Summary: From heartache to hope – today we see Ruth move from the one to the other as a kinsmen-redeemer is found. Her story becomes a picture of the hope that we can have in Jesus today as we discover the Heart of the Redeemer.
The Heart of the Redeemer - Ruth 4:1-10 - April 21, 2013
Series: From Heartache to Hope – The Redemption of Ruth #10
Some time ago now we began a series of messages on the book of Ruth. The series was called “From Heartache to Hope – The Redemption of Ruth.” The book of Ruth is an amazing story of how God can bring hope and blessing out of the most unlikely circumstances of our lives. And because of that it is a very powerful story. When God moves in unexpected ways, when He’s at work in surprising places, our hearts are encouraged and we dare to hope - why? Because we long for God to be moving in, and through, the midst of our own stories as well, don’t we? And the incredible thing is - that He does! He moves in our lives today!
Now we don’t always recognize it – we don’t always see His hand at work – often because we’re not looking for it – sometimes it’s because we don’t have the big picture in view - but He’s moving behind the scenes just the same. That’s a theme that comes up again and again in this book - God is at work in the everyday moments of our lives. And that should encourage our hearts and strengthen our faith – to know that God is continuously working behind the scenes to accomplish His purposes – to bind up the broken hearted, to bring hope from despair, life from death, to shine light into darkness and to deliver ordinary people – people like you and me, from the power of sin, and into a life of freedom through Jesus. This is the God we discover in the pages of the Bible. This is the God who is at work in and through our lives even today! And that’s a good thing - because we need healing – not just some of us – but all of us. Every one of our lives is broken in some way; the image of God in which we’re made is marred by sin – both our own sin and the sin of others. And because of that we know pain, and suffering and hopelessness. We know despair and struggle and sorrow. And we know brokenness and heartache.
That’s how the book of Ruth starts off, doesn’t it? In chapter one, in the opening verses of this book, we discover heartache and sorrow. In a town named, “Bethlehem,” in a region known as “Judah,” there is a famine. “Bethlehem,” means “House of Bread.” “Judah,” means “Praise.” But because there has been no praise – no worship of God – in the house of bread, there is now no bread in the place of praise.
In the midst of this devastation we meet a family who’s just trying to get by. The father is a man named Elimelech. His name means “My God is King.” He is married to a woman named, Naomi. Her name means, “sweet,” or “pleasant.” Together they have two sons, Mahlon and Kilion. The picture we’re given is that of a family that’s struggling just trying to make ends meet. But Elimelech was a man of action. He was decisive. He didn’t have problems making big decisions. We can admire him for that. The problem was though that he didn’t make wise decisions. He didn’t look at the big picture and he didn’t count the cost. And because of that, we can learn from his mistakes.
What Elimelech decides is that the grass is literally greener on the other side of the fence. He packs up the family, what possessions they have left, and he heads out to make a new start elsewhere. What he ends up doing though, is going to the land of Moab. Scripture makes it clear that his plan is to one day return to his homeland, but for a while he is going to reside in the land of Moab. That doesn’t sound so bad till we realize that Moab stood for everything that God was against. Elimelech is going to show up there with his family, and they’re going to discover the reality of what they already know – that no one in Moab worships the same God they do. There aren’t going to be any churches for them to worship at. No believers to fellowship with. No one to come alongside of them, and encourage them, and pray with them, and for them, and no one to talk to about the things of God with either.
Elimelech is decisive but he is not wise. He doesn’t count the spiritual cost of his decisions. Instead of staying in Judah and trusting God, he removes himself and his family from anything that has to do with the Lord. And the result is this: his two sons are going to marry outside the faith, and then both he, and his two sons are going to die in this foreign land. They went to stay for just a while – but they never ended up coming home. And they’re going to leave behind them three heartbroken, penniless women, who don’t have much hope for the future at all.