Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Studying Great Women of the Bible

Tonight we discussed the story of Ruth in the Bible. There are certain themes that stick out. One that we all agreed on tonight was the idea of self-less love. Ruth chose to stay with her mother-in-law and leave everything that she knew, everything that she was comfortable with and chose a God that she had only gotten glimpses of through her family. She and her other sister-in-law Orpah experienced the love of God through Naomi and her family, but when faced with the choice Ruth chose the Lord. We talked about the times when we have known someone that was excited to get on the path that the Lord had for them only to stop or turn around once they run into difficulty. In those times our faith empowering our will are the only things that keep us going. Ruth made the difficult but right choice and she was blessed for it. We paused and thought of times in our life when we have been at a crossroad and the choices we made... and why.

Then after her choice of staying with Naomi she began working the difficult job of gleaning in the fields for weeks. We talked about what gleaning was and how the Lord provided a way for those less fortunate to be able to work and eat. The mercy of God is evident all through out the old testament as well as the new testament in the ways that He provides for His people. In the old testament it was through rules and laws until the coming of Christ which set us free. Ok, back to gleaning. So Ruth chose Boaz's field to glean and he showed great kindness to her in Ruth 2:8-16.
8Then Boaz said to Ruth, Listen, my daughter, do not go to glean in another field or leave this one, but stay here close by my maidens.
9Watch which field they reap, and follow them. Have I not charged the young men not to molest you? And when you are thirsty, go to the vessels and drink what the young men have drawn.
10Then she fell on her face, bowing to the ground, and said to him, Why have I found favor in your eyes that you should notice me, when I am a foreigner?
11And Boaz said to her, I have been made fully aware of all you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband, and how you have left your father and mother and the land of your birth and have come to a people unknown to you before.
12The Lord recompense you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under Whose wings you have come to take refuge!
13Then she said, Let me find favor in your sight, my lord. For you have comforted me and have spoken to the heart of your maidservant, though I am not as one of your maidservants.
14And at mealtime Boaz said to her, Come here and eat of the bread and dip your morsel in the sour wine [mixed with oil]. And she sat beside the reapers; and he passed her some parched grain, and she ate until she was satisfied and she had some left [for Naomi].
15And when she got up to glean, Boaz ordered his young men, Let her glean even among the sheaves, and do not reproach her.
16And let fall some handfuls for her on purpose and let them lie there for her to glean, and do not rebuke her.

What a blessing to a woman who probably felt very much like an outcast in a new country. Boaz went far beyond what was required of him in Leviticus 23:22 and Deuteronomy 24:19 by the law. We talked about how in Matthew it says that the mother of Boaz is Rahab (our study of last week). Was his heart touched for her because he understands how hard it is for a woman from another culture to come and be a part of the Hebrew nation? Does he see in her the strength and character that he saw in his mother? We don't know but we do know that there are important things that we learn from our family and we pass those things on to those that come after us.

Later at the end of the harvest Naomi decided it was time to move Ruth back into a home with a husband. She instructed Ruth to go to Boaz as a kinsman redeemer for the family and to lay down at his feet. His care for her is evident yet again as he said that he would do all that she asked and blessed her for her choice of him. He takes care of speaking to the closer kinsman redeemer quickly so that he can take Ruth as his wife. This is where self-less love reenters the picture. From what we understand about the idea of kinsman redeemer is that they take the wife of a close relative if the husband dies and leaves the woman childless (really son-less). In marrying the woman and conceiving a son the 1st son carries on the name of the dead husband and all that is his inheritance. Boaz maybe putting aside some of his rights to an heir for his inheritance by following through as a kinsman redeemer and therefore giving self-less love. What we did note was that in Matthew 1:5 "5Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse," So in his gift of a home and a family to both Ruth and Naomi he was included in the lineage of Christ.

Truly the verse from Matthew 10:39 sums up this story "He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it." Giving ourselves away in faith is the way to truly enter into all that God has for us.

Esther next week! Be Blessed!

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