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The Book of Ruth

Feb 25, 2024 | John Talcott

The Book of Ruth (6) - I AM HIS

We are in part six of our series going through the Book of Ruth. And as we come to the end of this amazing story of Ruth and Naomi, I believe this message is going to speak to those of you who are disappointed in this season of your life. You thought you would be in a different place, a different stage or position in your life right now with your family, your children, your school, ministry, or your job. You thought by now that things would be different, that you would be happy and content, but instead you are feeling lonely, anxious, and even discouraged. And so, my prayer today is that the word of God would speak to you directly and give you hope for something better.

If you missed the beginning of this series, this is the historical account of a Hebrew woman named Naomi and a Moabitess named Ruth who both lost their husbands. The unfortunate circumstances of life had brought them together and now they both find themselves widowed, with no means of financial support, and without any hope. Naomi decides to go back to her hometown of Bethlehem and Ruth her daughter-in-law goes with her.

Now, Ruth had experienced tremendous heartbreak and loss in Moab and so she determines to leave her sinful culture and go to Bethlehem where she could worship the one true God of Israel. Upon arrival, she immediately goes out and begins gleaning in the fields, harvesting behind the workers, and it just so happened that she was working in the field of a guy named Boaz who was family to Naomi’s deceased husband Elimelech. The two of them connected and had lunch together, but then he got busy with the harvest and it seemed as if he had forgotten about her.

Naomi, takes it upon herself to be the matchmaker and so she sends Ruth back to Boaz at the end of the harvest as he was working on the threshing floor. She said to watch where he lay down that night and as he was sleeping, guarding his barley harvest, “Go and uncover his feet and lie down" (Ruth 3:4). Now, this is not something that I suggest in premarital counseling, but this is what she did. In their culture this would be recognized as a symbolic gesture to a kinsman redeemer. And so, Ruth made herself available to Boaz and Naomi’s plan worked. Boaz was flattered by Ruth’s advances and he was willing to redeem Ruth, but he knew there was another relative who was closer.

And so, Boaz shrewdly works out this plan, he goes to the city gate, the place where he can make a deal with her redeemer. He meets the man and they work it out before witnesses. Boaz becomes Ruth’s kinsman redeemer and the elders prayed a blessing over him and Ruth. They prayed, “We are witnesses. May the Lord make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the house of Israel. May you have standing in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem. Through the offspring the Lord gives you by this young woman, may your family be like that of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah” (Ruth 4:11-12).

That one prayer of blessing was more powerful than anyone could have imagined because it laid the groundwork for a legacy that would impact us today. In fact, as we come to verse thirteen, we actually see the answer to this prayer. “Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. Then he went to her, and the Lord enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son” (Ruth 4:13). And so, God demonstrated to us how through one prayer he can take years of brokenness and turn it into blessings overnight. That’s why we never want to underestimate the power of prayer, because you may be just one prayer away from that blessing that God wants to bring into your life.

Now, I want you to remind you that Ruth and Naomi had experienced ten years of things getting worse and worse and worse and sometimes life seems that way, doesn’t it? You get through one thing and there is another and so you can’t wait to turn the page, to get to the next chapter, the next season of your life. My prayer today is that you will discover that God’s plans for you are far better than you could ever imagine.

You see, the one decision of Ruth to go back to Bethlehem, positioned her to be redeemed, restored, and blessed, because she had been barren throughout her marriage to Mahlon, but now her faithful obedience was rewarded. It began with one little phrase that I want to draw your attention to; in verse thirteen, the Scripture says, “The Lord enabled her to conceive” (Ruth 4:13). I can’t help but think that this is a foreshadowing of the miraculous birth of Jesus Christ that would take place later in Bethlehem.

But let’s go little bit deeper, because this one Hebrew word translated “enabled” is more powerful than the English language can even express. In other words, it’s impossible to narrow it down to one word, and so we find it translated in different ways. In some texts, it is translated as “The Lord enabled,” but another says, “The Lord gave her,” another says, “The Lord let her,” and another said, “The Lord blessed her.” But no matter how you interpret it, it is the Lord who answered, who opened the door, and who proved himself faithful. It is the Lord who made a way where there didn’t seem to be a way.

In other words, Ruth was barren in Moab but within a few short weeks of their return to Bethlehem God poured out his grace on Ruth by enabling her to conceive. And so, it was the Lord who did it, the Lord enabled her, and I believe that is going to be very meaningful to some of you today. Because no matter what you are facing, you may feel like you are stuck in an impossible situation, but as we come to chapter four, we recognize that God is able. In fact, the Bible says in Ephesians chapter three, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20). In other words, he is not only able to do what you think, he is able to do more than you think. That means that he is able to do more than whatever you need, more than you can ask or imagine according to his power that is at work within you (Ephesians 3:20).

Now, I realize that there are some of you who are probably thinking the same thing that I have thought before when I was stuck in a season of life. And that is, “If he’s able, why am I still waiting for him to do it? Why hasn’t he done it yet?” And honestly, that is a valid question, and one that I imagine Ruth may have asked in chapter one; because if you remember, her husband died leaving her alone with her widowed mother-in-law.

In other words, this wasn’t part of her plan, she never imagined being widowed and left without children at such a young age. But what we discover is that she began to make better decisions, because she turned to the God of Israel saying to Naomi, “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God” (Ruth 1:16). And so, together they go back to Bethlehem where Ruth goes out and works in the fields, trying to gather enough food for the both of them to survive. And it just so happens that as she is working in the fields that she meets Boaz who seemed to be interested in her. They seemed to connect, but then there wasn’t a call, no second date, and Ruth is left wondering, “God, I thought he was the one.”

In other words, “I prayed, but now I am waiting. God, where are you?” And some of you may have asked that question, “Why didn’t you answer my prayer? Why didn’t you do what I asked?” And so, you are waiting, stuck in that situation, stuck in those circumstances, but I want to remind you that even now God is still working. We know that because Jesus said, “My Father is always at his work to this very day” (John 5:17). And so, just because you don’t see it, that doesn’t mean that God is not working, because the word of God is living and active. In fact, the Lord said, “So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11).

One of the things that I love about Ruth is that even though she didn’t see anything happening, she didn’t let her current situation diminish her expectations of God. In other words, she kept her faith, she kept trusting God, even when she couldn’t see a way, because she believed that God was able. And so, there are some of you today, whatever you think our God can do, he is able to do immeasurably more than all you ask or imagine. In other words, exceedingly and abundantly more than all you can ask, think, or imagine. Whatever you think our God can do, he can do even more, and that is why the women are praising the Lord in verse fourteen. They are praising him for his provision, for his answer to their prayer, “who this day has not left you without a kinsman-redeemer” (Ruth 4:14).

And so, they are praising the Lord because he enabled her, because he provided a kinsman redeemer, a godly man who would provide for her and give her a family. And then they prayed a blessing over him saying, “May he become famous throughout Israel. He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age.” In other words, recognizing that ultimately all life comes from God, they prayed that he would give Naomi and Ruth life. And then they said of Naomi, “For your daughter-in-law who loves you is better than seven sons” (Ruth 4:14-15). And so, they are celebrating with Naomi, but this is nowhere near what she had ever dreamed of or hoped for her life.

In other words, she had never wanted to leave Bethlehem, she didn’t want to go to Moab, but her husband took her there and left her there as an impoverished widow. And what we discover here in verse fifteen is that God had a better plan and the Bible says that she has given him birth" (Ruth 4:15). That is important to understand especially if you are discouraged or disappointed with where you are, and so I want to remind you of the goodness of our God, who is not only able, but whose plan is always better.

For example, when Dana and I got married, we had a plan that we were going to have two children. We dreamed of having a boy and a girl, it seemed like a good plan, and we were confident that was what we wanted. And so, when God gave us a son and then he gave us a daughter we thought we were done, but God had something better for us. He gave both of us a burden for another child, not just another child, but he had something better in mind. He put the orphan and foster children on our hearts and so we begin the journey of fostering to adopt.

Well, one day we received a phone call, “We’ve got a baby boy for you.” Dana and I were so excited, but God’s plan was so much better. It turned out that it wasn’t just one baby boy, but he had a twin brother that we would meet the following week because God has something better. God’s plans are always better, immeasurably better, more than we could ever ask or imagine. And then, over the years, there was another baby boy and then a baby girl. It was then after two and then four and then six that Dana and I looked at one another and realized that we were really done.

And I wanted to share that journey with you, like Ruth’s journey, to help you visualize this in your own life; because God is able and his plan for you is so much better. And so, when you don’t find yourself in the place that you wanted, or you don’t get the job that you wanted, or the children that you wanted, remind yourself that there is something that God has for you that is even better than what you wanted. You may have had a dream or a plan and it didn’t work out, because God has something so much better.

Watch as this story continues to unfold in verse seventeen, “The women living there said, "Naomi has a son." And they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David” (Ruth 4:17). And then it goes on into this lineage, this genealogy, kind of like an afterthought. And it may not seem to be of importance, but it drives home the point of the providence of God. And so, it continues, “This, then, is the family line of Perez: Perez was the father of Hezron, Hezron the father of Ram, Ram the father of Amminadab, Amminadab the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon. Salmon the father of Boaz, Boaz the father of Obed, Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David” (Ruth 4:18-22). This is important because as the apostle Paul told us, “Everything that was written in the past was written to teach us” (Romans 15:4). And so, this was written for us, because it shows us who we are and how far we have come as Christians. This is a connecting link between the Bible Jesus read and the gospel, because as we look at the New Testament genealogy of Jesus, and we keep going back through the lineage, we eventually come to the names that we just saw in the book of Ruth.

But let’s go a little bit deeper and talk about Ruth, because I want to put all of this together for you. You see, Ruth was a Moabite, she was of a people born out of incest, a people that worshiped a false god, and so she came from a heritage, a people that were not the people of God. But when she met Naomi, she was introduced to the God of Israel, and even though it was through a series of unfortunate circumstances, these things happened so that she was able to go to Bethlehem where she met a man named Boaz. This is the gospel in the book of Ruth, because when she was at her very lowest, even lower than a servant, without hope and without God in the world Boaz loved her. He stepped up as her kinsman redeemer, redeeming her, and he restored her, not as a slave, but as a wife.

In other words, let me just say this as clear as I can, if you have been redeemed by Jesus Christ and been born again by his grace, this is your story. Because there was a time in your life when you didn’t know God, you were hurting and broken, you didn’t have any hope, but God had something better for you. The gospel tells us that God the Father sent his one and only Son Jesus, the Lamb of God who was without sin, who shed his blood and died, rising again, so that anyone who calls on his name would be saved. And so, the apostle Paul says, “Remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:12-13). In other words, you are no longer a foreigner, no longer in Moab, because you have been brought near. You are no longer impoverished, helpless, and without hope, lower than a servant, because God sent Jesus to be your kinsman redeemer.

And so, Jesus loved you, demonstrating his love for you on the cross, “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). He saved you and redeemed you, consequently the Bible says, “You are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household” (Ephesians 2:19). In other words, like Ruth, you’re in the family, you’re the wife, not in terms of gender, but in terms of position, because you are the bride of Christ. Therefore, “we are heirs, heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ” our kinsman redeemer (Romans 8:17).

If you feel like you are stuck somewhere in between chapter one and chapter two, or maybe somewhere between chapter three and chapter four, I want to encourage you to stay faithful to God. Keep pursuing him and come near to him, because you have been blessed by the God of Israel, and he is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine according to his power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20). And so, even now, while you are waiting, I want you to assure you that God is still working and his plan is so much better than you could ask or imagine. In other words, as we conclude chapter four, there is a Redeemer, and one day you will be able to look back and recognize the providence of our good God who was with you all along, even in those moments when you couldn’t see him or feel him.

Graphics, notes, and commentary from LifeChurch, Ministry Pass, PC Study Bible, Preaching Library, and Sermon Central. Scripture from the New International Version unless otherwise noted.

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