Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Remembering Ruth's God this Advent

 By: Rebekah Hargraves

Photo Courtesy Of: Laura Nyhuis

“…Boaz begot Obed by Ruth…” ~Matthew 1:5

The book of Ruth begins by telling us that there is a famine in the land of Bethlehem which

caused a couple by the name of Elimelech and Naomi to escape, along with their sons, to the

country of Moab. While there, Elimelech dies. His sons, Mahlon and Chilion, marry two Moabite women, Orpah and Ruth. Approximately ten years later, Mahlon and Chilion also die, leaving Naomi, Orpah, and Ruth, as widows on the brink of destitution.

Because of the dire straights, financial and otherwise, placed upon widows in that

culture, Naomi encourages both of her daughters-in-law to each return to her father’s house.

After much convincing, Orpah finally does so, while Ruth refuses to leave Naomi’s side. We see

that, at some point, Ruth had clearly renounced the Moabite gods in order to instead follow the God of Israel. 

In Ruth 1:16-17 she proclaims to Naomi:

“Entreat me not to leave you,

Or to turn back from following after you;

For wherever you go, I will go;

And wherever you lodge, I will lodge;

Your people shall be my people,

And your God, my God.

Where you die, I will die,

And there will I be buried.

The Lord do so to me, and more also,

If anything but death parts you and me.”

These two widowed women, Naomi and Ruth, return to Bethlehem where they now must find a way to provide for themselves. In a culture wherein it would have been very hard to find work as a woman (not to mention the fact that widows were regularly sexually harassed and

mistreated in that day), they face a growing mountain of hardship.

Ruth’s Love

In chapter 2 we find resourceful and hardworking Ruth asking that Naomi allow her to glean in the barley field belonging to Boaz, one of her father-in-law’s distant relatives. We read that

Boaz not only generously allows her to glean in his field, but also ensures that she has access

to as much of the harvest as possible, providing Ruth and Naomi with their much-needed


As we continue on through the book (which I do encourage you to read on your own when you

have the chance, as it is a truly beautiful story!), we read of the ancient practice of a kinsmanredeemer stepping in to act on the behalf of a deceased man. In that day and age, when a man died and his widow was childless, a near relative could act as the kinsman-redeemer, marrying the woman, providing for her, and also seeking to produce with her an heir to continue the deceased husband’s family line.

Boaz steps in to do all these things and more, providing Ruth with the financial and familial

redemption she likely assumed she would never have. As the end of the book tell us, “So Boaz

took Ruth and she became his wife; and when he went in to her, the Lord gave her conception,

and she bore a son. Then the women said to Naomi, ‘Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you

this day without a close relative; and may his name be famous in Israel! And may he be to you

a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age; for your daughter-in-law, who loves you, who

is better to you than seven sons, has borne him.’ Then Naomi took the child and laid him on

her bosom, and became a nurse to him. Also the neighbor women gave him a name, saying,

‘There is a son born to Naomi.’ And they called his name Obed. He is the father of Jesse, the

father of David.” (Ruth 4:13-17). If you’re doing the math there, this means that Ruth was King David’s great-grandmother (and, in turn, the great-great-great (and so on!) grandmother of Christ Himself.

Our Lesson

Perhaps you relate to Ruth's story this Advent. 

Perhaps you are in dire financial straits, nearly destitute and wondering how you are going to

get by. The thought of even giving gifts to your loved ones is laughable this year.

Perhaps you have lost the love of your life and are crying out for love, acceptance, approval,

and intimacy.

Perhaps you remain childless after years of desperately wanting a baby of your own, just as

Ruth remained childless for the duration of her ten year marriage to her first husband.

What you need to know is this: the God of Ruth is your God. He is the same unchanging God

yesterday, today, and forever. He is still in the business of changing lives for the better. He is

still in the business of being our Jehovah Jireh, our God Who provides. He is still in the

business of working miracles and opening wombs. He is still in the business of bringing people

into our lives when we need them most. But above all and most importantly, He is in the

business of meeting all our needs in Himself.

Ultimately, we mustn’t look to a bigger bank account, a husband, a baby, or anything else to

make us happy. All will at one time or another disappoint. Instead, we must look to the Lord,

the Maker of heaven and earth (Psalm 146:6). We must look to Him Who is able to fill all our

deepest longings, ease every heartbreak and pain, and redeem and restore every debilitating

loss and hopelessness we feel as we walk through this life. That, my friends, is what we need

to cling to when the going - inevitably at some point! - gets tough.

We can look to Him, and we can have hope this Advent season. Just like Ruth did so many years ago.

Reflection Questions:

1) How do you find yourself relating to Ruth's story this Advent? 

2) How could understanding that she is a great-great-great-great-and so on grandmother of Jesus make this season special for you this year?

3) How is the Lord speaking to your through His Word today?

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