Story, Wk. 9 11/06/16—Highland—Meute
The Story: “The Faith of a Foreign Woman”
The Story, Chapter 9
Ruth 1: 6-18; Titus 2: 11-14; Luke 20: 27-38
Pearl: Our God is a Redeemer!
Function: To promote the goodness of God who is ready to redeem people especially those who are in distress from the challenges of life as well as the distress of the current Presidential Election (Sunday before Election Day).
Previously in The Story you learned of the Judges (leaders/deliverers) who the Lord raised up to bring the Israelites out from oppression and misery at the hands of the neighboring nations. One of those nations oppressing Israel was Moab.
Today The Story advances through a family. The head of this family was a man named Elimelech. He had a wife named Naomi. They had two sons: Mahlon and Kilion. There was famine in the land of Bethlehem where they lived so Elimelech relocated his family to the dreaded land of Moab.
1. It appears that the Lord used a famine to accomplish his purposes. God transforms bad things into good things.
2. Away from home in a foreign land disaster struck and Elimelech died in the land of Moab.
Then disaster struck again for the family. After living in the land for ten years, both of the sons died. Naomi, Orpah, and Ruth, all three found themselves to be widows. Being a widow in the ancient world, was a very dangerous position to be in. Husbands were the security of women. Sons were the security of mothers.
So, Naomi and one of her daughters-in-law returned to Bethlehem. Upon being greeted by old friends Naomi quickly told them that all was not well!
1. She lamented her terrible predicament making a direct charge to the Lord that he had brought upon her this entire desperate plight.
a. She said, “The Lord has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me…
b. She said further, “I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty.”
2. Naomi was in a stressful, vulnerable, and anxious predicament. Her world had imploded. And she was lamenting it before those who knew her and ultimately to her God.
3. Naomi was not displaying a lack of faith. Actually, she was displaying such a close relationship to God that she protested directly to him in her distress.
In God’s Upper Story he was laying the groundwork of her provision.
1. As a caring mother-in-law, Naomi, told the wives of her deceased sons that they should remain in the land of their birth and find Moabite husbands. This was good advice. It was caring advice. It was the logical thing for them to do. Orpah followed her advice.
2. Not Ruth. Ruth insisted that she would not forsake her husband’s mother. She then said those words of extreme dedication that are often quoted in wedding ceremonies to this day: “Where you go, I will go; your people will be my people; your God will be my God.”
a. Ruth is fascinating! She did not take on faith in God due to her knowledge of God? It appears that her human devotion to Naomi was so great that she would have worshipped whatever God Naomi worshipped. This demonstrates the power of a good witness!
b. Equally fascinating was that God accepted Ruth. This was not expected due to God’s appeal for purity of Israelite relationships. Not only did God accept Ruth but Ruth is in the lineage of our Lord Jesus himself.
c. Even in the time of the Judges God’s Upper Story showed the concern of God for all peoples and the beginning of a great overarching inclusion in human history reaching toward the great Day of Pentecost when God’s Holy Spirit spoke in all of the tongues of the diverse peoples who had made pilgrimage to Jerusalem and it became evident that God loved everyone with equal passion.
So, Naomi and Ruth would try to survive in Bethlehem. Naomi took it on herself to try to position Ruth to be noticed by a certain Israelite man, Boaz, a relative, and a landowner. Naomi sent Ruth to glean in his fields. Boaz noticed Ruth and asked around about her. When he heard her story, he was very impressed with her and he told her she could glean in his fields and he made sure that his own workforce welcomed her. Boaz even declared a blessing from God upon her (2.12).
“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?”
Since things went so well Naomi then told her to go to him at night and to lie at the foot of his bed. When Boaz found her lying next to him he was moved by her interest in him and he told her she should stay the night. The next day he planned to see what he could do for her. So, he began to look into fulfilling the Law of Levirate Marriage. He went to the next of kin of Elimelech as it was his right to purchase the estate of Elimelech if he desired. This kinsman-redeemer decided that he would purchase the estate but when he found out that a Moabite foreign woman came along with it, he decided to pass. Boaz was next in line to be the kinsman-redeemer and he then purchased the estate and made Ruth his wife.
Boaz acted as a Kinsman-Redeemer! It was a dramatically gracious thing for him to do. And it was a dramatically good thing for him to do! He saw the plight of these women, Naomi and Ruth, and he acted to save them. Ruth, a foreign woman, a foreign woman who was a widow, found acceptance by Israelites and by Israel’s God.
1. Boaz acted in a God-like fashion. Boaz knowingly bought Elimelech’s estate and took Ruth as a wife. This meant that if they bore a son, (and she did) the son would inherit the estate thus perpetuating the name of Elimelech. Boaz took pity upon Ruth and Naomi in their precarious state and provided for them. Boaz lost much more than he gained in this arrangement. It was a profoundly generous and gracious action on the part of Boaz.
2. God acts as a kinsman-redeemer for his people. We refer to God as a Redeemer. Jesus Christ is the Redeemer.
3. Christ redeems people from sin. Christ is redeeming all things!
Naomi and Ruth returned to Bethlehem with fear and distress and great anxiety. They did not know how things could work out for them. With Election Day only two days away we in the U.S.A. are experiencing some level of fear, anxiety, and even despair.
1. But because you worship and serve the risen, reigning Lord Jesus Christ you can believe that he can and will redeem our national situation.
2. He will do it through his people who are empowered by God’s Holy Spirit. Just like Boaz acted in the way of God. God’s people today can and are being called to redeem the national psyche and life itself.
3. Jesus said, “God is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.”
a. So, God is not the God of anxiety, but of confidence.
b. God is not the God of confusion, but of order.
c. God is not the God of division but of unity.
d. God is not a God of abuse but of compassion for all.
e. God is not a God of lies but of truth.
f. God is not a God of despair but of hope.
God’s people do not put their faith and confidence in any elected leader. We all have strong feelings and desires about this current election. Just don’t put your hope in the results! Don’t put your hope in the winner.
Put your hope in the only One who can redeem anything: Jesus the Christ.
God redeemed two desperate lives by inspiring Boaz. God continues to redeem the heavens and the earth through the risen, reigning Christ. And he does it by inspiring you and me, his Church.
It is time for the Church to lead the way in the Way of God, the Way of Christ! More than ever right now the Church of Jesus Christ is called to champion confidence, order, unity, compassion, truthfulness, hopefulness, self-control, and patience.
Desperate and anxious times are perfect times for the Spirit of the Lord to point to the One who is the Way, and the Truth, and the Life: Jesus Christ, the true Lord and Leader, the true Authority who is Almighty over all!