January 22 - Ruth

Monday, January 23, 2012

January 22 - Ruth

Naomi and her husband and two sons are from Bethlehem.  They travel to Moab because of a famine and end up living there for ten years. The sons do what boys do; meet, fall in love and then marry a couple of local girls – Ruth and Orpah.  Something happens to the men of this family and they die.  Naomi loves her daughters in law, but really wants to return to her home, especially since she has found out that there is food there again.  The three women begin traveling together, but Naomi wants the girls to have full lives, not be stuck as widows in a foreign land, so she tells them to return to their own homes.

At first both refuse – they love Naomi.  Their adult lives have probably been spent with this woman. Finally she persuades Orpah to return, but Ruth offers words that have transcended time.

Entreat me not to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go, I will go and where you rest, I will rest.  Your people will be my people and your God, my God. (Ruth 1:16)

They make it back to Bethlehem just at the beginning of the barley harvest.  One of Naomi’s husband’s relatives was named Boaz.  Ruth, in order to care for her mother-in-law, offered to go into the fields and glean grain after the harvesters had been through the fields.  She did so and Boaz saw her and asked about her.  Then he told her to stay near his women, reaping after them and that she was under his protection.

It made absolutely no sense to her.  She was a foreigner and had no legal rights in Israel.  But, he knew what she had done for Naomi and that was enough. Then, he invited her to eat with him and his workers and told the workers to leave plenty for her in the fields.  She was able to make enough to take money home to Naomi as well as food from the meal she had shared.  She stayed close to Boaz’s young women until the end of both the barley and wheat harvests, living with Naomi throughout. (Ruth 2:23)

Naomi finally convinces Ruth to make things a little more serious with Boaz.  As an honorable man, he ends up taking her as his wife and she bears a son for him.  Naomi became the child’s nurse and he was named Obed.  This child grew up to be the father of Jesse, who was then, in turn, the father of David, the ruler of Israel.

A foreign woman who loved her mother-in-law more than her own life became another great woman in the history of Jesus Christ.  Sometimes sacrifice brings great rewards.