thoughts

Ruth: God’s Providence

So she set out and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers, and she happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the clan of Elimelech. (Ruth 2:3 ESV)

And her mother-in-law said to her, “Where did you glean today? And where have you worked? Blessed be the man who took notice of you.” So she told her mother-in-law with whom she had worked and said, “The man’s name with whom I worked today is Boaz.” And Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “May he be blessed by the LORD, whose kindness has not forsaken the living or the dead!” Naomi also said to her, “The man is a close relative of ours, one of our redeemers.” (Ruth 2:19-20 ESV)

The writer of Ruth sets the scene in Ruth 2:3 of a very coincidental experience for Ruth. By happenstance she came to the part of the field that just happened to belong to Boaz, who just happened to be of the clan of Elimelech, who happened to be her father-in-law. So just a few coincidences strung together. The writer leaves it as this and allows us to create our own conclusions of the events in Ruth 2.

What we see is God’s providence, his control over everything and how everything works together as he would have it. God placed Ruth in that field, it wasn’t by happenstance that she was in the field belonging to Boaz. God had plans for Ruth and for Boaz and it started by placing her into Boaz’s field. Often times we don’t see God’s plan and we most definitely don’t understand it but we can trust that He knows what He is doing. Imagine being in Ruth’s shoes; you marry a guy with a cool name, his dad dies, then he dies and his brother dies. So it’s you, your sister-in-law and your mother-in-law. Your mother-in-law is heading back to her hometown, and she has told you about her God and you have adopted her God as your God; but she tells you to go back to your family, back to your gods, back to your comfort zone, back to a place where you will be well taken care of. If you follow Naomi you’ll be broke, have nothing and have to work to get by, plus you will have to take care of your mother-in-law. Recall Luke 14 when it talks about counting the cost; you have to imagine Ruth thought about these things. She gave up a lot to follow Naomi and her God.

So Ruth puts her head down and gets to work in the field to provide for her mother-in-law and herself; but God has a bigger better plan for her. He places her in one of the fields of Boaz, who just happened to be one of their redeemers. God has control over everything and he has plans for his people, even Ruth the Moabite.

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Ruth: Gleaning

Now Naomi had a relative of her husband’s, a worthy man of the clan of Elimelech, whose name was Boaz. And Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain after him in whose sight I shall find favor.” And she said to her, “Go, my daughter.” So she set out and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers, and she happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the clan of Elimelech. (Ruth 2:1-3, ESV)

Ruth and Naomi have returned to Bethlehem, with pretty much nothing. (In the Veggie Tales rendition of this story they are seen to be eating water soup with water sauce.) So we get a glimpse into a very early social assistance program called gleaning.

Gleaning was a way in which the poor, sojourners, widows and orphans were allowed to gather standing grain in corners or borders of fields as well as the dropped stalk and left behind sheaves.

Come All You Weary: a look at Matthew 11:28

So it's been 2 months + 2 days since I last posted. Life is busy, but that is no excuse, it's not like that really ever changes.

If you were at Applewood last night this was my sermon but most of you weren’t. I sometimes find it difficult to come up with a new idea for a sermon but I had been enjoying this song by Thrice (Also Dustin Kensrue is the man).

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest

-Matthew 11:28

Here are a few highlights:

Labour and are heavy laden

When Jesus calls those who labour to come to him, he is calling those who have become weary from trying to become right with God on their own. The immediate context is those who were trying to uphold the law to make them right with God but that becomes very tiring very quickly, because our nature is one that is constantly turning away from God. For those who try to obtain salvation on their own, they will become weary because they will constantly be trying to achieve something that isn’t possible.

I have never personally heard anyone use this phrase that they are ‘heavy laden.’ I didn’t really know what it meant too well before looking it up. It means to be heavily burdened. The realization of sin causes heavy burdens. Realizing that you are responsible for your sins before an almighty God who cannot have sin in his presence is a weighty thing. C.H. Spurgeon says that “a soul which has to bear the load of its own sin, and the load of divine wrath, is indeed heavily laden.

An interesting aspect of this is the use of a active verb and a passive verb. Labour is active meaning you are doing something and are heavily laden is passive meaning that this is something that has happened to you. Those who actively try to work for their salvation and those who realize the heavy burden that lies upon them are both called by Jesus to come to him.

Come to me

This invitation is to come to Jesus, not just know about him but to establish a personal relationship. Only those who have acknowledged that they are weary, because they can’t do anything themselves to gain eternal life, and heavy laden, because they carry a tremendous burden, are able to be saved. If you don’t realize these things, you probably won’t see a need to be saved.

I will give you rest

The verb here ‘will‘ is indicative. This is a factual statement, it doesn’t provide room for any doubt. It doesn’t say maybe or could give you rest. This rest is a gift, not that we deserve it but that we receive it from placing trust in Jesus. This rest is that Jesus has done everything already. On the cross he declared “it is finished” and he meant it. There was nothing left for us to do but to trust that Jesus paying for sin was adequate and God doesn’t not require anything further, just trust in what has been done. This is eternal rest, there is a freedom from becoming weary and freedom from the burden of sin.

The gospel doesn’t end here. The lives of those who are saved are changed and these next few verses give guidance in that, but I’m not going to discuss them.

Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

-Matthew 11:29-30

Ruth: Naomi is a Prodigal

So the two of them went on until they came to Bethlehem. And when they came to Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them. And the women said, “Is this Naomi?” She said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went away full, and the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi, when the Lord has testified against me and the Almighty has brought calamity upon me?”

So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabite her daughter-in-law with her, who returned from the country of Moab. And they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest. (Ruth 1:19-22, ESV)

Up to now we have seen a famine come into Bethlehem which cased Elimelech to move his family from Bethlehem to Moab. They must’ve though this was a great move because then they wouldn’t die. But then all the men in the family do die. They made their life there and now there is only Naomi left from the immediate family. 

Naomi decides to return and when she does she is greeted by those that knew her in Bethlehem. Upon her return she tells them not to call her Naomi, but to call her Mara, which meant bitter. Remember, Naomi meant pleasant, and now she is wanting to be called bitter. But is she ever referred to as Mara? She is never called Mara in the whole book. She was accepted back.

Naomi and the Prodigal

  • She goes out from her home in search for something better because Bethlehem just wasn’t suiting their needs. Just as the prodigal son had enough of being in his father’s house so he took what he had and left.
  • She arrives in Moab and everything seems great at first, but what is she left with? The prodigal son left his father’s house and everything seemed great, he had all this money and was having all this fun, but what is he left with? No friends, no money. He’s found living with the animals.
  • When Naomi realized she had nothing in Moab she decided it was best that she went home. The prodigal son saw what he was living in and decided it was time to go home.
  • Upon their returns both Naomi and the prodigal son both show remorse and say they do not deserve to be reinstated to their previous place. Naomi tells them to call her Mara (“bitter”) and the prodigal son asks to be one of his father’s servants.
  • But both are reinstated. The prodigal son has a party thrown for him and his father embraces him as his son. Naomi is called Naomi and at the end of the book we see those around her celebrating with her, not calling her Mara.

This is always a lesson for us in our relationship with God. We do fail, we all go away from the ‘Father’s house’ but upon return he embraces us, and shows us His great love.

Ruth: Her Decision

And she said, “See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where 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. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” And when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more. (Ruth 1:15-18, ESV)

After Naomi’s husband and sons die she decides to return to Bethlehem, her home, with her daughter-in-laws.  But Naomi, realizing the situation,  told her daughter-in-laws not to come back with her because she had nothing to offer them, she had no more sons for them to marry and could not support them either. After they said their goodbyes Orpah left and went back to Moab; but Ruth didn’t. Instead she clung to her. (Ruth 1:14)

Here we see Ruth make a decision. This is her confession of faith. This is her decision to turn from the false gods of Moab and trust in the God of Naomi. Your God, My God”. This statement goes back to the covenant that God made with his people the Israelites: “I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the Lord your God,” (Exodus 6:7)

Ruth decided to put her faith in God.

Today making a decision is still just as important.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16, ESV)

We are all sinners, which makes us positionally not right with God because God cannot have sin in his presence. Sin has separated us from God. (Isaiah 59:2) This is why God sent his son Jesus Christ to the earth, so that he would pay for sins, the perfect for the imperfect, so that we can be brought to God. (1 Peter 3:18)

Is Jesus Christ your Saviour? Everyone who trusts in Him will be saved. (Romans 10:9; Romans 10:13)

And remember He saves you in 3 ways:

Capture 1

Ruth: All the Men are Dead

In the days when the judges ruled there was a famine in the land, and a man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons. The name of the man was Elimelech and the name of his wife Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. They went into the country of Moab and remained there. But Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died, and she was left with her two sons. These took Moabite wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. They lived there about ten years, and both Mahlon and Chilion died, so that the woman was left without her two sons and her husband. (Ruth 1:1-5, ESV)

We are introduced to Naomi’s immediate family in this section. The meanings of their names are in parentheses.

  • Elimelech (My God is King); the father of the familyCapture
  • Naomi (Pleasant); the mother of the family
  • Mahlon (Sickness); a son of Elimelech & Naomi
  • Ruth (Friend); wife of Mahlon, from Moab
  • Chilion (Declining); a son of Elimelech & Naomi
  •  Orpah (Fawn); wife of Chilion, from Moab

In this section we see Elimelech moving his family away from Bethlehem because of a famine in Bethlehem (which means the ‘House of Bread’). In the Bible God often used famines as a means of judgement to warn, correct or punish the people. So Elimelech rather than looking into why God would send a famine decided that he would leave Bethlehem and go to Moab where there was food. It’s rather ironic the a man with the name meaning ‘My God is King’ leaves the ‘House of Bread’ because of a famine and doesn’t appear to consider why there even was a famine in the first place.

As the patriarch of the family and its leader he decides to take his family into Moab. Moab was anywhere from 30-60 miles away and may have taken 7-10 days to travel to because of the rugged terrain. It was a fairly significant move from Bethlehem. The beginnings of Moab take place in Genesis 19. Lot and his 2 daughters are living in a cave outside of Zoar because he is afraid. The 2 daughters are worried that they will not have any children, so they devise a plan to get their father drunk and sleep with him in order that they can have children. Out of that incestuous relationship Moab is born. In Moab there was the worshiping of false Gods such as Chemosh the fish god (it could also mean destroyer or subduer; but I like fish god). There is evidence in 2 Kings 3 that human sacrifices were offered to Chemosh as well. As well in Psalm 108 God refers to Moab as his washbasin.

We see a progression in this section: they sojourned, they remained and then they lived in Moab. It started out as what would seem to be a temporary thing that soon escalated into a permanent one. This is a practical aspect for us; we can tamper with sin, and before we know it we live in it. We can get so comfortable in our sin and then all of the sudden were living in it. So take from this story an example of what not to do.

The next step in this move is that Mahlon & Chilion, the two sons, start going out with Moabite women and then they get married. Which is of course no surprise. Marrying Moabites was not something that Israelites were supposed to do and so another practical lesson we can learn is that where you make your life is often where your children will make theirs. If it is in sin; theirs likely will be too. The father’s influence on the family is tremendous, often what the father values are what the children value. Elimelech seems to have died before the boys were married so Elimelech may not have been able to tell them that what they were doing was a bad idea. They would’ve been looking at their father’s actions as a guide to what they should do; sometimes its our actions that are the most influential.

All the men die. It’s rather ironic that they left Bethlehem because they were afraid of dying and then they all die. This reminds me of the first part of Romans 6:23; ‘the wages of sin is death.’ That’s the result of sin every time; there doesn’t always seem to be immediate consequences but in the long run it always leads to death.

So after 10 or so years in Moab the only part of the family that is left is Naomi and her two daughter-in-laws, Ruth and Orpah. There doesn’t appear to be any children in the picture either. So the tenure in Moab resulted in 2 Moabites entering into the family and all the men are dead.

The story of Jesus’ Great⁴³ Grandmother

Ruth is the 8th book of the Bible and through the next few weeks I’m going to work through the the book of Ruth. This will serve as an introduction to provide some background to the story of Ruth.

Ruth is the story of a foreign woman who came out of paganism and idolatry of Moab into the knowledge of the Lord God of Israel and was blessed.

The story of Ruth takes place “in the time of the Judges.” (Ruth 1:1) The story of the Judges “follow a consistent pattern: the people are unfaithful to God and he therefore delivers them into the hands of their enemies; the people repent and entreat God for mercy, which he sends in the form of a leader or champion (a “judge”); the judge delivers the Israelites from oppression and they prosper, but soon they fall again into unfaithfulness and the cycle is repeated.” (Wikipedia)

Ruth is described as a classic love story, a masterpiece of the storyteller’s art and German poet Goethe called it the ‘finest poem in human language. Legend has it that the story of Ruth was read to a group of atheistic, bible bashing, cultured Frenchmen. The names were altered so that it wouldn’t be instantly recognizable. After listening the group of men were delighted by the wonderful literary product and they wanted to know it’s origins. They were in shock when they learned it was from the Bible.

The author of Ruth isn’t known, though Jewish tradition as well as others believe it was Samuel that wrote it. It was written 150-180 years after the events took place. In Ruth 4:7 it talks about “former customs” which distances the events from the writing date. The genealogy that concludes this book ends with David, so it is reasonable to presume that he was the King when the book was written. The exact date isn’t known but it was likely written between 1010BC – 970BC.

We don’t know why it was written but it may have been written for King David. Ruth was David’s great-grandmother. This story was probably very special to David because of the connection with Ruth and the display of God’s grace towards her.

Among others there are 2 main reasons why Ruth is important to us today: The first is the genealogy that is provided. We have a genealogy of Ruth’s legacy that leads to King David and ultimately Jesus Christ. (Seen in Ruth 4:18-22Matthew 1) We also see the connection between the House of David(2 Samuel 7:12-13; Isaiah 9:7) and the Tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:10) (Boaz is from the tribe of Judah) and without Ruth we wouldn’t see this connection. The second reason is that Ruth is an excellent display of redemption and we can learn about redemption through this story. Charles Spurgeon referred to the Lord Jesus Christ as “our glorious Boaz” and we will take a look at that comparison when we get to chapter 4.

So through the next 12 weeks or so I will hope to paint a picture of the story of Ruth and provide some practical aspects as well.