Glory. What a word?
Merriam-Webster defines this word as praise, honor, or distinction extended by common consent or a state of great gratification or exaltation.
It’s a word that floods many heads and hearts when thinking of winning the big game. It comes to mind when we consider the 1989 movie. We often speak of our glory days or years as maybe Muhammad Ali thought of in his last days. It’s a pretty word. It’s a word we all hope to use when describing our lives.
When I hear the word glory, scripture on scripture on scripture inundates my thoughts. It is where I hear the word so often, though it is not in the section we are about to read. Anyhow, it is the word the Lord keeps bringing me as I study sweet Ruth and her family. If you haven’t already, join us and read our first three studies of the chapters of Ruth, and let us delve into our final understanding of the beginnings of the greatest of glories.
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Then Boaz said to the elders and all the people, “You are witnesses this day that I have bought from the hand of Naomi all that belonged to Elimelech and all that belonged to Chilion and to Mahlon. Also Ruth the Moabite, the widow of Mahlon, I have bought to be my wife, to perpetuate the name of the dead in his inheritance, that the name of the dead may not be cut off from among his brothers and from the gate of his native place. You are witnesses this day.”… So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife. And he went into her, and the LORD gave her conception, and she bore a son. Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the LORD, who has not left you this day without a redeemer, and may his name be renowned in Israel! He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age, for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.” Then Naomi took the child and laid him on her lap and became his nurse.
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The Redemption of Strangers leads to Great Glory
Boaz did not know Ruth before she approached him. She wasn’t part of the line of Abraham. She was a new, unfamiliar woman who was asking that he take responsibility for her and her inheritance.
And he did.
With great joy.
My heart leaps with the understanding that Jesus redeemed me as a stranger in the same way. I am not part of the line of Abraham. I am a born into sin, unfamiliar to holiness and undeserving of any grace God could possibly bestow. Yet long before I was born, long before I was begotten into my own sinful nature, he took on my cross and sacrificed everything that I may live. That we may live. He redeemed me from my line. He cleansed my tainted heart. He much more beautifully and perfectly did for me what Boaz did for Naomi. A worthy man, under no obligation to take on my filthiness, did it anyway without complaint and demonstrating great joy in granting me an inheritance.
Submission and Obedience leads to Great Glory
Ruth was barren. She had been married for ten years to Mahlon without children. Yet immediately when she married Boaz, she became pregnant with the grandfather of King David.
The same King David that would be the second and best King of Israel. The Kind David that would hold royalty in his bones and blood. He would father people who fathered people who fathered Christ Jesus.
Ruth, a Moabite woman, would give way to the line of our Messiah.
But my friends, she got to do that because she way faithfully submitted under her earthly authority and her heavenly authority. She followed the law God gave. She took care of the people God gave her. She stepped out of her past as a Moabite and clung to her future as a child of God–unaware that she would be a mother of Jesus.
She submitted without promise that things would get better. She submitted because that’s what she knew to do.
I wonder how much more deeply my heart would be fulfilled if I was obedient in submission without question. I wonder how my heart would flutter and appreciate blessing so much more if I didn’t expect it. If I did all this just because.
What if I gave way to James 4:7, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you,” Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths,” or 1 Peter 5:6, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you.”
Ruth was long dead before God gave her her largest blessing. But her largest blessing is the one who’s blood has redeemed us. Her story is the foundations God laid to supply us with our own kinsman redeemer.
Beloved, we need not seek the blessing before we choose obedience.
God is going to bring glory. Period. We may be around for it and we may be worshipping him in heaven before He chooses to bring our submission to fruition.
Humble Beginnings lead to Great Glory
Naomi’s story is the beautiful backbone of everything we have learned of Ruth thus far. She is the reason Ruth stuck around, so she must have been some kind of special. Yet the first thing we hear and learn about her is her overwhelming loss: her husband, her sons, her support system. In fact, one of the first things we hear her say is, “call me Mara” which means bitter. Call me bitter, for the Lord has dealt bitterly with me.
Now here we are. Naomi has been the one God used to grant Ruth a husband. She has been granted a caretaker. Her family’s name has been redeemed. And in this season of her life–a season where she is mourning the loss of every man she has ever loved–God grants her a sweet reminder of life: a grandson by choice.
She is left alone. Her sons, the last children she nurtured, were ripped from her. She was left in the loneliest of places, reborn into sorrow. A grandson who she gets to have the most intimate of connections with. In her old age, she is given the ability to nurse him.
Her earthly comfort was gone. Her heavenly Father was not. God was not finished with his beloved Naomi. In her old age, she is given the ability to nurse him.
In her old age, she is given the ability to nurse Ruth’s child by Boaz. Can you imagine a more intimate way to connect to the new life God has provided your family? Can you imagine what it would have been like to have the quite tangible representation of God’s miraculous glory look to your eyes as his life-giver, sustainer, and nurturer?
Oh, how the Lord was so faithful to provide.
And yet here we are, wondering what our glory might be? What tangible, miraculous glory will Jesus give me after I finish this trial?
Here is what I know.
Naomi’s story is not everyone’s.
I may never be granted such a surprisingly wonderful miracle as to have my body change outside of its anatomical structure to take part in God’s glory.
Here is what I know.
My being has been anatomically changed to house the Holy Spirit.
No matter the sorrow I live in this world, I, you, we get to spend eternity with Jesus physically. We were born into the humblest of beginnings. We were born into hardship and sin all at our own evil hands. Without Him, we are in the bitterest of places.
With Him, we have every tangible blessing, every miracle…
Glory. What a word?
The Holeman Illustrated Bible Dictionary defines this word in such a way that puts all this in context: Weighty importance and shining majesty that accompany God’s presence.
It accompanies God’s presence.
This great glory, it is not for our own public importance. Boaz, Ruth, and Naomi had no idea they would be studied years down the road. They had no idea that their blood and bones would birth King David and lead to King Jesus.
All they knew is that their choices had weighty importance. God’s presence brought the shining majesty.
It was only God’s presence that brought the shining majesty.