Ruth’s choice to follow Naomi and the God of Israel was the first step toward the fullness of her destiny and calling. It prepared and redeemed her to God, so that her earthly redemption might be found… as well as ours.
… ‘Entreat me not to leave you,
or to turn back from following after you;
for wherever you go, I will go;
and wherever you lodge, I will lodge;
your people shall be my people,
and your God, my God.
Where you die, I will die, and there will I be buried.
The Lord do so to me, and more also,
if anything but death parts you and me.’”
During Shavuot the book of Ruth is often read; primarily due to the culmination of Ruth’s earthly redemption—her walking into her destiny—occurring during Shavuot. Yet, much of the story—all of Ruth’s preparation—occurred before Shavuot. Specifically during the Counting of the Omer; the fifty days between the start of Passover and the beginning of Shavuot.
These fifty days, largely intended for self-examination and preparation for the new life of Shavuot, were days well used by Ruth.
Ruth’s choice to follow Naomi was the first step of her preparation; yet we could even view it as a choice to enter the time of preparation itself. The short season before her new beginning.
Either way, that one choice to follow Naomi and take up the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as her own was no small decision. In that choice she left virtually everything she knew behind for a life of uncertainty and poverty.
Yes, she had some small knowledge of the Hebrew people—from her brief marriage to Mahlon and of course, through her mother-in-law Naomi—but she was still entering Bethlehem “blind.”
She could only dream of the sacrifices this journey might entail.
Yet, even as she entered into that life of poverty in Bethlehem, where she had to glean with other poor widows, she did not complain.
She never reconsidered her choice.
“To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven…”—Ecclesiastes 3:1
Ruth’s time in the fields during the Counting of the Omer was where her preparation, and the preparation of God in her actions—and others—came fully into play…
As Ruth picked up seed behind the reapers, she was, in essence, planting the seeds of her new identity. Not seeds of poverty or lack, nor of an outsider without a true family. But instead, ones of a Godly identity; of love and obedience that knows no bounds and listens with Godly wisdom.
She was becoming the Ruth she was meant to be. A great-grandmother of kings, and the King of kings. A woman highly favored of God!
“In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.”—John 14:2
As Ruth humbly did everything to care for herself and her mother-in-law, God was showing everyone around her that she was an honorable woman. And God, in turn, was preparing a place for her not only in Heaven, but on earth… so that she might have a future and a hope.
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”—Jeremiah 29:11
Boaz, kinsman of Naomi, also took note of Ruth’s honorable behavior, and like God, began to care for her. Blessing her—as God did—even during her humble time of preparation. For Boaz attended to her needs, seeing that she was fed, had enough water, and was left more than enough to bring to Naomi.
Her willingness to do the most humble of tasks, to listen to God and care for her mother-in-law, not only equipped her for her destiny, but brought forth blessings and honor for herself.
“Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”—Luke 6:38
Yet, while the field of Boaz was where most of Ruth’s preparation occurred, there would be a final test. A test of faith and willingness to see her destiny to fruition.
Naomi asked Ruth to do that which to a woman of Moab must have sounded insane.
She asked Ruth to prepare herself, go to the threshing floor where Boaz would be, wait until he was asleep, and lay at his feet!
Yes, Naomi knew the customs of the time and place she was in, but it was a great deal to ask. Especially when, if things went wrong, Ruth could appear to those around her to be a woman of ill-intent; for even Boaz, in the morning, saw to it that no one would know she had been there.
“… ‘Do not let it be known that the woman came to the threshing floor.’”—Ruth 3:14
Yet, Ruth, as always, acted with faith; listening to Naomi and doing EVERYTHING that she said… and in doing so finding great reward…
Boaz saw to it that Ruth would be redeemed; doing so happily himself when the closer kinsman refused.
Boaz, by the will of God, took Ruth as his wife and thus brought her and Naomi not only out of poverty, but into prosperity, position, and respect.
“And Boaz said to the elders and all the people, ‘You are witnesses this day that I have bought all that was Elimelech’s, and all that was Chilion’s and Mahlon’s, from the hand of Naomi. Moreover, Ruth the Moabitess, the widow of Mahlon, I have acquired as my wife, to perpetuate the name of the dead through his inheritance, that the name of the dead may not be cut off from among his brethren and from his position at the gate. You are witnesses this day.’”—Ruth 4:9-10
Ruth in one night went from having to glean for food to being wholly provided for. Yet, this was only a portion of her destiny, for she was also to become a vessel of God’s will.
Ruth would bear a son, and he a son after him, and he a king, David… and from David a line of kings culminating in the King of kings.
Ruth’s redemption was the start of our redemption. For just as she was redeemed by her kinsman, we were redeemed by ours. Jesus. The King of kings. Our Messiah!
Ruth’s legacy of lineage was as much a part of her destiny as her life in Bethlehem was. For from that same place her redemption and ours sprung forth.
We, like Ruth, are to prepare ourselves for God given destinies.
The fifty days before Shavuot are meant to be such a time of preparation; so that we might reach our new beginnings and know the increase of our borders. Yet, to an extent, much of our life is preparation.
Jesus Himself lived the first thirty years of His life in preparation for His calling and ultimate destiny…
And we, like Him, are meant to prepare.
John the Baptist—traditionally known as Yochanan the Immerser—lived in preparation as well. For he was preparing the way for the Lord, just as we, by preparing for our call, are preparing the way for Him.
So that He might do His work in us, and through us, and for us.
“… ‘Behold, I send My messenger before Your face,
who will prepare Your way before You.
The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
“Prepare the way of the Lord;
make His paths straight.”’”—Mark 1:2-3
As we prepare for Shavuot let us each examine our hearts; asking God’s will for the coming season…
Preparing our hearts and minds for the increase; gladly taking up our new mantels as we enter Shavuot.