Saturday, January 21, 2017


Women of Israel's Heroic Age

Ruth: "The Faithful Daughter-In-Law"

Key Scriptures: Ruth 2-4, Matthew 1:5. Ruth 1 & 2 Love is demonstrated. Ruth 3 & 4 Love is rewarded.

Her Character: Ruth was intelligent, strong, loyal and level-headed.

Her Sorrow: She lost her husband, homeland, and family.

Her Joy: To discover firsthand the generous, loyal, and loving nature of God, as He provided her with a husband, a son, and a home to call her own.

Pre-Story: Naomi, her husband, and her two sons all leave Israel because of a famine and head to the country of Moab. Naomi’s husband soon dies and she is left with her two sons who then marry Ruth and Orpah, two Moabite women. Naomi’s two sons die soon after and only the women are left.

Her Story: Ruth’s life story began in Moab, where, as a young Moabite woman, she married a man from Bethlehem. Her husband, along with his family, had moved to Moab because of a famine in the land of Judah. Tragically, both Ruth’s husband and his brother died. Her mother-in-law, Naomi, also a widow, was the only one of the original family still living. Ruth’s husband, Mahlon, was the first-born of Elimelech and Naomi. Like their father, Elimelech, Mahlon and Chilion found graves in foreign soil, and the desolation of widowhood came upon both Ruth and Orpah, who became sharers of Naomi’s desolation.

Ten years of widowhood left Ruth and Orpah without material resources of support, and were facing  biting poverty. Bound together by a bond of common grief, the three widows found consolation in each other’s company. As famine had passed in Bethlehem, the decision was made to pull up stakes and return to Naomi's country and people. All three left Moab together, but on the way they stopped and Naomi urged them to return to their own country. Orpah, kissing her mother-in-law she went back to her people and to her gods.

As for Ruth, the choice was different. She loved Naomi and was willing to leave her own land and share the unknown future with the aging woman in whom her life was bound up. Ruth found in Naomi a home for her heart. Ruth said; “Listen to me, Naomi!” As she spoke; “Do not urge me to leave you or return from following you,” she said. “For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. “Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried.’ May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” Ruth 1:16-17. “Oh my child,” Naomi whispered, “When your husband died I thought I had lost a son and a daughter, but you have put your faith in the LORD and become one of the Children of Israel.”

Naomi and Ruth returned to their city of Bethlehem about the time of the barley harvest. When they arrived Naomi's friends found it hard to believe that this was the same beautiful woman who had left them ten years before. They greeted her by calling her name "Mara" Naomi answered; “Call me bitter; I have been sent away full but now am returning empty."

Naomi and Ruth had returned to the city of Bethlehem about the time of the barley harvest. “Please let me go among the fields and glean heads of grain,” said Ruth. Naomi responded, "Go, my daughter.” Ruth then went to a nearby field and gleaned after the reapers. The poor of the land were welcomed to go into fields that had already been reaped and gather whatever fragments they could find. The field, as it turned out, was owned by Boaz, a close relative of Elimelech, Naomi’s husband. Boaz was a kind man. When he went into the fields to talk with the reapers, he noticed a woman gleaning from the remnants of barley. “Who is this woman,” he asked the reapers.

The servant in charge answered, “It is the young Moabite woman who came back with Naomi from the country of Moab. She came early this morning to ask if she could glean and gather after the reapers.” Boaz then went to Ruth, “You will listen, my daughter, will you not? Do not go to glean in another field, nor go from here, but stay close by my young women. Go after them and glean.” He also commanded his young men not to touch her, but to protect her, and even leave some extra barley for her to glean.

When Ruth returned home and told Naomi what had happened, Naomi told Ruth that God had led her to the field of one of their nearest kinsman. All of the remaining harvest time, Ruth gleaned in Boaz’ fields to provide for her mother-in-law and herself. Naomi was pleased when she heard all that had transpired. When the barley and wheat harvests were done, Naomi told Ruth to do something very strange. She told her to wash herself, put on her best garment, and go to the threshing floor where the men were winnowing the grain. Stay in hiding until the threshing is done. Then, after the men have eaten and drunk, while his heart is cheerful, go quietly and lay down at Boaz’ feet.

In the night, Boaz awoke and noticed there was a woman lying at his feet. “Who are you?” Boaz asked the woman. “I am Ruth, your maidservant. Take your maidservant under your wing, for you are a close relative,” replied Ruth. Boaz said there was another relative closer; he had to go speak to the man to see if he wanted to be the kinsman redeemer. Early that morning, Boaz went to the town gates and waited for his relative to come by. He didn’t have to wait long. When he saw his brother, he took him aside and said, “You are the closest relative to Elimelech. Do you want to buy his land?”

The relative answered, “Yes, I would like to buy the land.” Boaz then said, “On the day you redeem the land, you will also get Ruth the Moabite, the wife of the dead.” “In that case,” the relative answered, “I cannot redeem the land. You redeem it instead.” With all hurdles past, Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife.

The people and elders who were at the city gate pronounced a blessing on the bride and bridegroom that was prophetic: “The LORD make the woman who is coming to your house like Rachel and Leah, the two who built the house of Israel; and may you prosper in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem. May your house be like the house of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah, because of the offspring which the LORD will give you from this young woman” (Ruth 4:11-12).

The Lord blessed Ruth and Boaz with a son that they named Obed. A royal lineage came from Boaz and Ruth, as Obed was the grandfather of King David. And from King David’s royal line came the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

The book of Ruth ends with Naomi holding Ruth and Boaz’s blessed child. According to Jewish history, Ruth lived long enough to see her great-great-grandson Solomon crowned as King of Israel.

Her Place in God's Divine Plan: Ruth was an intricate part of God’s plan. Ruth has special significance for Christians: Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus (Matthew 1:2-17) lists four women. Ruth is one of them.

Her Challenges Along the Way: Bereft of her husband, Ruth was left without material resources of support, and would face the hard and bitter lot of a biting poverty.

Her Victories: Ruth is an example of how God can change a life and take it in a direction He has ordained.

Lesson We Can Learn from Her Legacy: Don't let your past hold you back. Ruth didn’t allow her past to hold her back but believed there was life still to be lived and move forward in that confidence. Remain full of faith. You might not be able to see what God is doing, but trust that He is moving. Value Great Character. Be the woman you know God created you to be. Believe Redemption is Possible. Ruth had no reason to believe she had earned anything but believed God was everything she needed. Know that God is gracious, good, and that He loves you. If you find yourself discouraged on this journey, take another look at the life of Ruth and remember that God works for the good of His people.

Born: Ruth lived sometime during the time when there were Judges in Israel. Judges covered 330 years of Israel history (1450-1120 bc)
Parents:  (?)
Married: Boaz (1120 BC)
Children: Obed (1120 BC)
Linage to Jesus
Jesse (born ~ (1080 BC)
David (born ~ (1040 BC)

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