"He Is God Who Redeems, Renames, Rewards."
Across the Dead Sea from Israel, was Moab. A nation formed by the incestuous relations of Lot and his oldest daughter. A heathen land that worshipped false gods and committed horrific acts. An enemy and oppressor of Israel, the Moabites were cursed by God. His justice sovereignly declares these rules concerning them in Deuteronomy:
“An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord; even to their tenth generation shall they not enter into the congregation of the Lord for ever:Because they met you not with bread and with water in the way, when ye came forth out of Egypt; and because they hired against thee Balaam the son of Beor of Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse thee.” -Deuteronomy 23:3-5
Moab. They were excluded. Exiled. Sin and idols separated them, and they were not allowed to enter into union with the children of Israel. Expelled from entering into the favor of God. Banned. This sets the scene for a young woman in the Bible. A widow. A Moabitess we all know, named Ruth. We are familiar with her story and cheer for her strength to leave the religion of her ancestors; to move to a strange land with her depressed mother in law. A woman who, by written record, carries a label reading “uninvited”... “condemned”... “cursed”. Literally referred to as:
“Ruth the Moabitess…” (2:2) “the Moabitish damsel that came back with Naomi out of the country of Moab.” (2:6) Defined by her heathen history, Ruth the Moabite.
How uncertain her future must have seemed. Moving to a land filled with people who hated her... people who were instructed to shun her. But, her story isn’t over yet.
Ruth, in deciding to follow Naomi, made her statement of faith, “Your people shall be my people and your God, my God.” She denounced her former gods, recognized the True God, and committed to follow Him.
According to Jewish custom, a man named Boaz was next in line to marry Ruth. Her kinsman redeemer. Boaz had every excuse to leave her right where she was. She was a heathen with a past. She had scars. And yet when everyone else was calling her “Ruth the Moabitess” keeping alive her ugly past, he called her by another name. He calls her “blessed of the Lord.” (3:10) Boaz the Israelite, marries Ruth, redeeming her. Buying back her debts and property, he commits to provide for her. Protect her. Boaz’s name literally means “by strength”. Boaz, “By strength” redeemed her. Ruth the Christ follower. No longer defined by her homeland, her past. Redeemed and named a follower of God. The Condemned now called Child. Grace.
“Neither let the son of the stranger, that hath joined himself to the LORD, speak, saying, The LORD hath utterly separated me from his people: neither let the eunuch say, Behold, I am a dry tree. For thus saith the LORD unto the eunuchs that keep my sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant; Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off. Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the LORD, to serve him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be his servants, every one that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant; Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people. The Lord GOD which gathereth the outcasts of Israel saith, Yet will I gather others to him, beside those that are gathered unto him.”
The curse, no longer valid, was lifted when Ruth chose Christ and abandoned her father’s false gods. She left Moab, whose name came directly from the sin that created the nation, and moved to Bethlehem, whose name means “the city of bread”. The curse of sin behind her, she traded in her false gods for the Bread of Life; The real satisfaction. Her Redeemer purchased her life and gave her a new name. He Redeemed her past and gave her a future. No longer Ruth of the land of incest, but Ruth, “blessed be thou of the Lord.” Great grandmother to a king, ancestor to the King of Kings. (Ruth 4:17)
This story sound familiar?
Ruth‘s history had disqualified her from entering into fellowship with God, BUT GRACE. She chose God, and as a result she was allowed to marry into the bloodline of Jesus. My sin should have sealed my destiny, but when I sought Him, He redeemed me. He made me King’s family and gave me a new name. And my heart understands and echos the response of Ruth in the face of this great kindness…
“Then she fell on her face, and bowed herself to the ground, and said unto him, Why have I found grace in thine eyes, that thou shouldest take knowledge of me, seeing I am a stranger?” Ruth 2:10
Boaz is a picture of God the Father. He is our kinsman Redeemer. When we were cast out, He offered escape. When we reached out for forgiveness He offered it freely. By strength He redeemed. By strength He gave us a new name better than sons and daughters. No longer citizens of darkness, but of a celestial kingdom.
My name no longer reads Kate, slave to sin. I was bought with a price. And in place of my list of wrong doings, it now reads, “Grace extended, mercy freely given, Child of God.”.
ARH Staff Writer