Isaiah 56:6 reads, “I will also bless the foreigners who commit themselves to the Lord, who serve him and love his name, who worship him and do not desecrate the Sabbath day of rest, and who hold fast to my covenant.”
The Israelite people had always believed that they had a special, unique relationship with God. They also believed strongly that clear boundaries existed that stipulated who was “in” and who was “out”.
If you were born of the line of Abraham, you were one of the chosen people and belonged to that special “in” group. Anyone who was foreign born didn’t quite measure up.
The book of Ruth shows us however, that God does not care about birth or ancestry as much as He cares about commitment and obedience.
Ruth is a foreigner, a poor widow from enemy land. And yet, God uses her to change the course of history. She becomes the mother of Obed, who is the grandfather of King David, and an ancestor of Jesus Christ.
What do we learn from Ruth’s story? We learn that God can use any one of us–no matter how weak, how poor, how insignificant we might look to the rest of the world. God cares about all people, no matter where they were born or what color their skin might be.
We learn that we matter to God. God’s hand is all over the events of this book and nothing in the lives of Ruth, Naomi, or Boaz escapes His notice. God provides protection and provision of their daily needs to Ruth and Naomi. And He does this for us too. We need to be constantly watching for His hand touching our circumstances so that we can give Him the thanks and praise He is owed.
And we learn that God wants us to live selflessly–the way the characters in Ruth did. Ruth cares for Naomi by putting her own needs aside. Naomi cares for Ruth by ensuring her future protection. Boaz cares for Ruth and Naomi by redeeming their property and by marrying the foreign widow whose future seems bleak at the beginning.
And God cares for us by giving them a child who would be the ancestor to Jesus Christ.
The book of Ruth begins with hopelessness. But we see Ruth join with the people of God and turn her life completely around. Isn’t this a picture of how we come to a faith as well? We begin with no hope–outsiders, foreigners with no place in the family of God. Ruth, the outsider from Moab, laid herself and her pride down on the threshing floor before Boaz, and he became her kinsman-redeemer. We too change our lives, when we lay down our pride and surrender to Jesus, our Redeemer.