Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Restoration

Leslie Basham: Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: You may be one of a very small minority in your workplace or in your home. You may be the only committed believer in your family. You may be one of a few in your church who really has a burden to walk with God and to obey God. But God uses that faithful remnant.

Leslie: It’s Wednesday, July 18, and this is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Imagine losing everything. Naomi experienced that kind of loss, being left as a widow with nothing except her daughter-in-law Ruth. Nancy’s going to review all the important things we’ve learned from this widow’s story, including her happy ending. It’s a wrap-up to a series called Ruth: The Transforming Power of Redeeming Love.

Nancy: What a wonderful journey we’ve been on over these last several weeks with a woman who is one of my favorite characters in all of God’s Word. You remember her as Ruth. We’ve been looking at her life and that of Naomi and how God redeemed them out of their desperate situation. This story does have such rich meaning as we focus on our relationship with the Lord and what it illustrates about Christ as our Redeemer.

This is one of the most important doctrines in all of God’s Word. It’s the theme that we see that runs through the Old Testament. Then it is expanded and developed in the New Testament—as Christ our Redeemer comes to save us from our sin—through several passages of Scripture that open up our understanding of what it means to have Christ as our Redeemer.

If you’ve not been with us for these past several weeks, let me just in a couple of sentences bring you up to speed. The story of Ruth in the Old Testament is a story of redemption. We see a poverty-stricken widow whose name is Ruth. She and her mother-in-law, Naomi, have no hope for a future, provision, or protection apart from the provision of what the Old Testament calls a kinsman-redeemer.

The kinsman-redeemer was a man who would redeem a needy relative and would buy back the family lands in the event of their having to be sold because of poverty. He would even marry a widow so that with that widow he could raise up a seed for her husband so the family name would be continued for generations to come.

We’ve said that in Ruth there’s a picture of ourselves. As she was this poor, needy widow, so the Scripture says that apart from Christ we were poverty-stricken. We were enslaved to our sin, to the law, to Satan. We had no hope, no future, apart from the entrance of a redeemer into our lives. And in Boaz we see a picture of Christ our Redeemer.

I want us to see today that redemption is not something that just is a past-tense privilege that we have as believers. We say, “Oh, yes, I was redeemed 25 years ago when I trusted Christ as my Savior.” There is a past-tense sense to redemption, but there’s also a very present-tense sense to our redemption—a sense in which we are being redeemed daily as we come under the covering of our Kinsman-Redeemer, and we allow Him to take our situation as His own.

Then we’ll see that there’s also a future-tense aspect to our redemption: It’s not been completed yet. I want us to look at several Scriptures that describe for us what it is that we’ve been redeemed from and what it means to be redeemed from those things.

By way of background, let me read a paragraph from a book by Larry Richards that has been helpful to me. He’s talking about the Old Testament doctrine of redemption, and he reminds us that each time the word for redemption appears in the Old Testament, it is cast against the backdrop of helplessness.

He said, “Each one finds human beings captured, held captive by the power of forces they cannot overcome. Redemption in the Old Testament involves someone who is in bondage or danger. And only by the intervention of a third party can bondage be broken and the person be freed.”

That’s a really helpful summary to me of this whole matter of redemption. It references, first, our condition: the fact that we were helpless; that we were in poverty, spiritually speaking; and that we were in slavery. The Scripture teaches us that there is no situation so helpless that God cannot redeem it. As Corrie ten Boom used to say, "There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still."

But we will never experience the fullness and the wonder of what we already have in redemption until we realize how hopeless and desperate our condition was apart from Christ. So not only is there is a helpless condition, but there is also what Larry Richards calls the “intervention of a third party;” the intervention of a rescuer, a goel, a redeemer.

He comes to set us free. He sees our plight, and He initiates redemption. He offers His grace, His provision, His protection, and His love.

Larry Richards goes on in this piece to remind us that redemption is a family matter. It’s an expression of the deepest possible relationship. It is never a stranger who has the right to come to the aid of a person who is owned by another or burdened with an unpayable debt. Only the near kinsman with the resources to rescue is able to act.

We’re reminded that God is a God with a family heart. He’s a God who comes close to us and says, “I want to be your nearest relative. I want to be related to you.” Then he takes the steps to become related to us, to make us His own. So there’s this intervention that is undeserved. It’s costly. It’s all of love. It’s all of grace. It’s all of His mercy.

And then there’s the transaction. Boaz and the other kinsman who had a prior right exchanged a shoe symbolizing the transfer of the property, transfer of ownership. We recall that verse in 1 Corinthians 6 where Paul says, “You are not your own; you were bought at a price” (verses 19-20). There’s been a transaction. Jesus has paid the purchase price and then has transacted to make us His own.

Now, when He purchases us, what is it that He redeems us from? I want to read several verses from the Scripture that talk about what it is that we’ve been redeemed from. I think this will make our redemption even more precious to us.

Galatians 4:4-5 tells us that “God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.” He redeemed us from the bondage of the law.

And then He redeemed us from the curse of the law. Galatians chapter three, verse 13: “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree.’).”

You and I, as lawbreakers, were rightly under the curse—the damnation, the condemnation of the law. God would have been just to make us pay that price. But Jesus Christ, our Kinsman-Redeemer, came to this earth. He took on Himself the curse of the law. He redeemed us from the curse of the law.

Romans chapter six tells us that He redeemed us from the power of sin. Romans 6:18: “Having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.” Now, notice there we were redeemed from slavery to one thing so that we could be slaves to something else. Every person is a slave. It’s just a question of who your master is.

Paul is saying here in Romans six that every one of us was a slave to sin. We were owned by sin. We could not be free from sin. It had a claim over us. But he says that Jesus Christ came to redeem us from sin, to set us free from the power of sin, so that we could become slaves to righteousness.

Psalm 49 tells us that Christ came to redeem us from the power of the grave and death. Psalm 49:15: “But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave, for He shall receive me.” You see, death has been conquered, and we’ve been redeemed, rescued, delivered from the power of death.

And then Psalm 25:22 says that God redeems Israel out of all their troubles. When you get discouraged and when it feels like your whole world is troubles pressing in on you, remember that God is in the process of rescuing and delivering you out of all your troubles. The day will come when you will be totally free from all those troubles. That ought to give your heart hope and courage.

Psalm 130:8 tells us that He redeems us from all our iniquities. He redeems us from all our sins. That’s part of the redemption. And then Titus 2:14 says that Christ “gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.”

Galatians chapter one tells us that Christ “gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver”—or redeem—“us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father” (verse 4).

There are days when you wake up and you look around at what’s going on, and you feel like this age is so evil. We’re so much a part of this system, and it feels like it’s inescapable—like you just can’t get away from it. But there is a very true sense in which God has in fact redeemed us from this present evil age.

First Peter chapter one tells us that “you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct”—our vain way of life—“received by tradition from your fathers” (verse 18).

I think part of what it’s saying here is that Christ has redeemed us from Christ-less religion—from religion without Christ—which is vain; it’s empty; it’s aimless. He’s delivered us from that kind of religion.

And then Psalm 103:4. I love this verse. It says, “[He] redeems your life from destruction, [He] crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies.”

When was the last time you stopped to think about the fact that, if you’re a child of God, your life has been redeemed from destruction? Destruction was your lot. It was your fate. You had no choice but to live a life of destruction until Jesus Christ—your Boaz, your Kinsman-Redeemer—came along. He has redeemed your life from destruction.

Then we see in Romans chapter eight that the day is coming when the redemption of our bodies will be complete (verse 23). We’ll shed this old, outer body and get away from the presence of sin, from the presence of evil—from the presence of this evil world—and be eternally glorified, redeemed to enjoy life in communion with our Redeemer for all of eternity.

So as you look at your past, as you look at your present, and as you look at your future, how could you have anything but hope as you realize that you have been redeemed; you are being redeemed, and you will be fully, eternally redeemed?

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss will be right back with more reflections on the happy ending that closes the book of Ruth. If you have the kind of hopeful, secure future that Ruth describes, would you share that good news with other women?

Share the book of Ruth using Nancy’s teaching on DVD in a small group. We’ve also put together a study guide to help facilitate discussion and lead you into discovering insights for yourself.

When you order five or more study guides, we’ll send you the DVDs at no charge. Or you can order each separately at ReviveOurHearts.com. If you prefer, dial toll-free 1-800-569-5959.

Let’s get back to Nancy’s teaching.

Nancy: When I think about the book of Ruth, there are several themes that stand out in my mind. These are the things that are memorable to me. One of the things that is so obvious to me through this book is that even in the darkest times, God always has what the Scripture calls a remnant.

A remnant is a group of faithful believers who hold tightly to God regardless of what everyone else around them does. We saw that the book of Ruth was written in the days of the judges. These were the dark ages of Israel’s history, the days when everyone was doing what was right in their own eyes, when the nation of Israel had become assimilated into the pagan culture around them.

It was a day of apostasy, widespread rebellion, and backsliding. But in the midst of that very dark period, God had a remnant—a faithful few who clung to God and were His instruments of revival in that day and age. God always has those who stay faithful to Him.

It says to me that you may be one of a very small minority in your workplace or in your home. You may be the only committed believer in your family. You may be one of a few in your church who really has a burden to walk with God and to obey God. But God uses that faithful remnant. You can be an instrument—even as Ruth was—of God’s fulfilling His plan and His purposes, even as He did in that very dark era.

It says to me that your life matters. Imagine where we’d be today if it hadn’t been for Ruth and for Boaz and for their obedience to the plan of God. God used their faithfulness as a means of bringing to the world, ultimately, a Messiah, a Savior, a Redeemer.

I’m so glad that this couple was faithful to Him. It says that my faithfulness to God matters today. God always has a remnant, and God always has a plan. Even in the darkest times, God’s plan is never thwarted.

Now, you look around you today, and it may seem as if the world is winning against God. On many fronts that may be so, but only for the immediate moment. The fact is that God always has a plan, and He’s always fulfilling His plan. No matter what kings and rulers and nations and unsaved people and backslidden people are doing against God, God is always fulfilling His plan.

He’s always at work in a sovereign, providential way to bring His purposes to pass. There are so many incidents and little details throughout the book of Ruth that we’ve seen over these last weeks where, from a human standpoint, it seems to be happenstance, just chance.

How did Ruth just happen to end up in that field of Boaz? She didn’t know that he was her kinsman-redeemer, that he was the one who was going to rescue her and her mother-in-law from their situation. But God knew.

It says to me that even in the apparent chance events of our lives, God is sovereign. Providence is always at work. You’ve heard me say it before; you’ll hear me say it again: I love living under divine Providence.

And then I see in this book a picture—a portrait—of a virtuous woman. There are so many qualities of virtue that we see in this woman. As you go through the book and as you reread the book in the days ahead, I hope you’ll be reminded of the fact that this is a woman of faith. She’s a woman of surrender. She’s a humble woman. She’s a grateful woman. She’s a pure woman. She has a pure heart.

There’s a simplicity to her love for God and her obedience to God that I envy. I can make the Christian life so complicated sometimes. But here’s a woman who just didn’t know any better than to follow God, to obey Him, to take steps of faith even when she didn’t know where they would lead.

This story also says to me that though steps of faith and obedience are really important—even the little ones that don’t seem so significant to us—it may be that very little step of obedience and the thing you think doesn’t really matter that God ultimately uses to fulfill His purposes for your family and for the next generation to come.

I see in this virtuous woman a woman who understood the meaning of real love. Now, that word is not used in the book of Ruth as far as I can recall, but you see a truly loving daughter-in-law who honored her widowed, bitter mother-in-law and was willing to care for her—willing to lay down her own agenda to meet the needs of and to be responsible for this older mother-in-law.

But in Ruth’s love—in her serving, giving heart—we see the power that love has to heal and to restore. I look at this woman and I think that it must have been very hard for her not only to leave her home in Moab, but then to go and live for years and care for this woman who I think wasn’t probably very easy to live with.

But God blessed her for it. As a result of Ruth’s surrender and her love, look at what happened to Naomi. Naomi was healed. Naomi was restored. She starts out empty, but she ends up full and blessed. I wonder how many people there are in my life that I’m reacting to rather than being willing to serve and to love and to let God use me as an instrument of blessing and hope and healing in their lives.

It may be a husband. It may be a parent. It may be an in-law. It may be a boss or someone who is just difficult to live with. I want to tell you that love conquers everything. Now, that doesn’t mean if you are a loving woman, your life will be easy in all those relationships. But ultimately, God’s love for usand then God’s love flowing through us to others has incredible power to heal and to restore broken, frustrated lives. We see that in the story of Ruth.

Then we see also that your family background, no matter what it is, and your past do not have to be limitations on how God can use you. When you look back to the family line, the family tree, of Ruth and of Boaz, both of their family lines started out with an incestuous relationship.

I don’t think that your family line probably has a lot worse than what they had in theirs. But God is able to redeem and to overcome even those most wicked, corrupt pasts and to bring out of them something of beauty and something of virtue and wonder.

Finally, we see the picture in this story of Christ and His redemption. The passage that comes to my mind that really summarizes what God is talking about throughout the story of Ruth is from Ephesians chapter two.

We read, “Remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth . . . were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. . . . Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household” (verses 11-13, 19, NIV).

Ruth was born a foreigner, an alien from Israel and from the God of Israel. The sovereign grace of God drew up a plan whereby she could not only be accepted into God’s family, but she could actually become a part, an integral part, of God’s eternal redemptive plan to bring salvation to the world.

Through the redemption of Christ, you and I—who were outcasts, outsiders, and had no right or hope of ever being a part of God’s family—through Christ, we can be not only a part of His family tree, but we can have a part in making Christ known to our world. We can be useful, fruitful parts of His redemptive plan.

Leslie: The book of Ruth is so encouraging. It gives so much assurance and hope about the future. Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been reflecting on the book of Ruth as we wrap up an in-depth study called Ruth: The Transforming Power of Redeeming Love.

If you missed any of the programs, they’re waiting for you on CD. Just call to order the series. The number is 1-800-569-5959. If you’d rather have an MP3 CD, you can order that way as well. You can also order at ReviveOurHearts.com.

The study of Ruth has been brought to you by listeners all across the country who believe in Revive Our Hearts and donate to keep it on the air. When you join this important group and make a donation today, we’ll say thanks by sending you a book called TV: The Great Escape. It’s by Bob DeMoss, and it will explain the “whys” and “hows” of taking a fast from TV. It could be one of the most exciting adventures your family has had in a while—spending more time together, learning new things, reading, and doing activities.

August has been dubbed “Turn off the TV Month,” and this book will help you know how to participate. We’ll send it to you when you make a donation of any amount. Along with the book, we’ll send a removable TV cling. It’s like a big window decal that you can put on the screen to make sure you don’t accidentally watch.

You can see a picture of it on our website. That’s also where you’ll get great ideas and alternatives to TV for you and your family. That web address is also where you can donate. That’s ReviveOurHearts.com, or ask for the book and TV clings when you call 1-800-569-5959.

Tomorrow, hear about a treasure one man has discovered. He wants to share it with you. Nancy’s back to pray.

Nancy: Father, what an incredible privilege it is to have been redeemed by the Lord Jesus. Thank You for giving us this story. It’s a true story, and thank You for the ways that You’re making it our story.

Lord, I pray that we as women might have the heart of this woman Ruth—that You would work by Your Spirit, through Your Providence, and through circumstances of life to mold and to shape and remake us until we are conformed to the image of Christ.

I pray that our lives might bring You glory in this dark and foolish age in which we live. That the light of Your gospel might shine brightly through us, that You would be glorified, and that Your kingdom would be advanced. We pray it for Jesus’ sake, amen.

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

All Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version unless otherwise noted.

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