Ruth’s Story — Love of Advent

Scripture Focus: Matthew 1.1, 5b
1 This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham:

5 …Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth

Ruth 4.15
15 He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth.”

Reflection: Ruth’s Story — Love of Advent
By Erin Newton

These are the matriarchs of Jesus: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Mary. This is Ruth’s story.

Ruth rarely needs an introduction. Her story is told in nearly every women’s bible study.

She was not part of a scandalous story like Tamar or Rahab. But like Tamar and Rahab, she was also not part of Abraham’s family. She was not an Israelite but a Moabite. And her story opens with sorrow.

Three deaths cover the first five verses of the book. The book begins with emptiness. Famine and empty bellies. Death and empty households. Immigration and the parting of sisters.

Without a husband or heirs, Ruth joined her mother-in-law to return to Israel and said goodbye to her Moabite sister-in-law. The rumor was that God had been gracious to Israel. The barren land was filling with food.

Despite being a foreigner and a woman—a double disadvantage—she worked to provide for herself and Naomi. You get the sense that Ruth was humble yet intelligent. She understood her place in the Israelite culture but also how to make the most of each situation.

Israelite stories of marriage follow a pattern. Robert Alter points out the typical nature of such scenes: a man journeys from a foreign land, comes upon a well, meets a woman, she draws water for him, a marriage proposal occurs, and she rushes home to tell her family. We see this scene in stories about Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and Rachel, and Moses and Zipporah.

The expected story of betrothal is met with unexpected turns. It is Ruth who stands in the spotlight of the story. In this story it is the woman who travels to a distant land. It is Boaz who ensures Ruth has something to drink. In a story that ought to focus on the patriarch, it is Ruth who exemplifies such qualities.

Boaz redeemed her, but Ruth’s character is the focus of the story. She, like Rahab, heard the stories of God in her foreign land. Like Rahab, she decided by faith for “your God” to become “my God.”

Ruth has both the disadvantage of too much estrogen and a foreign ethnicity, but she is a matriarch of Jesus. Her story reveals how God works in unexpected ways.

Ruth, someone from the outside, is chosen and honored as one of five women named in Jesus’s family.

In the love of Jesus belong the outsiders and the disadvantaged.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. — Matthew 5.6

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
2 Chronicles 14-15  (Listen 5:49)
Psalms 119-73-96 (Listen 15:14)

Read more about Ruth, the Immigrant
Ruth shows us how God’s grace helps us immigrate from our own selfish kingdoms to the kingdom of God.

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Jericho’s Wall :: Readers’ Choice

Selected by reader, Barbara, from Chattanooga
Following God is His call on us. We don’t “deserve” anything. Some hard, and exciting lessons in this story!

Scripture Focus: Joshua 5.13-14
Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?” 
“Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.”

Reflection: Jericho’s Wall :: Readers’ Choice
Originally published July 3rd, 2019
By John Tillman

If you ask Christians how the inhabitants of Jericho responded to Israel and their silent marching around the city, most will probably say they taunted them and that the point of the story is that the Israelites demonstrated faith by following God’s strange plan despite being made fun of. This is a complete fabrication. There is no textual evidence to suggest that the Israelites were teased or taunted at all by Jericho.  

Scripture doesn’t shy away from a great taunt. The scriptures are full of them. God himself delivers sharply barbed taunts. Even Jesus gently taunts Nicodemus. But no taunts are recorded here.

Jericho wasn’t in a taunting mood. They were terrified. No matter how funny the French Peas are in a Veggie Tales video, the reality is that scripture tells us multiple times how terrified everyone in Canaan was of Israel, but it never tells us once that they taunted Israel or made any comment about God’s plan of marching around the city.

It’s not difficult to see why Jericho was terrified. This gigantic group of former slaves destroyed the entire army of Egypt—the world-wide superpower of its day. Today, this would be comparable to the United States military being wiped out by an opponent. Then this same group traveled through the desert completely destroying any king or nation that stood up to them. Then, these desert-crossing, dangerous, religious fanatics show up at Jericho’s border, crossing the river without permission and in a miraculous fashion.

One possible reason for our extremely poor handling of scripture, in this case, is that, when teaching children, we are so uncomfortable with the idea of God ordering the Israelites to wipe out an entire city, we need a distraction. “Perseverance amidst taunting” is a kinder-gentler lesson to teach children. 

This erroneous reading of scripture turns the power dynamic upside down allowing us to feel “persecuted” like the Israelites and justified in destroying our enemies.

But God isn’t interested in destroying people we call our enemies. If the commander of the Lord’s army was not on Joshua’s side, we can rest assured that the commander of the Lord’s army is not on “our” side today. Especially if we define our side so narrowly as to exclude those outside of something so meaningless and trivial as a political party.

The lesson of Jericho’s wall is not that God’s plans are weird, and people will make fun of us, but we should follow God anyway. The lesson of Jericho’s wall is that it is God who initiates judgment, not us. The lesson is that we don’t deserve what God has given us and that if we are unfaithful, we too will face God’s wrath and no wall will stand in its way.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Cry of the Church
Even so, come Lord Jesus! — Revelation 22.20

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
Ruth 2 (Listen – 3:56) 
Acts 27 (Listen – 6:09)

This Weekend’s Readings
Ruth 3-4 (Listen – 6:24), Acts 28 (Listen – 4:56)
1 Samuel 1 (Listen – 4:13), Romans 1 (Listen – 5:02)

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On the other side of the river is the land that is promised, the land of blessing, the land of freedom, the land of rest, the land of satisfaction and plenty.