Day 8: From Emptiness to Fulfillment

Read: Ruth 4:1-22

Reflect: In chapter 3, Boaz expressed his willingness to be the family redeemer. But he is a man of character and obedient to the law of God and he knows there is another man who is a closer relative to Elimelech than he. So he offers the opportunity to be the redeemer to this man. He declines, not wanting to marry Ruth. 

Thus Boaz takes a vow before all the people that he will be the redeemer, buy the land, marry Ruth and carry on the family name of her deceased husband. They get married and have a son. 

And then the story immediately turns back to Naomi. At the start of the story she lost everything. Her husband and her sons were dead and she was alone in a foreign land. Our story ends with Naomi back in her hometown bouncing a little baby boy on her knee. When she returned to Bethlehem she told the women that she was bitter and empty. Now those women are praising God as the restorer of life. Those same women ignored Ruth’s very existence upon their return to Bethlehem. Now those women are telling Naomi that a daughter-in-law like her is better than 7 sons. The women in the streets are proclaiming that Naomi has a son. 

Our story has seen Naomi move from mourning death to celebrating birth. Naomi has gone from empty to fulfilled, from sorrow to joy and from bitter to pleasant. And it is all because of the never stopping, never giving up, unbreaking, always and forever love of God. 

Respond: 

  • How has you seen God be the restorer of your life in unexpected ways? 
  • How has you seen God be the restorer of life in the Philippines this week? 
  • How is God calling you to labor alongside of him to restore life to those around you at home? 

Postlogue

The book of Ruth concludes with a postlogue recounting a genealogy. Seems like an odd place to end after such a beautiful story culminates with God’s overwhelming kindness shining so brightly in the restoration of life and unexpected birth of the baby. But the narrator wants to make sure we don’t miss why this is such a big deal: Because that baby was Obed, father of Jesse, father of King David. And of course, many years and many generations later another unexpected baby would be born in Bethlehem. And that baby, a descendent of David… and therefore a descendent of Ruth and Boaz… would grow up to be both our Family Redeemer and the Great King of all!

Day 4: Hidden Providence

Read: Ruth 2:1-7

Reflect: Now back in Bethlehem, and Naomi and Ruth are going to have to eat. So Ruth offers to go out and glean (that is, pick up the scraps that the harvesters dropped/missed). Naomi sends her off (and again, why didn’t Naomi go? Certainly if they were that hungry, she could have helped a little, right?) 

Then, there in the middle of verse 3, is a single word that is dripping with God’s hidden providence: “happened.” Ruth just “happened” to go to a field owned by a distant relative she’d never even heard of and who turns out to be an upstanding God-fearing man. 

Was this just a coincidence? A happy accident that is going to turn out for the good? No. It’s the hidden providence of God. 

The Westminster Shorter Catechsism defines God’s providence as “his completely holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing every creature and every action” (Q11). That is, God guides and directs the steps and actions of all of creation to fulfill his good purposes in the world.

The passage never tells us that “God directed Ruth to this particular field.” But that is the way the providence of God works. He is sovereignly in control of all things. In the good and the bad, in the things we see and understand or in the things we don’t see or don’t understand, God is working out all things for his glory and for your good!

Respond:

  • What causes you to doubt God’s providence? 
  • When is a time in your life that, in retrospect, you can see the hidden providence of God at work? Why do you think you couldn’t see it in the moment when this happened? 
  • How have you experienced God’s providence even this week on the trip? 

Jesus – the Christ, God’s Son, Our Lord

The Apostles’ Creed emphasizes the humanity of Jesus. Most of the Creed’s statement about Jesus center on his birth and death – that he was an actual man who actually lived and actually died. But it roots his humanity is his divinity. Jesus is both fully man and fully God. The first line of the stanza about Jesus in the Creed reads, “And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord.” Let’s explore each briefly as they all speak to his divinity.

Christ

You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). The first thing the Creed tells us about Jesus is that he is the Christ. No, Christ is not Jesus’ last name. It is a title meaning “chosen one” or “anointed one.” Jesus is the anointed one – the one chosen before the creation of the world to bring redemption and restoration to a lost world.

His Only Son

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:15). Clearly the most famous verse in the Bible, John 3:16, offers insight into the unique relationship between God the Father and God the Son. Listen to J.I. Packer’s comment’s on this phrase of the Creed: “When you hear a young man introduced as ‘my only son,’ you know he is the apple of his father’s eye. The words reveal affection.” (Packer, 2008, p. 67.) Jesus is the Father’s beloved.

Our Lord

Throughout the Old Testament, the name YHWH, meaning Lord, was such a sacred designation for God that the Israelites would not even say the word. It was a holy name set apart for a holy God. Instead, they came up with alternate words, such as Jehovah, to speak of God. Because we are so familiar with the designation “Lord” being applied to Jesus, we miss what a radical claim it is. There is only one Lord, the Holy One of Israel. Yet, consider the claims of Romans 10:9: “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Jesus is the Lord: the ruler of all.

Interact: Which of these is hardest for you to believe – that he is the Christ, that he is the Son of God or that he is the Lord? Why