(originally published July 23, 2012)
A few weeks ago I was at a restaurant having dinner with my brothers and incredibly adorable nephew, Paxton. As I was holding him and enjoying him, he could not tear his face away from the window we sat next to; he was drawn to the hustle and bustle outside. His fingerprints definitely showed this because by the end of the dinner, I could see his tiny fingerprints all over the window!
I can't help but think of that story and not think about my Father. Although we can't see his fingerprints on our life like I could see Paxtons on the window, God has touched all of our lives in truly profound ways that leaves His fingerprints all over lives. Luckily for us, as an observer, we can see the fingerprints of God all over the lives of Ruth and Naomi and be encouraged.
Today we begin to really see God's providence and plan at work as Ruth begins her new life in Bethlehem. Can you imagine being her? She was a widow from a foreign country that was not respected. She knew no one. She was a recent believer. Everything was new and unfamiliar to her. I can imagine the emotions that would have washed over her, and perhaps you can as well? She probably had a host of feelings. I'm sure she was still experiencing grief and pain at the loss of her husband. Fear from leaivng her home to travel to an unfmailiar town. Excitement in her new found relationship with Christ. Humility while gleaning from the field with the poor. But through it all and despite every emotion, she held tightly to the confidence she had in God.
In the beginning of chapter 2, we see Ruth take the initiative to go to a field and glean in order to put food on the table. According to Levitical law (Leviticus 19), harvesters were commanded not to glean the entire field, but to leave the corners for the poor. This provision in the Word was God's way of taking care of those in need. It was a humbling task, but one that required great effort as well. Not only was Ruth stepping out to do the hard labor of gathering scraps, but she humbly did it in the field of a wealthy man.
Enter Boaz, the redeemer! Boaz very much symbolizes throughout out the book Jesus Christ, our Redeemer. A beautiful picture of Jesus taking in the sinner into his loving arms. However, we will look more closely at that later. Right now, Ruth "just so happens" to make her way into the field of Boaz. I absolutely adore that the Bible says it like this, almost like God is chuckling because He knows it's not by chance.
Who is this man named Boaz. We know he is related by marriage to Naomi. Some scholars believe he could have been as close as Elimelechs brother. We know that he is a man of standing in the community. He is wealthy. He is older. His name literally means "strength." We know he treats his employees well. He also treats strangers kindly. Most importantly, we know he is a man of God.
There is much to glean from this chapter, but the verse I find most wonderful is verse 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!”
After Boaz had spotted Ruth in his field and inquired about her, he went to go speak with her. He told her to stay in his field and he would be sure she was taken care of and provided for (wow!). At such a kind offer, Ruth dropped to the ground and asked why Boaz had shown her such kindness. Remember, Ruth was a Moabite, yet Boaz went above and beyond the call to leave scraps for the poor.
Ruth's character had preceded her. A side note: men, like Boaz, be men of valor and kindness. Be men who go above and beyond. Women, be known for your character. I'm sure Ruth was beautiful, however it was her character that drew Boaz to her.
At her question of kindness, Boaz makes a beautiful statement. Not only does Boaz recognize Ruth's inner beauty and character, he also says a blessing over her. My favorite part is his prayer that Ruth would find shelter under the wings of God. How beautiful! This is a picture of a mother bird sheltering her young ones. (See below for other verses relating to shelter under His wings).
God desires to take all of us: the foreigner, the poor, the needy, the lonely, the hurting, the scarred, the broken, the bitter, the people with a past...all of us, He desires to take under His wings. He desires to protect YOU. To shelter you. To bring you comfort and joy. To sustain you. Boaz's desire for Ruth is a picture of God's desire for us. That we would all find rest and shelter under His wing. I love that! Just as a mother bird protects her young, God wants to protect you and allow you to grow into the person He has designed you to be.
When Ruth returned home to Naomi, she returned with more food than she could have imagined. Some scholars believe Ruth walked away with enough food for a year! Friend, today you may be looking for some scrap of hope or healing, but God wants to give you so much more! Anticipate God to provide for you above and beyond what you could hope for or imagine!
**Psalm 17.8, 36.7, 57.1, 61.4, 63.7, 91.1