Shattered Dreams & God's Promise
Definition of a “bad day!”
You know you are having a bad day....when....
- You turn on the news and they are showing escape routes out of the city.
- Your birthday cake collapses from the weight of the candles.
- Your twin sister forgot your birthday.
- Your horn goes off accidentally and remains stuck as you follow a motorcycle gang on the expressway.
- You put both contacts in one eye.
- Your income tax check bounces.
But what if you are having a bad life?
- Your name is Elimelech, meaning “my God is Sovereign!”
Yet, you are facing famine and wondering how to support your family.
- You live in Bethlehem, “the place of Bread”
Yet there is a scarcity of wheat to make bread in “the place of bread.”
- Your name is “Naomi” which means “joy!”
But you claim the name of “Bitter”
"The Strong One has dealt me a bitter blow. I left here full of life, and God has brought me back with nothing but the clothes on my back."
- Her husband had died.
- Her two sons had died.
- Leaving her with two daughters-in-law and no conceivable support for her life.
That is the deep disappointment with which Naomi returned to Bethlehem!
Yet there is one postive sign: her name was "Ruth!"
- Naomi had tried to discourage the wives of her two sons, Ruth and Orpah. She had been very clear that there was no hope in returning with her. They could better go back to their Moabite homes and seek another husband. There were two strikes against them:
- They were women. Women had no protection or provision if they did not have male presence in their lives.
- They were from Moab....and could readily be taken advantage of by men, and scorned by women.
- Ruth rejects her discouragement with these words: "But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me.”
Ruth the faithfull one! Her name means "friendship!"
So where was God in all of this?
The doubt, anger, frustration of "Bitter" (Naomi) is not only understandable, it is common in our lives also.
The Journey back to God!
The first words of hope in Naomi's story are these: So Naomi returned from Moab accompanied by Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter-in-law, arriving in Bethlehem as the barley harvest was beginning.
The journey back to God begins with Ruth's initiative.....
Since it was barley harvest Ruth asks about this gleaning thing... that is "Would it be OK if I go and pick up the left-overs?" Israel did not keep their fields dutch clean. God's law encouraged left overs. When they harvested they were required to leave some grain behind for the poor, widows, and fatherless.
- She comes to the field of Boaz!
- Boaz is a wealthy land owner.
- His people are busy with the harvest when Boaz comes on the scene.
- He greets his people with a warm greeting of the Lord's good will.
- He inquires about this young woman gleaning in his field.
- When he discovers that she is Ruth, the daughter-in-law of Naomi, he asks her to conintue coming until the harvest is finished. He also tells her:
- "Go with the young women who are my harvesters."
- "I've given my servants instructions that they are to see that no harm comes to you."
Boaz gives Protection
- "When you need a drink help, yourself!"
- At the lunch break, Boaz said to her, “Come over here; eat some bread. Dip it in the wine.” So she joined the harvesters. Boaz passed the roasted grain to her. She ate her fill and even had some left over. The Message (Ru 2:14).
Boaz gives provision!!
The two things necessary for women to live well in ancient Israel!
Who is this unmarried man Boaz? Why is still not married? Why is he so kind?
But the story moves on.....
The journey back to God continues with Naomi's gratitude and a plan.
- Naomi is grateful:
Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “Why, God bless that man! God hasn’t quite walked out on us after all! He still loves us, in bad times as well as good!”
Naomi went on, “That man, Ruth, is one of our circle of covenant redeemers, a close relative of ours!” The Message (Ru 2:20).
- Naomi has a plan:
One day her mother-in-law Naomi said to Ruth, “My dear daughter, isn’t it about time I arranged a good home for you so you can have a happy life? And isn’t Boaz our close relative, the one with whose young women you’ve been working? Maybe it’s time to make our move. Tonight is the night of Boaz’s barley harvest at the threshing floor.
3–4 “Take a bath. Put on some perfume. Get all dressed up and go to the threshing floor. But don’t let him know you’re there until the party is well under way and he’s had plenty of food and drink. When you see him slipping off to sleep, watch where he lies down and then go there. Lie at his feet to let him know that you are available to him for marriage. Then wait and see what he says. He’ll tell you what to do.”
The Message (Ru 3:1-4).
- I wouldn't suggest that you try this today. But for that day it was an understood way for a woman to say to a man "I am available." And for Ruth and Naomi they trusted in the goodness of Boaz, and also the goodness of God's way of providing a way of salvation for their situation. Boaz was one of two who could provide relief from their desperate situation--
- No one to provide!
- No one to protect!
The journey back to God continues with Boaz
- Boaz is grateful for Ruth's desire to be his wife.
- acceptance of his role as the covenant redeemer
- Boaz goes to the city square and negotiates a understanding with the one who had more rights than he did as a covenant redeemer.
Then Boaz added, “You realize, don’t you, that when you buy the field from Naomi, you also get Ruth the Moabite, the widow of our dead relative, along with the redeemer responsibility to have children with her to carry on the family inheritance.”
Then the relative said, “Oh, I can’t do that—I’d jeopardize my own family’s inheritance. You go ahead and buy it—you can have my rights—I can’t do it.” The Message (Ru 4:5-6)
- This opens the door to Boaz and Ruth's marriage!
The journey back to God continues with Obed
- The shattered dreams of the past receed into the background now. Naomi's bitterness must take a back seat in light of God's kindness.
The town women said to Naomi, “Blessed be God! He didn’t leave you without family to carry on your life. May this baby grow up to be famous in Israel! He’ll make you young again! He’ll take care of you in old age. And this daughter-in-law who has brought him into the world and loves you so much, why, she’s worth more to you than seven sons!” (Ru 4:14-15)
What a reminder of God's great faithfulness to Naomi whose dreams had been shattered!
- When our dreams lie shattered how we need to remember that God has again and again been able to bring goodness out of difficulty, life out of death, and joy out of pain. No it is not the journey of ease. It is the journey of trust in the One who made us and who saves us.
Now our journey back to God joins with these ancient people as God's lovingkindness is also poured out on us!
- we are told.. Obed is the father of Jesse, who is the father of David!
- Matthew in his gospel, good news, introduces us to Jesus, the one who saves us from our sins. He recalls Jesus family tree, and there are Ruth and Boaz!
- Ruth, a foreigner, became part of the family tree of Jesus!
- In that family tree we also get a glimpse of who Boaz was: the son of Rahab!
- The prostitute!
- The one who protected the spies in Jericho
- The one who was protected during the capture of Jericho!
What a reminder of God's great love for us and his great faithfulness to us....
- WE are so much in need of God's love that Jesus came for US
- and for all those we might look down on because they are different, or don't live like us, or aren't very likeable.
This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God. (1 Jn 4:9-10).