Hope Chapel Blog
Learning and living the Way of Jesus!
HOPE CHAPEL - Sunday, September 19, 2021
Youtube Link... https://youtu.be/2Bp7sYav-Hg
HOPE CHAPEL - Sunday, September 19, 2021
Teaching Series - “Our Family Tree–Through the Bible in 2021"
Weekly Topic - “The Messiah was a Descendant of the Moabites? No Way!”
Text – Book of Ruth
Review - Who were the Moabites? They were the descendants of Moab, the son conceived by Lot through his eldest daughter after the Sodom and Gomorrah affair (Genesis 19:30-38). As a nation, they worshipped Chemosh and their religious observances included human sacrifice. There was bad blood between the Moabites and the Israelites…the king of Moab had tried to have the people of Israel cursed prior to their crossing into the promised land and they were among the people groups whom God had forbidden His chosen people to make treaties with. During the time of the kings, many of the prophets warned of God’s pending judgement on Moab; He would crush them because of their misplaced worship and, as a nation, they would never rise again (Jeremiah 48).
However, as we will learn from today’s story, this did not prevent anyone of Moabite origin from choosing to serve God—Ruth serves as proof of this fact. For those of you who know Ruth’s story, how would you describe her? [get responses] When the story of Ruth is told it is often her obedient loyalty to Naomi that is highlighted…such a wonderful daughter-in-law, such a wonderful example of humble, submissive, obedient femininity…
If that’s the version of Ruth you have been introduced to, may I take some time this morning to paint a broader picture of this amazing woman who was faithful to her mother-in-law, but also faith-filled—having come to believe and follow the God of the Israelites; who was submissive, but also confident; both loyal and courageous…and blessed by God as she sought to build a new life in a new land, with a new people.
Today, I want us to learn about Ruth directly from the book that contains her story and bears her name, Ruth.
“RUTH THE STUBBORNLY FAITHFUL”
Ruth 1:1-18 – In the days when the judges ruled in Israel, a severe famine came upon the land. So a man from Bethlehem in Judah left his home and went to live in the country of Moab, taking his wife and two sons with him. 2 The man’s name was Elimelech, and his wife was Naomi. Their two sons were Mahlon and Kilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in the land of Judah. And when they reached Moab, they settled there.
3 Then Elimelech died, and Naomi was left with her two sons. 4 The two sons married Moabite women. One married a woman named Orpah, and the other a woman named Ruth. But about ten years later, 5 both Mahlon and Kilion died. This left Naomi alone, without her two sons or her husband.
6 Then Naomi heard in Moab that the Lord had blessed his people in Judah by giving them good crops again. So Naomi and her daughters-in-law got ready to leave Moab to return to her homeland. 7 With her two daughters-in-law she set out from the place where she had been living, and they took the road that would lead them back to Judah.
8 But on the way, Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go back to your mothers’ homes. And may the Lord reward you for your kindness to your husbands and to me. 9 May the Lord bless you with the security of another marriage.” Then she kissed them good-bye, and they all broke down and wept. 10 “No,” they said. “We want to go with you to your people.”
11 But Naomi replied, “Why should you go on with me? Can I still give birth to other sons who could grow up to be your husbands? 12 No, my daughters, return to your parents’ homes, for I am too old to marry again. And even if it were possible, and I were to get married tonight and bear sons, then what? 13 Would you wait for them to grow up and refuse to marry someone else? No, of course not, my daughters! Things are far more bitter for me than for you, because the Lord himself has raised his fist against me.” 14 And again they wept together, and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law good-bye. But Ruth clung tightly to Naomi. 15 “Look,” Naomi said to her, “your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods. You should do the same.”
16 But Ruth replied, “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. 17 Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us!” 18 When Naomi saw that Ruth was determined to go with her, she said nothing more.”
Because of a famine an Israelite man had moved his family out of the promised land to Moab. It may have seemed like a wise choice at the time given their options, but it spells out trouble for his widow when he dies. She is now left alone with her two sons, who marry local women, but within ten years they too die and she is left alone widowed with her two newly widowed daughters-in-law. Naomi decides to return to her hometown…in truth, she really wouldn’t have had many options—better a destitute widow amongst her own people than with the Moabites by whom she would have been viewed a foreigner.
As widows, Naomi, Orpah and Ruth had no protection and no legal rights; they were in a potentially desperate situation. So, the three women set off together, but Naomi encourages Orpah and Ruth to return to their families. She knows that bringing them along with her will in all likelihood result in hardship for not only her, but even worse for them as foreigners from the land of Moab. I suspect she cared enough for these young women not to wish them harm. So, after repeated encouragement, Orpah makes the difficult decision to return to her family—life won’t be easy, but she will have the comfort of some familiarity. The easier thing for Ruth to do would have been to return to her family and Naomi gave her the out she needed, but she refused to take it. It may have been the most logical choice, but Ruth rejected the option. Returning to her family would have meant returning to her old life; if she walked away from Naomi, she was as good as walking away from God, too. Ruth was adamant—she had chosen her side and she would not be dissuaded. Ruth turned her back on her life in Moab for an unknown future with Yahweh. She would remain stubbornly faithful, come what may.
“RUTH THE COURAGEOUS"
Ruth 1:19-2:23 – So the two of them continued on their journey. When they came to Bethlehem, the entire town was excited by their arrival. “Is it really Naomi?” the women asked. 20 “Don’t call me Naomi,” she responded. “Instead, call me Mara, for the Almighty has made life very bitter for me. 21 I went away full, but the Lord has brought me home empty. Why call me Naomi when the Lord has caused me to suffer and the Almighty has sent such tragedy upon me?”
22 So Naomi returned from Moab, accompanied by her daughter-in-law Ruth, the young Moabite woman. They arrived in Bethlehem in late spring, at the beginning of the barley harvest. 2 Now there was a wealthy and influential man in Bethlehem named Boaz, who was a relative of Naomi’s husband, Elimelech. 2 One day Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go out into the harvest fields to pick up the stalks of grain left behind by anyone who is kind enough to let me do it.” Naomi replied, “All right, my daughter, go ahead.” 3 So Ruth went out to gather grain behind the harvesters. And as it happened, she found herself working in a field that belonged to Boaz, the relative of her father-in-law, Elimelech.
4 While she was there, Boaz arrived from Bethlehem and greeted the harvesters. “The Lord be with you!” he said. “The Lord bless you!” the harvesters replied. 5 Then Boaz asked his foreman, “Who is that young woman over there? Who does she belong to?” 6 And the foreman replied, “She is the young woman from Moab who came back with Naomi. 7 She asked me this morning if she could gather grain behind the harvesters. She has been hard at work ever since, except for a few minutes’ rest in the shelter.”
8 Boaz went over and said to Ruth, “Listen, my daughter. Stay right here with us when you gather grain; don’t go to any other fields. Stay right behind the young women working in my field. 9 See which part of the field they are harvesting, and then follow them. I have warned the young men not to treat you roughly. And when you are thirsty, help yourself to the water they have drawn from the well.” 10 Ruth fell at his feet and thanked him warmly. “What have I done to deserve such kindness?” she asked. “I am only a foreigner.”
11 “Yes, I know,” Boaz replied. “But I also know about everything you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband. I have heard how you left your father and mother and your own land to live here among complete strangers. 12 May the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge, reward you fully for what you have done.”
13 “I hope I continue to please you, sir,” she replied. “You have comforted me by speaking so kindly to me, even though I am not one of your workers.” 14 At mealtime Boaz called to her, “Come over here, and help yourself to some food. You can dip your bread in the sour wine.” So she sat with his harvesters, and Boaz gave her some roasted grain to eat. She ate all she wanted and still had some left over.
15 When Ruth went back to work again, Boaz ordered his young men, “Let her gather grain right among the sheaves without stopping her. 16 And pull out some heads of barley from the bundles and drop them on purpose for her. Let her pick them up, and don’t give her a hard time!” 17 So Ruth gathered barley there all day, and when she beat out the grain that evening, it filled an entire basket. 18 She carried it back into town and showed it to her mother-in-law. Ruth also gave her the roasted grain that was left over from her meal.
19 “Where did you gather all this grain today?” Naomi asked. “Where did you work? May the Lord bless the one who helped you!” So Ruth told her mother-in-law about the man in whose field she had worked. She said, “The man I worked with today is named Boaz.” 20 “May the Lord bless him!” Naomi told her daughter-in-law. “He is showing his kindness to us as well as to your dead husband. That man is one of our closest relatives, one of our family redeemers.” 21 Then Ruth said, “What’s more, Boaz even told me to come back and stay with his harvesters until the entire harvest is completed.” 22 Naomi exclaimed. “Good! Do as he said, my daughter. Stay with his young women right through the whole harvest. You might be harassed in other fields, but you’ll be safe with him.”
23 So Ruth worked alongside the women in Boaz’s fields and gathered grain with them until the end of the barley harvest. Then she continued working with them through the wheat harvest in early summer. And all the while she lived with her mother-in-law.
Once Naomi and Ruth found themselves back in Naomi’s hometown, they still needed to find a way to take care of themselves…no easy feat given the restrictions placed on women during this point in history. But they needed to eat, so Ruth approached Naomi with her plan. She would go and harvest grain as permitted to the poor. God had given a practice for the people to follow during the time of Moses; it was a means of ensuring that the poor would be provided for, “9 When you harvest the crops of your land, do not harvest the grain along the edges of your fields, and do not pick up what the harvesters drop. 10 It is the same with your grape crop—do not strip every last bunch of grapes from the vines, and do not pick up the grapes that fall to the ground. Leave them for the poor and the foreigners living among you. I am the Lord your God” (Leviticus 19:9-10). So, Ruth’s plan was to do just that—to collect any grain that she could find around the edges of the fields being harvested and to pick up anything that was dropped in hopes of providing her and Naomi with enough food to sustain them.
Straightforward enough, but certainly not without risks. Not all land owners followed the practice and a woman alone risked being taken advantage of. But they were desperate and Ruth courageously followed the one course of action available to them for finding food. And God protected her and provided for both Naomi and Ruth. She ‘coincidently’ finds herself gleaning in a field owned by a relative of Naomi’s deceased husband.
From the brief conversation between Boaz and his foreman, it is obvious that she has won their admiration for her hard work and steadfast loyalty to provide not only for herself, but also for her mother-in-law. Boaz encourages her to stay on throughout all the harvests; he even takes steps to ensure her safety from unwanted attention and for her to more easily collect all that she and Naomi will need—not just to scrape by, but to have enough to provide for them in the coming months. It is obviously an arrangement that works well in the short-term, but Naomi begins to make a plan of her own for their care in the long-term.
“RUTH THE CONFIDENT”
Ruth 3 – One day Naomi said to Ruth, “My daughter, it’s time that I found a permanent home for you, so that you will be provided for. 2 Boaz is a close relative of ours, and he’s been very kind by letting you gather grain with his young women. Tonight he will be winnowing barley at the threshing floor. 3 Now do as I tell you—take a bath and put on perfume and dress in your nicest clothes. Then go to the threshing floor, but don’t let Boaz see you until he has finished eating and drinking. 4 Be sure to notice where he lies down; then go and uncover his feet and lie down there. He will tell you what to do.” 5 “I will do everything you say,” Ruth replied. 6 So she went down to the threshing floor that night and followed the instructions of her mother-in-law.
7 After Boaz had finished eating and drinking and was in good spirits, he lay down at the far end of the pile of grain and went to sleep. Then Ruth came quietly, uncovered his feet, and lay down. 8 Around midnight Boaz suddenly woke up and turned over. He was surprised to find a woman lying at his feet! 9 “Who are you?” he asked. “I am your servant Ruth,” she replied. “Spread the corner of your covering over me, for you are my family redeemer.”
10 “The Lord bless you, my daughter!” Boaz exclaimed. “You are showing even more family loyalty now than you did before, for you have not gone after a younger man, whether rich or poor. 11 Now don’t worry about a thing, my daughter. I will do what is necessary, for everyone in town knows you are a virtuous woman. 12 But while it’s true that I am one of your family redeemers, there is another man who is more closely related to you than I am. 13 Stay here tonight, and in the morning I will talk to him. If he is willing to redeem you, very well. Let him marry you. But if he is not willing, then as surely as the Lord lives, I will redeem you myself! Now lie down here until morning.”
14 So Ruth lay at Boaz’s feet until the morning, but she got up before it was light enough for people to recognize each other. For Boaz had said, “No one must know that a woman was here at the threshing floor.” 15 Then Boaz said to her, “Bring your cloak and spread it out.” He measured six scoops of barley into the cloak and placed it on her back. Then he returned to the town.
16 When Ruth went back to her mother-in-law, Naomi asked, “What happened, my daughter?” Ruth told Naomi everything Boaz had done for her, 17 and she added, “He gave me these six scoops of barley and said, ‘Don’t go back to your mother-in-law empty-handed.’” 18 Then Naomi said to her, “Just be patient, my daughter, until we hear what happens. The man won’t rest until he has settled things today.”
What was Naomi’s plan? To have Ruth propose marriage to Boaz! Up to this point Ruth has done all she has been able to think of to take care of herself and Naomi. But propose to this elderly landowner…kind relative or not…might have caused her to hesitate. Who was she, as a foreigner, to make the first move to mention marriage? And given Boaz’s character, I doubt there had been any indication on his part that he might be open to the suggestion. He has been more than generous to help them, but this would bring his ‘help’ to an all-new level.
But as crazy as Naomi’s plan might appear to us, it was actually another provision that God had made for the care of widows and for the continuation of an individual’s family name if a man should die without children, “If two brothers are living together on the same property and one of them dies without a son, his widow may not be married to anyone from outside the family. Instead, her husband’s brother should marry her and have intercourse with her to fulfill the duties of a brother-in-law. The first son she bears to him will be considered the son of the dead brother, so that his name will not be forgotten in Israel” (Deuteronomy 25:5-6). This principle was extended to apply to more distant relations as well.
So, despite a certain amount of nervousness I’m sure, and with Naomi’s instructions in mind, Ruth confidently goes to the threshing floor and does exactly as she has been told. Ruth proposed to Boaz and Boaz, after some initial shock, said, “Yes!” But there’s just one catch. Not just any family member could serve as the ‘kinsmen redeemer;’ it had to be the closest male relative…and there was one closer than Boaz. Now it’s up to Boaz to clear the last obstacle for Naomi and Ruth to finally know some long-term stability.
“RUTH THE BLESSED”
Ruth 4:1-17 – Boaz went to the town gate and took a seat there. Just then the family redeemer he had mentioned came by, so Boaz called out to him, “Come over here and sit down, friend. I want to talk to you.” So they sat down together. 2 Then Boaz called ten leaders from the town and asked them to sit as witnesses. 3 And Boaz said to the family redeemer, “You know Naomi, who came back from Moab. She is selling the land that belonged to our relative Elimelech. 4 I thought I should speak to you about it so that you can redeem it if you wish. If you want the land, then buy it here in the presence of these witnesses. But if you don’t want it, let me know right away, because I am next in line to redeem it after you.” The man replied, “All right, I’ll redeem it.”
5 Then Boaz told him, “Of course, your purchase of the land from Naomi also requires that you marry Ruth, the Moabite widow. That way she can have children who will carry on her husband’s name and keep the land in the family.” He quickly changed his mind. 6 “Then I can’t redeem it,” the family redeemer replied, “because this might endanger my own estate. You redeem the land; I cannot do it.”
7 Now in those days it was the custom in Israel for anyone transferring a right of purchase to remove his sandal and hand it to the other party. This publicly validated the transaction. 8 So the other family redeemer drew off his sandal as he said to Boaz, “You buy the land.” 9 Then Boaz said to the elders and to the crowd standing around, “You are witnesses that today I have bought from Naomi all the property of Elimelech, Kilion, and Mahlon. 10 And with the land I have acquired Ruth, the Moabite widow of Mahlon, to be my wife. This way she can have a son to carry on the family name of her dead husband and to inherit the family property here in his hometown. You are all witnesses today.”
11 Then the elders and all the people standing in the gate replied, “We are witnesses! May the Lord make this woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, from whom all the nation of Israel descended! May you prosper in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem. 12 And may the Lord give you descendants by this young woman who will be like those of our ancestor Perez, the son of Tamar and Judah.”
13 So Boaz took Ruth into his home, and she became his wife. When he slept with her, the Lord enabled her to become pregnant, and she gave birth to a son. 14 Then the women of the town said to Naomi, “Praise the Lord, who has now provided a redeemer for your family! May this child be famous in Israel. 15 May he restore your youth and care for you in your old age. For he is the son of your daughter-in-law who loves you and has been better to you than seven sons!”
16 Naomi took the baby and cuddled him to her breast. And she cared for him as if he were her own. 17 The neighbor women said, “Now at last Naomi has a son again!” And they named him Obed. He became the father of Jesse and the grandfather of David.
God provides Ruth and Naomi with a needed protector and legal representative. He provides the faithful Boaz with a lovely and honourable young wife. He provides a son for the continuation of Elimelech’s name and land, which will offer future protection for the women in his family. And God provides Ruth with the honour of being included in the lineage of King David and of the promised Messiah!
What are we to take from Ruth’s story?
· God turned what could have been a terrible tragedy into a story that demonstrates His incredible love for humanity and His faithfulness to all who will serve Him loyally. Ruth’s story gives us hope in the midst of life’s momentary heartbreaks and despair. Naomi had given up all hope for a good future, certain that God was punishing her family, but her story wasn’t over. God had brought Ruth into her life—it was no mere coincidence. And while Naomi encouraged her daughters-in-law to give up on her, God knew just what she needed to help her through—stubbornly faithful Ruth! We, too, need to be careful not to push away the very people that God brings into our lives to help us through tough spots. And like Ruth, we should also remain faithful to God, no matter the personal cost. This life is temporary and we have a hope worth holding onto no matter our circumstances at this moment.
· Long before Ruth lived, God had put together provisions that would directly benefit her—that of ensuring that the poor could have food to eat through gleaning and that widows could be cared for and family names continued through a kinsman redeemer. God had provided, but it still required Ruth to be courageous and confident. If she had been too timid to act, Naomi and she might have both starved, and she certainly would never have known the blessing of getting married and having a family again. What are the things that are currently holding you back from realizing God’s work in your life due to fear? When our faith is in God and not our own abilities or in others, we have every right to be courageous and confident. The Bible is clear that, “God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7). Fear is a weapon of the enemy to keep us from living in complete obedience to God. We must never let it get the better of us. Just think of all Ruth would have missed out on if she had.
· By rejecting to do what could have proved to be much easier, and choosing her faith in God and loyalty to her new family, Ruth experienced God’s incredible blessing on her life—something she would have totally missed out on if she had stayed in Moab. Tragedy forced her to leave her homeland, but in so doing, she became a valued member of a new community. I suspect that when they first arrived back, Ruth would have found few friends amongst the Israelites; but after the birth of Obed, even the old women had to admit that Ruth had been to Naomi ‘better than seven sons!’ Living a life of loyalty and faith to God is not easy and there are often what appear to be much easier routes to take in life; but ultimately, it is only those who choose the more difficult path of faithfulness who experience God’s blessing in their lives.
For Further Study
The Bible Project – Overview: Ruth - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0h1eoBeR4Jk
Sunday, September 26, 2021- “Called by God” (Samuel) - In-person and Online
Weekly lessons are now being made available on Youtube – “Pastor’s Study” - Go to our website: hopechapelcollingwood.ca and click on the Youtube icon or click on the link below https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrF8GWFnLjTmRyXjYnq1Ytw
Pastor Jane Peck, Hope Chapel
(Collingwood EMCC Church)
"Learning and Living the Way of Jesus!"
First licensed for pastoral ministry in 1994, Pastor Jane Peck has served in camp and church ministries in three denominations, five provinces and in a variety of roles. Her most recent position is that of Pastor at Hope Chapel which she began in 2020. She is excited to see what God can and will do in the days to come!