Sheltering under his wings
After the brutality of Judges, Ruth is often seen as a nice little love story. A ‘rom-com’ to take our minds off the raping and genocide!
If we think like that perhaps we need to rehabilitate our view of romantic comedy. The story of Scripture is most certainly a romance – the tale of Christ winning a bride. And it is definitely a comedy – there is a eucatastrophe (a turn of events) in which all things end well. And so Ruth tells us the story of the Bible in miniature.
Ruth is from Moab but is married, then widowed by an Israelite. Her mother-in-law, Naomi, seeks to return to Israel alone. But Ruth insists,
Whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God. (Ruth 1:16)
Martin Luther said “The heart of religion lies in its personal pronouns.” Here Ruth owns the God of Israel as her God.
It’s costly for Ruth to trust the LORD. In Israel she will have to rely on the kindness of strangers, rather than her own people.
Thankfully she meets Boaz. He seems to embody everything written in the Jewish law about care for foreigners and widows (Deuteronomy 24:19-21). Actually those laws themselves are meant to embody the LORD’s care for foreigners and widows (Deuteronomy 10:17-19).
Boaz is like the LORD. And just as Ruth finds shelter under the wings of the LORD (2:12), so she finds shelter under the wings of Boaz (3:9).
He is a near relative of her deceased husband – a “kinsman”. He’s a wealthy man and in a position to “redeem” Ruth – that is, to marry her and “raise up the name of the dead.” In other words he will continue the family name for his dead relative.
So let’s take stock of who Boaz is: A redeemer, the most eligible of husbands, a refuge for the needy, an embodiment of the good law, and able to, in a sense, raise up the dead. Does this remind you of anyone? He is extremely Christ-like!
When Boaz agrees to marry Ruth, this foreign woman is raised up to dizzying heights. She is brought in to the covenant people. More than that, the book ends by reminding us that Ruth is brought right into the Messianic line. She becomes the great grandmother of King David. (Ruth 4:18-22)
From widow and foreigner – a stranger to the covenants of promise – Ruth is adopted into the chosen people, given life from the dead (so to speak) and made royalty. It all happens through marrying her kinsman-redeemer.
In just this way, any of us can join God’s chosen people. No matter where we have come from or what we have done, we are offered a marriage union with Christ. When we call out to Him as “my God”, He in turn calls us “my people.”
It’s just like a marriage. All that is ours becomes His and all that is His becomes ours. All our sin and shame goes to Him and, on the cross, He pays it off as our Bridegroom-Redeemer. In return, His righteousness and riches come to us, and we are brought into the heart of His Royal Family.
If you belong to Jesus, He says to you:
All that I am I give to you and all that I have I share with you… for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death… when we meet!
Whatever you face today, know that you face it, sheltering under Christ’s wings.