Posted by: pmarkrobb | October 22, 2012

an outsider and a Redeemer

Do you ever feel like a fish out of water, a stranger in a really strange land, a square peg in a room, workplace or neighborhood full of round holes?  These questions might seem a bit resonant in the story of the man we just finished reading about (Joseph).  He was certainly “not from around here” to those he served and ultimately ruled in Egypt.  We may have moved on from the focus on Joseph, but I believe the questions remain resonant in the woman we continue to read about this week … Ruth.

The whirlwind that is Ruth’s story is a fascinating one … equal parts romance novel and loyalty/obedience lesson.  And while it is a short read, there is no shortage of options for application in our everyday.  If you dive deeper into the story, things can get rather uncomfortable.  The Bible is not a tame book, and this story is another affirmation that God works through imperfect people to bring glory to himself and good (His good) to them.

In all that this story stirred within me, I was most struck by how much of an outsider Ruth was.  And in her obedience and God-ordained initiative, how central she became to the story of our redemption.  Ruth was a Moabite woman.  This is a seemingly simple and direct statement of fact, but in the context of her time and place, this was scandalous and dangerous.  The Moabites descended from Lot (remember him), and in the context of Ruth’s time, Moabite woman had a reputation.  Specifically, they were known to be responsible for enticing the Israelites into a form of idolatry that involved sexual immorality.  But while Moab was the place of Ruth’s birth, it was not the state of her heart.  In chapter 3 and verse 11, Naomi describes Ruth’s reputation about town as “a woman of noble character” (NLT).  Make no mistake, however, that being a Moabite put Ruth firmly on the outside in her chosen home with Naomi in the land of Israel.

Ruth chose Naomi, and she chose God.  And throughout the events of her whirlwind story, she remained true to both.  God richly rewarded Ruth for her choices and consistent obedience.  As you continue to read the story this week, read with a sensitivity to the square peg that Ruth was.  Read with sensitivity to how much easier it would have been for her to remain in the place she knew when her husband died and was faced with the choice.  Read with sensitivity to the repeated choices she made in obedience to God.  And then, when you have closed the cover on your Bible each day, take a few moments to consider the square peg you might feel like and the round hole circumstances you might be in the midst of.  Consider Ruth’s example, and the choices you have to be obedient to God.

Oh, and that “how central she became to the story of our redemption” comment I made earlier?  Let’s take a second to consider the generations that would come because of Ruth’s obedience, and God’s blessing with her marriage to Boaz.  How about great-grandmother to King David … and does anyone remember what other King his line leads directly to?!  God redeemed Ruth through her husband Boaz, and through her line God redeemed us.


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