Summary: What was it about Ruth that impressed God so much more than many others. After all, she was one of only 2 women to have a book dedicated to her story. Why?
OPEN: A Ph.D. candidate at the University of Southern California, was eager for the title of "doctor" - until one newly degreed professor shared his story. He said: A friend had called his home and asked, "Is the doctor in?"
The Professor’s 10 year old son replied, "Yes, but he’s not the kind that can do you any good."
APPLY: Credentials are important. When we see the letters: Ph.D. MD. DDS. and so on, these titles indicate that the person bearing those letters is valuable to us as individuals, or to society at large. These credentials indicate that an authorized organization or individual has placed their stamp of approval on that person.
ILLUS: Recently, I attempted to visit a inmate at the Jail. The officers in charge said that they would be more than happy to do so… however I had to produce my ordination certificate. Those credentials indicated that some authorized organization or individual had placed their stamp of approval on me.
I. What would we expect to see, if GOD put His stamp of approval on someone?
· the person in question was a woman from an accursed nation
· she was one of only 2 women who had a book named after her?
· she was one of only 3 women who appeared in Jesus’ genealogy?
How many of you would think that that woman must have impressed God? The woman we’re talking about this morning is Ruth. All that was true of her. AND since those things are true, since Ruth received credentials from God that said she had His approval, there must be something in the book of Ruth that reveals what it was that impressed God.
II. Before we get that far in this sermon – I want to a little back ground information.
Ruth was from the nation of Moab. She was not originally an Israelite. To make matters worse, . Moab was a cursed nation, condemned because of way they treated Israel in wilderness.
This dates from the time when Balak hired Balaam (the prophet with the talking donkey) to curse Israel as it passed through his land. When that failed the Moabites stooped to tempting the people of Israel into sexual immorality. Because of that Deuteronomy 23:36 tells us “No Moabite or any of his descendants may enter the assembly of the LORD, even down to the tenth generation.”
RUTH was of that despised tribe of people. So how was it, that a woman from a tribe condemned by God became part of Jesus’ genealogy? You could say she married into it (Ruth 1:3-5). But there’s a problem with that simplistic explanation. Ruth’s husband, along with Naomi and Orpah’s husbands, died while in Moab. Naomi opts to return to her homeland and tells Ruth and Orpah to stay in their native land. Orpah goes home but Ruth doesn’t. At that point, Ruth’s involvement in the line of Christ could have ended, but because she chose to remain with her mother in law, history changed.
Now that is odd. That Ruth would go home with Naomi. One of the commentaries I read depicted Naomi as a whining, miserable, ungodly woman (vs 20-21). I don’t believe that. Maybe it’s because we named our daughter Naomi… but I just find it hard to believe that this woman was a complainer.
Have you ever been around complainer? Do you like being around complainers? Do you find it easy to love complainers? Would you willing choose to live with a complainer? Of course not. And that’s why i don’t believe Naomi was one (vs 16-18).
Naomi wasn’t a shrewish, critical, bitter woman. Of course, she had reason to be unhappy - she’d just her lost husband and 2 sons, and had no visible prospects for her future. In her lament she declares that she believes God is punishing her. BUT she doesn’t curse God or turn from Him. IN FACT (according to Ruth 2:20) when Ruth encounters Boaz, Naomi cries: "Blessed be he of the LORD, who hath not left off his kindness to the living and to the dead. And Naomi said unto her, The man is near of kin unto us, one of our next kinsmen." (KJV)
Naomi was a woman of every day faith who had hit rock bottom. AND I BELIEVE if it hadn’t been for that everyday faith - that showed up in a backwards way when all was seemingly lost, in the dark days of her life - if it hadn’t been for Naomi’s every day faith, Ruth wouldn’t have said… "Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me." (Ruth 1:16-17)