Summary: We need to open our hearts to the possibilities and opportunities God is orchestrating in our lives.
Naomi and her daughter-in-law, Ruth, had experienced bitterness in life, Because of famine, Naomi had fled with her husband, Elimelech, to Moab. There, her two sons, Mahlon and Kilion, met and married Moabite women. Naomi’s joy over her sons’ marriages was short-lived, however, as, due to circumstances we are not told in Scripture, her husband and two sons were taken from her in death.
After 10 years, the famine was over, and Naomi returned to Bethlehem with daughter–in-law, Ruth. In leaving Bethlehem, Naomi’s family had apparently sold their property. When Naomi returned, she was destitute, and the family property was in the hands of another. Israelite law provided Naomi’s family the right to purchase back their land at any time, however, Naomi was penniless and unable to do so.
So Ruth, did what she knew could be done in their circumstance. She sought to provide for their needs by taking advantage of the provision of the law concerning orphans, widows, and foreigners. She went to glean in the fields, picking up the grain left over from the harvesters. In doing so, God opened up the opportunity for Ruth to meet Boaz.
You see, Boaz was one who, as Israelite law provided, had the right, if he desired and was financially able to do so, to purchase back the land of Naomi’s husband and sons, and restore Naomi’s property to her. Boaz further had the obligation, if asked to do so, to marry the widow of the deceased relative in order to help guarantee the perpetuation of his lineage.
“The land must never be sold on a permanent basis, for the land belongs to me. You are only foreigners and tenant farmers working for me. With every purchase of land you must grant the seller the right to buy it back. If one of your fellow Israelites falls into poverty and is forced to sell some family land, then a close relative should buy it back for him. If there is no close relative to buy the land, but the person who sold it gets enough money to buy it back, he then has the right to redeem it from the one who bought it. The price of the land will be discounted according to the number of years until the next Year of Jubilee. In this way the original owner can then return to the land. But if the original owner cannot afford to buy back the land, it will remain with the new owner until the next Year of Jubilee. In the jubilee year, the land must be returned to the original owners so they can return to their family land.” - Leviticus 25:23-28 (NLT)
This is the provision of the “Kinsman-Redeemer.” Now, since God had provided that the land originally given to a family was to be restored to them every 50 years, it was importance that a family lineage be continued. Hence the additional provision of the law know as the “levirate marriage.” We learn of this in Deuteronomy 25:5-10.
Now, the significance of this was recognized by Naomi (2:19b-20). Having determined that this was indeed an opportunity that had been provided by God, Ruth and Naomi decided that by faith, they were going to step through the open door.
In the same way, we need to recognize that God will not leave His children without alternatives in life; but will provide opportunity for us to improve our situation. Sometimes He changes the circumstances we are in; sometimes, he changes us in midst of our circumstances; but
opportunity to change things will be provided.
Therefore, we need to open our hearts to God, allowing Him to make us aware of when God gives us an opportunity to improve our situation, and act by faith to claim that opportunity.
As we think on the third chapter of Ruth, let’s consider what lessons we can learn about faith that might encourage us to open our hearts to the opportunities for blessing and personal growth that God sends our way, even in the midst of bitter times.
1. The Resolve of Faith - vs. 1-3a
Naomi, recognizing the opportunity that God had brought their way, instructed Ruth as to how they needed to proceed in approaching Boaz with their request that he marry Ruth and redeem the property of Naomi’s family.
The first step in the plan was for Ruth to wash and anoint herself, putting on her best clothes. Some bible scholars point out that the procedure followed by Ruth in preparation for meeting with Boaz was that of a bride preparing for her wedding. They even suggest that the gown worn by Ruth may have been the gown she had worn when she was married to Naomi’s son, Mahlon. All this goes to illustrate the resolve of faith.