The story of Ruth is one of the most intriguing, well-told stories in the entire Bible. During the time of the judges, a man named Elimelech took his wife, Naomi, and two sons from Bethlehem to the country of Moab because of a famine. These were dark days for Israel and the famine was quite severe to force people to leave their homes. In time, the boys grew up and married Moabite girls. Eventually, the father and both sons died. Naomi was left in a foreign country where she lacked a husband, lacked youth, and lacked finances. When Naomi decided to return to Bethlehem, one of her widowed daughter-in-laws, Ruth, begged to stay with her. Naomi was willing to let Ruth return to her family and Ruth was willing to leave her family to take care of Naomi.
Ruth provided for Naomi and herself by gleaning in the fields of a well-to-do farmer named Boaz. Gleaners were poor people who picked up stalks o grain the harvesters had missed in the fields. In Godâ€™s providence, Boaz was a kinsman-redeemer in Elimelechâ€™s family. A kinsman-redeemer was a male relative who had the privilege or responsibility to act for a relative who was in trouble, danger or in need of vindication. Boaz and Ruth ended up getting married after Boaz took care of her economic needs and arranged for her family genealogy to remain in tact. As a result she became the great-grandmother of David and an ancestor in the line of the Messiah. Ruth came to know the God of Israel through Naomi.
There are five themes of this story:
Ruthâ€™s life was guided by faithfulness. Ruthâ€™s faithfulness to Naomi as a daughter-in-law and friend is a great example of love and loyalty. Ruth, Naomi and Boaz are also faithful to God and his laws. Throughout the story God is also faithful to his people.
Ruth showed great kindness to Naomi. In turn, Boaz showed kindness to Ruth â€" a despised Moabite woman with no money by buying back land to guarantee Ruth and Naomiâ€™s inheritance. God showed his kindness to Ruth, Naomi and Boaz by bringing them together or his purposes.
Ruth showed high moral character by being loyal to Naomi, by her clean break from her former land and customs, and by her hard work in the fields. Boaz showed integrity in his moral standards, his honesty, and by following through on his commitments.
God cared for and protected the lives of Naomi and Ruth. His supreme control over circumstances brings them safety and security. He guides the minds and activities o people to fulfill his purpose.
Ruth and Naomi came to Bethlehem as poor widows, but they soon became prosperous through Ruthâ€™s marriage to Boaz. Ruth became the great-grandmother of King David. Yet the greatest blessing was not the money, the marriage, or the child; it was the quality of love and respect between Ruth, Boaz and Naomi. People tend to think of blessings in terms of prosperity rather than the high-quality relationships God makes possible for his people. Love is the greatest blessing.
This is one of the few Biblical stories where the majority of the characters are selfless, giving, and have pure motives for their actions. It is a great example of taking the resources God gave someone and that person using them selflessly to meet the needs of other people. â€œBut Ruth replied, â€˜Donâ€™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 anything but death separates you and meâ€™â€ (Ruth 1:16, 17).
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