June 14, 2018

A Love Story

By: Larry Shaffer

Ruth 2, part 3

A love story is emerging. It’s quite different from the movies produced by Hollywood. The foundation of this relationship is a common faith in the true God of Israel. A man and a woman from two different worlds find themselves interacting with each other through a common bond of humility, kindness and a sincere faith in God.

She followed her heart

Ruth moves to Bethlehem and assumes the responsibility to care and provide for her mother-in-law, Naomi. She could have returned to Moab and found security for herself by marrying another young man after the death of her husband. Instead she did the honorable thing. She followed her heart which now was filled with faith in her God and honored God by serving Naomi, her widowed mother-in-law.

Harvest time

The harvest time in Bethlehem provides a window of time whereby the widow, orphan and poor can store up grain for the long winter. Ruth went to work, morning to night, gleaning the fields of the farmers. Mosaic law required the farmers to leave the corners of the field unharvested and not pick up stalks that fall to the side. These are to be left for the needy. As widows, Ruth and Naomi fit the bill.

You’ve been promoted!

Naomi began to glean the fields of Boaz. Boaz noticed her and found out that she was kin through marriage. He was a very close relative of Elimelech, Naomi’s deceased husband and father-in-law of Ruth. As such, he extended extreme kindness toward Ruth and welcomed her as one of his workers rather than just a widowed gleaner.

“At mealtime Boaz said to her, ‘come here, that you may eat of the bread and dip your piece of bread in the vinegar.” She sat beside the reapers and he served her roasted grain, and she ate and was satisfied and had some left over. When she rose to glean, Boaz commanded his servants saying ‘Let her glean even among the sheaves and do not insult her. Also, you shall purposely pull out for her some grain from the bundles and leave it that she may glean, and do not rebuke her.”

Things are not always as they seem

Having rich relatives can be a real plus when you find yourself in poverty. Boaz was especially tender-hearted because he had heard the full story of Ruth’s care and kindness toward Naomi and her newfound faith in the God of Israel. Ruth carried home a large portion of grain and sat and shared the entire story with Naomi. Naomi was thrilled. Not long ago, Naomi felt that the curse of God was upon her. It felt that way to Naomi, but it never was. God was always in charge and fulfilling His plan for their lives. Admittedly, it was a plan that was different than Naomi envisioned before the deaths of her husband and sons. Nevertheless, it was God’s plan to use Naomi and Ruth as a blessing to many in the future. This is the first glimpse of newfound hope for Naomi and Ruth. The next morning, filled with hope, Naomi shares a masterplan with Ruth. God’s amazing providence is at work. More next time.