This week our reading takes place during the time when Israel was led by judges. Last week we read this verse in Judges 2 that sums up this time in Israel’s history. “And there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work that He had done for Israel.” This week we read about Jephthah who was chosen by Israel, not the Lord, to lead them into battle. He acknowledged God in some ways but at that same time was a foolish and rash man. Then we read about Samson who was another deeply flawed leader. God chose Samson to lead but Samson continually broke God’s laws and his Nazarite vow. We also read about the Israelites deciding to use the ark of the covenant as a good-luck charm which lead to their defeat and the ark being captured by the Philistines. In the midst of this cycle of unfaithfulness, the story of Hannah and Ruth are a refreshing reminder that God is at work even in the middle of the mess.
s – 11 But Boaz answered her, “All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told to me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before. 12 The Lord repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!” Ruth 2:11-12
14 Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without a redeemer, and may his name be renowned in Israel! Ruth 4:14
o – The book of Ruth is a story of God’s kindness and redemption foreshadowing the kindness and redemption God will show all people through Jesus. Even though Naomi returns to Bethlehem empty and bitter, God is already showing his kindness to her in Ruth’s commitment to stay with Naomi and care for her. Then we see Boaz’s kindness extended to Ruth in allowing her to glean in his fields and eventually in being the kinsman redeemer who not only redeems Naomi’s property but also marries Ruth. The circumstances of Ruth and Naomi’s lives drastically change in this story. They move from death to life and from emptiness to fullness. Ruth arrives a foreigner, but finds refuge in the Lord and even becomes part of the family tree from which Jesus will come.
a – The story of Ruth is our story. We were foreigners separated from God. But he sent us a redeemer who makes a way for us to become part of the household of God! These verses in Ephesians 2 sum this up:
13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God
Like Ruth and Naomi, we are moved from death to life, from emptiness to fullness through our relationship with Jesus. The world we live in often seems very similar to what was happening in Israel during Ruth and Naomi’s time, people turning from God and following their own passions and desires. Yet just as in the book of Ruth, we have hope that God is working, building his kingdom and redeeming people to be part of his family.
p – Father God, thank you for sending Jesus so we are no longer strangers and foreigners but members of your household. We are forgiven and redeemed! Help us to remember that even when the world seems hopeless, you are still at work. Fill us with your Spirit so that we can live lives that please you and be instruments to show your kindness and love to those around us. Amen.