MAY THE WORDS OF MY MOUTH AND THE MEDITATION OF MY HEART BE PLEASING IN YOUR SIGHT, O LORD, MY ROCK AND MY REDEEMER. (Psalm 19: 14)
THE BOOK OF RUTH (Chapters 1 – 4)
“…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. 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 1: 16 – 17) “…AND NOW, MY DAUGHTER, DON’T BE AFRAID. I WILL DO FOR YOU ALL YOU ASK. ALL MY FELLOW TOWNSMEN KNOW THAT YOU ARE A WOMAN OF NOBLE CHARACTER. ALTHOUGH IT IS TRUE THAT I AM NEAR OF KIN, THERE IS A KINSMAN-REDEEMER NEARER THAN I.” (Ruth 3: 11 – 12)
After our last week’s Read-Meditate-Pray bible-study on the Book of Ruth, I thought I have to return to it, to give you some more, – let me say: – “technical information” about the background of this beautiful and meaningful part of our Bible. I will try to be as clear and precise as possible in giving you these additional background–outlines, and if you need more, as you continue to MEDITATE on its deeper message, then please, feel free to ask me.
– Authorship and when the story actually happened is not clear; some say it was written by Samuel the Prophet, or by a woman(?!), but timewise all what we know for sure is that it took place in the days when the judges ruled (1: 1). In the Bible, the Book of Ruth is placed after the Book of Judges and before the two Books of Samuel, which at least indicates some idea of our human presumptions.
– Date: Two main times are presumed that the book was written: – pre-exilic time of David and Solomon, or post-exilic time of Ezra and Nehemiah. Most scholars say it was written between 450-250 BC.
– Purpose: If we want to find an exact purpose, it is certain that it was not written to be a nice children-story, but about God and His Character. Ultimately the entire Bible was given to reveal God to us.
– Themes: The story presents ordinary people facing ordinary things and events, but also about the ways of God in human life. It tells us through human examples how God worked His plan of Redemption way back over 3000 years ago, in a few people’s lives.
– Meaning of Names: In Hebrew, to know a person’s name is to know his character. When God tells His name Yahweh or Jehovah, He is telling His character. Name of the God of Covenant. When Abram becomes a new person, he receives a new name: Abraham = Father of Multitude. In the Book of Ruth Elimelech = God is King, Naomi = Pleasant, lovely, delightful, Mara = bitter, Ruth = friendship, Orpha = firmness, Mahlon = to be weak or sick, Kilion = to be complete (+), or failing (-), Boaz = quickness, strength, Bethlehem = House of Bread, Moab = to desire a land, or seed of a father, Baal = owner, lord and Asherah = great lady,- Canaanite god and goddess of fertility, often worshiped by the Israelites, Ephrathites = from Ephratha = fruitful, the old name of Bethlehem, Go’el or Kinsman-Redeemer = to save, to redeem, to act as a kinsman, the person who was responsible for coming to rescue the needy(family) = the key word and concept, both in the Book of Ruth and in the whole Bible, of the NEED OF A SAVIOUR.
REDEMPTION = The process of buying back someone from captivity, slavery, debt, or trouble. This image is one of the most frequently used images to describe God’s work in this world, buying back from sin and death His chosen ones (through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ). The term emphasizes both the gravity of the trouble, as the one involved being unable to free himself, and the price of salvation, as redemption is impossible without payment. Several of the themes of the Book of Ruth revolve around the same components: land, seed, and blessing. Land, – as Naomi returns to her country and Boaz buys back the land; Seed – Obed carries on the line; and Blessing – as David and Jesus were blessings to all people.
A final thought of mine: – Naomi never imagined that her grandson would be in the line of David and eventually Jesus. In our lifetime, we also may never see the complete glory of our redemption through the Sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we should keep on firmly believing in the promise given to us: – Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine (Isaiah 43: 1).
Merciful God, forgive us, for in all kinds of ways we dwell too much on ourselves: our interests, our ideas, our image, health, safety and future. Struggling with the Pandemic we are just losing our social and spiritual awareness in so many ways, being locked into our selves. Open us up, Lord, and give us your spiritual support to be continually able to live and act as your children. Reach out to our children and youth in these abnormal times. Bless the work of charities, hostels and agencies who strive to provide food and shelter to the destitute, dispossessed and homeless. Lord God, when strength fails and faculties diminish, advancing years taking their toll, remind us that you bring new beginnings, life that will never fade. We continue praying for all who suffer from Covid-19, for those who work hard to heal, care or support others. Be with those responsible for the well-being of others, bless Your Christian Church universal in all its branches, our Church of Scotland, people of other faiths or none. We pray for our families and friends, our fellowship, our community and country. Heal our broken world and put an end to racism that causes such intense conflicts all over in the world. Hear us, Lord, in our quiet prayers and answer in Your good ways all that is brought to You… in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord.
The Lord’s Prayer: – Our Father, who art in heaven…
SUGGESTED HYMN: THERE IS A REDEEMER, Jesus, God’s own Son, precious Lamb of God, Messiah, Holy one.
Thank You, O my Father, for giving us Your Son, and leaving Your Spirit till the work on earth is done. (CHORUS)
Jesus my Redeemer, name above all names, precious Lamb of God, Messiah, O for sinners slain: +CHORUS.
When I stand in glory, I will see His face, and there I’ll serve my King for ever in that holy place. +CHORUS.
THE LORD IS THE STRENGTH OF HIS PEOPLE, A FORTRESS OF SALVATION FOR HIS ANOINTED ONE. SAVE YOUR PEOPLE (LORD GOD) AND BLESS YOUR INHERITANCE; BE THEIR SHEPHERD AND CARRY THEM FOREVER. (Psalm 28 : 8 – 9)