Ruth 4:16-22

Today's Passage: Ruth 4:16-22

Consider the circumstances of Ruth 1—Naomi, a Jewish women, found herself outside the Promised Land having lost her husband and two sons. Not only has Naomi suffered tremendous personal devastation, but a few pages earlier in our Bibles, a woman was raped, left for dead, then hacked into pieces and mailed around as a message for others. This tragedy led to civil war, a near genocide, and then human trafficking to avoid the extinction of one of the tribes of Israel. Amidst national rebellion and depravity as well as severe personal suffering, Naomi was hopeless and helpless in an unimaginable way. She was completely vulnerable in a society with seemingly no compunction against taking advantage.

All Naomi had was two daughters-in-law, themselves widows. She urged them to return home where (humanly speaking) they had a chance to pick up the pieces of their lives and move forward in safety. However, Ruth refused. And, here’s the important bit—she proceeded to make a vow to Naomi.

Israel had forsaken God and his commands and begun to look like the inhabitants of the Land that they were supposed to commit to destruction. Now, here’s one of the inhabitants of the Land displaying the kind of covenant loyalty that Israel should have embodied. This is a theme we see over and over in Scripture where those who should know and be better than they are get completely outdone by someone who should not display those same characteristics. The story-telling term is a “foil,” which is a character who contrasts another in a positive or negative way. So, Ruth was a foil to Israel.

I don’t know about you, but as I look at the world around me, it’s chaos. Also, this is true of a lot of us to varying degrees, but my family has been through some pretty tough things over the past few years. Ruth 1 is bad, but for me, it actually gives hope.
No matter how bad things get, no matter how far it seems like the world around us may fall, God always preserves a remnant. The idea of a “remnant” is a theological concept that runs throughout the entire story of the Bible—covenant people fully committed to God’s kingdom plan and program. Ruth and Boaz displayed that kind of “remnant” character in a world completely devoid of it.

As dry and difficult as reading Deuteronomy, Leviticus, and Numbers may be, the book of Ruth is the living example of the effect of God’s Law. We see God’s care for the widow and foreigner. We see Boaz living beyond the letter of the Law to fulfill the heart of God through the Law. Then, he fulfills the role of the kinsman redeemer to restore the fortunes of Naomi. Through them, Ruth’s vow was fulfilled, and Naomi was given hope in the form of a baby.
Little did anyone know that Ruth and Boaz’s great-grandson would be the greatest king in Israel’s history, David. Additionally, God made David the promise of an eternal throne. It’s this family tree that we read about in Matthew 1 where Ruth, because of her covenant loyalty, is mentioned by name in the lineage of Jesus.

Reading Ruth I’m struck by the question, “God will use somebody, why not you?” No matter how bad the news seems on TV, God is preserving a people fully dedicated to him. —covenant people fully committed to his kingdom plan and program. He’s at work right now using people for his glory. Why not you? You never know what God can do with your complete faithfulness.

Written By: Tyler Short

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