Ruth: Ordinary People with an Amazing God
Ruth is on the docket for today. If you have your Bible outline journal, you might even be able to memorize it before the end of the sermon. It's short and sweet. So the sermon will be longer than that.
Ruth is about ordinary people, with an amazing God and, and let me just open up this particular sermon in prayer.
Father God, we come to you and acknowledge our weakness. You have put that on display for the world to see that you are in control of all things and we are not. Lord, we, we lift up our brothers and sisters in Ukraine. Lift up those in Russia. We pray Lord God for their salvation. We thank you Lord God that we can put our hope and trust in you. I pray that you would open our hearts and minds to hear the Word preached this morning, Lord to receive it, and to follow you accordingly, Lord. We're thankful for all these things, in your precious Name. Amen.
The book of Ruth has an interesting setting. Judges 21:25 tells us what the setting is, it says, “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” As I go through the introduction here this morning, I would ask for you to open up to the book of Ruth chapter one, verse one.
Right now Russia is doing what is right in their own eyes. They have a godless leader. They have a nation full of socio-political religious systems. Yeah, there are believers there as well. The Russian Orthodox Church is, you may be surprised to understand, a Trinitarian, believing church. They believe the Bible to be the word of God. They teach that Jesus is God the Son. And in these matters, the Russian Orthodox Church aligns with Scripture. However, there is much that they believe that does not align with Scripture. They have more in common with Roman Catholicism that with evangelical Christianity. They are liturgical, filled with symbolism. They call their people to venerate icons, it is a big part of what they do to have pictures or symbols, religious symbols around their church, a lot of times with a candle lit next to them. And they pray to those as though they're praying to whom that represents.
You and I have learned very clearly that God does not approve of such things. Alright, you remember when Moses goes away, as we learned in the Old Testament so far, and Aaron is there leading. And they make this golden calf and they said, “Here is your God. We don't know what happened to Moses, but here is your God.” It's not like they thought the calf was their God, they are going to now worship God through this calf. It's exactly what an icon is. And of course, Moses took it, pounded it to dust and made them drink it. Remember that? So I don't think God looks kindly on these types of things. They also celebrate Mary as the Mother of God, a title that is not in Scripture.
The Russian Orthodox Church also does not believe that salvation comes by grace through faith, alone, as is taught in Scripture, but through the observance of the sacraments. Members of the Russian Orthodox Church regard decisions of their church councils to be infallible. They pray to the dead. They baptize babies and fully confirm them then, after they're baptized as part of the church. And they hold tradition on par with Scripture. The problems going on right now are more than physical. They could have peace, physically, and we pray that they have peace.
War is… in some ways, I don't even know how to describe it. I have never been in war like what is going on over there. Maybe some of you have, but I have not. It is a wretched thing. But they could have peace among men and still not have peace with God.
Ruth lived in a time when everyone did what was right in their own eyes. She, as you see from Ruth chapter one verse one, lived during the time of the judges. That is the cycle of rebellion, and rebuke, that the people of Israel were in for many decades. Yet Ruth is a shining example in the Old Testament of God's grace and blessing to someone who was in a pagan society. See, she was a Moabite. And you might remember that the Moabites worshipped the god Chemosh, which is also rebuked later, which is also when Solomon went astray built an altar to this God for the Moabites and built an altar for the Ammonites as well for the god that they worshipped. But this is a pagan god, and this was the culture and the religion that Ruth was familiar with. Until she left there and came to Bethlehem with her mother-in-law, Naomi.
As you think about Ruth, I want to go over the story of Ruth today, because in the story, you can see the details of God's working in their life, which is a beautiful story. But think of Ruth as a bridge in the Old Testament. So before Ruth, before the time of the judges, right, you had God working through Noah, God working through Abraham, and Isaac and Jacob. And they start out in the garden in Genesis, and they end up in Egypt by the end of Genesis, right. And then in Exodus, God redeems his people. And then Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, the people wandering, they're wandering in the wilderness. They had this amazing, literally mountaintop experience, with God on Mount Sinai. And they learn what God requires, he gives them a tabernacle, not so that they can have some work to do, but so that he can meet with them, so that his presence, his holy, perfect presence, can be among an imperfect people. He is very gracious in that way. They rejected his plan. And then we got into the book of Joshua. And Joshua, after Moses died, led them in to take Jericho, and they got to see the walls of a city fall down. Just by marching around it and yelling at it. I don't think the Ukrainians are trying that today. They are fighting for their very lives. And yet the Israelites were going to be fighting for their very lives. The people of Jericho had high walls, it's built on a hill. You can even see remnants of that today.
But they followed God's plan. And Joshua began this time where at least a few generations, followed God the way they were supposed to. But very soon as they're attacking different cities, in the Promise Land, the land that God says, I have given this to you remember, God made the land, he's not taking it, he's taking it back. Right? So it was his land to give. And he's saying, I'm giving this to you. The people didn't do such a good job at moving off all of the people in God's land. They intermarried and it caused lots of problems. Well, we come through the book of Judges, and we see people like Samson and Ehud and Gideon and Deborah and Barak and others. They are the people that God has sent to bring the people away from these other cultures, these other religious systems, and to bring them back to God.
Well Ruth takes place during the time of the judges, when there was no king. And after the book of Ruth, First and Second Samuel, we begin to get into the time of the kings. And if you ever wondered sometimes when read the story about the people not wanting God to be their king, and they wanted King Saul. And well now that you've kind of come through this journey through Scripture with us so far, you can see why they might want a king. The very last verse in Judges says, there's no king everyone was doing whatever they wanted [Judges 21:25]. Sometimes you have a king, or a ruler, like in Russia, who does whatever he wants.
And Ruth is this this bright spot of a lady from a pagan society who finds God. And it's a story of his graciousness. And as you'll see, and you already know, since I preached through it verse by verse, not too long ago, you know that the great significance of Ruth comes at the end. Well, the bridge then of Ruth is from a time without kings to a time with kings. So we're in the middle of that scenario so far.
And we encounter Ruth 1:1, look there with me, “In the days when the judges ruled.” And I'm going to summarize what happens in the book of Ruth for you. And I want you to try and engage with the story. Don't just simply listen to the details and the people and that sort of thing. But try and engage with the story. There's no police force. There's no military. So as you hear things like Boaz telling Ruth to, “stay in my field,” that's for her blessing and protection. As you think about Ruth, going back to Naomi's homeland, and Bethlehem, different God, different people, right? Remember, they've got to travel about 70 miles on foot, just two women in that society. Okay, so think about these things as we go through the story.
So, what happens in the book of Ruth? Well, the first five verses cover 10 years, they cover 10 years of time. You have this Jewish family in Bethlehem, there's no bread, right? Because God is punishing them for their sins. There's no bread in the city of bread. And so this family of the house of Elimelech they go over to Moab, their enemies. That would be like someone from Ukraine going over to Russia, because there's no bread in Ukraine. Right? So you have this very odd scenario, this wouldn't sit well, with the Jewish people reading this story. It wouldn't be a safe idea to go to Moab because you never know what they're going to do.
So they traveled to Moab, they lived there 10 years. Naomi, who is the mom of the family, loses her husband and her two sons. Her two sons had married and now they're all widows. Now there's a group of three widows in a foreign land, led by lady who's not from there. Look in verse six. Naomi encourages her widowed daughter in laws to go back to where they came from. “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.” So Naomi hears that in Bethlehem now that God is now providing food for them once again in Bethlehem. And Naomi is saying, “Hey, I think it's time for me to return. But I want you all, Ruth, I want you and your other widow, I want you guys to go back to your people, live with them.” Well, Ruth doesn't like that idea. She's come to love Naomi.
Think about that. Already, she loves this lady. She loves her so much, that she is willing to abandon her people that she grew up with, and to go live in a foreign land, who are typically the enemies of her people. Ruth 1:16-17 says this, this is Ruth's reply, “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.””
So they traveled together. Naomi accepts this plea. And they travel together back to Bethlehem. And as it does today, even without social media word travels fast. And the whole town of Bethlehem is wondering about these two ladies and wondering where are they, why are they coming back here? And they're all stirred up. Look in Ruth 1:22. “So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabite [just in case we forgot that already] her daughter-in-law with her, who returned from the country of Moab. And they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest.”
This is, quite possibly, during the time of the judge Jair, there's only a few verses about him. We don't exactly know, when they made this trek. It could also be, some surmise, that it could be during the time of Samson. And there's war against the Philistines. So maybe that's why there's no immediate war with Moab. But now they're fighting, you know, the Canaanites and the Philistines, and their focus is somewhere else. So maybe that's what allowed Ruth and Naomi to leave and to go back safely.
But if you were in this situation, what would you and I be doing? What would be guiding you? You see, the benefit that Naomi, and Ruth have at this point, is the benefit that every trial brings. It makes you figure out exactly what you believe. Right? I mean, when you're in a trial, you're thinking through, who am I? Why am I living this way? Should I continue to live this way? Life is difficult. But when life is good, you're like, hey, every decision I made must have been the best one. I've got lots of supplies, my house is nice. I have good friends, church is going great. Right? And you don't really, you and I, don't really think through who we are very well when life is just peachy and rosy.
But Naomi has attested to the fact already, that God's sent the feminine. She has attested to the fact that God has visited Bethlehem, and God is the one who brought food back to Bethlehem. And God has also, she says, brought them back empty handed. In other words, no children. I have lost my husband. I've lost my two sons, we have no children, and prospects are not looking good. And where does she put the blame for all of that? On God, where it should be. Because you see God is sovereign in all things. God is at work in all things. Naomi didn't understand it. And many times you and I don't understand why God lets things happen. Why God ordains things to happen. But we do know this, that God is after your heart. God is after a pure heart, and he is willing to do anything it takes to purify your heart and my heart before him so that we will live according to his word, for his glory. Ruth and Naomi are seeing that.
So, they've come at the start of the harvest. I'm sure that Naomi knew when that time would be and their first priority is to find food. Look in chapter two. The narrator tells us Boaz was a relative of Naomi. But Ruth doesn't know this at this point in the story yet, you and I are getting details from the author of the book of Ruth, that she's not aware of yet. So she says she's going to head to a field outside the city. Ruth is not there to just make a great life for herself. Right? She is willing, again, to put herself at risk to go outside the city. Right then let's just say you're in DC, and you're the husband, okay, at this point, and you've got your family, it's dinnertime. And you're gonna go outside DC, let's say maybe southeast, across the river. Into Anacostia, right? The deep hood, where there's gunshots, all the time. Right. And that's where you're going to go because you've heard maybe there's a restaurant still open today.
So Ruth is going to put herself in harm's way. She is going to go out into the fields, unaware of where she's gonna end up and she is going to hope for food and hope to get back safely. That's her plan. And Naomi says, “great plan.” Okay, that's the situation so far, look in Ruth 2:3, “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.” Now chapter two, verse one says, Boaz was “a worthy man.” And we're going to see what that really means. How does a worthy man treat a foreign, poor woman? Does that ever come up in our society? Maybe like all the time, the last two years? Right? How do you treat people from other cultures? How do you treat people who don't look like you? How do you treat people who don't talk like you, who worship other gods? Right?
She said, she's going to worship Naomi's God. But up until this point, all she's doing is looking for food. So how do you? How do you treat people? Well, Boaz gives a wonderful example for us. And I want you to think through this. He gave her permission to glean in his field. That means she now has a sustained source of food for her and Naomi. The harvesters are going through and the poor women are going to follow along and glean on the edges of the field and the things that they don't pick up. Okay. And God told the people of Israel whenever you harvest your field, don't get everything, leave the edges for the poor, so that then as they harvest, they can also take care of the poor. So God's got this method of taking care of people built into society, and praise God, Boaz was still acting like a worthy man of God.
He asked her to stay close to the other ladies. Why? Because she needed protection. It also gave her fellowship and acceptance. He gave her protection from the other men. Later Naomi encourages in chapter two, verse 22, Naomi, encourages Ruth, stay close to them so that you won't be assaulted. Right. So it's not like just some preaching point. This is the reality of life. He also gave her fresh water to drink while she worked. Do your bosses give you fresh drinks for free when you show up to work? Well, if it is free, you're probably paying for it some way. But that's what was going on with Ruth here. And later, he would give her dinner. Did your boss give you free dinner on the first day of work, when you showed up? For those of you who have full time employment, do they just provide that food and say, “sit at my table where we're in the executive wing, come on up and share some good food.” That is what he's doing for this foreign woman.
By implication, I don't know if he's only doing that for her, he probably also did that for the other ladies who were gleaning. This is not a very good business decision. Unless he's trying to promote his good name. He's giving away his product for free. Most people don't do that in society. But that's exactly what Boaz is doing. He didn't have to think about it. He didn't have to go home and pray about it. Which is what we say when we know we should do and we don't want to do it, most of the time. Right. Boaz knew what he should do and immediately he was willing to show great compassion on this lady. That's how a worthy man lives. God has been compassionate to us. I therefore am going to be compassionate to others, as soon as I have the opportunity. And further still, he gave her the privilege later it says, of gleaning from the sheaves. In other words, instead of walking through the field, she could now just go to the pile of grain and get some. Okay, so this is this is not just a hard job, it's turned into a job that comes with water, free dinner, protection, fellowship, compassion, and at least is going to last for six to eight weeks, which will be enough to provide food for her Naomi, for a whole year.
How's that for a God who provides? God has compassion, not just on the people who are already in Bethlehem but he has compassion on all to who come to him. I just want to encourage you know that that type of joy. That type of provision in today's world, is falling on hard times. There's probably a lot of people who are going to donate food and shelter and things to those coming out of Ukraine, I have a friend in Canada, who has some families he's been following as they fled Ukraine, and they successfully crossed into the border. They’re now, you know, some of the hundreds of thousands of refugees. Who's going to take care of them, with no benefit to themselves? And this family is going to try and come all the way to the, not to the United States, but to Canada. My friend, he doesn't make much money at all. But he said, you get here, and God will provide. So now you've got people who are fleeing, who have to traverse not just borders, praise God for all of the people who are helping them, but now there's this sustained long-term help that's needed.
That's what Boaz provided on the first day. Look, glean as much as you want. She got there at the beginning of the harvest. We know the harvest takes six to eight weeks, right, and following that would be another harvest after that. How does a worthy woman respond to such kindness? She saw a worthy man, being kind to her. How does she respond at this point? Ruth 2:10-12, “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?’ But Boaz answered her, ‘All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told to me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before. 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!’”
That's an amazing response. “Why have I found favor in your eyes?” Normally, when we get given a gift, like this, this is an immense gift. This is certainly worth a lot of money to Ruth and Naomi. But when they get given such a large gift, her first response is, “I'm a foreigner, why are you doing this?” She wanted to find out why there was such compassion. It was overwhelming to her. The Moabites didn't have a tradition of bowing down to people that they didn't know. The Moabites didn't have a tradition of doing the face plant and asking for compassion from the Israelites. Right? They were their enemies.
And Boaz says, “look” in verse 11, and 12 he says, “I know what you've done.” He already sees the sincerity and the compassion in Ruth. And look at verse 12, who does Boaz say is repaying Ruth? “Yahweh repay you for what you have done,” that's the L-O-R-D there in your Bibles. “The LORD repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given to you”… by me? He just gave her food. He just gave her a sustained source of protection. You stay here. No, “you will be rewarded by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose protection you have come to take refuge.” That is an amazing story. That is the compassion of a worthy man, given to a worthy woman. And then they give the glory to God. That is what it's all about, giving glory to God for all things that happen. In our day and age, people fall prey to favoritism, to entitlement. Right? It's rampant. It's in all the news. We need to be partial to this group because there's something that's happened to them in the past. Right? Is that what happened here in Ruth? No, it's not what happened here in Ruth.
Boaz is kind to everyone. You saw his workers were also eating with him. And Luke chapter 20, verse 21, it says, Jesus shows no partiality. Even his enemies knew that, his enemies, the Pharisees say, “Let me ask you a question. It's true that that you don't show partiality to anyone. So should we pay our taxes?” Right, they’re to trying to trap him as though his worldview wouldn't be consistent enough to say that they should pay taxes, right? It's all God's, we should just give it all to God and not pay taxes. That's what they were thinking. But of course, Jesus says, “render to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's?”
Again, God the Father shows no partiality. In Acts 10:32 we see that, Romans 2:11, Galatians 2:6, Ephesians 6:9, Colossians 3:25, and then about 30 verses in the Old Testament as well. That say, “God doesn't show partiality.” 1 Timothy 5:21, as Paul's instructing this young pastor. Paul exhorts him to show no partiality. Partiality is lifting up a part of society. Right. What month is it? Right. It's not February in the news, right? It's Black History Month. Right? So are we lifting up as a society, a certain people and elevating them in their opinion because of their skin color? Is that acceptable to God? It's certainly not popular to even bring up the idea that that might not be okay. But God shows no partiality. Jesus shows no partiality. Paul shows no partiality. Timothy shows no partiality. Should we?
And if that weren't enough, James, the leader of the Jerusalem church writes this to all the believers in James 2:1. Remember, James was the first book penned in the New Testament, “My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.” In this context, he's saying, don't pay more attention to rich people than to the poor. Well, that's all we do as a society, is pay attention to people who can reward us for that. Just to be clear, just to be clear, that this is a sin. It's not just a preference. James 2:9 says, “But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.” Our society is this messed up, if you didn't know. You, need to bring the truth. People from different cultures and different races are just as precious as anyone else, including you. Why are they precious? Because they're made in the image of God. That's everyone. We should have a love and a compassion for everyone because they're breathing.
We shouldn't ignore somebody because it's not their month. That's ridiculous. We shouldn't show partiality like that. We shouldn't pick judges for the Supreme Court because of their skin color. Right? We shouldn't do that one way or the other. It's an abhorrence to God. And you are in sin if you do that. James 2:9 makes that very clear. We have such an amazing opportunity to give the light of Jesus Christ to everyone who will hear and that is what we should be doing. And I know you, to an extent, and you love to talk about Jesus with people. We need courage like everyone to share with our neighbors and our coworkers and that sort of thing. And I pray that God gives you that courage. But Boaz was living this out. And the same day that he met this lady, he blessed her with everything he could, that God put at his disposal. Oh, you need food, here's some food. You need protection, here’s some protection. You need a sustained source of food, by all means, it's God who blesses. And if God wants to take care of you, and anyone else who wants to come glean in this field, then God will do that. Boaz is an amazing example of a Jewish man showing his enemy immediate compassion and grace, to the glory of God.
Thankfully, God's people know that we treat someone with kindness, because they're made in the image of God. Ruth is such a beautiful story. Boaz goes out of his way to do that, and is truly, truly a worthy man.
Well, that only takes us halfway through Ruth. With a constant food source and hand Naomi turns to her next issue. This is where the concept of a kinsman redeemer kicks in. This is chapter three. This is a marriage proposal. And I don’t know what Ruth was thinking about this concocted marriage plan. But as I said before, this is not a plan for you to follow in detail. You know what happens, right? Ruth goes and says basically, “hey, marry me” to this guy. And she goes out to where they're pressing the grain and separating the grain from the stalks. And he's so tired and exhausted, probably really stinky at this point, too. He lays down there after a long day, day of work, and sleeps by the grain. It's not just a free for all, anyone come and take as much as you want. Right? He gives it to whom he wants.
So he's laying there and at night, it's pitch black, if you've ever been out in the country or been camping somewhere where there's no light source. You know what pitch black means. I was on the coast of Belize many years ago, and it's pitch black. It's not quite like a cave where you can't see in front of your face. But you can see so many stars, you can put your thumb in the sky, and there's just hundreds of stars you cover no matter where your hand goes. It's dark out. And so, Ruth accepts this plan. And she goes and finds Boaz and she lays down at his feet. Right? She’s already bowed down to him once and showed her submissiveness and so now she's laying at his feet and takes the corner of his cover and puts it on herself. This is not normal. Okay, this is not normal. Look in Ruth, chapter three, verses eight to nine. Here's what happens when Boaz kind of figures out what's going on. [Ruth 3:8-9]
“At midnight, the man was startled and turned over, and behold, a woman lay at his feet!” I don't know what he was praying for that day if he would find a wife or something. But God answers, in interesting ways. And he said, “Who are you?” That's how dark it is out. Right? “Who are you?” And she answered, “I am Ruth, your servant. Spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer.” Where's Ruth from? Moab? Where's Boaz from? Israel, Bethlehem. There is no laws that compel Boaz, the levirate laws don't include foreigners. But she in her kindness and in her desire to be redeemed says, “spread your wings over your servant for you are a redeemer.”
And Boaz responds, immediately again. Now, guys, I suggest you plan this out a little better, you know, get a job, a good job, have a sustained source of income. And don't just propose to any lady that, you know, I don't know, maybe knocks at your door at 3am and says, “Hey, let's get married.” That's kind of what's going on here. Life is complicated, though, isn't it? It's complicated. But Boaz says immediately I will redeem you. Like, immediately. I thought about who I was going to marry for a while, I guess Boaz didn't need to do that. You see what's going on here. Boaz lives by convictions. You see a kinsman redeemer was a protector of a family name. And at this point, he's aware that Naomi is part of the clan that he is supposed to protect. And the laws in the Old Testament, which he upholds, says that if someone murders someone in the family, then you can vindicate that even, that's the amount of authority that he has, as a redeemer. Also says that he can protect them, buy back land, and take care of widows. Those are the major areas a redeemer would be able to enact his authority.
So Boaz says, “That's great. Let's get married.” That's the English version of it, paraphrasing here, but he says, “Look, there's another relative just closer than me. And according to how we do things, he has the right to marry you.” Like, oh, she hasn't seen this relative yet. She doesn't know what he looks like. I mean, she could have won the lottery if the guy was really wealthy, and you know, just as nice as Boaz but it could have gone south. Right? But what does this tell Ruth about Boaz? He's a man of integrity. Ladies, you want to marry a man of integrity. You don't want to find a guy who bends the rules for his benefit. You don't want to find a guy who will take advantage of you in that situation. Boaz was the man in charge. It was pitch black, he totally took care of her, protected her and even sent her off before the sun came up, so that her reputation would be protected.
In other words, this probably wasn't normal for Boaz either. Ladies, you want to find a man who loves Jesus Christ. You want to find a man who will tell you the truth. Even if it's not your plan at the moment. That wasn't Ruth’s plan. But Boaz was such a man of integrity. He was such a man of conviction, that he was willing to live according to God's word, even at his own detriment. Doesn't say he was married yet. I don't know why he wasn't married. There's probably reasons for that. But even at his greatest opportunity, he pumped the brakes and said, “Hey, let's just take a little bit and make sure this is all done the right way.” Marriage is like that. And those of you who are married, you know, you're married to a sinner, right? You're married to another person who is also sinful. You have sinful in-laws. Your children will be sinful. And you will live in a sinful society. And this is the American dream, right? And we just put a little picket fence around it. And we tie it up with a nice bow. We think, “Wow, this is amazing!” If you find a godly spouse, it is amazing. But that amazing, godly spouse is still sinful. Right? And so you have to have someone who has the conviction to follow God, even at your detriment.
Well, that leads us to chapter four, where all this plays out at the city gate. Things go the way Ruth had hoped. Boaz becomes her husband. The family land is restored and they even have a son. The people of the town pray and ask God to make the child renowned in Israel. And he was renowned in Israel. And they thought it couldn't get any better. Right. As you know, the story plays out the women of the town surround Naomi, God's been good to you, look your daughter-in-law's now married, now she has a son, and the family name, and the land. It's all back in the family. That's a summary of chapter four.
But God had so much more in store. The child becomes the grandfather of King David. Look in Ruth 4:14, “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!’” They gave all the credit of what was going on to Yahweh They directed this towards Naomi. God's providence covered the tragedy of Naomi, losing her husband and her sons. If you've ever had a death in the family, God's providence covers the death of the family. God brings things about that we can't understand, that seem excruciatingly painful at the time. But yet God brings about his vast, glorious, wonderful plan and our job is to be patient and wait and see it play out. God is credited with the providential meeting of Ruth and Boaz. He is credited with a successful marriage plan and the court decisions by the city. That's what happened at the city gate. He's even credited with the famine, and he's credited with bringing back the food.
It was critical for Naomi to travel to Moab. Why? So she could meet Ruth. It was critical for Ruth to meet Boaz. Why? So they could marry and have a son? Why was it critical for them to have a son? Because that son would become the grandfather of King David. Look in Ruth 4:17. “And the women of the neighborhood gave him a name.” That doesn't mean that the village named him. “‘A son has been born to Naomi.’ They named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.” Now thinking back to Genesis, chapter 49, speaks of a Lion of Judah, right, a Lion of Judah that will come forth and provide. Saying the scepter shall never depart from Judah. Once the Israelites heard this, once they heard that the scepter would never depart from Judah, they were looking forward to someone who would save them, who came from that particular tribe.
This theme is not just in Genesis, but it's recounted all through Scripture. Even in Revelation 5:5, “And one of the elders said to me, ‘Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and it's seven seals.’” This is prophetic. David is born, from him comes the line that would bring about the Messiah. And you and I know that a great Redeemer was born. Boaz redeemed a person. Jesus Christ redeems many people from every tongue, tribe, and nation.
As you think about what's going on in the world, as you think about your friends and neighbors from different cultures, there's only one way to be saved, it’s through Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:18-19 makes this explicit, it says, “knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.” The word here for “ransomed,” in 1 Peter 1:18, is translated in every other translation “redeemed,” by whom you were “redeemed.” It's the same word. Jesus is our Redeemer. You can't earn your salvation. You can't buy your salvation. Silver and gold won't get you to heaven. But Jesus will.
Do you hear that, people? Silver and gold won't get you to heaven. Don't waste your life, trying to accumulate silver and gold and precious things. We spend so much of our time just hoping for a better vacation, a better car, a better this, a better that. It's not worth it, it's not worth it. It's all going to pass away. It's all going to burn. I remember seeing a friend of mine who was just a few years older than me and kind of was thinking as an adult already and I wasn't, and he pulled up in this really expensive vehicle. We were all going camping one time and we were like, Wow, that's amazing. He was a pharmacist. I had no idea what I was going to do. And he said listen, this thing, it's gonna melt. We're like, what? It's gonna melt. Like don't waste your life, trying to accumulate things that are temporary. Spend your energy and your effort on that which is eternal. Serving God is eternal. You will do that for all of eternity. And I want to ask you, no matter what situations are going on, are you willing to say that, “God, you are my God and I will follow you.”
The world is looking for people, for men and women, for children, who live out of the conviction that God is enough. That we will follow God, that he is our light, and we will follow him. Jesus gave his own life and rose from the dead so that we might live. May I ask you, do you know Jesus Christ today? And if you know him, is he your Savior and your Lord?
I got a message that went out to people who support the TMAI missionaries. That's the Master’s Academy International. And this came from some missionaries in Ukraine, before the invasion. When invasion was eminent, “We have made some contingency plans because it seems like the wise thing to do, like buying some non-perishable food, water and a propane stove, and packing ‘bomb shelter backpacks’ that are ready to go. But as Christians, we are not here to survive. We are here to love the Lord with all our hearts, and joyously give everything we've got to the fame of the Almighty.”
“Joyously give everything we've got to the fame of the Almighty.” I want to live with that kind of resolve. With that kind of determination. To live for Jesus, and to spread the fame of his name. Their testimony helps me not complain about circumstances. And as we heard yesterday, somebody else quoted this. And, you know, these testimonies are an encouragement to Christians all over the world. If the missionaries there with families and young children can stay and fight and stay and be a support to them when their country is invaded. And if the aggressor wins, they will be killed most likely. What can you and I do?
Right now this particular missionary family, they have an underground parking lot for their church. That's where they're sleeping. That's where they're living. That's where people who know them from the church are. They've got families who don't know God, who are sleeping in the cold on the floor of the parking lot because they want safety. I mean, I like being able to get up and just put my clothes on. Come here have a doughnut, or two. Have some coffee. Hopefully we have the coffee that we all like. Right? Hopefully we've got the creamer you like, hopefully we've got the doughnuts that you like. Hopefully the lights and the temperature in the room will be just right. The chairs will be nice and comfy. They had none of that. Everything you see in here, they don't have. But they're willing to stand up for Jesus. I pray that our resolve too.
Lord God, do a mighty work among us. Help us with all resolve, like Ruth, to follow you. To learn about you, to know you. No matter what, Lord God. We pray you’d give us courage. People among us are suffering, they have trials, and they have hard things going on in their lives. Lord God, even in here today this morning among us, people struggling with life. Father, we pray that you would give them courage and help us to be a great blessing to them as Boaz was to Ruth.
Lord, help us to pray for and lift up the people of Ukraine, the precious people there, Lord. The people in Russia, who don't know you, we pray for them too. And we pray Lord God, that you would give us the resolve to follow you no matter what.
Let’s just take a moment right now. Right here in this service and pray that God would give you the resolve to follow him no matter what.
Father, you are a gracious God; a loving and kind and compassionate God. And we pray that you would be on display for all the world to see in our lives and the lives of Christians around the world, even today. In your precious name, Amen.
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