March 14, 2017

Today you should read: Ruth 3

Sometimes it’s hard for me to read Ruth 3 without initially thinking how awkward would it be to be a rich, single man who woke up one day with some random woman at the foot of the bed laying next to my feet and how this goes against everything my wife would share with young women concerning biblical womanhood and getting guys’ attention. But as we all already know, Ruth is not doing this for seductive reasons but out of obedience to her mother-in-law as Boaz will soon be revealed as not only her kinsman redeemer but out of God’s sovereignty, the redeemer of Israel.

The role of kinsman-redeemer can be found in Leviticus 25 and as we see from Ruth 2:20 he can fulfill that for their family. A kinsman redeemer is the closest relative who redeems both land and children when an Israelite man dies and fails to leave a son behind. Boaz agrees that he could be that redeemer (v. 12) but he mentions that there could be closer relatives to fulfill this responsibility and that he would be looking into it. No matter what, he promises that she’ll be taken care of but she also needs to be content and patient.

I love this story because I love the meaning behind this word REDEEMER that is used so often in this book. A kinsman redeemer can rescue a widow, a family and even a people in this way as evidenced in this book, but we know that Boaz is just a foreshadowing of the great redeemer of our lives, Jesus Christ. Here’s one of my favorite songs showing how Christ is our Savior, Defender, Redeemer!

By: Erik Koliser — West Campus Pastor

March 13, 2017

Today you should read: Ruth 2

If you want to understand the heart of God, study the book of Ruth. It is easily the number one book illustrating God’s compassion and provision toward his people. This book is set in the period of the Judges, which is a dark time in Israel’s history, eventually ending in civil war. Although we’ll soon study Judges in Jumpstart, it should be said that Israel participated in utter wickedness. As Ruth leaves her mother-in-law to go gather grain, her life and safety were in real danger.

Through God’s providential hand, Ruth ended up in the field of Boaz, a kinsman of Naomi. Notice the way Boaz greets those working his field as well as their response (2:4). Although Israel had become a perverse people, Boaz was a respected man of character. His outstanding character is also illustrated in how he treats Ruth.

The book of Ruth is ultimately a love story. Ironically, the wealthy, single, attractive Boaz had no presumption that Ruth would be interested in him. His actions towards her were not as a suiter, but as one who loved the Lord and lived out the heart of God, rather than simply following the letter of the Law. God is concerned for the powerless and downtrodden—widows, orphans, and foreigners who cannot defend themselves legally or otherwise. Some examples from the Old Testament Law are as follows:

You shall not wrong a sojourner or oppress him, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt. You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child. If you do mistreat them, and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry. (Ex 22:21)

When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. (Lev 19:9)

He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. (Dt 10:18)

When you reap your harvest in your field and forget a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. (Dt 24:19)

When it comes to harvest season, to be within the Law, Boaz only had to order his harvesters to stay away from the edges and not go back for anything dropped. He was not obligated to order his harvesters to intentionally drop part of the harvest for Ruth and the others, nor did he have to give her water, food, or cooked grain to take home to Naomi. He went above and beyond. Why?

Boaz did this for two reasons, first, he recognized Ruth’s character and the way she treated Naomi (2:11). He simply wanted to reward her for her kindness and loyalty. Secondly, however, more than the first, Boaz understood God’s concern for the plight of a foreign widow like Ruth. Not only does he pray for Ruth, “May the Lord reward your efforts! May your acts of kindness be repaid fully by the Lord God of Israel, from whom you have sought protection!” but he, himself, is the answer to his prayer. God provided for Ruth and Naomi through Boaz.

We can all get wrapped up in the do’s and do not’s of scripture, all the while forgetting to pay attention to God’s heart behind those commands. Sure, pray for people, but ask God in that prayer, “What can I do today to show these people God’s love?”

By: Tyler Short — Connections Ministry Associate

March 11, 2017

Today you should read: Ruth 1:14-22

In the previous section of this chapter leading up to verse 14, we see a very hard situation unfold. Naomi loses her husband and her two sons. Make a note that this is a big deal in this time period. Without her husband or her sons as a woman she is truly alone. This is a huge reason for why Naomi tries to send both daughter-in-laws away. She was trying to give them their best chance to have husbands again.

In response to Naomi, Orpah decides to leave and go back to her mother. Ruth chooses to stay. She refuses to leave Naomi alone. This is a beautiful picture of loyalty to another person. As great as that is, it isn’t as important as the next picture of loyalty that is described. Verses 16-17 describes the “speech” Ruth gives to say that she is totally committed. This is important because of the spiritual implications. Her commitment to being loyal to Naomi was also her committing to being loyal to God. She makes an oath in the name of Yahweh, and by doing so owns Him as her God.

This is a strong reminder of how we should be committed to God. Are you willing to cry out to God in the same way that Ruth does? The heart of being committed no matter what is the same heart we should have. As Christ followers we need to follow Jesus anywhere and everywhere, no strings attached.

By: Dakota Gragg — Student Ministry Associate

March 10, 2017

Today you should read: Ruth 1:1-13

Redemption. If you were to summarize the book of Ruth in one word, that would have to be it. In fact, the words “redemption”, “redeem”, and “redeemer” appear 23 times in this short book. Most scholars peg Samuel as the writer, and this incredible story puts us about a century before David comes on the scene. It’s a story about love, friendship, and most of all, God’s unfolding plan of redemption.

There are so many connections in this brief book. You can look back to Rahab, the prostitute who aided the Jewish spies, and you can look ahead to David, the greatest King in Israel’s history. But you can’t read Ruth without catching a glimpse of Jesus Himself! After all, that is what redemption is about. It’s the big picture; Jesus’ great love for and rescue of His bride (made up of both Jews and Gentiles). Here’s a snapshot of Ruth’s significance from the ESV Global Study Bible:

The dominant theme in Ruth for global Christianity is Gentile inclusion into the people of God. Ruth is a classic example within the Old Testament of how an individual outside the covenant community becomes a member of the people of God by faith alone (see Rom. 3:29–30). Ruth is a foreigner and part of a despised people who had treated Israel with inhospitality and hostility. Nevertheless, through her faith, the Lord welcomes Ruth into his covenant community as a full member. In fact, by her unswerving loyalty to Naomi, Ruth matches the great matriarchs of ancient Israel. Ruth is one of only five women to be mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus (Matt. 1:1–16).

Over these six days here at Jumpstart, I challenge you allow your heart to be captivated by this incredible story. But take it a step further. Ask God to overwhelm your mind with the truth of His grace and His redemption of you.

By: Todd Thomas — Worship & College Pastor