Thursday, February 19, 2009

Christ in the life of Ruth

This is what I wrote up for my Bible Study - as this week we did Ruth and I am leading. We discussed and I agreed that we always need to keep Christ as supreme in our study - the work He did for us. So as I was going through the study - this is what I came up with. Certainly not an exhaustive list and I know nothing original or new. I just hope it encourages someone. :)

God is consistently showing Israel (and us) that He can, will and does use whomever He wants to fulfill His purposes and Plan. The Book of Ruth is evidence of that. It shows, again, that the promises He gives are not just for the nation of Israel, but for all those who would call Him Lord. This far in our study, He has used two Gentile women in greatly significant ways and both became a part of the lineage of Christ. I can think of no greater honor for a woman of the OT (or any time really) to be able to say that the Messiah came from her family.

This leads us to look at Christ, not only in His deity, but also, as we so often forget to do – as fully human. We acknowledge and praise that fact but if He wasn’t fully human, He could not been as fully our Savior, our High Priest and our Intercessor.

So – how can we see who Christ is in the book of Ruth? I’ve come across several key ideas where we can compare Ruth’s experience to what we know of who Christ is and what He came to do. It is a beautiful picture of just how special He is AND how special we are to Him. I hope this helps you apply this to your life as a follower of Christ.

Jesus was a stranger in a strange land: Ruth, when she moved with Naomi back to Bethlehem, did not belong there. She was from Moab. She did not grow up knowing the God of Israel but she made a choice to follow Him and become one of His people. Before Jesus was born, indeed before he became a human baby in Mary’s womb – He was seated on The Throne of the universe, of all time. He’d never had anything but the light of glory on His face. His face WAS the light of glory. He left it all to become nobody – a poor nobody at that – in the mighty line of David that had fallen into obscurity. He, too, made a choice.
o John 1:10 - He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.
o John 17:16 - They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.
 Our takeaway – To recognize and embrace this world is not our home – we are to live differently because we just don’t belong here and not to get caught up in the trappings of this world. Our treasure is in Heaven.
His life and death on Earth were according to plan: Just as Elimelech’s moving his family to Moab, away from the Promised Land, and their life was subsequently difficult – the hardships Jesus encountered here on Earth were according to God’s plan. Even in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus knew this. Even crying tears of blood because of the stress of what He was about to endure, He knew this and chose God’s Will and God’s plan rather than what is the seemingly easy way.
o Jeremiah 29:11: For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
o Our takeaway – we can’t get caught up with our circumstances. We must realize there is a plan greater and better than our own, and sometimes even than our own comfort. Turn your eyes upon Jesus – and the things of this world will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.
His life and death are pictures of true servant hood: Ruth chose to help someone else besides herself. She chose The Lord’s way when she went with Naomi. Despite what Orpah did – she continued to be faithful to her calling and her love for her adoptive mother. Christ does that for us everyday because He loves us. He faithfully stays with us despite our wanderings and never leaves us and that is a picture we must strive to follow each and every day.
o He makes this promise over and over again: (Deut 3:16; Deut 3:18; Joshua 1:5; 1 Kings 8:57; Hebrews 13:5)
o Our takeaway: never, ever forget He is with us and will enable us to stay faithful, if we ask. We must remember that our purpose is to glorify Him, in service to others, and putting ourselves 2nd.
He came here specifically to redeem us: Boaz does this for Ruth and Naomi to continue the inheritance of Elimelech’s family. He probably would have done it for another, but he also got a wife who was very good to him. Obed, like Christ, is born to redeem Naomi’s family. Jesus came to pay the debt so we could be a part of the family again. That is why the Kinsman-Redeemer is so key to our life as Christians. Blood was need to repay for our sin – He did, willingly, just as Boaz rose eager to get to the wall and claim the land and Ruth as his own. The Lord gave Ruth more than she could ever imagine or comprehend when she proclaimed her faith in Him. She was living in a meager existence with Naomi and that was fine. She did not expect anything but The Lord did and made a way for her.
o Our takeaway: We serve a God who is willing and eager to help us – even to the very extremes. And He waits to bless us beyond our wildest imagination.
He never failed to give all glory and honor to The Lord: The picture of Boaz’s interaction with his workers – the blessing and prayers he gives show us he knew where his prosperity and peace came from. His workers knew it as well and gave it right back. Throughout the life of Jesus – He puts The Lord above Himself. He was fully God but as fully human – this picture is for us to embrace. The glory and honor is The Lord’s alone and we were made to worship Him. He was fully surrendered to The Father and because of that The Father provided all that He needed, including great power to heal the sick and lame – even raise people from the dead.
o Our takeaway: Remember that everything comes from The Hand of The Lord, all is in His control and He is to be first in our hearts to be ready to receive the blessings He is waiting to give.
He shows us the potential of fruitfulness in a union that involves Him: Ruth and Boaz bore a son who became the great-grandfather of King David. They had wealth, peace and joy. Naomi was filled again – she had a family and was no longer without a husband or sons - no longer bitter and empty. They had a legacy to leave behind them that has eternal effects. Jesus provided the same opportunity to all who believe in Him. He is the centerpiece in any relationship – especially marriage. Little is much when The Lord is in it.
o John 14:27: Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
o John 10:10:… I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
o Our takeaway: The most important things we can have in our life are never material. We must recognize our spirits must be healthy before our minds and bodies can ever be. We might have material wealth but the legacy we leave beyond is always longer-lasting than money or possessions we can give.
Jesus takes on all who would seek to claim us: Boaz was willing to take on the full role – even to marrying Ruth – that was required in that situation of the Kinsman-Redeemer. Christ is willing to do that and more – even to the point of sacrificing His own life so that we may brought from death. Just as another family member was first in line, due to our sin, death has first claim on us. But through His finished work on the Cross – our sin is finished, as is death’s hold on us.
o Romans 6:23: For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
o Hosea 13:14: “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death. Where, O death, are your plagues? Where, O grave, is your destruction?”
o Romans 8:38-39: For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
o Our takeaway: Once we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior, all bets are off. There is nothing else can separate us from Him. And our future is wide open. You may be in a situation that is bringing you down but it should not bring your spirit down. Death was the last frontier but He broke those chains and we are free and seated with Him in the heavenlies.
He shows us the perfect example of kindness: Naomi saw that Boaz’s provision for Ruth was more than just duty or obligation. She saw chesed or “loving-kindness” in it – as well as the hand of the Lord prospering Ruth and herself. This was “covenant kindness” or loyalty. It has also been translated “mercy.” Jesus showed the ultimate mercy to many, many people while He walked on earth, healing, counseling, feeding, blessing and teaching them. He, in fact, embodies God’s mercy. He became it so that we could see God face to face, through knowing Christ.
o John 14:6-7: Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7If you really knew me, you would know] my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him."
o Acts 22:15: You will be his witness to all men of what you have seen and heard.
o Our takeaway: We are not able, in our current state on earth – to be perfect or even perfectly kind – especially to our enemies. But with His help and through His power, we will be transformed, each day, to be more like Him until He takes us home. To the point of forgiving those who have wronged us with the same amount of mercy we’ve been shown at The Cross. That is what it means to produce fruit – to follow His example so we and others around us are changed.
He is eager to help us: Boaz got right up, very early, after Ruth visited him on the threshing floor, to go to the city gate. Our Creator is also up and working for our goodness, our benefit. He does not begrudge it or consider it a chore. Christ came and was willing to help all those who ask and He still is.
o Luke 1:77-79: “…to give his people the knowledge of salvation, through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace."
o Our takeaway: When we wake up every day, we should embrace that The Lord is already working for us. He started before the creation of the world and continues today – to bless those who bless His name and have faith that He is Lord.
He came so we would know His Grace: Boaz was a tender and thoughtful employer. He prayed for and blessed his workers. That picture of graciousness is even more infinite in Christ. So many times during His life He was patient and kind, even when angry, with His disciples. He helped them, to understand, saved them from their own pride and selfishness and was even kind to Judas, who betrayed Him. He always gives us as much as we can handle or a way out of temptation. We have to seek it but He is gracious to provide when we (and sometimes when we don’t) call on Him.
o Isaiah 30:18: Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!
o Our takeaway: Our job is to wait on Him. Our job is to accept His mercy for the gift it is. We are not to feel entitled, just as Boaz’s workers still put forth a full day’s effort even though they had a kind master. We are to understand He is in control and believe in that – and to act when we are called too – but listen for His direction first.

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