A tragedy. A big decision. A romance. A storybook ending.
These are some of the things we see in movies or read in books, but this is what really happened many years ago, in the book of Ruth.
In ancient Israel, there was a seemingly happy family in the city of Bethlehem, but a great famine struck the land, and there was no food to be found, so it only made sense for the father of this family to move his family away, but he decided to move out of God’s promised land, into the foreign land of Moab. The father’s name was Elimelech, and he moved along with his wife Naomi and his two sons, Mahlon and Chilion. But Elimelech died there shortly after, certainly leaving the family to mourn. Though the family situation wasn’t all bad, as both Mahlon and Chilion got married, to Ruth and Orpah respectively, and they lived there for 10 years. But disaster struck for the family when both Mahlon and Chilion died, leaving the family desolate and saddened. Because of that, Naomi said to herself that she would just go back to her people in Israel, and told her daughter-in-laws to stay in Moab and find new husbands.
The Big Decision
Now Orpah listened to Naomi and bid her farewell, but Ruth was different. She stayed instead, despite Naomi’s pleas for her not to, declaring “Your people shall be my people, And your God, my God.” Ruth took a leap of faith, trusting in God and moving to a completely different place, regardless of what would happen. And for this great leap of faith, God blessed her. It says in Hebrews 11:6 “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Ruth had faith in God, and He rewarded her greatly for it, even though she had many difficulties before, God was working her situation for good.
It started fairly unexpectedly, because when Ruth and Naomi came back to Bethlehem, Ruth wasn’t exactly looking for love, but for work. Ruth knew that they both needed to survive, so she decided to gather the leftover grain that was not harvested by the people who reaped in the fields, as this was allowed under the law in Israel in order to care for widows and orphans. But as she was gleaning in the fields, she happened to be in the field of Boaz, who was a relative of Elimelech’s family.
Now Boaz was a kind and God-fearing man, and he took notice of Ruth’s hard work, so he told her to stay in his field, where he would care for her and no one would bother her. Ruth asked him why he was so kind, and he responded by telling her that he heard of her story, and he was impressed that she was faithful to Naomi and to God. So he continued to care for her while she worked, and she continued working in his field till the end of the harvest. At the end of the harvest, Naomi told Ruth that she should go to Boaz and ask if he could be her kinsman redeemer, which was an unmarried relative who would marry the widow of his deceased family member, so that she would be permanently cared for. So she obeyed Naomi, and she asked Boaz. He replied that he would do it if he was able to, but that there was one closer family member who had the right to redeem Ruth before Boaz did.
The Storybook Ending
So the next day Boaz went to the town and held a council with the closer relative, but he did not want to redeem Ruth, so Boaz was able to redeem her. Then they got married, and after that, God gave them a child named Obed, and one of his descendants was David, and one of David’s descendants was Jesus!
There are many different parts of this story, some of which are happy, and others which are sad, but through it all, we can see God at work in the lives of Ruth, Boaz, and those around them. In our lives, just like Ruth’s, we will have difficult things happen to us, but God will always be redeeming us and working things out for good, even if we cannot see them yet. He is writing a beautiful story in the lives of all of His children, but we must trust Him in faith like Ruth did, even though she couldn’t see the end of the story.
Written by NBB Alumnus: William Saunders