The story revolves around the Old Testament Jewish law of redemption.
According to the law, the nearest male relative was responsible for preserving the family name and property when there was death in a family. It included buying back property (Lev. 25:25) and marrying a childless, young widow to preserve the family name (Duet. 25-5-10).
How God’s People Navigate Troubled Times. They fully commit to following the one true God
The book of Ruth occurs during the period of the Judges. It was a time marked by a lack of civil authority and moral disorder (Judges 21:25).
The story begins with an Israelite man named Elimelech who moves with his wife Naomi and two sons to the foreign land of Moab. Then Elimelech dies, the two sons marry Moabite women, and ten years later, they die too.
Elimelech’s widow, Naomi, decides to return home to live near her family and she encourages her two daughter-in-laws, Orpah and Ruth, to go back to their families in Moab. Orpah reluctantly agrees, but Ruth is determined to stay with Naomi.
She explains why with these words: “Your people shall be my people and your God my God.” (ESV Ruth 1:16)
Ruth’s family in Moab worshipped idols. But Ruth had committed her life to following the one true God that Naomi worshipped. She exchanged living among family and friends for living among strangers. Protection for danger. Comfort for hardship.
But that is what God’s people do. Because there is no true satisfaction apart from the one true God. And ultimately, no safer place than covered in the shadow of his hand.
How God’s People Navigate Troubled Times. They pursue righteousness despite an immoral environment
It was a struggle of survival for Naomi and Ruth. Two widows with no means of support. But Ruth remained faithful to her God despite the immoral environment around her. She demonstrated a godly character and walked a path of righteousness.
It was legal for the poor to glean wheat in the fields that was missed by the reapers. And Ruth worked in the fields of a Jewish man named Boaz. Although she did not call attention to herself, her diligent work ethic and reputable character caught Boaz’s attention.
And he invited her to stay in his fields where he protected her from harm. Of course, we acknowledge in today’s environment, there is no complete assurance of God’s protection in this life. And we grieve the injustice when evildoers harm the innocent.
Still, God calls us to pursue Biblical righteousness rather than cultural correctness. To seek His truth rather than social acceptance. And to please God over people.
How God’s People Navigate Troubled Times. They call on their redeemer for salvation
It turns out that Boaz was a distant relative to Naomi, and a potential kinsman redeemer by Jewish law. Ruth 2:1 calls him a “worthy” man. In other words, the kind of man that makes a good husband. And in Ruth 3:11, Ruth is called a “worthy” woman. It’s clear the two are meant for each other. And Naomi advises Ruth on how to move the relationship forward.
When Boaz goes to sleep at night on the threshing floor, Ruth sleeps at his feet as a signal to him she would like to be redeemed. So he takes the necessary steps and marries her.
The story not only shows God’s people how to navigate trouble times, but also weaves a beautiful love story. Because it symbolizes the love of God who sacrificed his son to redeem us from sin.
But there’s a final twist.
Because Boaz and Ruth had a son named Obed who was the father of Jesse, the father of David. In whose line was born Jesus Christ, the Son of God. A savior and redeemer. “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (ESV Romans 10:13)