As shocking as it is- it’s true! Many mother and daughters-in-law fuss, fight, and argue constantly! I’m sure within different families there are tons of various reasons why this might be the case, and unfortunately the finger- pointed in blame- would be aimed in many different directions. Family ties are not that easy to maintain when people do not see eye-to-eye. If you happen to love your mother-in-law GREAT! Me Too! If not, just pretend for a bit… things will just go smoother here if you do.
I believe the story of Ruth often gets either overlooked or run through too quickly among the Christian community. I would assume that the reason is simply because there isn’t a lot of action and it comes across as a small, feel-good story that happened in history, but doesn’t really affect us much in modern-times. As I went through this part of Scripture with my middle school class, I saw in a new light how beautiful of a picture it really paints for us- depicting salvation’s story.
Let’s look at the facts:
1. Naomi was a woman who had a husband and 2 sons.
2. Those two sons married Moabite women (Orpah and Ruth) and they all seemed to be a happy little family.
3. We are not told how, but over time Naomi’s husband died, as did BOTH of her sons. That left the 3 ladies alone, poor, and with no future since the daughters-in-law had no children to carry on the family name.
Naomi then instructed both of the girls to go back to their homeland and seek new husbands there so they could be cared for. She knew her own future looked bleak as a widow with no family or money and she didn’t want the girls to have to be tied to that kind of life. Orpah decided to go back to her homeland but Ruth vehemently refused with this winning quote:
But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back 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. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may the Lord do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me.”
–Ruth 1: 16-17
That, my friends, is what we call loyalty. The two went back to Naomi’s hometown of Bethlehem and Ruth took on a job of gleaning whatever wheat she could scrounge up after the reapers did their job. She would quite literally walk behind the workers and pick up their scraps. After some time, the owner of the field, Boaz, noticed the new girl among his workers and showed her great kindness by telling his reapers to leave behind plenty of grain for her to take home and never to keep her from “loading up”.
Once Naomi found out what field Ruth had been working in, she realized that Boaz was a relative of her late husband. This was great news and Naomi had a plan! She dolled Ruth up, and had her go ask Boaz to marry her, buy back the family’s land, and ultimately- save their lineage. After some formal steps were taken, Boaz agreed and was even honored that Ruth chose him over younger men. The two wed, had a son named Obed, and started the great family line that led right up to King David and eventually JESUS CHRIST! How awesome is that?!
So where’s the great beauty in this story? Well, there are many places… but the picture of salvation that I love to revel in is at the threshing floor, when Ruth went to the feet of her “kinsman-redeemer”.
So she went down to the threshing floor and did according to all that her mother-in-law had commanded her. When Boaz had eaten and drunk and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of grain; and she came secretly, and uncovered his feet and lay down. It happened in the middle of the night that the man was startled and bent forward; and behold, a woman was lying at his feet. “He said, “Who are you?” And she answered, “I am Ruth your maid. So spread your covering over your maid, for you are a close relative.” Then he said, “May you be blessed of the Lord, my daughter. You have shown your last kindness to be better than the first by not going after young men, whether poor or rich. Now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you whatever you ask, for all my people in the city know that you are a woman of excellence.” –Ruth 3: 6-11
Let me put this in Cassie-terms: She went through this weird but sweet old tradition, and when Boaz awoke to a woman lying at his feet, she essentially said; “Please marry me and save my family… you are the only one who can.” That sounds a little more modern right? This act took extreme humility and risk. Boaz could have flat out refused her and they’d be stuck again. However, he cared deeply for her and saw what amazing loyalty she had to the family. The once grieving woman was now received with open arms of love and protection. THIS is how Christ treats us! We go to Him in complete, spiritual destitution and ask Him; “Please spread your grace over me and save me… I have nothing and my life will be worth nothing unless you redeem me…You are the only One who can.” His response is ALWAYS one of love and faithfulness- seeing our sincerity and rewarding our humility. THAT is the Christ we serve. This kind of love that never fails is stronger than any family tie we could form on this earth: whether out of loyalty or love. Beauty and loyalty, wrapped up in a breathtaking picture, conveyed by 3 grieving women and a man of honor… these are the kind of stories that point straight to Christ and they’re all throughout God’s Word.