Posted by: genelnicholsblog | March 11, 2015

way better than any soap

Have you ever watched a soap opera?  Okay, so maybe no one is going to admit that here … but I know some of you are out there!  Oh, the drama!  Broken hearts, loss, loyalty, hardship, travail and of course, romance … actually it sounds a lot like the Book of Ruth to me!  John MacArthur, in his book Twelve Extraordinary Women, calls the Book of Ruth one of the most deeply touching stories in Scripture.  Here is a brief synopsis:

A severe famine in the land forces a devout Jewish family to go to Moab in order to survive.  It is there that the husband and both married sons die (Scripture is silent as to what happened).  The grief-stricken and now destitute widow, Naomi, makes the decision to return to her home in Bethlehem.  Both Moabite daughters-in-law begin the journey with her, but Naomi urges them to stay as she knows how they will be accepted in Bethlehem.  One turns back, but Ruth stays with Naomi. Ruth chapter 1 says,

But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.

When the women arrive in Bethlehem, the entire city was abuzz with the news that Naomi had returned, destitute, and with a Moabite daughter-in-law in tow!  Moabites were considered some of the worst pagans around.  Naomi is a widow — childless, aging and poor — could it get any worse for a Jewish woman at this time?  The two find a place to stay, so the next order of business is to find a way to get food.  Jewish law dictated that whatever fell from the workers’ hands was to remain in the field so the poorest could always find food.  In fact, it was also mandated that some fruit always be left on the trees — also for the poor.  So Naomi sends Ruth into the fields and somehow she chooses the property owned by one of Naomi’s distant relatives, Boaz.     Scripture gives every indication that Boaz was a confirmed bachelor, but I can’t help but wonder if he was smitten by Ruth from the very first meeting.  He told her to only glean in his fields and to take food and water with his workers.  He also ordered his workers to drop extra for Ruth, and for his young men to leave her alone.  When Ruth began bringing home 4x’s the amount of food, Naomi asked how that was possible; it was then that Naomi realized the family connection.  Mmmm hmmm, beautiful, young widow … handsome, rich, and shy bachelor … He needed some prodding and Naomi was the one to do it!

Her scheme was unconventional, bold and forward, but it worked like a charm; Ruth actually proposed to Boaz!  We find the story in Ruth Chapter 3, and it is soooo romantic.  After taking care of one little obstacle, the couple is married and Naomi and Ruth have a safe and prosperous home for the rest of their lives.

I usually try to deliver a punch line at this point in the blog, some type of application to the story. We would be wise to emulate the lives of any of these three people – their faith, loyalty, compassion and bravery.  And we can see God’s hand in all of these events – Ruth just happens to wander into Boaz’s field, he speaks to her, Naomi put it all together, the location of Bethlehem, etc. But let’s just let the story speak for itself; it’s a picture of God’s sovereignty, His wisdom, His omnipotence and His perfect plan.

Maybe just a little bit more…

First, Boaz is believed to be the great-grandson of Rahab the harlot.  Second, the firstborn of Ruth was Obed, the father of Jesse, the father of (wait for it!) David – yes, as in King David.  Ruth was David’s great-grandmother.  So the poor, destitute widow from a pagan land, whose loyalty and faith in the true God brought her to a foreign country, became a mother in the royal lineage of Jesus Christ.

This is way better than any soap!

Their Story is Our Story…

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