|RUTH AND NAOMI: A STORY OF REDEMPTION
By Peter Cohen -- pg. 3
|Orpah is a type of the nominal Christian, whose faithfulness does not endure in the face of difficulties. Her attachment to the G-D of Israel was shallow as was her committment to the people of Israel. Although she had probably imbibed some of the teachings of the people of Israel, she had not left her own pagan culture and worship of other gods behind. She was comfortable with an unholy mixture.
Ruth however, resolves to give up everything to serve the One true G-D and accompanies Naomi all the way back to the House
of Bread and the Redeemer. Her conversion is the true conversion of the heart which will endure even to death.
THE COST OF DISOBEDIENCE:
Naomi, whose name means 'my pleasantness, ' left the land of Israel with plenty, but returned destitute and in humility. Her tragic circumstances forced her to throw off all pretenses and she acknowledges that she has come under G-D's punishment.
When she returns the people barely recognize her. "Can this be Naomi?" they ask, meaning "Can this be the one with the sunny disposition who left with so much but has returned broken and empty?" Even Naomi says, "Don't call me Naomi, call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the L-RD has brought me back empty, why call me Naomi? The L-RD has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me."
Elimelech and Naomi had left hoping to preserve their wealth, but had lost everything. She returns empty, humbled by circum-stances, but ready to receive her Redeemer. Yeshua said: "For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?" (Mat. 16:25).
THE HOUSE OF BREAD:
Ruth and Naomi return at the time of the barley harvest to the town of Bethlehem which means "House of Bread".
The L-RD our provider set forth in the Torah the ideal social structure to provide for the poor so that they would never have to resort to stealing in order to satisfy their most basic needs.
"When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the L-RD your G-D." (Lev. 19:9-10).
The tendency in the world today is to be motivated by self ambition and greed. The New Testiment teaching equates greed with idolatry (Col. 3:5). Yeshua said: "Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions" (Lk. 12:15)
Boaz typifies the abundance of G-D's provision which has been revealed in Yeshua the Messiah. Boaz instructs his young men to purposefully pull out some bundles for Ruth to glean and also allow her to glean even from among the sheaves.
The Soncino makes the following commentary: This was far beyond the dictates of ordinary kindness. When our cup runs over, observes a moralist, we let others drink the drops that fall, but not a drop from within the rim, and call it charity; when the crumbs are swept from the table, we think it generous to let the dogs eat them; as if that were charity which permits others to have what we cannot keep; which says to Ruth, 'Glean after the young men,' but forgets to say to the young men, 'pull out some for her on purpose.'
In fact Ruth, having expected hostility as a foreigner, is deeply moved and bows with her face to the ground in humble gratitude at the generosity shown to her by Boaz: "Why have I found such favor in your eyes that you notice me - a foreigner?"
The good news for Ruth which remains true for all nations, is that those who bless the people of Israel and show them kindness in their time of distress, will in turn be blessed through Israel's Messiah and Redeemer.
Ruth, too, demonstrates her unselfish devotion to Naomi by sparing her the humiliation of having to go out and glean with the poor. When Boaz tells her to stay with his servant girls she is content to remain in the place of G-D's safety and provision and is not enticed to run after the younger, wealthy men.
Yeshua, like Boaz, does not appeal to our worldly desires - "He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him." (Isaiah 53:2). We must remain in Him where we can bear much fruit for apart from Him we can do nothing. (John 15:4). We are to depend on Him alone for our substance and must not look to the world for comfort.
It was no coincidence that the Messiah and Redeemer, the One Who would break the famine of hearing the Words of the L-RD, would be born in the town of Bethlehem.
Yeshua said to them, "I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is My Father Who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of G-D is He Who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world". "Sir, they said, from now on give us this bread." Then Yeshua declared, "I am the Bread of Life. He who comes to Me will never go hungry, and he who believes in Me will never be thirsty. But as I told you, you have seen Me and still do not believe... I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life. I am the Bread of Life. Your fore-fathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the Living Bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." (Jn. 6:32-51).
THE PROCESS OF REDEMPTION:
"See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in Him will never be put to shame." (I Pe. 2:6).
The very concept of redemption is that everyone who trusts in the Messiah and Redeemer will never be put to shame. This concept, of sparing the shame of a fellow Israelite, was embodied in the Torah. The Israelites belong to the L-RD and if a person became enslaved through poverty and misfortune, the Torah provided the means by which they could be redeemed by a close family member. If they were not redeemed, they were to be released in the Year of Jubilee