Ruth: The Bigger Story

Ruth

Ruth 4:13-22

So Boaz took Ruth, and she was his wife: and when he went in unto her, the Lord gave her conception, and she bare a son. 14 And the women said unto Naomi, Blessed be the Lord, which hath not left thee this day without a kinsman, that his name may be famous in Israel. 15 And he shall be unto thee a restorer of thy life, and a nourisher of thine old age: for thy daughter in law, which loveth thee, which is better to thee than seven sons, hath born him. 16 And Naomi took the child, and laid it in her bosom, and became nurse unto it. 17 And the women her neighbours gave it a name, saying, There is a son born to Naomi; and they called his name Obed: he is the father of Jesse, the father of David.
18 Now these are the generations of Pharez: Pharez begat Hezron, 19 And Hezron begat Ram, and Ram begat Amminadab, 20 And Amminadab begat Nahshon, and Nahshon begat Salmon, 21 And Salmon begat Boaz, and Boaz begat Obed, 22 And Obed begat Jesse, and Jesse begat David.  ESV

 

 

Introduction

Greetings, dear friends! So how are you today? How do you like your life now? Are you content? Or are you really wishing for more? Are you feeling discouraged or depressed? Does it seem like the Lord cares? Or do you feel that he has forgotten you?

Sometimes we may wonder. We might pray something like this: “Father in heaven, I believe that you are Lord of heaven and earth and that you have the absolute right to do whatever you want to do. But what in the world are you doing? This hurts so much! Why are you doing this?”

“The explanation for much that takes place in our lives lies well beyond our own lives, and may be hidden from us all through our lives! For God does not mean to touch only our lives by what he does in us; he has the lives of others in view—even those yet unborn. That is why life can seem so untidy for the people of God. He has not yet finished his business.” [Ferguson, Faithful God, p. 145]

We must fully understand that we are part of the story of God’s glory. Life is not the story of your or my personal happiness; it is not about you or me. It is God’s story, but because it is God’s story, our lives have meaning and significance, even if we are people like Ruth and Naomi. Their lives seemed to be ruined, but God brought them into his story, and now we get to see their part in God’s bigger story.

 

Exposition

Let’s think about three truths that become clear in this last section…

I.          The Lord’s power

A.        The Lord enabled her to conceive (4:13). This can seem very strange to American people, who assume that people are in charge of everything. It actually portrays a very shallow acquaintance with life. If you doubt my words, think of the many couples who cannot reproduce.

1.         Ruth had been married once and had not been pregnant. She fits in the “barren wife” theme that is in the Scriptures. This reminds us that God is the source of life: “and life comes from God” (praise song, “You are God”). We need to restore this viewpoint in our thinking (Ps 139:13-16).

2.         God makes us and prepares us for the mission he gives to us (Jer 1:5; Gal 1:15). You are significant in the context of the plan of God. God has made you what you are to serve him in your family, your church and the world. Sadly, the godless have no sense of purpose; their life is meaningless; weep for them if you understand!

B.        As God gave fruitfulness to the land (1:6) so now he gives fruitfulness to Ruth (4:13).

1.         This is in answer to the prayers of the people at the gate (4:11). The women also prayed that Ruth’s child would become famous in Israel (4:14). As we shall see, that prayer is also answered. Prayer is one of God’s means toward fulfilling his purposes. We do not have, because we do not ask (Mt 7:7-11; Js 4:2c).

Apply: This is important in the life of this local church at this moment in time. In a time of economic recession, this local assembly is also struggling. We need to think and prudently, and we need to pray fervently (Js 5:16b-18).

 

II.        The Lord’s ways

A.        The small stories are important to God.

1.         In the book of Ruth, we have seen God’s provision for two widows. God had given laws about gleaning and a kinsman redeemer to provide for the needy. At the end of this book, we see him giving Naomi and Ruth a new family. This is very important to them, and God has provided (cf. Ps 68:4-6).

2.         Naomi emptiness has been replaced with fullness through her daughter-in-law and her son; now she can enjoy being “nanny” to little Obed (4:16). What a great blessing it is to have grandchildren and to be able to hold them on your lap and care for them. Naomi’s arms are no longer empty, because God filled them.

Apply: Perhaps you are facing some severe struggles in this time. Your outlook is gloomy, and you may be asking, “Does God care about the little story of my life?” Yes, he does. Take refuge in him until the disaster has passed (Ps 57:1). When you are afraid, trust in him (Ps 56:3).

B.        God uses the unexpected.

1.         After Ruth bears a child, the women praise the Lord for what he has done through Ruth. They tell Naomi that Ruth is “better than seven sons”. This is high praise for Ruth in a culture where sons were highly sought after; it was the highest honor they could give the former Moabitess, who is a woman of honor. Now, think of what God taught Israel in the Torah. The Lord gave them the two great commands (Deut 6:5; Lev 19:18); he told them to care for the alien living among them (Lev 19:33-34). But ironically, Ruth the alien is the one who teaches Israel to care; she is like the Good Samaritan (Lk 10:25-37). God does the unexpected.

2.         The women celebrate two blessings for Naomi in the birth of Obed.

Naomi is sure of a kinsman redeemer in her grandson, and she has someone to care for her in her old age. Obed will renew her life or “turn her life back”. This is the same word as “brought back” in 1:21. How Naomi misevaluated her life then! She thought that the Lord had brought her back empty; surprise! God has given her a grandson who will bring back her life; he will sustain her in her old age. God does the unexpected.

Apply: Have you been evaluating your life on its present circumstances? You need to change your mind and reevaluate them on your relationship to Christ. Are you in Christ? Then you have one who will renew or bring back your life again and again and again.

C.        The importance of community

1.         The neighboring women named the baby Obed (4:17). They name him Obed, which means “servant”; he will be able to serve Naomi and provide for her when he matures. The community senses the significance of the child and shares it with Naomi. Perhaps this seems strange to us in a self-absorbed western culture, but it seems that the parents would get all sorts of suggestions from their family and neighbors about naming a child (cf. Lk 1:59-66). They had a much healthier understanding of the need for community in a person’s life.

2.         The women of the community celebrate the birth of Ruth’s son and Naomi’s grandson; the birth of a child is an important event in human life and should be celebrated. Sometimes men joke about women’s concerns about bridal and baby showers, but such times are important. Here the Holy Spirit puts God’s approval upon such events by putting this common event into the story; later Jesus showed the same sort of approval by attending a wedding and providing the best wine at the reception.

Apply: We need to be sharing all of life with one another.

 

III.       The Lord’s purpose

A.        The end of the book shows that this is much more than a little story about two struggling widows who need a kinsman redeemer to set them free and provide for them. It is part of a bigger story, about God providing a king for Israel—David. And that bigger story is actually part of the biggest story, for David is the father of Jesus the Anointed (Mt 1:1). All that happened in the story was controlled by God to lead up to David. In this story of Ruth, God was writing a much bigger story than any of the characters imagined.

1.         There are ten names in the genealogy. Not everyone is mentioned; “father” means ancestor in some sense. It is a list of significance; fifth and seventh names in such lists were held in special honor; here the fifth is Nahshon, the tribal leader of Judah during the wilderness (cf. Num 1:7; 2:3; 7:12, 27), and the seventh is Boaz, the kinsman redeemer, the man who should costly kindness and love.

2.         God has a purpose he is working out in human history; he does this through people. God lists selected names in his word to highlight his involvement with real people in human history. They are not “just a bunch of names”; no, they are people, like you and me. All of them had a significant part in the line of the Messiah.

3.         God works within a covenant community. This list spans many centuries (seven or eight centuries!) in the old covenant era. The Lord’s purpose worked out gradually over a long time. God’s new covenant community stretches over twenty centuries now; we are part of bigger story than our own lives. We can read of Christians of other times and places and realize that we are part of the story of God’s glory with them

B.        Ruth had gone to Israel to seek refuge under God’s wings (2:12). Does God reward those who seek him (Heb 11:6)? Yes, he does! Who could have forecast such a destiny for this widow from an outcast people? The Lord did more for her than she could have asked or imagined (Eph 3:20-21), by putting this outcast widow into the line of the Messiah (Mt 1:1-17)! Think of the not so nice people we read of in this genealogy. There is shrewd Abraham, self-centered Isaac, deceiving Jacob, and incestuous Judah and Tamar. Rahab was a prostitute, Ruth a childless widow, and David, oh David, for all God’s blessings on him was an adulterer and murderer. Solomon was sexually immoral, Rehoboam would not listen to wise counsel, Uzziah was filled with pride, and Manasseh was an idolater, who sacrificed his own children to idols.

Point: Jesus came to save his people from their sins. Even his own family line was filled with sinners, yet he came to be the friend of sinners. Is Jesus your friend? Turn from your selfish ways and trust Jesus to save you; he is the sinner’s friend.

Apply: God builds his church with outcasts (cf. 1 Cor 1:26-29). They have a place in God’s heart; do they have a place in ours?

~ Dave

 

Pastor Dave Frampton

The faithful and spiritually profitable labors of Dave Frampton are featured here at CMC. As a Bible teacher he excels. Teachers and student alike will profit much from his labor in the God’s Word. Visit Newtown Square Baptist Church.

 

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