April 23

Ruth, Part 4

Genesis 19:30-36 Then Lot went up out of Zoar and dwelt in the mountains….Now the firstborn said to the younger, “Our father is old, and there is no man on the earth to come in to us as is the custom of all the earth. Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve the lineage of our father….Thus both the daughters of Lot were with child by their father. The firstborn bore a son and called his name Moab; he is the father of the Moabites to this day.

What does Genesis 19 and the sordid story of Lot and his daughters have to do with Ruth? More than you think. As much as Ruth is a beloved and instructive story in and of itself, it reaches forward to Jesus Christ and backward to the ignoble story of the beginning of the Moabite nation.

Part of the wonder of Ruth’s story is redemption—of fleeing Israel and returning, of the “bitter” Naomi becoming the blessed grandmother, and of the lost foreigner (part of an enemy people) becoming a child of God who took her place in the lineage of Jesus. In the midst of it is a powerful, prophetic image of the redemption of the sin of Lot with his firstborn daughter.

Lot’s daughters got him drunk and lay with him to get pregnant, as they despaired of getting husbands because of outside circumstances. Their intention was faithless and sinful, and the result was tragic. Ruth, in heeding the voice of the one she was committed to, went faithfully to the threshing floor in what could have looked like the same set-up. Instead, she acted righteously, following counsel and the customs of the day. She was following through on obedience, not trying to make anything happen. Because of that, she got a wonderful husband, a role as Jesus’s ancestor, and a name that we all know—and all without grabbing after any of it.

Yet also, in a beautiful way, Ruth’s actions “undid” the sins of Lot’s daughters, in the sense of creating a series of actions that mirrored the actions of those disobedient ones. But this time things were done in righteousness, in a sense “reversing” the previous actions. Boaz contributed as well, as he may have had something to drink, but unlike Lot, didn’t succumb to drunkenness. If you take a close look at Numbers 25:1-3, you can see more sins connected with Moab, sins also “reversed” by the obedience and faithfulness of Boaz and Ruth.

God is a great artist, and part of the beauty He creates is painting images of redemption for us to see, if we look (and study) closely enough. (Compare Elizabeth’s prayer with Mary in Luke 1–the Magnificat–with Hannah’s prayer in I Samuel 2. Comparisons abound and many riches await those who take the time to look!) Without your being aware, God is creating beautiful images of redemption in your life. He weaves circumstances, opportunities, and acts of obedience into a tapestry of grace and restoration. We won’t see all of them until heaven, but it wouldn’t hurt to start keeping an eye open for them now.

Prayer: Lord, thank You for the incredible image of redemption that Ruth shows us. Help me to see how You have created these images and are even in the process of creating them—in my life and in the lives of others. You are the Great Artist. Use my life, even the bad, to create images of love and grace.

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