Having completed a detailed study of the book of Ruth, a pertinent truth materialised which will be explained on how God uses and raises up people for his divine purpose as part of his kind and caring nature. The book and themes of Ruth will be considered to relevant and very real twenty first century challenges of infertility.
The book of Ruth
Ruth is just such a fabulous read, it is easy, warm, emotional and has such a strong feminine touch. For ladies in ministry, when trying to reach out to other ladies, recommend the book of Ruth! The book is set in a time when God’s people were in a cycle of rebellion, followed by punishment, then crying out to the Lord for salvation of their circumstances, then saved by the gracious kind Almighty. This theme is to be remembered when enjoying this great read. Naomi, her husband and two sons leave Bethlehem because of a famine in Isreal and live in the land of Moab, with unbelievers. It is here where she is widowed. Her sons then marry Moabite wives, Ruth and Orpah. Sadly after ten years her sons also die and Naomi finds herself emotionally destroyed and left destitute.
Naomi returns to Bethlehem
She elects to return to her home in Bethlehem and encourages her daughters-in-laws to remarry and make lives for themselves. Ruth remains utterly devoted to Naomi and echoes the famous words that we read in Ruth 1:16, “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.” Naomi asks her people to call her Mara, which means bitter as she feels that God has brought upon a calamity on her life.
Ruth provides for Naomi
Ruth attempts to care for Naomi by going out and firstly trying to source food. She humbles herself by attempting to take of the harvest per provisions made for the poorer of the community. This essentially entailed standing at the back of the those who were harvesting and picking up the leftovers. The field belonged to Boaz, a distant relative of Naomi. When Boaz finds out about what Ruth had been doing and that she was a Moabite, he makes a special concession that she be taken care of and work amongst the woman so that she is not isolated and victimised. He also specially instructs the men to be respectful to Ruth. Boaz, was a man of God, and brought God into the work of the harvest and into his kindness to Ruth.
Boaz continues to offer favourable treatment to Ruth, offering her food and even more generous options to harvest so that she can adequately provide for Naomi. Rays of hope start to sparkle in Naomi who begins to express warmth about God’s provisions for her. Naomi gives Ruth instructions for a very romantic gesture, which her daughter-in-law obediently follows.
Ruth, gently and as an honourable woman, makes herself attractive and tends to Boaz in the night by lying at his feet. When he awakes and finds her there, she asks him to be her carer, her redeemer, her provider, to take her under his wing. He is humbled at her kind heart that she would want him over other younger suitors.
The book of Ruth just oozes kindness - that of Ruth towards Naomi, Naomi’s towards her daughters-in-laws and of course that between Boaz and Ruth. What a great lesson to all, regardless of our circumstances in life, to offer continuous kindness.
After Boaz and Ruth are married, the Lord blesses the couple with a pregnancy. Obed is born and is placed on Naomi’s lap for her new role as nurse of this child. Ruth 5:17 says, “A son has been born to Naomi.” The community support Naomi by reminding her that she has been blessed with a redeemer, a restorer of life for her old age and who is more to her than seven sons.
The book of Ruth remains a romantic firm favourite, but it occurred to me that Naomi is restored with a redeemer and Obed is even called her son, yet Obed has no actual genetic link to her. Boaz was not her son and Naomi was her daughter-in-law. People struggling with infertility can often feel utterly shattered, destitute and worthless and may even want to be called mara. But God has plans for us and it is so clear that being redeemed as parents may not actually come in the form of a natural conception. We are taught here that the genetic link is not what matters, it is the loving kindness to help and build a family. Many people may not have viable gametes or options to become parents naturally and there are other solutions. Conception with donor gametes or even adoption does not in any way remove the fact that parents are created and the bottom line is that the human giver of the life seed is actually less relevant as all life comes from God. Paul reminds us in 1 Timothy 6:13 that God gives life to all things and in Colossians 1:16 Paul affirms that all things are created through him. That also means parents are created through God.
We read and revel in the books of God’s inspired word, but there is so much to learn and understand. The book of Ruth has as much meaning today as it did when first written possibly three thousand years ago.