Faith

The Choice – part 3

What is a good romance story without a rags to riches tale? In The Notebook we see Allie and Noah; a rich uptown girl and a working class boy. They should never have crossed paths, they were told they would never make it yet their love surpassed surpassed the doubters. They chose each other.

Ruth and Boaz should never have crossed paths, and indeed, we read that there is an age gap which suggests it should ever have worked. But God.

During this series, we have looked at the choices of the people in the story of Ruth, but today I want to look at the choices of God.

God chose Ruth & Boaz

Why would God choose a moabitess – not an Israelite woman – to begin the line that led to an ancestor of Jesus? Why would God choose Boaz – a man who was not a Jew, was the son of Rahab the prostitue? Both were unlikely choices to build a Royal bloodline, but God saw beyond their circumstances and looked straight at their hearts. Ruth and Boaz were faithful, loyal and generous.

God chooses broken people

Time and time again we see God use ‘broken people’ inthe Bible. Paul the persecutor of Christians, David the adulterer, Moses the murderer, these are just a few examples of men who did great things becuase of their great God. These people lied, stole, hurt, betrayed, yet they all gave their hearts to God and sat with Jesus.

Jesus is the greatest love story. He is the kinsman redeemer, like Boaz, and we the bride, like Ruth, He is coming to redeem. Boaz wanted the lady not the land – Jesus wants you not the prestige of position. Lets look at the comparisons:

Ruth returned with Naomi to Bethlehem – Jesus returned to Earth
Ruth reached out to Boaz – Jesus reached out to us and for us on the cross
Boaz redeemed Ruth – Jesus redeemed us by paying the price for our sin
Boaz restored Elimelech’s name – Jesus restored our relationship with God

Jesus chooses you

Despite being the King of kings and Lord of lords, Jesus lowered Himself to a baby born in a filthy stable, growing up as a tradesman’s son. He died the most ugly, cruel and despicable death, even though He could have commanded the angels to rescue Him at anytime. e did that for you, and He would do it again even if you were the only person on earth. That baby that was born in stable and wrapped in dirty rags is now clothed in glory, as the King of Heaven.

Now that is a rags to riches story for the ages.

R x

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Faith

The Choice – part 2

Being on your own can be scary, and even more so in the times of Ruth in the Old Testament. However, the choices that Ruth made led to her being placed in the Royal bloodline.

Last time we looked at how Ruth chose to stay with her mother in law, Naomi. That in itself was a major step of faith – she was leaving her natural family, her culture, her past behind to embrace a brand new life in an alien environment. This week we pick up the story in chapter 2 where Ruth chooses to work in her new home town of Bethlehem.

Working as a woman was a risky business, even more so if she didn’t have a husband or father to provide for and protect her. Ruth was a moabitess; a foreigner. She was not like others and could have faced discrimination or judgement from women and unwanted attention from men. This would make her choice to work even more dangerous, yet she wasn’t willing to live on hand outs. She wanted to earn her own money, gather her own food and provide for Naomi and herself.

Ruth’s choice to work led to Boaz’s choice to provide

Ruth ended up working in the field that belonged to Boaz, a relative of Elimelech (Naomi’s deceased husband and her father in law). This was no coincidence, this was a God-incidence. As Ruth chose to work, God provided Boaz, who quickly offered the protection and provision that Ruth so desperately needed.

Boaz choice to provide and protect led to Ruth reaching out

As Ruth received from Boaz, she shared the story with Naomi, who quickly saw God’s hand at work as she realised who this man was. Boaz was a kinsman redeemer – as a relative of Elimelech, he could redeem his widow, or in this case the widow’s daughter in law, to claim the land in Elimelech’s name. Naomi urged Ruth to reach out to Boaz and make her intentions to him known. A woman couldn’t propose to a man, but she could lay at his feet to show that she would like to be placed under his covering. So Ruth did just that, finding Boaz at the threshing floor and laying down at his feet.

Ruth’s choice to reach out led to Boaz choosing to redeem

In Ruth 3, Boaz found Ruth and responded with tenderness and generosity, promising to redeem her and sending her home with provision. However, first he had to consult a relative who was a closer relative than he. This is where we learn the true heart of Boaz. As Boaz approached his relative, he asks him if he would like to gain the land, to which the relative replies yes. But when Boaz went on to explain that in order to gain the land, the man must also gain a wife and further the name of Elimelech, the man back tracked.

Our motives are so very important. Boaz wasn’t interested in the land, he wanted the lady. He saw Ruth’s heart, her loyalty, her diligence and he wanted to provide for and protect her. Gaining Elimelech’s land was simply a bonus.

We see throughout the book of Ruth how the choices the characters made led to incredible provision. When they moved, God moved. Indeed, this rural romance was not just a love story – it led to the Royal line of King David, who was an ancestor of Jesus Christ. The greatest choice ever made was that of God sending His Son Jesus to earth for us. He wanted to have a relationship with us, which is why Jesus came. Jesus then chose to die for you and me, the hardest decision He was ever faced with. His motives were the same as Boaz – Jesus wants to cover you, to provide for and protect you, so that you will never be alone again. Just like Ruth, all you have to do is sit at His feet and say I am here, and I am yours.

R x

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Faith, Lifestyle

The Choice – part 1

I am a sucker for a romantic movie, and my favourite one of all time is The Choice (closely followed by The Notebook). Both movies feature couples whose love beats all the odds and whose choices affect their entire lives.

We find a similar love story in the book of Ruth, a woman who was faced with a series of choices that would change not just her life but the lives of all mankind. But first let me give you a bit of the backstory.

The story of Ruth was written at the same time as Judges, and in this book we learn that the Israelites had no strong spiritual leadership. There had been several Judges appointed to bring law and order, but they had failed, and now ‘everyone did whatever seemed right to him.’ Judges 21:25

We all know that a lack of leadership can lead to vigilante style law. A lack of rules leads to rebellion, and this was certainly true of Israel at this time. This was not a stable economy, or safe society. A famine had broken out and the book begins with choice number one; Elimelech decides to flee his home town of Bethlehem with his wife Naomi and their two sons Mahlon and Chilion.

Elimelech chooses Moab

After leaving Bethlehem, Elimelech settles in the land of Moab, but shortly after dies. His sons remain in Moab and take Moabite wives, Ruth and Orpah, however both of Elimelech’s sons die, leaving Naomi and her daughters in law destitute. In this day and age, it was not safe for a woman to be alone. Not only could she not provide for herself, but she could not protect herself either. Despite her deep grief at losing not only her husband, but her two children also, Naomi makes a choice to trust God. She decides that she will return to her homeland of Bethlehem upon hearing that ‘the Lord had paid attention to His people’s needs by providing them food.’ Ruth 1:6

Naomi chooses God

In choosing to trust God, she chooses to return home, but the she goes on to do another very selfless act. She tells her daughters to return home to their families. After many tears, Orpah decides to leave and is never mentioned again. Ruth on the other hand chose to stay and her name is mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus.

Ruth chooses Naomi

So much can hang on one decision. Ruth’s decision to stay with Naomi was not made on a whim, it was made on the basis of the faith she saw rise up in her mother in law despite such abject grief. It was made on the realisation that God could and would help her, if she followed Him. That even in her darkest days, through the hardest moments, God was still God. This challenges me so deeply. On my darkest days, can I truly say that my words and actions reflect God and who He is? Do my life choices speak of the faith that rises up in me in response to difficult circumstances?

Do others see God’s hand in our choices? Our faith in our responses?

Ruth didn’t just stay with Naomi, she left all that she knew behind. She chose to embrace a culture and a God that she had not been brought up in, she left was her family home. Ruth also went one step further in making vows to Naomi. These were a covenant promise before God. She vowed to travel with Naomi, to live with her, to make Naomi’s people her people, to worship Naomi’s God, to die where she dies and be buried where she is buried.

Those are some pretty big promises to a woman who is not a blood relative. But what happens next just blows my mind. As Ruth left her bloodline, God placed her in His royal line. Because of the choices that Ruth made, she became the great grandmother of King David, an ancestor of Jesus Christ.

As I reflected on this, I wondered how God felt toward Ruth, and why she was chosen for such a great honour. In the movie The Choice, local ladies man Travis meets his neighbour Gabby and is totally captivated by her. She gets under his skin in a way that no one else ever has, and he has a phrase he uses with her; ‘You bother me, baby.’ I believe that Ruth bothered God. I believe that she was so loved by God, that He could see her beautiful heart and He wanted to honour the choices she made.

This is just the same for us today. YOU bother God. You bother Him so much that He wrote the greatest love story in the world; He sent His Son to die for you. God sees your heart and He wants to use you to show His love and mercy the world over. He wants to place you in locations and situations that you could barely imagine just so He can pour His grace and favour into your life. You bother God, and maybe, just maybe this is the time you need to choose Him to be at the centre of your life. 

R x

 

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