As part of my Thursday night bible study, I have been studying the Book of Ruth, so I thought I would reflect on it this month. The Book of Ruth one of the books of the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament placed between Judges and 1 Samuel, a short book consisting of only four chapters.
Set during the time of the Judges a famine causes an Israelite family to move from Bethlehem to nearby Moab. Elimelech dies. His two sons who married Moabite women: Ruth and Orpah also die. Naomi decides to return to Bethlehem telling her daughters-in-law to return to their own families. Eventually and relunlantly Orpah does. However, Ruth says, “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. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” (Ruth 1:16–17)
Naomi and Ruth return to Bethlehem during the barley harvest, in order to support her mother-in-law Ruth goes to the fields to glean. The field belongs to Boaz, who is kind to her because of her loyalty to her mother-in-law. Ruth tells her mother-in-law of Boaz’s kindness.
As a close relative, Boaz is obliged by the Levirate law to marry Ruth in order to carry on the family line. Naomi sends Ruth to the threshing floor at night and tells her to “uncover the feet” of the sleeping Boaz. Ruth does. Boaz awakes. Ruth identifies herself. She asks Boaz to spread his cloak over her, for a man to spread his cloak over a woman showed acquisition of that woman. Boaz states he is willing to “redeem” Ruth via marriage, but informs Ruth that there is another male relative who has the first right of redemption.
The next morning, Boaz discusses the issue with the other male relative before the town elders. The other male relative is unwilling and relinquishes his right of redemption, allowing Boaz to marry Ruth. Boaz and Ruth get married have a son named Obed. In the genealogy concluding the story, it is pointed out that Obed is the father of Jesse, and the grandfather of David.
This book teaches us what life with God really looks like.
Hope plays a major role in this book. Hope is extremely important. We need hope. Hope that things will get better that there is meaning to what happens (good and bad) that even in suffering there is a reason. Hope that in our darkest hours when everything seems lost and no one seems to be on our side that God is with and for us. Hope is dangerous. Just a little hope can drive a man crazy with the assurance that God is good and loves us in spite of ourselves. Just a little hope will alter our lives, always for the better. Hope always has the last word. Hope is the last word.
Through Ruth, we see how a disciple of Jesus is to live not for our own sake but for the sake of others. Ruth was not gathering food for herself. She was doing it for Naomi. In the first chapter, we saw how Ruth vowed to stand by Naomi and throughout the book we see what this means and how it works out. Ruth steps out in faith and God uses her to bless all. Without Ruth, there would be no David no Jesus. Ruth is the vessel by which the messiah-king will enter history. Ruth is an important character for both Jews and Christians. We find our common destiny in her.
There was some serious risk in this book. Naomi and Ruth return alone from Moab to Bethlehem. Naomi’s plan risked Ruth and Boaz’ reputation, risked Ruth’s life, risked her chances with Boaz. Ruth’s agreement to follow Naomi had her acting out of her normal character. I believe that to love is to risk. We risk being hurt and rejected by stepping out and loving others. To a certain extent, we will be hurt even if our love is not thrown back at us. Love hurts. Love is dangerous. Love is risky. Love is serious. This is what makes love so transformative, such a worthy endeavor; if love wasn’t so risky, dangerous, and life transforming it wouldn’t so powerful and fulfilling.
Love and hope are two things each Christ follower is called to do.
We don’t have to be supermen and women to live lives that honor God it simply means to be as loving in each moment, to show up to our lives knowing that we will stumble, but we have a loving God who is with us always.
This book has shown me to follow God means to live my life the best I can in every moment.
If you have not read this short, but powerful book, you may want to give it a read through. It could transform your life.