Count it all Joy

“Do not call me Naomi (pleasant); call me Mara (bitter), for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me.” Ruth 1:20

This lament came from Naomi soon after she had said to her daughters-in-law, “the hand of the Lord has gone out against me” (v 13). Naomi understood that her husband should not have taken her and their sons out of the Promised Land and neither should he have permitted his sons to marry Gentile women. Her husband and both her sons had now died so she had no one to provide for her. She interpreted this to mean that the Lord was punishing her.

When trials come our way we may think that they are because we have offended God in some way but that is an unbiblical way of viewing our walk with Jesus. We are not told why or under what circumstances Naomi’s husband and sons died. People do die for a multitude of reasons but it would be wrong to believe that any death was for a specific reason unless God makes it clear that such is the case.

Naomi could not see at that time that her bereavement was preparation for, and would lead to, a most wonderful blessing. She wrongly believed that the Lord was against her and was punishing her. How wrong we are when we make the same error. The very trial we are experiencing today may be preparation for the outpouring of a blessing tomorrow. Many have found it so.

Read the book of Ruth through and ponder on the blessings that came Naomi’s way. She received a most loyal daughter-in-law who abandoned her gods for the one true God. Through Ruth’s marriage to Boaz, all the lands of Naomi’s husband were returned and his heritage restored. She was now provided for all her days. A further blessing was that her heritage included the lineage to Israel’s Kings David and Solomon. Further down that family line came Israel’s Messiah, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29) who is Jesus Christ the Lord.

Naomi would not have known all this at the time but even just seeing her husband’s lands and heritage restored opened her eyes to see that the Lord was not angry or bitter toward her (2:20). The leading people of the town blessed her without realising the extent to which it would be fulfilled (4:11-12). The women also blessed Naomi without knowing the wonderful way that too would be fulfilled.

Because she wrongly interpreted her trial Naomi thought the Lord was punishing her when all along he was preparing the way for wonderful blessing. Surely this is at least part of the reason that James wrote, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces perseverance” (James 1:2-3).

The trial you are enduring today may be preparation for blessing tomorrow.

A Mother Most Blessed

“Then the women said to Naomi, ‘Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without a close relative; and may his name be famous in Israel’” (Ruth 4:14)

The story of Ruth is that of a kinsman redeemer and the word translated “close relative” means one that is able to redeem an inheritance in the covenant promise of God. This is what Boaz did for Ruth.

When we pray we do not know how or when the Lord will answer. In the verse above the women of Bethlehem expressed their heartfelt desire that Naomi’s grandson (Ruth and Boaz’s son) would be famous in Israel. They could never have dreamed how that prayer would be answered. This child, Obed, Naomi’s grandson, became the grandfather of King David and generations later his descendants were Joseph and Mary. Mary was the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ.

How did this come about since Naomi had left the land of Israel and Ruth was a Moabite? The Moabites were descendants of Lot, Abraham’s nephew. Lot preferred the worldly things to godly things but about 500 years later Ruth reversed that.

Ruth had married a son of Naomi while Naomi was in the land of Moab. In the ten years of that marriage she had no children but she grew to love Naomi and the Lord, Naomi’s God. She refused to leave either Naomi or the Lord and returned to Israel with Naomi. There she met a ‘close relative’ (kinsman redeemer) named Boaz whom she married in accordance with the Law. Their marriage soon produced a son, Obed, who would receive the inheritance that came through his grandfather, Elimelech, Naomi’s husband.

The history of the people in the book of Ruth encapsulates the plan of redemption that God has for mankind and the earth and explains why God took on humanity. God had given Adam dominion over the earth but he surrendered it, including mankind, to Satan. The story of the Bible is God’s plan to redeem and restore the earth and man to His intended place.

By way of the cross the price of redemption was met. The eternal Son of God who is also the Son of Man in One Person shed His own blood that we might be redeemed. Being both God and man Jesus is the ultimate Kinsman Redeemer.

The women who blessed Naomi had no idea of the magnitude of the Lord’s response to their prayer. We should never underestimate the Lord’s response to our prayer either.