In a way we are tracing the genealogy of the Lord Jesus. In the process we have found that two of the most unexpected people were used by God.
The one was Tamar, who was deceiving, revengeful and determined to get even with her father-in-law, Judah, who himself deceived her. Together they parented a son called Perez. The Bloodline to Messiah flowed through Judah to Perez.
The other was Rahab, either a prostitute or an innkeeper or perhaps both. She married Salmon of the tribe of Judah through whom the Bloodline to the Messiah flowed.
We have noted so far that these two women gave birth to sons who carry the Messianic Bloodline to King David, through whom Messiah comes. Some scholars say that Tamar was from the people of Israel, others say she was a Gentile (pagan). I tend to support the latter belief. Then … so far, both Tamar and Rahab are not Israelis, yet in the sovereignty of the all-knowing, wise God, He uses them productively in the Messianic Bloodline. Today we proceed further …
Ruth was a Foreigner, yet Surrenders to the LORD, the God of Israel
Join me in this remarkable journey outlined in the Book of Ruth. An Israeli man and his wife (Elimelech and Naomi) together with their sons relocated from Bethlehem in Judah to Moab due to a famine. Whilst in Moab, Naomi’s husband dies. The sons marry Moabite woman … Orpah and Ruth. Their husbands, Mahlon and Kilion also die leaving Naomi without any men in the family. At this time, she hears that God had withdrawn the famine in her homeland and started making arrangements to return. Naomi was very fair and gracious as a mother-in-law, realizing that her daughters-in-law would never see their parents and extended family again, so decides they return to their families with the possibility of remarrying. Although first refusing, Orpah eventually took the offer and left but Ruth refused.
Ru 1:14 At this they wept again. Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law good-by, but Ruth clung to her.
Although Ruth was a Moabite, she visibly and demonstratively declares her allegiance to Naomi, Israel and the God of Israel.
Ru 1:16 But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me.”
Naomi was a godly woman and her love and commitment to God was demonstrated so powerfully that Ruth was converted to Naomi’s God so much so that Ruth saw her mother-in-law as her singular parent and spiritual parent and could not bare life without her. It is important to see Ruth’s decision in the light of Naomi’s words about Orpah:
Ru 1:15 “Look,” said Naomi, “your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods. Go back with her.”
Ruth could not go back to a dead religion of idolatry. She had the true God and she had Naomi who led her to the true God … what more would she want? What you see coming out here is Ruth’s desire to care for Naomi and follow Naomi’s God. As time progresses we see Ruth as a good hard working and providing daughter-in-law.
Ru 2:2 And Ruth the Moabitess said to Naomi, “Let me go to the fields and pick up the leftover grain behind anyone in whose eyes I find favor.”
Naomi said to her, “Go ahead, my daughter.” 3 So she went out and began to glean in the fields behind the harvesters. As it turned out, she found herself working in a field belonging to Boaz, who was from the clan of Elimelech.
Now you have to see the hand of our sovereign God at work here. Remember there is no such thing as coincidence! Ruth has one mission and that is to look after her beloved mother-in-law and chooses to work fields that have been harvested for left over grain. Legally this is permitted and part of God’s Law for the care of the poor and needy. Guess whose farm she lands up working in? Boaz … from the same clan as Naomi’s late husband. But we know what’s happening now!
Mt 1:2 Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, 3 Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar, Perez the father of Hezron, Hezron the father of Ram, 4 Ram the father of Amminadab, Amminadab the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon, 5 Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse, 6 and Jesse the father of King David.
Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself, but look at that which is in italics! Please read the love story in chapters 2 and 3 of how boy meets girl, clearly planned and orchestrated by God Himself. As soon as the kinsman-redeemer (the one in the family who has the right to redeem Elimelech’s land) hears of the land he wants to pay the fees and collect the title deeds but Boaz, who is clearly in love with Ruth points out
Ru 4:5 … “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.”
How shrewd … or how inspired by God and love! The kinsman-redeemer quickly admits:
Ru 4:6 “Then I cannot redeem it because I might endanger my own estate. You redeem it yourself. I cannot do it.”
This opens the way for Boaz to obtain the land and Ruth as his wife. (Read chapter 4)
Ru 4:13 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.
Ru 4:17 And they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.
I hope you see what I’m trying to do … show you that God used vessels the world sees as nobodies and nothing in the long line of families to usher in His Messiah … even using Gentile (pagan) people who had no social status and no inherited blood credentials. To God, poverty, ethnicity, lack of education and social standing mean nothing! He looks at the heart!
O God, help me to know Your ways and understand the Scriptures. Help me to grasp the golden thread but also the people You want and use. Amen.