Christ’s invitation to earn blessing through human service is open to all irrespective of any past misdeed. We learn from David-Bathsheba relationship that earned blessing and incurred punishment are parallel promises from God. They can coexist, do not offset each other, and are fulfilled at his choosing. David incurred severe punishment from seducing Bathsheba into adultery, murdering her husband to cover up the affair, and overall for covetousness. The punishment was fulfilled but did not interfere with David’s earned blessing: an inheritance from God’s promise to Abraham to father the ancestral lineage of the Messiah and a direct promise to David that his offspring will succeed him as king of Israel. Both promises were fulfilled through Solomon, a son to David-Bathsheba marriage.
David’s interactions with Bathsheba resulted in both severe punishment and fulfillment of previously earned blessing for David. As we discuss in a previous bible study under Seduction Covetousness Displeases God, David’s sin in the affair with Bathsheba consists of seduction, adultery, murder, and covetousness. He incurred severe punishment from the sin as Prophet Nathan announced to him: the child of the affair will die, a person close to David will sleep with his wives in broad daylight, and calamity will befall him from his household. All the promises were fulfilled.
However, as events representing fulfillment of the punishment unfolded in his life; other events that represent fulfillment of David’s earned blessing occurred in parallel and unaffected by the punishment. First, he inherited blessing from God’s promise to Abraham that was passed to David through several generations via his grandfather Obed and father Jesse. Second, God promised David directly that his offspring will succeed him as king of Israel: “When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom” [2 Samuel 7:12]. God fulfilled both promises through Solomon, a son of David and Bathsheba conceived after their marriage.
The blessings did not buy him out of the punishment, nor did the punishment diminish his blessing in any way.
LIVING TO RECEIVE GOD’S INTERVENTION We learn through the life of Ruth that living in the image of God prepares a person to receive God’s intervention. She inherited an opportunity to receive a grand blessing because of being a descendant of Lot. However, the opportunity alone would not have been enough. She positioned herself to receive fulfillment of the promise by living in the image of God; which manifested through her compassion, humility, sensitivity to needs around her, and persistent diligence in doing what she could to provide for the needs. Ruth married Abraham’s descendant Boaz; they had a son Obed, grandfather of David; and, thus established a family to link the lineage of Abraham and the lineage of Lot to David, a great grandfather in the lineage of the Messiah. Therefore, we learn through her life that living in the image of God prepares a person to receive God’s intervention, even fulfillment of inherited blessing.
We conclude the study series on Ruth by looking back at her life as an illustration that living in the image of God prepares a person to receive God’s intervention. Ruth inherited an opportunity to become a channel for fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham, because her ancestral father Lot was co-beneficiary of the promise by following and assisting Abraham on a mission to establish homeland and ancestry for the Messiah. However, the opportunity alone would not have been enough to ensure fulfillment of the promise through Ruth. Her life includes several events in which she took specific action that brought her closer to fulfillment of the promise but could have diverted her away from it if she had behaved differently. Understanding the Godliness of her choice in each case helps us learn that living in the image of God prepares and positions a person to receive God’s intervention.
As we discussed in a previous bible study under Keeping Watch, living in the image of God implies representing God in every human interaction such that your actions and words radiate Godliness and provide opportunities for other people to feel God. Living in the image of God implies a person fulfills responsibilities as God’s provider assistant, willingly and diligently providing service to benefit others when God places a need in his/her path, or accepting service provided by others with heart-felt appreciation and happiness.
The life of Ruth provides specific examples of living in the image of God. First, she chose to live as a widow in order to comfort and assist her mother-in-law to cope with severe adversity. The choice brought her to Bethlehem from her home country of Moab. Second, her humility and sensitivity to the needs of her family led her to seek opportunity to glean for leftover grains. The search brought her to Boaz’s farm. Third, Boaz granted her preferential gleaning access in his field because of her humility, politeness, diligence and persistent effort; and his prior knowledge of her positive interactions with Naomi. In each of these events, she did something positive that advanced her toward ultimately meeting and marrying Boaz, with whom she established an ancestral link in the lineage of the Messiah.
OPPORTUNITY THROUGH RESPONSIBILITY Boaz presented himself to receive God’s intervention when he accepted responsibility as guardian-redeemer. Guided by mother-in-law Naomi, Ruth proposed marriage to Boaz by virtue of the Israeli guardian-redeemer law. Boaz welcomed the proposal but offered the opportunity first to another relative next in line before him as guardian-redeemer for Naomi’s family. The closer relative declined and, thus cleared the way for Boaz, in the presence of an assembly of relatives convened to referee the interaction. Therefore, by virtue of an Israeli law that God sanctioned through Moses to preserve family inheritance, Ruth re-married to Boaz; gave birth to Obed, grandfather of David; thus joined with Boaz to become grandparents in the lineage of Christ.
We continue our study series on Ruth with a discussion of her transition from widowed daughter-in-law to legitimate wife of Boaz, a relative of Naomi’s husband. The marriage positioned her to become great grandmother of David and, thus, a link in the lineage of the Messiah. Ruth married Boaz under an Israeli law that God sanctioned through Moses to preserve family inheritance. Ruth’s mother-in-law Naomi guided her to propose marriage to Boaz based on the guardian-redeemer law.
Boaz welcomed the proposal but understood that another relative was next in line before him based on hierarchy defined under the law. In his respect for the law and due process, he offered the opportunity first to the closer relative. The relative declined and thus cleared the way for Boaz, in the presence of an assembly of relatives convened to referee and witness the interaction. Therefore, Boaz married Ruth, who subsequently gave birth to Obed, the grandfather of David. Thus, Boaz presented himself to receive God’s intervention when he accepted responsibility as guardian-redeemer. The interactions highlight the potential to step into opportunities by accepting responsibilities; in addition to respect for law, customs, and due process.
KINDRED RESPONSIBILITIES Also, the proceedings reinforce our understanding that kindred responsibilities could hold the key to opportunities. The relative that declined his kinsman-redeemer responsibility would likely have decided differently if he knew the offer was indeed an opportunity to become a grandfather in the lineage of the Messiah. Therefore, a person could position himself or herself to receive God’s intervention by fulfilling kindred responsibilities: such as participating in marriages, child dedication, dispute settlement, or providing other kinds of assistance toward the well being of kindred. People that decline such responsibilities could be rejecting opportunities that God placed in their path.
GODLINESS OPENS OPPORTUNITIES Ruth’s interactions with the community during her first season in Bethlehem highlight humility, politeness, respect for authority, sensitivity to needs around her, and persistent effort at contributing what she could to alleviate the needs. The interactions opened opportunities for her to step into the life for which she is known today. As we discuss in a subsequent bible study, the events that happened during this time led to Ruth marrying Boaz, becoming the grandmother of David, therefore, a grandparent in the lineage of Christ. Ruth’s Godliness opened opportunities for fulfillment of a grand blessing in her life.
This installment of our study series on Ruth focuses on events that occurred during the first season after her arrival in Bethlehem. Her interactions with mother-in-law Naomi and with family relative Boaz highlight the value of humility, politeness, respect for authority, sensitivity to needs around her, commitment to doing what she could to alleviate the needs, and persistent diligence at accomplishing her task.
Ruth and Naomi arrived in Bethlehem during barley harvest. Having been away for a long time, they likely faced economic hardship because they did not have any farm to harvest. Ruth recognized their hardship and determined to do what she could to alleviate the condition. With the approval of her mother-in-law, she decided to go gleaning (i.e., picking grains leftover from regular harvesting) in any farm that would accept her. She was accepted at the first farm she applied, which happened to belong to Boaz, a close relative of Naomi’s husband. Boaz did not only welcome her in his farm but also offered her protection and preferential gleaning access, because of her humility, politeness, positive work habbit (diligence and persistent effort), and his prior knowledge of her positive interactions with Naomi.
This is the second of a two-part study from the genealogy of Jesus, to examine the lives of a number of individuals that would have been considered unsuitable based on ordinary standards of current society. Because God selected each of them to be part of the lineage of Christ, we can draw lessons from their lives regarding his purpose for human interactions and relationships. We select four persons—Perez, Boaz, Obed, and Solomon—because the bible provides additional information to enable an understanding of their lives and, potentially, their inclusion in the genealogy. We discussed Perez and Boaz in Part 1. This session looks at Obed and Solomon.
PEREZ, SON OF JUDAH We learned in Part 1 that Perez was a fulfillment of God’s blessing for Judah that was passed to him from Abraham through Isaac and Jacob. Furthermore, Judah earned blessing by offering to sacrifice himself for his junior brother Benjamin. We noted he may have also incurred punishment later for marrying a Canaanite or going to bed with a woman he thought was a prostitute that turned out to be his daughter-in-law. However, any punishment he incurred had no effect on his blessing. The blessing was fulfilled in Perez, a grandfather along the lineage of Christ.
BOAZ, SON OF SALMON AND RAHAB Also, we learned that Boaz was a fulfillment of God’s blessing for Rahab, the prostitute that harbored two Israeli spies in Jericho. Rahab earned blessing because she feared God and protected people she believed were on a mission for him notwithstanding their mission included spying on her people. Any punishment she incurred for prostitution had no effect on her blessing. The blessing was fulfilled in Boaz, a grandfather along the lineage of Christ.
TWO-PART STUDY From the genealogy of Jesus, we examine the lives of a number of individuals who would have been considered unsuitable based on ordinary standards of current society, yet God granted each of them the special favor of being identified as a grandfather along the lineage of our Lord Jesus. We select four persons for the study—Perez, Boaz, Obed, and Solomon—because the bible provides additional information to enable an understanding of their lives. We discuss Perez and Boaz in this session. Obed and Solomon will be discussed in Part 2 of the study.
EARNED BLESSING AND INCURRED PUNISHMENTWe learn based on the study that one can earn blessings even if he/she has previously incurred punishment. Earned blessing and incurred punishment are parallel promises from God. An earned blessing remains effective until fulfilled, irrespective of any other occurrence in the person’s life. Similarly, incurred punishment would remain effective until fulfilled, unless forgiven upon true repentance by the sinner. In any case, incurred punishment does not prevent earning blessing; it does offset, and is not offset by, earned blessing.
GOD DOES NOT NEED PERFECTION Therefore, a person does not need to be perfect to find favor with God. One could earn blessings or experience fulfillment of earned blessings even with incurred punishment in his/her past. The examples in this study provide evidence that all are invited to seek opportunities for blessing. Imperfection does not present insurmountable obstacle against earning blessing.