*image originated here
Ruth 1 – 4
In American culture today the role of women is a heated conversation. Women are fighting for equality in pay, treatment, language, opportunity, and power. None of these goals are evil in and of themselves. In fact, they fall within the responsibility of every person to simply do the right thing by their fellow human beings. For some of the more passionate feminists, it is an insult to suggest that women should desire to have a husband, children, and home. It is especially disgusting to them that men would dare to desire women with such a longing. They believe these women to be unenlightened, uneducated, and victims of male domination and oppression. Sadly the consequences of this fight for “equality” have led to something much worse. We have lost sight of the beauty and strength in our differences. We have lost sight of the blessings a family, centered upon God’s will, will pour out. Instead of equality, we place women as better than men and silence all those who would say that arrangement isn’t quite right, those people are simply bigoted and sexist. Ruth tells a very story. Her legacy is her love for her family and willingness to work hard and take risks.
Chapter 1 [A New Beginning]
In the days of the Judges, there was famine in the land of Israel. Therefore, Elimelech the Ephraimite takes his wife and two sons from the city of Bethlehem to place in the country of Moab. Remember that Moab is one of Israel’s enemies and even the LORD has banned them from entering His sanctuary for very, very long time. This family moved to Moab to escape death, but death becomes their close companion. Elimelech dies. His two sons marry Moabite women and then they die.
Naomi, Elimelech’s widow, hears that the famine has ended in Israel and that God has come to the aid of His people. So she gathers her daughters-in-law to begin the journey home. She tells both of her daughters-in-law to return to their families and their gods. She blesses them praying that God will give them comfort in again being able to build families of their own. Orpah turns back, but Ruth stays by Naomi’s side. Again along the road Naomi blesses Ruth and tell her to go home. Ruth will not hear of it anymore.
“‘Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you will go I will go, and where you will stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried, May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me.”‘
Seeing Ruth’s determination, Naomi doesn’t bring up the subject again. So the two go on together to the city of Bethlehem. The people there are greatly excited by their return and are surprised to see Naomi again. Naomi tells them not to call her by they name anymore because the LORD has brought such misfortune on her house, instead, they should call her Mara meaning bitter old hag. They arrive just as the barley harvest is beginning.
Chapter 2 [God blesses Ruth’s Work]
Naomi still has relatives in Bethlehem Chapter 2 tells us, one of wich is Boaz, who is a man of standing.
Ruth goes to Naomi and asks her permission to go and glean in the fields what is left behind by the harvesters so that they will have food to eat. Naomi blesses her and sends her off to work. By chance, Ruth finds herself in one of Boaz’s field gleaning among his servant girls. Boaz arrives from Bethlehem in the fields blessing his workers and in turn being blessed by them. He notices Ruth gleaning in his fields and asks his foreman who she is. The foreman tells him that she is the Moabitess who has returned with Naomi and has been working hard in the fields all morning.
Now two things I would like to point out here because I find them stunning in a beautiful way.
- Ruth is working very hard to provide for her family in the only way available to her without a word of expectation or complaint
- Because she is working so hard, she is undoubtedly a sweaty gross mess in really practical clothes: Boaz notices the beauty of her character and appearance anyways
At the midday meal, he asks her to eat with him and he gives her plenty left over to take home to Naomi. He also tells her not to leave his fields during the harvest, but to stay near his servant girls and glean, there she will not be harmed because he has commanded his men concerning her. She is humbled by his attention and agrees. He tells his men privately not to harass her even if she gleans among the uncut sheaves instead they are to cut stalks from the bundles and leave them for her to gather. Returning home that night she has gathered about an ephah of flour (22 liters). Naomi is excited to see how God has blessed Ruth’s hard work by leading her to the field of one of their kinsman redeemers, giving her more than enough barley to gather, and a man who will protect her from harassment while providing willingly for their needs. Naomi is even more relieved to hear that Boaz has bid her return and work in his fields for the remainder of the harvest.
Chapter 3 [Ruth is a risk taker]
At the end of the harvest, there is a great festival. Naomi tells Ruth to get all dressed up and go to the threshing floor where Boaz will be celebrating with his men, but she is not to let him know she is there until he finishes eating. When he lies down to sleep Ruth is to go uncover his feet and lay down by them, then he will tell her what they should do. Ruth does all that Naomi advises. For Ruth, this is a great risk. If he doesn’t feel the same way about her or ask with dishonor it could ruin her reputation which would also end any chances of her building a family with any other man. When Boaz awakes and realizes a woman is at his feet he asks her who she is. Ruth tells him and he blesses her knowing how she has not thrown herself at any of the other young men in their town either rich or poor. He has her stay where she is until morning but has her leave before anyone will recognize her to protect her reputation. He sends her home to Naomi with 6 measures of barley in her shawl not wanting her to return empty handed. He must go and ensure that the kinsmen redeemer closer to Ruth in his rights does not want to fulfill that duty and if he will not then Boaz will take Ruth as his wife.
Chapter 4 [The Legacy of Family]
The other man does not want to fulfill his duties concerning Naomi and Ruth so he turns over that right to Boaz. The people bless Boaz and Ruth that their line will be strong and numerous. They are married and have a son named Obed. Therefore Naomi was happy again.
“So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. Then he went to her, and the LORD enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son.”
It is God who gives her the gift of a child, not Boaz and not her own power as a woman. Only God can truly give life. From this life, Obed becomes the father of Jesse and Jesse the father of David King of Israel! Ruth made a difference in the nation because of her faith, her hard work, and her love. In turn, this blesses her husband, her mother-in-law and her son. If you think this woman is a victim or unhappy with the role she has played in history there is nothing that will change your mind. Yet it is beautiful that even in a role as traditional as a wife and mother God can use an ordinary girl to make great and extraordinary things possible!
I can tell you from the depths of my heart that I desire a Boaz and would be blessed beyond measure to see God do such wonderful things in my life because I’ve chosen to follow Him first. I can think of no greater gift than being a mother and hope I never lose sight of the treasures my Mom, Grandmothers, and Great-Grandmothers have been to me. They have passed to me the greatest legacy of all, the light to the that led to my Saviour, my Redeemer Jesus Christ The Eternal King!!!