Ruth

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May 3
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RUTH: WEEK TWENTY-EIGHT

Ruth 4v13-17

Ever After (Part Three)

(Click here to listen to the sixth Ruth teaching)

 

 

Verse of the Week

“SO LET US KNOW, LET US PRESS ON TO KNOW THE LORD…” Hosea 6v1 NASB

 

 

More words from the Father

Hosea 6v1-3

Jeremiah 9v23,24

2 Peter 1v1-8

John 17v3

Colossians 1v9-12

Philippians 3v8-14

Psalm 89v15-18

 

 

From my heart

Press On!

“Oh that we might know the Lord! Let us press on to know Him!” Hosea 6v3 (NLT)

 

Just a few days ago I watched as my daughter, her brown eyes sparkling with joy, brightly echoed her wedding vows to the man who now held her heart in his hands.

 

“…in joy and in sorrow,

 

in sickness and in health,

 

‘til death do us part…

 

I so promise.”

 

My own eyes, brimming with unshed tears, locked on to my husband as he administered those vows to our daughter and her soon-to-be husband. Suddenly, it seemed, the decades rolled back and it was this man who stood before me, his bride. That day, he towered above me in his cream colored tux, while I stood on my tippy toes in anticipation of all that I dreamed of.

 

But did I really know him?

 

I knew a lot about him. He was tall, lanky, with brilliant blue eyes and wavy hair that mussed out of shape with the slightest breeze. And he had the largest hands I’d ever seen. I loved those hands and I still do; the way his hand swallows mine in a warm grip of assurance. I also knew he was cool. A drummer who could sing, he wore desert boots and aviator shades and drove a souped up 1970 LeMans.

 

I knew a lot about his personality, of course. I knew he was moody and intense, a man of strong convictions and quick intelligence. I knew he was always in a hurry, rushing at a sometimes frantic pace, embracing every opportunity to do more. I thought I knew he’d be a good dad; after all, he seemed to love to play with children. Of one thing I was certain – I wanted this man. I longed for him, longed to know him, to keep him as my own.

 

The Bible speaks of a woman “knowing” her husband in an intimate relationship with the same verbiage it uses to describe our knowing God intimately. To know God is to uncover who He is, what He wants, how He loves, what tickles His fancy, what angers Him, what brings tears to His eyes.

 

When Hosea cried, “Let us press on to know the Lord,” he wasn’t urging us to gather more information about God, so much as to mold our minds and design our lives so as to step into His world and know His heart. Down through the centuries, his words echo as a resounding exhortation to intentionally determine to know God.

 

But how?

 

In a woman’s world full of diapers and dishes, deadlines and dual incomes, how can we add something so weighty as knowing God to the mix? Can’t that wait until the kids are grown, the bills are paid, and all these messy relationships are untangled?

 

Someday, we say, we’ll focus on spiritual things. For now, just attempting to read my Bible a few days a week and go to church a few times a month feels heroic.

 

Yet now is when we need this knowing of Him. Now, when the relationships are tricky, while the kids are underfoot, and bills hover over our heads. Like compound interest, every little bit you and I tuck away of Him yields an accumulated weight of wisdom which we need for living life.

 

And it’s not so hard, really. Learning to know God is not so different from learning to know the man you love. In fact, unclouded by selfishness and sin, knowing God may be a whole lot easier. Here are a few ways I’ve found to help me be intentional about pressing on to know Him.

 

1. Spend time reading, studying, listening to His words in Scripture. Layer upon layer, delving ever deeper to uncover treasures of His heart.

 

2. Ask questions, lots and lots of questions, while listening to His Word. “What does this mean?” “Why did this happen?” “What does He want from me?” “When?” “How?”

 

3. Memorize key words of His so they stay with you throughout the daily-ness of life, resounding in your ears until they become part of you and change the way you think.

 

4. Talk to Him. Bring Him your troubles, both large and small, knowing He genuinely cares about what you care about and He wants you to tell Him.

 

5. Delight in Him. Become wrapped up in Him; noticing His beauty, His creativity, His kindness, and the wisdom of His ways.

 

6. Open your heart to His family. Learn to value His people, to like them – even to love them. Being with other members of the Father’s family will teach you much about His heart. You’ll see glimpses of God reflected in His people. You’ll hear stories of how He’s dealt with their difficulties, and you’ll get more and more of an idea of the way He is.

 

When it comes to a relationship with God, disinterest leads to a slow and certain death. Deliberately focusing your notice on Him, pressing on to know Him, takes effort, intentionality, and determination. And every minute is worth it.

 

Some day you and I are going to stand at another wedding. We, the bride, will look into the face of our Bridegroom, Jesus, and we’ll cling to His hands and promise to love Him forever and ever.

 

So for now, my dear sister, let us press on to know the Lord!

 

From my heart,

Diane

 

 

 

ETC

The Wedding Ceremony in Ancient Israel

Wedding ceremonies in ancient Israel involved two distinctive, yet interwoven, aspects. First of all, of course, was the grand celebration which marked so many aspects of Jewish life. These were a people who had been encouraged by their God to come together often for intentional times of thanksgiving and feasting.

 

They knew how to party!

 

For seven days, the couple’s friends and relatives were entertained by the family of the groom. Wine flowed freely while food groaned on the tables. Guests were expected to wear their finest clothing for the dancing and feasting. In the Song of Solomon, we see a picture of a royal wedding with the bride being carried to the event in a sedan chair. She wore embroidered garments and beautiful jewelry. A veil covered her face. The groom, wearing an elaborate headdress, brought his bride to a wedding chamber to consummate the marriage.

 

There was another, more business-like side to the wedding ceremony in Old Testament times as well. This was a serious contractual agreement between families. The father of the bride was paid a “bride price” in order to compensate for the loss of his daughter. That money was kept in the family and reverted to the wife if her husband died.

 

Simple vows, stating the commitment of the husband to provide for his wife and to protect her, were symbolically sealed by the man covering his bride with the corner of his garment. The marriage was expected to produce heirs, especially male heirs, in order to carry on the family lineage.

 

Ruth and Boaz’s wedding seemed to forgo much of the formality of traditional Jewish ceremonies. Friends and family simply gathered around the couple in joyous celebration, giving them the gift of wise words and happy predictions of a blessed future. The legal contracts were sealed as witnesses looked on and the couple were whisked away to begin their life together…

 

…and to live happily ever after!

Posted
April 26
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RUTH: WEEK TWENTY-SEVEN

Ruth 4v13-17

Ever After

(Click here to listen to the sixth Ruth teaching)

Verse of the Week

“…OH, THAT MY PEOPLE WOULD LISTEN TO ME!” Psalm 81v13 NLT

 

 

 

More Words from the Father

Isaiah 35

Luke 15

Matthew 9v35,36

Matthew 11v28,29

 

 

 

From my Heart  

Living in Moab

Some of you are living in Moab.

 

In a time of desperation, emotional thirstiness, or just plain disobedience, you slipped out from under the shadow of His wings, away from His presence, and into a forbidden place.

 

And you feel like you are dying a slow death.

 

Like a terminal cancer, guilt and shame are eating away at your soul. You ache inside. Feel emotionally drained. Joy takes too much effort.

 

What are you going to do?

 

Will you let the lethargy overwhelm you, keeping you in that place of death? Will you justify and compromise, plastering on a plastic smile, covering the sores with band-aids?

Or, having heard of the favor of the Lord once again, will you, like Naomi, set out from the place where you have been living and take the road that would lead you back to the Kingdom… back Home?

 

Move out from your boyfriend’s bed…

 

Turn away from your perpetual self-pity…

 

Reign in your irresponsible spending…

 

Soften your sassy tongue…

 

And embrace the Love of your life. Head down His path, the way He calls the Highway of Holiness.

 

I can’t promise you it will be easy or that you will feel happy all the way. You have a lot to lose if you choose the Kingdom way of doing things. But you will never, ever be alone there on that path to His heart. You’ll have the Lord Himself orchestrating your way, clearing the path ahead, whispering in your ear. Somewhere in the unseen, there will be that “great cloud of witnesses” cheering you on. Maybe Naomi will be there rooting for you, wishing she could convey the urgency of heading Home.

 

How do you go back, you wonder? Moab is far way from where you belong. Maybe you’re afraid you’ve gone too far.

 

My grandfather thought so. Something he’d done long ago while fighting a far-off war so shamed him that he spent the rest of his days bitter and angry, biting at anyone and everyone who got in his way. He wasted his life convinced he was banished forever from the grace and mercy of the Father. When he died, we all sighed a sorrowful sigh of relief at his passing.

 

What a shame. What a waste.

 

How about you? Will you follow in Naomi’s footsteps and return to where you belong? Or will you be like Gramps? Forever trapped by your own foolishness?

“Then Naomi heard that the Lord had blessed His people…so…she set out from the place where she had been living, and they took the road that would lead them back to Judah.” Ruth 1v7 (NLT)

 

From my heart,

Diane

 

 

 

ETC

Seven Sons

“Your daughter-in-law, who loves you and is better to you than seven sons…” Ruth 4v15

The ancient Israelites believed that the perfect family consisted of seven sons. Though daughters were welcomed and lavishly loved, it was through the sons that the family lineage continued. By reminding Naomi that Ruth had been better for her than seven sons, they were saying that she had provided all that an ideal family could offer for Naomi.

 

The number seven in Jewish culture represented the works of God. It also signified completion or fullness. In 1 Samuel 2:7, we see another blessing involving the hope for seven sons. Hannah, the once barren mother of a young son who would grow up to become the great prophet, Samuel, composes a song of thanksgiving to God for giving her a child. “Even the barren gives birth to seven sons,” she sings. A mother with so many sons could be certain to be provided for in her old age.

 

Because of Ruth’s love for her, Naomi would not die a childless widow. Instead, she would become the “tribe-mother of a numerous and flourishing family.”

 

Had Naomi only known from the beginning of her story that God was still fully in control of her situation, perhaps she would not have lamented so fervently about her “emptiness.” In her disappointment with life’s curve balls, Naomi almost overlooked the unlikely source of her ultimate joy – her Moabite daughter-in-law Ruth.

 

Are you following in Naomi’s footsteps? Could there be something or someone you are overlooking in your disappointment with life’s circumstances? Is there a Ruth in your life, someone full of hesed who just might be “better than seven sons” to you?

 

Look around this week. Pray for eyes to see and ears to hear what the sovereign Spirit of God may be gently pointing out to you.

Like Naomi, you just might be in for the surprise and delight of your life!

 

 

 

Words

zera

“May you become famous…through the offspring which the Lord shall give…” Ruth 4v11, 12

This word is loaded with symbolism. With some delicacy, our English translators took the Hebrew word meaning “seed” or “semen” and glossed over the organic implications to come up with the very tame word, “offspring.” The people of Bethlehem were not nearly so polite. They were simply celebrating their belief that children are a heritage from the Lord Himself.

God sees the germ of life in what our world so callously considers an empty embryo.

In the story of God’s promise to bless the world through Abraham, He chooses this same word to symbolize abundant, ongoing, productive life:

“In your seed, all the nations shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.” Genesis 22v18

Posted
April 19
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RUTH: WEEK TWENTY-SIX

Ruth 4v13-17

Ever After (Part One)

(Click here to listen to the sixth Ruth teaching)

This closing scene in the drama of Ruth reaches back to the beginning of the tale to provide an immensely satisfying summary.

With sighs of relief, we read that God did indeed step into Naomi’s story in spite of her predictions of doom and her tendency towards despair. And we can’t help but wonder if He will do the same for us.

Without doing anything to deserve it, Naomi is carried away to a place of rest and security. As she holds her grandson in her arms, her eyes, once dull with pain, brighten with hope. The wrinkles lining her face give way to the smile she cannot repress.

 

How she must have loved that boy!

 

Naomi’s friends join in a chorus of blessing as if to remind Naomi of the defeated dirge she sang to them when she stumbled into town at the lowest point of her life. Now, many months later, her life is filled with love and hope and dreams for the future.

We’ll read this week of weddings and babies, love and romance. We’ll delight in all of those delicious details women love. But we’ll also find security in the reality of God’s unending love for us – in spite of our many flaws and failings.

 

Like Naomi, we lean precariously close to despair at times when our lives take us down painful paths. And like Ruth, we have Boaz to thank for snatching us from soul starvation and filling us full with God’s love.

Someday your story will end as well. Will your epilogue bring a sigh of satisfaction to the ones you want to read it? Will the final lines be filled with praise to God’s faithful loving-kindness?

 

Will you live this week in the security of knowing that your Father holds your Ever After firmly in His hands?

 

 

Verse of the Week

“…OUR ADEQUACY IS FROM GOD.” 1 Corinthians 3v5b NASB

 

 

 

More Words from the Father 

Job 42v1-6

2 Corinthians 12v7-10, 13v4

2 Corinthians 1v1-11

1 Peter 4v12-5v14

 

 

 

From my Heart

In Spite of Me

Naomi couldn’t fake it. She was too mad for that – too bitter. She’d suffered way too much to put on a pretty smile and blithely praise the Lord. And besides that, she was confused. Should she run from God or run to Him? Was God out to get her? First Elimelech, then Mahlon, now Chilion. Was she next? Should she just dig her grave, pull up a lawn chair, and wait for the inevitable?

 

No. Naomi did not suffer well.

 

But then neither did Job, not really. After his initial grand burst of worship and surrender in Job 1, he regresses to hours and hours of fruitless speculation and endlessly boorish dialogue with his know-it-all friends. Naomi skips all that and slides right into a muddy pit of self-pity.

Yet even with all their flaws and failures, neither Job nor Naomi gave up on God. And even more amazing than that, God didn’t give up on them! In fact, strange as it may seem, God actually used Naomi to bring an idol-worshipping pagan (that would be Ruth) into the Kingdom.

 

Sometimes we think that God needs a bunch of Barbie-doll perfect people in order to win the lost to His heart.

We’ve got to have our act together,

 

be strong,

 

flawless,

 

and always nice.

 

We can’t get mad,

 

don’t dare pout,

 

and must never, ever doubt.

 

Nothing could be further from the truth.

 

And I know because I’ve been there.

 

In the weeks that followed our young son’s diagnosis of Juvenile Diabetes, my safe and tidy world fell apart. I fell apart. I was terrified, sleep deprived, demanding, impotent to control a disease that had launched our family into a tailspin. I cried, I worried, and I called the diabetes nurse-educator every time he hiccuped.

 

Sue was endlessly patient with my ravings. Since she herself had managed the disease for 20 years or more, she knew exactly how I felt. More importantly, she knew what to do. In the middle of the night when I would call, clueless as to what to do, Sue would calm me down, give me concrete instructions and tell me to go back to bed. In her office, she would push the Kleenex box my way and give me reams of material to read. She never scolded, nor did she shame me for my maternal madness.

 

Sue was not a Christian. Not in any sense of the word. But something deep down inside of me drew her, despite the chaotic mess on the outside. To my astonishment, one day she showed up at my church. She bought a Bible and asked me where to read. And to my utter and eternal surprise, Sue and her husband and her son gave their lives to my same Savior! I watched in wonder as they were all baptized together.

 

Sue had seen me at my worst. Not a fake smile in sight. I wasn’t strong; I was incredibly fragile. I wasn’t nice; I reacted wrongly in my fear. And I certainly wasn’t an example to pattern her life after. I was a sniveling mess! Yet still, that Spirit of the living God, buried deep beneath the layers of my grieving, showed up just enough to intrigue her and to draw her to Himself.

Ruth watched Naomi grieve. She heard her rant and rave. She smelled her fear and touched her tears. And something inside of Ruth connected at some visceral level to the spirit of Yahweh buried deep within Naomi’s suffering soul. She wasn’t insular in her suffering. Instead, Naomi’s keening drew her closer to the One she knew as the Creator of life, Elohim.

 

And Ruth felt Him too.

 

In fact, through the mess of Naomi’s transparency, Ruth detected the faintest whiff of something real. And she determined to have it.

“We have,” observed the apostle Paul, “this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves…”

 

And so it is in His Kingdom.

 

He draws hearts to Himself

 

in spite of ourselves…

 

In spite of our weakness.

 

And maybe because of our pain.

 

And that, my dear friends is all a story of His amazing grace!

From my heart,

Diane

 

 

 

ETC

An Empty Womb

Even the word sounds bleak: barrenness. Whoever came up with such a nasty word? And Webster’s definition is brutal: Incapable of producing offspring, not productive, habitually failing to fruit.

 

Sounds like a disease!

 

A woman’s identity and significance throughout history has been wrapped up in her ability to conceive and bear children. For women unable to have children in our times, the emotional pain can be excruciating. Yet for women in Ruth and Naomi’s culture, infertility could prove disastrous.

 

“The barren woman joins the widow in the margins of society…displacement is a sure short road to poverty – or worse,” writes Carolyn James.

 

While society worked against the childless woman, God kept busy helping them. He left us with stories of women who chose not to cave in to the stigma of barrenness – women God used beautifully to bring honor to Himself.

 

Is there an area of your life that feels barren? Unfruitful? Like a failure? Search out the stories of these “holy women from…former times…who hoped in God.” Watch their stories unfold in fruitfulness as they relied on Him alone to use the brokenness of their lives to bring His story to a hurting world.

 

Sarah……..Genesis 11v30

Hannah…….1 Samuel 1v2

Rebekah……Genesis 25v20, 26

Rachel…….Genesis 30v1, 22

Elizabeth….Luke 1v7

 

 

 

 

Words

Bo: “And he went into her.”

This simple word holds a world of implications. It is the fourth most frequently used verb in the Old Testament, generally meaning to go or enter or arrive. With just one added preposition it takes on the meaning found in our reading and used frequently through out the biblical narrative: to have sexual intercourse.

 

God leaves very little to our imaginations. No fading lights or subtle hints. The Hebrew Bible would not qualify for a G-rating. Boaz drew Ruth away from the well-meaning crowd, took her to his home, and loved her as a man loves a woman. And from that love comes the lineage of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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April 12
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RUTH: WEEK TWENTY-FIVE

Ruth 4v1-12 

The Wedding (Part Five)

(Click here to listen to the fifth Ruth teaching)

Verse of the Week

“LET EACH GENERATION TELL ITS CHILDREN OF YOUR MIGHTY ACTS.” Psalm 145v4 NLT

 

 

 

More Words from the Father 

Matthew 18v1-14

Mark 9v33-37

Mark 10v13-16

Luke 18v15-17

Psalm 145

 

 

 

From my Heart

Pages from the past: April 1990

King David’s Men

Rising early on this bright, sunny morning, I determined to write of the dramatic exploits of King David and his Mighty Men. Just as I began to form the words in my mind and put pen to paper, Phil came out, coffee in hand, ready to talk

Down went the pad, closed went my Bible as I listened to my “Mighty Man” tell of the ministry of the day before. He talked. I listened. He questioned. I confirmed. Soon he was off to fight the battles and train the saints of the army of God.

Once more, pen met paper, as I returned to David’s Mighty Men. Not one sentence later, Rebekah plopped down on the sofa, positioning Blankly and Teddy carefully around as she began to read aloud to me.

After a few pages of Amelia Bedelia, David’s mighty warriors began to lose their dramatic flair.

Soon, John Mark came out with the escapades of Homer Price, excitedly showing me an ingenious illustration of a giant mousetrap designed to catch hundreds of mice without harming the poor, adorable little varmints.

 

David’s Mighty Men are being overshadowed by a Mighty Mousetrap.

 

Little Beth lets the dog in. Shep the circus lion (alias Sheba) dutifully performs his running, jumping, circling routine while his glamorous trainer struts about barefoot in her too short nighty, stick in hand, jump rope swinging wildly.

 

David’s mighty warriors have faded completely from my mind.

 

Though I would have loved to write a meaningful page or two about David’s godly leadership and his men’s faithful following, I find myself absolutely delighted with my crazy brood. Amelia Bedelia, Sheba the lion, Homer Price and his mouse machine…

 

David didn’t have it half as good.

 

From my heart,

Diane

 

 

 

ETC

What’s with the Sandal?

In the ancient eastern culture in which Boaz conducted business, land values were measured by the distance a man could walk off a triangle of the land. One day’s walk, a week, or a month of trekking over the land determined the monetary value of that piece of property. Out of this business practice sprang this custom of removing the sandal as a symbol of a sale.  When a man removed his sandal, he essentially relinquished his right to that property and bestowed it on another.

This is not to be confused with the statute recorded in Deuteronomy 25:5-10 wherein a widow had the legal right to demand that her dead husband’s unmarried brother marry her in order to perpetuate the family line. If he refused, she was to spit in his face in front of all his friends and family, publicly humiliating the man for reneging on his responsibilities. Then the wronged widow would pull his sandal off his foot in a grand display of disgust. This was meant as a means of using social pressure to push a young man to grow up and take responsibility.

Boaz’s interaction was clearly not intended to humiliate the nearer kinsman. He wanted Ruth for himself, yet recognized that he was second in line to take her and the land she would inherit. The custom in Ruth’s day was simply Boaz’ way of legalizing his marrying of Ruth and assuming control of Elimelch’s holdings.

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April 5
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RUTH: WEEK TWENTY-FOUR

RUTH 4v1-12

The Wedding (Part Four) 

(Click here to listen to the fifth Ruth teaching)

Verse of the Week

“…COME AND YOU WILL SEE…” John 1v39 NASB

 

 

More Words from the Father

Revelations 3v20

Song of Songs 1v1-4

Song of Songs 2v3-14

Matthew 11v28-30

John 1v1-18

 

 

From my Heart

…He Commands the Morning Job 38v12

The dark hour before dawn wrapped its silence around me as I burrowed deeper beneath the comforter. Ahh…that luscious sense of waking early, only to realize I can luxuriate in a couple more hours of sleep…ahh…sleep.

Then a whisper echoing over the silence,

 

“Come.”

 

Blinking open my sleep encrusted eyes, I peek out of my warm nest into the darkness.

 

“Come!”

 

This time I raise my head. Did someone call my name? Who could be up? My husband’s steady snoring assured me it wasn’t him. My imagination, of course, a dream perhaps. Back to sleep.

 

“Come!”

 

This time I’m startled awake. What? Who?

 

“Come, my beloved. Come meet with Me.”

 

Could I be hearing right? Could this inexplicable voice be my Lord’s? Was He calling me to come to Him?

As I lay there wondering, I heard it one more time.

 

“Come.”

 

Reluctance fled and with it all sense of sleepiness. Throwing back the covers, I padded downstairs with my heart pounding in anticipation. What did He want? Why would He wake me? Was this real or was I going crazy?

Within moments I had my answers.

God wanted me. He wanted me to be with Him. And what’s more, He wanted to be with me. Just be. Not to read my Bible, not to pray, not to do anything at all.

 

Just be.

 

Curled up in the corner of the sofa, my Bible open on my lap, a steaming mug of tea in hand, He spoke to my heart. Words of wisdom, words of delight poured over my heart that morning. I felt lavished in His love. Surrounded. He simply wanted me.

 

And He still does.

 

From my heart,

Diane

 

 

 

Come

Come with me

my friend

and be.

Be with me

a while.

Just be.

Your senses-

Do you hear?

Do you see?

Tell me.

Tell me of your wanderings.

Be with me

a while.

Just be.

 

-Rebekah Fechter

 

 

 

ETC

The City Gate

Boaz hurried away from his clandestine meeting with Ruth driven with determination. This was not the time to dream about the future, for he faced a formidable mandate. He had to establish himself at the city gate in order to negotiate a complex contract to obtain what he wanted – Ruth.

Every city or town of decent size in Israel was surrounded by a thick fortress-like wall for protection. These walls were constructed of stones or brick, with fortified towers placed at intervals in order to survey the surrounding area. Oftentimes, houses were incorporated into the wall, with the entrance facing into the town. The gate through these walls leading into the city became a place of political importance. Legal proceedings were often conducted there, sometimes out in the open air for all to observe and, on other occasions, in deep niches within the walls themselves. This is where Boaz rushed to in those early morning hours after his proposal from Ruth.

Several instances in the Bible illustrate the importance of these places of power in Old Testament culture. Rebekah is given a blessing by her family when she left them to marry Isaac, which includes the hope that her children would “possess the gate” of their enemies.  Job looks back longingly on the days before his afflictions, when he sat in his seat at the city gate to be revered by young men and honored by the aged. He made a difference there, where he “investigated the case I did not know” and “chose a way for them and sat as chief.”  And we all know about the woman described in Proverbs 31, whose “husband is known in the gates” and whose life of service caused her husband and children to “praise her in the gates.”

Boaz called a meeting at the city gate in order to declare his honorable intention to marry Ruth and to redeem the land for Naomi. He wanted the proceedings to be witnessed by the entire town and endorsed by the ruling men in clear legal terms. In this action, Boaz brings his bride-to-be into a place of legal, moral, and social safety.

Can you see the implications? There are parallels between Jesus, our Redeemer, and Boaz, Ruth’s redeemer. The two collide in this moment to create a magnificent picture of His bringing us legally and morally into a safe place. Before the entire world, He declares us worthy to be His bride. Like Boaz, Jesus rushes to our defense, making our right standing before God His primary concern.

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March 29
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RUTH: WEEK TWENTY-THREE

Ruth 4v1-12

The Wedding (Part Three)

(Click here to listen to the fifth Ruth teaching)

 

 

Verse of the Week

“AND THOUGH YOU HAVE NOT SEEN HIM, YOU LOVE HIM, AND THOUGH YOU DO NOT SEE HIM NOW, BUT BELIEVE IN HIM, YOU GREATLY REJOICE WITH JOY INEXPRESSIBLE AND FULL OF GLORY.” 1 Peter 1v8 NASB

 

 

More Words from the Father

Proverbs 3

Revelations 2v1-5

 

 

 

From my Heart

Falling in Love

I’m falling in love with Boaz.

From the first time I heard his voice resounding off the written page, the man caught my attention. He sounds big, strong, and safe. He sounds warm, ready to break out in unbidden laughter with the least provocation. I can just hear his great chuckle of pure joy as he gathers his dusty workers ‘round his table for lunch.

 

Boaz invites. He invites his people to a meal. He invites his foreman to an opinion. He invites a stranger into his inner circle.

 

And Boaz welcomes.

 

He welcomes gleaners to his fields. He welcomes two hungry women to leftovers. He welcomes his workers into relationship.

 

Boaz is a leader.

 

He leads his work crew to give honor to God out loud. He leads his close relative to an opportunity to help someone in need. He leads ten men to step up to the plate and get involved.

 

Boaz is successful

 

He is a hands-on kind of boss. He is a man whose wealth comes as a result of pouring himself into his career with passion and resolve, a man who loves what he does.

 

Boaz is bold.

 

He spots Ruth and right away lets everyone know how much he admires her. When confronted with a problem, he faces it. He’s not afraid to get right in the middle of a mess and fix it.

 

Boaz is fun.

 

The moment he rides into the story, people begin to gather for celebration. Lunch in the middle of a workday becomes a picnic. The backbreaking job at the threshing floor becomes a party. His wedding involves the whole town.

 

Boaz protects.

 

He protects Ruth from abuse. He protects the young guys who might instinctively gravitate towards this young Moabitess, warning them to leave her alone before they mess up! Then He protects Ruth’s reputation in the middle of the night by urging discretion.

The guy is amazing! Captivating. Strong. Compelling. He is godly and playful, considerate and kind. The man is driven with purpose to excel, but also to do right by people in the process. Somehow he balances relationships with responsibility in perfect harmony so that everyone seems to genuinely want to be on his team. They like him.

 

Do you see why I am falling head over heels in love? What woman wouldn’t?

 

This man, my dear friend, is the One you’ve been waiting for your entire life. He is Jesus, the lover of your soul, the only One who will never leave you nor forsake you. Not that guy who misused you or the boyfriend who dumped you. You had the wrong one all along.

 

Boaz is the One you were longing for.

 

All the others are cheap substitutes.

 

Imitations.

 

Illusions.

 

Boaz is the real deal.

 

Are you with me? Do you see what I see? Is your heart aware of what’s going on here? Is the hope you thought you’d lost awakening yet? Are you falling in love?

 

I hope so, I really do.

 

From my heart,

Diane

 

 

 

ETC

The Matriarchs

“…May the Lord make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, both of whom built the house of Israel…” Ruth 4v11

What was it about Rachel and Leah? To have Boaz’s friends offer such a prayer – such a desire for his new marriage? After all, the story of these two women dated back 600 years before Ruth was born! The answer lies in the stark reality of childbearing – nothing short of a small feat before the breakthroughs in safe medical practices we enjoy today.

About the time that Boaz and Ruth were starting a family, the infant mortality rate stood at 35%. That meant that if Ruth were able to conceive and carry her pregnancy to completion, her baby had less than a three in ten chance of surviving until the age of five. The overwhelming odds against a child growing to adulthood and even old age were staggering. Rachel and Leah bore and raised 12 sons to adulthood – an obvious percentage breaker in those times.

Thus, the blessing their friends wished on Boaz and Ruth came from hearts that understood the tragedy of the death of a child in a way we can barely grasp. They wanted Boaz and Ruth to grow old together, surrounded by children and grandchildren to validate their lives.

 

And who wouldn’t want that for these two beautiful people?

 

 

How to Pray for our Friends

The Tripartite Blessing

“God bless you.” It’s a phrase we often toss out with meaningless ease. What we really mean is that we hope everything in their life follows a safe, predictable, hunky-dory path. But the friends and family who surrounded Boaz and Ruth at their wedding ceremony sang a chorus of blessing on the couple that went much deeper. The ink was barely dry on the wedding certificate when this community of friends issued their three-fold blessing. Called a tripartite blessing by theologians, their spiritual wish list reached far beyond our light benevolence.

First, the blessing involved their family heritage. The ancient understanding of family is all but lost in our culture. The Israelites put enormous emphasis on evangelizing and training their children to walk in the ways of the Lord. Their communities joined them in adding their social pressures to assure that very few children drifted from the path their parents had paved for them.

Second, the blessing focused on recognition and respect in the community. Since Boaz was already considered a man of strength and influence, this was given in the hope that he would continue to grow in wisdom and stature and financial wealth.

Third, the blessing looks to genealogy. Echoing the second blessing, this last aspect of the tripartite blessing is on Boaz’s recognition and respect throughout history. They could have had no idea how prophetic this statement would turn out to be! Boaz became the great-grandfather of Israel’s most beloved king. His name is listed not only on David’s family tree, but also on Jesus’ genealogy. Boaz and Ruth both went down in history with their compelling love story preserved right in the middle of God’s ageless Scriptures.

Posted
March 22
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RUTH: WEEK TWENTY-TWO

Ruth 4v1-12

The Wedding (Part Two)

(Click here to listen to the fifth Ruth teaching)

 

 

Verse of the Week

“BUT GROW IN THE GRACE AND KNOWLEDGE OF OUR LORD AND SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST. TO HIM BE THE GLORY, BOTH NOW AND TO THE DAY OF ETERNITY. AMEN.” 2 Peter 3v18 NASB

 

 

More Words from the Father

1 Peter 1v1-15

1 Peter 4v7-19

1 Peter 5v4-10

2 Peter 1v2-8

2 Peter 3v17-18

 

 

From my Heart

Testing for the Task

Naomi said to Ruth,

“Behold, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” Ruth 1v15

God often tests our resolve before He trusts us with an important task. Just look at Abraham: preparing to kill his own son. Or Rebekah: setting aside her own agenda to serve a servant. And David: dutifully trudging back to tend sheep after he’d been proclaimed the next King of Israel.

God was testing Ruth. Would she, when given a chance, go home? Was her commitment to Naomi mere lip service-a preference perhaps-but certainly not enough to carry her into foreign territory?

 

Is God testing you? Giving you an out? Checking to see if you really mean it?

 

Will you breathe a sigh of relief like Orpah and turn back – careful to cover your tracks and keep to your comfort zone?

I don’t always like the choice set in front of me. But if I’m honest, I do know it is a choice. And, I dare say, so do you.

And that, my dear friends, is just the way it is…

 

From my heart,

Diane

 

To which Ruth replied,

“Thus may the Lord do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me.” When she saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more to her.” Ruth 1v17, 18

 

 

 

ETC

The Task

(I found this nugget of gold roughly typed on a bit of wrinkled paper in a pocket of my old bathrobe many years ago. I don’t know who wrote it or where it came from, but I know that this is just the way He is!)

 

Lord, You give me a task

So utterly impossible

So totally beyond comprehension-

The very thought of it

Startles me.

I want to run, hide, escape,

 

Anything, Lord.

Then You electrify me.

You invade and permeate me.

You penetrate every fiber of me

Until the task is accomplished

By Your own magnificent power.

 

Then You praise the performance

Your creativity achieved

And You reward me beyond expectation-

As though I had done it

All by myself.

 

 


The Headlines

Rachel and Leah

Back at least six centuries before our story takes place, another love story played itself out with all the drama and intrigue of a paperback novel.

Jacob, the grandson of Abraham, went looking for a wife. He wound up working for his Uncle Laban who happened to have two daughters. Jacob fell head over heals in love with the second daughter, Rachel, but her father denied Jacob’s request to marry her without an exorbitant bride price.

Laban demanded that Jacob work without wages for seven long years before he was granted permission to marry Rebekah. Then, on the eve of the wedding, Laban deceitfully switched brides. After spending the night with his new bride, enjoying all the anticipated delights of physical intimacy, Jacob woke up with the morning light to find not his beloved Rachel, but her sister, Leah!

Having been consummated, the marriage was entirely legal and no amount of protest could alter the fact that Jacob was now married to Leah. However, his situation was not entirely hopeless. The culture in which Laban lived made allowances for polygamy. So Jacob went back to Laban, seething with anger over his deceit, and made another deal with his father-in-law. Jacob would be allowed to take Rachel as his second wife in exchange for another seven years of wage-less labor.

The animosity between Jacob’s two wives was legendary. They competed for everything from conjugal rights to mandrake leaves. Between them, however, they bore and raised a whopping twelve sons who lived to adulthood. Rachel and Leah were considered the matriarchs of the nation of Israel.

 

 

 

Mandrakes

Mandrakes are a root of the potato family which grew in the stony ground of the Mediterranean area. They bear yellow fruit about the size of a small tomato. The mandrake fruit was believed to be an aphrodisiac, increasing the eater’s ability to conceive. It may have also had some narcotic qualities.