Endings and Beginnings

Ruth 4:13-22

After the scene that takes place in verses 1-12 of chapter four, Boaz and Ruth are married. There is not a single word in the text about their life together; other than they had a son named Obed. From what the text has told us, Ruth is humble and loyal, Boaz is kind, of high character and righteous, so we can infer that they lived happily ever after. Certainly, there is nothing to cause this inference to be brought into question. It’s probably safe to infer that Naomi lived out her years in happiness as well.

The text mentions a son as the only specific about the lives of Ruth and Boaz because that son becomes a direct ancestor of the Lord Jesus Christ, and that is a very big deal indeed. It places Ruth in that same lineage; a Moabite. Of course, she is not the only gentile woman in that lineage, and I suppose that we should pause to clear up any confusion resulting from this point, since ultimately this line will pass to Jesus through Mary.

The Old Testament Law states that to be a Jew, someone must be of the seed of Abraham, a quaint old-fashioned way of saying Abraham’s genetic descendant. This “seed” passes from the father, thus Obed is Jewish by birth even though his mother was a gentile. The Father of Jesus was not strictly speaking a Jew; instead He was God. So how could Jesus be a Jew?

I hope you were sitting down when you read that; it is not a joke. You see, unless something happened first, Jesus would be the Son of God without being a Jew.

But something did happen.

During the captivity in Babylon, Jews began to intermarry with gentiles. After the return from captivity, many Jews chose not to return, while others returned and continued intermarrying. It seems that men were much more likely to take a gentile bride than women a gentile husband and eventually, after much controversy and confusion, the Law was changed, so that descendancy from Abraham came through mothers instead of fathers. Thus, you could only be born a Jew if your mother was Jewish. If your mother was gentile and your father was Jewish, you were considered to be a gentile, and this is so to this very day. Thus, Jesus was Jewish because Mary was Jewish.

If you read this book again carefully, there would seem to be either a lot of coincidence or a lot of luck in the story. I think the biggest one of these took place when Ruth went out to work in the fields that first day, and somehow came upon the fields of Boaz. Why didn’t Naomi tell Ruth where to go? By all rights, shouldn’t she have directed Ruth to the fields of the other kinsman-redeemer, the one with first right of redemption? No, somehow Ruth just got lucky and stumbled into Boaz’ life!

You can be quite sure that there are no coincidences here, and no dumb luck either, for God was at work in the lives of these people. Now here’s a question for everyone to ponder: Why did God choose Naomi, Ruth and Boaz to be in this story, and thus to be part of the lineage of His Son? (Hint: it’s in the text)

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About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
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3 Responses to Endings and Beginnings

  1. DGHDelgado says:

    Don, I haven’t been on for a while–hope you’re doing well–but I’d like to take a stab at answering your question:

    I like to think that the devastation that Naomi/Mara faced (famine, dead husband, dead sons) is like us–everything we could have leaned upon and hoped for in life dies and fails, and we are bankrupt, unable to help ourselves or those around us.

    We need a Ruth. We need someone who will walk with us, work for us, and let go of all other “rights” to care for us. Someone who puts us first.

    And we need a Boaz. We need someone who will change our destinies and give us hope. Someone who sees the legitimate way to restore us to what we would naturally long for–intimacy with God.

    Together, Ruth and Boaz reflect Christ: a companion, who lays down all glory and royal Family “rights” to condescend to a place where He can care for us; a redeemer who permanently brings us into the fold, reverses the curse of our own naming (we are no longer bitter, but blessed), and raises our status from pauper to prince/princess, all to the detriment/risk of His own “inheritance” (For we are now co-heirs with Christ).

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