Desert Hills Bible Church | Redemption: The Wonder of God’s Covenant Love, Part 1

Redemption: The Wonder of God’s Covenant Love, Part 1

The book of Ruth shows that even amid a dark period of unthinkable wickedness and rebellion, God is still working to accomplish His purpose of redemption. This book is also a reminder that even when it seems an entire nation has rejected the Lord, His faithful remnant remains.

With everything we face in our world today, it is a great relief to look at God’s faithful, covenant love in the first two chapters of this book. God’s covenant love triumphs over everything against His people so that we persevere in hope. Paul writes in Romans 8:35: “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” In Ruth 1-2, we see a number of these things trying to separate God’s people from His love. Yet, these chapters are a living illustration of the truth of Romans 8:35-39 and God’s enduring, unbreakable love for His people.

There are three things from Ruth 1-2 that enable us to persevere in hope on the firm foundation of God’s covenant love.

First, to persevere in hope, we need to recognize the reality of adversity.

The story of redemption in Ruth is born in the cradle of adversity. In just this chapter, Naomi undergoes five severe experiences of difficulty.

As the story opens, we meet a family of four, who are confronted with famine in Israel. This famine was such a severe trial that it prompted Elimelech, Ruth’s future father-in-law, to uproot his family to Moab.

This family then faces the adversity of living among unfriendly foreigners outside the land that God gave to Israel. Moab had long opposed Israel and their military conquests.

Naomi’s third trial occurs when her husband died, and she now was burdened by being a widow in a foreign land. Her sons were probably not very old, so they would have been of limited help.

After Naomi’s sons married foreign women, they died as well, extinguishing Naomi’s family line. She is bereft not only of her family, but also of any legal help or protection.

Naomi eventually learns that the Lord has brought the famine to an end and decides to move back home. It was extremely dangerous for a woman to travel alone, but Naomi’s options at this point are to remain in Moab as an unprotected widow or to take a chance on the journey and hope some distant relative back home might assist her.

When Naomi arrives home, the intensity of the adversity she has faced is not lost on her. She recognizes the difficulties she has experienced, and she has been, at least in her understanding, irrevocably changed because of her trials. Naomi left a woman who was full of joy, with a family and high hopes. She came back destitute and hopeless.

The language of this opening chapter is reminiscent of the book of Job. Naomi loses everything she values in her life. Her trials seem to happen in rapid succession, without a respite from the adversity. Also, like Job, she recognizes everything comes from the Lord’s hand and providence. Whether Naomi is proven right about what God is doing is yet to be seen, but the reality is that God is the one who has moved her through it all.

If we’re encountering adversity, remember God is working in and through our lives. Our trials have not taken God by surprise. Adversity is providence.

Second, to persevere with hope, we need to respond to adversity in faith.

When Naomi decided to leave Moab, her two daughters-in-law desired to follow. She encouraged them to return to their mother’s house. Eventually, Orpah was persuaded to go home, but Ruth would not be persuaded.

Ruth is determined to follow Naomi, wanting to convert to become an Israelite. In doing so, she understands she must forsake her gods and worship only the God of Israel; unexpectedly, especially given the context of Judges, she freely volunteers her unwavering loyalty to Israel’s God! Here we have this foreigner, excluded from the Lord’s assembly by her nationality, committing herself to the Lord until death. What a picture: Ruth the Moabitess is utterly loyal to the God of Israel, while Israel itself continually forsakes Him.

This conversion appears to be genuine. Ruth does not say Naomi’s gods will be her gods; instead, she specifically names Israel’s God. Moreover, Boaz later recognizes Ruth came to take refuge under the Lord’s protection. Through Ruth’s relationship with her Israelite family, she saw the futility of the Moabite gods and the glory of the God of Israel – and she would not be parted from Him.

What was it about the God of Israel that Ruth found so attractive? Ruth’s first exposure to Him was a God whose people were suffering from famine. Then, her father-in-law is dead, and her husband and brother-in-law passed away. She was a barren widow. She and her mother-in-law became embittered and impoverished.

Despite all that had happened, Ruth wanted to follow the Lord because she had found truth. Once Ruth had recognized truth, it didn’t matter the cost or the external trappings, nor did it matter that the lie looked more promising in the short run. The God of Israel was the true God, and she would not relinquish Him.

Most importantly, though, this woman responds to adversity with faith. She doesn’t make her decision based on emotion or external circumstances. Instead, she makes her decision based on God’s truth.

Ruth’s response is so instructive. When we struggle with adversity, does truth drive our response? Or does the flesh lead to despair rather than hope? When we tell others the gospel of Christ, are we confident that the power is in the truth, not in our presentation? We need to remind ourselves repeatedly that Scripture is the truth, and our God is the true God against all the world’s lies.

Third, to persevere with hope, rest in God’s faithfulness through adversity.

Chapter two of Ruth shows God’s faithfulness to Ruth and Naomi.

When she settles in her new home, Ruth takes the initiative to provide food. The field that Ruth discovers to glean belongs to a man named Boaz, who was related to Naomi’s late husband. When Boaz finds out Ruth’s identity, he instructed his workers to ensure she is provided for and protected. Boaz also tells Ruth he has provided for her because of her godly reputation.

In the end, God’s provision to Naomi and Ruth is more than abundant – not only of food, but also of physical protection, something two widows would have severely needed in their culture. Moreover, it appears that a budding romance is beginning between Boaz and Ruth.

As we look at this chapter, God’s provision for Naomi and Ruth is unmistakable. God provides for the ladies in their distress in more ways than initially Ruth even was seeking. This is how God works. He regularly provides for His people even during adversity. We can rest in His care and love even if the entire world around us has been turned upside down.

Here we see two women who were able to persevere in hope because of God’s faithfulness. Without God, they would have had no hope – and neither does anyone apart from faith in Christ. It’s amazing to consider that Ruth was part of a population that God said were never allowed in His people. And yet Ruth was received by God because she trusted in Him. Jesus turns away no one who comes to Him in faith. What a marvelous and reassuring promise of hope and salvation!

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