It takes Two to get Ready: Boaz and Ruth’s Story
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It had been more than 500 years since they laid old Jacob to rest in the cave of Machpelah. They were eventful years for Jacob’s descendants. There were the hard years of Egyptian bondage culminated by God’s gracious deliverance; there were the forty years of wilderness wanderings culminated by the great conquest of Canaan; then there were the strange cyclic years of sin, servitude, and salvation we know as the period of the Judges. That gloomy era provides the setting for the most beautiful love story in the Bible, the story of Boaz and Ruth.
“Now it came about in the days when the judges governed, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the land of Moab with his wife and his two sons” (Ruth 1:1). That man, named Elimelech, died in Moab, leaving his wife, Naomi, and their two sons, Mahlon and Chileon. The boys married Moabite women, and then, in what seemed to be a tragic twist of fate, both of them died, leaving Naomi in a strange land with only her two Moabite daughters-in-law, Ruth and Orpah. When she heard that God had prospered her people with food, she decided to return home to Bethlehem.
Orpah remained in Moab at Naomi’s suggestion, but Ruth would not hear of it. She was one of those rare persons who loved deeply and selflessly, and she loved her mother-in-law. Remember her famous words? “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God” (Ruth 1:16). Her God was about to direct her to a wonderful man with whom she would be united.
Through their testimony, this young Moabite named Ruth turned from worshiping Chemosh, the God of the Moabites, …, and put her trust in the one true and living God.
The first thing that strikes us about these two whom God brought together by His grace is their spiritual preparation. Although Elimelech’s family was out of the center of God’s will and out of the place of God’s blessing, they did accomplish something worthwhile. Through their testimony, this young Moabite named Ruth turned from worshiping Chemosh, the God of the Moabites, with all the abominable practices associated with his worship, and put her trust in the one true and living God. “Your God shall be my God,” she boldly declared. And it was evident to all who knew her that she had come to enjoy an intimate relationship with the Lord God of Israel. Sometime later, Boaz would say to her, “May the Lord reward your work, and your wages be full from the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to seek refuge” (Ruth 2:12). Her trust in God and her love for God were the sources of an inner strength and beauty that could not be hidden and of a love for others that could not be suppressed.
Consider what she did. Instead of brooding over the loss of her own husband, she devoted herself to meeting the needs of her mother-in-law, to filling the void in Naomi’s life, to helping her in the best way she could. That meant leaving her home, her family, and her friends, moving to another land as a despised foreigner and living in poverty and privation. And for what? Love and concern for her mother-in-law were her only apparent motives. Boaz pointed that out later in the story: “All that you have done for your mother-in-law after the death of your husband has been fully reported to me, and how you left your father and your mother and the land of your birth, and came to a people that you did not previously know” (Ruth 2:11).
Many a woman who loves her husband cannot seem to love his mother. And men seem to have the same problem with their wives’ mothers, as evidenced by the mother-in-law jokes that have circulated through the years. Where does love like Ruth’s come from? It comes from the Lord of all love. If you want some of it, you will have to cultivate a close personal relationship with Him just as Ruth did. When we get to know God and understand how much He gave for us, we are encouraged to give of ourselves for the good of others, even our in-laws. And when we do that, tension and turmoil begin to dissolve into harmony and happiness.
Where does love like Ruth’s come from? It comes from the Lord of all love. If you want some of it, you will have to cultivate a close personal relationship with Him just as Ruth did.
It is never too soon to learn these lessons of love. We can begin teaching them to our children very early in their lives. The training ground for love is the home. A loving relationship with parents and brothers and sisters will prepare them to love their mates and their mates’ parents as they should. Some folks who are reading this chapter may have come from unloving homes and they are finding their early influences hard to overcome. It is difficult for them to give or to receive love. They can testify to the importance of parents setting a loving example, and then teaching their children to be helpful and good-natured and to show kindness and respect for others in the home. Children will not know how to love when they marry unless they show love to those with whom they live right now. But it all begins with our love affair with the Lord. When we have experienced the love of God, we will express it in our family relationships—parents, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, children, and in-laws. Ruth is ready for a beautiful love affair with Boaz because she is in love with her Lord and that love is spilling out to others in her life.
Now let us meet the Prince Charming in Ruth’s future. The story implies that Boaz is much older than she (cf. Ruth 3:10). We do not know whether he was a bachelor or a widower, but we do know that he was a man of God. The Lord was an important part of his daily life. He thought often about the Lord, spoke freely of the Lord, and allowed the Lord to be a part of his everyday business dealings.
Listen to him greet his reapers in the field. “May the Lord be with you,” he said. And they responded, “May the Lord bless you” (Ruth 2:4). To Ruth he declared, “May you be blessed of the Lord, my daughter” (Ruth 3:10). And again, “I will redeem you, as the Lord lives” (Ruth 3:13). All the people who attended his wedding acknowledged his dependence upon God for his future posterity: “May the Lord make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, both of whom built the house of Israel” (Ruth 4:11).
The Post at A Glance!
Summary Where does love like Ruth’s come from? It comes from the Lord of all love. If you want some of it, you will have to cultivate a close personal relationship with Him just as Ruth did. When we get to know God and understand how much He gave for us, we are encouraged to give of ourselves for the good of others, even our in-laws. And when we do that, tension and turmoil begin to dissolve into harmony and happiness.
Faithfulness, Love and Marriage