Ruth means “friendship”
It is a tradition to read Ruth on every Shavuot. This little book of four chapters holds many doctrinal and theological concepts that are meaningful to us as Messianic believers. Besides redemption, which by the way occurs 23 times in this book, another of the central truths in the Book of Ruth is how G-d’s people should show loving commitment in their family relationships, and that includes your assembly, shul or synagogue. Do you suppose that this is a coincidence that G-d links both redemption and family commitment together. Can you have one without the other? Did not YHVH and Yahshua liken our relationship to them as a wife or bride?
As Jews we believe that every word and every space in the Bible has meaning. G-D IS A MIGHTY, WONDERFUL AND SOMETIMES INSCRUTABLE G-D, and we find meaning of indeterminable depth within His Scriptures and especially within this little book, Ruth. .
In chap 1: 1-5, The story goes that Naomi came from Bethlehem, Beit Lechem (House of Bread) Remember, Yahshua referred to himself as the (“bread of life”), but Naomi with her husband, and two sons Mahlon (which prophetically enough means “sickly” and Kilon which means “wasting away”) moved to Moab about 50 or 60 miles away because of a famine in the land of Judah. Today, many of us travel to work that far and further, but in that day it was a considerable distance.
To appreciate the situation of Naomi we must her put her predicament within a scenario. Naomi and her family were uprooted by famine. They went to a foreign land. There, her husband, the breadwinner dies. The sons took foreign wives, a Jewish no-no because they usually infected the husbands with idol worship. Then both sons die. Naomi is left without support or companionship except for two foreign daughters that have nothing in common with her.
Naomi means “pleasant,” but we see in her desperation her crying out, and wanting to change her name to Mara: “bitterness”. If you think about it, and put yourself in Naomi’s place, in that day and time, you too might have experienced despair. There were no phones, no social welfare agencies, Naomi a foreigner, probably not too well liked by the local inhabits, because she was Jewish… all in all she was in quite a pickle. What she did have however, was her trust in G-d.
In verses 15-17 she advises the girls to return to their parents, their G-ds, remarry and get another start in life. She couldn’t’ do anything but hold them down. Orpha which means “mane”, went back reluctantly, but Ruth would not go and this is what Scripture reports Ruth said to Naomi:
The context suggests that Ruth responded with PASSION: Ruth HAD PASSION FOR G-D and her adopted FAMILY. And I’m sure she PRAYED a lot, but Hebrew writers rarely refer to women praying because the man is to be the priest of the family.
Now, Listen to what the text says Ruth said:
“Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will he my people and your G-D my G-D. Where you die I will die, and there will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me.” What a statement of fidelity! And in this decision the stage was set for Yahshua to have a Gentile Great grandmother. Another example of how G-d includes Gentiles into his family.
We should reflect on Ruth’s statement, and pause and ask ourselves; what do Ruth’s actions demonstrate? First, devotion to G-d has to be demonstrated in specific ways Second, prejudice, selfishness and pride are inappropriate for G-d’s people.
When Naomi and Ruth get to Bethlehem, Ruth is instructed by Naomi, and she dutifully follows her instructions and gleans in the field of Boaz a kinsman. Boaz is a name of uncertain meaning but it was the name of a pillar of the Jerusalem temple. Boaz has social standing, and is a man of PROMINENCE as read in chapter 2 verse 1. Boaz sees Ruth and is obviously interested. He inquires of her and learns her identity. He issues instructions that she is TO GLEAN AND GATHER behind the harvesters. So… WHAT DO WE HAVE HERE’? PROVISION. Also Boaz instructs his harvesters not to harm her. So, we also have PROTECTION. Prophetic protection by G-d through Boaz for the future great-grandmother of Yahshua.
Now, Naomi isn’t stupid and the wisdom of the Law marks her intelligence, for the Law of G-d speaks of a kinsman-redeemer, a type of Yahshua. When a husband dies the next in line is to take the woman as his wife, redeems her, so to speak, and raise up children to the deceased husband. In this we see the typology of Yahshua redeeming us through His faithfulness. Life was harsh then, and women without a husband suffered greatly. It was a humane way of dealing with widowhood. Naomi soon realized that Boaz had eyes for Ruth, but he needed a little prodding, and Naomi knew just how to accomplish that. What do we see here? PLANNING. Now, before anyone thinks Naomi is a conniving woman let me tell you that was the LAW. The law of G-d. THE KINSMAN-REDEEMER WAS REQUIRED TO TAKE A WIDOW INTO HIS PROTECTION UNDER THE UMBRELLA OF MARRIAGE. Do you see in this typology our relationship to Yahshua?
Naomi was too old for marriage, and for raising up children unto her departed husband, but she loved Ruth and Ruth was not, so Naomi decided to kick-start Boaz into something he probably would eventually get around to doing anyway, acting in the capacity of kinsmen redeemer. .
It was the custom in that time, and it’s stated euphemistically that if a damsel lay at the feet of a man it was the same as a betrothal. Naturally, Naomi instructed Ruth in what to do. And is this act we see Persuasion. To make a long story short, it succeeded and they were married and through them came the Messiah, and in this we see Provision..
We can readily see the Divine Hand of G-d behind the actions going on in the little book of Ruth, but if we analyze it further there is yet another message outlining how a believer should conduct his/her life in service to YHVH Elohim.
How should we draw all this together?
1. We must be people of Passion for G-d’s work
2. We must be people of Prayer
3. We must be people of Prominence and I don’t mean worldly prominence but-uncompromised prominence …standing for G-d, His truth, His way
4. We must be people of Planning to accomplish G-d’s work
5. We must be people of Persuasion in overcoming peoples mental road blocks
6. We must be people of Protection jealousy guarding G-d’s Torah
7. We must be people of Provision financing G-d’s ordained commands with his own money.
In short, we all need to listen to that STILL, SMALL VOICE OF G-D WITHIN US. I’VE HEARD IT MANY TIMES SAID THIS WAY: “LET GO, LET G-d!”
Rabbi Davis R. Milchamah b.David