Week 47: RUTH
Read Ruth 1
“Entreat me not to leave you, Or to turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, And your God, my God.” (Ruth 1:16, NKJV)
See Christ here: All who truly choose Him truly leave all to follow Him. Even family, though loved, are not loved greater than Christ.
“He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.” (Matthew 10:37–38, NKJV)
Ruth not only left family and gods for the Lord, but very realistically embraced the cross. Conventional wisdom would have returned her to the provision and familiarity of her mother's home as her sister-in-law chose. Instead, she hungered for God and walked, by faith, into a life of great risk and uncertain future. She took up her cross and followed Christ.
“I will bring the blind by a way they did not know; I will lead them in paths they have not known. I will make darkness light before them, And crooked places straight. These things I will do for them, And not forsake them.” (Isaiah 42:16, NKJV)
Great reward awaited such faith.
Read Ruth 1:18-2:4
Naomi's family were Ephrathites, one of the twelve tribes of Israel. Their part of the Promised Land included Bethlehem. Does this place sound familiar to you? It is the very place where Jesus Christ is born as was prophesied 700 years before by Micah.
““But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting.”” (Micah 5:2, NKJV)
Speaking of the Birth of Christ, Ruth is one of only four women mentioned in the genealogy of Christ from Adam to Abraham to David to Joseph: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and Bathsheba. Matthew 1:4-6 And what is notable about these four women? Two are adulteresses (Tamar and Bathsheba) and two are not Jewish in blood. Ruth was from Moab and Rahab was a Canaanite and a prostitute as well.
See Christ here: Christ is not ashamed of those who are part of him that have the most shameful of histories. Jesus was not diminished by the unsavory pasts of those in his family line. He gladly owned them as he owns us. He takes on the greatest of sinners.
Get this: Ruth's redeeming husband's mother was Rahab the Harlot!
See how the lineage of Christ is peppered with scandalous grace.
As far Ruth and Rahab being from a different people from Israel, the Holy Spirit boldly declares to us these amazing words:
“Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,” (Ephesians 2:19, NKJV)
Together, Boaz and Ruth will have son named Jesse who will give birth to boy from Bethlehem who will become a great king--David. Christ, the King of Kings, will be born in the same little town fourteen generations later.
Read Ruth 2
We must not underestimate the abject poverty of Ruth and her mother-in-law, Naomi.
Naomi was old and husband-less. Her daughter-in-law was younger, but as a Moabite foreigner in the land of Israel she had no real hope for favor. Also, without a husband, she had no provision, care or protection. She was vulnerable in every way. Industry wasn't an option for Ruth, it was an imperative! She followed the servants and harvesters in the fields of random landowners to pick up what little that they left behind. She did so not only for herself, but for her mother-in-law too. Her compassion for Naomi would ring out good will for her when the time would come.
We are shown that her choice of fields was not so much by chance as it was by divine selection. The Lord, whom she had sworn to follow, was looking over her ways. Ruth 1:16 The Lord watches over our comings and our goings--every step. Psalm 121:8 She comes into the field of a rich relative of her dead husband and father-in-law. His name was Boaz. Boaz takes notice of her and deals kindly with her.
“So she fell on her face, bowed down to the ground, and said to him, “Why have I found favor in your eyes, that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?”” (Ruth 2:10, NKJV)
See Christ here: He stopped along the way and took notice of the least of these. The untouchable lepers, desocialized from all others, felt his compassionate and restoring touch. The blind, the lame and the outcast were given his fullest attention. Even the foreigners to Israel like the Roman Centurion and the Syrophoenician woman found favor with Him with remarkable outcomes. Luke 7:1-10, Mark 7:24-29 Ruth reminds us that Jesus has sheep that are not of the fold.
“The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them.” (Matthew 11:5, NKJV)
Read Ruth 3
The time has come for Ruth to present her claims to Boaz and give him opportunity to be her kinsman-redeemer. The law provided that a kinsman could buy back an estate which had been lost through poverty (Lev. 25:23–55). This kept the land in the possession of the family. The kinsman, of course, had to be willing and able to redeem it. This meant marrying the widow.
We can smile that Naomi was working the situation to help younger Ruth. It was harvest season with much celebration taking place. It was common for the men to sleep with their wheat to protect it. It was here that Ruth would humbly lower herself to the feet of the man who could become her kinsman-redeemer. There was nothing hinky here. Both had shown themselves to be of the highest character. Uncovering his feet and and laying down, she was hoping to find the security of redemption in marriage. When he awoke, she pressed for that very hope.
"And he said, “Who are you?” So she answered, “I am Ruth, your maidservant. Take your maidservant under your wing, for you are a close relative.”” (Ruth 3:9, NKJV)
See Christ here: We remember the sinful woman who humbly and silently came to the feet of Christ and wept upon them. Luke 7:36-50 She was a known sinner and outcast. She had hope in Christ alone for redemption. She had no where else to turn. It is a moving scene that is only understood by those who have come to Christ themselves. There was no one else to go to and nowhere left to turn. As Ruth sought the covering of Boaz, we have sought the covering of Christ and have not been turned away.
“He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you can hide. His truth will be your shield and protection.” (Psalm 91:4, NCV)
Read Ruth 4
The story tightens as there is one relative that is closer than Boaz and he has the first right of refusal. He must first be asked. This was a legal matter that included ten witnesses. There was a field that belonged to Naomi's husband. Her poverty required that she sell it but it was best if it should remain in the family. This is what is presented to the closer relative. We are not told the name of the man, he is only known as "friend", by Boaz. This is a little poetic justice for the one who would say "yes" to redeem the land but when he found out that buying the field meant marrying Ruth the Moabitess too, he refused.
This man could have been in the family
line of Christ but he saw it as a "bad deal".
How many say "yes" to Christ but soon reject him outright. Like many, this man turned away from the greatest opportunity of his life once he was faced with the cost.
See Christ here: Jesus told the parable of the "Great Banquet" where many were invited to come. But the invitees made excuses for not coming. One had "just bought a field" and had to go look at it. One had "just bought a yoke of oxen" and he had to go check them out. Another exclaimed, "I just got married, so I can't go!" Essentially, land, livestock or a lady hindered them. How many people have turned down the greatest invitation to salvation for wealth, work or a woman. Many pretend to be a friend of Christ but in the end have greater affections for lesser things. In the parable, this rejection means the blessing falls to another. In this case, the poor, the lame, the blind--even us!
Boaz was happy to take the opportunity.
He loved Ruth.
He moved quickly to complete the transaction. He claimed and received the right of redemption, both for Elimelech’s land and for Ruth, who was the only widow left capable of giving birth to a son who would perpetuate the family name. They would soon have a child. That child's name was Obed. Obed would become father to Jesse and Jesse become father to David.
And of course, Jesus would be known as, the son of David.