The Women of Jesus // Part 3
Tonight, we’re jumping back in and continuing our study of the women listed in the genealogy of Jesus. Here they are:
Wife of Uriah the Hittite: Bathsheba
We pick up this evening with the second most famous: Ruth. Unlike the rest of the women in Jesus’ genealogy who are mentioned in Scripture. Ruth’s story takes an entire book of the Bible to tell. We won’t read it all but let’s start here:
Now it came to pass, in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehem, Judah, went to dwell in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons. The name of the man was Elimelech, the name of his wife was Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion—Ephrathites of Bethlehem, Judah. And they went to the country of Moab and remained there. Then Elimelech, Naomi’s husband, died; and she was left, and her two sons. Now they took wives of the women of Moab: the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth. And they dwelt there about ten years. Then both Mahlon and Chilion also died; so the woman survived her two sons and her husband. Then she arose with her daughters-in-law that she might return from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the country of Moab that the Lord had visited His people by giving them bread. /// Ruth 1:1-6 (NKJV)
The story of Ruth is almost like the story of the Exodus. An Israelite family goes to a pagan country because there is a famine in their homeland. This time the country is Moab instead of Egypt. The family consists of four people: Elimelech, Naomi his wife, and sons Mahlon and Chilion. They stay in Moab ten years. Disaster strikes them there: Elimelech dies. The sons marry Moabite women and then, both sons die. Three women, one Israelite and two foreigners left alone without support. Naomi seeks to return home – to the place she is from – Bethlehem: the house of bread is producing again. Before leaving, she says this to her daughters in law:
And Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go, return each to her mother’s house. The Lord deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me. The Lord grant that you may find rest, each in the house of her husband.” So she kissed them, and they lifted up their voices and wept. And they said to her, “Surely we will return with you to your people.”
But Naomi said, “Turn back, my daughters; why will you go with me? Are there still sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands? Turn back, my daughters, go—for I am too old to have a husband. If I should say I have hope, if I should have a husband tonight and should also bear sons, would you wait for them till they were grown? Would you restrain yourselves from having husbands? No, my daughters; for it grieves me very much for your sakes that the hand of the Lord has gone out against me!” Then they lifted up their voices and wept again; and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her. And she said, “Look, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.”
But Ruth said: “Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from following after you, for wherever you go, I will go, and wherever you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there will I be buried. The Lord do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts you and me.” When she saw that she was determined to go with her, she stopped speaking to her. /// Ruth 1:8-18
Orpah kissed Naomi and left. Ruth clung to her. True love, devotion and faith are revealed in such circumstances. Too many are “kissers” they profess love but leave when circumstances don’t favor them. Others are “cleavers” - they cling in the face of unanswered prayers and tragedy. Ruth was a “cleaver”. These folks are the only ones who find out how the story ends. They stay till God moves. Naomi leaves Moab as the Israelites left Egypt. But, the Israelites left full having plundered the Egyptians. Naomi left empty.
I went out full, and the Lord has brought me home again empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the Lord has testified against me, and the Almighty has afflicted me?” So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess her daughter-in-law with her, who returned from the country of Moab. Now they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest. /// Ruth 1:21-22
Ruth asks her mother to allow her to go work the harvest. Naomi gives Ruth permission and she “happened” to come into the field that belonged to Boaz, a relative of Naomi’s-a man of great wealth. According to the Law, the poor are allowed to glean the corners of the field of the Israelites. As a matter of fact, the corners were left for the poor. But Boaz has heard of Ruth’s faithfulness. He allows her to glean after and even among his reapers. Boaz tells Ruth, “Don’t leave my field”. In Boaz’s field, she found the refuge available under the wings of the God of Israel. One of the main principles of the story: this is not just about being sustained but about being redeemed. Naomi tells Ruth to go to the threshing floor and when Boaz lays down for the night, to lift garment and lay at his feet. Boaz awakes, finds Ruth there. Ruth says to him:
Take your maidservant under your wing, for you are a redeemer. /// Ruth 3:9b
Boaz does the right thing, unlike the sons of Judah. He seals the right of redemption legally – just as Jesus did so that he could rightfully take the foreigner, Ruth into the covenant of the promise. It is interesting that the elders of the city referred back to the instance regarding Tamar’s redemption when speaking of Ruth. Both women although strangers to Israel acted in faithfulness.
Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. /// Romans 2:14 (NIV)
So, the story of Ruth the Moabitess plays a large role in the end of the period of the judges and the beginning of the period of the kings. The last word of the book is the name of her great grandson, David future king of Israel – receiver of the promise that Messiah would come from his line. Faith, devotion, redemption, inheritance. That’s the order followed in the life of Ruth. The pathway to success in your life follows the same order!
- Ruth 1:1-6, 8-18, 21-22 (NKJV)
- Romans 2:14 (NIV)
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