Thursday, February 27, 2014

Bible Briefs: Ruth

Series Introduction: Bible Briefs are a short introduction and summary of the overview of a book of the Bible, with a view to helping people take up their Bible and knowing what it's about.

The story begins with a family tragedy. Famine. Emigration. Death. A widow woman left bereft with two foreign daughters-in-law. It’s no wonder Naomi (‘pleasant’) wants to be called Mara (‘bitter’). Everything has been taken from her; and what remains she tries to send away. One daughter-in-law gladly goes home, but the other, she stays, stuck to her like superglue. ‘Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me... if anything but death separates you and me.’ This Moabite woman has been won to the LORD, even through the weak witness of a wandering widow.

They arrive back at harvest time. Her faithfulness to her mother-in-law is recognised and repaid by the farmer - abundant grace is shown to her as she takes refuge under the LORD, the God of Israel. The farmer just happens (!) to be a kinsman of the dearly departed, who becomes the kinsman redeemer to buy back the property and secure the inheritance of the family line.

It’s a well loved rags to riches romance. The story draws the reader in. But it’s more than just a wee story with a happy end and the returning of Naomi’s pleasure. Through the rescue of one family and the inclusion of a stranger, God is carrying on his great purpose of rescuing his family and the inclusion of strangers from all peoples and nations and tribes and tongues. The hero is God, the covenant-keeping LORD, who uses the heroine Ruth, and includes her in the family tree of the Lord Jesus himself.

When tragedy comes, we cannot always see God’s purpose. But keep trusting - he is in control and is advancing his great purposes. Just ask Naomi and Ruth.

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