Jim Partridge, elder
Yesterday we considered the major biblical theme of “hesed”, or love based on commitment and sacrifice, as it is displayed in the book of Ruth (and also in many other classic OT texts like Ex.34:6-7, Deut.7:9, Pss.63:3, 89,103:8 and Isaiah 54:7-8). Today we consider a second theme that is closely linked, that of “redemption”. Boaz, who first enters the story subtly in 2:3, is later identified by Naomi in 2:20b as “…a close relative of ours, one of our redeemers.” In the economy of ancient Israel, a “go’el” (Hebrew noun meaning “redeemer”) had the power to act on behalf of the “redeemed” in a way that could affect great good in their lives. In the case of Naomi, she had literally lost everything in the death of her husband and two sons in Moab, and was in a very vulnerable place upon her return to Bethlehem. Though her daughter-in-law Ruth had joined with her in committed “hesed” love, Ruth’s own social status as a female foreign widow was extremely low; this reality requires Naomi to act in great faith and her own version of hesed love. She concocts a daring plan in chapter 3 to secure Boaz as a husband for Ruth. In the providence of God (not good fortune or luck), the plan works out in chapters 3-4 in such a way that Naomi, the community and ultimately the nation are blessed by the birth of Obed, the grandfather of David the king, to Ruth and Boaz. Redemption in this story restores life to Naomi and provides a rich legacy for Ruth, “the Moabitess.” (As she was named in the old King James translation.)
Take note of the flow of the narrative in the book of Ruth, as well as the context of suffering that we see at the outset (not to mention the larger context of its place in the time of the Judges). Redemptive or gospel stories are shaped like the letter “J”. Life in a broken world, while created good and with good intentions, descends into death but then moves up into resurrection for the people of God because that God is powerfully sovereign and good and committed to His people with a hesed love. The suffering experienced by His people (from their sin, the sins of others, or just plain “life in a broken world”), is His “crucible for love.”1 His redemption of them from those factors involves a journey that was first taken by their ultimate Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ, in His life, death, resurrection and subsequent glorification. Our lives as believers in Christ are mapped onto His.
Reflect: Can you recognize a possible gospel story, or “J-curve” in the events of your life, even including suffering? Consider Romans 6:3-11 in this regard. Can you identify with and imitate Christ in His descent into love at Calvary (the redemption of His people) via the incarnation and His wait for resurrection to return to the Father?
Connect: Meditate on the amazing humility of our Lord Jesus in His humiliation and exaltation as described in Philippians 2:1-11 and what it means for believers to be united to Him by faith.
Philippians 2:1-11 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
1cf. “A Loving Life In a World of Broken Relationships” , Chapter 1 by Paul Miller
This blog is part of the ministry of City Reformed Presbyterian Church. Unless otherwise noted, the entries are written by Matt Koerber. This is part of a project that our church is doing as we read through the narrative sections of Scripture between early January and Easter 2020. New entries will be scheduled to drop automatically at 5:00 am on the scheduled day.