July 3, 2022
Naomi and Ruth
Weaving the Story of Redemptive Love
Sunday, July 3, 2022
This week some of our family went up to Park Falls-the boys for 5 days and I went for just a couple of days. We stayed at a cabin right on the lake. Jon and I got up early to try to see the sunrise. The first day it was pretty in a subdued perspective. There were some clouds so we couldn’t get the full effect of the colors as it was rising-but it was peaceful and beautiful. The next day we got up and the entire lake was covered in fog. You couldn’t see anything. It was so thick you wouldn’t even know the lake was there. So we went back to bed because it was still dark out. I got up a bit later hoping it would be better. It was lighter out and the fog was still there. I could see a bit of the sun through the fog-just a dim light coming through the thick fog.
At first, I was disappointed but then the Spirit had me ponder what was true. Just because I couldn’t see the lake or all the houses and boats on the other side, doesn’t mean they weren’t there. Just because the sun wasn’t shining brightly through the fog, doesn’t mean it wasn’t shining yet. As I went back down later the fog began to burn off and by late morning it was clear and I could see fully once again. The sun that was the same a couple of hours earlier was shining brightly and causing a beautiful reflection of light on the water.
This is the same truth with our dependence on God and trusting Him in all seasons. We will have times in our life when everything is covered in a thick fog and we can’t see what we once did. It will cause confusion, and distortion, and maybe even create fear, but we have to remember just because we can’t see clearly, doesn’t mean God isn’t there or isn’t at work for our good. The Son, Jesus Christ, is always shining, we might just have to walk by faith and not by sight, and trust God is right there. His Word tells us now we see in part, a poor reflection in a mirror, then we shall see face to face. Now we know in part, then we shall know fully. These three remain faith, hope, and love. (1 Cor. 13) Those are never gone from us-we have to remember this truth when life brings a heavy fog.
This weekend we celebrate our independence as a country, I want to have us remember what that independence from other nations was founded on- our dependence on God and walking with Him. “One nation under God, indivisible…” We are being tested in this in countless ways and we have to hold firm to what we believe and be faithful to God-trusting He is there among us and working for the good of this nation as we follow Him-just as He always has been for the nation that follows Him. It may not look like it at times; we might only see thick fog, but we have to look for the Son that is ever shining. He is our ever-present help in times of trouble.
God uses everything to weave His redemptive love into the fabric of our lives. We are called to remain faithful and trust He is sovereign and good; His plans are for good and so we rely on our faith to carry us when we can’t see.
We’re going to look at a story of a family who knew and believed in God. Hard times hit and they had choices to make. We’ll look at their choices and the outcome of those choices, and then watch how God weaves His redemptive love throughout their tapestry to create a beautiful ending far greater than they could imagine.
Ruth 1: 1-11, 14 NIV
In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land. So a man from Bethlehem in Judah, together with his wife and two sons, went to live for a while in the country of Moab. 2 The man’s name was Elimelek, his wife’s name was Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Kilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem, Judah. And they went to Moab and lived there. 3 Now Elimelek, Naomi’s husband, died, and she was left with her two sons. 4 They married Moabite women, one named Orpah and the other Ruth. After they had lived there about ten years, 5 both Mahlon and Kilion also died, and Naomi was left without her two sons and her husband. 6 When Naomi heard in Moab that the Lord had come to the aid of his people by providing food for them, she and her daughters-in-law prepared to return home from there. 7 With her two daughters-in-law she left the place where she had been living and set out on the road that would take them back to the land of Judah. 8 Then Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go back, each of you, to your mother’s home. May the Lord show you kindness, as you have shown kindness to your dead husbands and to me. 9 May the Lord grant that each of you will find rest in the home of another husband.” Then she kissed them goodbye and they wept aloud 10 and said to her, “We will go back with you to your people.” 11 But Naomi said, “Return home, my daughters. Why would you come with me? Am I going to have any more sons, who could become your husbands?
14 At this they wept aloud again. Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye, but Ruth clung to her.
- Living Outside God’s Favor
What do we see at the start of this story and accounting in biblical history?
There was a family from the tribe of Judah, followers of God, knowing the Law handed down to their ancestors through Moses-leaving their homeland and going into a foreign country filled with people who worshipped pagan gods.
In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land. So a man from Bethlehem in Judah, together with his wife and two sons, went to live for a while in the country of Moab.
We might say well it was a desperate time; his homeland was experiencing a famine-he had to leave. But did he? Do we know he had to leave? Or did he panic and determine in his own reasoning what was best for him and his family? We don’t see any recording of him praying to seek wisdom and affirmation from God, we don’t see him talking with his spiritual advisors, or the priests to determine if this was God telling him to go or if he should stay and have faith in God would provide. That all might have happened, but none of that was recorded and the fact that he chose Moab of all places to go to instead of another land that was part of his Hebrew people, part of the land promised to them, leads one to suspect this was not a directive from God.
Let’s look back to what God did say, that this family would have known having been raised in the Hebrew faith and culture.
Deuteronomy 7: 3-4 3 Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, 4 for they will turn your children away from following me to serve other gods, and the Lord’s anger will burn against you and will quickly destroy you.
God went on to say: 6 For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.
Because of this, He says:
Deuteronomy 7:9 9 Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.
He promises to His chosen people
Deuteronomy 7:12-13 12 If you pay attention to these laws and are careful to follow them, then the Lord your God will keep his covenant of love with you, as he swore to your ancestors. 13 He will love you and bless you and increase your numbers. He will bless the fruit of your womb, the crops of your land—your grain, new wine and olive oil—the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks in the land he swore to your ancestors to give you.
Elimelek did not pay attention to the laws and his choices had him and his family living outside of God’s favor.
We do this also in our lives. God has spoken His promises over all who believe in Jesus and follow Him. His promises are the same for us as they were for Elimelek-His favor, protection and abundant blessing is upon us for He is faithful, as we remain true to Him.
Crisis comes, disaster is knocking on our door and we panic. We throw all those promises out the window and we go into survival mode. We forget our greatest survival mode is staying faithful to God-for under His wings is where we are protected.
So there was a famine-definitely hard times upon the people of God. But we don’t read that everyone was wiped out and destroyed by this famine. We don’t read the entire nation was called to leave and migrate elsewhere.
We do read in this accounting that Naomi got word that the Lord had come to the aid of his people by providing food for them-because this is what our faithful God does…He comes to the aid of His people. He sustains them and rescues them from certain disaster. He restores them.
So Naomi determines she must go back to be among her people since she is now alone without her husband or sons to care for her. She is older by this time and will be at the mercy of her extended family to show kindness to her. She returned empty and bitter for how she felt the Lord had dealt her. Her view was skewed looking at all her sadness and loss as something God did to her. The truth was her family walked out from under the protection and favor of God. They left and that means as life hits us, the divine protection is not there as a covering, the divine blessings and favor for all to be well do not go before us-when we go into business for ourselves.
Ruth on the other hand, who also experienced great loss in the death of her husband, a father-in-law and brother-in-law and now separation from her sister-in-law, chose a different view. She chose one of hope in a God she wanted to know more.
- From Bitter to Hopeful
Ruth 1: 20-21 20 “Don’t call me Naomi,” she told them. “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. 21 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.”.
This is a very dark place to live and steals all our joy when we place blame on God for all our sorrows and difficulties. This attitude puts a wall between us and God, and more importantly His love that heals and sustains. It puts a barrier over our eyes to see what is truth and to gain divine perspective in our situations.
Ruth who was not of the Israelites but clearly learned about their God through their teachings and example, chose to repent from any worship she did of other gods and chose to surrender her heart to the Living God, putting all hope in Him. She believed as long as she was faithful to Him, He would make a way for them and whatever that life would be, is what she wanted more than turning back to her old life without God. This right here is the revealing of what Jesus is doing in our hearts, drawing us unto Himself that we might turn from our ways apart from Him, surrender our hearts and trust whatever the path is, it will be better with Him then without Him.
Ruth 1: 16-17 16 But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.”
This is God revealing His plan of salvation is for ALL people who receive Him as their God. His mercies extend to all who believe in Him.
Ruth’s faith and humble surrender moved God’s heart. Our humble surrender will ALWAYS move God’s heart. A contrite heart He desires.
He had a plan in motion to rescue these women from utter despair, to redeem them among their people and with Him once more, and to restore all that had been lost. There was a relative to Elimelek still living in Bethlehem who could be a kinsman redeemer. In those days, if a man died and did not have a son before he passed, his brother or the next closest relative was to take the widowed woman as their wife and the first born son would be named in honor of the man who passed so his name would not be forgotten. This too would ensure the widow was taken care of and provided for.
Boaz was this man. He was wealthy and had fields with workers in them. There was also a rule set by God that as they gathered crops, they were to leave a portion of the edges untouched so the needy and any foreigners might come through and glean from the edges. They were to share what they had with those in need. It was a known custom. It’s almost like God had a plan all along to help the poor and needy and to show kindness and hospitality to foreigners. This is why we read His Word to learn of these truths that have been set from the beginning in how we care for one another.
Ruth was going to do this to gather grain for her and Naomi. Guess who’s field she happened upon… Boaz.
Guess who takes notice of her after she had been working in the field all day? Boaz. Word had traveled around the community about what Ruth did for Naomi and her willingness to follow God and become part of Naomi’s people. This impressed Boaz regarding Ruth’s character and he made a point to talk to her.
Ruth 2: 11-12 11 Boaz replied, “I’ve been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband—how you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before. 12 May the Lord repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.”
At this point, Boaz didn’t know he was going to be part of God’s plan for blessing and rewarding Ruth- by marrying her. But God works all things for the good of those who love Him and His plan of redemption was in motion and would not be stopped.
- Rescued, Redeemed, Restored
Naomi saw the kindness Boaz showed Ruth by letting her glean from his fields, by speaking blessing over her and making sure she was safe and not harmed by other men. Naomi had hope emerge again.
Ruth 2:20 20 “The Lord bless him!” Naomi said to her daughter-in-law. “He has not stopped showing his kindness to the living and the dead.” She added, “That man is our close relative; he is one of our guardian-redeemers.
She guides Ruth in what she should do to make it known Ruth would be willing to marry Boaz if he would have her. Ruth did everything Naomi said and humbly made her request. Boaz was honored she might seek him for a husband above other younger men. He knew the custom and he wanted to do right by Ruth the widow, and Naomi.
Ruth 3:11 11 And now, my daughter, don’t be afraid. I will do for you all you ask. All the people of my town know that you are a woman of noble character.
He was a man of honor and integrity and knew there was another relative who was closer in relation who would have first rights to purchase the land that had belonged to Elemilek and then also marry Ruth-but the man declined, which then allowed Boaz the right to take Ruth in marriage.
This is all pretty incredible because of her nationality, most if not all the Israelites could have shunned her or not wanted to marry her, BUT God works all things for the good. He saw the repentant humble heart of Ruth who turned towards Him, and He made a way for her to be redeemed and justified before Him.
Ruth 4: 13-14 13 So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. When he made love to her, the Lord enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son. 14 The women said to Naomi: “Praise be to the Lord, who this day has not left you without a guardian-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel!
15 He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth.”
God took care of both Naomi and Ruth and provided abundantly for them, restoring joy that had been lost and eternal hope again. This is what Jesus does for us as we turn our hearts to Him. He redeems us from the surefire path to death and gives us eternal life in Him. He fills us with joy unspeakable-that even amid hard times we can remain joyful. Not because things are easy or going our way, but because we know Him and because we have victory over every hardship in Him! We have eternal hope where we might have been hopeless or living with false hope in things that do not last. He seeks us out of the darkness, He pursues to the depths we have run to and lovingly weaves all things, even our choices that were not done in faith, for our good and the good of those around us. He makes beauty from the ashes of our life as we turn towards Him and put our trust in Him.
Now what we need to know here to really understand the impact of God’s redemptive love is who He uses in this part of our history-who He divinely weaves into this story of His love, mercy and grace. Boaz is the son of Rahab-who was living as a prostitute and helped hide the Israelites as they were checking out who they would have to battle to take hold of the land promised to them. Rahab honored God as the One True God, helped His people and God spared her life and gave her a son to be part of His people as she followed God. Ruth the Moabite married that son Boaz, and they had a son, Obed. Obed was the father of Jesse who was the father of King David….who is from the lineage Jesus Christ was born through.
“May he become famous throughout Israel!” He certainly did and as did his offspring-to the coming of our Messiah!
THIS is who our God is. THIS Is what He does in our lives. THIS is the good He brings about as we turn to Him and put our hope in Him.
Conclusion: God’s redemptive love is at work to bring good from every situation and glory to His great name! May we like Ruth, cling to God and trust in His promises, even in our darkest days. May we walk by faith and what we know to be true, especially when we can’t see. He is faithful to rescue, redeem and restore.
Let’s pray. Father God we thank You for Your redemptive love that draws us out of darkness into Your glorious light. We thank You that You are always at work for good, even when we can’t see it, You are there among us. Help us Lord to have faith like Ruth and believe You are for us even when it seems like all odds are against us. Help us to walk by faith and what we know to be true in Your Word vs. what we see or don’t see happening in our lives. Help us to trust You Lord and remain faithful to Your ways, for You alone are God, and we are not.
Thank You Lord, for GREAT is Your faithfulness. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Let us give thanks and remember what our Savior and Redeemer has done for us, that we might be justified before our holy God, that we might come boldly to the throne of grace and have confident expectation that our God not only hears us, because He sees the righteousness of His Son covering us, that He responds to our prayers, working all things for the good of those who love Him. That we don’t have to fear death or any great trials we endure in this life because we know our life does not end here; we have eternal life with Him in paradise. We have this promise as our hope and anchor to cling to. Let us remember His words and let them purify our hearts this morning.
Luke 22: 15-20 15 And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.” 17 After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. 18 For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”
19 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 20 In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.
Oh what a Savior we have. He is our kinsman redeemer just as Boaz was for Naomi and Ruth. He rescues us from the clutches of darkness and death, takes our sin away and makes us pure as fresh fallen snow before our God-that we do not live in shame or guilt, but in the fullness of life as He intends for us.
Final Blessing: Numbers 6: 24-26 24 The Lord bless you and keep you; 25 the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; 26 the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.