Dear Radio Friends,
The book of Ruth ends with the name of David. By ending the book of Ruth with the name of David, God directs our attention to Jesus Christ and His coming.
The book of Ruth is written to show us the faithfulness of God in preserving the line of Christ over four thousand years, God preparing our salvation by bringing His Son whom He had promised. The beauty and comfort of that is that God did it totally by His grace. God brought the Christ out of Ruth, the Moabitess, who, at one time had been an idol worshiper. God used even the sin of two of His own (Naomi and Elimelech, who had left the place of God’s promise and had departed to the land of Moab) as the occasion to bring Ruth into the line of the covenant. In all of these things, God was working out His own plan to bring our salvation by bringing Ruth to Bethlehem and now having her married to Boaz, and giving to them a son called Obed, out of whom would come David, so that one day Christ might be born in the line of David, born to the virgin Mary.
All of this is the message of our salvation. And that is the message that we celebrate at this time of the year. We are celebrating God’s faithfulness to bring us and to keep us in salvation and to preserve us in the name of Jesus Christ. That truth is so wonderful. It is more powerful than we can realize. The truth that is found in the birth of Jesus Christ is this: “All things work together for good to them that love God, who are the called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28). Now, with both hands, we have to lay hold of that promise.
The birth of Jesus Christ declares that God has a sovereign plan; that He will work out the salvation that He had determined from all eternity; that in His sovereignty He will even use the sins of His people as an occasion to show forth His faithfulness. Now that, of course, does not mean that we are excused to go on in our sinful way. But it does mean that we have a mighty and sovereign God, a God of faithfulness. By closing the book of Ruth with the name of David, God shows what is coming, shows what He is planning and what He is going to do. He is indeed going to save His people from their sins. He, indeed, has loved the church and will give His Son for her. He, indeed, will at last take the church to Himself in spotless glory. And all of these are the reason for our celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.
The book of Ruth, you remember, begins by calling our attention to sin — not sin in general, but our sin, our sin of forsaking God. Elimelech and Naomi left the land of Canaan when they ought not to have done so. That reminded us of the fact that we all have gone astray. We have, of ourselves, shown that we have a nature that goes a-whoring, departing from the living God. But the book is going to close by assuring us of the faithfulness of God to keep His promise. It closes by swearing to us that there is one thing that God is intent on doing — that the name of His Son shall be remembered; that He will glorify Himself through Jesus Christ; that He will keep His promise; that having sent a Savior, He will also work out that salvation to the full until at last, in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ, we shall inherit everlasting glory. God tells us that no matter the burdens and the grief, the anguish and the obstacles that we think prevent God from fulfilling His promises, God will keep those promises. That is why we celebrate and rejoice in the birth of Jesus Christ.
Last week we left Boaz and Ruth on their wedding day. We left having heard Boaz speak his wedding vows to Ruth, in which he said, “Ruth, the Moabitess, I purchase you to be my wife and to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance.” Then we left the people responding in benediction: “The Lord bless thee.”
Now, in chapter 4 of the book of Ruth, we read that after these events transpired, Boaz took Ruth to be his wife. He took her away, not simply on a honeymoon, but he took Ruth away from the poverty and from her widowhood. He took Ruth away from her shameful condition and he married her. He took responsibility for her before God. Ruth, then, was taken out of the single life and taken to be Boaz’s wife.
That is very important. A picture is being drawn here of marriage and of its importance. We have a snapshot in the Old Testament here of the wedding of Jesus Christ and His love for the church, for, in the Bible, marriage is a picture of the union of Jesus Christ and His church. Jesus Christ took us away.
Think about what it means that Christ is married to the church. It means that Christ came in Bethlehem for the purpose of taking us away — taking us out of our sins and miseries and to Himself. Christ took us out of the poverty and the loneliness and the shamefulness of our condition, out of a world of sin and darkness into the house of the mansions of His Father. Christ took responsibility for us. Sin and Satan have a firm grip upon us, as we are in ourselves. But Jesus has purchased us with His own blood from the awful punishment and the spiritual death that we deserve. As Boaz took Ruth to be his wife, to care for her, and to take her out of her poverty, so God, in Jesus Christ, has taken us out of the wasteland of our death and sin; has taken away from us the name of sinner; and has given to us a new name, the name “Hephzibah, my delight is in her,” the name “redeemed of the Lord.” And someday the Lord will also raise our bodies from the dead and make them glorious, so that we might live with Him in the marriage of the Lamb and of His wife. And all of this is of God’s grace.
It means that Christ came in Bethlehem
for the purpose of taking us away —
taking us out of our sins and miseries and to Himself.
We read, further, that when Boaz went in unto his wife Ruth, the Lord gave her conception and she bear a son. That is always the case. The Lord gave her conception. Boaz and Ruth became one in flesh. They lived sexually as husband and wife in God’s bond of marriage. But the conception of a son was not simply a matter of biology. Pregnancy is not simply biological, it is not what you might call a mistake or something unplanned. Oh, no! God, the Maker of all, who holds all of us in life, is the God who creates life. It is God who combines sperm and egg and implants the soul. It all comes from God, who is to be praised and thanked by us. The Scriptures throughout, unmistakably, declare that God is the author of life in the womb. To take that life, as is done in abortion, is murder, is a violation of God’s law.
God gave to Boaz and Ruth a son named Obed. As we have been pointing out, this shows that God preserves the line of promise. Elimelech and Naomi had had two sons: Mahlon and Chilion. Both of those sons had died without a son and had done so because God had willed from eternity that He would bring Jesus Christ through the union of Boaz and Ruth. And now Ruth gives birth to a son named Obed.
His name means “servant,” or “him who serves.” That means that Obed serves God’s purpose of continuing the line of promise. Already in Genesis 3 God had promised that there would be a seed of the woman who would crush the serpent’s head, that God would bring a Savior through the line of the woman, from Adam to Seth to Enoch to Noah to Abraham to Isaac to Judah, on down now to Boaz to Obed to Jesse to David, and ultimately to Jesus Christ. That is the beautiful story that is written in the book of Ruth. In ways that none could understand but God alone, in ways where none could trace His footsteps, God had reached down into the miry depths of sin and had preserved His own promise. He had chosen a woman lost in outer darkness and had worked marvelously to bring her to Boaz in order to continue the line of the promise. When we see this, we cry out: “What hath God wrought? God is the Lord and greatly to be praised. His wisdom is unsearchable.”
This is God’s work. This is God’s one work in all of history. It is written on every page of the Bible. His one work is that He would glorify Himself in Jesus Christ. And He would, in the words of Ephesians 1:10, “Gather together all things in Jesus Christ.” God does this in a wonderful way. God does this exactly in a way that human wisdom and earthly thinking could never devise. He does this in order that he that glorieth may glory in the Lord.
Let us lay this close to our hearts today. And let us see this in the birth of Jesus Christ as we celebrate His birth this week.
God does this exactly in a way that human wisdom
and earthly thinking could never devise.
Sometimes you question God’s ways, and I do to. Sometimes we become very weary and we ask Him, “Why?” Sometimes we long for Him to change the situation, and we think that He has, apparently, forgotten us. As the church of Jesus Christ, sometimes we cry out: “How long, Lord, before Jesus Christ comes, that we might be with Thee in fullness of glory?”
Let us take this lesson to our hearts, especially when God brings us low and humbles us, and we think that the good thing that He has promised us in Jesus Christ cannot be obtained and that everything around us is going to crush our hope in Him. Let us learn that God is the ruler of all things; He does not lose His way; He does not take His eye from the goal. His goal is this: that His Son, Jesus Christ, shall have the preeminence ( Col. 1); that He is the Head of the church, the Redeemer of the body; that He shall present us to God in spotless glory; and that the day shall come that God shall be all and in all. God’s plan to glorify Himself in Christ is the plan that He executes always. That plan is behind everything that happens on this earth, until at last the day comes when Christ shall stand upon the earth and take His full and redeemed bride to Himself in glory.
Now I say to you, lay hold of that truth with both hands of faith! Lay hold of the truth that there is nothing outside of the will of God; that there is nothing that can work against the promise of God in Jesus Christ. Lay hold of that by faith. See God marvelous in wisdom, exalted in power. That is why we may read in Romans 8 that we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. That is why the apostle can go on to say, “Yea, in all these things we are more than conquerors, and there is nothing in heaven above or earth below that can separate us from His love.” For God shall accomplish His purpose in Christ. That is the marvelous message of the book of Ruth. And that is the marvelous message of His birth in Bethlehem.
God is the ruler of all things;
He does not lose His way;
He does not take His eye from the goal.
The coming of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem was this: God fulfilling His eternal purpose to redeem His church and to bring His church to glory. If you see that, by faith, then you understand the birth of Jesus Christ and you have every reason to lift up your voice in praise. If you do not see that, if you prattle about holiday spirit and Christmas joy and shopping malls and all the other nonsense that goes on, if that is where your heart is, you have nothing but darkness. See the Savior born in Bethlehem, the Savior prepared of God to redeem the church. See all of God’s purposes coming into focus and wonderfully fulfilled.
Then we have joy. Then we have rest in all things.
In Ruth 4 the people went on to bless Naomi when her grandson Obed was born. They saw this as a great goodness of the Lord to Naomi. They saw how the Lord had cared for this dear woman and had worked everything in her life together for good. They saw that God had led her through some very difficult ways, in which her flesh was tempted to grumble and to be filled with resentment and bitterness. Yet, God had worked all things together for good.
The book of Ruth, then, concludes by assuring us of the faithfulness of God to keep His promise, His promise to bring a Savior. That, again, is what we see in the birth of Jesus Christ. Out of weakness, sin, and darkness; out of hopelessness; out of all of these things, God brings Jesus Christ. He gave His Son to take upon Himself our flesh in order that He might stand in the place of the church, in the place of His people, in the place of all those whom the Father gave to Him, who are brought to faith and repentance in Him. He gave His Son to die upon the cross for our sins and to rise again the third day. By the work of Jesus Christ we are redeemed to God, and our name and place are reserved in glory. On the basis of the Savior Jesus Christ, God promises to us, His church, that all things now serve that salvation. All things in our life serve to perfect that salvation.
That is your life, child of God. Make it very personal and lay hold of it by faith. Hear the Word of God. Not one letter, not one word of His promise will ever fall short. It will be fulfilled in you.
As we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, we hear yet one more promise. That promise is this: Jesus is coming again. He whose name is famous in Israel, He who has a name above all names, He whose name shall endure forever and ever — He is coming. The Lord Jesus Christ, who was born out of Obed, Jesse, David, and the virgin Mary, is now the Lord at God’s right hand. He has a famous name: Lord of lords and King of kings. He is the One who says, “Behold, I come quickly and I shall make all things new.” Are you ready for Jesus to come?
Not one letter, not one word of His promise
will ever fall short.
The church at the time of Ruth, when they saw Obed being born, cried out, “Blessed be the Lord.” We have so much more reason to cry out “Blessed be the Lord.” For that salvation now has come. It is accomplished, and the promise is certain and sure: He shall return again. The glory of the church shall be realized.
Hold that promise before you. Have no doubt about it. Oh, spiritually, as we look out, things may appear dark. God may lead you, as He led Naomi, in the ways of darkness and trial and chastisement, so that your life becomes dark and heavy upon your soul. For the church of Jesus Christ, as we seek to be faithful to the truth of God’s Word, it may appear to us to be so very dark. No one seems to want to hear the truth. The ways of sin prosper, and it appears to us that, perhaps, Jesus is not going to come back, and that, perhaps, sin and the world and the Devil shall be triumphant. Then we look at ourselves as we fall into sin and are filled with weakness, and we ask, “Can it be? Will it be? Will the restorer of our life, the nourisher of our souls, our Redeemer indeed come? Will He work everything for my good?”
Oh, yes. Read the book of Ruth! Not one of His promises shall fail. He is faithful to the word of His promise. He is working in and through all things in your life. He is controlling and working in the world according to His own marvelous plan. He is the Lord, excellent in glory. And His Redeemer, Jesus Christ, has purchased the church. He shall glorify the meek and He shall save His church. The great Son of David is going to come. Blessed be the name of the Lord.
Let us pray.
Father, we thank Thee for this book of Ruth. And we thank Thee for all of Thy promises, which are yea and amen in Christ Jesus. Comfort our hearts with this blessed gospel. In Jesus’ name, Amen.