Sunday, 29 November 2009

The Richmond Briefing

A Weekly Bible Reading for Bridge Builders

The Richmond Briefing has been a weekly feature of the Reachout web site for five years and is now available on the blog. To find out more and read earlier briefings go here

Reading – Kinsman/Redeemer (Ruth)

The story of Ruth is set in the time of the Judges; a time characterised by religious and moral degeneracy, and demonstrates again the remarkable nature of God’s intervention in the most unpromising of circumstances to achieve his purposes. It is a truly bitter/sweet tale of loss and redemption and begins with Naomi, whose name means ‘pleasant’ but who lost her husband and two sons who died childless. Her sense of desolation was so great that she declared “Do not call me Naomi (pleasant) call me Mara (bitter) because the Almighty has made my life bitter.” (Ruth 1:20)

The story is familiar, of how Naomi in her wretchedness returned home in Bethlehem in Judah and urged her now widowed daughters-in-law to go back to their own home in Moab where their chance of gaining another husband would be greater. Orpah finally returns to her people but Ruth demonstrates a fidelity rare for the time and follows her mother-in-law to Bethlehem.

“So Naomi returned from Moab accompanied by Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter-in-law, arriving in Bethlehem as the barley harvest was beginning.”

Landowners were instructed in the Law of Moses to leave what the harvesters had missed for the poor, the alien, the widow and the fatherless could glean grain for their needs. Ruth determined to follow the harvesters and provide for her and her mother-in-law. It was here that she was found by Boaz, a relative of Naomi’s late husband who offered his protection and fulfilled his role in the law as kinsman/redeemer. By law the kinsman/redeemer was responsible for protecting the interests of needy members of the extended family.

At a time when men did what seemed right in their own eyes (Judges 21:25) Boaz offered his protection and married Ruth.

“And she gave birth to a son. The women said to Naomi: ‘Praise be to the Lord, who this day has not left you without a kinsman/redeemer...He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth.’

Then Naomi took the child, laid him on her lap and carried him. The women there said, ‘Naomi has a son.’ And they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.”

From the calling of a pagan Abraham, whose barren wife Sarah gave birth to a son, Isaac, through the deliverance of an enslaved Israel, to the devotion of a foreign daughter-in-law and the noble actions of Boaz at a time of moral degeneracy which produces a son to a woman who had given up hope of children the Lord guarded and made fruitful the line that would lead to the birth of the Saviour that we will soon celebrate.

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