Summary: Ruth- The personification of getting to the top by fighting your way to the bottom.
“Don’t go back to your mother-in-law empty-handed.”
These are the last words of Ruth in the entire book of Ruth. These are the words that define this woman.
Ruth is a model of selfless concern for others.
Ruth is the poster child of Jesus’ teaching: The greatest in the kingdom is the servant of all. Ruth is the living model of the New Testament truth: The last shall be first.
Ruth is the personification of getting to the top by fighting your way to the bottom.
What appears to be a well planned romantic encounter, what appears to be two women manipulating a man to gain wealth, is in reality the answer to an anguished cry of bitterness to God.
The book of Ruth we have been reading is a powerful, powerful book. It explains so many things about how God works in our lives, and here today in Chapter 3 it reveals to us the blessings and the honor God will bestow upon a person who understands this spiritual truth: The last shall be first.
Ruth enters the land of Israel as a nonentity. She honestly has nothing going for her. She is a young widow who has lost everything. She is unable to have children and she is a Moabite, the on again, off again enemy of Israel.
Yet, in this story, Ruth is the hero.
Boaz might be the kinsman-redeemer, but Ruth is the hero.
The funny thing is, she is the last person we would think of as being a hero.
In addition, let me point out that though this book is called ‘Ruth’, it is not a story about Ruth, it really is a story about the redemption of Naomi. The book begins with Naomi and her loss; The book starts with the bitter reality that Naomi is now childless, and without hope for any more children. But, the last words spoken in the book are neighbors saying, “Naomi has a son.” The story begins and ends with Naomi - the redemption of a woman without hope.
Ruth is in no way, in this for herself. Ruth’s concern is for Naomi, she has no concern for herself. Pay close attention here, because Ruth becomes the hero by being last, by being a servant, and by setting concerns for herself...aside.
“Don’t go back to your mother-in-law empty-handed.” These are the words Boaz uses as he heaps over 50 pounds of grain into the shawl of Ruth as a gift to Naomi; These are the last words of Ruth as she explains her encounter with Boaz to Naomi. Why is that?
What are some of the last bitter words of Naomi in Chapter 1? (verse 21) “I went away full, but the LORD has brought me back empty.” Through Ruth, God answers this call of bitterness with so much grain, as we saw in chapter 2, Naomi could open her own grain warehouse. Remember, Boaz has set things up so that Ruth will have brought home over 1500 pounds of grain by the end of the harvest - the equivalent of the wages of 30 workers.
Naomi has cries out to God that she is empty. When she said those words “the Lord has brought me back empty” were those words a prayer, or was she just complaining?
I don’t think it matters. God is with us at all times. He hears everything we say. He knows everything we think and even more he knows the depth of the meaning of what we say and what we think in our hearts. Does God pay more attention to empty prayers or does God pay more attention to true expressions of sorrow and grief? Well, I’ll tell you what happened here, God heard the heartfelt cry of Naomi, and God had already begun to answer her crys, with the person of Ruth.
God starts to answer Naomi’s cry of grief before she expresses it.
When I pray a prayer, when I cry out to God, how long do I have to wait for the answer?
Has this happened to you? You have a situation, whatever it is, and you call out to God for help, for wisdom, for direction….finally for anything to happen. Nothing. You pray and pray. Nothing. It is so frustrating. When is God going to answer? You know what, God already started to answer your prayer before you prayed it. Before the thought even came to your mind, God set in motion - The powerful answer. The answer to Naomi’s cry sits in front of her everyday at breakfast. The answer to Naomi’s cry has been with her, watching over her, way before Naomi cries out that she is empty.
Ruth has been very good to Naomi, Ruth has stood by Naomi and has been the sole breadwinner in the family. Naomi - feels that she must get a permanent home for Ruth, after all she is getting up in her years, and this is what she said should happen for Ruth in the first chapter. Remember it is the girl’s mother who found a husband in those days, so we see Naomi taking on the role of Ruth’s mother. This shows how close they have become and I hate to say it, this is how close they have become as a result of their shared tragedies. Now, Naomi doesn’t appear to understand that Ruth is a hero. Naomi thinks that Ruth is a great daughter-in-law and Naomi wants Ruth to be happy, but Naomi doesn’t see that Ruth is a hero.