The book of Ruth opens with much sadness, great loss, and little hope. Before the story hardly gets started, three of the four original cast members have permanently left the stage. The one remaining, Naomi, can only focus on what has been taken from her, unable to believe her life could ever again be worth living. Even Ruth’s commitment to remain with Naomi fails to cheer her up.
However, the Unseen Member of the cast has not left the stage; He is silently but sovereignly governing the affairs of Moabite and Jew alike. Involved in the most intimate details of their lives, at the same time some very mundane but essential things like barley and wheat harvests, God’s hand is unmistakeable. Having all the plot twists and surprises and a happy ending that make for a great story, it’s a work of non-fiction made possible only by God.
A. the miracle of life v.13-15
no longer barren – the pace of the story picks up, 9 months covered in verse 13. Author makes it clear – Ruth’s pregnancy was a God-thing. Whether God prevented Ruth from having children while married to Mahlon or not, don’t know. Do know God enabled her and Boaz to have a son. Now the “happily ever after-ing” really begins to take shape – God’s stamp of approval on their marriage.
a son is born – true, Bethlehem a small town. BUT, birth of Obed a community event. Seen by Naomi’s friends as blessing from God, given to her. As story opens with Naomi at center of attention, so she resumes her place at the end. It’s appropriate – gift of life to Ruth and Boaz in large measure gift to Naomi also.
a redeemer is given – there would indeed be a caregiver, one who would perpetuate Naomi’s branch of the family. By providing this gift to Naomi, Ruth was enabled by God to give all Naomi could ever ask for in a family. 7 – signifies perfection; Ruth the perfect family for Naomi in eyes of the community. Good reputation/standing to have!
B. the royal line continues v.16-17
the empty is full – Naomi pooh-poohed idea of starting over, raising new family. Unlikelihood of that was part of her perception of emptiness. Contrary to her expectations, God overruled – gave another child to fill her arms, enabled Naomi to have right perspective so child filled her heart also. A cause for rejoicing, not resentment.
a reason for living – every child needs a nanny. If Obed was to fully carry on the family name, needed to know family history and heritage and traditions from insider’s point of view. Naomi only one equipped to do that, to make him her son/grandson in more than just name. Naomi was primary means God used to bring Ruth to true faith; now Naomi has opportunity to do same for next generation. Most valuable facet of family heritage she could give to grandson, obeying God’s command to not only sons but sons’ sons also (Deut. 4:9).
answered prayer (see v.11) – those who prayed for blessing on Boaz and Ruth received postive answer. God indeed blessed their home with a child. They had no way to know how far blessing would extend. Wasn’t simply house of Israel Boaz would be instrumental in building up. As a direct ancestor of the Lord Jesus, his house includes us – “the house of God, which is the church of the living God”. 1 Tim. 3:15
C. grace prevails v.18-22
son of Tamar to son of Jesse
two periods of Jewish history: time spent in Egypt and wandering around the wilderness (first five names), time from conquest of Canaan to monarchy. Probably a representative rather than comprehensive genealogy – at least a few missing generations, e.g. between Salmon and Boaz. Specific entries chosen to indicate God was working out particular purpose; showed in his gracious choice of ancestors for kingly line through David, ultimately to the King of kings.
husband of Rahab (Salmon) and husband of Ruth
Numerous times God overruled societal conventions to bring people of his choosing into earthly lineage of his Son. Who in their right mind would marry a prostitute? Especially one who was a former enemy, who lied to the authorities to save her own skin, switched sides because she thought it in her best interests. Salmon did, her name was Rahab. Legitimate? Certainly, since God has graciously given her the gift of faith as he did Ruth. God also graciously gave Salmon and Boaz the needed strength of character and faith to do the hard thing, take risks in relationship while following God.
God’s plan runs through all
If we’d been choosing royal heritage, what sorts of people would we include? If we’d been choosing heritage for Savior of the world, what sorts of people? Would we have included the immoral and the immigrant? A great military leader who was also a murderer? And would we include enough information in the official record (see Matthew 1:1-17) that readers be reminded of sordid details? Identifying Rahab, Tamar, Bathsheba and others whose public life was far from spotless? We probably wouldn’t, why did God?
To make it plain at the most basic inescapable level that Jesus was a gift to the whole world. Not just the Jews, ancestry included Gentiles. Not just royalty, ancestry included shepherds (David) and shopkeepers (Joseph). Not only righteous, ancestry included scoundrels (Judah and Manasseh and Amon). No matter the heritage you bring, the baggage you had no say in acquiring, the bad choices you get full credit for, there’s a place in God’s family for all who come to him by faith. Just as the King’s ancestry included every sort of person, so the King’s household includes every sort. God’s grace and goodness are awesome!
“I Love Ruthie”, Phil A. Smouse; 10 minutes