Ruth Part Five: A Light in the Darkness

God works to teach lessons about Himself and it’s in the second chapter of Ruth that we are introduced to a light in the darkness. In the previous chapter, the narrative dealt primarily with Naomi, Orpah, and Ruth. We now move to the community as a whole, Bethlehem and our introduction to Boaz (2:1). Darkness lingered in the time of the Judges and for Ruth and Naomi, it had become personal. Yet, God worked in and through the dire circumstances of these women. God works even in times of sorrow and in the book of Ruth, his work included bringing Ruth to faith. More than God wants to change our circumstances, he wants to change our hearts.

Now Naomi had a relative of her husband’s, a worthy man of the clan of Elimelech, whose name was Boaz. And Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain after him in whose sight I shall find favor.” And she said to her, “Go, my daughter.” So she set out and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers, and she happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the clan of Elimelech. And behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem. And he said to the reapers, “The Lord be with you!” And they answered, “The Lord bless you.” Then Boaz said to his young man who was in charge of the reapers, “Whose young woman is this?” And the servant who was in charge of the reapers answered, “She is the young Moabite woman, who came back with Naomi from the country of Moab.  She said, ‘Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves after the reapers.’ So she came, and she has continued from early morning until now, except for a short rest.” Then Boaz said to Ruth, “Now, listen, my daughter, do not go to glean in another field or leave this one, but keep close to my young women. Let your eyes be on the field that they are reaping, and go after them. Have I not charged the young men not to touch you? And when you are thirsty, go to the vessels and drink what the young men have drawn.” Then she fell on her face, bowing to the ground, and said to him, “Why have I found favor in your eyes, that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?” But Boaz answered her, “All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told to me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before. The Lord repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!” Then she said, “I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, for you have comforted me and spoken kindly to your servant, though I am not one of your servants.” - Ruth 2:1-13

In chapter two, we read evidence that God honors faithfulness when things are tough. The practice of gleaning was common in ancient Israel and Ruth asks Naomi about going to glean in someone else’s field (Lev. 19:9; Lev. 23:22; Deut. 24:19). Conditions are against Ruth but her faith leads her to act (2:2). Surely Ruth had obstacles to overcome as a poor foreigner in a new land, but with an attitude of genuine faith she finds the goodwill of a wealthy landowner (and ultimately the Lord).

Ruth did not wait around complaining about her difficulties. Ruth demonstrated her faith in God by taking a step forward even though it was unfamiliar and uncomfortable. God doesn’t want us to be comfortable; He wants us to be conformable (Rom 8:29). In what ways is God conforming you to his image? God works in the daily affairs of his people and when we reflect His character through our interactions with others, we bring glory to Him. How are your motivations towards other people a reflection of your beliefs about God? Obedience in everyday life pleases God.

Ruth is a hard worker while gleaning the field. She makes the best of her situation. Ruth trusts God to be good to her and exemplifies humility and submission as she works. With the foreman’s report of Ruth’s character, Boaz decides to show favor to her. He is determined to provide for her and in his kindness shows her where to find water. He is concerned for Ruth’s wellbeing. Ruth has gone through hard things (famine, grief, and hardship) and in their conversation, the words of Boaz cause her to respond by falling on her face. She is overwhelmed by his graciousness (Ruth 2:2, 10) and she would later find herself in a field of favor. How is Boaz’s care for Ruth a reflection of God’s care for you? God’s care for his people is not merely a concept, it is reality.

Let’s take a closer look at the landowner: Boaz’s integrity, his protection, compassion, and generosity made him much different than many of the men of his day. He displays some of the key marks of godliness and as we move forward, we will see he is also a picture of Christ. Boaz is a gracious man and in these scenes, his grace points us to Jesus’ grace. We see aspects of divine providence with Boaz’s kindness in his perfect timing – God’s timing is always perfect. The life of Boaz is permeated by God’s presence. But truth be known, there is a greater hero in this story than Boaz. The Lord is accomplishing his purposes as his providence is revealed.

We are not left to struggle alone as we try to follow the examples of Ruth and Boaz. While faith-led actions may go unnoticed by other people, they do not go unnoticed by the Lord. We belong to a loving, faithful, and all powerful God who has never failed to care and provide for His children. Like Ruth and Boaz, we are called to respond to God’s grace in faithful obedience in spite of the dark, godless culture in which we live. As Christians, we should not live for the approval of others. We are to live for the glory of God who knows all, sees all, and in the end rewards all who live by faith. Who will you choose to live for? Will you trust God today?

For further study, read Ruth 2:1-13; Psalm 112:1-2; 5, 9; Deut 24:19-22; James 4:6; Jeremiah 25:14; Romans 2:6-9

*Sources listed in last post of series.

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