Ruth is a pretty short book, but it has some great power and lots of good little sub-plots.   Tim covered some of them in his introduction of the message this week at Seward Church.  Let me highlight some of those and then get into the story a little deeper.

– The story begins with a story of immigration Naomi and her family moved to Moab from Israel due to a famine.  Many stories in the Bible have something to do with immigration and most of our families have an immigration story as well.  Some more recent and some more heart-breaking than others.

– Moab (and thus the Moabites) was the child of Lot and his daughter.  This act of incest was only the beginning of the sexual sins found in Moab.  The Israelites looked down on the Moabites as prostitutes.

– The earthly geneology of Jesus can be traced through Ruth to the Moabites and through Boaz to Rahab, who was also a prostitute (read the fully story in Joshua 2).

1) Absolute transforming power of grace lived out in relationships. It was the power of relationships that transformed 3 lives in this story.   First it was Naomi’s sacrificial love towards Ruth and Orpah.  By her insistence that her daughters-in-law could go back to her families she was making a sacrifice that is hard for us to comprehend.  She was sacrificing her future well-being.

It was this transformation that led Ruth to declare that she would reject her gods and follow God.  Tim Keller says (paraphrase) “When Naomi truly loves someone who doesn’t believe (in God), Ruth believes in her God.  He is trying to say that it was Naomi’s love, through relationship that cause Ruth’s conversion.

Ruth sacrificed her future when she moved back to Israel, again some of the cultural differences are hard to translate but if you were a prostitute it would be hard to move to an uppity neighborhood.  She knew she would be ridiculed, berated and looked down upon for being a Moabite.

Boaz also sacrificed his future, his wealth, and his legacy by redeeming (marrying) Ruth.

2) God puts signs of hope in every life.

Naomi was desperate, she had been widowed, she was getting older and more feeble, she was poor and desolate.  So desperate that she changed her name to Mara or bitter.  But in her darkest hours it was also Ruth’s greatest moment of hope. This story is an example of the fact that even though you can’t always “see” God’s hand working in your life you can know that He is there working.

There is somebody who immigrates into a place of deep suffering at the cost of His life to bring us Hope even in His most desperate moments.  Christ purchased our lives, similar to Boaz (redeeming Ruth) so that we can have hope and peace.  Finally, Christ’s pain was worse than anything we can experience.

I think it is amazing to see the corollaries between the Gospel message found in the New Testament and this 4 chapter story.

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