Hello everybody, and welcome in to episode 70 of the Bible 2021 podcast. We are reading Ruth 4 today and our focus is on Ruth: A most unlikely Moabite Bible hero.  We are a daily 10 minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome to new listeners in Lagos, Nigeria, Sindh, Pakistan, parts unknown, France, Assam, India, West New York, New Jersey, and Cleveland, Ohio. Thanks for listening! Our goal is to encourage DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast Don’t forget about our web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more – Click here for our Bible 2021 reading plan

The book of Ruth is a tragic story with a hopeful ending. It is important, because Ruth, a Moabite woman, is in the genealogy of Jesus and King David – Ruth and Boaz, her husband, are great-grandparents of King David. To understand the book of Ruth, you need to understand that it is set during a time of famine and trouble in Israel, so a man named Elimelech and his wife Naomi apparently flee Israel to go and live in Moab – an enemy country of the Israelites. We don’t know much about what happened to them there, but almost all of it is tragic. Elimelech and Naomi have two sons, who both marry Moabite women, Ruth being one of those women. Tragically, Elimelech and both of his sons, Mahlon and Chilion, all die, leaving Naomi and Ruth and Orpah (Chilion’s wife) alone. Interestingly, the names Mahlon and Chilion, the sons of Naomi and Elimelech, are Canaanite, which could possibly mean that Elimelech was leading his family to turn away from God. With these deaths, Naomi is left destitute and must return to Israel where Naomi still has a little bit of family land. Naomi implores her daughter in laws – both of whom love her – to stay in Moab, where they can start over in life, but Ruth refuses, choosing to cast her lot with Naomi and go to Israel.  They have little money, however, and Ruth is forced to do labor for food that is only slightly above begging. A man named Boaz sees her doing this, and gives her extra food to take care of her, which causes Naomi, upon seeing all of this food, to tell Ruth the news that Boaz is their kinsman-redeemer. What is a kinsman redeemer? Well, as our friends at Gotquestions.org note:

The kinsman-redeemer is a male relative who, according to various laws of the Pentateuch, had the privilege or responsibility to act on behalf of a relative who was in trouble, danger, or need. The Hebrew term (go el) for kinsman-redeemer designates one who delivers or rescues (Genesis 48:16Exodus 6:6) or redeems property or person (Leviticus 27:9–2525:47–55). The kinsman who redeems or vindicates a relative is illustrated most clearly in the book of Ruth, where the kinsman-redeemer is Boaz. Source: https://www.gotquestions.org/kinsman-redeemer.html 

So Boaz shows great kindness to both Naomi and Ruth, marries Ruth and they begin a family. Let’s read the summation of Ruth’s story in Ruth 4.

So, what is the message of Ruth? Its a good question, because this culture is so far away from our experience. We have no knowledge of kinsman-redeemers, or the relationship between Moab and Israel, or why in the world a Moabite woman would forsake her people to travel with her mother in law to a place she did not know about – the book is a mystery to us, in so many ways. But there is deep and rich and important meaning in Ruth, pastor John Piper will help us see it:

Look at the last verse of Ruth (4:22). The child born to Ruth and Boaz during the period of the judges is Obed. Obed becomes the father of Jesse and Jesse becomes the father of David who led Israel to her greatest heights of glory. One of the main messages of this little book is that God is at work in the worst of times. Even through the sins of his people he can and he does plot for their glory. It was true at the national level. And we will see that it is true at the personal, family level, too. God is at work in the worst of times. When you think he is farthest from you, or has even turned against you, the truth is that he is laying foundation stones of greater happiness in your life.
Three lessons from Ruth: 
1. God the almighty reigns in all the affairs of men. He rules the nations (Daniel 2:21) and he rules families. His providence extends from the U.S. Congress to your kitchen. Let’s be like the women of faith in the Old Testament. Whatever else they doubted, they never doubted that God was involved in every part of their lives and that none could stay his hand (Daniel 4:35). He gives rain and he takes rain. He gives life and he takes life. In him we live and move and have our being. Nothing—from a toothpick to the Taj Mahal—is rightly understood except in relation to God. He is the all-encompassing, all-pervading reality. Naomi was right and we should join her in this conviction. God the Almighty reigns in all the affairs of men.

That leads to the next lesson. Not only does God reign in all the affairs of men, and not only is his providence sometimes hard, but in all his works his purposes are for the good and happiness of his people. Who would have imagined that in the worst of all times—the period of the judges—God was quietly moving in the tragedies of a single family to prepare the way for the greatest king of Israel? But not only that, he was working to fill Naomi and Ruth and Boaz and their friends with great joy. If anything this season has fallen in on you to make your future look hopeless, learn from Ruth that God is right now at work for you to give you a future and a hope. Trust him; wait patiently. The ominous clouds are big with mercy and will break with blessing on your head.

Finally, we learn that if you trust the sovereign goodness and mercy of God to pursue you all the days of your life, then you are free like Ruth. If God calls, you can leave family, you can leave your job, you can leave Minnesota, and you can make radical commitments and undertake new ventures. Or you can find the freedom and courage and strength to keep a commitment you already made. When you believe in the sovereignty of God and that he loves to work mightily for those who trust him, it gives a freedom and joy that can’t be shaken by hard times. The book of Ruth gives us a glimpse into the hidden work of God during the worst of times. And so like all the other Scriptures, as Paul says (Romans 15:4, 13), Ruth was written that we might abound in hope.

John Piper, Sermons from John Piper (1980–1989) (Minneapolis, MN: Desiring God, 2007)

End of the Show: Bible memory verse for March: Hebrews 7:25 “Therefore, [Jesus] is able to save completely those who come to God through him, since he always lives to intercede for them.”

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