Thursday, April 7, 2016

God's Covenant Love - Part II - Tony Hilling

The answer to this is covenant love. Orpah leaves to seek better fortune in Moab, but Ruth cannot bear to. She clings to Naomi. This Jewish woman must have been quite a lady to have such and effect on these Moabite daughters-in-law. Ruth, in making her wonderful declaration of love and faith, places herself squarely under the spiritual protection of the Lord, the God of Israel. So they come back to Bethlehem and Naomi causes quite a stir. Not only is she back, but probably in rags, penniless (or Sheckeless). And she has a foreigner with her: a Moabitess. In addition she is broken in spirit because she feels God’s hand is against her. However, the barley harvest was beginning. So, Ruth goes ‘agleaning’ and is noticed by Boaz. He lavishes his attentions on her and she wonders why aloud. Boaz explains how her reputation has risen in the estimation of the locals because of her covenant love of Naomi.

In the rest of the chapter, Boaz gives her lunch and makes sure she gets more grain than she could glean. When she goes home she has an ephah (about a bushel) of barley. Naomi says, “Blessed be the man who took notice of you!” When she hears that it is Boaz, their relation, she says “God has not stopped showing his covenant love to the living and the dead.” Naomi has just had a spiritual awakening. God’s hand is not against her, but working out His covenant love to save His people from disaster. And Naomi sees another way of using the Levirate Law to advance their cause. She concocts a plan to have Ruth confront Boaz at the threshing floor and invite him to “...spread his cloak over her.” For he is clearly the Kinsman Redeemer.

Boaz, himself, sees this as one more example of Ruth’s virtue. She does not go after other men, but only the one who can help her and her family. She is looking for a marriage that will give Mahlon an heir, and Naomi and herself a home. She is not thinking of herself, but her new family. Boaz agrees to do this but there’s a fly in the ointment. There is someone else who has a prior claim to Noami’s estate. Fortunately, he is no Boaz and is easily persuaded to abandon his claim when his own estate is threatened. Covenant love involves sacrifice, and this nameless man is far too devoted to his own interests.

The end of this beautiful short story of the Bible shows Naomi with the child, Obed (servant), on her lap, the fruit of the union of Boaz and Ruth. One writer (J. Hardee Kennedy) commented that this book witnessed “…the overruling providence of God in seemingly unimportant people and their unimportant affairs.” Perhaps it is part of God’s providence to bring importance from the unimportant, because this child, Obed, would be the grandfather of King David.

In volumes 4 and 5 of my book, “The Voice of Aedistamen”, Owa’en finds himself at one of the lowest points of his life. Not only does this former general and celebrated hero find that he was born of a slave people, but his enemies at the court condemn him to spend the rest of his life in deeper bondage at the Silver Mines. Like the biblical characters, Naomi and her great grandson, David, he wonders if the Ghaedesh-Mor (the God of Aedistamen) has abandoned him because of his unfaithfulness. However, events unfold revealing that the Ghaedesh-Mor has a suspicious similarity to the God of the Bible, and continues to show His steadfast covenant love for His people in the midst of their difficult circumstances.

Have you ever found yourself in such a place: a deep pit where hope is a fading echo, drowned out perhaps by demonic laughter? Have you gone through a death-experience that you feel no one can fix? Has despair begun to knock at the door and there is no one to help? Return to the God of the Bible. His covenant love is inexhaustible. No matter how high the pile of sin or failures we have created, He will not cast us out. The Scriptures show that even when the greatest of scoundrels turned to Him in repentance, he was received with mercy and covenant love. That is our God. He uses even the sin and failures of our lives to bring us closer to Him and fulfil our destiny. As the great Augustine wrote, “Our hearts will find no rest, ‘til they find their rest in thee.”

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  1. This is one of my favorite Biblical stories and clearly a picture of Christ's love for each of us. We are His "Ruth." He singles us out from the crowd to lavish us with His love. I first heard this story in a young pastor's sermon 37 years ago and I can almost remember it word for word. It impacted my life. Flora

  2. Thanks, Flora! I was just so stirred at how God draws out victory from the agony of disaster and defeat. It's such a short book but loaded with wisdom and encouragement.

  3. Thanks, Flora! I was just so stirred at how God draws out victory from the agony of disaster and defeat. It's such a short book but loaded with wisdom and encouragement.