Banking Blessings Ministry welcomes you to 2018. Thank you for participating in our programs as we seek and share understanding of God’s purpose for human interactions and relationships. We thank God for the opportunity to understand his message more and better this year and steer closer to his purpose for each of us individually and as member of a community.
The year 2017 ended while we were in the middle of a series on Responding to Adversity, focused on studying events and personalities in the bible to gain insight into the nature and meaning of adversity and what a Christian should do when facing adversity. The series has taken us through examinations of the experience of Job, Mordecai, Shunammite woman, and midway through Paul’s ordeal in Jerusalem and Caesarea.
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.
FAITH HUMAN EFFORT AND COMPASSION The account of Ruth joining Naomi in Moab and following her to Bethlehem illustrates interactions among faith, human effort, and compassion. Naomi’s family relocated to Moab to seek better life but experienced changes that brought bitterness and challenged her faith. However, the sojourn in Moab and subsequent return to Bethlehem placed her in position to receive God’s intervention through Ruth joining the family. Ruth’s compassion for Naomi brought her to Bethlehem where she faced uncertain but ultimately prosperous future.
Ruth Joins Naomi
Faith Human Effort and Compassion
We begin a study series on Ruth, in which we examine her ancestry, entry into Naomi’s family in Moab, and subsequent relocation to Bethlehem; where she met and married Boaz, became the great grandmother of David and, therefore, a key link in the lineage of the Messiah. The series begins with Ruth joining Naomi’s family in Moab and returning to Bethlehem with Naomi. The family had relocated to Moab in search of better life but instead experienced calamity as Naomi’s husband and two sons died. Subsequently, her search for better life took her back to Bethlehem accompanied by her widowed daughter-in-law, Ruth.
FAITH AND HUMAN EFFORT We note that her sojourn in Moab and subsequent return to Bethlehem were driven by human effort: seeking to lift her family to more favorable life while in total submission to God. Because of her faith, she accepted the calamity that befell her family as an act of God and showed she relied entirely on God to help her through the crisis [Ruth 1:21]: “I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The Lord has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.” She considered herself “empty” because she did not know that her daughter-in-law Ruth that joined her family in Moab would go on to become a great grandmother in the lineage of the Messiah.
Her sojourn in Moab placed her in position to receive God’s intervention through Ruth joining her family. Her subsequent return to Bethlehem provided opportunity for Ruth to launch into a life that ultimately brought her into the role that God created for her. Naomi’s experience, therefore, provides an example of human effort and faith placing a person in position to receive God’s intervention.
COMPASSION Ruth, on her part, followed Naomi back to Bethlehem because of compassion. Naomi offered to release her from being a widow, thus providing her an opportunity to go home and seek new life. However, Ruth had compassion on Naomi and decided to remain loyal and committed to Naomi’s family. Therefore, she followed Naomi back to Bethlehem, choosing an uncertain life as widow. Later, she met Boaz in Bethlehem, married him, and together they gave birth to Obed, grandfather of David.
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.