Lucia's Blog: THE ISRAELITES IN CANAAN: RUTH
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Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9

Thursday, March 27, 2014

THE ISRAELITES IN CANAAN: RUTH

But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; 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.  Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may the Lord do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me.”
Ruth 1:16-17


THE BOOK OF RUTH

GIANTS OF THE FAITH:  RUTH

The Book of Ruth is such a breath of fresh air after all the sad and ugly events of the Book of Judges.  It is also such an inspiring, heart-felt Bible story of faith, loyalty and unconditional love.  The book begins with Naomi, a widow whose husband and sons have died, leaving her in despair without hope of an heir to carry on the family name.  Naomi also had a very unique and special daughter-in-law named Ruth.  The book ends with the same Naomi  holding her grandson who will become David’s grandfather hence one of Jesus' ancestors.  The Book of Ruth is one of my favorite Bible stories in the Old Testament because it is so rich with grace, mercy, beauty, loyalty and love.

The Book of Ruth is divided into six sections.  This beautiful book offers several similarities between the first and sixth sections, the second and fifth sections and the third and fourth sections.  This literary scheme is called a "chiasm," and it is found throughout the Scriptures.  This was a way to draw attention or emphasize something.   This chiasm helped the listeners to remember Scriptures more easily.

NAOMI'S SORROW (Ruth 1:1-5):    Naomi, her husband and sons were from the line of Judah. Naomi’s family were from Ephrath, the old name for Bethlehem.  When a famine struck the land during the days the judges governed,  they sojourned in the land of Moab.  Although they are in a foreign land, they chose to remain godly people determined to reject and embrace the gods of the foreigners.  This beautiful story opens with the deaths of Naomi’s husband and two sons.  She finds herself left alone in despair and without hope, along with two widowed daughters-in-law far from her homeland.  Notice that both daughters-in-law are Moabites, Gentiles.

THE CHOICE (Ruth 1:6-22):    When the famine is over, Naomi decides to go back home, to the land of Judah, little Bethlehem.  It is then that she realized she had nothing to offer her two daughters-in-law, Ruth and Orpah so she tells them to go back to their own mothers' house in order that they might be able to find husbands for themselves.  At first they both refuse but when Naomi appeals a second time, one of the daughters-in-law, Orpah, agrees to leave, leaving her with the other daughter-in-law, Ruth, who chooses to stay loyal to her mother-in-law, even though that meant leaving her own home.  I am convinced that the reason why Ruth wanted to remain with Naomi was because of the faith, conviction and beauty of her mother-in-law's righteous life and faith.  This would allow Ruth to declare her own love and loyalty to Naomi and faith in her God Jehovah.  The following is Ruth's reply to Naomi when she asked her to leave: 

"But Ruth said, 'Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; 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.  Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may the Lord do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me."   This makes my eyes water!

The two women then arrived in Bethlehem.  Naomi told her people all of her sorrows and loss.  At this point Naomi and Ruth are destitute and alone.


RUTH MEETS BOAZ (Ruth 2):  Under the Old Testament law, the law stated that when one reaped his  harvest, he had to leave the corners of  the field, nor could he gather the gleanings of his harvest so that the alien, the orphan and the widow could go behind the harvesters and glean whatever was left, Leviticus 19:9 and Deuteronomy 24:19.  It turns out that Naomi had a rich relative named Boaz. By “chance” when Ruth went out to glean, she came upon his fields. Boaz treated her kindly for the sake of his kinsman and gave her food.  Finally hope had arrived for both Ruth and Naomi!  When Boaz saw Ruth, he praised her for her faithfulness and loyalty toward Naomi.  He blessed her for it.  Boaz arranged things so that Ruth would find more to glean than the average widow.  At mealtime Boaz said to her, “Come here, that you may eat of the bread and dip your piece of bread in the vinegar. So she sat beside the reapers; and he served her roasted grain, and she ate and was satisfied and had some left. When she rose to glean, Boaz commanded his servants, saying, 'Let her glean even among the sheaves, and do not insult her. Also you shall purposely pull out for her some grain from the bundles and leave it that she may glean, and do not rebuke her.”  Ruth 2:14-16.

We can clearly see Boaz placing protection around Ruth and being kind to her.  When Ruth returned home she told Naomi everything.  When Naomi realized that Boaz was a kinsman redeemer, she praised God because He had not forgotten or forsaken them.  What a loving, kind and merciful God we serve!!!


RUTH PROPOSES TO BOAZ (Ruth 3):   Naomi encouraged Ruth into an action that would bring security to her daughter-in-law. Naomi sent Ruth to the threshing floor where the harvested grain was separated from the straw by threshing so that she could indicate to Boaz that she wanted him to redeem her.  Naomi coaxed Ruth into going to Boaz while he is sleeping , uncovering his feet and lying down at his  feet. When Boaz awoke, he said, “Who are you?” And she answered, “I am Ruth your maid. So spread your covering over your maid, for you are a close relative.” Then he said, “May you be blessed of the Lord, my daughter. You have shown your last kindness to be better than the first by not going after young men, whether poor or rich.  Now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you whatever you ask, for all my people in the city know that you are a woman of excellence.  Now it is true I am a close relative; however, there is a relative closer than I. Remain this night, and when morning comes, if he will redeem you, good; let him redeem you. But if he does not wish to redeem you, then I will redeem you, as the Lord lives.  Lie down until morning.”  Ruth 3:9-13.

When she left in the morning she told everything to Naomi.  Ruth said,  "These six measures of barley he gave to me, for he said, ‘Do not go to your mother-in-law empty-handed.’” Then she said, “Wait, my daughter, until you know how the matter turns out; for the man will not rest until he has settled it today.”  Ruth 3:17-18.

THE CHOICE (Ruth 4:1-12):    Boaz goes to the city gate, where business was usually conducted, and offers Naomi's land to the other relative, that was the closest kinsman redeemer, in the presence of a group of ten elders.  At first the kinsman redeemer wanted the land, but when he realized that Ruth was part of the deal, he refused to redeemer her.  Boaz then claimed his right to redeem the land and Ruth.  Boaz pledged himself to Ruth before the elders and all the people.  Finally, Ruth and Naomi were no longer alone and destitute!  God provided both a home and a heritage. 

NAOMI'S JOY (Ruth 4:13-22):    Boaz married Ruth and she bore him a son, Obed. Obed was the father of Jesse, father of David.  Naomi, the desolate widow, now had a grandchild from her husband’s line to love and cherish.  What a beautiful story of God's providence!

THE KINSMAN REDEEMER:    Something interesting to note under the Law of Moses, is that if a person was forced to sell his property or sell himself into slavery, his nearest kin were allowed to step in and buy back whatever he sold.  This buyer was known as the "kinsman redeemer."  Also, if a family member died without an heir, the kinsman redeemer could carry on his name by marrying his widow and rear any son in the name of the widow's dead husband, his kinsman.  You can read of this in Leviticus 25:25, 48; Deuteronomy 25:5; Genesis 38:8.


Notice that both of these factors came into play in this beautiful story of Ruth.  Ruth was a widow who had borne her husband no heir leaving her in need of a kinsman redeemer to carry on her husband's line.  Also, since she was a  widow, she was eligible to receive part of her husband's estate along with his other property, Ruth 4:4-5.  Ruth decided to take advantage of this law, when Naomi made it known to her that she was selling her son's land.  In this way God provided for the widows as long as faithful Israelites like Boaz upheld the law.

A FINAL NOTE ABOUT THE BOOK OF JUDGES AND RUTH
The Book of Judges begins with hope but deteriorates into despair, closing with the pronouncement that Israel had no king.  The Book of Ruth on the other hand, begins with despair and no hope which later changes into hope.  The Book of Ruth closes with a genealogy.  The last name listed is that of Israel's greatest king, yet to be born:  Ruth’s great-grandson.

JESUS ANCESTORS UP TO THIS POINT
Abraham - Isaac - Jacob - Judah and Tamar - Perez - Hezron - Ram - Amminadab - Nashon - Salmon and Rahab - Boaz and Ruth - Obed - Jesse - King David



This beautiful story of Ruth shows clearly what happens when God's people uphold His good laws.  In my next study we will consider the transition to government by kings.


Luci