Mara to Naomi

Pastor Josh Combs

“A son has been born to Naomi.” Ruth 4:17

The book of Ruth could just as well be called the book of Naomi. The tragic and triumphant story that unfolds begins and ends with her. This widow and the mother of two deceased sons has returned home childless and with her foreign-born daughter-in-law Ruth in tow. Without protection and a financial provider, these two ladies are in serious danger of starvation. Ruth, as a young foreign woman, is in imminent danger of being sexually assaulted. But God, in the midst of this seemingly merciless catastrophe, is doing something extraordinary for the ages. A beautiful love story unfolds between Ruth and a wealthy close relative of Naomi named Boaz.

This union, however, was not unopposed. Boaz was forced to negotiate with another relative who had a greater, closer claim on the widow and all that she owned. Boaz redeemed (bought back) Naomi and Ruth, making this young Moabite widow his wife. Naomi and Ruth’s future is secure, their needs are provided for, and their safety is made sure. Yet, God’s redeeming plan isn’t over. God makes Naomi a grandmother. It is in that moment that the town no longer calls her Mara or sees her as a bitter old woman. She is once again Naomi.

The women of the town, while celebrating, exclaim, “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.” Naomi becomes a grandmother and the neighborhood celebrates, “A son has been born to Naomi!” (Ruth 4:14–17). Naomi’s life had truly been redeemed. She would become the great-great grandmother to King David and part of the lineage of Jesus Christ. Naomi’s name was once again sweet.

This small book of the Bible is a story of redemption—a woman crushed by unspeakable tragedy brought back to a life of sweetness. This is what God does for us in Jesus Christ. Followers of the Lord Jesus can confidently proclaim, “I know that my Redeemer lives” (Job 19:25). Boaz serves as a type of Christ. Jesus redeems us from our sin, securing our eternal home in Heaven, providing all    of our needs according to His inexhaustible riches, and protecting us through the gift of the Holy Spirit. The bitterness of sin had devastated our peace and joy, but in Christ we have been given “the peace of God which surpasses all understanding” and a “joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory” (Philippians 4:7; 1 Peter 1:8). Naomi is a testimony to God’s redeeming power and hope in the midst of tragedy.

Today’s Bible Reading: Ruth chapters 3–4

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