For the past few weeks I have been doing a study of Ruth. (I’m reading through the Bible chronologically, you can join me using this plan!) Now, everyone probably knows this story and has read Ruth numerous times. I’ve heard this story so often that I think I became “immune” to its significance.
This isn’t just a story of tragic loss and unwavering loyalty. It isn’t just a story of marriage and culture. This is a picture of Christ. This is an image of the Gospel.
I love this story so much. And part of the reason I love it is because I can just picture Naomi and all her sassiness! She has lost her husband, she has lost her two sons, and she is left with her daughters-in-law. The only thing connecting them and making them family is gone. While Naomi tells them to go home to their families, Ruth refuses to leave. Stubborn. I like her already! Coming into town Naomi says, “Do not call me Naomi, call me Mara. For the Lord has made my life bitter.” (Ruth 1:20) Sass-y! These two are a great pair!
Here is Naomi, broken, and Ruth says, “Nah lady, you’re stuck with me!” (1:8-13)I just love that. How much loyalty does this show? Not only to Naomi but to Ruth’s late husband. She could have taken the easy route and gone home to the security of her father’s land. But she sticks with Naomi. Even when Naomi has no more sons to offer her and she might lose the opportunity to be married and have children!
After traveling to Naomi’s late husband’s family, she comes up with a plan. Not a deceiving, conniving plan. But a plan to honor her family and specifically Ruth’s late husband. As cultural laws would have it, if Ruth’s husband had no other living brothers, she would be married to the next of kin. The “redeemer” as they called it (fitting name isn’t it?).
We see right from the start that Boaz is an honorable man. In chapter 3 verses 3-4, we see Naomi’s grand plan. “Wash therefore and anoint yourself, and put on your cloak and go down to the threshing-floor… But when he (Boaz) lies down, observe the place where he lies. Then go and uncover his feet and lie down, and he will tell you what to do.” She tells her to do this and wait for him. Wait for his instruction.
As many times as I’ve read this passage, I’ve never understood the significance of uncovering his feet and laying down. My first thought was , “Umm, that’s kind of scandalous!” But the cultural significance of this is servanthood. Servants would lie at their master’s feet and would use the covering of their master’s feet to cover themselves.
Ruth wasn’t being scandalous, she wasn’t trying to seduce Boaz or tempt him in any way. She was saying, “I am your servant. Tell me what to do now.”
He then tells her to wait. Again with the waiting! Don’t we all just hate to wait?!?! He tells her to wait for instruction because there is another relative who is the first “redeemer”. There’s another man in line before him. So, she waits.
I love this picture of the gospel. I love that Ruth offers herself to Boaz as a servant. She literally lays herself down at his feet. She waits for his instruction. She is all in. What a sign of commitment and vulnerability!
And guess what? Boaz receives her with love! (Ch 3) He once again deals with her with grace and respect. He could have easily seen her motives as impure but he knew her heart. He knew what she meant by coming to the threshing floor and he lovingly tells her to wait for further instruction.
The next-in-line redeemer denied his right to marry Ruth (and with that he denied all the land that she would come with). So, Boaz steps up. Boaz becomes her redeemer. (Ch 4:1-12)
How often do we feel denied and rejected by other people? How often do we feel worthless by worldly standards? But Christ will receive you. He has become our Redeemer. He is there to pick us up off the threshing floor and tell us not to worry, just wait for His instruction.
This is the Gospel my friends. This is a beautiful picture of Christ redeeming us and giving us an inheritance and love and purpose. This is what we were created to do and be. To lay ourselves at the feet of Jesus and say, “Here I am. I am your servant.” To wait on His instruction and trust in His grace.
When we feel as though we have lost everything or nothing is going the way we planned, we can lay ourselves at the feet of Jesus and just rest in the knowledge that He will instruct us.
How perfect God’s plan is! He brought these two together so that years and years down the line our Redeemer could be born from this family lineage. How mighty is our God that He had every detail worked out perfectly to send His Son to be the world’s ultimate redeemer.
Lord, Your plan is so vast and so big. Help us to trust in it and to offer our whole lives as servants to our Redeemer. I pray we can wait on His instruction and to wait with only a joy You can give.