A reflection on Ruth 4:13-17 and Matthew 1:5b-6 for Sunday, January 24, 2021
So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. When they came together, the Lord made her conceive, and she bore a son. Then the women said to Naomi, ‘Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without next-of-kin; and may his name be renowned in Israel! He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age; for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has borne him.’ Then Naomi took the child and laid him in her bosom, and became his nurse. The women of the neighbourhood gave him a name, saying, ‘A son has been born to Naomi.’ They named him Obed; he became the father of Jesse, the father of David.
Ruth 4:13-17 (NRSVA)
…and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of King David.
Matthew 1:5b-6 (NRSVA)
The book of Ruth is considered one of the finest short stories in any language. It is quite a claim.
And understandable. Four short chapters that take us on a journey across national borders, through devastation and loss, from poverty to plenty, and vulnerability to security. There is here legal – and sexual – tension
Ruth is a love story.
A surprising love story that brings two people together from different cultures. Boaz has plenty. His unlikely bride, Ruth, a poor refugee in the unfamiliar Israel.
And yet the command and action of God brings them together.
The kinsman-redeemer ‘system’ that the Mosaic Law introduced was rarely followed. It often bought risk and unwanted responsibility to a family. It was an early – though I suspect inadequate – way to ensure stability for a bride whose husband passed away before any future-securing offspring came along.
The law commanded the nearest male relative – the kinsman-redeemer – to marry the widow and to raise up children through – and for – her.
If you are not familiar with the story of Ruth I encourage you to read it. In many ways God sits silently in the background. That said, this is a story of great faith in the face of diversity. A story of God’s abundant, generous, provision.
Ruth it is another Matthew-highlighted story of welcome. Again we have a gentile finding her place in the Messiah’s family tree. Once more we have a story of a surprising birth.
Another subtle opening highlight to the Gospel of Matthew that invites us to see – and expect from this account – a God who has always welcomed, restored, and surprised.
Where do you see faith in the story of Ruth? Where do you see God at work?
Where have you seen God subtly at work in the unfolding of your life? In what way does this give you confidence that God is at work – even when you are unable to see it?