Ruth

Ruth 4:11-22 – Every person is significant

Ruth 4v11-22

 

EVERY PERSON IS SIGNIFICANT!

 

Introduction.

We come now to the end of the story of Ruth / the climax. And yet in many ways it is only just the beginning of the story.

Ruth and Boaz marry – the people rejoice with them. There is a great human need for festivity. Human life needs moments set apart for celebration and partying! The routines of life need to be interrupted with partying. Birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, weddings – any special event. These need to be community events. We are so private / so individual.

The proverb says “When you laugh the world laughs with you, when you cry you cry alone!” Do we even laugh together anymore??

 

Think of the potential for witness as Christians. We have the idea very often that evangelism and witness is bringing people to church / or some other meeting so we can preach at them. We run this verbal gospel message over them.

The place to start in my view is by the Christian community celebrating together the good things of life – inviting our unbelieving friends and colleagues to join us.

What did Jesus say “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples IF you sit them in rows and preach at them!!” NO “… IF you show love to one another.” How will people ever see that if we live behind closed door isolated from each other and non-believers?

Ruth and Boaz celebrated in the community / with the community.

 

  1. 1.     The Prayer.

Ruth 4:11-12 11 Then the elders and all those at the gate said, “We are witnesses. May the LORD make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the house of Israel. May you have standing in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem. 12 Through the offspring the LORD gives you by this young woman, may your family be like that of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah.” (NIV)

 

The prayer of the people heightens the awareness that this in not simply an arrangement first between Boaz and the nearer kinsman (who had prior claim to Ruth under the OT levirate system) – BUT that the hand of God is in these dealings. I am sure that Boaz and Ruth had anxious moments.

Often we are in situations like that where we, like Boaz, have to make decisions and we simply do not know where it will end. It is only with hindsight that we see the hand of God directing affairs.

What is the people’s prayer for this couple?

1st – for Ruth. May the LORD make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the house of Israel.

Rachel and Leah were the two wives of Jacob – along with Jacob’s concubines born him 12 sons. It was there that the nation of Israel [Jacob’s new name] with the 12 tribes, came.

Their prayer for Ruth, not a Jew but a Moab, might become the mother of many descendants / that she might become the ancestress of a great nation. Little did the people know that their pray would be answered beyond their wildest dreams hundreds of years later.

 

2nd – for Boaz. May you have standing in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem.

The use of the word Ephrathah is significant because it means ‘fruitful’. It is another name for Bethlehem, which means ‘house of bread’. Remember that in chapter 1 the story began with a famine in Bethlehem Ephrathah. It was anything but fruitful and full of bread. Now not only is the food famine over BUT for Ruth a new home and community and for Boaz a place of honour in the town. Now not only with the name of Elimelech, Ruth’s late father-in-law, and Mahlon, Ruth’s late husband, be preserved for posterity BUT so too the name of Boaz!

 

3rd – for the family.

…..May your family be like that of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah.

We are not told whether or not Boaz was or had been married but it would appear that he had no children of his own. So not only was he preserving the name of Mahlon and Elimelech but also for himself. His willingness to sacrifice his resources and act as Ruth’s kinsman-redeemer made his name go down in history. If he had not acted in this way we would not know about him today. He is a picture of one of his descendants who because of his self-sacrifice “was given a name that is above every name – Jesus Christ!” [Phil. 2]

Who are Perez, Judah and Tamar? [Genesis 38]

 

Abraham

Isaac

Jacob

12 sons incl. Judah

Er      m.      Tamar

Onan

Tamar                            Shelah

Perez

Zerah [scarlet thread]

Perez was the firstborn of a levirate relationship between Judah and his daughter-in-law Tamar. Bethlehem was a town in the territory of the tribe of Judah. Perez is therefore one of the ancestors of the Bethlehemites. The house of Perez is referring to the large number of his descendants – many of whom were at the gate praying God’s blessing on Boaz and Ruth.

Their prayer is that Boaz and Ruth may have numerous descendants – that their name might be famous.

 

  1. 2.     The Baby.

Ruth 4:13   13 So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. Then he went to her, and the LORD enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son. (NIV)

 

God has been good to Ruth – Back in Moab she came to accept the God of Israel as her God. There is evidence of faith and trust. She and Naomi continue to experience God’s guiding and provision and protection in spite of adversity. God guided her to the field of Boaz where Boaz fell in love with her. God continues to oversee the negotiations between Boaz and the nearer kinsman. Now Boaz and Ruth are married and God graciously allows Ruth to conceive and give birth to a son.

 

They name their son Obed – ‘servant’. The best thing we can ever wish for our children I that they are servants of God!!

 

This baby – Obed – in answer to the prayers of the people and no doubt in answer to the prayers of Boaz and Ruth – and don’t forget the doting Granma, Naomi – he became a blessing to many people!

 

A Blessing to Boaz and Ruth.

Boaz was not a young man – probably didn’t have children certainly no son and heir. Ruth was widowed young and maybe the prospect of children seemed remote. Now Obed was in their home – what a joy! Every baby is a special gift from God and should be treated that way.

Every child deserves a loving home and caring parents. It is sad when families break up – it is sad when parents neglect / abuse their children. It is sad when parents are so busy acquiring possession / pursuing careers / indulging in selfish past-times and the children are neglected.

None of us get it all right! And there are no guarantees BUT if we work at showing love and discipline / training and instruction in the Lord they will have a better chance.

 

A Blessing to Naomi.

Naomi had lost her husband and her sons – what a heartache she had. Yet now through the faithful devotion of Ruth she has a grandson to carry forward the family name! The women of Bethlehem share Naomi’s joy when they say,  “Praise be to the LORD, who this day has not left you without a kinsman-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel! Ruth 4:14 (NIV)

 

There is no better way for Grandparents to invest than to invest in there grandchildren.

ILLUS.: I never really knew my grandfathers – one died the year after I was born and the other who died when I was a teenager never spent much time with us. My grandmothers both lived well into their 90’s. One stopped living when she hit 70 and was always moaning – The other, with whom I spent much time was a delight. Everyone loved her and she loved everyone. She had 11 grandchildren – one day someone asked her if she had a favourite grandchild, “No,” she said, “and if I did I would never tell anyone!”

 

One of my regrets about living in the YK is that my children have grown up without Grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins!

If your are a grand parent – or maybe you don’t have grandchildren of your own – still “There’ is no better way to get a new lease on life than to invest in the younger generation!”

There is another reason why grandchildren are grand – “ They are grand when they come and they are grand when they leave!”

 

A Blessing to Bethlehem.

The name of Elimelech almost disappeared from Israel but this baby Obed would bring fame to Bethlehem. How? Most of the world knows about Bethlehem. It was the place David came from – Israel’s most famous king. Of course it is also the place Jesus was born. Still today 1000’s go to Bethlehem every year to remember its past significance!

 

A Blessing to Israel.

Obed was the grandfather of King David. What influence did he have on the live of the young David? We don’t know if he was alive when David was born BUT David wouldn’t have been without Obed. We remember David for fighting Goliath and his adultery with Bathsheba. BUT think of David’s contribution to Israel in terms of his leadership and general and king – AND the psalms and music he produced.

 

A Blessing to the whole world.

The greatest blessing God gave David [and thus Obed] was not a great army or the resources to build a Temple BUT a promise that one of his descendants would be king on his throne forever. The people knew that the Messiah would come from the tribe of Judah but they didn’t know which family. God chose David’s family. The Redeemer would be known as the “son of David” [Matt.1v1].

 

When the people of Bethlehem praised God for the birth of Obed little did they know the plans God had for that little boy. Through him would come the great King David and the even greater King / Saviour Jesus Christ. It would be to Jesus that the nations of the world would come. [In a while we will sing P.866 “….in him all nations shall be blessed.”]

 

Now no one else will ever have as great a descendant as Obed had in Jesus. BUT we have no idea what impact any child will have on the world.

ILLUS.: In the year 1809 world attention – at least Western world – was focused on Napoleon marching across Austria. One village and town after another were falling before his armies.

During that same year thousands of babies were born in Britain and America but who cared about bottles, nappies and cradles with such momentous event going on in Europe.

In that same year William Gladstone was born in Liverpool. Alfred Tennyson began life in Lincolnshire. Charles Robert Darwin wore his first nappy and in a little log cabin in Hardin County, Kentucky, an illiterate labourer and his wife named their new-born son Abraham Lincoln.

 

We do not know what the children in our care will become – whether our own / our grandchildren / the kids in SS or youth club / pupils at school.

But not just children – every person is significant in God’s economy. Maybe the world doesn’t know your name or recognise you as significant BUT we are talking about God’s economy.

 

ILLUS.: {some may remember this story from before} Henry Varley – anyone know who he is? Dwight L Moody? Moody the great preacher – Varley a butcher who one day said to a young Moody “The world has yet to see what God will do with a man fully committed to him!” Moody replied “By God’s grace I will be that man!”

John Wesley said of his mother Suzanna “I learn more about God from my mother than from all the theologians of England.”

 

You and I may not be D L Moody or John Wesley but we can be a “Suzanna” or a “Henry Varley”

 

  1. 3.     The Family Tree.

 

The Bible seems to have a lot of genealogies – we skip reading them most of the time. Why are they there? Because history is important. It is important that we do not forget the past. It is important to see that each conception and birth is a gift of God. But they are gifts from God within a context. We are who we are to a degree because of who our parents are and our grandparents. Our history matters.

 

God comes to us in Jesus Christ – a historical figure – he doesn’t come out of the blue / in isolation. He is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob / of Naomi, Ruth, Boaz, Obed, and David. There is an interconnectedness between the covenant-keeping God of the OT and the God of the New Covenant [NT] who came in the person of Jesus Christ.

 

As we look back at God’s providential care for his people {Israel} collectively and for individuals like Naomi and Ruth we are comforted and encouraged because he is still the same God.

 

The story of Ruth is set against the background of the period of the judges. A time characterised by people following any god except Yahweh – a time of disorder – they were dark days in Israel’s history. Yet in the midst of that is Ruth – a foreigner – who is loved and redeemed at a price by Boaz.

It reminds us of Jesus – our redeemer – who has already paid a redemption price for us and wants to bring us into his family. As far as He is concerned everyone is significant – significant enough for the God of the universe to come to earth in the person of Jesus Christ and love us.

BUT that love and redemption must be believed and received.

If we have done that like many here have then we need to ensure that we are living in close relationship with him and not as an estranged couple.

 

Boaz didn’t want an estranged relationship with Ruth that simply paid a sum in a sterile financial transaction – he wanted a wife to love and be intimate with – that is what God wants with each of us.

 

 

 

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