Many Christians know the story of Ruth and describe this book as a love story. True enough, it’s a love story weaved by the divine Master-weaver. But as this story unfolds, we realized that it’s more than just a love story. There’s a greater love story much more than the story of Ruth and Boaz. Each character in this book portrays an amazing role of how God used them in such ways to give glory to God and for us to see how God surprisingly works behind each scene.
The first scene of this book happened during a period of time when there was a continual disobedience to God by the Israelites. We read in the book of Judges when they had done such terrible compromises that led to a downward spiral of consequences. Thus, one family moved from Bethlehem to Moab because of a severe famine in the land resulted from the disobedience of the people. Hmmm… Who would have thought that a sorrowful tragedy at first would turn into a surprising triumph in the end? Everything was orchestrated, arranged and set up by God alone.
Let me dig deeper into each of the main characters of this book and be captivated of how God has supernaturally provided and weaved them together to fulfill His one great plan. At the same time, we’ll see how we can be inspired and learn from them as we look at the life principles behind this enthralling story in the Old Testament.
Three main characters, each played a remarkable role, One divine director. A fascinating story that foreshadows to the One great love story of all time.
1. Naomi. Who amongst us can relate for some time to Naomi’s life? From a painful and deep loss to an unexpected blessing, from sorrows into joy, from mourning into dancing, from emptiness into fullness. If you read the book of Ruth, you can see that it starts with Naomi and ends with Naomi. Her name actually means “pleasant.” But all of a sudden, she suffered a grievous tragedy like Job in the Bible. Almost everything was taken away from her. From the severe famine in their homeland, to the death of her husband, then the death of her two sons. That’s why from a name means “pleasant”, she decided to change it into a meaning of “bitterness.”
Maybe at some point, if we were in Naomi’s shoes, we would have mourned as well. It was tough, losing everything you worked hard and people you love the most. But one of the things that amazes me when I studied this book is God’s sovereign timeline. The whole chapter 1 happened for 10 years long (ch. 1:4). All those sufferings Naomi went through was a period of ten years. But wait for it. The whole turn of events happened in just one day, the whole chapter 2. You see, God may allow some challenges for us to face, deep struggles to endure, heavy luggage to carry. Just hang in there! It may take a long time like what Naomi had gone through. But you’ll get the blessing in just a span of day. I mean, our timeline is different from His. When God brings His answers, He surprisingly does everything you have been praying for, in continuous times or it could be for a lifetime. The only thing was Naomi got bitter instead of rejoicing amidst the pain. Let’s learn from Naomi that we shouldn’t leave rooms of bitterness, disappointments, depression or anything that puts us down emotionally or spiritually. Everything is gonna work out when it’s already God’s time. All it takes is to see the hand of God moving in our lives or even if we might not see His hands, He is just busy working behind the scenes, so trust His heart! And as the story continues to unfold, Naomi became pleasant again in chapter 2 after she learned from Ruth that someone in the name of Boaz could be their family’s redeemer.
2. Ruth. This book is obviously named after this woman of loyalty, faithfulness, obedience and character. Such an inspiring woman, someone who chose to live her life with those attributes in spite of her deep loss as well. It wasn’t easy for Ruth when she lost her husband and the poverty in their land (chapter 1). But she displayed loyalty and faithfulness when she decided to go with Naomi in a foreign country which highlights a remarkable statement of what she said, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, even if death separates you and me.” (ch. 1:16-17) We see Ruth’s love and commitment to Naomi and the God of Israel. She could have chosen not to go with her and just stay in her home country. But the Lord has greater plans for Ruth and little did she know, there was a surprising and significant reward waiting for her because of her loyalty to Naomi and faithfulness to God.
The next chapters give us a glimpse of how everything turned into place. As you read the book, you see how the story is gradually progressing. When she said this to Naomi, “Let me go to the fields and pick up the leftover grain behind anyone in whose eyes I find favor.” (ch. 2:2) What does this tell us about Ruth’s character? She is a hard-working woman who took the initiative in order for them to have food and survive. It was a good timing because it was a harvest time when they went back to Bethlehem. The right timing that God had prepared for Ruth to meet Boaz. It’s really true that when we just do our part, fulfilling the things we are called to do, God will faithfully do the rest!
There are many things to say about Ruth’s character from many of the verses: she showed humility, respect and submission to Boaz, obedience to Naomi’s instruction to ask for further redemption to Boaz and so on. Boaz recognized her as a woman of worth in return and the rest is history! With all these godly characters of Ruth, it only tells us that what matters most is not the situation but who we are in the situation. The choices we make and the character we display in every choice as they turn us towards God can impact many generations. Like Ruth, because she made the right choice and demonstrated a remarkable godliness in every picture of her life, it resulted to something very beautiful. And yes, who would have thought that a Moabite woman could be part of the family lineage of Jesus!
3. Boaz. The life of Boaz is a beautiful foreshadowing of what was ahead. Boaz, a Hebrew, was a kinsman redeemer, meaning a close relative who could redeem Naomi and Ruth. He feared God and was living uprightly according to God’s laws at that time. I assumed that if you read the book, you have a lot of wonderful and positive impressions about Boaz. He is such a faithful man who displayed so many godly characters too; from being a noble leader of the field, a godly influencer to the people in Israel, being a blessing to others especially through his generosity to Ruth and Naomi, a brave and loving man to Ruth, and many more. He exhibited small acts of kindness which produced great rewards, unexpected rewards which resulted with something extra-ordinary. So, never underestimate your role. God has something more in store for you. We may never know how God can turn into something grandeur with all the things He has entrusted us to do and to become. Let us all be faithful, kind, loving, noble, and brave like Boaz. It’s quite hard apart from the enabling empowerment of Jesus. In Him and through Him, all these things are possible. And we are expectant and excited of the extra-ordinary things ahead of us!
In the end, Boaz became a symbolic character that foreshadows the One great Redeemer. Boaz’ life as a kinsman-redeemer foreshadows Jesus as our redeemer, who paid the cost for our sins, adopts us into His family, and gives us the safest security. This is the bigger story beyond the story of Ruth. A story where the town of Bethlehem in the book of Ruth displayed much greater wonders where the Messiah was born and through Him, all the nations of the earth be blessed.
The Genealogy of Jesus the Messiah
“Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab,
Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth,
Obed the father of Jesse,
and Jesse the father of King David.” – Matthew 1:5-6
“The severer the trial, the longer the waiting, the glorious the result.” – (E.M. Bounds)
Such is the story of the Book of Ruth!