Ruth 4: 13-16 (NIV)
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. The women said to Naomi: “Praise be to the Lord, who this day has not left you without a kinsman redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel! He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth.”
Then Naomi took the child, laid him in her lap and cared for him. The women living there said, “Naomi has a son.” And they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.
Naomi made her way back to Bethlehem from Moab with Ruth, her Moabite daughter-in-law, at her side. As I wrote yesterday, Naomi’s life and family had fallen apart in Moab as her husband and sons died. Moab was a country that did not worship God and in her great despair she chose to return to the land God had intended for her people. The first great sign of God’s loving hand on Naomi is that He stirred Ruth’s heart to leave her own mother and father, her chances for another marriage in her own country, to accompany Ruth and settle with her in Bethlehem. Why is this such a miracle? Such evidence of a woman being affected and hungry for the faith she saw in her mother-in-law? Because Ruth was from a foreign country that worshiped false gods. She would not be welcomed or accepted in Naomi’s homeland. This was the culture and law of the old testament. Kind of like when I was growing up and my parents told me I would become like the people I chose for friends. My parents would extend help or care for people without that person believing exactly what we did or living for God, but they had wisdom to know if I were to associate closely with kids who rejected God it would influence me.
Once Naomi and Ruth arrived in Bethlehem, they needed something to eat! This was such a journey of faith for these women! It had been at least 10 years since Naomi had been in Bethlehem and they did not have email so she couldn’t make arrangements for their arrival! Also, she was well aware that Ruth’s presence could make the situation more difficult. Ruth, however, had a heart to serve… Ruth 2:2 (the message) One day Ruth, the Moabite foreigner, said to Naomi, “I’m going to work; I’m going out to glean among the sheaves, following after some harvester who will treat me kindly.” Basically, this young Moabite widow headed out to the fields to pick up the leftover barley sheaves dropped in the fields by the harvesters. This was part of God’s law to help provide for the poor, but not only was she willing to go out and pick up leftovers all day, she was risking her safety in doing so as a young foreign woman. But here is where God’s providential hand appears again: Ruth 2:3 (the message) And so she set out. She went and started gleaning in a field, following in the wake of the harvesters. Eventually she ended up in the part of the field owned by Boaz, her father-in-law Elimelech’s relative. Ruth ended up in the field of Boaz, a relative of Naomi’s dead husband. As a relative, Boaz was potentially their “kinsman redeemer.” As kinsman, or family redeemer, Boaz could potentially marry Ruth and their first born son would “redeem” Naomi’s family. She would again have a son and this child would receive the inheritance and carry on the family name for her sons. It was like Boaz would give Ruth a son and heir in her dead husband’s place. This may sound completely strange to us but this was God’s way of providing and caring for widows left with no sons to care for them in their old age! Without the kinsman, or family, redeemer Naomi and Ruth would have been left to glean fields for leftover grain the rest of their lives.
Boaz learns of Ruth gleaning in his field and shows her great kindness. And as Naomi discovers Ruth is gleaning in Boaz’s field she guides Ruth in an act of boldness that would change their lives, and ours, forever.
Ruth 3: 1-2, 4 (the message) One day her mother-in-law Naomi said to Ruth, “My dear daughter, isn’t it about time I arranged a good home for you so you can have a happy life? And isn’t Boaz our close relative, the one with whose young women you’ve been working? Maybe it’s time to make our move. Tonight is the night of Boaz’s barley harvest at the threshing floor…When you see him slipping off to sleep, watch where he lies down and then go there. Lie at his feet to let him know that you are available to him for marriage. Then wait and see what he says. He’ll tell you what to do.
As you read in the first scripture above, Boaz did indeed marry Ruth and redeem Naomi’s family line when they had Obed. Obed fathered Jesse who fathered David. As in King David, writer of the Psalms…man after God’s own heart…Goliath killing David! David, who was the ancestor of Jesus. Our Jesus. Our family redeemer.
I pray as you read this your heart will be led by the Holy Spirit to make yourself available to your family redeemer. Like Ruth, I pray you’ll lie down at the feet of Jesus and let Him tell you what to do next. He won’t reject you. As a matter of fact, He is waiting…it’s the very reason God Himself came to us in a mans body and took on the penalty for our Moab travels for all time. It is finished. He is your family redeemer but you must make yourself available. Boaz may have been in position as family redeemer but there was no redemption until Ruth made herself available. No matter how long your stay in Moab has been, your family redeemer is at the threshing floor. It’s harvest time. He is kind, gentle and compassionte…He knows you are weary from your travels…He knows you are worn out from gleaning for provision. He is all the provision you will ever need and He will sit you at His table. He will dress you in forgiveness and mercy. He will place on your head a crown of inheritance and around your neck garlands of grace. Jesus came to us for this very reason. This is who He is. He makes all things new. Redemption happens in a life available to the redeemer.