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It is written:
Ruth 1:16-17-But Ruth said: “Entreat me not to leave you, Or to turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, And your God, my God. 17 Where you die, I will die, And there will I be buried. The LORD do so to me, and more also, If anything but death parts you and me.”
The Book of Ruth teaches us some very important lessons about love.
The Book of Ruth tells the story of a woman named Ruth, who is the Gentile daughter-in-law of Naomi. Naomi’s husband dies, along with her two sons: and Ruth returns with Naomi to Bethlehem and provides for her. Naomi (who has become estranged from God) regains her faith in the Lord’s goodness as Boaz (a man who takes a romantic interest in Ruth) shows kindness to them. At the end of the Book of Ruth, Boaz and Ruth marry and Naomi helps to raise their child (who becomes an ancestor of king David and eventually of Jesus Himself).
The Book of Ruth teaches us some important lessons about love.
The first thing to notice is that the Book of Ruth opens up by pointing out to us that Naomi and her husband and sons are involved in some serious sin. Marry non-Jews was strictly forbidden by the Law of Moses:
Deuteronomy 7:3-4-Nor shall you make marriages with them. You shall not give your daughter to their son, nor take their daughter for your son. 4 For they will turn your sons away from following Me, to serve other gods; so the anger of the LORD will be aroused against you and destroy you suddenly.
The Book of Ruth opens by showing us a family that is involved in serious sin, yet they are the recipients of the amazing mercy and love of God. Ruth the Moabitess is one example of this love, and so also is Boaz:
Ruth 2:11-16-And Boaz answered and said to her, “It has been fully reported to me, all that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband, and how you have left your father and your mother and the land of your birth, and have come to a people whom you did not know before. 12 The LORD repay your work, and a full reward be given you by the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge.” 13 Then she said, “Let me find favor in your sight, my lord; for you have comforted me, and have spoken kindly to your maidservant, though I am not like one of your maidservants.” 14 Now Boaz said to her at mealtime, “Come here, and eat of the bread, and dip your piece of bread in the vinegar.” So she sat beside the reapers, and he passed parched grain to her; and she ate and was satisfied, and kept some back. 15 And when she rose up to glean, Boaz commanded his young men, saying, “Let her glean even among the sheaves, and do not reproach her. 16 Also let grain from the bundles fall purposely for her; leave it that she may glean, and do not rebuke her.”
Notice how the love of God is shown, even in sin. I am thankful for this: because God’s Law has judged me a sinner (Romans 2:14-15; 3:23). Despite our sins, God shows us such incredible love by sending His Son to die for us and save us (Romans 5:8).
This type of love is the kind that we need to show others. It is what God calls us to do. Are we willing to love others in their sin?
The Bible tells us that Naomi suffered very much, experiencing much loss when she lived outside the land of Israel. We see a true glimpse of her suffering when she changes her name before she returns to Israel:
Ruth 1:19-21-Now the two of them went until they came to Bethlehem. And it happened, when they had come to Bethlehem, that all the city was excited because of them; and the women said, “Is this Naomi?” 20 But she said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. 21 I went out full, and the LORD has brought me home again empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the LORD has testified against me, and the Almighty has afflicted me?”
“Naomi” means “pleasant,” and “Mara” means “bitter.” Her faith in the goodness of God apparently took a hit as a result of the suffering that she endured. Despite this, we see the love of God displayed throughout the Book of Ruth. Ruth continues to show her love for Naomi, and eventually Naomi’s faith in the goodness of God is restored.
Ruth 2:20-Then Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “Blessed be he of the LORD, who has not forsaken His kindness to the living and the dead!”….
Naomi remembered here that God continues to be kind towards His people who are both living and dead. He is a Gd Who is good, even in the midst of our suffering and when we may not understand “why.” We need to be kind towards those who are suffering. Job points this out:
Job 6:14-To him who is afflicted, kindness should be shown by his friend, Even though he forsakes the fear of the Almighty.
The Book of Ruth is a Book about the triumph of love. At the end of the Book, Ruth and Boaz have a son together who Naomi loves very much. She who lost so very much is comforted in her grief.
Ruth 4:13-16-So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife; and when he went in to her, the LORD gave her conception, and she bore a son. 14 Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the LORD, who has not left you this day without a close relative; and may his name be famous in Israel! 15 And may he be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age; for your daughter-in-law, who loves you, who is better to you than seven sons, has borne him.” 16 Then Naomi took the child and laid him on her bosom, and became a nurse to him.
May we learn to love others in their successes as well as in their sin and in their suffering. And may we take heart in knowing that in the end, God will bring good for His people.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.