Updated: Feb 5
Naomi her mother-in-law said to Ruth, “My daughter, I need to seek some security for you, so that it may be well with you. Now here is our kinsman Boaz, with whose young women you have been working. See, he is winnowing barley tonight at the threshing floor. Now wash and anoint yourself, and put on your best clothes and go down to the threshing floor; but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking. When he lies down, observe the place where he lies; then, go and uncover his feet and lie down; and he will tell you what to do.” She said to her, “All that you tell me I will do.”
So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. When they came together, the Lord made her conceive, and she bore a son. Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without next-of-kin; and may his name be renowned in Israel! He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age; for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has borne him.” Then Naomi took the child and laid him in her bosom, and became his nurse. The women of the neighborhood gave him a name, saying, “A son has been born to Naomi.” They named him Obed; he became the father of Jesse, the father of David.
This is an optional Old Testament selection from the Episcopal Lectionary for the Twenty-fifth Sunday after Pentecost, Year B 2018. In the numbering system that lists each Sunday in an ordinal fashion, this Sunday is referred to as Proper 27. If chosen, it will next be read aloud in an Episcopal church by a reader on Sunday November 11, 2018. It is important because we see that the commitment Ruth [“Beauty”] made to stay with Naomi, as a Gentile married into the family of Yahweh, paid off as she found a new husband and bore the grandfather of David [Obed].
In last Sunday’s ‘episode’ we left off with the camera zooming in on Naomi, who had nothing to say about Ruth’s promise to stay with her mother-in-law until death, because she was part of her dear family.
She would not return to her homeland [Moab] and her birth family. Now the story has progressed to Naomi doing the works of matchmaking, because Ruth has become Naomi’s full-fledged daughter.
Once again, the reader has to be fluent in the language of names, as all the names of the Holy Bible play a role in establishing the character of those given their names. The first name of importance is Boaz, the eligible Israelite bachelor who will be seduced by Ruth’s “Beauty.” The name “Boaz” means, “By Strength,” implying “In Him [the Lord] Is Strength”. Thus, Naomi knew that Boaz was a righteous man, whose strength was greater than physical.
Now, this reading is the beginning of chapter three [five verses] and then it skips to near then end of chapter four [five verses], which can leave the impression that some hanky-panky took place. Nothing of the sort happened. This reading simply tells how Naomi led Ruth to be introduced to a man of importance, so that a friendly relationship could begin. This then led to Boaz marrying Ruth, out of love, and conceiving a holy child by God’s assistance.
The name of the child is then Obed. The name “Obed” means “Servant” or “Slave.” Some sources say the name means “Serving.” For such a name to be given to an infant by his father means service was a valued characteristic in the Israelite people.
Ruth identified herself to Boaz as “your maidservant” (“’ă·mā·ṯe·ḵā”), because she and Naomi had to serve as slaves because they had no husbands.
Boaz was identified as a “kinsman redeemer” (“ḡō·’êl”) because Naomi was from the same bloodline and as a kinsman with property and wealth, Boaz provided a service to widows by becoming their employer. Therefore, the pair bonded through their service to the tribe and their service to Yahweh; meaning their child was to reflect that value.
As an optional Old Testament reading selection for the twenty-fifth Sunday after Pentecost, when one’s own personal ministry for the LORD should be underway – one has entered into deep-felt Service to God – the message here is the redemption that comes from marriage to God. God is our Strength; and from God entering into our hearts is born the ultimate Servant, Jesus Christ.
The story of Ruth is she was seen as a Moabite, which is a Gentile. She was not born of the blood of the descendant of Jacob. She married into that family when she wed Naomi’s son Mahlon [“Great Infirmity”], but with his death coming before they had a child together, Ruth was free to return to her Moabite roots. She refused to be released from Naomi [“Pleasantness of the Lord”].
Christians [males and females] should all see themselves as Ruth. Being Christian means adhering to the principles of Mosaic Law, believing in only One God – YHWH. In today’s modern world, there is much rejection of the Old Testament stories, where people who sin are called abominations and the enemies of the Israelites were ordered slain [men, women, children and animals] by God’s prophets. Westerners of Christianity reject what they see as no longer viable. They reject it as uncivil and many lean on the concept of Jesus telling everyone to love, rather than judge others for what they are. That is not being a reflection of Ruth.
Ruth was the lowest of the low in the Israelite societal pecking order. She had no voice about what was right or what was wrong, according to the Laws of Moses. She had been given her freedom to practice whatever rules and customs the descendants of Lot had established which might have included idol worship and human sacrifices to please many gods. The same freedom is given to ALL human beings in the world, because God never sent a fireball from outer space to destroy the Egyptians or the Canaanites or anyone else. However, being one of God’s chosen people means: agreeing to the Mosaic Laws; and choosing to only SERVE Yahweh.
When those two stipulations are met, then one lays at the feet of God as His maidservant [regardless of human gender]. There can be no Big Head of self that tells God, “Hey God, we’ve been thinking and all this harsh legal stuff is just too much to agree to anymore. So, we are going to make a few changes here and there and instead of praying to You, we are just going to idolize You Son Jesus. How’s that sound to You?”
[SILENCE] [Cue the cricket chirping soundtrack]
That means turning one’s back on God, so call yourself whatever you want to call yourself, it does not make you one of God’s chosen people. You have rejected God, so God has rejected you. You have gone all Old Testament on your soul and killed its chance of eternal life in Heaven.
Ruth symbolizes a love of the Law – which is symbolized by Naomi being “Pleasantness of the Lord” – where nothing bad ever happened to those who followed the commandments of God through His Prophets. Only the evil suffered physical death – but those souls all lived to be reincarnated another day, with no real harm done. Ruth became a servant of the law, even though the law made he the lowest of the low, as a widow without issue. She did not rise in rebellion to the unfairness of the Law. She complied out of love, trusting in the God of Israel to show His love in return.
It is vital to realize that the STRENGTH of Israel was the Ark of the Covenant. When a judge or prophet was told by God to encounter an enemy, the Ark was always carried into the field of battle. The Israelites were able to defeat evil because God was with them. Israel was a body of parts [the Twelve Tribes] with the Ark of the Covenant being the heart of that body. This is how a heart symbolizes the strength of courage, which is also symbolized in the lion’s strength and kingliness.
When Ruth was taken in marriage by Boaz that symbolizes one today being married to God. One is totally committed to being God’s wife [regardless of human gender]. From that marriage is born Jesus Christ, which is the STRENGTH of God within that defeats all attacks by evil. The Ark of the Covenant has not been lost; it has been transformed into an inner tabernacle, where Jesus Christ serves the Father as one’s personal high priest. Wherever one goes, the Ark of the Covenant is there – in the battlefield of life.
The threshing and winnowing of barley is a necessary work that separates the chaff from the grain. Ruth was sent to the threshing floor to see the work that is necessary for the bread of life to be gained. The STRENGTH of Boaz was witnessed, through the work that he did.
Whoever refuses to have the Law written into their hearts is not Ruth. Anyone calling himself or herself Christian, while bending the laws of Moses to suit one’s needs, is more in line with the ex-daughter-in-law of Naomi, Orpah [Mane or Neck]. One proudly holds high the head and its inner brain as the personal source of strength. While one kissed the “Pleasantness of the Lord” and the Law Naomi stood for, one feels strong enough to remember some of the Law, while rewriting that which was misunderstood. One has not then married Yahweh, but one has returned to pagan worship and idolizing multiple gods.
To truly be Christian, one must say to the Law the same as Ruth told Naomi: “All that you tell me I will do.” Jesus said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” (Matthew 5:17)
Jesus Christ being resurrected within a true Christian is the miracle blessing of the Lord, as one has been recognized as a “next-of-kin,” a Brother [regardless of human gender] in the holy bloodline of God’s chosen people, another Son of Man. Being reborn as Jesus Christ means, “he shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age.”
A true Christian has been redeemed by the STRENGTH of the Lord and made a SERVANT that offers salvation to other lost souls. As such, when one reads, “Naomi took the child and laid him in her bosom, and became his nurse,” this is the “Pleasantness of the Lord” [the Law] being written onto one’s heart and nourished daily. One does not seek to change the Law to match the laws of Gentiles. Instead, the Laws nourish the SERVANT that one has become, as the Son of God reborn. This is why the women [all Christians, regardless of human gender] gave a name to those who honor the Law: “A son has been born to Naomi.”
The Law’s Pleasantness has delivered one’s Savior, once again.