Topic: Ruth

RUTH 1 VERSE 16
But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.

WHO
The book of Ruth has 3 main characters: Naomi, Ruth and Boaz. Naomi was an Israelite who lived in the land of Moab (outside of Israel). Her husband and two sons died. Ruth was one of her daughter-in-laws. When Naomi’s husband and sons were dead, Naomi was left destitute. She was determined to return to her home land of Israel. One of her daughter-in-laws decided to remain in Moab, but Ruth chose to go with Naomi.

Boaz is a near relative of Naomi who was fairly wealthy. He falls in love with Ruth and ultimately redeems Naomi and her family land and marries Ruth. God is also an ever present character in the story.

WHAT
When Naomi and Ruth arrive in Bethlehem, they are poor. Ruth goes into the fields to “glean”. Gleaning was a God-established process whereby the poor could go into other peoples’ fields and pick up any vegetables/fruit that fell to the ground, either naturally or purposely by the harvesters. The land owner was not permitted to pick up any crop that fell to the ground. This is one of the ways in which God provided for the poor.

While gleaning in the field, Boaz noticed Ruth and was immediately attracted to her. He instructed his workers to not harass her and, in-fact, told them to intentionally drop food for her. Ultimately, Boaz learned about the land Naomi’s husband had sold, and he paid to redeem it so that he could marry Ruth.

WHEN

Image by Mark Barry and sourced http://visualunit.files.wordpress.com/2012/10/ruth_overview.jpg
The story of Ruth took place approximately 1100 years before Christ and about 700 years after Abraham. At that time in Israel, there were no kings. Instead Israel was ruled by individuals known as judges. The Bible does not tell us which Judge was in place at the time of Ruth, so we do not know the exact date.

WHERE
The story of Ruth begins in the land of Moab. Moab was actually an ancient enemy nation to Israel. From a Biblical perspective, Naomi and her husband should never have moved to Moab. The Bible does not tell us a specific city or region of Moab, so we do not know exactly where they lived inside Moab. After Naomi’s husband and sons died, she and Ruth traveled to Bethlehem (Naomi’s husband’s home town), which is located near the center of Israel in the northern part of the tribe of Judah. The dark line on the map illustrates a possible path that Naomi and Ruth may have traveled to get from Moab to Bethlehem. They most likely did not travel in a straight line because doing so would have required sailing over the Dead Sea. The total journey was probably between 60 and 120 miles depending on their exact path. They would have walked this entire distance.

Did you know? The Biblical meaning of the word Bethlehem was “House of bread”. Bethlehem was known for producing grain.

WHY
The book of Ruth illustrates a number of Biblical concepts that are relevant to us today. The concept of the Kinsman Redeemer is just one of these concepts. According to the Old Testament, this concept was a protection that God established for individuals and families from permanent loss. If a Jew became a servant to another, due to a debt or had to sell his land, the land or the individual could be redeemed (restored) by a near relative. The near relative (kinsman) could purchase the land back or could pay off the debt that caused an individual to be a servant. This would set that person free and restore his land to him.

This concept may seem foreign and strange to us today, and it can be difficult to understand how this is relevant to us today. However, we can identify with this concept through Jesus; He is our kinsman redeemer. The qualifications to be a kinsman redeemer included a) that the kinsman must be a blood relative; Christ is our blood relative through his shed blood. b) The kinsman had the ability to redeem the person/land; Jesus was God and was the only one who could afford to pay for our sins, and c) a kinsman must be willing to redeem the person/land. Jesus was willing to die for his people. Jesus is our kinsman redeemer because he was eligible, able, and willing.

WHAT IT MEANS TO OUR FAMILY
While the Bible focuses on God’s chosen people, the Israelites, God masterfully included non-Jewish individuals in his plan for salvation. Ruth is one of those individuals and provides an illustration of God’s plan for salvation. Ruth chose to go with Naomi and to worship Naomi’s God. When we get off track, God provides a way for us to return to the right path, to repent and return. Let us always remember that whatever we do wrong, God is eligible, willing, and able to redeem us and restore us to full fellowship with him.

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