This week we arrive in the book of Ruth as Pastor Gene shows us the story of redemption woven throughout the book and throughout the Bible as well.
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good morning welcome if you are new here among us my name is gene and i serve here at c3 church as your lead pastor and i'm excited to be continuing in our series the rest of the story where we've talked about weddings marriages family we talked about something that some brides are sometimes worried about before the wedding like tripping and falling down the aisle or what the best man might say i heard a story about a couple who had a different problem it was with the mother-in-law now this can be can be quite common they make movies about it it's so common and it can be a problem for the bride both before the wedding and for many years after the wedding but this particular mother-in-law was more like a monster in law really bad you see she was a single mom for many years had one child her one and only son loved him the apple of her eye he could do no wrong and there wasn't a woman in the world good enough for him including the one he was about to get married to she couldn't do anything right in fact the mother-in-law said of her she had no redeeming at all she took it a step further she said that that bride has no business wearing white on her wedding day in fact she said this is my special day too the mother of all bombs she decided to wear white to the wedding that's a big no-no in our culture anyway bride was really upset about it they're going to pre-marital counseling so she's talking about it to the pastor and her husband and finally she says you know i have an idea i have a plan if you'll join me in it to teach this woman a lesson and surprisingly they agreed so the wedding day came and sure enough the monster-in-law wears the white dress to the wedding additionally she wanted to be walked down the aisle but sure enough none of the other groomsmen were good enough to do that only her special boy so here you have the groom walking his mom down the aisle to her seat but when they get to the seat they keep walking she's a little startled now she's kind of being dragged along right up to the front where the pastor is but she remains composed she doesn't want to be embarrassed right her special day so there's the bridal party you have the groom's men lined up and she's trying to play it cool but she looks over at the bridal party and notices that the bride's standing there is already in the room lined up with the other bridesmaids not wearing white she's wearing a red dress that's weird well she keeps it cool until the pastor forgoes the normal words that he would say at the beginning of a wedding he looks at the mother-in-law and says do you take this man to be your lawfully wedded husband the place erupts with laughter even if they didn't know the mother they know she shouldn't be wearing white to this wedding so she quickly says no he's my son of course not the place erupts again with laughter the pastor patiently waits for it to calm down and says well then perhaps there's someone else here who will redeem him now you might be wondering what happened what did she do did she go and get changed and then do it again do a little redo this thing was a joke no she didn't have to because she was chinese you see in china brides often wear red black and white are colors associated with mourning and death so you see the joke was on the monster-in-law the whole time speaking of weddings and mother-in-laws today we find ourselves in the book of ruth where we'll be looking at the rest of that story a beloved novella if you will people really like this story a lot but there are a few little details i hope to point out today ruth is placed between judges and first samuel it acts as kind of a bridge it gives us some lineage to david so it's in the time of judges it tells us and then we'll see that ruth is david's great grandmother it sets him up there we'll see that in samuel samuel won't anoint him david king ruth verse 1 chapter 1 in the days when the judges ruled in israel a severe famine came upon the land so a man from bethlehem in judah left his home and went to live in the country of moab taking his wife and two sons with him the man's name was elimelech and his wife was naomi their two sons were malin and kilian they were ephrathites from bethlehem in the land of judah and when they reached moab they settled there then elimelech died and naomi was left with her two sons the two sons married moabite women one married a woman named orpah and the other a woman named ruth but about 10 years later both malin and killian died this left naomi alone without her two sons or husband now if you've ever read this as oprah instead of orpah totally cool i did that for about five years so anyway hard for me to say now actually orpah orpah orpa not oprah it's in the time of the judges now ancient hearers many people would hear these stories not a lot of people had the scrolls or could read they would hear the story or read the story they would pick up on some really obvious irony right away in the names you'd be kind of chuckling maybe you'd know what was going to happen you see malin and killian they're names related to mortality and sickness so it will be clueing you in to what's going to happen there's some irony here elimelech means god is my king but not so much for this guy you see he's left the covenant community and gone to live with the moabites that's a no-no so it's ironic now if you remember the origins of moab remember the story of lot sodom and gomorrah this was the child burst out of that incestuous relationship lots of daughters get him drunk and then sleep with him this is where the moabites come from furthermore the law of moses that we looked at earlier says they weren't to intermarry with them and there's more deuteronomy 23 3 no ammonite or moabite or any of their descendants for 10 generations may be admitted into the assembly of the lord they're not allowed in church these nations did not welcome you with food and water when you came out of egypt instead they hired balaam son of beor from pethor in distant aram nahurayam to curse you but the lord your god refused to listen to balaam he turned the intended curse into a blessing because the lord your god loves you as long as you live you must never promote the welfare and prosperity of the ammonites or the moabites the ammonites are the younger child of this incestuous relationship both of his daughters sleep with lot so you know the story remember balaam and his donkey furthermore they're not to enter mary places like deuteronomy 7 command this and also according to ruth rabba so this is like jewish commentary that study bibles back then ruth was orpah's sister and the two were daughters of eglin the king of moab remember ehood he stabbed eglin in the belly and couldn't retrieve the dagger because he was heavyset the bible says something different but apparently that upsets some people so i'll just say he was heavyset what was the word we husky he was husky and so you could not retrieve the dagger that's it so here lying in balak king balak and balaam it all comes together so now ruth hears that there's food in judah again in bethlehem so she decides to take her daughter's in-laws with her and go to bethlehem she's on her way there and she turns them and says you know what why don't you girls just go back to your people just leave so they all break down and cry and they say no we want to go with you we'll go we'll stay she says no and then she gives a sarcastic kind of speech at first some logic i'm too old to have children but then she continues well even if i produced children for you to then marry you're going to wait around for that right 15 years maybe 16 years in those days so it's being kind of sarcastic she says no i am bitter the lord has raised his fist against me well orpah decides to go she kisses her mother-in-law and leaves but naomi clings to her well or ruth clings to her sorry switch the names there i'll dyslexia at least i got it ruth clings to naomi but naomi points out your sister has gone to be with her people and her gods you go do the same but she protests she refuses and then we get the famous line ruth 1 16 but ruth replied don't ask me to leave you and turn back wherever you go i will go wherever you live i will live your people will be my people and your god will be my god let nothing but death separate us now you know where those song lyrics come from when we sing it maybe some of you will think wow those are out of context aren't they but i guess it's okay to apply it to jesus i'll stop being a bible nerd and just sing the song now naomi's lack of response is kind of funny it just says in the original language she stopped talking to her that's it wherever you go i will go i will go your god will be my god like nothing but death separate us that's it no words from her so they get back to town people in town recognize naomi they say oh look it's naomi and she says no don't call me naomi which means pleasant she says call me mara which means bitter the lord has raised his hand his fist against me now if you've been paying attention this should remind you of something a place in exodus 15 do you remember the first passover all right they cross the sea and then the egyptians pursue the waters crash down on them they sing a song of deliverance in exodus 15 and then you have the story of the bitter water they can't drink the water there it's too bitter so moses throws a log or a piece of wood in there and now all of a sudden it's okay to drink the world's first water purification system i guess but anyway that place was named mara because the water was better same word used here to describe herself and indeed they come back poor and bitter they have nothing ruth chapter two starting at verse one now there was a wealthy and influential man in bethlehem named boaz who is a relative of naomi's husband elemalek so here it cuts to a scene where ruth is going to ask naomi if it's okay to gather some grain in the fields but it's not like working the fields like harvesting the fields in the law they had laws to be charitable to people so leviticus 1990 places like that it'll say that when you harvest the grain the wheat if you drop some leave it don't trim the edges of your field that's for the poor people and so it's just to be charitable and this is what ruth is doing so you have to picture her as a very destitute and poor person so she's in this field as they're harvesting and she's picking up what they're dropping the leftovers well sure enough it's boaz's field he notices her and he asks his foreman who is that girl the foreman says ah that's a moabite woman she's been working here since morning she's been hard at work all day except for a little bit in the shelters took a break now notice it's pointed out she's a moabite woman so here you already have that cultural divide going on so maybe it's kind of difficult for her to be living there she's a moabite they're not really desirable people the people can't intermarry with them so boaz goes up to her and he lets her know you can keep doing what you're doing i've told the men not to harass you if you need a drink of water go ahead and be my guest and she said may she throws herself at his feet thank you for being so kind to me but again i'm only a foreigner she points that out to him then he says ruth 2 starting at verse 11. yes i know boaz replied but i also know about everything you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband i have heard how you left your father and mother and your own land to live among complete strangers may the lord the god of israel under whose wings you have come to take refuge reward you fully for what you have done so now lunch time comes he welcomes her to eat with them dip your bread in the sour wine he says so she eats the roasted grain and has lunch she goes back out to work she continues working it's very interesting because then there are instructions given not only are you not to pick up the stuff you dropped you're actually supposed to intentionally drop stuff at her all right increasingly more charitable to her so just you know what chuck's the matter let her pick those up she gathers up a whole lot and comes home to naomi brings home the leftovers from lunch brings home what she gathered up naomi says where did you get all this stuff and so she says what happened right boaz he's been so great to me she says oh that guy's our next of kin our family redeemer this is good so she continues to work through the barley harvest in the spring the wheat harvest in the summer for a couple of seasons and then it cuts away to another scene some time goes by and naomi hatches a plan it's kind of a risky one again you're going to go to boaz and he'll be threshing on the threshing floor and here's what you're going to do you're going to get dialed up so you're going to wash you're going to take a bath it's been a while you're going to anoint yourself with some perfume and lotions then you're going to put on a nice set of clothes a new set of clothes and here's what you're going to do boys is going to be resting on the threshing floor you're going to uncover his feet and you're gonna lie down at them and he'll tell you what to do once that happens okay so she goes and does it and here i'll just stop to explain something because it's not always obvious the bible talks a lot about threshing wheat and winnowing and a lot of people don't know what that is i didn't either when i first came to the bible because it's not something i do it's not very common and today if you're harvesting and stuff we have machinery for that so it's not the same but you can go on youtube it's kind of interesting and see that some cultures still do this so you've cut down you know whatever crop let's say it's wheat now you want to fresh it out so you're separating the wheat from the chaff and so what they'll do is they'll put it on a large threshing floor imagine like a concrete patio really big one and you can beat it out with certain tools there are certain tools i've seen online which were interesting there's like this rotating paddle on a stick and they're sitting there standing there beating it it's a lot of hard work i've also seen a guy dragging a giant piece of wood with a donkey over it all to kind of crush it or beat it out a lot of work and then in the evening when the cool breeze comes through you're going to winnow the grain and so they have a winnowing fork like a pitchfork and they'll throw it up in the air and then the chaff will fly away the grain will fall down to the ground for me this is called an allergy nightmare so that's what it is so you're picturing that a lot of hard work but as it's threshing out the grain all day he gets something to eat and drink it's in the evening and he lies down and falls asleep now in the story there are a couple of implications so it insinuates something maybe that he's drunk and are also some sexual insinuations here and i'll explain them to you so she sneaks in uncovers his feet now if you remember moses's wife zephora not sephora she circumcised his son and it says he touched the foreskin to his feet so sometimes that's a polite way of saying something else we don't know because it does say feet but there's a lot of implication here it's hinting it a lot right he'll tell you what to do so she uncovers his feet and lays down he doesn't notice and so there's the other suggestion how would he not notice this unless maybe he had been drinking it suggests that he turns over in the middle of the night and then wakes up who are you he says i'm ruth your servant you are my family redeemer put the corner of your cloak over me cover me so what this is like is take me under your wing it's like marry me right so it would mean something take me under your wing well he uses some interesting language and if you know the word really well this is a really cool connection he says i know that you're a virtuous woman and the language there is almost identical to the proverbs 31 woman king lemuel's mom gave him that advice a proverb kind of originally told by a woman and she's saying stay away from alcohol that's the first piece of advice she gives him and then here's the kind of woman that you're going to want to marry a virtuous woman that says same type of language here but he says well it's true i'm your family redeemer there's another redeemer who's in line ahead of me so i'm going to go check with him tomorrow stay the night here right they don't want to cause a scandal no one should see you leaving she stays the night gets up in the morning while it's still dark well none of the neighbors can see her and she leaves but before she does he gives her six scoops of barley a pretty generous amount now most versions from hebrew or in english will say he put it in her cloak or her veil but the greek is very interesting again it suggests something gives a little foreshadowing it says put it in her apron and so you're going to get a suggestion a picture of what is about to happen it's a little bit more interesting so she goes back she leaves the secret she tells naomi what happened naomi says he's a good guy he's going to straighten this out for us today essentially so now you end up with another scene at the town gate this is really interesting because again in proverbs 31 the husband really isn't mentioned a lot the wife does all this really great stuff and the husband just sits around at the town gate and brags about her that's really all he does that's his only role so it's like me and heather basically it there so you get that scene now remember the gates of gaza was a gaza right that samson picked up and took away almost an impossible feat took away these big town gates it was a place of commerce where people met a very very important place why it's mentioned in proverbs 31 he's meeting with the town elders and this is what boaz does he goes there the other redeemer is there an unnamed man he gets together 10 elders or leaders of the town to be witnesses and he says well you know elimelech malin and killian they're dead everybody knows that well his estate's up for sale naomi's selling it do you want to buy it he says sure i'll buy it but bowaz has a card he's kept close to the vest he says but bruce comes with it now again another suggestion because he changes his mind he says no that would damage my inheritance i can't do it. we don't know why but maybe he doesn't want to marry a moba bite woman we don't really know a lot of suggestions in this story so he says no i can't do it you redeem the property now explain something women back then were sometimes seen as property so they would be sold with an estate along with like the slaves and other things like that it just is what it is the culture back then also we have another thing going on here that might not be obvious to you back then they had levirate marriage so you see this earlier on in the law of moses it's where if a brother dies the next one down steps up to the plate produces an heir that is the point so if you remember the story of judah and tamar this is how this started er dies because he's a wicked man again we don't know why then onan steps up to the plate and does something disgusting he doesn't do the deed and then sheila is hidden from him as judah is their father and so tamar decides she's going to get her heir by tricking judah into sleeping with her by playing the prostitute kind of a crazy story we'll see that this is now going to connect it's going to have pires and you'll see in a minute how this goes together so this is kind of the concept that's going on they're relatives they're family redeemers and so they would redeem ruth being a relative that's how it worked back then again that's what went on then now something really interesting happens and there's a little bit behind it it's kind of funny to us and to the hearers of the story in that day we get some indications that this may have been written way later because they do something funny the other unnamed redeemer takes his sandal off and hands it to boaz and it said in those days this is how you would validate a transaction there's a hint there in those days so in other words the writer knows that why did he hand him a sandal it wasn't completely obvious now if you and i decide to make a deal do not take off your sandal and hand it to me that's disgusting it's been on the bathroom floor keep your sandals on do not validate the transaction in that way but why the sandal well it was a thing back then but this was the idea of relinquishing the responsibility and passing it on to someone else boaz is now taking it also if it's property they might measure out a field with these sandals so those are the representations quite possibly and connecting the dots there's kind of another funny story if you know the word well you might be thinking about it we're talking about this type of marriage there's a command to do it then we see that there are some commands about what happens when someone doesn't want to do it they're not always going to be struck down like onan so it says this deuteronomy 5 starting at verse 7. but if the man refuses to marry his brother's widow she must go down to the town gate and say to the elders assembled there my husband's brother refuses to preserve his brother's name in israel he refuses to fulfill the duties of a brother-in-law by marrying me the elders of the town will then summon him and talk with him if he still refuses and says i don't want to marry her the widow must walk over to him in the presence of the elders pull his sandal from his foot and spit in his face do not this is the law we're not under the law of moses anymore then she must declare this is what happens to a man who refuses to provide his brother with children ever afterward in israel his family will be referred to as the family of the man whose sandal was pulled off i'm not making that up check in your bible then ruth and boaz get married they have a son obed which means servant of god and here we find the rest of the story in king david ruth 4 16 naomi took the baby and cuddled him to her breast and she cared for him as if he were her own the neighboring women said now at last naomi has a son again and they named him obed he became the father of jesse and the grandfather of david but the rest of that story is found in jesus the story takes place in bethlehem many of you know that is where jesus was born did you know bethlehem means house of bread and it gets really and it gets even more interesting because you see in the greek version it says that naomi and ruth they were going to bethlehem to get bread arton not just any bread the holy bread so it kind of foreshadows something because jesus said of himself that he was the bread of life interesting connections here orpah kisses her mother-in-law and some say this prefigures the betrayal judas betraying jesus going back before she goes back to her other gods ruth's unnamed relative unwittingly speaks truth when he says he will lose his inheritance in the passing of the scandal we see the passing of the law and the advent of christ ruth prefigures the gentile church who would be grafted in to the family of promise and boaz prefigures christ our redeemer and indeed he is in our redeemers family line it gets even more interesting if we go to the first book of the new testament we see jesus's genealogy in it matthew 1 starting at verse 5 says solomon was the father of boaz whose mother was rahab boaz was the father of obad whose mother was ruth obed was the father of jesse jesse was the father of king david david was the father of solomon whose mother was bathsheba the widow of uriah in this genealogy we see some pretty remarkable things one is that there are four undesirable women named in it if we go back to verse three it says judah was the father of peers and zerah whose mother was tamar so that's judah and tamar the father-in-law with the daughter-in-law so you remember that story in genesis 38. note boaz is mother might be helpful if we can click back one slide and you'll see the genealogy there boaz's mother was who rahab who was a prostitute so we have someone playing the prostitute having an incestuous relationship and someone's actually a prostitute in jesus's family tree think about that ruth a moabite woman remember sodom and gomorrah and lot not good and bathsheba now this version is an easy to read version it's designed for people who might not know the word very well so they explain a few things they'll do parenthetical extras which i don't think is a bad thing for people who don't know it well but if you're reading the original it doesn't explain so much it just says uriah's wife which tells you what they did david produced solomon with somebody else's wife this easy to read version is actually kind of nice because she wasn't yet a widow when he slept with her in fact he went and got uriah killed an adulterer and a murderer in jesus's genealogy in his family tree think about the implications now as a side note from an apologetic standpoint this is pretty amazing because if you were gonna make up a story like we see for people like alexander the great you might leave a lot of this stuff out wouldn't you i was going to make up a story about someone it was fake i wouldn't put these people in it no good but they put the women in there when they don't even have to mentioning things like oh yeah mom was rahab the prostitute why would you do that gee i wonder this speaks of redemption being redeemed in christ right from the very beginning the part that people skip the genealogy it's talking to you it's telling you that if you're in this family line you're redeemed if you are a part of jesus's family you're redeemed what does it end with right go make disciples of all nations gather them into the family graft them in go to everybody first the people the lost sheep of israel but now everybody the ephenees all ethnicities from beginning to end you if you are in christ are redeemed there is a pathway to redemption as ruth found it in bethlehem ours too is found in a person born in bethlehem redeemer jesus as ruth was faithful and loyal and followed naomi we too must have faith and follow jesus if we keep reading matthew's gospel account we get to chapter 10. jesus says this everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth i will also acknowledge before my father in heaven but everyone who denies me here on earth i will also deny before my father in heaven i would imagine that i have come to bring peace to the earth i came not to bring peace but a sword i've come to set man against his father a daughter against her mother and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law your enemies will be right in your own household there's a quote of micah if you love your father or mother more than you love me you are not worthy of being mine or if you love your son and daughter more than me you are not worthy of being mine but if you refuse to take up your cross and follow me follow me you are not worthy of being mine i know that micah in there it's not the micah of micah's idols but it's a prophecy and in that prophetic book chapter 5 verse 2 it says that a child will be born in bethlehem will be your lord all comes full circle jesus says we must follow him like ruth we must leave certain things and follow jesus in that story and even in this one we must cling to christ jesus wherever you go i will go even if it's hard i will follow you i will cling to you this requires loyalty the passage is not about intentionally dishonoring our families matthew 10 or committing acts of violence the sword is figurative it's about loyalty to jesus regardless of what family we are born into regardless of what the circumstance we must always choose jesus even when it's difficult it won't be easy it wasn't easy for ruth think about it she left her family left her gods orpah went back and if the commentary is true wow her dad's pretty high up there must have been nice she left all that she became impoverished scavenging in the barley or wheat field difficult she had to do some pretty daring stuff and for us too it may be difficult but our faith and loyalty to our lord lead to our redemption in jesus you see ruth could have gone back to her gods but she chose faithfulness over family and her former life and we too must follow jesus maybe it doesn't mean leaving our family maybe everything's fine there but it does mean leaving our former life it does mean leaving our gods leaving some of the other things that maybe we used to worship and following jesus clinging to him instead and so we have choices and we must choose to move forward in christ we must choose our redeemer who paid the ultimate price for us and so remember that you have a redeemer in jesus christ who paid the ultimate price for you to bring you into his loving arms under his wing so to speak into his protection his provision and into the family of faith and so as we go out this week let's keep that in mind and we're a part of this family and let it change our behavior and mold us into christ jesus let me pray for you from the scriptures ephesians 1 3 all praise to god the father of our lord jesus christ who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with christ even before he made the world god loved us and chose us in christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes god decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through jesus christ this is what he wanted to do and it gave him great pleasure so we praise god for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belonged to his dear son he is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased your freedom redeemed us with the blood of his son and forgave our sins all glory and honor to him forever and ever amen