sacrifice for Naomi – we can praise God for Boaz’s loving commitment and sacrifice for Ruth – but most of all, we praise God for Jesus’ loving commitment and sacrifice for us.  He has redeemed us from the grave, and there can never be enough praise in return!

Are you resting in His grace?  Are you trusting in His sovereignty?  He is totally in control, and He will see us through until the end…until the very moment that we finally understand the fullness of our redemption.


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