trust

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

Redemption of a Family Legacy

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“Then Boaz said to the leaders and to all the people, “Today you are witnesses that I have bought from Naomi all that belonged to Elimelech and all that belonged to Chilion and Mahlon.” Ruth 4:9 GW [see full devo text in NIV below]

Words require context to be understood. Many words have different meanings according to their context. Redemption is one of those words. Various words are used to define the meaning of redemption—to buy back or repurchase; to free from, release, or extricate; atone, reform, or restore.

How a word is used is what gives it meaning within its context—other words it’s associated with, when it’s spoken and by who, and how it’s expressed.

The word large can describe the size of a shirt, a generalized amount, such as, a large segment of the population, and even the idea of excess or extravagance—they were living large on borrowed money.

When a word can be defined in different ways and with various words, context is very important. And context isn’t just about words. Historical time or time sequence and culture with its various customs also help shape our understanding of a word. This is especially true in the Scriptures.

The mercy and grace of God

The concept of redemption by a kinsman-redeemer requires insight into ancient history and culture, along with the Jewish Law of Moses. This concept is spoken of in two places in the Old Testament—Lev 25:23-28 and Deut 25:5-10—and is related to the Year of Jubilee (Lev 25:8-13).

The Year of Jubilee was a sacred or holy year where no work was to be done in the fields and took place every 50 years. In that year, all property reverted back to the original family owners. It’s a picture of God’s mercy and grace.

Mercy and grace are the basis for all of God’s redemptive work.

In the case of the kinsman-redeemer (go-el in Hebrew), the property is restored to the original family line and the widow of the deceased husband is taken in as a wife.

The family legacy is restored and the widow is restored. She is included in the family’s legacy and returned to the status of marriage—no longer alone or dependent on others.

Consider how this works for Ruth the Moabite, a Gentile (non-Jew). Though she is not Jewish, she is included as if she were because of Boaz’s commitment to marry her. Unlike her sister-in-law Orpah, she trusted in the God of Israel, which brought great blessing to her life.

God’s redemption brings restoration

The commitment and role of a kinsman-redeemer is important and significant. Boaz makes sure it is witnessed so it complies with the Law of Moses and the customs of that time [see NIV text below].

The witnesses at the city gate included elders from the community. They acknowledge the commitment of Boaz and pronounce a blessing on Ruth, Boaz, and their offspring. As will be seen in the last segment of the story of Ruth, their blessing reaches beyond the morning of this transaction.

Although it may seem from the words used in the text that Ruth is “bought” with the property, this is not the case. Redemption isn’t a mere legal transaction or purchase or repurchase—it is a process of restoration.

Restoration is always the intent of the Lord in redemption.

This is why Jesus is the great Kinsman-Redeemer. He repurchased all humanity back from our indebtedness and judgment because of sin. He did this with His atoning sacrifice on the cross.

Why? To restore those who trust in God back into fellowship in the family of God, even as Ruth trusted in the God of Israel. We see this illustrated in the three parables of Luke 15, especially the parable of the lost son (Luke 15:11-32).

Redemption and restoration is what King David—a man after God’s own heart (1 Sam 13:14)—knew after he repented from his sin with Bathsheba and Uriah (Psalm 51:12). David expressed this with assurance in Psalm 23—He restores my soul (Ps 23:3).

What about you?

Have you experienced God’s redemption and restoration?

Reflection—

Mercy and grace are the basis for all of God’s redemptive work. Restoration is always the intent of the Lord in redemption.

Prayer Focus—

When you find yourself struggling in your faith, remember to reach out to God in prayer and ask Him to restore you by His mercy and grace.


Devo Scripture Text

Then Boaz announced to the elders and all the people, “Today you are witnesses that I have bought from Naomi all the property of Elimelech, Kilion and Mahlon.

I have also acquired Ruth the Moabitess, Mahlon's widow, as my wife, in order to maintain the name of the dead with his property, so that his name will not disappear from among his family or from the town records. Today you are witnesses!”

Then the elders and all those at the gate said, “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 4:9-12 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

I Cannot Assume That Responsibility

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“Take all my rights to buy back the property for yourself, because I cannot assume that responsibility.” Ruth 4:6 GW [see full devo text in NIV below]

Have you ever made a commitment you couldn’t keep or made a decision you later regret? I’m sure we’ve all done both at some point in our lives. As I mentioned in an earlier devotional, it’s easy to jump to conclusions or make commitments too quickly.

When you or I make a decision or commitment and later go back on our word, it’s because we didn’t realize the responsibility involved with our decision or commitment.

Some of the decisions we regret are the ones we didn’t make but later wished we had. Some commitments are beyond our scope of understanding, while others are rash and impetuous.

I’ve painted a lot of things in my life but not as an artist. More than a few times, I bid painting jobs too low because I needed the money right away. I underestimated how long a job would take and overestimated my ability to do it.

Each time, when I realized my mistake, I would try to renegotiate the price. But this was rarely successful. Then I was faced with a further decision—to quit or to finish the job. Finishing the job often meant doing a month’s worth of work for a week’s amount of wages.

We might keep a commitment even though it costs us to do so. But there are times when the wise decision is to suffer loss to our pride and admit we can’t fulfill our commitment.

Looking ahead to our redemption

When the nearest kinsman-redeemer realizes buying the property of his relative Elimelech requires marriage to Ruth the Moabite, he reneges on his commitment.

If he married Ruth, he would give up his own legacy of family and property. Marrying Ruth would extend the family lineage of Elimelech but interfere or end his own family line. It’s also probable that the man was already married.

So, he deferred to Boaz—Take all my rights to buy back the property for yourself, because I cannot assume that responsibility (verse 6). And Boaz was willing to accept this responsibility.

At this point in the story, Boaz can become the kinsman-redeemer for Ruth and Elimelech’s property and family line. He also becomes a figurative type of Christ—the ultimate Kinsman-Redeemer.

To understand this requires some explanation and looking ahead to the New Testament Scriptures. A figurative type is when a person or event or thing is a picture of something or someone greater in the future.

A simple example is when Abraham was willing to offer his only son Isaac as a sacrifice (Gen 22:1-14). The angel of the Lord intervenes and Abraham figuratively receives his son back from the dead, as it says in the book of Hebrews (Heb 11:19).

This is a picture of God the Father sending His Son Jesus as an atoning sacrifice for all humanity. Though Jesus died on the cross, He rose from the dead. By doing this, Jesus not only paid for all humanity’s sin, He conquered the power of sin through His resurrection to redeem all those who trust in Him.

The responsibility of redemption

When the first human lived on earth, Adam, he was innocent of sin and lived in the paradise of the Garden of Eden (Gen 2:7-9). But when the man and his wife selfishly chose to eat what was forbidden to them (Gen 3:15-17), they lost their innocence and were sent out of paradise (Gen 3:6-11, 22-24).

When Jesus came—as the perfect God–Man—He came to redeem all humanity, for all time, from all sin and its consequence and power.

Why did Jesus need to come as a Savior for all humanity? Because none of us are able to redeem ourselves from the consequence and power of sin. We are like Adam who is represented in a figurative sense by the unnamed kinsman-redeemer in the story of Ruth.

This man could not accept the responsibility of redemption and neither can you or I. It is beyond our ability. We are powerless to overcome the power and consequence of sin on our own (Rom 3:20-26; 5:18-21).

Boaz was willing and able to accept and assume the responsibility as a kinsman-redeemer of Ruth and the property and legacy of Elimelech. He set aside his own legacy for the sake of Ruth a Moabite—a gentile—just as Jesus set aside His glory for our sake (Phil 2:5-8).

This Moabite woman—an outsider, a foreigner—was included in the Jewish lineage of Elimelech. This is another important event to consider, but we’ll look at it another time.

Do you understand how each of us is unable to redeem ourselves from the consequence and power of sin?

Take some time to review the thoughts I’ve shared in this devotional and the related scripture references—consider and reflect on all this and ask the Lord to give you a more clear understanding of the fullness of His redemptive work—for all or us—on the cross.

Reflection—

None of us are able to redeem ourselves from the power and consequence of sin. This is why Jesus came as the Kinsman-Redeemer of all humanity—for all time and for all sin.

Prayer Focus—

If you’ve already trusted in the Lord’s redemption, praise Him and give thanks as you go through your day. If you haven’t yet, ask the Lord Jesus to give you understanding for why you need to trust Him for His redemption of your life.


Devo Scripture Text

Then Boaz said, “On the day you buy the land from Naomi and from Ruth the Moabitess, you acquire the dead man's widow, in order to maintain the name of the dead with his property.”

At this, the kinsman-redeemer said, “Then I cannot redeem it because I might endanger my own estate. You redeem it yourself. I cannot do it.”

(Now in earlier times in Israel, for the redemption and transfer of property to become final, one party took off his sandal and gave it to the other. This was the method of legalizing transactions in Israel.)

So the kinsman-redeemer said to Boaz, “Buy it yourself.” And he removed his sandal. (Ruth 4:4-8 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

Jumping to Conclusions and Too Quick to Commit

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“If you wish to buy back the property, you can buy back the property. But if you do not wish to buy back the property, tell me. Then I will know that I am next in line because there is no other relative except me.” Ruth 4:4 GW [see full devo text in NIV below]

“You’ll know a good thing when you see it,” goes a common saying. But it’s also true that things are not always as they seem. As far as good things, another common saying is—If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

I often hear people repeat cliches and platitudes like these as if they carry great significance. They don’t. When something is spoken over and over again, it begins to lose its original meaning and value.

The same goes for wanting or wishing for something better or more than what we already have. Winning the lottery loses its luster real quick with all the unintended consequences winning brings—high taxes, expectations of family and friends, difficulties of managing wealth, and so on.

I’ve known pastors of small churches who want bigger ones because they think it would be better. Or, small business owners who want to grow their business bigger for greater income. But bigger is not always better. It brings new challenges and demands many people are not equipped to handle.

I remember observing this as our church body and the other ministries we oversaw grew from start to small to bigger. The changes are dynamic and exponential. These changes impact relationships and the responsibilities and roles new growth and expansion requires.

It can be good but the responsibilities that come with growth and new opportunities are always challenging.

Opportunity brings responsibility

As chapter four begins, we see Boaz seeking out the man who was a closer relative to Elimelech’s family than him (see text below). Boaz understood the responsibility of being a kinsman-redeemer. It wasn’t just about marriage or property.

The role of a kinsman-redeemer was about legacy—the continuation of a family line that could be traced back to the patriarchs of Israel. It was greater than him or Ruth or Naomi. There was a sacred trust to be respected and valued.

Boaz understood the gravity of the situation, so he makes sure there are trustworthy men to be present and witness what he will share with the other kinsman-redeemer. It was an opportunity that carried a great responsibility with it.

This scene takes place at the city gate. This would be somewhat similar to the public squares common in older towns and cities. It would be a public hearing that carried legal and binding commitments.

It might seem that Boaz is setting up some kind of trap for the nearer relative. But it isn’t manipulation in an unethical sense. He set the stage to reveal the true intentions of the other man and himself before the witnesses at the gate.

When presented with the opportunity to acquire property, this man is quick to commit. But there’s more responsibility attached to this property than merely purchasing it. There’s also more to the story but we’ll look at that next time.

Consider before you commit

Here’s the problem with quick decisions and commitments—there’s often more to consider than what we see, hear, or know at first. Most anything of real value requires more attention or responsibility than things of lesser value.

Before making a commitment, we need discernment to assess what we are committing ourselves to with the understanding of the need to be faithful to our commitment once we make it.

Are there times when you’ve been too quick to commit to something or someone?

Reflection—

Opportunities always bring certain responsibilities and require commitment to gain whatever the opportunity holds. Before you commit, ask questions to understand what your responsibilities will be and whether or not you can fulfill it.

Prayer Focus—

When faced with challenges or opportunities, be quick to ask God for wisdom and discernment, and the grace needed to make wise commitments.


Devo Scripture Text

Meanwhile Boaz went up to the town gate and sat there. When the kinsman-redeemer he had mentioned came along, Boaz said, “Come over here, my friend, and sit down.” So he went over and sat down. Boaz took ten of the elders of the town and said, “Sit here,” and they did so.

Then he said to the kinsman-redeemer, “Naomi, who has come back from Moab, is selling the piece of land that belonged to our brother Elimelech. I thought I should bring the matter to your attention and suggest that you buy it in the presence of these seated here and in the presence of the elders of my people.

If you will redeem it, do so. But if you will not, tell me, so I will know. For no one has the right to do it except you, and I am next in line.” “I will redeem it,” he said.

(Ruth 4:1-4 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

Waiting for a Conclusion to a Commitment

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“Stay here, my daughter, until you know how it turns out. The man won’t rest unless he settles this matter today.” Ruth 3:18 GW [see full devo text in NIV below]

Waiting is something most of us don’t do well. Come to think of it—I don’t know anyone who does it well in a consistent manner. We might like suspense in a story but not so much in real life.

American culture is focused on not waiting. We want things now not next week, next month, or next year. Conjecture about what could, might, or should happen fills online and mainstream media. This applies to politics, world events, sports, and the lives of celebrities.

When we send a text or email and don’t receive a timely reply—like, immediately—we’re either offended or wonder what’s wrong! Go to most stores and you’ll find more ready-to-eat or quick-to-prepare food available than the ingredients needed for making a meal from scratch.

Is the drive-through line to slow? Orders are taken before you get to the speaker and menu to order at some fast-food places. If that’s still too slow, there’s an App for that! to get your order in and done so you don’t have to wait at all!

Who wants to wait? No. One.

But the word wait or similar phrases about waiting occur throughout the Bible. Either as an exhortation or an observation of what people did.

Waiting to find out what will happen

This last segment of chapter three may not seem so important but it holds a valuable truth applicable in life for all of us.

After Boaz discovers Ruth laying at his feet in the dark on the threshing floor, he tells her to wait till the morning. He makes a commitment to resolve whether or not he can fulfill her request of taking her in as his wife and her kinsman-redeemer.

In the morning, before she leaves to return home to Naomi, Boaz sends Ruth back with six measures of barley. This is a wise move on his part.

Although we don’t know the exact amount, these six measures could weigh as much as sixty pounds, which is why Boaz tells Ruth—“Stretch out the cape you’re wearing and hold it tight.”

Why would Boaz do this?

Boaz knew Naomi set this situation up. He knew Ruth the Moabitess would not know or understand about the kinsman-redeemer provision in the Mosaic Law. Boaz wanted to reassure Naomi of the commitment he made to Ruth.

When Ruth returns home to Naomi, she shares what happened at the threshing floor, what Boaz said, and shows her the large amount of barley grain. Boaz sent a message to Naomi with this grain—a show of good faith on his promise to Ruth.

Naomi accepts this pledge from Boaz and advises her daughter-in-law to wait. She also assures Ruth of a quick resolve to the question of whether Boaz or the other man would be Ruth’s husband and the kinsman-redeemer of the family property.

Can you relate?

Obviously, Ruth wants to have Boaz for her husband. She knows him, respects him, and trusts him. But there’s a course of action that needs to take place. It can’t be hurried nor interrupted.

Ruth will just have to wait.

As the story continues in chapter four, we’ll see Ruth doesn’t have to wait too long. But it isn’t always that way in our lives. Not everything has a simple or timely resolve as Ruth’s wait.

As I reflect on my own life, I see many times where the wait was significant. Some of my requests and petitions and intercessions in prayer are still not answered. But I know to continue to pray and not give up (Luke 18:1).

Sometimes we wait for answers already given but they weren’t the answers we wanted or expected. This is where discernment is needed with a genuine trust in God as a Father who always has our best interest in mind.

Have you learned how to wait with a genuine trust in the Lord?

Reflection—

Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. (Psalm 27:14 NIV)

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; (Psalm 37:7 NIV)

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. (Psalm 62.5 ESV)

Prayer Focus—

When you come to a life situation where you need to wait on God, ask Him for the grace and confidence to trust Him, and thank Him in advance as an expression of trust.


Devo Scripture Text

So she lay at his feet until morning, but got up before anyone could be recognized; and he said, “Don't let it be known that a woman came to the threshing floor.” He also said, “Bring me the shawl you are wearing and hold it out.” When she did so, he poured into it six measures of barley and put it on her. Then he went back to town.

When Ruth came to her mother-in-law, Naomi asked, “How did it go, my daughter?” Then she told her everything Boaz had done for her and added, “He gave me these six measures of barley, saying, ‘Don't go back to your mother-in-law empty-handed.’”

Then Naomi said, “Wait, my daughter, until you find out what happens. For the man will not rest until the matter is settled today.”

(Ruth 3:14-18 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