We started this devotional by reflecting on why Jesus would choose women with questionable backgrounds to be listed in his genealogy. Since he was perfect, shouldn’t his lineage include women who were at least close to perfect? No, Jesus is and has always been ahead of the game. He chose women like Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba to show that he could use any one of us who puts our trust in him. Today we will focus on Ruth, the third woman listed as being in line with Jesus according to Matthew 1.
In Line with Jesus- Ruth
Ruth is well known for her faith and loyalty towards her mother-in-law, Naomi. Here’s a short recap of the backstory. In the days of the judges, a severe famine came upon the land of the Israelites. A man from Bethlehem named Elimelech (My God is King) decided to flee from Judah and try his luck in the country of Moab. The Moabite people descended from the son of Lot, who was conceived when his own daughter got Lot drunk and slept with him to keep the family line going. Not a very noble or holy people. Still, Elimelech traveled there with his wife, Naomi (pleasing), and sons, Mahlon (sickness) and Kilion (wasting). He died shortly after and his son’s ended up marrying Moabite women before also dying.
In reading Judges and syncing up the timelines, it appears that there was a war during that time. It makes sense that Elimelech’s sons may have been traitors, first marrying Moabites and then fighting against their own people. That would explain how they both died during that time. However, that it is just an inference and not clearly stated.
Naomi heard that the famine was over and that the Lord’s favor was again upon her people. She was ready to leave her daughters-in-law behind and journey back home to Judah. After much convincing, Orpah went back to her parents and her gods. Thankfully, Naomi was not easily moved. She stuck to her decision and said, “Your people will be my people and your God will be my God” (Ruth 1:16).
Your people shall be my people and your God my God.Ruth 1:16, Modern English Version (MEV)
Ruth was very determined but also loyal and humble. She could have easily went back home to her family and remarried but instead she chose to live as a widow and foreigner in a land she did not know. Ruth’s faith was first in trusting God as her own and turning away from the false gods of her people.
Her second act of faith was following her mother-in-law’s directions in gleaning from Boaz’s field and eventually asking him to be her redeemer. It was all risky business for her. Though she was rightly due the grain left behind by the harvesters according to Leviticus 23:22, she wasn’t exactly due respect as a foreigner. She ran the risk of being taunted, bullied, mistreated, and turned away. However, the Lord’s hand was upon her and everything worked together for her good.
May the Lord reward your deeds. May you have a full reward from the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.-Boaz in Ruth 2:12, MEV
Because of Ruth’s humility, obedience, faith, and good reputation, she found favor with a kinsman redeemer, Boaz. His mother, Rahab, had also been a foreigner who the Lord used in a mighty way. Perhaps that played a factor in Boaz’s decision to be kind to Ruth and also go out of his way to redeem her. Ruth went from being a childless widow and foreigner to the wife of Boaz and mother of Obed.
Ruth went from a lowly place to having a seat of honor in the Bible. She bore Obed, the father of Jesse and grandfather of David. I doubt that day she accepted God as her own, she had no idea she would be directly related to the Messiah of the world. But what a lovely honor that must be.
I can’t begin to imagine the sorrow both Naomi and Ruth must have felt at losing the men in their lives. They were left vulnerable with no children to bring them honor and care for them. They were probably overcome with hopelessness. Sometimes, in the natural, things seem hopeless and impossible. You may be going through a break-up, lost a job, dealing with sickness, or even lost a loved one. In these situations, our only recourse is to trust in the Lord. When things just don’t make sense, remember his promises and rest on his word. When he has told you the victory is yours, yet all you have experienced in failure again and again, trust in him still. His word will never come back void.
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