Look for the good. Today we continue flipping the pages of Jesus’ family album, some crazy folks in his family tree. The story of Ruth and Boaz, however, provides some sanity… good people. Solid people.
Look for the good. There is a lot of ugliness in our world, uncertainty, badness, confusion… all real. God always provides a thread of redemption, a promise kept, signs that all will be right. Wonderful stories of goodness have emerged from WWII. ~ everyone knows the human tragedy of 6 million Jews killed, 6 or 700,000 American soldiers. Collectively from all countries an estimate of 60 million people. Against that backdrop, how sweet the story of Corrie Ten Boom whose father hid Jews, Schindlers list who risked so much, then there is Nicholas Winton ~ (View the Video below)
A difficult book of the Bible because of the rawness/harshness is JUDGES… There are admiral stories, like Samson (When I am Weak), Deborah is a strong woman, Gideon the reluctant judge…but even those have tension and stress. Overall Judges is dark and moody…. harsh stories like the cutting up of a body, Jepthah son of a prostitute driven out of his home seeks revenge and makes an insane promise in which his daughter is condemned to die, Judges should be read because it is the raw history of Israel before the kings. But it’s hard and raises questions….
Ruth follows Judges, a delightful and fun book compared to gloomy judges. Ruth 1:1 begins, “In the days when the judges ruled…” I assumed Ruth ended the period of the judges, but that did not fit the time-line… Chad said, are you sure Ruth comes at the end? Aha!!!!…Turns out the story of Ruth likely takes place early on in judges…
Ruth is a glimmer of good in the rough times of the judges, like Winston in WWII… None of the characters of Ruth are Leaders; they are ordinary people. Ruth, the story of a woman of faith who risked it all by clinging to her mother-in-law.
At the end of Ruth we discover the promise of God of a coming savior, threaded through history, is not given to any of the 12 judges who led the people over a 300-400 year period, it is a woman and her husband who took up residence in a tiny little hole in the wall town called//// Bethlehem.//// Judges is splashy with outlandish stories; then comes Ruth and her unflashy husband, a kind man of integrity ~~ look for the good. It’s always there….the good just doesn’t always look flashy…
Here’s an idea for when life is overwhelming: Sincerely ask God about his intentions, “what are you up to God?” Odds are you’ll discover his greatest intentions are seen in the simple thread of goodness. God’s intentions are always good. But they are not always flashy… look for solid people that are easy to overlook, the Boaz’s who are responsible people ready to make a difference…I often tell people whose lives are out of control that they need a dull life, a boring life, a drama free life, and I pray that they have the patience to be able to stand a drama free dull good life, because that is where you will find most satisfaction! A life where you get up in the morning, work, listen for the voice of God, fulfill your responsibilities, make a difference to others, serve without a lot of attention… the good.
What are you up to God? Reveal your plan, open my eyes to that which is good and noble… I want to see the sunlight of the new day, I want to hope in your eternal promises, I want to rest in your arms of love. The goodness in this world is often quiet, like Ruth, hidden in plain sight…. How often have I felt overwhelmed with the weight of problems of people/community and then I get a phone call or a letter saying thank you for a word of encouragement, or something I was part of… Ruth and Boaz are grace, a reminder there are good people in the world and good things do happen, ordinary, salt of the earth….
We need the book of Ruth because of the grace, we need to see what a true gentleman is in Boaz, true commitment in Ruth, true attitude of never giving up in Naomi. We need to be able to look up and see the horizon that our lives have greater purpose beyond the weeds of daily life, to see God is in the process of redeeming this world and bringing us to Christ….READ Matt. 1 verses… [scribble in Naomi…] Look for the good. Like the farmer that wanted to sell his land and then changed his mind when he realized it was the place he’d always wanted all along ~ the good is almost always right under your nose…Boaz was right there….
Ruth is four chapters. Ch. 1 is the set up for the story. A famine strikes Israel so Naomi, her husband and two sons leave Israel and go to the land of Moab. While there Naomi’s husband dies, her two sons marry women from Moab, one of whom is Ruth After ten years the two sons die, leaving Naomi with her daughters in laws in Moab. Naomi hears the famine is over so she decides to go home. She tells both of her daughter’s in law they are under no obligation to stay with her, but Ruth makes a commitment to her mother-in-law speaking the wonderful words in Ruth 1:16-17. READ….'
Ruth 2 is the practical chapter. The two women with no resources, no man in a patriarchal society, need to eat. Naomi comes up with a plan for Ruth to glean in the fields of her relative, Boaz.
Boaz’s character from Ruth 2-3 is admirable. He is a worthy man (Ruth 2:1); a man of faith (Ruth 2:4); a good reputation. He is responsible, sensitive, caring, he instructed Ruth to glean in his field to keep her safe from being molested in other fields (READ Ruth 2:9)…[side note on “MeToo” movement] he was generous giving Ruth food beyond the gleaning (Ruth 2:14). Boaz is a no drama man… a contrast with many of the guys in Jesus Genealogy. Chad pointed out Boaz is the opposite of Judah from a few weeks ago… Judah refused to allow his youngest son to marry Tamar and shunned Tamar, but Boaz, boring responsible Boaz, marries Ruth, taking responsibility as part of the family obligation.
Boaz is a hard working, mature, responsible man with right priorities. How dull is that? As I studied, I typed “Boaz” into google; what comes up most is the phrase, “Wait for your Boaz.” Doesn’t that sound good for young Christian single women to patiently wait for prince charming to come along? High standards are necessary for the character of the person you marry, but Ruth is not an example of waiting patiently for God to send Mr. Right… Ruth had already been married ten years, no children, and chose a life of possible poverty with her mother-in-law. It’s no fairy tale. Ruth does NOT wait patiently. In fact, she asks Boaz to marry her!
Ruth and Naomi choose Boaz. Another relative is first in line to marry Ruth; we are not told why Naomi rejected him, she wanted Boaz… it’s all in Ruth 3. Naomi instructs Ruth to lie at the foot of Boaz while he is sleeping… when he wakes up he’s startled; Ruth says, READ Ruth 3:9. The GNB translation, a paraphrase, captures what this verse is saying, “’Who are you?’ he asked. ‘It’s Ruth, sir,’ she answered. ‘Because you are a close relative, you are responsible for taking care of me. So please marry me.’” Marry me… the GNB is drawing the conclusion of what it means to be a kinsman redeemer.
Ruth chooses Boaz, even though there is someone in line before Boaz… the next verses are about Boaz agreeing to marry Ruth but first the other relative is given his rightful chance… sure glad we don’t follow the same customs, but God almost always works within the customs of the day....
There is a lot of good in this story, a lot of good people, God is so good…. You gotta look for the good. Boaz summarizes all the goodness of the story. READ Ruth 4:10. Boaz recognizes the history of Ruth, the greater purpose of his actions, the dignity he brings to the family. A selfless act….
Goodness may not be flashy, being a responsible person may not be as exciting, but goodness is the thread that God uses to make life worthwhile and to bring us closer to himself through his promises. Goodness is always God’s purpose. What are you up to God? Reveal your purpose, a glimpse of your goodness. God is so good.
I love the way Ruth ends. The joy of Naomi is in the spotlight… READ Ruth 4:13-16. Naomi may not be in Matthew’s geneology in ink, but she is in pencil in my Bible!… Through Boaz, Naomi is in the blood-line leading to Jesus, just not the branch going back to Judah…. Look for the good, when overwhelmed the good is easy to miss, but goodness can be found right under your nose.
“God is so good…” He cares for me.. I love him so…. He sent us Christ…