I often wondered, as I read through the Torah, what Israelite life would have looked like had they obeyed the Law God gave them.
Ruth 2 provides us with a small glimpse of what might have happened.
Poor, Alien Widows
No, that is not the title of a new sci-fi movie I am working on. It is the category of person that Ruth falls into.
Her husband is dead, she is a Moabite (a fact we learn many many times as we read the story), and she has no means of wealth generation. Such people have had a rough time throughout history.
But things are supposed to be different in Israel.
These people are to be cared for. You look after them. You don’t make laws that oppress them. You welcome them into your land because you were once an alien in a strange land.
Ruth is allowed to glean from the barley fields. That means people are taking God’s law seriously.
Ruth is welcomed to Boaz’s table. That means he is taking God’s law seriously.
Boaz instructs his young men and servants to leave her alone and let her collect her food. That means he is taking God’s law seriously.
The book of Ruth is like a bubble of goodness and sanity in the chaos of the Judges era.
Boaz: Ruth = Ruth: Naomi
In chapter 1, Ruth made a covenant with Naomi. She acted like God to her mother-in-law.
In chapter 2, though he doesn’t make a covenant (yet), Boaz acts like God to Ruth.
“May the LORD reward you for your deeds, and may you have a full reward from the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have some for refuge!”
Boaz says this after allowing Ruth to glean from his fields. Shortly after saying it, he invites her to eat at his table until she is satisfied. Then he lets her glean from fields that haven’t even been harvested yet. That is going above the requirements of the law.
Boaz becomes the answer to his own blessing.
He wants God to bless Ruth, so he blesses her.
He even offers her refuge and protection by instructing the young men to not “bother” her. I guess young men have always liked to “bother” foreign women.
Might one of the lessons of Ruth be that God reveals himself through our personal interactions? If you want someone to know God’s love and blessing, love and bless them.
More Jesus Connections
I also said before that I don’t really like making super strong connections to Jesus just yet, but Ruth keeps surprising me.
Last chapter, Naomi was the prodigal son.
Today, Boaz is the “Prominent rich man” who returns from a journey to check on what his servants have been doing with his property. Just like the characters Jesus uses over and over again in his parables.
And finally, Boaz gives Ruth so much food that she is “satisfied and had some left over.” That is what Jesus did when he fed the 5,000.
Not sure what to make of these connections, but they are fun to discover!
What is one way you want to love and bless someone today?