As someone who loves to read, I was so excited to get a first glimpse into a new book, The Women of The Bible Speak by Shannon Bream. This was such an inspiring book to read because it detailed the accounts of sixteen amazing women in the Bible. Although they lived thousands of years ago, these women faced similar situations, obstacles and challenges that we, as women, face in the world today. Their stories of courage, determination and faithfulness encourage us to live in the same fashion. Two of the stories that stuck out to me the most were those of Ruth and Tamar. Each woman found themselves in a unique, unideal situation, but despite their unfortunate circumstances, they remained steadfast and found favor with God.
Ruth. Due to a terrible famine, a woman named Naomi moved from Judah (her hometown) to Moab (a foreign land) with her husband and two sons. While living in Moab, her sons took wives – Ruth was one of them. After being there for ten years, Naomi tragically lost her husband and both sons. Broken in grief, Naomi decided to move back to Bethlehem in Judah. Her daughter-in-law, Ruth, tagged along even though Naomi petitioned for her not to follow. After making the 7-10 day trek, they arrived to start fresh. Ruth was now a widowed foreigner in Judah. For Ruth to remain loyal to Naomi and to sacrifice herself and her comfort to live in a foreign land was a big deal in their culture. Ruth told Naomi, “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.” (Ruth 1:16).Because of Ruth’s loyalty to Naomi, she then went on to meet and marry Boaz, who took care of both women. Ruth and Boaz eventually had a son, making her a part of Jesus’s lineage! Ruth’s story reminds us that when we follow our convictions – even if it goes against the status quo – we can be rewarded by God. God blessed her faithfulness in miraculous ways. Ruth shows us that anyone can be used by God. God can use what may seem like small decisions to accomplish great things.
Tamar. In Genesis 38 we learn the story of Tamar and Judah. To give a short recap, Judah married a Canaanite woman named Shua and they had three sons, Er, Onan, and Shelah. When their oldest son, Er came of age, Judah found him a wife named Tamar. According to Scripture, Er was “evil in the sight of the Lord” so the Lord took his life making Tamar a widow. In their culture it was the duty of the brother-in-law to give Tamar an heir to ensure his brother’s name and inheritance. Onan, the younger brother, refused to provide Tamar with an heir. So, God took Onan’s life also. Now twice-widowed, Tamar was childless and alone. Judah was supposed to provide his third son to marry and care for Tamar, but he refused out of his own self-interest and disobedience.
Later when Judah’s wife passed, Tamar disguised herself as a harlot and gave herself to Judah. When Tamar became pregnant, Judah didn’t know he was the father and wanted to kill Tamar thinking that she was the reason why his first two sons died. However, Tamar proved Judah was the father and by doing so, Judah recognized his sin and acknowledged it. Tamar and Judah later bore twins making them a part of King David’s and Jesus’ lineage too! This story shows us that through God’s mercy, even the most flawed and sinful people can be used and blessed by God. Through even the most tragic losses and hopeless situations, God can use it and redeem it for our good and His glory!
I think the amazing thing about the stories of Ruth and Tamar is that God thought it was important for us to know these women. I believe God included these women in His Word because it was important for us to know the significance of these women who lived thousands of years ago facing similarchallenges that we face today. God was able to use their lives for His Kingdom. God used the faithfulness and obedience of these women who were seen as “outsiders” to ultimately save the world by allowing them to be a part of the lineage of JESUS. I would venture to say that neither Ruth nor Tamar dreamed of the impact they would make for God’s Kingdom by the obedient choices they made during their lives. It’s a great reminder that we have no idea the impact we will make or how God will use our pain or the circumstances of our lives for His bigger purpose. You can stand firm, remain faithful, and allow yourself to be used by Him today.
The Point: God has, can, and WILL use ordinary, faithful women who are willing to stand where they are and use what they have, to do the work that God has set out before them.
What is that next step of obedience or faithfulness that you need to take today?