Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Loving Potentially Dangerous People - Part 4

Ruth's account is such great example of God dealing with the outsider.

"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. Then she arose with her daughters-in-law to return from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the fields of Moab that the LORD had visited his people and given them food." - Ruth 1:1-6 ESV

Ten years is a long time. Ruth was no spring chicken.

"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.' " - Ruth 1:15-17 ESV

Ruth loved Naomi. She wanted to go with her but that alone would not have changed Ruth's 'stranger' status in Israel. As the account progresses we Boaz enter the picture.

"Now Naomi had a relative of her husband's, a worthy man of the clan of Elimelech, whose name was Boaz." - Ruth 2:1 ESV

Boaz is a type of Christ. Boaz identifies Ruth and asks his men about her. Then he initiates to her and says...

"...'Now, listen, my daughter, do not go to glean in another field or leave this one, but keep close to my young women. Let your eyes be on the field that they are reaping, and go after them. Have I not charged the young men not to touch you? And when you are thirsty, go to the vessels and drink what the young men have drawn.'

Then she fell on her face, bowing to the ground, and said to him, 'Why have I found favor in your eyes, that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?' " - Ruth 2:8b-10 ESV

Why? Why is God different with strangers. Why is he kind?

"Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called 'the uncircumcision' by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands - remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace," - Ephesians 2:11-15 ESV

We were all strangers. Even children brought up in the Church. Our natural self is a stranger to God but He sees us and inquires after us. He lets us glean in His fields.

"So she kept close to the young women of Boaz, gleaning until the end of the barley and wheat harvests. And she lived with her mother-in-law." - Ruth 2:23 ESV

Notice how Boaz makes no demands of Naomi. His kindness has no strings attached.

Because Boaz was related to Naomi he could function as a redeemer. Naomi had an inheritance in Israel. Every native did. The rights couldn't ever be taken from them but because Naomi left this inheritance it needed to be bought back.

The account goes on. Ruth lays down at Boaz's feet and Boaz makes a commitment to redeem Naomi. I love this next statement made by Naomi when she finds out.

"She replied, 'Wait, my daughter, until you learn how the matter turns out, for the man will not rest but will settle the matter today.' " - Ruth 3:18 ESV

As I said before Boaz is a type of Christ and Jesus takes redemption very seriously. He wants the matter settled.

"Then Boaz said to the elders and all the people, 'You are witnesses this day that I have bought from the hand of Naomi all that belonged to Elimelech and all that belonged to Chilion and to Mahlon. Also Ruth the Moabite, the widow of Mahlon, I have bought to be my wife, to perpetuate the name of the dead in his inheritance, that the name of the dead may not be cut off from among his brothers and from the gate of his native place. You are witnesses this day.'

Then all the people who were at the gate and the elders said, 'We are witnesses. May the LORD make the woman, who is coming into your house, like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the house of Israel. May you act worthily in Ephrathah and be renowned in Bethlehem, and may your house be like the house of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah, because of the offspring that the LORD will give you by this young woman.' " - Ruth 4:9-12 ESV

The stranger is no longer a stranger. We are no longer strangers. A pre-established identity has been given to us with all of the right and privileges that the new identity affords.


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