The brief Old Testament book of Ruth tells a dramatic love story – ‘From Ruin to Royalty’. At a crucial midpoint in the narrative a heavenly sunbeam spotlights what we might call the poor young widow’s first communion: when the wealthy land-owning hero, Boaz ‘at mealtime … said to her, “Come here and eat some bread and dip your morsel in wine”’ (Ruth 2:14).
Ruth’s former dire straits
The young woman’s natural circumstances mirror the spiritual condition of the whole human race outside of Christ.
(a) She was blighted from birth
She was known as ‘Ruth the Moabite’ (Ruth 1:22; 2:2). The sordid story of her incestuous ancestors is told in Genesis 19:30-38. Tracing one’s family tree is a popular modern pastime. The TV series, ‘Who Do They Think They Are?’ often reveals dark moral fault lines in the genealogies of celebrities. But no matter how pristine anyone’s parental story, ultimately we are all children of disgraced Adam.
(b) She was bereaved in her marriage
Ruth had wedded one of God’s chosen people, but her husband’s death brought their marriage to a premature, childless end (Ruth 1:2-5). This reflects our original spiritual state: ‘dead in trespasses and sins … and without God in the world’ (Ephesians 2:1, 12).
(c) She was bankrupt of resources
On venturing into her late husband’s hometown of Bethlehem, she realised that their family property there was about to be lost; Naomi her mother-in-law was ‘selling the parcel of land that belonged to … Elimelech’, her late husband (Ruth 4:3). In her pecuniary situation, Ruth could not buy it for herself to secure her future.
- Ruth’s determined resolution
(a) Now she was committed to God and his people …
She refused to stay in Moab and remarry any local lad. She protested to Naomi: ‘Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you … Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried’ (Ruth 1:15-18) – often quoted at believers’ baptisms as an appropriate vow to the Lord Jesus himself!
(b) … and she shared communion with God’s servant
Arriving at barley harvest time, though a pauper of the parish, Ruth was allowed to glean in the field of Boaz, to share bread and wine with him, and take home as much gleaned grain as she could carry Ruth (Ruth 2:2; 17-18). It’s surely not fantasising if any Christian reading that thinks of the Lord’s Supper?
- Ruth’s future dynastic destiny
(a) Her redemption
The key words ‘redeem/er’ and ‘buy/bought’ recur more than twenty times. Boaz, as a near relation of Naomi was able to buy the nearly-mortgaged field for her …
(b) Her relationship
… and marry the young widow as part of the bargain, for he had grown to love her. At last her bankrupt and bereaved condition was reversed – as for every true believer.
(c) Her restoration
And the slur on her blighted nationality was replaced with a celebration of her citizenship among God’s people and her matriarchy in the future royal line of King David and King Jesus – both natives of Bethlehem! And it continued from there, for ‘you are … a royal priesthood, … his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light’ (1 Peter 2:9-10).