Monday, September 10, 2012

Jesus' Great, Great, Great...Grandmother!!!

Reflections: One of the reasons why I like to go through the whole bible and read through it canonically (in order) Old and New Testament is that it shows us God’s whole story of redemption for all mankind. We see the grace of God and God’s overarching sovereign plan, and how he uses unlikely people to carry out His plan. As the good book says, “His ways are higher than our ways.”

Today we meet the unlikely character of Ruth, the Moabitess, who married one of Naomi’s sons when her family went to Moab due to the famine in their native land. Remember in the Judges that God had withheld some of the harvest due to their unfaithfulness and how each person was doing was right in their own eyes. This caused them to leave their homeland and marry into families apart from the Jewish faith. But God in his mercy sees Ruth’s character, and how she stayed with her mother in law (okay no mother in law jokes please!) even though the other daughter went back to her homeland.

So when they go back to their hometown, Naomi urges Ruth to go out in the fields of Boaz her near relative to glean the harvest. Since she was a foreigner, often these women would be taken advantage of by the workers, but Naomi tells Boaz to watch over her. Boaz realizes her character by her “work ethic”, as she takes little breaks and works very hard. Boaz grants her special privileges and in effect tells everyone “hands off”. This was unusual because she was a foreigner, yet Boaz is faithful to being a kinsman redeemer for his relative Naomi.

In the end Ruth obeys Naomi’s suggestion to lay near the threshing floor and uncover Boaz’s feet, an act of servitude for that culture. Boaz realizes what a special lady she is and how she chooses him even in his old age, and we will see tomorrow that God continues to honor Ruth. Eventually through God’s higher ways than our ways, Ruth will become the grand-grandmother of the greatest King in all of Israel King David!!!

So what can we learn from this? One, God uses all people from all nations to accomplish His purposes in the salvation of all people. After all, Ruth is in the line and genealogy of Jesus (ie. She is the great, great, great, great…grandmother of Jesus!) Second, Ruth is faithful in the little she has and listens to her mother in law Naomi. In her quiet servant like attitude and humble nature, God honor her faithfulness! God opposes the proud and exalts the humble!

Ruth is a great model for us today as we serve God wherever He has called us. We never know how God might use our quiet acts of service in secret to bring in His kingdom in a new and powerful way. As you go about your day remember your sister Ruth in the faith, and learn from her! Bloom where you are planted and you will see a harvest of righteousness!

Of course the greatest example of humility is seen in our Lord Jesus, which we see exemplified as today though the greatest authorities of the day King Herod and Pontius Pilate see no reason to execute him, the people cry “Crucify Him”. The very people he came to save condemn him to death. And in an act of extreme irony, the murderer Barabbas is let go and innocent Jesus goes to the cross. As the greatest act of injustice in all history takes place, Jesus utters no curses or attacks on those who carry it out. He humbly submits himself to follow God’s will even to death on a cross.

Psalm 106:6-12

6 We have sinned, even as our ancestors did;
we have done wrong and acted wickedly.
7 When our ancestors were in Egypt,
they gave no thought to your miracles;
they did not remember your many kindnesses,
and they rebelled by the sea, the Red Sea.
8 Yet he saved them for his name’s sake,
to make his mighty power known.
9 He rebuked the Red Sea, and it dried up;
he led them through the depths as through a desert.
10 He saved them from the hand of the foe;
from the hand of the enemy he redeemed them.
11 The waters covered their adversaries;
not one of them survived.
12 Then they believed his promises
and sang his praise.

Ruth 2,3
Ruth Meets Boaz in the Grain Field

2 Now Naomi had a relative on her husband’s side, a man of standing from the clan of Elimelek, whose name was Boaz. Naomi said to her, “Go ahead, my daughter.” 3 So she went out, entered a field and began to glean behind the harvesters. As it turned out, she was working in a field belonging to Boaz, who was from the clan of Elimelek. 4 Just then Boaz arrived from Bethlehem and greeted the harvesters, “The Lord be with you!” “The Lord bless you!” they answered. 5 Boaz asked the overseer of his harvesters, “Who does that young woman belong to?” 6 The overseer replied, “She is the Moabite who came back from Moab with Naomi. 7 She said, ‘Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves behind the harvesters.’ She came into the field and has remained here from morning till now, except for a short rest in the shelter.” 8 So Boaz said to Ruth, “My daughter, listen to me. Don’t go and glean in another field and don’t go away from here. Stay here with the women who work for me. 9 Watch the field where the men are harvesting, and follow along after the women. I have told the men not to lay a hand on you. And whenever you are thirsty, go and get a drink from the water jars the men have filled.” 10 At this, she bowed down with her face to the ground. She asked him, “Why have I found such favor in your eyes that you notice me—a foreigner?” 11 Boaz replied, “I’ve been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband—how you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before. 12 May the Lord repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.” 13 “May I continue to find favor in your eyes, my lord,” she said. “You have put me at ease by speaking kindly to your servant—though I do not have the standing of one of your servants.” 14 At mealtime Boaz said to her, “Come over here. Have some bread and dip it in the wine vinegar.” When she sat down with the harvesters, he offered her some roasted grain. She ate all she wanted and had some left over. 15 As she got up to glean, Boaz gave orders to his men, “Let her gather among the sheaves and don’t reprimand her. 16 Even pull out some stalks for her from the bundles and leave them for her to pick up, and don’t rebuke her.” 17 So Ruth gleaned in the field until evening. Then she threshed the barley she had gathered, and it amounted to about an ephah. 18 She carried it back to town, and her mother-in-law saw how much she had gathered. Ruth also brought out and gave her what she had left over after she had eaten enough. 19 Her mother-in-law asked her, “Where did you glean today? Where did you work? Blessed be the man who took notice of you!” Then Ruth told her mother-in-law about the one at whose place she had been working. “The name of the man I worked with today is Boaz,” she said. 20 “The Lord bless him!” Naomi said to her daughter-in-law. “He has not stopped showing his kindness to the living and the dead.” She added, “That man is our close relative; he is one of our guardian-redeemers.”

Luke 23:13-31

13 Pilate called together the chief priests, the rulers and the people, 14 and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was inciting the people to rebellion. I have examined him in your presence and have found no basis for your charges against him. 15 Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us; as you can see, he has done nothing to deserve death. 16 Therefore, I will punish him and then release him.” [17] 18 But the whole crowd shouted, “Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us!” 19 (Barabbas had been thrown into prison for an insurrection in the city, and for murder.) 20 Wanting to release Jesus, Pilate appealed to them again. 21 But they kept shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” 22 For the third time he spoke to them: “Why? What crime has this man committed? I have found in him no grounds for the death penalty. Therefore I will have him punished and then release him.” 23 But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that he be crucified, and their shouts prevailed. 24 So Pilate decided to grant their demand. 25 He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, the one they asked for, and surrendered Jesus to their will.

The Crucifixion of Jesus

26 As the soldiers led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus. 27 A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him. 28 Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 For the time will come when you will say, ‘Blessed are the childless women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ 30 Then “‘they will say to the mountains, “Fall on us!” and to the hills, “Cover us!”’ 31 For if people do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. Psalm 121:4

The night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Romans 13:12

By the light of day we serve you who never slumbers, O God. Shaking off the darkness of sin and doubt, we clothe ourselves with your Holy Spirit. May we never grow weary in our ministry, fighting the powers and principalities that would lull us into the sleepiness of indifference. Equip your saints, Lord Jesus, for the battles ahead. Amen.

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