Monday, September 15, 2008
Ruth: A Sad Story
Last week, we looked at the split between Lot and Abraham, with Lot moving into territory that included Sodom and Gomorrah.
Our purposes don’t require a long look at that tragic story. We know that Lot and his family moved into Sodom, surrounded by wickedness. Lot, his wife and two daughters were rescued just before God sent fiery judgment to the two cities.
Lot and his daughters hid in a cave in the hills. Apparently their fear was great, for it didn’t seem that they intended to come out for a long time. This leads us to an odd little story in Gen 19:31-38 that makes us a little squeamish.
In that story, the two daughters, convinced that they would never leave the cave and bear children, got their father drunk and seduced him.
Lot’s two daughters believed themselves to be barren. They had no access to “seed” and they took matters into their own hands. Both became pregnant by their father and bore sons.
The second son was named Ammon. The first son was called Moab.
We are, through this story, introduced to the founders of two nations that later would be enemies of Israel. Moab would grow up to found the Moabite people and thus was the great-great-great-grandfather of Ruth. (There aren’t enough “great’s” there but you get the idea.)
The Moabites had at different times raided Israel and oppressed the people. There was much brokenness between the two ancient clans. A Moabite would not be received as a friend and Ruth probably faced much wariness from the residents of Bethlehem.
Isn’t God’s hand amazing, however? Ruth represented an enemy to the Israelites. She represented brokenness, oppression, idolatry – the things true of Moab. But Ruth had renounced her heritage to serve the true God. So Ruth instead represented the reconciliation of brokenness between Moab and Israel. The pattern was set in Ruth’s life as God brought together two factions who were driven apart by sin (incest) but restored in the child, Obed.
Boaz represented Israel: Ruth represented Moab. Two nations ripped apart by the consequences of sin, bruised from many years of brokenness and fighting, were brought together in these two people. Stubborn faith carried Ruth to Bethlehem and sustained her until the time was right. Their marriage – their child – represented a mending of a slash that had stained these two nations for centuries.
Ruth and Boaz were reconcilers who began a heritage leading first to the man who established the safe boundaries for Israel, King David, and then to the ultimate Reconciler, Jesus the Messiah.