- Religion and Philosophy
RUTH, The Moabitess : Story of God's Loving Providence
RUTH, the Moabitess: Story of God’s Loving Providence
Buth Ruth Replied:
“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, if anything but death separates you and me.
One of the most beautiful love stories in the Bible is the love story of Ruth. The story of Ruth depicts the faithfulness of an ever loving God to a Gentile widow who has chosen the God of Israel as her refuge. The story of Ruth depicts that if you have chosen to seek refuge in the true and ever living God, who is no other than the God of Israel, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, your life will richly be blessed.
Ruth was a woman from a gentile country of Moab. She married Mahlon, son of Naomi, her husband Elimelech and their two sons went to live for a while in the country of Moab when there was a famine in the land of Judah.
Naomi’ husband Elimelech died and her two sons married Moabite women. Kilion married Orpah and Mahlon married Ruth. After ten years of living in Moab, Mahlon and Kilion also died, and their mother Naomi was left without he two sons and her husband.
Naomi heard that the Lord is providing food to His people, she decided to return to Israel. Naomi urged her daughters-in-law to return to their home and to their people and their gods. But Ruth insisted not to leave Naomi, and be with her no matter where Naomi would go.
What made Ruth persistent in being with Naomi?
Ruth indeed is a woman of noble character. She had learned to love her mother-in-law deeply, that she became so attached with her. She did not want to leave her alone in her return to Israel. She wanted to keep her company. Naomi and Ruth must have a very beautiful relationship as mother-in-law and daughter-in-law.
In choosing to be with Naomi, Ruth had also chosen to seek refuge in the God of Israel. Ruth had chosen to forsake her homeland, kinsmen and gods in choosing to seek refuge in the God of Israel. Ruth had become a believer of the true and ever living God. She had chosen to worship the God of Naomi, who is the God of Israel, who is no other than the Almighty.
Even though, Ruth has no assurance of good life in Israel, no assurance of a great future in Israel, she was firm in her decision to be with Naomi.
In Israel, Ruth found one of the fields where she could glean, and pick up left over grains. Ruth found herself working in a field belonging to Boaz, who was a near kinsman of Elimelech, Naomi’s husband.
Ruth found favor in the eyes of Boaz. Boaz was a man of noble character, and he shew great kindness to Ruth. Boaz happened to be one of Naomi’s kinsman redeemers.
One day Naomi thought of providing a new home for Ruth by planning a marriage between Ruth and Boaz. Naomi instructed Ruth to wash and perfume herself and put on her best clothes. Then instructed Ruth to go down the threshing floor and wait for Boaz to lie down and when Boaz lie down, Ruth should uncover his feet and lie down.
Ruth followed her mother-in-law instruction without hesitation. Boaz responded affirmatively to Naomi’s plan and promised to resolve the issue immediately.
The story of Ruth involves two social customs of ancient Israel, the levirate and the redemption of Lord.
The Levirate described in legal form in Deuteronomy 24”5-10 refers to the fact that if a man in ancient Israel died without a son, the obligation fall upon the next-of-kin to marry the widow and produced a son, “That his name may not be blotted out of Israel.
Another kinsman nearer that Boaz has not only prior obligation but prior right. Since Boaz may not safely ignore that prior right, he assembles the elders of the city gate, invites the nearer kinsman to attend and then inform him that Naomi is selling the parcel of land which belonged to our kinsman Elimelech.”
Thinking himself faced with the obligation alone, the nearer kinsman responds affirmatively. Boaz then prompts him to give up his right by informing him.
“The day you buy the field from the hand of Naomi, you are also buying Ruth the Moabitess, the widow of the dead, in order to restore the name of the dead to his inheritance. The kinsman then responds that to do so would impair his own inheritance so he is force to withdraw. Were he responsible for only the levirate, his own estate would not have been in jeopardy.
The child of the Levirate marriage would have been supported by Elimelech’s property until old enough to inherit it. And if he faced only the redemption obligation, the price of the land would have been compensated for by the land itself. But when the land he must buy must then go to the child of his levirate marriage with Ruth, the kinsman is unable to accept such a dual obligation. He voluntary cedes his right in the matter to Boaz. Apparently Boaz was sufficiently wealthy that this dual obligation presented no problem.
So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. There he went to her and the Lord enabled her to conceive and she gave birth to a son. The woman said to Naomi: “Praise be to the Lord who this day has not left you without a kinsman – redeemer. “Ruth 4:13-14/
Then Naomi took the child laid him in her lap and cared for him. The woman living there said, “Naomi has a son.” And they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, who was the father of King David.
Ruth 4:16-17 0
The story of Ruth demonstrates the gracious guidance of God in the life of Naomi’s family. In fact, the major actor in the drama is God, whose presence in the story leads from Naomi’s bitter complaint in Ruth 1:20:
“Do not call me Naomi (‘Pleasant’) call me MARA [’Bitter’] for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me, I went away full, and the Lord has brought me back empty.”
To the glad cry of women of Bethlehem in Ruth 4:17:
“A son has been born to Naomi.”
This is a book about God’s sovereignty over the events of the lives of those who trust him.
The story of Ruth depicts God’s faithfulness to Naomi and Ruth. Ruth’s wisdom in choosing proves to be fruitful. In choosing to seek refuge in the God of Israel, who is no other but the true and living God, Ruth’s life was greatly blessed and enriched. The providential care of the Almighty as seen in Ruth’s life is not exclusive to Israel alone. God will always be willing to show His love to any gentle nation who will repent and turn to Him.
The Book of Ruth stresses God’s “all causality” differently from such other old Testament Literature. No guidance comes through dream, visions, angelic visitation or voices from heaven, and no prophet is sent with his “thus saith the Lord.” God works behind the scenes through the ordinary motivations and events of the story. He is everywhere but totally hidden in purely human coincidences and schemes.
The author stresses thus one particular aspect of God’s providence – its hiddeness. This Theology of absolute but hidden causality is not unique to Ruth. The Court History of David (2 Samuel 9-20) and the Story of Joseph ((Gen. 37, 39-50) also stress God’s complete and continuous control of events not overtly or supernaturally but, imperceptibly and naturally through the mundane course of life.
Through their faithfulness and God’s hidden guidance, Naomi’s family was preserved for Israel, for from it stemmed great David, and many generations later, David’s greater Son., no other than the Lord JesusChrist.
Book of Ruth
New International Version
Old Testament Survey
William B. Eerdmans
Grand Rapids, Michigan -3-