This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham… Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar… Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of King David. (Matthew 1:1,3,5,6)
Do you usually skip reading the genealogy of Jesus? So do many other people when they read the Bible. In fact, some Bible translators have even been known to omit this section when attempting to translate its contents into a little known language! So why study it? It was while recently meditating on the life of Ruth, who features in Jesus’s genealogy, that I understood why.
Ruth’s story takes place around 1100BC during the time of the Judges. She was a Moabite, but who exactly were the Moabites? They were the descendants of Moab who, we discover in Genesis 19, was born to Lot as a result of an act of incest with his elder daughter. Hundreds of years later, when the people of Israel were journeying through the wilderness, Numbers 25:1-3 tells us of how the Moabites led them into sexual immorality:
“While the Israelites were camped at Acacia Grove, some of the men defiled themselves by having sexual relations with local Moabite women. These women invited them to attend sacrifices to their gods, so the Israelites feasted with them and worshiped the gods of Moab. In this way, Israel joined in the worship of Baal of Peor, causing the Lord’s anger to blaze against his people.”
The pagan Moabites were Israel’s enemy, but despite Ruth’s pagan background, she willingly turned her back on her Moabite heritage and it’s god. Having married the son of Naomi, an Israelite refugee, she has a choice to make when Naomi returns to Israel following the death of her sons. Ruth, in response to Naomi’s exhortation to stay with her own people replies (Ruth 1:16):
“Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried.”
Through right choices that she made, Ruth is described as “virtuous woman” (Ruth 3:11).
So, what were the consequences of her righteous choices?
1. The God of Israel did not simply cleanse Ruth of her family history but he went much further and gave her a key role in God’s plan of salvation. Ruth became the great grandmother of King David, arguably the most influential of all Israel’s kings. David’s line was chosen by God to bring forth the Messiah. Ruth died without realising the part that she would play in history. She had lived a life of faithfulness to God for love and not for glory.
2. She also died never knowing the impact her life would have for thousands of years on those who heard/read her story. Throughout the centuries, many have been inspired by Ruth’s reckless faith, and her total commitment to a God she possibly knew little about.
Ruth separated herself from her family and her origins not just physically but also spiritually. She did not hanker after her old life; once Ruth had made her commitment, there was no going back. Today, just as in Ruth’s time, God is looking for those whose lives are lived in joyful abandonment to him. He wants those who will close all doors to a sinful past and follow him willingly and faithfully. You may never know all the positive consequences of your choices, but you will die with peace knowing that you have faithfully served the God of all creation, our great Redeemer.
“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”
Corrie Ten Boom
“It is finished” (John 19:30)
Of all the words that we read in The Bible, by far my favourite are these three small words, ‘It is finished”. As Jesus breathed his last human breath as mankind’s Saviour, these, His last words, were heard not just heard on Calvary’s hill; they rang through the courthouse of heaven, they resounded in the caverns of hell. The consequences of these words have impacted both time and eternity for countless millions, probably billions, down through the millennia and will impact countless more until Christ returns.
As that last triumphant cry broke from the lips of the Savior, a number of remarkable events took place. These included:
In his book, The Six Miracles of Calvary, Willian R Nicholson takes a deeper look at these four miracles that occurred in the moments after Jesus cried out those triumphant words. Here are some of his thoughts regarding the torn veil:
1. Nicholson reminds his readers that the reason for the existence for the veil was because of man’s sin. No human being could approach God’s holy presence without the prescribed shedding of blood. The veil was an obstruction between man and God. But now, as the last triumphant cry of Christ was heard, it heralded that “sin, the real obstruction, was taken out of the way.” What a glorious moment in the history of mankind!
2. The author also pointed out that, despite what people may suggest, the tearing of the veil could not have been a result of the earthquake. If that was the case, the Temple itself and other articles in it would have been damaged. The only damage we read of, was to the veil. It happened at precisely the moment the final cry of victory rang out from Calvary.
3. He also pointed out the relevance of the time that Jesus died. He said, “The timeliness of it was one of its most wonderful features. Jesus Christ expired at three o’clock in the afternoon. This was the time of beginning the evening sacrifice, so that the priests were in the Holy Place, in front of the veil, actually engaged in their duties. “Yes, God meant it to be seen and meant it to be thought of.”
And “thought of” it must have been. Picture the priests who witnessed the event. Terror must have seized them as the 60 foot veil, said to be a hand breadth thick, tore from top to bottom, revealing the holy of holies to eyes other than that of the High Priest.
We can imagine the wonder, awe and fear with which they spoke of this amongst themselves and described these events to other priests. Nothing like this had been seen or of heard of before. So, it it not surprising that, not long after this, we read in Acts 6:7,
“So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.” We can’t help wonder if many of these “became obedient” as a result of the rending of the veil.
How wonderful was that miracle in all that it reveals to us. I can’t help remembering words of the hymn penned by William R. Newell;
Oh, the love that drew salvation’s plan!
Oh, the grace that brought it down to man!
Oh, the mighty gulf that God did span at Calvary
Copyright © 2014 Struthers Memorial Church All rights reserved
Struthers Memorial Church is a registered Scottish Charity No. SC 006960 | Struthers Memorial Church is a company limited by guarantee incorporated in Scotland Company No SC335480 | Registered Office: 33 West Stewart Street, Greenock, PA15 1SH.