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October 3, 2022

“He provided redemption for his people; he ordained his covenant forever—holy and awesome is his name.”(Psalm 111: 9)

 I love the book of Ruth. It is a story with rich characters, high drama, loyalty, love, and redemption.  A marvelous tenor sang “Whither Thou Goest,” at our wedding. The song, written by Guy Singer in 1954, quotes the words from the Scripture text, “Whither thou goest I will go, whither thou lodgest I will lodge. Your people will be my people, and your God my God.” (Ruth 1: 16, KJV).[1]

Dr. Bill Creasy begins his teaching of the book of Ruth with a rough translation of the story’s character and place names from Hebrew to English.  For example, the story line using the Hebrew names is that Elimelech and his wife, Naomi and their two sons, Mahlon and Chilion, from Bethlehem in Judah moved to Moab, where Mahlon married Ruth, and died.  Creasy’s rough translation is as follows: God is my King and Mary Sunshine, and their two sons, Sickly and Puny, from the House of Bread and Praise, moved to Moab. Sickly married Audrey Hepburn and died. 

 Ruth’s vow after Mahlon’s death to leave her own country and family and to travel with her mother-in-law to a foreign land, is a story of amazing love and devotion.  Because of her determination to stay with her husband’s family, Ruth meets Boaz, their “Kinsman-Redeemer” in Bethlehem, who falls in love with Ruth, and redeems Elimelech’s family property.  Through her marriage to Boaz, Ruth gives birth to a son, Obed, whose descendants are traced through Jesse and David to Jesus, our Redeemer.  Ruth’s decision to return with Naomi resulted in her descendant being the Redeemer of the world. 

A redeemer is one who saves or retrieves another.  Boaz was Ruth’s and Naomi’s Kinsman-Redeemer, foreshadowing Jesus, our redeemer.  Paul reminds us that Jesus, who set us free, is a descendent of David: “Remember, Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel . . . “ (2 Timothy 2:8).  David and Jesus were both descendants of Ruth.

Just as he redeemed the ten lepers from disease and death in this week’s gospel lesson (Luke 17: 12-14)[2],  so Jesus redeems us from our diseased lives and death, promising us eternal life with him.  The psalmist sings, “He provided redemption for his people; he ordained his covenant forever—holy and awesome is his name. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding.  To him belongs eternal praise” (Psalm 111:9-10).

Ruth played a key role in God’s plan for salvation, yet during her lifetime she wasn’t aware of that role.  She followed Naomi to a foreign land because of her love for Naomi and her loyalty to her mother-in-law.  She learned that the Israelite God would be with her wherever she went.  God rewarded her for her faithfulness and loyalty by placing her directly in Jesus’ lineage.  

Like Ruth, we are unaware of how God will fit together the bits and pieces of our lives into his plan, but if we are faithful and obedient, he will work every part of our lives for his glory: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8: 28).   God, the Master Strategist, will put people and circumstances in our path that will move his agenda down the field.  Like Ruth, we may not know during our lifetimes what our part is in God’s plan, but if we are faithful and obedient, we will play a part in his plan.  

It is not our job to see the overall plan; it is our job to finish the work that he has begun in us.  We are the redeemed who should be forever grateful to the one who made it possible.  He assures us “I alone know the plans I have for you, plans to bring you prosperity and not disaster, plans to bring about the future you hope for(Jeremiah 29:11, Good News Translation). 

Trust in God and in his plan for your life. He will be with you wherever you go.

Prayer: “Lord, you are here, Lord, you are there. You are wherever we go. Lord, you guide us; Lord you protect us.  You are wherever we go. Lord, we need you, Lord, we trust you. You are wherever we go.  Lord, we love you; Lord, we praise you. You are wherever we go. Amen.”  Author Unknown.

Diane Cieslikowski Reagan

[1] The Scripture texts for the Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost are Psalm 111:1-10; Ruth 1:1-19a; 2 Timothy 2: 1-13; Luke 17:  11-19.  .

[2] “As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, ‘Jesus, Master, have pity on us!’ When he saw them, he said, ‘Go, show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they went, they were cleansed.” (Luke 17: 12-14).

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