5–11 June 2016.

Ruth 3–4 (click to read).

Anyone who has lived in a different country knows how hard it is to be a foreigner. We often get pushed away or treated badly just because we’re different. Sadly, the ancient Israelites often treated foreigners in shocking ways: oppressing and rejecting them, even murdering foreign women, children and babies. As if Ruth didn’t have enough troubles being a poor widow, now she’s also a foreigner in Israel.

But just when things seem so bad for Ruth, her situation suddenly changes. One day she is living in terrible poverty, a helpless foreign widow; then suddenly she is connected to Boaz, accepted by him, and even becomes his wife. How did this all happen? How did she go from such terrible disaster to becoming the wife of a town leader like Boaz? Ruth’s story doesn’t directly talk about God, but our hearts feel the way God is still there, working behind the scenes to lead Ruth to something better.

That’s how amazing God is. When everything in our lives falls apart, when we have given up all hope, God surprises us by opening up new, unexpected ways. When everything is so black and hopeless, God grabs us and lifts us up again. But there’s something even more incredible. God doesn’t just put us back where we we started. Instead he lifts us so much higher than we ever were before!

Ruth started the story as an ordinary, unimportant Moabite woman. But look where she ended up: as the great-grandmother of King David himself! Isn’t that amazing. Imagine how the Israelite women must have felt to see that!

Many Israelite prophets, like Ezra and Nehemiah, angrily demanded that Israel throw out and even kill all foreigners. And texts like Deuteronomy 23:3 shout out that Israel will never accept filthy Moabites like Ruth or her children, not even to the tenth generation! But that hate is so wrong. In Ruth’s story we see that God loves all people, especially poor foreigners like Ruth. Non-Israelites do have a vital place in Israel, foreigners do belong in the country — and the child of a foreigner will even become Israel’s greatest king!

So today remember that no matter how other people see you and no matter how bad your troubles are, God sees you as someone precious. He will hold you up, and he will lift you up so high!

Pastor Stephen Lakkis