Ruth the Moabite became the great grandmother of King David and part of the lineage of Yeshua. Her story is one of dedication, obedience and encouragement. She made a pledge to her mother in law, "Don't urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God." - Ruth 1:16
The example Ruth gave of a Gentile embracing the Jewish faith and uniting herself with the Jewish nation and its practises is inspiring. Her willingness to leave her country, family, wealth and religion to accompany Naomi and be with her for the remainder of her life Ruth 1:17: "Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried...", is not just commendable but, shows a leap of faith on her own part too.
The faith that Naomi had must have been evident to Ruth. Naomi had lived in Moab for ten years and yet she did not forsake her own faith for the pagan gods of Moab. Ruth would have witnessed the faith and practices of Naomi and her sons. This must have had an impact on her and perhaps influenced her decision to stick with Naomi and embrace the faith she had along with the land and culture.
Ruth chose to leave behind the country of her birth, the gods of her people and culture she'd grown up with. Naomi felt the angst of her own situation to the point where she wanted her name to be known as Mara which means bitter. She had fled her homeland at a time of famine and followed her husband to a foreign land. Subsequently he and both her sons die prematurely. She is left without provision.
Naomi acknowledges that her situation was from God but, doesn't blame Him for her misery. On hearing that the famine in Judea was over she decided to return. There was food in the land once more and she sought the nourishment of her homeland again.
Ruth made the decision to go with Naomi in to the town of Bethlehem, in the tribal portion of Judah. She knew it would be a tough journey and hardship would await them at the other end. She demonstrated great strength of character in addition to physical endurance.
Ruth had married in to a family who were foreigners in her land. She had adopted their faith and then found herself widowed and without means. Instead of falling back on her family roots she stands by her mother in law.
Her strength lay in her gentle acceptance of her situation and her desire to follow through on her commitment to Naomi. She was gentle but, it was not a weakness; indeed her gentleness meant she was adaptable and flexible. She did what she needed to do to support herself and her mother in law.
She was a stranger in the land of Israel and work in order to feed herself and Naomi. She integrated herself in to the society and joined the practice of gleaning the edges of the fields where grain from harvest had been dropped or left behind for the poor and destitute of the community to gather for themselves.
Her strength was also evident in her obedience to Naomi's instructions. She dutifully sought Boaz at the threshing floor and lay at his feet (her request for his help as her redeemer). She waited for Boaz to follow the correct procedure (checking that the other closer relative who could have married Ruth didn't want to take up that honour) and put her trust in him to do the right thing.
Boaz The Redeemer
Boaz was related to Ruth's deceased husband. His relationship meant that he was in a position to marry Ruth and thereby continue the family line of the dead man. This is being a kinsman redeemer.
Boaz wasn't the closest relative and before he took Ruth as his bride he checked that the man more closely related was not intending to fulfil the role of Kinsman Redeemer. That man declined, leaving Boaz free to marry Ruth.
Boaz happily stepped up to become the Kinsman Redeemer and in so doing was a forerunner to the Yeshua the Redeemer who was to come later through the line of Boaz's descendants.
Yeshua is our redeemer. He has paid the price for our sin. He became poor so that we may be rich.
Throughout the story of Ruth and Boaz, God shows His caring attention to detail. He has prevailed and His will has been done.
God took the life of one woman who showed love, commitment to her mother in law, humility and lack of personal gain to achieve His great purposes. Through Ruth and her marriage to Boaz the family line continued through their son Obed to Jesse then David, Israel's greatest King and eventually on to our Redeemer Yeshua, King of all Kings.
God used the incidentals to bring His plan to perfection. He brought Ruth out of Moab, (widowed and childless), led her to the field belonging to Boaz, gave her favour with him and blessed them with a son through whom He would bring a King of Israel and a King of Kings.
Ruth was a Gentile, a Moabite. The Moabites were the people descended from Lot's son who occupied the land of Moab east of the Jordan. Her integration with the Jewish people through her first marriage to Naomi's son Mahlon and subsequently her marriage to Boaz is a wonderful indication of God's love for all people and His inclusion of all people in His plan of salvation.
A Gentile woman was chosen to be part of God's plan of salvation. A faithful, gentle, obedient woman was brought in to the lineage of Yeshua. God's will prevails and in this account of Ruth's life when it looked as though the situation was hopeless and decisions taken were leading to disaster God used them for His purpose.
During the feast of Shavuot, the book of Ruth is read as part of the ritual celebrations. It's reading commemorates the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. Ruth is an example of acceptance of the teaching of the Torah as she took on the faith of her mother in law Naomi. Also the books agricultural theme being set during the time of the barley harvest ties it in closely with the time of Shavuot.
What Can We Learn From The Book Of Ruth?
Many texts have been written on the book of Ruth drawing on it's themes of love, obedience and provision. It is a wonderful account of how God can and does use any situation to further his perfect plan. It is significant that God choses a Gentile to be part of the lineage of Christ.
Indeed Both Rahab, the prostitute and Ruth, both Gentiles, saw in God's people, His Spirit and were drawn to follow God and serve Him. Both women were commended and blessed by God.
As Gentile believers we are graciously grafted in to the tree Romans 11:11-24. Verse 17 of that passage in Romans 11 explains: "...although a wild olive shoot, grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing roots of the olive tree."
God mercifully touches the lives of anyone who is open to his call and willing to obey.