A Breakout of Bright

So we’ve made it to the final installment of this blog series. I hope you’ve enjoyed? I hope you’ve been both challenged and encouraged?

Now then, in the book of Ruth we meet Naomi—whose name means ‘Pleasant’ or ‘Beautiful’. We might allow ourselves to be reminded of the garden of Eden in Genesis. ‘Eden’ meaning delight. It’s an idyllic picture of beauty and serenity. A calm and restful place.

A place where God walks with mankind in the cool of the day.

But this picture of delight would soon be marred in that garden and also in Naomi’s life. Soon this happened.

“Don’t call me Naomi,” she told them. “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter…”

Ruth 1:20 NIV

A famine in the land had forced Naomi and her family to move to Moab.

Now Elimelek, Naomi’s husband, died, and she was left with her two sons. They married Moabite women, one named Orpah and the other Ruth. After they had lived there about ten years, both Mahlon and Kilion also died, and Naomi was left without her two sons and her husband.

Ruth 1:3‭-‬5 NIV

Naomi went away full and is now preparing to return empty. She went away ‘with’ and is preparing to return ‘without’. She moves away in company and is now preparing to return home alone.

Naomi said, “Return home, my daughters. Why would you come with me? Am I going to have any more sons, who could become your husbands? Return home, my daughters; I am too old to have another husband. Even if I thought there was still hope for me—even if I had a husband tonight and then gave birth to sons— would you wait until they grew up? Would you remain unmarried for them? No, my daughters. It is more bitter for me than for you, because the Lord’s hand has turned against me!”

Ruth 1:11‭-‬13 NIV

When brightness fades and hope is nowhere to be found—bitterness starts to take hold. Bitterness is like a root. That once pleasant and delightful garden will soon be overtaken by weeds. We saw it awhile back in the elder brother and here it’s most definitely Naomi’s primary struggle.

In this state she pushes everyone away, including God. Ruth, however, has other ideas and she clings to Naomi inspite of everything.

At this they wept aloud again. Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye, but Ruth clung to her.

Ruth 1:14 NIV

A lot of people say goodbye at times like this. But when we’ve got nothing left to cling to, it only takes one willing person to cling on to us. It only takes one person to keep walking with us, even when others walk away. And there’s our lifeline. A chink of light in the darkness.

So Naomi returned from Moab accompanied by Ruth the Moabite, her daughter-in-law, arriving in Bethlehem as the barley harvest was beginning.

Ruth 1:22 NIV

I love the hope that this final verse of chapter one leaves us feeling. A sense of anticipation is in the air. We’ve already seen situations which required an inner brightness to breakout in the darkness round about. But sometimes it works the other way around. Like here. Sometimes we need to move into an atmosphere of hope in order for our brightness to return within.

To cut a long story short, from that moment on, that’s exactly what happens. In the last chapter of Ruth we read,

The women said to Naomi: “Praise be to the Lord, who this day has not left you without a guardian-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel! He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth.”

Ruth 4:14‭-‬15 NIV

Ruth and Boaz get married and they have a child.

Now there are a couple of intriguing verses within this story that connect us back to another story in Genesis.

Boaz has just asked for the elders of the town to witness him act as guardian redeemer in purchasing Naomi’s land.

Then the elders and all the people at the gate said, “We are witnesses. May the Lord make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the family of Israel. May you have standing in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem. Through the offspring the Lord gives you by this young woman, may your family be like that of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah.”

Ruth 4:11‭-‬12 NIV

So, who is Perez?

Well, in Genesis chapter thirty-eight we find the answer in a fairly bizarre story. The story of another daughter-in-law. The story of Tamar and Judah.

Judah then said to his daughter-in-law Tamar, “Live as a widow in your father’s household until my son Shelah grows up.” For he thought, “He may die too, just like his brothers.” So Tamar went to live in her father’s household…When Tamar was told, “Your father-in-law is on his way to Timnah to shear his sheep,” she took off her widow’s clothes, covered herself with a veil to disguise herself, and then sat down at the entrance to Enaim, which is on the road to Timnah. For she saw that, though Shelah had now grown up, she had not been given to him as his wife. When Judah saw her, he thought she was a prostitute, for she had covered her face. Not realizing that she was his daughter-in-law, he went over to her by the roadside and said, “Come now, let me sleep with you.”

Genesis 38:11‭, ‬13‭-‬16 NIV

And you can guess what happens. They sleep together and Tamar conceives.

It’s all pretty dark and messed up. Unpleasant, perhaps. Thorny, maybe. But eventually, after a series of cover ups and revelations, the truth emerges and now the time comes for Tamar to give birth.

When the time came for her to give birth, there were twin boys in her womb. As she was giving birth, one of them put out his hand; so the midwife took a scarlet thread and tied it on his wrist and said, “This one came out first.” But when he drew back his hand, his brother came out, and she said, “So this is how you have broken out!” And he was named Perez. Then his brother, who had the scarlet thread on his wrist, came out. And he was named Zerah.

Genesis 38:27‭-‬30 NIV

Perez means ‘to breakout’. He was so named because of his daring ability to push through. Like a young flower pushing through a crack in the concrete. It may have looked like a lost cause but then Perez pushed through and emerged victorious. It’s never too late!

It’s this can do attitude that Ruth brings to the table.

But daring also has a twin brother called delight. And they come as a pair. They need one another. Zerah’s name means ‘scarlet’ or ‘brightness.’ Named after the thread that was tied around his wrist.

It was the briefest of appearances. But it was enough! A glimpse of brightness. That chink of light we talked about earlier.

A scarlet cord.

And it was from this tribe of Judah and through the line of David—that Jesus was to be born.

Then Naomi took the child in her arms and cared for him. The women living there said, “Naomi has a son!” And they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.

Ruth 4:16‭-‬17 NIV

Breakout and brightness.

Daring and delight.

A picture of something truly amazing breaking out. It would take a while but it would arrive. Keep waiting. Keep looking for it. There’s a breakout of bright on its way.

When I began to see this picture and the connection between these stories my spirit leapt a little. There’s a lot of darkness in the world right now. You might be experiencing its weight in your own life too? But I believe there’s a breakout of brightness on its way.

I pray that you discover the joys of daring and delighting in God again?

Thanks for listening.

May God bless you and keep you, may his face shine upon you and be gracious to you, may God give you peace…

Some thoughts from the Bible. By David Richards. A Chaplain.