One of the books of the Old Testament is devoted to the story of Ruth. Why? Because there are important truths exemplified by Ruth’s life that the Lord wants us to know. This book is more than just a historical record. Ruth’s life, her character, her choices, and the rewards that she obtained are important lessons for us to learn. You should take the time to prayerfully read this book yourself and allow the Holy Spirit to impart these truths to you. It’s not a long book, but there is a lot there.
Let’s look closer at her story to pull out some of the nuggets of truth.
Ruth was a Moabite
“Now Elimelech, Naomi’s husband, died; and she was left, and her two sons. Now they took wives of the women of Moab; the name of one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth.” (Ruth 1: 3,4)
The Moabites were a tribe of people who the Israelites encountered when they left Egypt under Moses’ leadership. The Israelite men “began to commit harlotry with the women of Moab.” (Numbers 25:1) and then were invited to sacrifice to the Moabite gods, bringing the anger of the Lord upon them. Ruth was raised in this demonic belief system of worshiping the false Moabite gods. When Ruth met the Israelite family of Naomi, she was impacted by the true and living God and deeply embraced the truths that she learned. She was able to put aside the lies of her inherited beliefs and accept the truth of the one living God of the Israelites. She must have had some pressure from her family and peers to not abandon her heritage but she was strong enough to establish the truth from the Lord and then align her life accordingly without allowing the possible negative results to impact her views, knowing that in the long run her choices would pay off, and that finding truth was more important than the temporary consequences of rejecting lies. Her choice to embrace truth would later influence her decision to stay with Naomi and to say “Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God.” (Ruth 1:16).
I was born into a dead church that emphasized ritual and allowed the authority of the church leaders to override the authority of the Holy Scriptures, introducing lies that led to, at the least, confusion or, at the most, heresy. It was not easy or comfortable for me to become a true Biblical Christian. I lost friends and had family relationships negatively impacted. I had enjoyed being popular, but became an outcast. I no longer frequented my former hangouts, but had to change my interests and focus. This didn’t end either. Even now when I enter a new job situation, I recognize that my lifestyle and beliefs are not popular. I can’t hang out with the guys at the bar, or if I do go with them, I’m frowned upon for not being a “drinker”. I have learned the hard way, though, that there is no fellowship of light with darkness. In the long run, the choice to align my life with the truth will pay off.
Most of us are raised without the knowledge of the truth. We had to make the hard choices, and even now we all have the same battle to fight to learn how to be in this world but not of this world. We are different than the rest of the world, and Jesus warned His disciples that they would be treated just like He was treated. We have to keep the truth alive deep in our hearts; we have to keep focused on heaven and make sure that our flesh doesn’t take hold of our desires and deceive us into shifting our hopes to the things of this world.
When the difficult circumstances came along and the hard decision needed to be made, Ruth was able to make the right one. When Ruth’s husband died and her mother-in-law was returning to Israel, but encouraged her to return to her original people and gods, Ruth was able to say no. She clung to Naomi. She refused to return, even though her sister-in-law, Orpah, in contrast, agreed to return. Why did Ruth make the right decision? Because she had established the truth in her life. She knew that Naomi’s God was the true God, and if she went back, she would not have access to Him. Holding on to this truth was more important than the unknown future that she faced with Naomi as a foreigner to Israel and a widow with little chance of remarriage. Ruth’s faith was deep enough that she could make the right choice. She based her decision on the spiritual things, not the physical things. We must do the same; it starts now with the choices we make and how we establish truth in our own hearts, so that when the difficult decision comes to us we can also make the right choice.
Ruth could have taken the opinion that God had abandoned her. If she looked at her circumstances, she could have even blamed the God of Israel for her husband’s death. She could have made an easy excuse to go back to her previous beliefs. I’m sure that her situation was painful: losing her husband and being expected to leave her home and family to travel to Israel with her only remaining immediate family, her mother-in-law and sister-in-law. How will you respond to the difficulties that may await you in the future? Will you chose to follow God and stay with Him even if it is physically more challenging? If we keep our hearts focused on the right thing, the choice will be clear.
Ruth was a humble, hard working, servant
“So Ruth the Moabitess said to Naomi, ‘Please let me go to the field, and glean heads of grain after him in whose sight I may find favor.’” (Ruth 2:2)
“So she came and has continued from morning until now….” (Ruth 2:7)
“and Boaz answered and said to her, ‘It has been fully reported to me, all that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of her husband, and how you have left your father and you mother and the land of your birth, and have come to a people whom you did not know before.’” (Ruth 2:11)
“And she said to her, ‘All that you say to me I will do.’” (Ruth 3:5)
When Ruth started on her journey back to Israel with Naomi, she could have focused on getting a new husband, but instead she focused on doing what she could to help their situation. She went out early in the morning to work behind the reapers to pick up their droppings. She humbled herself, and took a position next to the lowliest workers, taking left-over grain from others. I don’t know what position in life she would have had back in Moab, but I think it is safe to assume it would have been a better one.
Her approach was as an obedient servant to her mother-in-law, with an attitude to do whatever is needed. This was what stands out to me in the story. Her faith wasn’t focused on making some miracle happen to bring about positive results for her life, no, her faith was focused on pleasing God and doing what was right in her circumstances.
The Lord was with her and made sure that she was in the field of Boaz: “And she happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the family of Elimelech.” (Ruth 2:3) The Lord made sure that Boaz noticed her and was told what she had done for Naomi. This opened the door for her to become a wife to Boaz and bare a child who would become the grandfather of king David. In fact, Ruth is mentioned in the lineage of Jesus through David, quite amazing for this Moabite woman who was left without a husband and who had to leave her family and homeland.
Ruth not only had a strong faith in the truth of the God of Israel being the only true, living God, but she also allowed her character to reflect the humble servitude that is inherent in this belief. She recognized the nature of God and became more like Him. God is love; we, as Christians, must walk in love also.
“He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.” (1 John 2:6)
Ruth was rewarded
The important lesson here is that Ruth didn’t seek for a reward in this life. Instead, she focused on doing what was right in her position. God took care of the reward. He made sure that it happened. He guided her footsteps and made sure that the right people were involved and that the circumstances worked out in her favor. This is what God does. We just need to keep our hearts in the right place with the right attitude. We need to be faithful and continue in doing what is right and good. God sees. He knows our needs. He knows our desires and cares about our situation. He is doing what is best for us.
Ruth didn’t know that she was working in the field of her future husband. She wasn’t focused on that. It seemed like she didn’t even realized what was happening. She just wanted to please the Lord and do what was right. God made sure that Boaz noticed: “Then he (Boaz) said, ‘Blessed are you of the Lord, my daughter! For you have shown more kindness at the end than at the beginning, in that you did not go after young men, whether poor or rich.’” (Ruth 3:10)
Not only was Ruth blessed by the Lord as a result of her faithfulness, but the Lord also blessed Naomi through Ruth’s actions.
“So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife; and when he went in to her, the Lord gave her conception, and she bore a son. Then the women said to Naomi, ‘Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without a close relative; and may his name be famous in Israel! And may he be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age; for you daughter-in-law, who loves you, who is better to you than seven sons, has borne him.’ Then Naomi took the child and laid him on her bosom, and became a nurse to him. Also the neighbor women gave him a name, saying, ‘there is a son born to Naomi’ and they called his name Obed. He is the father of Jesse, the father of David.” (Ruth 4: 13-17)
God is truly amazing and does amazing things for us. Praise His name!