The desire of my heart on this snowy Shabbat was to study the Book of Ruth. This is the story of a kinsmen redeemer, a picture of our own kinsmen redeemer, Jesus Christ. Here are some of the things that I’ve learned from today’s Bible study.
Bible Study on the Book of Ruth
Chapter One: Famine
In the first few verses of this book, we learn that there was a famine in the land of Judah. This famine drove a man named Elimelech and his wife Naomi, along with their two sons to the land of Moab. This reminds me of the famine of the land that drove Jacob and his sons to Egypt to reconcile with Joseph. In the same way, Naomi’s two sons married Moabite women, just as Joseph’s two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, married Egyptian women.
After Naomi’s husband and two sons died, Naomi and her two daughters-in-law hear “that the LORD had paid attention to His people’s need by providing them food” (Book of Ruth 1:6). This is a beautiful reminder that God will not only work through famines and hard times in our life to drive us to different places, but he will hear our cry and pay attention to our needs by providing for us. Thank you, Jesus!
At this point, Naomi encourages her two daughters-in-law, Orpah and Ruth, to return to their own families, to their old homes and their old gods, which Orpah does. Ruth, however, expresses in a very famous and beautiful poem that she has already taken on Yahweh as her God and will not leave Naomi.
Do not persuade me to leave you or go back and not follow you.
For wherever you go, I will go, and wherever you live, I will live;
your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.
Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried.
May Yahweh punish me, and do so severely,
if anything but death separates you and me.
Ruth pledges her allegiance and love to Naomi and they move on to Bethlehem, where it is clear that Naomi was well-known and respected throughout the land. We know this because the women of the town say, “Can this be Naomi?” They recognized her! A reminder that we, too should be recognizable women of noble character (Proverbs 31).
At the end of chapter one, we are told that Naomi and Ruth arrive in Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest. What festival is celebrated at the beginning of the barley harvest? Passover! What an amazing sign of both Naomi and Ruth ridding themselves of the leaven and ungodly things they may have picked up along the way while in Moab. It is also a reminder of God’s provision to not only keep us safe, but when we follow Him and obey His commandments, the death that deeply visited both Naomi (three times!!) and Ruth, would pass over!
Chapter Two and Three: Boaz 💪
In chapter two of the Book of Ruth, we are introduced to Boaz, “a prominent man of noble character.” (This is the type of husband you should be looking for, single ladies! (Proverbs 31:23)) It then says that Ruth inquired of Naomi, “Will you let me go into the fields and gather fallen grain?” She wanted to help and was willing to work, as we should be! Ruth goes into the fields of Boaz and gathers grain all the way until the end of the barley and the wheat harvests (Ruth 2:23). At this time, we celebrate the feast of Sukkot!
Next, let’s consider the three interactions of Boaz with Ruth in chapters two and three. First, Ruth 2:8-12.
Then Boaz said to Ruth, “Listen, my daughter. Don’t go and gather grain in another field, and don’t leave this one, but stay here close to my female servants. See which field they are harvesting, and follow them. Haven’t I ordered the young men not to touch you? When you are thirsty, go and drink from the jars the young men have filled.”
She bowed with her face to the ground and said to him, “Why are you so kind to notice me, although I am a foreigner?”
Boaz answered her, “Everything you have done for your mother-in-law since your husband’s death has been fully reported to me: how you left your father and mother and the land of your birth, and how you came to a people you didn’t previously know. May the LORD reward you for what you have done, and may you receive a full reward from the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge.”
Wow! In summary, Boaz is basically saying “stay here and stay close to the others in my keep. Follow them and you will be safe. I will quench your thirst.” Does that remind you of Jesus? In the same way, Boaz is recognizing that Ruth left her father and mother and the land that she knew to come with Naomi to Israel and follow Yahweh. Doesn’t Jesus also encourage us, even command us as His disciples to leave our father and mother and the land that we know to come and live in God’s land and follow Him?
The second interaction between Boaz and Ruth is a shared meal together, bread and vinegar sauce. Then she gathers all of the grain she had collected and when she presses it down and measures it, there is a whole ephah! I couldn’t find too much about this in my study, but that a portion of an ephah, either half an ephah or two quarts (an ephah is about 26 quarts, I believe), is required of different sacrifices to God. So God had granted Ruth and Naomi provision through their food in abundance enough to give back thanks to Him through a sacrifice and for them to still be sustained! This is a beautiful picture of God’s provision for us, not only to sustain us, but to leave enough for us to give thanks and still have some left over!
The third interaction between Boaz and Ruth is in the middle of the night when Ruth lays down at the feet of Boaz for him to accept her as his wife (Ruth 3). In verses 10 to 13, Boaz tells Ruth not to be afraid, but to wait there. He promises to take care of everything.
So altogether, the three interactions of Boaz are very reminiscent of that of Jesus and His disciples. First, leave everything and follow me (Matthew 16:24; Luke 14:25-27), I will quench your thirst (John 4:10-13; John 7:37-39). Then, have communion with me and share a meal (John 6:35, the Last Supper, and many other meals between Jesus and his disciples). Third, Jesus told His disciples after his resurrection to wait while He takes care of everything. We see this first as picture of waiting for the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:45-53), and then as a picture of Jesus preparing a place for us as His bride (John 14:1-4) (Revelation 21:1-4).
Chapter Four: The Marriage
In the final chapter of the Book of Ruth, Boaz takes care of business for Ruth and Naomi. First, he calls together ten elders, or witnesses to make sure what is about to take place is accounted for accurately. I think there must be some significance to these ten elders, but I can’t make any connections yet – can you? (please comment below!).
Boaz asks the kinsmen redeemer if he would like the land allotted to Naomi that she is selling to be redeemed to his deceased husband’s family, and he says, “Yes.” But then Boaz mentions the part about having to also marry Ruth and take over responsibility to give her children, perpetuating the family name. At this point, the kinsmen redeemer says that he does not want the deal, as that would mean giving up his own inheritance in order to take on the land of Naomi and Ruth as his wife.
So Boaz is left to rightfully become the kinsmen redeemer and marry Ruth. In verse 13 we are told that “the LORD enabled her to conceive”, a reminder that only by God’s grace and His enabling can we ever rightfully bear children. And Ruth gives birth to Obed, father of Jesse, father of King David, in the line of Jesus Christ.
Conclusion: God will make a way!
Just as I mentioned at the beginning of this study, God made a way for Jacob and his sons to not only have food during the famine by coming into Egypt, but to reconcile with Joseph through the process. If Joseph hadn’t been sold into slavery and blessed by Yahweh, he would not have come into such great wealth and honor in Egypt, would not have married an Egyptian woman or had Ephraim and Manasseh. Ephraim goes on to become the fullness of the Gentiles, of which Jesus allows to come into the blessings of Israel, even though they are foreigners, Egyptians.
In the same way, God made a way for the Moabites, Gentiles, to come into the blessing of Israel through Ruth and Boaz!
Praise God that no matter where we are from or what our bloodline says, we can leave the inherited sin of our earthly father and mother, the sinful land of our birthplace, and come into the inheritance of redeemed Israel and into the promised land!
I hope you find deep rest in the peace of Christ today and that you come to know Jesus as your kinsmen redeemer! Amen 🙂