The account of Ruth and Naomi used to be quoted often in Christian wedding ceremonies. The scripture used in the actual ceremony is Ruth’s declaration to go wherever her mother-in-law went and experience the life that God had set before them together. Truth is, what both Naomi and her daughter-in-laws faced was a hopeless situation in the times they lived. Orpah chose to heed her mother-in-law’s counsel, wept, kissed her goodbye, and returned to her people. Ruth determined to stay with her mother-in-law. What Ruth and Naomi faced together offered very little hope, returning to Naomi’s people – in their circumstances – promised them the potential for very little provision.
In 21st Century North America, we do not understand the circumstances of this account because it is foreign to our way of life. Naomi and Ruth both faced a hopeless situation, but at least Naomi was returning to her people. Ruth was placing herself in foreign territory and the consequences could have been far different from the story we know. What did she face?
- Her husband was dead, along with his father-in-law. In the society of her day, this is dire circumstances.
- Poverty with NO PROVISION of assistance awaited her if she remained in Moab.
- Racial prejudice awaited her in Judah.
- What hope could Naomi really offer her? A widow, no sons, returning after leaving to become engaged in a foreign lifestyle not really accepted by her people.
- Though Naomi’s culture established had the provision of kinsmen redeemer, her age and circumstance would be a factor. For Ruth, what kinsmen would redeem a woman from Moab?
With that, Naomi said no more and she returned to Bethlehem with her daughter-in-law from Moab. Perhaps there was some degree of “protection” for Ruth in the presence of her mother-in-law as long as she was alive. But we do not understand the consequences of a foreigner with no provision in the culture of that day.
Henry Blackaby would describe what was before Ruth as a “crisis of belief.” Have you described your crisis of belief to God? Do you have faith to go even when the prospects look dim and darker? Today, each of us needs to listen to that inner voice and be obedient to God, no matter the circumstances of our lives.
I love the “rest of the story.” We know the immediate provision as Ruth gleaned the fields and encountered, and found that kinsmen redeemer in Boaz. But through that provision in her life, we have the provision of our own kinsmen redeemer in the person of Jesus. If you are not familiar with the full account, simply understand this – Ruth (this woman of another race and culture) and significantly placed her in His redemptive story. She was the wife of Boaz, mother to Obed, grandmother to Jesse who was the father of King David. From the house and lineage of David, we have our redeemer, Jesus the Christ.
What seemed like a bleak and hopeless future was in God’s plan from the beginning. Her love, faithfulness, and obedience “paid off.” We need to learn from the lessons of her life and take our circumstances, our “crisis of belief” to God, and TRUST Him to provide ALL that we need.