Ruth Part Two – The Waiting And The Love Story

Where I left off in part 1 is just before this story gets exciting. Where the story was hard, and a little bleak, there seemed to be no hope. Little did they know where their story would go. God had a completely different trajectory for these two women. Naomi felt like life had kicked her in the teeth, but at least she had Ruth, this woman who her son had loved and who had loved her son. This was a small comfort  because this young woman loved her enough to go where she went. Ruth was a dedicated woman, who was serious about her love for Naomi and her responsibility to her. Ruth was determined to care for her mother in-law.

As Naomi and Ruth settled in Bethlehem, Ruth provided for their needs by gathering the few stalks of grain that were missed by the harvest workers. Only the poorest of the poor resorted to doing this for food. There was a very real chance that there would not be enough left to feed them, even after hours of back-breaking working. She would have been working on uneven ground, most likely in the hot sun, with not much shade. It was back-breaking, as she would be working stooped over for hours picking up what she could of the grain that was left behind. She would have had to be careful not to get close to those who were legitimately working. She could have been chased off the land and have to go to different fields to find enough food. After she quit gathering for the day, the work was not done. She would have had to thresh the grain to gain the seeds that were the nourishing part of the plant, she would have had to sort through it to get rid of the chaff. After that she would have had to grind this grain. And because they didn’t have much for belongings, it would most likely have been rudimentary tools that she used, maybe even two rocks. After all that, the bread would have had to be made and baked. This is a lot of work for a loaf of unleavened bread (flat bread, probably like a cracker). I’m not sure if they had much more than the flour and water to use to make the bread. Not very nourishing for someone who worked incredibly hard for it. Ruth though set to the task of providing for them without complaint.

God in His incredible love and mercy for Ruth and Naomi, directed Ruth’s feet toward the field of a man named Boaz, a relative of Naomi’s deceased husband Elimelech. This seemed like just a lucky happenstance, but I will beg to differ. I will try to explain the picture I see from looking at their story from an observer’s perspective. I have the ability to read from a distance. I am not living this story, and I can read their story from the beginning to the end in under an hour. I know how it ends. They don’t. As it was happening they couldn’t see what we see, I’m sure that at the end of this story, when they looked back on these events, they saw God’s hand very clearly on their lives. I am sure that they saw that God had directed their path and their story.

I believe that God’s very real hand was on Ruth as she decided which field to gather in first. Little did she know that she unerringly went to the one field where she would have  protection. She happened to be working on the field of an honorable man, a good man. As you find about this man, you see that he is generous, that he cares for his workers and even seems to have a relationship with them beyond the relationship of boss and employees. He works alongside them, and he eats with them. His workers respect him and do what he  asks of them, even if the instructions given to them seem weird. They don’t question it, they just follow them.

You also see a man who notices and cares deeply for everyone, even those trying to find enough left on the field so that they could eat. Boaz could have been angry and accused her of stealing from him and had her punished and because she was a foreigner, he had every right to do that as the land owner. Instead he notices her and tells his workers to purposely leave some grain on the ground for her to gather. In a way, he is helping her save face. She is not just a charity case, she is “fending for herself” and caring for Naomi through the work of her own hands. She would feel no obligation to return any favors to him for his generosity. Boaz cared enough to tell his men to keep their hands off her. In another field, there was the very real danger of being molested and mistreated by the workers or the land owner. Boaz also told Ruth that she was welcome to continue working in his fields, and warned her to stay away from other men’s fields, because she may not be safe in other fields. So Boaz was protecting her from harm and protecting her honor. He was also generous enough to ask her to join them in eating a meal. Most likely Ruth had brought no food for herself. Not only did she eat, but she had enough to bring back to Naomi to eat. At the end of the day she had collected approximately 22 liters of grain. That is a lot of grain for two people.When Ruth came home that first day of harvest, after seeing what Ruth brought home Naomi asks Ruth whose field she worked in, who had noticed her, and when she found out whose field that it was encouraged Ruth to stay there.

Ruth and Naomi arrived in Bethlehem at the beginning of harvest and as far as I read she worked on his fields till the end of the harvest. As far as I can find by my  research the harvest of barley and wheat takes 4-5 months from start to finish. So Ruth worked on Boaz’s fields for that length of time. Enough time for each of them to see what kind of person the other was, enough time to gain respect for each other, to trust the other.

Ruth works hard during this whole harvest time to provide for her and Naomi. She never expects anyone else to provide for them, and yet Boaz, in his generosity provides, without causing Ruth to feel like she owes him. Boaz, could have openly provided, and made her aware of what she owed and called in favors, but he was a good man. As it is, Boaz provides for them without her understanding that this is what he is doing. Like I said he was a good man, the story could have taken on a whole different meaning if he had  been boastful and proud and doing it so that others could see what he was doing (for the praise of man). He was humble though. He knew that God was the one who blessed him, and so because he knew that, he was generous.

Naomi though understands what is going on, I think she has an idea about what God is doing, and so encourages Ruth to remain working only in Boaz’s fields. At the end of harvest, Naomi tells Ruth to get ready, bathed, perfumed, and to put on her good clothes. Then Naomi seems to hatch a plan to seduce Boaz. After Ruth gets ready, Naomi tells her to go to the threshing floor and after Boaz had finished celebrating his harvest. After he drank, and eaten his fill and gone to sleep, Naomi tells Ruth to uncover his feet and lay down at his feet. What a crazy thing to do right? What is she doing, what does it mean? Basically she is proposing to Boaz, or calling him to be her kinsman redeemer. A kinsman redeemer, reclaims the land that was owned by a widow’s dead husband. The land does not belong to Naomi (it is not her father’s land and so it is not her inheritance, it was to be her sons inheritance, but they had passed away as well) Naomi and Ruth lived in poverty because they had no inheritance. The other part of the kinsman redeemer’s job is to provide an heir for the deceased husband. So Boaz’s first child by all rights legally is not his heir, but Ruth’s first husband’s child, in the eyes of ancient customs and laws.

When Naomi told Ruth to go to the threshing floor, she was asking her to ask Boaz to redeem the land that had belonged to her husband’s clan, so that it would not pass on to another tribe. If you look at what Naomi told Ruth to do, it can be seen as a little scandalous. And it would have been, if we had not already seen that Ruth and Boaz’s character’s were pure and good. When Ruth was told to uncover Boaz’s feet and lie down, the translation refers to more than just the feet, but the legs as well, not quite as far as the groin, but close. When she asks Boaz to spread his mantle or covering over her, she is referring to his protection and provision that would be a wife’s (he could have taken advantage of her, but he was honorable and honored Ruth). Earlier in Ruth, Boaz mentions this mantle in his prayer over her when they first met, for God’s protection and provision for her, but it was in reference God’s wings. Boaz was pleased with the proposal, and said he would be happy to do as she asked, but that there was another man who would have been a closer relative to Elimelech, who needed to be given the legal opportunity first. Then Boaz tells Ruth to stay till the morning before she goes back home, it seems like he is protecting her from traveling in the dark of night, but then when morning comes, he encourages her to leave early to protect her honor from gossip and judgement, and gives her a gift of grain to take home and tells her to wait for him. Boaz wasn’t trying to avoid this responsibility, he was just trying to go through the right channels. This scripture makes it really clear that Boaz wants to take Ruth as his wife, and will wed he immediately if he can. He goes to the city gate first thing in the morning to get the matter resolved quickly. He is in a hurry to find out if he can marry Ruth, which shows how much he has come to care for her.

Boaz is an older man probably in the autumn of his life. It seems as if Ruth is a much younger woman, and so he feels blessed by her offer of loving him for the rest of his life. I am assuming that Boaz had never married and because he was old had never expected to be blessed in that way or to have an heir. So Boaz goes as soon as the sun rises to wait till he sees the other relative. He asks 10 elders to be a witness to their interaction. This other man agrees to redeem the land, until he hears that he has to marry Ruth and through her provide an heir to Ruth’s deceased husband. Because he won’t do that this man tells Boaz that he can do it. It is witnessed by the elders, and the elders bless Boaz because of his generosity.

At the end of this book, the people in the town are celebrating the birth of Ruth’s first child, but instead of congratulating Ruth and Boaz, they are congratulating Naomi. By all the custom’s in their time and culture, this is legally Naomi’s child and as such will be Naomi’s provider when he grows up and until then she will be under the protection and provision of Boaz. Naomi’s son’s name is Obed, and his name appears in the genealogy of King David and ultimately in the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah. God blessed Naomi unbelievably through Ruth and Boaz.

This is a love story like no other, It is full of the hints and shadows of what Christ has come to do for us. Our love story found in our relationship with Jesus is even more incredible. Jesus came to redeem us, not just for a piece of land or an heir, but to pay for our wrong doings and to wash us of all our sin and to make us holy. Jesus also make us the heirs of God. We become like Him and because of that gain the same rights that He has. We become children of God, and co-heirs with Jesus. Jesus is our Boaz.

Like Boaz and Ruth sometimes we have to wait for God’s plan to unfold, it is worth the wait. God’s plan is always the right one.The world was blessed because of Ruth and Boaz, through them came the Savior of the world. In this story and a few more within this lineage God used outsiders to build the ultimate love story, His. We are all foreigners, being knit into God’s story. God’s story tells one of grace, mercy, forgiveness and incredible love for us. Thank you God.

If you feel like you are an outsider, or that you have waited so long for your life of pain to turn around to a life of blessing, it is ok, because God will meet you there. The story of Ruth and Boaz is here to give us hope in the hard times. It is proof that God uses the hard stories to prove that He is good. Without the tragedy, the story would not have been as exciting. Without the pain, this would have been just another ordinary love story. But  God is not like that, He doesn’t write just ordinary love stories, His stories are full of hope, anticipation, thrill, mystery and eventually celebration. His stories always work out in the end, but it is within the story that He teaches us. It is within our own story that He paints a picture of love, of grace and of mercy. His love towards you is always good, no matter the circumstances, no matter the pain, no matter what you have done or what someone else has done to you, God’s love is a hope-filled one. We may never see what the outcome of our story will be, we may have to wait like Abraham, and Moses, till our life beyond this earth, but we will see it, and I believe that our story will boggle our minds. Trust Him with your story, He is completely trustworthy.

The locks that are shown at the top of the page are called the love locks, they are found in Paris France on the Pont des Arts Bridge. Each lock represents a wish for a true love or love story. There are so many locks, that they are being taken down because they are so heavy that it is causing the wall to crumble. This wall of locks is being replace by the wall of street art to depict what the locks were there for.

There is also another wall called Juliet’s wall in Casa Di Giulietta In Verona Italy, where wishes for true love are written on pieces of paper and stuck to the wall. There are a group of women called Juliet’s secretaries that answer those letters. There has been a movie made about this place.

graffiti-to-juliet

juliets-letters

This just shows how desperate people are for their one. Their true love. Our heart long for that, they were made for this kind of love, but we will not find a love like God’s love for us. We will find human true love, but our hearts long for the love that we are created to have. God’s love. God has sent our Kinsman Redeemer in the form of His Son Jesus Christ. When we go to God, our longings are satisfied and more. We were made for incredible love, GOD’S LOVE.

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