However, it is more than that. But before I explain myself, let's refresh our memories on the story of Ruth. Ruth was a foreigner, who chose to follow her mother-in-law (shocker!) back to her homeland without any means of livelihood or support. Once back, she decided to work to get food and through this, met Boaz. Taking her mother-in-law's advice, she approached Boaz and they got married. The end.
After reading this, a thought popped into my head: why is this book in the Bible? As I mentioned earlier, we do not see God's presence manifested in any way. However, what we do see is God's law put into practice and fulfilled as its meant to be. Added to the fact that King David was her descendant, we see how through simple obedience, Ruth and Boaz have left a legacy better and far futher consequence for us.
In the Old Testament, we all know that God explicitly told the Israelites not to mix with the foreigners in their land. Through their history, we see how their disobedience to this cause the nation to suffer. Nevertheless, God does allow foreigners who choose to serve Him to be welcomed. In Ruth, we see this. Both Ruth and Orpah loved Naomi, but Ruth went the extra mile: she vow to never leave her. In her words:
“Entreat me not to leave you,
Or to turn back from following after you;
For wherever you go, I will go;
And wherever you lodge, I will lodge;
Your people shall be my people,
And your God, my God.
Where you die, I will die,
And there will I be buried.
The Lord do so to me, and more also,
If anything but death parts you and me.” - Ruth 1:16-17
In Israel, there is a law not to reap their harvest to the edge of their fields (Lev 19:9-10). We see in Ruth, the value of this law as Ruth can now go out among the fields to collect food for herself and Naomi. Through this fulfillment of the law, we see how God cares for those who follow Him and how He has already planned for their need way ahead of time. The other thing I caught is how Ruth must still go out into the fields and work for it. In short, God provides but we have to play our part too and go out and work it out.
Then we see God work His miracle. He brings Ruth to the field of a very generous man, Boaz. Furthermore, Boaz is Naomi's relative. Here we see how God not only blesses just enough but blesses with overflowing blessing. He didn't just give her food, He gave her protection and also brought her back into family. It could have been any generous man's field but God specifically brought Ruth to Boaz.
Why did He do that? In Ruth 3, we see the reason. We learn that Ruth obeyed not only Naomi's advice to ask Boaz to redeem them, but to do it in accordance with Jewish custom at that time, strange as it was. By doing so, she respected and trusted Naomi and she also gave respect to Boaz.
From Boaz's reply, we realize that he also has been thinking of redeeming Ruth and Naomi. Now, we see Boaz's integrity and respect for the law. He knew that there was a kinsman who was closer and should have first right to redeem them. Instead of simply redeem Ruth behind that kinsman's back, he chose to enlighten him to his right even if it means losing Ruth. He also made a promise to Ruth that he will sort it out and he went through with his promise. As it were, the kinsman refused and Boaz was now free to marry Ruth. Of course, we all know what was the outcome of that marriage.
In studying the story of Ruth, we learnt that it is one of God's law being fulfilled and how it is a blessing to us instead of hampering us. In Ruth and Boaz, we see 2 people who chose to honour firstly His word and to do things His way. We see great submission, unselfish love, deep respect and faithfulness so evidently lived out in their lives. We may not see God's presence manifested but the reason we have the book of Ruth, is to see God's word being fulfilled in everyday life and how His plans work out for the best; today and in our generations to come. In Ruth and Boaz, we also see how their commitment to righteousness; and how that added into King David's life.
Personally, I'm encourage to continue to live faithfully for God. Though it's harder, though I can't see the reward, I know I am leaving a legacy, one that would far exceed my expectations in the generations to come. We talk about leaving a legacy of a better world... and we often equate this to a greener world. I put it to you, that a better world also means living a life of righteousness and leaving that legacy to the future generations. That, to me, is the better gift.