A great love story - Ruth 2: 17-23
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In our previous reading we witnessed the industriousness of Ruth, who leaves her family and country to take care of Naomi, her mother-in-law. In this reading we will witness the conversation of these two women once Ruth returns home after spending the whole day gleaning at the fields. And we will learn more about Boaz. All of this will help us understand why Ruth is a love story that points to THE great love story.
1. Ruth worked hard all day. With what does she return to her mother-in-law's house and how does her mother-in-law react?
Ruth gleaned in the field until evening. Then she threshed the barley. The fruit of her labor is an ephah of barley (that is, about twenty kilos). Not only that, she also takes home what she did not eat so that Naomi can be satisfied. Ruth, with her attitude, is being a blessing to Naomi. Naomi reacts with surprise, her daughter-in-law has brought a lot of barley! Her daughter-in-law is really taking care of her! These are indications that God has not abandoned her. Ruth's beautiful words, ‘I will go where you go, and I will live where you live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. I will die where you die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord punish me severely if he separates me from you by something other than death!’, are coming true. In Ruth, love is not only beautiful words, but they are accompanied by a dedication in service that honors God. We have a lot to learn from her.
2. What does this show us about Boaz?
In this short dialogue, Naomi blesses the one who has been generous. Here, knowing that the good one is Boaz, she blesses him again. But this time she mentions God: 'The Lord bless him!', v. 20. We need to take note of this, because the last time she mentioned God there was bitterness in her heart (Ruth 1:27). But now she recognizes that God is showing His goodness to them. Naomi is changing.
Naomi tells Ruth that Boaz is a close relative, one of those who can redeem them, that is, one who can rescue them from this situation of dire need in which these two women find themselves. To understand this, we need a little more information. A close relative (a ‘redeemer’) was a relative who could take on the responsibility of caring for extended family members who were in great need. The Law (see Deuteronomy 25:5-10) stipulated that a brother would marry the widow of a dead brother to care for her. If there were no siblings, as in this case, that responsibility could be assumed by the closest relative. He was not obliged to do so, so another close relative could take responsibility. Boaz is a close relative of theirs.
Christ is our ‘close relative’. In Philippians 2: 6-8, Paul tells us that Jesus left what was his to come to this world to rescue us. 1 Peter 1:18,19 tells us that 'it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.' We have a glorious future with God because we have been rescued by Christ.
In Hebrews 2:11-18 we read that Jesus is not ashamed to call us brothers and that Jesus atoned for our sins. Let us thank God for our Redeemer. What Christ has done for us is the greatest love story of the Bible.
3. What is Naomi's advice to Ruth?
“It will be good for you, my daughter, to go with the women who work for him, because in someone else’s field you might be harmed.” Naomi is acting like Ruth's mother, seeking her good. We can praise God that Naomi has returned to being a sweet woman.
Think: When Naomi describes Boaz, she is literally saying Boaz is "our rescuer." For the first time we hear something other than a complaint from Naomi. What happens in others when we are kind?
Ideas for prayer: Thank God that Christ, our "rescuer," has shown his goodness. Ask Him to grant you the privilege of responding with kindness to the kindness you have received from God, and that your life points to Christ, the Rescuer.
Psalm 27:1, 14
The Lord is my light and my salvation -
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life -
of whom shall I be afraid?
Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord.
Pray with us today's prayer request:
Youthworks in Sydney Diocese supports children's and youth ministry in churches, camps ministry, and school ministry. These have all been restricted through lockdowns. Pray for effective ways of developing disciple-making partnerships with parents and carers.
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