Heroes of the FaithFebruary 7-11
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 1:3-5 (ESV)
When our son Nathan was barely two, he’d squeeze his eyes shut and say, “I can’t see, I can’t see!” He thought that if he couldn’t see me, then I couldn’t see him either. Playing hide-and-seek was a breeze. I never had to run and hide; I’d simply whisper, “Close your eyes, Nathan, and count to ten,” and I was hidden as far as he was concerned! There are times as an adult when I’ve made a similar mistaken assumption about my heavenly Father. If I don’t “see” God, perhaps He can’t see me or my inappropriate behavior. What about you? Have you ever thought that since God is invisible, maybe your actions were too? The reality is that God in His providence sees everything, even before it happens. You can run, but you can never hide from His view. (Women’s Bible Journal – Heitzig, L and Rose, P R)
God may have appeared hidden in the first chapter of Ruth’s story. The story of Ruth included disappointment, death, and discouragement. Her mother in-law, Naomi, had lost her husband, both her sons, and hope in a land experiencing famine. Yet, God used Ruth as a beautiful picture of redemption. God was at work behind the scenes in a way that would last forever.
You may be unemployed, terminally ill, have a disabled child, or care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s. God hasn’t promised to keep us from such problems. But He has proven that He is always “for us” as Christians by what He did through Jesus (Romans 5:8-9). Nothing, not even death, can separate us from His love (8:35-39). When have you seen God work through tragedy?
Praise God for always being there even when you can’t see Him. Thank God for always being at work in your story.
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. – Ruth 1:16 (ESV)
Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken” depicts a traveler encountering a fork in the road: “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, / And sorry I could not travel both. . . .” The traveler is left to decide which path to choose. Life is full of little choices that can lead to great consequences. A choice repeated becomes a habit; a habit unchecked develops a character; and character determines your destiny. Like Frost’s traveler, you can’t have it both ways. You must choose which direction you’ll take on life’s journey.
In Ruth 1, Naomi and her daughters-in-law are on the road from Moab to Judah when Naomi tells them to turn back. She gives them every good reason why they should go back to their fathers’ houses, and she points out that there really isn’t a good reason to continue with her. Orpah takes the more desirable path and returns to her father’s house. Ruth insists on going with Naomi, an option that seems lonely and is marked by Naomi’s bitterness (Ruth 1:20-21). Ruth demonstrates great faith with her insistence to go with Naomi to Judah. She trusts in the Living God of Israel, Naomi’s God.
We often think of our next steps as clear-cut decisions. But sometimes our next step isn’t so clear. So often, we are consumed with finding God’s will for our lives we forget that sometimes the best way to move forward is simply to ask ourselves, “Will this glorify God?” God’s will for your life is that you continue taking each next step in your relationship with Jesus. Trust in His sovereignty over your life and know that when you’re deciding between two good things, He will help you choose well. Where do you go when you have a big decision to make?
Praise God for His perfect will for your life. Ask God to show you what decision will most glorify Him.
The Lord repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!” – Ruth 2:12 (ESV)
An angel appeared at a faculty meeting and told the dean that in return for his unselfish service, he will be rewarded with his choice of wealth, wisdom, or beauty. Without hesitating, the dean selects wisdom. “It is done!” the angel said, and then disappeared into a cloud of smoke. All of the other members of the faculty stared at the dean with amazement. Finally one of them whispered, “Now that you have infinite wisdom, Dean, say something.” The dean looked at them and said, “I should have taken the money.”
In Ruth 2 God rewarded Ruth’s faithfulness and discipline. Ruth submitted herself to working in the fields of Boaz. Her only mission was to do what was right in the sight of the Lord and take care of her mother-in-law. She was consistent, and she was obedient. Consistency isn’t as exciting as a great leap of faith, but the rewards are just as great. Ruth had been gleaning in Boaz’s fields long enough and consistently enough that the reapers knew her by name, and Boaz picked her out from among the crowd. Showing Ruth favor, Boaz invited her to his table, where she could feast to her heart’s desire. Boaz told Ruth.
Ruth’s discipline is what made the difference in her relationship with Boaz and her relationship with God. The same is true for us. Progress in our spiritual lives doesn’t just happen in the one-week high of a summer camp or marriage retreat. Progress happens day by day as we show up to the kitchen table to meet with Jesus. What’s one area of your spiritual life that could use some more consistency? Are you meeting with Jesus daily? If not, what steps can you take to ensure daily time with Him?
Praise God for the rewards and blessings He has given you over the years. Ask God to grow the areas in your life where you would benefit from more discipline.
Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without a redeemer, and may his name be renowned in Israel! – Ruth 4:14 (ESV)
American Sniper is a movie about the most prolific sniper in American history. For the troops on the ground, the sniper is the protector or covering who ensures their safety from above. When on a mission, snipers carefully choose a strategic, high vantage point that allows them to protect their fellow soldiers from harm. Snipers are vigilant, not sleeping or moving from their position — sometimes for days — in order to save those they are entrusted to protect. One of the qualities that makes a sniper an effective soldier is the same quality necessary to be a kinsman-redeemer — a willingness to sacrifice. (Source Unknown)
In every clan in Israel the head of the family was considered the guardian-redeemer, responsible for the well-being of the family. This person was expected to rescue, ransom, buy back, recover, or redeem anyone or any property that was in danger of being removed from the family by poverty, war, or death (Leviticus 25:25-55). Even though another family member was first in line as kinsman-redeemer, Boaz willingly assumed the role. In becoming the kinsman-redeemer for Ruth and Naomi, Boaz was willing to sacrifice financially and personally to protect Ruth and Naomi from a life of poverty. Through the redemption process, Boaz would cover their past and restore their status in the community.
Just as Boaz stepped up as the kinsman-redeemer for his family, God sent Jesus to redeem us. All of us were born sinful and separated from God. We were powerless to change this on our own. Like Ruth and Naomi, we were stuck unless someone else intervened. That someone was Jesus.
Think about who you were before Jesus redeemed you or what you may have become. What has Jesus saved you from? Think about all the problems you’re still trying to overcome. What do you need Jesus to protect you from?
Praise Jesus for coming to redeem you and bring you into God’s family. Ask God to protect you from the challenges you are facing.
And the women of the neighborhood gave him a name, saying, “A son has been born to Naomi.” They named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David. – Ruth 4:17 (ESV)
Walking through campus one day, a seminary professor came upon a custodian reading the Bible during lunch hour. The professor asked what he was reading. “Revelation,” the custodian said. “I’m sure you don’t understand what it means,” said the professor condescendingly. “Actually, I do,” he replied. “It means Jesus wins.”
The genealogy of Ruth means Jesus wins. In the story of Ruth, God providentially set the stage for Boaz to rescue Ruth and Naomi from a life of poverty and the shame of not having an heir. Salvation for the world was yet to come through their descendants—first David and then Jesus (Matt. 1:5-16). (Joseph Stowell)
The first mention of David in the Bible comes in the book of Ruth. David’s story was part of God’s much bigger story. Through the lives of David and many others, God was shaping and molding a people for himself. God called men and women into a relationship of grace, responsibility, and adventure. As Eugene Peterson noted, “The genealogy shows that the story of Ruth and Boaz wasn’t simply a small love story into which they had accidentally fallen; rather it was a sprawling love story of epic proportions. For through the union of Ruth and Boaz came David” (Conversations).
In the face of life’s challenges, it’s important to remember that ultimately God always wins! And since His plans are always in the victory lane, it’s infinitely wiser to converge with His will rather than compete with it. What area of your life do you need to be reminded that Jesus wins in the end?
Praise God as victorious. Thank God for allowing your story to be part of His story.