Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Advent: Joy for Ruth

Joy for Ruth

Big Idea: Ruth, from the genealogy of Jesus, found joy though she experienced multiple losses.

Migrant Widow finds Love in the Barley Fields

A beautiful love story is presented in the Biblical book of Ruth. Before the joy of love, she went through heartbreak, hunger and lived with a bitter mother-in-law.

There was famine in Israel. A family from Bethlehem migrated to Moab to survive. Their two boys married Moabite women. Then the father and two sons died. It left deep wounds on these three women.

The mother, Naomi decided to go back to Bethlehem. She told her daughter-in-laws to stay in their homeland and marry again. One agreed to stay. The other named Ruth begged Naomi to take her along. Her eloquent speech is often quoted at weddings. But it was declared to her mother-in-law.

Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. Ruth 1: 16 NLT

Anger at God

Naomi’s bitterness and anger were so palpable; she arrived in Bethlehem asking everyone to call her “Mara,” which means “bitter.” Tragedy sometimes leaves people feeling like this toward God.

“The Almighty has made life very bitter for me. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me home empty.” Ruth 1: 20-21 NLT

Ruth seemed gentle though she lost her husband, and left her family and all she ever knew behind. Living with a bitter mother-in-law must have been extra taxing.

What is Gleaning?

Ruth and Naomi must have been hungry, for Ruth decided to glean in the barley fields.

From ancient societies to the present day, the poor can go behind harvesters in farmer’s fields to gather what’s left behind. This practice is called gleaning. My parents gleaned potatoes in North Dakota in the 1960s when my father’s company experienced a lengthy strike.

When Ruth started to glean, Boaz the field owner, noticed Ruth. Others told him of her kindness to Naomi. He asked the other workers to leave extra food where Ruth gleaned and then gave her lunch with his field workers.

The Kinsman Redeemer

When Ruth came home with so much food, Naomi told her she found the field of a relative! Naomi, noticing how Boaz had treated Ruth, saw a possible marriage match!

Naomi coached Ruth to present to Boaz at the barley threshing floor while he slept and lay down at his feet. 

Boaz was surprised and honored. The Levirate practice was possible, which was to marry a close relative to produce an heir for the passed husband. Additionally another practice would be fulfilled, called Kinsman Redeemer, to help a relative in need or in trouble to save the family.

Boaz was willing. Even better, it was a love match!

Their offspring was part of the lineage of King David and Jesus the Messiah. (Matthew 1:5) Amazingly the redeemer of the family line through the non-Israeli Ruth would produce the Redeemer who would also rescue us in our desperate need. 

Joy when all is lost pictured on snow

Ruth, a heartbroken penniless migrant widow who scavenged for leftover food found joy. She experienced joy when all was lost.


Up next: Advent: Bathsheba's Love
Previous post: Advent: Peace for Rahab


1. Ruth seems less scandalous than the other women in the genealogy of Matthew. But what might have been some of Ruth’s emotions through this ordea?. Think of her losing her husband, leaving her homeland, living with a bitter mother-in-law, needing to scavenge the earth for food…

2. How might you relate to something in Ruth’s life?

3. How was Boaz her rescuer? Can you see Jesus as rescuer in your life?

He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies. Psalm 103:4 NLT

They will be called “The Holy People” and “The People Redeemed by the Lord.” And Jerusalem will be known as “The Desirable Place” and “The City No Longer Forsaken.” Isaiah 62:12 NLT

Jesus gave his life for our sins, just as God our Father planned, in order to rescue us from this evil world in which we live. Galatians 1:4 NLT

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