Summary: Destitute and broken people are those God seeks to save. Who but the poor in spirit are prepared to receive the King of kings and enter the kingdom of heaven?
Last week we began a study of the book of Ruth. We went through chapter one where Naomi is the chief character. Naomi is married and has two sons. They live in the bread basket of Israel, Bethlehem, but a famine hits and Naomi’s husband moves his family to Moab where he and both his sons die. Naomi’s sons had married Moabite women and one of those was Ruth. When Naomi hears that the Lord has blessed her homeland with food, she leaves Moab to go back home. Her once full life now empty and her once hopeful heart now bitter, she tells her daughters in law to stay in Moab so they can remarry and build better lives. She blesses them in the name of the Lord. One stays, but Ruth, the Moabitess, will not leave Naomi. Ruth pledges her life to Naomi and to Naomi’s God, the Lord.
What was it in Ruth that gave her the courage to choose to leave her homeland and people and the gods of Moab to live in Israel as a foreigner with Naomi? She has several features of character that stand out as a model for all of us. Let’s continue the story in chapter 2 where we meet another person of great character: Boaz. Here in chapter 2 we see the hand of God working in the background, bringing His blessing to pass on poor Naomi and Ruth.
Listen and follow along in your Bible and you can hear God instructing you through this story. God loves the poor and destitute and provides for those who seek Him. He often uses the righteous who are affluent to provide His care to those in need. Ask yourself as you hear God’s word: what work of blessing has God prepared me for?
Ruth chapter 2 (read)
1 Now Naomi had a relative on her husband’s side, a man of standing from the clan of Elimelek, whose name was Boaz. (Who is Boaz? We will see.)
2 And Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go to the fields and pick up the leftover grain behind anyone in whose eyes I find favor.”
Naomi said to her, “Go ahead, my daughter.”
3 So she went out, entered a field and began to glean behind the harvesters. It just so happened that she began working in a field belonging to Boaz, who was from the clan of Elimelek.
Twice in this chapter we hear that Boaz is from the clan of Elimelek, Naomi’s deceased husband. And we also find an echo about Ruth.
Twice in chapter 2 we read of Ruth as “Ruth the Moabitess.” Look at verses 2 and 21. “Ruth the Moabitess” was not just a label to know who she was and where she was from. Actually, referring to her as the “Moabitess” is a constant reminder that she’s a foreigner from a nation that is not usually on friendly terms with Israel. She’s one of “those people.” Her nation has caused great trouble to Israel and especially have the women of Moab. What’s Ruth to do? She could have let that stigma drive her away or make her reclusive. She could have become angry and declared the injustice of it and demanded better treatment. "Let’s put these people through diversity training." But no, Ruth rose above it all by simply being a humble and faithful servant to her mother-in-law, and a hard worker in whatever her hand found to do. Think of it. She’s a destitute widow in a foreign land. She and Naomi need food to eat. Ruth demonstrates humility and a great work ethic being willing to work as a poor person, and not afraid of taking on a lowly job in the process.
Ruth is the kind of poor, needy person you’d like to give help to. During the great depression people were without work. They didn’t want a handout, but a job. God works. He created us to be like Him and to do good works in His name. Ruth is a poor widow looking for a place to work. Instead of begging bread, Ruth goes out looking for a way to gather so they can make bread.
Chapter 1, the last verse, tells us that Naomi and Ruth arrive in Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest. This is an important piece of the book. It sets up the next event that makes all the difference.
Barley harvest has begun. Go with me to Leviticus 19:9 “‘When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. 10 Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the Lord your God.