A Word To Women
The story of Ruth begins in Israel with the family of Elimelech and Naomi. Set during the period of the judges, the land was experiencing famine, both physically and spiritually. The book of Judges ends by telling us that “every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (21:25). Therefore it is no surprise to find Elimelech and Naomi packing their bags and taking their two sons from Bethlehem to seek prosperity in Moab. It was not a step of faith, and the decade spent there brought little joy. First Elimelech died. Then both sons married Moabite women, and died shortly afterwards. Embittered by her loss, Naomi said on her return to Bethlehem, “I went out full, and the Lord hath brought me home again empty.” (Ruth 1:21).
News of the Lord’s blessing in Bethlehem caused Naomi to return home. It was both a return to the Lord and to His people, and would be instrumental in bringing Ruth to trust in the Lord God of Israel. Initially both her daughters-in-law were ready to go with her. However when given the option to remain in Moab, Orpah turned again to Moab and her gods. Ruth clave to Naomi, making a clear statement of faith, “thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God” (Ruth 1:16). Orpah was like the seed that sprang up quickly but had no root and fell away, whereas Ruth was like the seed which was sown in the good ground and would go on to bear much fruit (Luke 8:11-15).
Ruth had no qualms about going out to glean after the reapers in the harvest field. It was hard and humble work but a blessing provided by the Lord for the poor. It was not by chance that
Ruth happened to glean in the field of Boaz. The Lord was working all things together for good. Boaz was a faithful man in Israel, a kind and observant employer. He was quick to notice Ruth following his reapers and spoke encouragingly to her, “The Lord recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust.” (Ruth 2:12) His words would be fulfilled in a way which he might not have imagined! Like Ruth, the Christian should be an example of industry, even when doing menial work.
Day after day, through barley and wheat harvest, Ruth continued to glean, surreptitiously helped by Boaz’ command to his reapers, “to let fall also some handfuls of purpose for her.” Each evening Ruth generously shared her gleanings with Naomi. Naomi, restored to the Lord, recognised the Lord’s kindness and provision, and believed that the Lord would provide a husband for Ruth. Thinking that Boaz was the closest kinsman she instructed Ruth to go, lie at his feet at the threshing floor, and ask that he spread his skirt over her (marry and protect her). There was no impropriety, and Boaz was impressed with Ruth’s willingness to submit to this Jewish law. He quickly set about clearing the way for Ruth to become his bride. Boaz is a type of Christ, while Ruth typifies the church, the bride of Christ. All that had been lost when Elimelech took his family to Moab was restored or redeemed by Boaz. It is through the descendant of Boaz and Ruth, the Son of David, our Saviour the Lord Jesus Christ that we have been redeemed.
Ruth shines brightly as an example to everyone. As a new convert she fully embraced her new faith being a model of piety, industry, selflessness and obedience.