Family, Love or Blood?
Open our Bible Study with Prayer
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for making me a woman! Being a woman comes with so many challenges. I acknowledge that I cannot do it alone, so I ask for Your divine strength and wisdom to scale through this life. Help me to be a source of strength to my fellow sisters whether they are connected to me by blood or love. May the things that we learn today help us to continue being women that bring glory to your holy name. We ask this In Jesus’ name. Amen
This month’s bible study on Mothers and Daughters, asks us to look at what makes a family. Is it love or blood? The word adoption is very important in my family. Both of my children are adopted, and so are my niece and nephew; and I could not love these four children more if they were biologically related to me. Shannon Bream told us, “Again and again in Scripture, we see examples of “found families.” Adoption is a theme God beautifully illustrates for us repeatedly in the Bible, leading up to the adoption of Christians as sons and daughters of God.” With this in mind she would like us to consider these 5 questions as they relate to Ruth and Naomi as well as us.
Ruth and Naomi:
The story of Ruth and Naomi is one of my favorites in the Old Testament. It is full of love and blood and promises. Although Ruth and Naomi are not related by blood, they are related by love. First, the love of husband and wife. When Ruth married Naomi’s son, she became a daughter in their family. But when Ruth went with Naomi even after her husband had died, “Your people will be my people and your God my God.” (Ruth 1:16) she proved that love could connect them more than blood. Our first question Shannon proposes to us is:
1. What does the Bible tell us about the beauty of adoption both in Ruth and Naomi’s story and in the New Testament language about Christian believers’ adoption into the family of God?
Read: John 1:12-13, 2 Corinthians 6:18, Romans 8:15
Think about last times Bible study on Jochebed and Miriam, how God made plans to have Moses adopted into the family of the Pharaoh. This put him in the right place at the right time to fulfill God’s promise to send a savior to the Israelite people. The same thing occurred when, out of love, Ruth stayed with Naomi. God used this love to fulfill His promise to David that one of his ancestors would rule on the throne of his kingdom forever. Jesus is David’s promised ancestor, and a direct descendent from Ruth. This adopted son of Joseph made it possible for us to be welcomed into the family of God.
In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he tells us God “has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing.” (Eph. 1:3) Among the blessings God gives us through Christ is the blessing of adoption. We have been brought into God’s family and made God’s children. As far as our status is concerned, we are no longer “strangers and aliens” to the people of God but “members of the household of God” (Eph. 2:19) Jesus is our brother, and because of His sacrifice in our place, we are equal in God’s sight. Paul, making the reason clear, says “so that we might receive the adoption as sons.” (Galatians 4:5)
I am so grateful to be adopted into God’s family; and you should be too. When we adopted our children, they had nothing, and no hope of fixing their situation themselves. You could say they were stuck in poverty. But the court told us that by law they were now the legitimate heirs to our estate and my people are their people. As Christians, we have been pulled out of spiritual poverty and made heirs. We are given the riches of God’s Kingdom as God adopts us and makes us His children. If you are a believer, you have been rescued from poverty (sin) and adopted by God through the finished work of Christ. The blood of Christ has taken away the offense of your sin. You have been given a righteousness that is not your own but was earned by Jesus. And this was not something you could do for yourself.
2. How much of a sacrifice and commitment was Ruth making to Naomi in the well-known words she spoke in Ruth 1:16-18? Why do you think these words are so often used in marriage ceremonies today? How did Ruth’s actions also demonstrate her devotion?
Read: 1 Corinthians 7:10-11, John 15:13, Mark 10:45
Ruth made a tremendous sacrifice for Naomi, when she made the statement, “Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” Ruth did not know what would become of her life if she stayed with Naomi, but one possibility was death. Two women traveling alone on the road with no financial support or protection was a perilous endeavor. Even when they arrived back in Naomi’s hometown, there was no guarantee Naomi’s people would accept Ruth. She most likely would have been treated as an outsider for the reminder of her life. Also, with this decision, Ruth had most likely given away any hope she may have had of ever finding a new husband or bearing children. What a demonstration of love.
Shannon asked us why we think the words that Ruth said to Naomi are used in marriage ceremonies? Marriage is a giving away of selfish things, putting the needs of the other in front of our own. We even promise to make their family our family, and to go where they go, and be together until death we part. This is as close as we can get to demonstrate the devotion that God shows us. All of this points to a sacrificial spirit. The kind of sacrifice our Lord Jesus made for us. He left His wonderful home in heaven to be treated as an outcast, striped of all dignity and gave His life in love and service for a people who didn’t deserve it.
3. Ruth modeled great humility. How does God honor that in her story, and how can He use it in our lives?
Read: James 4:10, Colossians 3:12, Proverbs 12:15
The words of advice that Naomi gives Ruth about how to prepare and conduct herself in approaching Boaz on the threshing floor, sounds a little like temptation. “Wash, put on perfume, and get dressed in your best clothes. Then go down to the threshing floor, but don’t let him know you are there until he has finished eating and drinking.” (Ruth 3:3) “When he lies down, note the place where he is lying. Then go and uncover his feet and lie down. He will tell you what to do.” (Ruth 3:4) But she wasn’t to tempt him but do these things as a sign that she was willing to be his wife, if he would have her. Also, it was a sign of respect. In 2 Samuel 12:20, when David was done mourning his son’s death, he did this “Then David got up from the ground, washed and anointed himself, changed his clothes, and went into the house of the LORD and worshiped.”
So, Naomi had Ruth clean herself, put on anointment, nice clothing, and then lied at Boaz’s feet in worship. All of this is a sign of humility and a willingness to be a servant. And not just a servant, but a servant-wife. Ruth was meek in her request. And Boaz was moved, and he took her to be his wife. She wasn’t loud or showy. She left him room to decline her offer. That is how we should approach God when we are making a request. Our Lord commands us to humble ourselves before Him. He knows the condition of our hearts, not just in front of others, but also in the sight of our enemies. In the end, those who humble themselves will be lifted, because they are the ones who think less of themselves. They are the ones who do God’s will no matter the earthly cost. In order to grow spiritually, we need to humble ourselves so we can heed God’s instruction and correction.
4. What sacrifice did Boaz make in taking Ruth to be his wife and in the birth of their son, Obed? Where is Obed in the Lineage of Christ?
Read: Deuteronomy 25:5-6, Matthew 1:20, Romans 3:29
Although this Bible story seems like a tale of two women, it really should be called a story about sons. And how those men played a part in our salvation. A tremendous amount of sacrifice has gone into making sure that we get to have not only our sins forgiven but that we (Gentiles) will be welcome in the presence of the Lord.
This process began with Boaz. When he took on not only the debt to buy back the land that Naomi’s husband sold but took on the debt of continuing the line of Mahlon’s name. The nearer Kinsman was not prepared to do everything required to purchase the land. Because if he redeemed the property on these terms, it would mar his own inheritance. But Boaz, in great humility and honor, knowing that he could lose his inheritance and legacy, did the self-sacrificial act of buying the field and marrying Ruth. He would know that his son would become Naomi’s son and get his inheritance from Mahlon. But he did it anyway.
Their son Obed is a significant part of biblical history because Obed’s son Jesse became the father of King David. Obed’s name is mentioned only in four genealogies, in Ruth, 1 Chronicles, Matthew, and Luke. We know nothing about the life of Obed other than his conception was directly ordained by the Lord: “The Lord enabled [Ruth] to conceive, and she gave birth to a son” (Ruth 4:13) Obed’s birth caused great joy in Bethlehem; and he became the grandfather of a king. Obed’s name is forever linked with the promised Messiah of Israel.
Now, let’s think about Joseph happily engaged to Mary, a pure Jewish girl. And wham, she says “Oh by the way, I had a visit from an angel today and he said I am going to have our Lord’s child.” Can you imagine his thoughts? He was within his rights to publicly humiliate her, but instead he was just going to quietly break up with her. We know that after a vision, he sacrificed his standing in the world to marry that pregnant girl. To take on the responsibility of loving and raising of a son that was not his. This son who would come to save His people, and Gentiles alike. They lived out Ruth’s promise to Naomi of sacrifice and commitment. God the Father used these two dads’ and their adopted sons, so that we could be adopted into the family of God. It also shows us how He orchestrates every part of our lives to bring us closer to Him and to accomplish His will, and our part is simply to recognize His hand moving and to praise Him for it all.
5. What can we learn from the commitment Ruth and Naomi made to each other and how we, as Christian women, can develop spiritual motherhood and daughterhood in our lives? Is there someone in your life you could develop this kind of relationship with?
Read Titus 2:3-5, Proverbs 27:9, Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
Christian friendships are one of the greatest blessings of God. Someone wrote: “When we consider the blessings of God — the gifts that add beauty and joy to our lives, that enable us to keep going through stretches of boredom and even suffering — friendship is very near the top.”
Friends are very important in our lives, and we should choose them wisely. We should associate ourselves with people of good quality. Surrounding ourselves with people who will lift us up. The Bible says that the righteous choose their friends carefully. It also tells us that “Bad company ruins good morals.” The relationship between Ruth and Naomi was a friendship born from love and understanding. An understanding Naomi knew came directly from our Lord. It follows God’s command for older women to mentor and teach younger women the ways of the Lord when she instructed Ruth in the ways of her people. We should seek women who can encourage and equip us to live for God’s glory, even as we seek to disciple other women in biblical womanhood. I have been very fortunate to have two wonderful women who mentor me, Betty Strauss and Wendy Hollyfield. They support me in my walk as a Christian woman and a pastor's wife. This may be the first time you have ever thought about your role as a Christian woman, and you may wonder, what does this type of mentoring look like for us?
1. To teach or train younger women, older women need first to befriend them. Within our churches and neighborhoods, we ought to cultivate friendships across the generations.
2. The teaching may be practical: help with raising children, help in a marriage or help with budgeting.
3. Teaching may be spiritual: leading a Bible study, contributing to a Bible study, praying alongside a younger woman, encouraging a younger woman to help in a particular ministry.
4. Teaching may just be the voice of experience, a shoulder to cry on, or an encouraging word. Let the younger women see the ups and downs of your Christian life, share what you have learned from the Bible recently, be willing to open up about some of your struggles and the lessons you have learned through your walk with God.
Most importantly, we should pray that God will use us as Christian women to train and encourage younger women, and pray that God will raise up godly, older women from the present younger generation all for his glory. Naomi and Ruth’s story reminds us that God works out redemption and restoration always. And its message to us is vital, not just because of the loyalty modeled by Ruth, and the mentoring of Naomi, but because of the way it reveals the sovereignty of God. Even when we’ve reached a dead-end and can’t see how anything good can come out of our circumstances.