Your People Will Be My People
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Our Scripture lesson this morning is just two verses. Once again we focus on Ruth’s profession of faith found in Ruth 1.
But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.”
This is a beautiful confession of faith and family loyalty. It has touched the hearts of countless generations, because such faith and familial loyalty are in such short supply. 2020 has not been a hard year our nation is bitterly divided politically, anti-Semitism is on the raise once again, our major cities burn in race riots, ideologies such as critical theory and identity politics make these divisions even worse. Talk of session is again on the rise, not just on a national leave, but within individual states. Add to this the COVID-19 pandemic, with lock downs, stay at home orders and restrictions on family gatherings, it feels as though we are in a perfect storm of disunity.
This disunity is not limited to just our nation or our time. We see it all over the world and in every generation. In fact, the Bible teaches us exactly what is going on, it is the curse of the Tower of Babel. Believe it our not, unity created an even greater evil, an evil so great that God had to respond by scattering humanity.
And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. And the Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.” So the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth. And from there the Lord dispersed them over the face of all the earth.
The good news, the Gospel, that we find in Ruth’s profession of faith is that God has a plan to reverse this disunity. It is a promise first given to Abraham.
A Promise Given to Abraham
A Promise Given to Abraham
To understand the significance of Ruth’s profession of faith, we need to go back to Exodus 6:6-8:
Say therefore to the people of Israel, ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment. I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. I will bring you into the land that I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. I will give it to you for a possession. I am the Lord.’ ”
Did you catch what God said in verse seven? He said, “I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God”. Ruth said, “You people will be my people, and your God will be my God.” Do you hear how these to statements are in parallel with each other?
God long ago promised to make Israel His people and to be their God, but this was not the first time God made this promise. The first time is found in Genesis 12:
Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
Here God made a promise to make Abraham and his decedents into a nation and through that nation to bless all the other nations of the world!
To appreciate the significance of this promise we need to look back to Genesis 11. There we find the story of the Tower of Babel, at that time, mankind was one nation and spoke one language. In arrogance and rebellion, this one nation attempted to build a tower to heaven. In response, God divided them into different nations, each with their own language, and scattered them across the globe. In Deuteronomy 32, we learn that God assigned each of these nations to of His divine heavenly counsel. These angelic beings are called “the sons of God”. Sadly, these members of God’s divine counsel rebelled against God and led the Gentile nations astray. This rebellion is described for us in Psalm 82. As a consequence, all the nations of the world fell under the dominion of Satan. This is why Satan was legitimately able to tempt Jesus by offering these nations to Him.
In light of the disaster of Genesis 11, I hope you now see the true significance of Genesis 12. There God began His redemption of the Gentile nations by reserving for Himself Israel, a new nations created from the loins of Abraham! It was this promise Ruth claimed for her own!
A Promise Claimed by Ruth
A Promise Claimed by Ruth
As I suggested earlier, the words Ruth chose were not arbitrary, by saying “your people shall be my people, and your God shall be my God.” Ruth was claiming that promise as her own. She was giving up her old identity as a Moabite, she chose not to go back to her mother’s house and to her mother’s gods, she now numbered herself among the children of Israel!
We have very examples of Gentiles converting to the God of Israel in the Old Testament, but there are enough to remind us that God has something big in mind and He fully reveals it when Christ came. As we have been seeing throughout this series, the ultimate fulfillment of the promises of the Old Testament are found in Jesus.
This is what I want to turn to now.
A Promise Fulfilled by Christ
A Promise Fulfilled by Christ
Referring back to Genesis 12, Paul writes this:
Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ.
This promise that Ruth placed her faith in, found its fulfillment in Christ. In fact, Christ is the true Israel, in numerous places in the Old Testament, Israel is referred to as “God’s son”; one of these is Hosea 11:1:
When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.
I point this verse out, because Matthew cites this verse when he writes of Mary and Joseph fleeing to Egypt with the baby Jesus, saying, “This is to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.” (Mt 2:15) In fact, Matthew composed his gospel in such a way as to demonstrate that Jesus is the True Israel!
When a person unites him or herself in faith to Jesus, they are saying in effect “Your people will be my people, and you God will be my God”! In Romans 11, Paul compares conversion to being grafted into an olive true. When an ethnic Jew, who has been broken off from the true tree of Israel, believes in Christ, they are grafted back in. When a Gentile comes to faith in Christ, they are like a wild olive branch that is grafted into the true tree of Israel. Native branches or wild branches, it does not matter, we are all grafted into the same tree and that Tree is Jesus Christ!
Jesus has been the Tree all alone! He is the Tree of Life, that nourishes us unto eternal life. He died upon a tree, in order to free us from the dominion of the Devil and to reverse the curse of the Tower of Babel. In Ephesians 1:7-10, Paul writes:
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
If we fail to look to Christ, 2020 is a dark year and 2021 promises to be just as bad, but as believers we do not look to elections and vaccines to turn things around, we look to Christ! Next Sunday, marks the beginning of Advent, a time in which we look back at the First Coming of Christ and look forward to the Second Coming to Christ. This year I am going to do something different. All my messages are coming for the book to Revelation, a book given to us by Jesus to give us Hope, Peace, Love and Joy in times of darkness. In the book of Revelation climaxes with these words:
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
The curse of Babel is reversed! The day is coming when the promise first give to Abraham and claimed by Ruth will be fully fulfilled in Christ. Have you claimed that promise? Have you by faith made the people of Israel your people and have your made their God your God? If not, why not? Make today the day you become a true Israelite!
Let us pray.