Ruth 2:12 “under whose wings you have come to seek refuge” The coverings of God
This weekend we celebrate the beginning of Holy Week. Sunday will be Palm Sunday. As a Christian, this holiday is one that should excite us. Christmas and Easter, the beginning and the end, events that bookends the life of the one and only person who could redeem man from the fall in the garden. We would have no hope in our eternal condition if it were not for the only God who became man just to redeem and restore the lost condition of man.
The story this week may not seem like it would be an Easter story. However, it is the story of redemption in the Old Testament, a foreshadowing of what would be accomplished in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, Our Redeemer.
The book of Ruth opens with “Now it came about in the days when the judges governed”. From the first words of the book we find trouble. The “days of the judges” was a very dark time in the history of Israel. A time when “everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6 NAS)
Judges 2:10 tells us after Joshua died, “all that generation also was gathered to their fathers; and there arose another generation after them who did not know the LORD, nor yet the work which He had done for Israel.” What a horrible epitaph for people that God had delivered out of the hands of their enemies. They did not know the LORD or the work which He had done!!! What about our generation? Will the same be said of us?
What a background to open the love story of Ruth. Ruth is the story of God’s redemption that is hidden in the Old Testament and revealed in the New Testament. Here we find one of the greatest love stories ever written. It begins with the struggles of everyday life. A family fighting to survive a famine.
The story begins with a man named Elimelech. Elimelech’s name meant “God is King”. Elimelech married a woman named Naomi. Naomi’s name meant “pleasure”. Elimelech lived in Bethlehem which meant “house of bread”. Judgement had fallen on Israel and famine had struck the land. Mr. “God is King” took Mrs. “pleasure or sweetness” and traveled to Moab which meant “from father” But the land of Moab was under a curse because of their continual sin and idolatry. Moab was cursed because of an incestuous relationship between Lot and his daughter. The child born to that relationship was named Moab. Moab was continually against the Israelites. Deuteronomy 23:1-6 speaking of Moabites, “You shall never seek their peace or their prosperity all your days.” But Elimelech, a man who name says God is (my) King lacks enough faith to believe that God will provide during this difficult time. So he takes his family and goes to a land which is against all He believes.
Why am I laboring on Elimelech? Because we all have a little of Elimelech in us. We find ourselves in a place of “famine” and we know in our heart that God is our provider. He tells us he “will supply all of our needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19 NAS) Still we are tempted to satisfy our needs with our own plans. In other words, we go into the land of sin.
Just like in the garden of Eden, Adam and Eve fell into sin through their disobedience and brought death. Elimelech also finds the cruel master of death when he doesn’t trust the God who is King for his bread. Sadly, I should mention here that he had left Bethlehem, the “place of Bread”. The place where many years later the “bread of life” Jesus is born.
After her husband’s death, Naomi continues to stay in Moab and raise their two boys in the land of Moab. Mahlon and Chilion whose names mean “sickly” and “pining away”. They take wives from Moab but like the story of Cain and Able in Genesis they also meet a death.
What should one take from all of this background of the story of Ruth?
1.Someone once said that in order to be saved one must realize they are lost! Ruth is a story of redemption. A story of a remarkable love that transcends all our sinful desires and natures.
2. We are in need of a Kinsman Redeemer. There is hope in our Moab experiences. We can get up and go home to the “place of Bread”.
This week we beginning the celebration of Passover. The last week of Jesus’ life before the cross and the sacrifice he made to be our Kinsman Redeemer.
On Palm Sunday, Jesus comes to Jerusalem in a triumphant entry. The people cheer and sing “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” (Matthew 21:9b NAS) One week later they are crying “crucify Him, crucify Him”.
As you prepare to celebrate this season, take some time to consider whether or not you have left the “place of Bread” to go live in a foreign land. It may be a land of pleasure, busyness or maybe just one of complacency.
Elimelech and Naomi went to stay until the famine was over but stayed and built a life away from the land of promise. When we get comfortable in our everyday lives, we miss what the LORD wants to provide for us.
The challenge then is to consider whether you have made decisions that have taken you to a place away from where God placed you. There may be a famine in the land but there is provision when you are a child of God living in the land of promise.
Take some time this week to read the story of Jesus entry into Jerusalem in Matthew 21.
Read through the book of Ruth. It is a short book only 4 chapters. Look for keywords like redeem or redemption. Try to find those deeper truths found there.
We will continue the “rest of the story” next Thursday when we will look at what happens when we return home and find there is “bread” and a “kinsman redeemer.”
PREVIEW NEXT WEEK:
Ruth 1:22. “So Naomi returned, and with Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter-in-law, who returned from the land of Moab. AND THEY CAME TO BETHLEHEM AT THE BEGINNING OF BARLEY HARVEST.”
The Barley Harvest… Barley ripens around the time of Passover. That would have been this time of year!! Easter remains a time of celebration. The Festival of the Harvest of Barley, which Ruth gleans from the field of Boaz would one day be the celebration of first fruits on the Sunday after the resurrection of our Lord Jesus.
So much treasure in a simple love story. Oh How He Loves You and Me!!
Nicole C Mullens My Redeemer Lives