How God Sees Family
Proposition: God sees the family as the place of security and rest and also identity and this is even true when it comes to being a member of His family.
Introduction: Have you ever heard of the Ten Commandments for the home? They go like this: 1. If you sleep on it - make it up. 2. If you wear it - hang it up. 3. If you drop it - pick it up. 4. If you eat out of it - put it in the sink. 5. If you step on it - wipe it off. 6. If you open it - close it. 7. If you empty it - fill it up. 8. If it rings - answer it. 9. If it howls - feed it. 10. If it cries - love it.
Family and the unity of it are the social base upon which all cultural development is built. I like what Rudyard Kipling once wrote about families, “all of us are we—and everyone else is they.” That tight nucleus was meant to be the place of nurture and strength and even identity. A family is shelter from the storm, a friendly port when the waves of life become too wild.
So is family just a social invention, something that we came up with because we are male and female, something that was created by mankind for getting the work done or for safety from hostile groups? Could we look even deeper and ask, “How does God see family?” If you are a Creationist then you believe that not only did God create them male and female but He commissioned them to go forth and multiply and have dominion over the entire earth. Family then, is God’s idea, it’s God’s design and it carries His will and purpose. The family today is under extreme pressures that are essentially aimed at its disintegration. In many instances the state and the family are on a collision course as marital sexuality is redefined, as birth rate is cut by the millions through abortion, as promiscuity is incited through borderless values and happiness is seen as self satisfaction. So how does God see the family, what is it that He desires it to be, how is faith in God a key to the development of a healthy and strong family? To answer that let’s look back 3500 years to a culture that though different than ours reveals the way that God sees family. Turn with me to Ruth 3.
I. God Sees Family as a Place of Safety.
In verse 1 Naomi says to Ruth, “…shall I not seek security for you that it may be well with you?” In the KJV version that word ‘security’ is translated as ‘rest’, the NIV comes right out as translates it as ‘home’. Ultimately what Naomi is saying is that as the parent it is her responsibility to help create a place of rest and safety for her children. As a parent you know the pull on your heart to be a haven of comfort for your kids, a place where there is love and warmth, shelter and encouragement. I remember a time when we were living in a country close to the equator with our three girls, the oldest was 12. At around midnight one night, an earthquake hit and though it was miles from where we lived it was still about a 7 on the Richter scale. In pitch dark the entire house shook and it went on for a couple of minutes. All the girls came running into our bedroom and climbed in our bed and we all hung onto to each other waiting for it to end. You can’t make an earthquake stop but you can put your arms around your children and be a place of rest for them. Family is the place where God has designed security for times such as these. Look at what Naomi tells Ruth, she says that security is to be found in Boaz, “is he not our relative?” The kinsman that Naomi was directing Ruth to was more than just a close family member. The Hebrew word, ‘goel’ means ‘kinsman-redeemer’, a close family member that was described in the Law of Moses like this:
1. He was responsible to buy a fellow Israelite out of slavery (Leviticus 25:48).
2. He was responsible to be the “avenger of blood” to make sure the murderer of a family member answered to the crime (Numbers 5:19).
3. He was responsible to buy back family land that had been forfeited (Leviticus. 25:25).
4. He was responsible to carry on the family name by marrying a childless widow (Deuteronomy 25:5-10).
All these are related to the well being of family, wouldn’t you agree? All these are dictates from God to man, they were meant for the preservation of Israeli family and for the revealing of the glory of the God of Israel. This is how God sees the family and it amounts to this:
1. Family is a place of sacrifice for one another.
2. Family is a place of justice for one another.
3. Family is place of future security for one another.
4. Family is a place where the name of the father is honored.
All this is what a kinsman redeemer did, it’s what Naomi had in mind for Ruth. In short she was encouraging Ruth to go and propose marriage to Boaz. A Moabite woman coming to claim the kinsman redeemer role of security because she was once married to an Israelite son, the father of who was a close relative to Boaz… sounds kind of distant doesn’t it? It was a risky thing to do, for her kind benefactor could easily be offended, he might see her just as an opportunist and reject her. He might even take advantage of her. But it was not the ‘distant relationship’, nor the issue of ‘worthiness’, it was the pattern and promise of God that she hung on to in the kinsman redeemer. How does God see the Family? He sees it for how it will one day perfectly be, it will be His family. God sets up the family so that it reflects His relationship to us. He is our heavenly Father, the church is the bride of Christ, Jesus is our kinsman redeemer, we are people who were once outside the promise or covenant of God like Ruth was, but now He has invited us to come to Him. His promise to us is that He will not reject us as we come with a humble and contrite heart. Ask yourself, in the family of God that has as its door, or entry point, the person of Jesus Christ…is there an aspect of sacrifice that makes this family take place? Is there justice that occurs through this sacrifice of the cross? Is there a place of future security in this family? In this family is the name of the Father meant to be that which is carried forward and honored and glorified? How does God see the family? He sees it as a place of where one day His children will know Him more and be home with Him.
II. God Sees Love as the Beginning of All Family.
So Ruth comes to where Boaz is winnowing the barley, which means this is about a month later in time from when she first met him. She comes to Boaz after the work is done and he settles down by the grain to protect it through the night. Once he is asleep she quietly comes and gently pulls the covers from his feet and then lays down at his feet. Around midnight Boaz wakes with a start and realizes someone is laying there at his feet. Listen to what Ruth says to him, “I am Ruth, your maidservant. Take your maidservant under your wing for you are a close relative.” To ‘spread your wing’ is also translated, ‘your skirt’, ‘your covering’, ‘your garment’, it was a request to be taken underneath his care as his wife. It was a request that was meant to last for the rest of their lives. The gentle reply of Boaz must have been the most wonderful sound that Ruth had ever heard. “Blessed are you of the Lord, my daughter.” “Do not fear, I will do for you all that you request…”. He calls her kind and describes her actions as a those of a virtuous woman. But then he tells her something disturbing. All this time there has been another who has a closer claim upon her than he. There is another who is first in line to fulfill this request for comfort and shelter. Boaz tells Ruth that he is willing to be her goel, her kinsman redeemer, he will perform this duty of love but first he must go according to the Law and satisfy any previous claims upon her. He gives her food to take home, that is he cares for her even though she is not yet living with him and then he tells her to wait. Now the story of Ruth and Boaz is an historical and literal account but it also has a picture within it that is like a living metaphore. I think that we are a lot like the character of Ruth and I think that Boaz is a picture of the character of Jesus. This love of Boaz for Ruth which has drawn Ruth to love him, this absolute submission of Ruth to Boaz, this satisfaction of Law by Boaz for her, this care for her present needs as an expression of his love, this command to faithfully wait…they all remind us of our love story with Jesus. We too have come to a place of laying down at Jesus feet, we too come to Him and asked that He spread His cover, His garment of righteousness over us that we would become wed inseparably to Him.
A long time ago when we were still doing the AWANA program one of the kids at Awana came and asked, “What does it mean to be a son of God or daughter of God?” It was one of the questions in their book. I struggled to answer it, fumbling for words I finally said, “It means you are part of God’s family because of what Jesus has done.” Her eyes widened a bit, the light came on. “Cool”, she said and off she went, it was enough for her. How does God see family? He sees it as the place where love starts and where one day it will never end.