In Tragedy Hope Arises

Here we have famine, the country of Moab, three deaths and the return of the wife Naomi to her land with one of her daughter-in-law’s, Ruth. In the human way of thinking through tragedies, we would perceive that this family had made a terrible mistake. In the eyes of Naomi, this experience had brought them bitterness. She responded to the people, Call me not Naomi (pleasant); call me Mara (bitter). For the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went full, but the Lord has brought me home again empty, why call me Naomi, since the Lord has testified against me, and the Almighty has afflicted me? (Ruth 1:20-21) We, like Naomi, would take our consequential tragedies as nothing short of the hand of God against us. But we know not the mind of God. His thoughts and ways are not always understood, because His thoughts are not our thoughts; neither His ways our ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts higher than your thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9).

So behind the scenes of all that was happening, God’s plan was taking shape. Two special people had to meet through Naomi’s family. The deaths of her husband and two sons, although difficult to understand, had to happen for circumstances to change from tragedy into hope. A Moabitess woman had to come into the picture for God to continue moving things in the direction He wanted to start the fulfillment of prophecy concerning the coming of His Son to earth. It is an amazing thing to know how our God planned it all. Who would think that He would choose such background from where to send His Son? Well, the truth of the matter is that no one’s background qualifies in this circumstance to fulfill God’s plan. His thoughts are impenetrable; they are entwined with eternity; the present is embedded into the future of God’s universal plans. Many times obscure to men, they develop right before our eyes, one day at the time, until completed. The present keeps pointing to the future in ways that the natural man will not perceive nor understand. In the case of Ruth, a Moabitess whose nation’s background was disgusting and the people despised according to Deuteronomy 23:3,4,6: An ammonite or Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord; even to their tenth generation their descendants shall not enter into the assembly of the Lord forever, because they did not meet you with food and water on the way when you came forth out of Egypt, and because they hired Balaam son of Beor of Pethor of Mesopotamia against you to curse you; you shall not seek their peace or their prosperity all you days forever. But it was from such nation that God chose to fulfill His special purpose.

Naomi and Ruth arrived in Bethlehem at the barley harvest time, which is Passover time. They arrived in a time of spiritual darkness, in the days when judges ruled. Those were the days when people did what was right in their eyes (Judges 21: 25). Ruth went to glean in the fields of Boaz, her father-in-law’s kin. There she was protected and provided for, as a chosen vessel. Her life was a special instrument in the hands of God to perform through her His future plan, one which carried a weight of glory and privilege. Her life, from nothing to full riches in every aspect of life, was an example of God’s perfect love for mankind.  Ruth showed strong faith in God when she left all behind – her culture her gods, to take care of her mother-in-law and to embrace her faith and country. “Your people shall be my people, and your God my God” (1:16b), so she proclaimed.  She might have come from a disgusting background collectively, but individually, she was a righteous woman. Her future started to smile at her with confidence at the time of her decision to follow her mother-in- law. Spring time had arrived for her; no more the uncertainties of a gray winter. Death was replaced by hope, hope of a new life in that country with its people and their God Who she also considered her own. Doors started to open from the time she decided to glean in the field of Boaz.  She earned favor from Boaz for her good reputation toward her mother-in-law. That was huge in his eyes. He said to her, Listen, my daughter, do not go to glean in another field or leave this one, but stay here close by my maidens. Acknowledging his kindness, she said, why have I found favor in your eyes that you should notice me, when I am a foreigner? Boaz said to her I have been made fully aware of all you have done for our 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. The 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 (Ruth 2:8, 10-12).

God was very much involved in all that was happening in the life of Ruth- His chosen vessel. He was actively performing His will in a way men cannot understand. Brilliantly, He opened Boaz’s heart, a wealthy farmer of Bethlehem, to love a Moabitess, whom Israel as a nation despised. As a godly man, Boaz showed kindness beyond the normal, to protect Ruth, a stranger. As kinsman of Naomi’s husband, He was willing to revive Elimelech’s lineage, after the next kin in line to redeem Elimelech’s lineage, refused to marry a Moabitess. Boaz’s background was an interesting one. His mother was a Canaanite harlot from Jericho, who hid the two spies Joshua had sent out to spy. Rahab, in spite of her idolatrous and immoral ways, showed great faith in God as she related the terror her nation was suffering because of Israel. She said to the two men, I know that the Lord has given you the land and that your terror is fallen upon us and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you, for we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were on the side of the Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. When we heard it, our hearts melted, neither did spirit of courage remain any more in any man because of you, for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath (Josh. 2:9-11).

It seems to me that Rahab demonstrated greater faith in God than the Israelites themselves. I believe her faith started to sprout when she first heard about God’s drying of the Red Sea for the Israelites to cross it. Out of fear of Him, she protected the spies. It was because of her faith that God spared her and her family. A scarlet cord was placed in her window as a sign for the Israelites when the time came for the destruction of Jericho. She and her family were saved from the destruction of Jericho. Later she married a man called Salmon from the tribe of Judah and Boaz was the product of that union. Boaz married Ruth and Obed was born to them, bringing much joy to Naomi. The women said to her, Blessed be the Lord, Who has not left you this day without a close kinsman, and many his name be famous in Israel, and may he be to you a restorer of life and a nourished and supporter in your old age, for your daughter- in- law who loves you, who is better to you than seven sons, has borne him. Then Naomi took the child and laid him in her bosom and became his nurse (Ruth 4:13-16).  None of them came to know the significance of Boaz’s family lineage, for it was secured for a long time to come. From tragedy to hope, Naomi and Ruth lived to experience God’s gift of life through Ruth’s son Obed. Salmon was the father of Boaz, Boaz of Obed, Obed of Jesse, and Jesse of David (the ancestor of YAHSHUA the Messiah).

YAHSHUA the Messiah came to earth and lived among men for thirty-three years when He gave His life as a sacrifice Offering to the world. He, being a Jew, chose His bride from all the tribes of the earth. Jews and Gentiles now are united through and in Him as His bride. From death to life; from condemnation to salvation, He is getting His bride ready to meet Him. Boaz, a picture of YAHSHUA, performed perfectly God’s love for His bride – who is made of gentiles and Jews alike. How beautiful the sound!

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