Good morning ladies. I am so happy to be here in your presence this lovely day and speak to you about the totally awesome God that we serve. He is loving and kind--a true gentleman--and always here for us. He is a just and faithful God. When we are suffering, He is there. When we may think He's lost track of time, we can look back on a situation and realize that He is totally prompt and not one minute late. Like us, I'm sure that through the ages many of His faithful servants have questioned whether or not God's watch was broken. "And what exactly is Your plan, if any, God?" That is why I am bringing to you, courtesy of my imagination, possible Fictional Biblical Conversations:
Noah to God: God, I sure am tired of toting this umbrella around. Everyone is making fun of me. I've got calluses on my calluses from building this boat and I'm weary of waiting. What is rain anyway?
God: Noah, don't you fret. You just keep trusting me; they'll see who's going to float. I'm the Weatherman. By the way, Noah, do you know what a rainbow is?
Abraham to God: God, Sarah and I believed You when You said that we would have a baby, but to tell you the truth, her clock stopped ticking years ago and I'm afraid we're both just too old for this child-rearing business. You haven't forgotten us, have You?
God: Tell Sarah to keep that nursery dusted. Remain faithful to Me and your household will be filled not with the laughter of skepticism, but with that of a bouncing baby boy. By the way, Abraham, do you know how many stars there are?
Moses to God: God, it's really hard to remain upbeat and positive when I've been around the same grumbling people for 40 years! I'm so tired of wandering around this desert with these unhappy people. Did you lose your map to Canaan Land? And these clothes and shoes ... why we've been wearing them so long they're back in style again! The new issue of Vogue shows stoned washed jeans and peasant tops are in again this year.
God: Settle down, Mo, My compass is working perfectly fine. My people just need a little lesson in humility. They need to worry more about what's in their hearts and not what's on their feet. Keep your faith and focus on Me. By the way Moses, do you remember how beautiful the treasures of Egypt were? That doesn't hold a candle to all I've got in store for you.
Naomi to God: God, quit calling me by the name "Merry Sunshine." Mara fits me better these days. I am bitter and it's because you've emptied me and my household. Oprah, I mean Orpah, left and went back to her mother's house, but that poor, sweet little Ruth is determined to stay with me in this life of impoverishment and insecurity. Have you heard any of my prayers lately?
God: "Merry Sunshine" you will be again if you keep trusting Me to be your guide over the road to Jericho, to the field of Boaz, and beyond. I will be your provider. By the way Naomi, do you know who King David is?
The Bible is full of examples of God's love and faithfulness toward His people in all situations. God does have a divine plan and will use willing instruments to accomplish His works,. The book of Ruth is a beautiful illustration of this. Only our God can take such a bleak situation and turn it around into a "and they lived happily ever after." He redeemed the lives of two widows who were facing a life filled with poverty, insecurity, hopelessness and fear and put them in the branches of Jesus' family tree. In the book of Ruth everyone gets a new life of some kind. Isn't that just like our God? Take the worn, the tattered and the broken and make it bright and new and whole. He is so amazing, isn't He? I love what Paul has to say about God in Romans 11:33: "Oh, the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!"
When we began this study of Ruth I was very familiar with the story and thought to myself, "This will be a nice, fluffy study." But, God has quickly opened my eyes and taught me many lessons as only He can. Only He knows the heart of a man, and boy does He know mine! How little did I realize that I am a Ruth, that we all are Ruths in a way. We are all foreigners and outsiders. Our sin has separated us from God. We do not deserve to be included in His family, and yet He wants us and has devised a plan to redeem us. We, like Ruth, are poor strangers, far from God, and without hope in the world. As Ruth and Naomi needed a kinsman redeemer to save them from the bondage of a life of impoverishment and hopelessness, we, too, need a kinsman redeemer to save us from an eternity of bondage of impoverishment and hopelessness. Ruth and Naomi didn't know who their kinsman redeemer was, or even if they had one, when they left on that long 80-mile trek from Moab to Jerusalem. However, they trusted in God to provide for them, and he led them to the bountiful fields and loving arms of that generous, God-fearing man we know as Boaz. As we travel on the journey of life do we know Who our Redeemer is?
[Sing: "I Know That My Redeemer Lives"]
What a beautiful song and what beautiful voices ... Yes, Jesus is our Kinsman Redeemer--the Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world. One of the great messages of this book shouts, even screams at me, that redemption is a romance; because God loves us, He redeemed us. Listen to these words from the book of Romans:
For while we were still helpless, at the right TIME Christ died for the ungodly.
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
These verses tell me that God's watch isn't broken. He knows when all the right times are, even the right time for Jesus to die for me. He loves me and because of that love, it was His plan to become my Kinsman Redeemer. When Ruth asks Boaz to "spread your covering over your maid, for you are a close relative," what she is really saying is, "will you be my kinsman redeemer and clothe me with the covering of your protection and security?" When we accept the redeeming blood of Jesus shed for us on the cross and become partakers of His death, burial, and resurrection through baptism, then He spreads the covering of His righteousness over us. Paul speaks of it as a robe of righteousness that comes down over the sinner, covering him, so that God sees us in Christ, and His righteousness becomes our righteousness. It is then that we allow the Kinsman Redeemer to redeem us. It is then that we stand complete in Him. I am happy to share with you the good news that Paul penned to the Christians at Galatia:
For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have CLOTHED yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to the promise.
What a guy, what a God! His timing is perfect; He has a plan for all of us; He is there for us even when we're suffering; He is faithful to the very end; He loves us; and is our Kinsman Redeemer! I am so glad that God included the little book of Ruth in the Bible. And by the way, do you know what heaven is?
Link to "Ruth" Bible class lessons
Link to other lectures of Christy Hesslen:
"God's Promise To His Followers"
"Looking To Christ"
Link to Jeannie Cole's Ladies' Bible Class lectures
Link to WINGS Home Page