Monday, June 6, 2016
Ruth - From the Eyes of an Expat - 4:11-15
It's time to wrap-up the book of Ruth. I didn't expect to write all these posts, but the story just came alive, deep with new meaning that was bursting out, wanting to be told. It's been an amazing journey with this group of women. I've watched the Bible come alive to them as well. Different characters in the story resonated with each of us. We've grown from our discussion and time together. I've watched white, crips pages in their Bibles become covered in notes. Circles and arrows now fill the margins recording moments of understanding and revelation.
The final chapter found me marveling over the five blessings, each unique and individual to the person to whom it is intended.
1. A blessing for Ruth from the elders of the town. How appropriate that the leaders in the town recognize the character of this foreigner amongst them. Their declaration moves Ruth from being an outsider to being an important thread in the lineage of their future king. "May the LORD make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the house of Israel." How did the sisters, Rachel and Leah, the wives of Jacob, build up the house of Israel? They are the mothers of the 12 sons who each became a tribe of Israel. How did Ruth fulfill this prophesy? She became the great grandmother of King David and is in the lineage of Jesus.
2. A blessing for Boaz from the elders of the town. Standing and fame. "May you have standing in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem." I don't think Boaz was looking for either of these things. He already had a good reputation and standing because of his financial status and the way he treated people. He became famous because God chose that his name should be remembered in the lineage of Christ.
3. A blessing for Boaz's family from the elders of the town. "Through the offspring the LORD gives you by this young woman, may your family be like that of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah." This seems like an odd blessing to me. This is the story of Tamar, who dressed as a prostitute to seduce her father-in-law, Judah, because he would not give his last son to her to carry on the family inheritance. She had twins, and Perez was the first born. He became the head of a leading tribe in the land. These are names I'm not very familiar with, but to the people of Israel, this blessing was common. It was a blessing to be honorable and numerous just as Perez was.
4. A blessing for Naomi from the women. How beautiful that Naomi, who returned to her people bitter and with no hope, is blessed by the women of the town. I'm sure these women had watched Naomi mourn and then slowly grow hope as she resettled in Bethlehem. Ruth marries and has a child. Now the women surround her with love and encouragement. "Praise be to the LORD, who this day has not left you without a kinsman-redeemer... He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age..." Renewed life and sustenance. This is what Naomi needed, a new life. This is the beautiful picture the kinsman-redeemer gives. Just as he provided Naomi new life, Jesus provides us new life.
5. A blessing for Obed from the women. This wee child was given a great blessing. "May he become famous throughout Israel!" Future grandfather to King David and in the lineage of Christ, his name is recorded for all to know.
I hope the book of Ruth has come alive with new meaning and deeper understanding. I've enjoyed this time, writing my thoughts and sharing what I've been learning. Thank you for coming on this journey with me.