WHO IS IN YOUR FAMILY TREE? – 3 by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson
For the past two Sundays we met 2 “unusual characters” in the genealogy of Jesus Christ, women who had a questionable past. This morning, we meet the third woman who was at the rock bottom in every way but she too found grace in the sight of God and was grafted into the family tree of Jesus. The message – God has always been a God of grace, not just towards His chosen people but also to all people.
Matthew 1:1-6 1 The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham: 2 Abraham begot Isaac, Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot Judah and his brothers. 3 Judah begot Perez and Zerah by Tamar, Perez begot Hezron, and Hezron begot Ram. 4 Ram begot Amminadab, Amminadab begot Nahshon, and Nahshon begot Salmon. 5 Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab, Boaz begot Obed by Ruth, Obed begot Jesse, 6 and Jesse begot David the king. David the king begot Solomon by her who had been the wife of Uriah.
Overall Background: Four women, four questionable lives but one family tree, that of Jesus Christ. Why did Matthew do that? Why did he insert the names of women who had an embarrassing and questionable past? He wanted us to know that God is a God of grace. He is a God who loves to forgive and reconcile and restore and bless all who are willing to come to Him. He is the God of all peoples. He doesn’t play favorites but He loves to show His favor to any who want it!
So far we met Tamar – a Canaanite widow who tricked her father-in-law into sleeping with her. She had twins and one of them became the ancestor of Jesus. Then we met Rahab – a Canaanite prostitute who helped God’s people and after Jericho was destroyed, she also became part of the lineage of Jesus. In fact, she became the princess of Judah. Now we meet the third woman – Ruth, a woman who was at rock bottom and nadir of life in every way but she also found grace in the eyes of God.
Application: This morning, you may feel that you are at that rock bottom place in your life. I’m here to tell you that God is with you. He hasn’t forgotten you. He hasn’t abandoned you. In fact, He wants to bless you. Look to Him in complete faith and give it all to Him. He will not fail you. If you don’t know Jesus, then you are not just at a rock bottom place but you are headed to a bottomless pit. You need to be saved today.
3 things we will understand about Ruth:
1. RUTH – ROCK BOTTOM GENEALOGICALLY
Ruth 1:1a Now it came to pass, in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land.
Background: The time of the judges was a very difficult time in the life of the people of Israel. There was no king, there was no leader and everyone did what was right in his own eyes. So you can imagine the lawlessness, crime, and moral chaos all over the land. On top of that – there was a famine in the land.
Ruth 1:1b And a certain man of Bethlehem, Judah, went to dwell in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons. Here we meet a family living 5 miles southwest of Jerusalem in the city of Bethlehem. Ironically, Bethlehem is literally “the place of food/bread” but it had no food. So the man (Elimelech) took his wife (Naomi) and their two sons and went 50 miles Southeast into Moabite country. This was no ordinary decision – moving to Moab was probably the last desperate resort of an Israelite.
Who were the Moabites? We meet them in Genesis 19. You remember how God destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Because of Abraham’s intervention, Lot and his wife and two daughters were allowed to escape Sodom. Lot’s wife looked back and turned into a pillar of salt. Lot and his two daughters fled into the mountains where they had no prospect of finding any husbands. So they came up with a wicked scheme to get Lot drunk and have an incestuous relationship with him. The older one had a child and his name was Moab. This was the genesis of the Moabites. How tragic and embarassing!
For e.g. Many years ago I was talking to this young man who had been through prison and had a long record. He had couple of kids that he hadn’t seen in years. Then, he was looking for a job but he couldn’t get one because of his record. So one day I sat with him and very piously I began to tell him all things that he needed to straighten out in his life. Little did I expect what I was about to hear – He began by telling me that he wasn’t sure who his dad was. I said to him – “There are a lot of people who don’t know who their dad was but they made it anyways.” Then he said to me – “I’ve heard through family that it was my own grandfather who raped my mom. You know how that makes me feel. Why did God allow that?”
Folks – We live in a messed up world. Things like this are the product of sin in this world. God allowed it because of the free will of human beings.
So you can imagine how the Moabites felt about themselves. But, there’s more – the Moabites hated the people of Israel. Probably because Uncle Abraham’s descendants knew the real story of Lot’s descendants. When the people of Israel were in the wilderness, the Moabites refused to help them and actively tried to harass them. Several times they had invaded Israel. So what did God say about this? Deuteronomy 23:3, 6 3 “An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter the assembly of the LORD; even to the tenth generation none of his descendants shall enter the assembly of the LORD forever…6 You shall not seek their peace nor their prosperity all your days forever.
Ruth 1:4 Now they took wives of the women of Moab: the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth.
Ruth’s family tree began with incest. Ruth’s ancestors hated the people of God. Ruth and her people were forbidden to come into the assembly of God.
Application: You cannot choose your past. Some of you born into situations that was out of your control. You can either waste your time looking back or you can like Paul say – Philippians 3:13 “…one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” You can only choose the present and the future.
2. RUTH – ROCK BOTTOM CIRCUMSTANTIALLY
5 Then both Mahlon and Chilion also died…”
Background: Not sure why this happened – maybe some sickness – both the sons died and Ruth and Orpah were widowed. It was quite common in the ancient world where women survived men. There used to a large number of widows in many period in ancient times. Being a widow was a very tough situation. Unless you had a good family or a lot of money, it was over for you.
Since there was nothing left for Naomi in Moab and she had heard that things were better in Judah, she decided to head back. So in verse 8 Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go, return each to her mother’s house. The LORD deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me. 9 The LORD grant that you may find rest, each in the house of her husband.” And after many tears, Orpah went back but not Ruth. Listen to her famous words, sometimes read during weddings: Ruth 1:16 “…Entreat me not to leave you, Or to turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, And your God, my God. 17 Where you die, I will die, and there will I be buried. The LORD do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts you and me.”
Wow! What would cause a Moabite widow to say this to her mother-in-law who could not do anything for her?
People often say to me – “Times are tough. We don’t know what we’re going to do.” People have always lived in tough times. It’s called life. Job 14:1 “Man who is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble.” How you handle tough times makes the difference. Some people just run at the sight of trouble. They miss God’s purpose for their life. Other people just grit their teeth and bear trouble. They too miss God’s purpose for their life. Then there are those people who submit to God and His will in trouble. They are the ones who thrive because God works all things together for good.
For some reason, Ruth understood that principle, even though she was probably lost. By the way, that was her Pre-Cross, Old Testament Sinner’s Prayer. Can you find a better sinner’s prayer than this – For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, And your God, my God. 17 Where you die, I will die, and there will I be buried. The LORD do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts you and me.” We need to make that the Sinner’s Prayer but say it to Jesus not Naomi.
Application: How are you handling your circumstances? Are you running off like Orpah or are you submitting to God like Ruth?
3. RUTH – ROCK BOTTOM PROVIDENTIALLY
Background: Naomi and Ruth finally make it to Bethlehem. Naomi was probably thinking – “We left Bethlehem and moved to Moab. No wonder God punished me by taking my husband and my two sons. Now I have a Moabite daughter-in-law who won’t take no for an answer. I don’t know how these people will treat us.” She’s fearing the worst but listen to what happens – Ruth 1:19 “And it happened, when they had come to Bethlehem, that all the city was excited because of them; and the women said, ‘Is this Naomi?’”
God had already prepared the hearts of the people.
Ruth 2:1 There was a relative of Naomi’s husband, a man of great wealth, of the family of Elimelech. His name was Boaz. 2 So Ruth the Moabitess said to Naomi, “Please let me go to the field, and glean heads of grain after him in whose sight I may find favor.
God had already prepared a wealthy man in Elimelech’s family who could be a source of help.
Ruth 2:8 Then Boaz said to Ruth, “You will listen, my daughter, will you not? Do not go to glean in another field, nor go from here, but stay close by my young women. 9 Let your eyes be on the field which they reap, and go after them. Have I not commanded the young men not to touch you? And when you are thirsty, go to the vessels and drink from what the young men have drawn.”
God had already prepared the heart of Boaz to be kind to Ruth.
Per Naomi’s advice, she approached Boaz and offers herself as a bride, not knowing what would happen. Ruth 3:10 Then he said, “Blessed are you of the LORD, my daughter! For you have shown more kindness at the end than at the beginning, in that you did not go after young men, whether poor or rich.
Again, God had already prepared the heart of Boaz who received her advance gladly.
Ruth 4:9-10 9 And Boaz said to the elders and all the people, “You are witnesses this day that I have bought all that was Elimelech’s, and all that was Chilion’s and Mahlon’s, from the hand of Naomi. 10 Moreover, Ruth the Moabitess, the widow of Mahlon, I have acquired as my wife…
Once again by the providential hand of God, a widowed Moabite woman became the wife of the wealthiest man in town. What a picture of the grace of God!
Application: You can either spend your whole life crying over why you’ve had problems in your life or you can, like Ruth, leave behind your past and trust God with your future. He will take you from your rock bottom and raise you to sit in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Do you know Him?