Such is the nature of the Scriptures . . . that they can be a “quick meal” in the morning to fire up one’s “spiritual metabolism” for the day or, they can be a feast of such sustenance that they can be consumed and chewed on over hours and hours of instruction, exploration, and meditation. Such is the case with the book of Ruth.
The book of Ruth as been part of my “morning meal” for two days now . . . two short readings yesterday and today, amidst three other readings as part of my reading plan. Reading Ruth, but for just a few minutes, has again captured my imagination and provided a glimpse into the sovereign workings of God. But my daughter has been studying Ruth for weeks now as part of her course work at university. This past Saturday we sat at the table and, with contagious enthusiasm, she poured out just a small sampling of what she’s been discovering as her professor plumbs the depths of this short love story with her and her class. Talk about drinking out of a fire hose!
And so, I know that what has caught my attention this morning, is but a scratch on the surface of all that is contained in this portion of Holy Writ . . . and that it is of such an elementary nature when compared to what’s been going down in my daughter’s class. But again, such is the Word of God, even as a “taste test” it nourishes the soul. And this morning it reminded me of God’s scandalous grace.
Love that term . . . not my term . . . encountered it in the notes of my Bible. Not my term . . . oh, but my reality.
As part of Boaz redeeming Ruth and taking her to be his wife, he calls upon those gathered at the gate of the city to be his witnesses. And after expressing his intentions, the witnesses respond:
Then all the people who were at the gate and the elders said, “We are witnesses. May the LORD make the woman, who is coming into your house, like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the house of Israel. May you act worthily in Ephrathah and be renowned in Bethlehem, and may your house be like the house of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah, because of the offspring that the LORD will give you by this young woman.” (Ruth 4:11-12 ESV)
Tamar! That’s the name that seemed out of place in this idyllic love story. You read her name and the sordid details of Judah impregnating his widowed daughter-in-law, as she disguised herself and sold herself to him as a harlot, comes to mind (Genesis 38). But from that “one night stand” were born twins . . . one of those being Perez . . . through whose lineage was born Ruth’s kinsman-redeemer, Boaz.
At first her name seems out of place . . . but then you realize how appropriate her mention is here. Tamar knew scandalous grace and, through the son she bore, it begat more scandalous grace. Eventually in the line would be born Salmon . . . who would marry not a “one night” harlot, but a career prostitute, Rahab (Matt. 1:5), who, by faith, hid the spies that she might be associated with God’s covenant people (Heb. 11:31). And of Salmon and Rahab was born Boaz . . . the one who would redeem a Moabite woman . . . a woman of a nation historically at enmity with God’s people . . . a woman who, by faith, desired the God of Israel as her God . . . and God’s people as her people.
And then, of Boaz and Ruth would be born Jesse . . . and of Jesse, David . . . and through the kingly line of David, and by the sovereign determination of God, and according to the eternal promises of Him who so loved the world, God determined to provide the greatest of all redemptions through another Redeemer, Jesus the Christ.
That’s the nature of grace . . . calling the foreigner into the family . . . wooing the sinner towards the sanctuary . . . drawing enemies into eternity . . . sending a Redeemer to pay the price for our sin, inviting us to be counted among the righteous of God, through the finished work of the cross.
O praise God for scandalous grace!