Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: Do you ever wonder if you’ll be cared for in old age? Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I do not have to worry about how I will be cared for because I know that there’s a Redeemer who’s looking out for me, who’s taken me as His own possession, who has promised to meet all of my needs—spiritual, physical, emotional, relational. I know that every need that I have will be met through Christ, my Redeemer.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Tuesday, July 17.

You hear the debates about Social Security—is it going to be reliable in the future? Well, believers in Christ don’t have to be anxious about the future. They know a kind of security far greater than any government can provide. Nancy will touch on this as part of the series Ruth: The Transforming Power of Redeeming Love.

Nancy: We’ve been looking at the book of Ruth over the last several weeks, and now we’re coming to the conclusion of this story. Today I want us to pick up in chapter four, verses 9-12:

Boaz announced to the elders and all the people, “Today you are witnesses that I have bought from Naomi all the property of Elimelech, Kilion, and Mahlon. I’ve also acquired Ruth the Moabitess, Mahlon’s widow, as my wife, in order to maintain the name of the dead with his property, so that his name will not disappear from among his family or from among the town records. Today you are witnesses!”

Then the elders and all those at the gate said, “We are witnesses. [The third time that word is used.] May the Lord make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the house of Israel. May you have standing in Ephratha [an Old Testament name for Bethlehem] and be famous in Bethlehem. Through the offspring the Lord gives you by this young woman, may your family be like that of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah.”

I want us to see in this paragraph that those who attended this wedding (so to speak—it was a little different than the weddings we would have today) had two functions.

First of all, they served as witnesses. They affirmed the betrothal (that's what it was at this point) of Boaz to Ruth. They were giving legal affirmation.

Let me just say by way of a little parenthesis here how important it is, biblically and in our culture as well, to have a public, legal aspect of making a marriage covenant. Part of the scriptural understanding of marriage is that it involves a legal, public declaration. Witnesses are important. One writer says,

"The covenant that is made publicly with witnesses at a wedding is a constant reminder that promises were made, obligations entered into, and prayer for grace and resources asked. The vows were not simply a private matter, but publicly made and publicly witnessed. A sense of accountability to the wider Christian fellowship helps us to maintain our promises and acts to support us in the harder times when our commitment to loving faithfulness is put to the test."

So the wedding ceremony is a very important part of getting a marriage started off on the right foot. Not only did these witnesses serve to give legal affirmation—witness to the ceremony itself—but in verses 11 and 12 they pronounced a blessing.

It’s a threefold blessing. As you and I go to a wedding, as we see couples being united in marriage, part of our role is to bless that marriage, if it’s a union that has God’s blessing on it, as did this one with Ruth and Boaz.

They pronounced a blessing on the wife, on the husband, and on the offspring that would come as a result of this union. Let’s look at those verses, beginning in verse 11. First the blessing pronounced on Ruth. These are the witnesses, and they say, “May the Lord make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the house of Israel.”

They’re praying that the offspring of Boaz and Ruth will be as numerous as those of Rachel and Leah. Remember, those were the two wives of Jacob, who, together with their maidservants, brought forth 12 sons to Jacob, from whom the entire nation of Israel was born.

These were the foundation mothers from whom the 12 tribes of Israel sprang forth. They’re praying that Ruth will be a fruitful woman, that she will be blessed with the kind of heritage that was given to Rachel and Leah.

In fact, that blessing was answered by God. Ruth became part of the lineage of Israel’s kings—ultimately of Israel’s Messiah, the Lord Jesus.

Then they pray a blessing on Boaz, on the husband. They say, “May you have standing in Ephratha and be famous in Bethlehem.” That word to have standing means "to prosper." May you prosper, and may you be famous. May you make a name for yourself. May you be well known.

By the way, the goal in our marriage relationship with Christ is always that He would be well known, that He would be famous, that people would look up to Him because of how His grace to us brings Him glory.

So this blessing is a prayer that Boaz will prosper and that he will be blessed through Ruth’s many children, through the children and descendants that will come as a result of this union.

What makes Jesus, our heavenly Boaz, famous is the sinners He’s saved. He gets fame out of meeting us in our distress, in our dire need. So they pray a blessing on the husband, on Boaz.

Then they pray a blessing on their offspring. In verse 12 they say, “Through the offspring the Lord gives you by this young woman, may your family be like that of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah.”

Now, you’ll remember that Perez was the son who was born through the incestuous relationship between Judah and his daughter-in-law, Tamar. Not a great way to start a family line, is it?

This union between Tamar and Judah was not God’s best; it was not His first choice of the way that Judah should have had the son leading to Christ. But isn’t it incredible, amazing grace on God’s part that He takes the failure of men and makes something beautiful out of it!

By His grace, by His forgiveness, He cleanses; He renews; He redeems. I think of women sitting in this room who, as you look back on how your marriage got started or you look back on something in your family line that you’re ashamed of, you think, “How could there ever be any hope for something good to come out of this?”

There is blessing available through repentance, through the cleansing and the forgiveness of Christ. He really can turn ashes into beauty and bring something beautiful out of the most messed up family line.

So the community here—the witnesses—are praying that Boaz and Ruth will establish an important family in Judah and that this family will result in blessing for others, through the children and descendents that God will give to them.

Again, we know that this prayer was answered. We would not be sitting here today if it weren’t for the fact that God heard and answered this prayer through the line of Ruth the Moabitess—now Ruth the Israelite—and Boaz—a poor widow and a wealthy land owner. God brought them together. He made Boaz a redeemer and made Ruth the redeemed, and through them brought Jesus Christ for the whole world.

As we look at this blessing, I’m reminded of how important it is for us today to seek and to pray blessings on families, not just at wedding ceremonies but on young couples, on couples who are struggling in their marriage, and on their children.

I recently read a prayer by Charles Spurgeon that I thought fit so beautifully with this passage. He prayed,

Lord, make our children Thy children. Let Thy blessing flow on to future generations, and as long as any of our seed remains on earth, may they remain true to Thee. O, Lord God, let the house of Thy servant be blessed.

He prayed a blessing on children. Whether you or I are married or single, whether we have children or not, we have a responsibility and an obligation, as a part of the body of Christ, to the families that make up the rest of the body of Christ, to speak words of blessing and encouragement.

I heard a senior statesman, a man of God who’s been a pastor for many years, speak a few weeks ago. He talked about how in 30 years of pastoring in three different churches (and it’s almost difficult to believe today) that only one couple in all those churches that he pastored ever got divorced during his pastorate.

Of course, he gives credit to the grace of God, but he said as a man of God and a shepherd of that flock, he took so seriously this burden to see God bless marriages and families and the next generation that every time he saw a marriage threatened or shaky or in trouble in some way, it was like he went into a full court press to go and rescue that marriage, to do whatever he could—by demonstrating what it meant to have a godly, faithful marriage, but also by going after that couple in prayer and counseling and in all the efforts that could be mustered to see that marriage salvaged.

I was convicted, as I listened to him speak, about how many marriages are crumbling right around me. We get to the place where it’s not that it doesn’t bother us, but there’s so much of it that you almost feel like there’s nothing you can do.

Let me say that there are things we can do, and there are things we need to do. We need to be crying out to God, praying, and saying, “Lord, keep this couple faithful to their marriage vows.” We cannot just stand by and watch as these marriages fall apart. We have a sense of corporate responsibility.

I sat across the dinner table the other night from a couple who are dear friends of mine. I looked them in the eyes and said, “Tell me, how is your marriage doing? Are you being faithful? Are you walking with God and with each other?”

We need to not only witness the vows that we see in a wedding ceremony, but we need to say, “I’m praying for you. I’m committed to do whatever I can to encourage your marriage to make it.”

Now, let me not have us skip over something here. It’s a minor point in this context, but a major point for so many people in today’s culture.

Notice the sequence of events here ( verse 13): “Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife [first]. Then he went in to her [he was sexually intimate with her], and the Lord enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son.”

Now, it’s not assumed in our culture today, even within the Christian world, that that’s the order in which events should take place in marriage and in family. We see here just a reference to what is a bigger biblical principle, and that is, the physical, sexual union belongs within the context of marriage.

That’s where God blesses it. That’s where He has ordained it to take place, and anything apart from that sets us up for devastation and for consequences that are probably never intended but do, in fact, come to take place.

Marriage is that committed, loving, publicly known covenant relationship, and within those parameters, within those bounds, the physical relationship, the sexual relationship, becomes a precious thing—a gift from God and something God can bless.

I read recently a statistic by George Barna that indicates that 44% of American adults under the age of 35 have co-habited. They have lived together, but not as husband and wife. This is epidemic!

I’m finding even in the Christian world that there are many singles today who have not accepted and embraced God’s plan to wait until marriage, that that is what will be blessed.

Barna went on to say that those who do co-habit have a higher likelihood of experiencing one divorce during their lifetime. We won’t go into the reasons for all of that here, but God’s plan is right. God’s plan is best, and it’s God’s plan. When we function within God’s plan, then we are blessed.

Now, we see here that the Lord enabled her to conceive. Remember that for ten years she had been married to Mahlon in Moab, and she had never conceived during that time. We don’t know why, but we do know that the Lord enabled her to conceive once she was married to Boaz.

That says to me, and it’s a reminder, simply, that God is the one who gives life. He is the giver of life. He is the source of life. Life is a gift from His hand.

We see receiving that gift of God, the willingness to bear children. It may have been that stage of her life, she may not have been excited about taking on a child, but there is none of that indicated.

Rather, we see a willingness to receive the children that God would give to her. This is so important because a huge part of God’s redemptive plan, to take the gospel from one generation to the next, is dependent on God’s people having children.

Not only having children, but teaching their children the ways and the heart of God, and leading their children to faith in Christ so that those children will grow up to be spiritually mature disciples of Christ who will have their own children some day, and who will not only bear physical life but will bear spiritual life and will take the life of Christ to the world.

Just as a son born to Ruth was a gift of God in Ruth’s redemption, so Christ was the gift of God for the redemption of the world. We see here again a picture of what was to come when Christ was to come to earth.

Now, verse 14, “The women said to Naomi,” after this son was born to Ruth, the witnesses, the townswomen, said to Naomi, the grandmother of this little baby, “‘Praise be to the Lord, who this day has not left you without a kinsman-redeemer.’”

Remember, when Boaz redeemed Ruth and her situation, he was redeeming the whole family’s situation. So Boaz became, not Naomi’s husband but Naomi’s kinsman-redeemer. So the women say, “This day the Lord has not left you without a kinsman-redeemer.”

This woman who’d had such a hard life, who’d experienced so much grief and heartache and sorrow and loss, God is restoring her losses by means of a kinsman-redeemer. So the women say to Naomi, verses 14-15, “May he be famous throughout Israel! He will renew your life and sustain your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth.”

Not only was Boaz the redeemer, but, in a sense, this little child who was born of their union became a redeemer. He was the child who would grow up and take care of Naomi and Ruth in their old age.

He would be their provider, their rescuer, their kinsman, the one who would care for them. So Naomi receives a goel, as does Ruth: a redeemer.

And she has confidence that whatever losses she might experience down the road or in the future, there would always be, as this child grew up, a near kinsman to redeem and to care for her needs.

“He will sustain you in your old age,” they said. He will provide you with food. He’ll meet your needs.

I see this as a key to our spiritual restoration and to continuous revival: not just meeting Christ at one point in redemption and then never having any concept of how He redeems us for the rest of our lives; rather, we see that He is an ever-present Redeemer.

We sing that little chorus, “There is a Redeemer, Jesus, God’s own Son.” He is in the process of continuing to redeem us, to restore what we’ve lost, to overrule the losses that have been caused by sin.

His blood never loses its power. He is not only past tense our restorer and redeemer, but He is the constant restorer of our lives.

So as you and I look forward to aging—you say, “Look forward to aging?!”—you know, I do. The reason I do is because I know I have a Redeemer.

I know that as I get older in this earth, and then as I move to heaven, I will always have a restorer, even in my old age; one who will sustain, one who has promised to meet my needs. I do not have to worry about how I will be cared for because I know there’s a Redeemer who’s looking out for me, who’s taken me as His own possession, who has promised to meet all of my needs—spiritual, physical, emotional, relational. Every need that I have I know will be met through Christ, my Redeemer.

Well, verses 16-18: “Naomi took the child, laid him in her lap and cared for him. The women living there said, ‘Naomi has a son.’ And they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David. This, then, is the family line of Perez.”

Now, remember who Perez was. He was the son who was born as a result of the incestuous relationship of Tamar and her father-in-law, Judah.

So that’s where this line started, and you’ll see that it’s a line that moves from disgrace to grace. Isn’t that the way of God? Isn’t that the way of Christ, our Redeemer?

He takes our start in life—enemies of God, separated from God, sinners under the curse of the Law—and He says, “I can turn your disgrace to grace.”

This, then, is the family line of Perez:
Perez the father of Hezron,
Hezron the father of Ram,
Ram the father of Amminadab,
Amminadab the father of Nahshom,
Nahshom the father of Salmon,
Salmon the father of Boaz,
Boaz the father of Obed,
Obed the father of Jesse,
and Jesse the father of David.
( verses 18-22)

Now, that’s where the book of Ruth ends, but that’s not where the story ends, because you know that as this genealogy continues on is, in fact, where we started weeks ago by looking at Matthew chapter one where we see another genealogy.

Matthew takes us this far and then it takes us farther to say that from David ultimately came a greater Son, the Lord Jesus. Christ the Messiah was born as the result of this family line. The ultimate purpose of this family line was to draw attention to David and ultimately to David’s descendent, the Lord Jesus.

Can I say that the ultimate purpose of your family line and mine should be the same? Now, Christ will not be born literally out of our family line. He already came to earth once, and when He comes back, it will be not as a baby but as a conqueror to take over this world and rule forever and ever.

But there’s a sense in which my family line should have as its goal to lead people to Christ. My physical family line should have that as its goal, but also my spiritual line should have that as its goal.

I’m not married and will likely never have physical children, but I do have such a heart to have spiritual children, to win to Christ and disciple and nurture in His ways those who will win others who will disciple them and nurture them so that we can keep passing on from one generation to the next a line that’s always bringing people to Christ, always bringing Christ to that next generation.

What’s happening in your family line? Is it pointing people to Jesus? Are you living with the confidence that no matter what comes into your life you are secure, you are safe, because you know that you have the Redeemer who will, through your old age, be your nurturer, your restorer?

You will never be without a Redeemer if you are in Christ. Does that give you confidence? Does it make you want to say to Him, “Thank You, Lord Jesus, for taking my emptiness and making it full, for taking my loss and making it gain, for taking the ashes of my life and turning into something beautiful”?

Would you pray that God would give you a godly family line, physically and spiritually, that you would be a bearer and nurturer of life, bringing forth a new generation who would love God with all their heart, who would know Jesus and who would take Him to the next generation?

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss will be right back to pray. She’s in an in-depth study called Ruth: The Transforming Power of Redeeming Love.

If you missed any of the programs, I hope you’ll get a copy on CD. It’s a powerful story, and Nancy makes it come alive, explaining some of the background, describing passages that are hard to understand, and showing you how the story relates to your life.

You can order the CDs by visiting ReviveOurHearts.com. You can also order one MP3 CD of these messages.

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Does it ever seem like our world is worse than it’s ever been? It’s not necessarily true. For instance, Ruth lived in a very dark time. We’ll hear more about that tomorrow.

Now, let’s pray with Nancy.

Nancy: Thank You, Lord, for the greatness and grandness of Your purposes and for how personally You restore the losses that have been caused on occasion by our sin.

Thank You that You not only cared for Naomi, but You care for me, and You care for each woman in this room. You are always at work making provision through Jesus Christ to meet all of our needs.

May that line be continued and carried intact from generation to generation until the day that Jesus Christ comes back to claim us for Himself. I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the New International Version.

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