encouragement

Coming Full Circle

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The women said to Naomi, “Praise the Lord, who has remembered today to give you someone who will take care of you. The child’s name will be famous in Israel.

He will bring you a new life and support you in your old age. Your daughter-in-law who loves you is better to you than seven sons, because she has given birth.” Ruth 4:14-15 GW [see full devo text in NIV below]

We tend to think of completion with the phrase coming full circle. But a circle has no beginning or end. We can determine a start and end point but those would be arbitrary or theoretical.

A circle is the closest we come to a sense or continuation within our infinite world. We can try to imagine eternity and try to grasp the concept of eternity but it is literally beyond us. The symbol we have for infinity is like a sideways figure eight—two circles looped together as a continuous line.

God is eternal in nature. He is the Self-Existent One (Rev 1:8; 22:13) as He told Moses, I AM WHO I AM (Exo 3:14 [also see John 8:58]).

God isn’t restricted within eternity for He is the One who created all there is and sustains all there is within eternity. He is both inside and outside eternity at the same time. He is beyond our capacity to fully understand or He wouldn’t be God.

Full circle and more

The end of the story of Ruth gives us a glimpse into how coming full circle has a beginning and end only as we view it within history. But there’s far more in these last few verses than the culmination of the story of a Moabite woman named Ruth.

Before we look at some insights from these last few verses, let’s consider all that takes place. Boaz follows through on his commitment to marry Ruth. She becomes pregnant as they consummate their marriage and gives birth to a son.

The women of Bethlehem rejoice with Naomi and bless her with encouraging words of how the Lord as shown His care and love with the birth of her grandson and how great a blessing Ruth is to her.

Naomi becomes a nanny to her grandson named Obed who will become the father of Jesse and grandfather of King David. The story ends with a significant genealogy, which looks ahead a few generations and beyond.

Some Redemptive insights

At the beginning of Ruth in Chapter 1, the focus in on emptiness with a sense of futility. Naomi expresses it this way—

I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. (Ruth 1:21)

She, her husband and two sons flee the famine in their homeland in hope of a better life. But Naomi loses her husband and two sons with no hope of a family legacy. And, she’s saddled with the responsibility for two Moabite widowed-daughter-in-laws.

When the story is completed, Naomi is full again not empty. In fact, the women of Bethlehem say she is better of than before. God sent a kinsman-redeemer to preserve the family legacy of property, she has a grandson, and is assured of her family caring for in old age.

Think the Old Testament isn’t relevant for today? Think again! The women encourage Naomi about Ruth, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons.

This is just one of many stories in the Old Testament highlighting the importance and significance of women. In a way, it is somewhat of a redemption for the first woman on earth who ate from the forbidden tree.

The child born to Ruth and Boaz becomes the father of Jesse and grandfather of Israel’s most loved king, David. Consider how inclusive and far reaching this is. This short genealogy of ten generations is repeated almost word for word in the first gospel of the New Testament (Matt 1:3-6).

This genealogy is part of the line of Judah—the family line of David through whom the Messiah would come, as the ultimate Kinsman-Redeemer. Judah has incestual relations with his scorned daughter-in-law Tamar, which results in the birth of Perez.

A few generations later, Boaz is born from the union of Salmon and Rahab—the same Rahab who sheltered the two men sent to spy out Jericho for Joshua. The three women mentioned in Matthew’s account of these same generations should not be included according to Mosaic Law but they are. They are a reminder of God’s inclusive grace.

The story of Ruth begins with an interrupted generation (Elimelech and sons), and concludes with a completed generation within ten historically important generations of Israel. This is a reminder how our life stories are not complete yet, and we need to be mindful of God’s redemptive grace in our life and the greater story arc of humanity.

How is your life a reflection of God’s inclusive grace?

Reflection—

Our life stories are not complete yet, and we need to be mindful of God’s redemptive grace in our life and the greater story arc of humanity. Remember, God’s grace is inclusive not exclusive.

Prayer Focus—

Ask the Lord to give you fresh perspective in your life. Ask Him to help you see how He has shown you His inclusive grace, so you may show it to others.


Devo Scripture Text

So 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.

The women said to Naomi: “Praise be to the Lord, who this day has not left you without a kinsman-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel! He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth.”

Then Naomi took the child, laid him in her lap and cared for him. The women living there said, “Naomi has a son.” And they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.

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 4:13-22 NIV 84)


Click this link if you’d like more background on the Book of RuthRuth Background

Here are some Study Questions for a more in-depth study of RuthRuth Study Q’s

Take My Words to Heart

We take some things to heart in ways that aren't helpful. Criticism—especially when mean-spirited—can crush our heart and break our spirit. Whether accurate or not, criticisms tend to play like a never-ending tape in our mind.

Flattery taken to heart is a trap. It's self-deluding and sets us up to fall when we crash into reality. Like someone who can't carry a tune trying out on the American Idol stage because family or friends tell them they sing well.

Always Ready to Forgive

In many ways, our relationship with our parents impacts how we relate to God as our Father. God understood this when He gave Moses the fifth of the 10 Commandments—honor your father and mother.

This can be a hindrance or a help depending on the nature of our relationship with our father and mother. We tend to view God through the lens or filter of our experience and memories of growing up.

Worship Is Better than Whining

Several hymns and worship songs are taken directly from this psalm. Although it begins with an uplifting invitation, it ends with a solemn reminder. It begins with encouragement and ends with a warning.

A simple truth is embedded in this psalm that is easily missed. You've heard of selective memory but we can also be selective in what we hear or read.

Save Me, Oh God!

We all deal with despair—a sense of hopelessness—from time to time. At times the dark hole of despair may seem inescapable for some of us. Even when someone else's despair appears deeper and darker than our own, we can relate.

The depth of emotion in the Psalms captures great heights of joy and disorienting depths of despair. They paint a picture with words we can all relate to at different times in our life.

This is God's design. His intention. David and other psalmists express for us the heights and depths and in-betweens of life.