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Redeemed & Redefined Pt 3 Ruth

She was seen as: Incestuous, Outsider, Pagan, Adulterous

Ruth 1-4

In reading Genesis 19:30-37, we learn of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. After its destruction and hiding in the hills of Soar, the oldest daughter of Lot gets her father drunk to take advantage of him sexually and is impregnated. She gave birth to a son called Moab. As the tribe grew, they were continually contentious against the descendants of Isaac. It was forbidden for Jews to marry Moabites because they were born of an incestuous distant cousin. Moabites were polytheistic and worshipped idols with forbidden pagan rituals. Ruth, a young and hopeful Moabite, married an Israeli who came to her village, fleeing the famine in his homeland. She fell in love and became part of a family with different traditions and beliefs. 10 years after being together, her husband dies. Before that, her father-in-law had died, but they stayed in Moabite territories because it was where the food was. Now that her husband was gone, what could she do? She had no inheritance because she had no children. So, no land from Israel could be passed down to her. Culturally, at the time, once a woman married, she became the responsibility of her husband's family for the rest of her life as long as she had heirs. She understood this Israeli family was to be where all her allegiance was. But being widowed and without an heir, she had no inheritance in Israel and would forever be a stranger.

Her mother-in-law decided it was best for her to return and go back to her land and hopefully receive the compassion of her town as a widow. She tried to send her daughters-in-law back to their own families in hopes they would start a new life. She was too old to have another son and help them continue the family's bloodline, and certainly couldn’t feed them if they came with her. Naomi sought to release her and let her start over again. It seemed like a merciful act, a generous act. To Ruth’s credit, her desire to suffer with her mother-in-law was chosen over any benefit she might gain by returning to her people. Ruth would not leave Naomi. Her name,

Hard times just got a lot harder. A lot of loneliness and poverty follow. If Ruth goes with Naomi, she, as a Moabite, will probably be ostracized and rejected by the townspeople, making it even more difficult for Naomi. But Ruth’s tender and genuine love for Naomi won the day. Together, they journeyed back to Israel. Once back in the land of Judah, Naomi sought a Kinsmen redeemer. A family member could take Ruth in as a wife and have a child with her, giving her an inheritance that would help support her and Naomi instead of becoming destitute. While gleaning through the fields, gathering harvest scraps to help feed her and Naomi, Ruth caught the eye of the owner, Boaz. Boaz was raised by Rahab, a woman from another people group, an outsider herself, with the reputation of being a harlot. He must have understood what God could do and how He gives salvation to all who trust Him and can transform their lives. He became intrigued and eventually fell in love with Ruth. Ultimately, this wealthy landowner took Ruth and Naomi in and gave them a future, a child, and hope. Boaz, the son of Rahab, would empathize with Ruth and Naomi's plight. His mother was a stranger, a foreigner, a woman with a reputation. Due to cultural aversion, she could use kindness and special compassion to bring her and Naomi into the fold. Her blessings abound because she pursued the God of Israel. It changes her destiny.

Ruth was giving up all she knew to follow Naomi regardless of the consequences. Despite the hardships, she believed in the God of Israel. Throughout this story, both women deal with painful judgments from others and incredible hardships in their lives. Naomi goes so far as to say her name is Marah, which means bitter. She had so much pain that she couldn’t see past it and was at the point of despair. Ruth was more of a blessing than Naomi could ever have imagined. Ruth would scavenge behind the field workers daily, so she and Naomi had enough to eat. She was not concerned about her reputation. She knew she was a beggar, a foreigner, an outsider. She sought the mercy and compassion to continue gleaning the fields to care for her mother-in-law. Ruth had to deal with a certain level of ostracism. The history of her people and the contentious relationships between the Israelites and Moabites probably kept her on the outside. Boaz was a man raised by Rahab, a woman from another people group, an outsider herself, with a previous reputation as a harlot. Certainly, he understood the dilemma Ruth was in, but also, because of his upbringing and mother’s history, he may have been more compassionate to her plight.

Ruth was faithful to her mother-in-law. She spent her days gleaning behind the harvesters in the fields of wealthy farmers. She may have been mocked, spoken down to, demeaned, or marginalized, which led her to another field. Yet, she continued. Boaz, the land owner, had favor on her, allowing her not just to glean through his fields but instructing others to leave more than enough for her. His compassion and care for her personally grew into much more. They eventually married and had a son called Obed, the grandfather of King David.

Have you ever been in a situation where your care for another person jeopardized your benefit?

Have you ever felt like an outsider? Did you stay in that situation, and why?

Even the elders of the city finally blessed her in Ruth 4:12 And may your house become like the house of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah, because of the offspring the LORD will give you by this young woman." In this blessing from the leaders, a tie-back to the story of Tamar is recorded. The faith in God and trusting him for provision serves generations. How can we start such a chain of faith?


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