Today’s national news story is the death of Jack Layton. My condolences to his family, friends, followers and colleagues. Canada has lost a leader. A family has lost a lover and provider. (I have tweeted a few obituaries and a video from Rick Mercer Report.) When the hopelessness of loss hits any of us, we need hope found in God’s word. I am posting this trusting that the thoughts will give you hope in your famine of faith. Yesterday, I the biblical success story of hope and faith I shared in church was God’s redemption story woven through the loyal love found in the book of Ruth. Trust that God is at work for your benefit even during our hopeless feelings and desperate times. He is faithful to lead us with love into the life he plans! Ruth displays that truth in a beautiful story.
A Sacred Short Story
I love the story in Ruth. The story speaks for itself. That said, my sermon preparation always involves studying secondary sources and literary features of the text in order to grasp the message God intended in the text. This week I benefitted from study aids recommended by Terry Sanderson, Calvary Church. Thanks Terry. Ruth reads like a Jane Austen novel: cultural practices, strong characters, rich dialogue, reversal of fortune, loyal love! In this one, Jesus is our hero! 🙂 Ruth reads like a Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet except in reverse. In Romeo & Juliet, tribal conflict and tortured love result in tragic loss. In Ruth, God moves people from famine to feast by overcoming tribal difference, providing loyal love in family leading to a prosperous future including marriage, children and grateful praise to God. The characters are strong and there is rich dialogue. I recommended that you take 20 min to read the Bible book called Ruth. Enjoy the beautiful story of faith in 4 short chapters. Here are some major lessons we see in the verses, themes and characters.
A Success Story of Faith
- The light of loyalty in Ruth shines in contrast to the darkness of apostacy in Judges. That light points to Jesus!
- God secures the redemption of desperate people in desperate times. His loyal love causes our loyal love!
- God led this family from a famine into a feast through faith. Do you want Jesus to lead and feed you too?
God’s providential care in what we might call random events or happenstance:
Ruth 1:22. “And they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest.” (Bethlehem means house of bread and they fled a famine of no bread).
Ruth 4:22, “Obed fathered Jesse, and Jesse fathered David.” (David would become the King of Israel and Jesus would be his descendent and become our King.)
The Characteristic of Loyal Love, Covenant Faithfulness, Kindness.
I tried to show that the characteristic of loyal love, shown by Ruth (the transliterated Hebrew verb sounds like HESED) paved the way for God’s redemptive plan and that theme finds fulfilment in the person and work of Jesus Christ who demonstrated loyal love to his Church. Jesus is the greatest loyal lover of his people. He is the Ultimate Ruth. Trying to be loyal like Ruth is a noble moral goal, but we will fall short in our relationships due to our selfishness, but there is one who never fails to be loyal to us. God promises never to leave us or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6)! Ruth reminds me of God’s love for me, his Child. Thank you Jesus, for loving me with perfect loyalty.
The Character of a Kinsman-Redeemer.
I tried to also show that the character of Boaz, who is in the role of ‘Kinsmen-Redeemer” (the transliterated Hebrew noun sound like is GOEL) chose to take up his responsibility to purchase the rights to marry, love and provide for Ruth and Naomi (Ruth’s mother in law). This cultural practice was God’s gracious provision for socially and physically vulnerable and marginalized widows or divorcees. It may sound like a patriarchal practice that is very offensive to us, but it was God’s gracious provision for (1) Ruth and Naomi, (2) Boaz, who had been alone and childless and (3) Elimelech the deceased patriarch, whose linage would end otherwise. This role of “kinsmen-redeemer” points me to Jesus, the one who chose to redeem/buy us through the cross so we could be the Church, his bride, whom he loves and provides eternal life in the present, with all our spiritual blessings. Jesus is our kinsman because he was God in the flesh, sharing our humanity yet without sinful nature or behaviour. Trying to be like Boaz is a noble ambition, but we will fail in our relationships in trying to fulfill our responsibilities and obligations perfectly because of sin. Thankfully, there is one who is greater than us and greater the Boaz at being a redeemer and provider: Jesus Christ. I am so thankful that Jesus spread his cloak of love over me and chose to ‘married’ me. Boaz reminds me of Jesus. Jesus is the Ultimate Boaz. Thank you, Jesus, for redeeming me.
I drew great inspiration from this story! Please draw hope during hopeless circumstances from the providential care of God through the loyal love in Ruth’s success story. I tried to share that hope, rooted in Christ on Sunday and in this post. I hope that people feeling the loss of loved leaders will draw strength from a relationship with their Permanent Lover, Great King and Ultimate Redeemer, Jesus Christ.