The story of Ruth is packed into a short 4 chapter book. If you have 15-20 minutes today you could read this whole book of the bible. Then when someone asks you what you did today you can say ‘I read a book from start to finish’. And once Christmas settles down and you are wanting to learn more about the story of Ruth go and pick up ‘Ruth: More than alove story’ by Elizabeth Allman. It is rich in biblical and theological knowledge yet easy to consume.
Ruth. She is a Moabite which means her ancestors came from the family of Lot. Lot was Abraham’s nephew who traveled with Abraham, who Abraham rescued, who watched his city crumble and his wife die as they escaped the city. All that was left for Lot was his life and his daughters. Lot’s daughters got their father drunk and slept with him. As a result they conceive and had sons. One of the son’s was named Moab. Moab is where the Moabites come from. This is not a family history a lot would proudly flaunt. This is the family of Ruth. This is the family Jesus places himself in.
Ruth lived during the time of the Judges, when everyone did as they pleased because Israel had no king. She herself was not an Israelite yet she was married to one at the beginning and end of this book.
Ruth lived in her home country of Moab. An Israelite family came to find refuge in this city from the famine. Elimelech was the husband and his wife was Naomi. They had two sons Mahlon and Chilion. Elimelech dies while they were in the land of Moab. Their sons married women from Moab and they also died. Three widows were left, Naomi (Elimelech), Ruth (Maholn), and Orpah (Chilion).
Naomi strongly encourages her daughters in law to go back to their families because she has nothing to offer them. Orphah does go back yet Ruth insists that she will stay with Naomi.
This desire of Ruth’s to stay with Naomi runs deeper than loving her mother in law.
Ruth says in 1:16 “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.”
It was more than a loyalty to her mother in law that made her stay. It was a binding she had because of the God they shared.
The two women travel back to the land of Naomi. They travel back to Bethlehem in hopes of finding a kinsman redeemer. Yes, you read that right. They are going to Bethlehem the same place Jesus would be born years and years and years later. They are going their to find a redeemer. Just pause on that orchestration by God. They are going back to the town Jesus would be born in years later. They are going back to find a kinsman redeemer.
For these two women to survive they would glean the wheat that was left over from the fields. In his instruction to his people God had told them to leave a specific amount for the widowed and orphaned to gather. Ruth went out into these fields in hopes of finding enough for both her and her mother in law.
The owner of the field Boaz, notices these women in need and tells his men to provide more than enough for them. Ruth is not only provided extra in her gleaning but also invited to dine with the owner of the field and his workers. Ruth shares a meal of bread and wine with Boaz.
I need to pause here so we don’t miss this beautiful scene. Ruth is brought into the fold by Boaz. Ruth is desperate she has nothing. Boaz has no reason to invite her in for a meal other than his love, graciousness, and compassion. This relationship is a tiny piece of what God does for us. He sees us working in the field. He calls us and invites us to dine with Him. God has no reason to bring us into his fold. We can provide nothing for Him. The love God has for us comes from Him. The love he has for us is not generated by some ‘goodness’ that we believe we may have.
We can’t skip over the fact that bread and wine are what Boaz provides for Ruth and these are the same simple things God provides for us at Communion today.
From the start Boaz provides for Ruth. The traditions of the time indicate that a ‘next of kin’ or what tradition calls a ‘kinsman redeemer’should marry Ruth and provide an heir and security for both Ruth and Naomi. Boaz approaches the first of kin but he is unwilling to be the ‘kinsman redeemer’. Boaz becomes Ruth’s husband and provides an heir for Ruth and security for both Ruth and Naomi. This desperate woman ends up in the genealogy of Jesus. He used this desperate situation, a Moabite woman, a widow to bring about the Savior.
Through out history we see God using women past childbearing years, barren women, and in this case a childless widow to bring about the family of Jesus and ultimately Jesus himself.
God works in and through desperate people because that is all there is to work with. In these situations his goodness, power and glory shine for us to see.
We find Ruth in verse 5 of the first chapter of Matthew.
5 Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab,
Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth,
Obed the father of Jesse,
6 and Jesse the father of King David.Matthew 1:5-6
We are all like Ruth. Apart from Christ we are desperate, begging, widows. As beggars we are in the field gleaning what we can until Jesus. Jesus, the owner of the field, the owner of all takes us into his fold. He provides us with bread and wine. He Redeems us. We become part of His family because he sees us in our desperation and loves us.