Ruth was a Moabite woman, meaning she was a descendant of Moab, the son of Lot and one of his daughters. It was in the land of Moab that the Israelites defeated both King Og of Bashan and King Sihon of the Amorites. Seeing this, the king of Moab hired Balaam to curse Israel and, well, God put a stop to that with a humble donkey.
The king’s choice to try to curse Israel netted God’s curse upon Moab. They were outcasts, outsiders, and were not to be entertained by Israel at all.
However, when a famine reached proportions they could no longer endure, Elimelech took his wife and sons there to survive. It was there that Mahlon and Kilion (the boys) married women of the land. We’re not told what took the lives of Elimilech and both his sons, but that left his widow Naomi alone in a strange land with two daughters-in-law of ignoble birth.
In time, Naomi learned that the famine back home had relented and made up her mind to go back to be with her people. Both of the younger women headed out with her. At some point along the way, though, Naomi stopped and told them to go be with their own people. I believe she loved the young women and didn’t want them to experience the same loneliness she was feeling so far from home. Orpah wept with Naomi, then headed back home. Ruth, however, implored Naomi to take her along. It seems that Ruth’s heart had fully committed not only to her husband, but to his family and his God.
If you read the four chapters of Ruth, you see God’s hand all through it without direct mention. What I want to focus on, though, is these verses in chapter two.
Ruth was following the instructions of her mother-in-law as she went to the fields to glean and as she sought Boaz one evening at the threshing house after harvest. The concept of kinsman-redeemer is foreign to us, but a staple of Israel’s culture. The idea was that the nearest relative would “redeem” his relative’s family by providing an heir for the family name to continue. Yes, the child would be the redeemer’s, but would bear the name of the one redeemed.
In verses 10-11, Ruth questions Boaz as to why he is being so kind to her since she was just a foreigner. He declares that he knows all that. Stop there.
Boaz knew all about her. Talk had gotten around about the (gasp) Moabite woman who had come home with Naomi. Oh my word! That son of Elimelech was even supposed to marry a (gasp) Moabite, and here she was, living in Naomi’s home!
Boaz heard the gossip and looked past Ruth’s ancestry to see the truth of the day. She had turned from her people and their gods. She had left behind their ways and was adapting to those of YHWH, following His rules and His ways.
This, my friends, is a picture of repentance. Turning from the wrong to God’s right. Leaving behind what we know to follow Truth. And Boaz noticed. He saw a young woman making good godly choices despite her upbringing of worshiping other gods.
Boaz knew she was a sinner.
Yet through her actions he saw her heart.
And that led him to make the choice to redeem her.
As a Moabite she wasn’t worthy of marriage,
much less redemption.
Yet, he went to the elders,
made all the arrangements,
and redeemed her.
This is SUCH a beautiful picture of our Redeemer Jesus. We were not worthy of His love and care, much less redemption, but He went to the elders, made all the arrangements — His sacrifice on the cross — and redeemed us. As Paul wrote, though we were yet sinners (like Moabite Ruth) Christ died for us (as Boaz rescued Ruth).
When Naomi first arrived back home, people rejoiced to see her. She told them not to use her given name, but the one she had taken on, of that revealed her bitterness. She felt abandoned and put upon by God. I’m sure it felt that way!
When we read the full story, however, we realize that it was God’s plan to work out moving the Moabite, Ruth, to Bethlehem to marry Boaz to become the grandmother of King David and ancestor of Jesus. The outsider. The sinner. The unworthy. A grandmother of the Savior.
Whatever bitterness has fallen on you — sickness, death, grief, chronic pain, depression, anxiety, lost family — trust that even though it feels fatal, it is part of God’s plan. We may not like it at all — we’re not here to approve of God’s plans or be comfortable in life — but we can walk on the solid ground that God is using it to bring about His plan for His glory.
It’s a great day to celebrate the amazing redemption of our Kinsman Redeemer.
Coffee, Bible, Journal.