That is exactly where the unknown author of Ruth finds himself a couple centuries after the Judges ruled Israel. Israel’s disobedience of God was turning worse than ever, first with King Saul, then with King David, and even King Solomon – as we will see later in the books of Kings and Chronicles. This author needs to reckon back to a place where Israel had unity with God, at least briefly, just as we need to go back before 1954 and remember when America was not dismantling God.
The author of Ruth needs comfort from the past as assurance for the future amid the onslaught of relentless bad news.
Naomi has lost her husband and both her sons – what could be more devastating? But she has not lost her God-given ability to love, and this ability draws Ruth not only to stay with Naomi but also to convert from paganism in Moab to the God of Israel. Only perfect unity with God can do something like that.
Naomi returns to her homeland introducing principles that Teddy Roosevelt would describe centuries later as, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”
What Naomi can do is leave Moab and go home. What she has is Ruth’s love and total devotion. And now she is where her relatives live.
Naomi describes most of us, if not physically at rope’s end, certainly as an allegory for deserving whatever God needs to do to us to get our attention (see previous blog)!
Now, here is why the writer of Ruth wanted to remember the story, and why the allegory points directly at all of us who have been devastated physically or spiritually: Naomi and Ruth have a redeemer!
Boaz is a distant relative of Naomi’s, but he also welcomes Ruth with open arms and does everything he can under the Law of Moses to provide for them, completely out of the goodness of his heart. Boaz hearkens back to Israel’s earlier days when provisions were made for widows and orphans. It would be easy for Boaz to just ignore the two helpless women. But he is full of honor and had unity with God. By all means, please read Ruth 2 – 4 right now and smile!
Cultures change, but truth does not.
What is a redeemer? I worked in the trash recycling business for a long time, and redemption in that context means getting paid for returning a recyclable bottle or can. In ancient Israel, it meant a poor person getting paid by a relative so that he or she could simply survive.
We have a redeemer, too, and his name is Jesus! And he is far better than Boaz, because the price he paid for us was unimaginable suffering. The Apostle John praised Jesus saying:
“You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9, NASB).
This includes you if you have faith in Jesus as Lord and Redeemer.
Next time you are blitzed with relentless bad news, remember you have been redeemed by the King!