Author: Jasson Gunawan (Leader)
Old Testament studies 5 and 6.
As we moved on from Jonah to Ruth, we’re able to experience the challenges of reading the bible in context, as well as how rewarding reading God’s word can be when we strive to read it as intended.
As we continue our Old Testament studies, the goals for this series are still the same:
- Knowing how to read the bible in context; historical context, literary context, and biblical context.
- Knowing the distinction and necessity of biblical exegesis and hermeneutics; studying the historical, cultural backgrounds of the author, the text, and original audience before applying it to ourselves.
- Hearing the gospel, and as Rewire’s mission states:
- To collaboratively proclaim, change, and be grounded in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
As most would put it, it’s a “love story” between Ruth and Boaz most of us are familiar with. In reality, calling this a “love story” between a man and a woman only dilutes the richness of this book, which we will see more and more as it’s read well.
Ruth 1 (24/05/15)
Ruth, a (Moabite) widow who chose to follow her (Judahite) widowed-mother-in-law Naomi and her God.
After firstly thinking about why it may be tough for anyone to lose their partners through death, we were able to explore the necessary context of Ruth chapter 1 and really think through the decisions made by every character presented here.
Contextually, it was interesting to note within Ruth that…
- It is a very humble story in the midst of the events found in the book of Judges
- The people of Judah and Moabites had a long and bitter relationship (Numbers 21-25, Deuteronomy 23:1-6, Judges 3:12-30)
- It was difficult living as a widow then.
We see a family tree established in v1-5 and it’s quite surprising that the people of Judah (Elimelech and Naomi’s sons) had intermarried the Moabites (Ruth and Orpah) despite their current relationship. To add to this surprise was the fact that Ruth wanted to follow Naomi, her mother in-law, when she decided to return to Bethlehem after all these women have lost their husbands, even after Naomi pushed Ruth to return to her home where her direct family was;
“15 And she said, “See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” 16 But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. 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. 17 Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” 18 And when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more.” – Ruth 1:15-18
Ruth’s commitment and decision naturally led the following question for the Juniors: Was Ruth’s faith genuine?
…and from there: In the last days as we wait for Christ to return, how do we know if someone’s faith is genuine?
Ruth 2 (01/05/15)
Ruth, a loyal and servant-heated woman. Boaz, a kind and gracious man.
A new character, Boaz, is introduced in this chapter. Boaz is a well-off farmer who belonged to the clan of Elimelech, Naomi’s husband.
For the first time we also saw the Mosaic Law’s welfare system called gleaning in action (Leviticus 19:9-10, Leviticus 23:22, Deuteronomy 24:19) as Ruth gleaned for herself, and her mother-in-law Naomi throughout the whole of chapter 2.
“3So she set out and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers, and she happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the clan of Elimelech.” – Ruth 2:3
It is through this theme of gleaning that the admirable characters of both Ruth and Boaz were displayed and highlighted;
- Ruth: serving and very loyal as she gleaned and lived with Naomi (Ruth 2:2, Ruth 2:11-12, Ruth 2:17-18)
- Boaz: kind and gracious as he provided for Ruth with more than what was required from him as one under the Mosaic Law (Ruth 2:8-9, Ruth 2:21-22, Ruth 2:13, Ruth 2:14, Ruth 2:15-16)
To bring it home for this study, we thought about the following: Under what circumstances is it important for Christians to demonstrate loyalty like Ruth, and kindness like Boaz?
… and to follow up last week’s reflection we asked ourselves: Is OUR faith genuine?
Ruth 1 and 2
The Lord who provides all things (… maybe?)
In a more subtle yet noteworthy part of Ruth, we’re beginning to see the implications of God being a provider as we spend time exploring under what circumstances would the characters found in this book mention “the Lord”, “Almighty”, or “God”. Here’s one example in chapter 2, when Boaz wishes Ruth well for her loyalty to Naomi:
“10 Then she fell on her face, bowing to the ground, and said to him, “Why have I found favor in your eyes, that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?” 11 But Boaz answered her, “All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told to me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before. 12 The Lord repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!” 13 Then she said, “I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, for you have comforted me and spoken kindly to your servant, though I am not one of your servants.”” – Ruth 2:10-13
In these verses, is Boaz merely giving an empty wish? Similarly to when we might say things like “… all the best!” to our friends?
… or does Boaz have some knowledge about God that would give him the inclination to say these things? More importantly, does God actually provide/bless those around him? If so how has He?
We will continue to explore these implications about God as we open up the book of Ruth.