He who loves purity of heart and whose speech is gracious, will have the King as his friend.
The current Hebrew month of “Elul” is such a beautiful time to celebrate the nearness of our King!
As I’ve meditated on this traditional Jewish time of preparation leading up to the “Days of Awe,” the Lord has drawn me back into the story of Ruth and Boaz. Within this ancient text are keys for how we must partner with our heavenly “Boaz” - King Jesus - today.
You may remember that like Christ, Boaz returns to his field at harvest time to check on his servants and reapers. Like Christ, he probably wonders: “Will I find faithfulness in my land? Will my fields be well tended and my full harvest come in?” (Luke 18:8)
What Boaz finds becomes the seed for an incredible story of redemption and new beginnings. Ruth is the eighth book of the Bible. While it is set in the time of the Judges, Ruth’s story has unique applications for us now.
In a time of economic and political instability as well as spiritual decline, a man named Elimilech (meaning “My God is King”), encounters a famine in Bethlehem. Yet instead of remaining in the Promised Land, he moves his wife (Naomi) and their two sons to Moab, a nation hostile to Israel. This is no easy, local move: Moab is at best 1800 miles from Bethlehem; roughly a month's journey on foot.
Whether motivated by fear or faulty human reasoning, Elimilech runs from a problem instead of facing it. His decision proves to be fatal: Elimilech’s two sons marry Moabite women (Ruth and Orpah) and eventually all three men die, leaving three widows destitute in a foreign country.
Naomi sums up the experience this way: “I left full (with a husband and two sons), but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi (“pleasantness”), since the Lord has testified against me and the Almighty has afflicted me?” (Ruth 1:21)
Naomi and Elimilech's story is a picture of a curse in action.
After these deaths, Naomi hears that God has actually been taking care of His people in Judah, giving them food in a time of famine. It would have been better to trust God than to run from the problems!
Think about it: in the space of just ten years in Moab, Naomi loses not one but three intimate family members. She is abandoned by one of her daughters-in-law and winds up penniless except for an unredeemed piece of land in Bethlehem. To reclaim her inheritance, Naomi and Ruth must begin a long journey back home.
How does this apply today?
The journey symbolizes an urgent “return” to God that many people need to make right now, lest we, too, encounter worse situations in dire times.
God’s mercy is still available even to unbelievers - the “Ruths” among us - who are hungry for the Lord and His Word. But wholehearted return is often a long journey through death, grief, bitterness of soul, facing the fears, and encountering spiritual famine or impoverishment.
The journey is hard, but it is meant to restore.
Throughout the journey, Ruth remains a faithful, comforting companion to Naomi, even pledging her life to the God of Israel. The meaning of Ruth’s name is “Compassionate Friend.”
Like New Testament Cornelius, Ruth’s hard work during the harvest season, her bold loyalty, and her generous devotion are noticed by others. They earn her, in the end, a fruitful place in the lineage of Jesus. Ruth’s son becomes David’s grandfather.
Returning to God always carries a blessing with it, and Ruth’s story illustrates just how wonderful the blessings of friendship with the Lord can be.
From Boaz’s first words in Ruth 2:4, we see a Christ-like figure who speaks blessings over his people. He cares for the condition of his workers, not just his crops.
As this symbolic “King” returns to his field, Boaz hears of Ruth’s faithfulness and submission while she exercises the biblical right of the poor to glean at the edges of his field.
When Jesus returns to the field of this world once again, will He find your faithfulness, too?
Like the servants with the talents (Matthew 25:14-30), Ruth has used any skills or strength she possesses to labor from dawn to dusk for her food. As a result, Boaz blesses her with more.
Ruth is “promoted” from gleaning to reaping as Boaz commands his reapers to undo their work, pulling stalks of grain from bundles already gathered. She is promoted again when she moves from doing the work of reaping to bearing fruit herself.
Boaz’s interactions with Ruth release 12 blessings:
This is what Jesus does for His friends. While it’s easy to see the connections between Boaz and Christ in these twelve blessings, I believe that Ruth's story also holds significant prophetic weight for us in our current season.
Just as Boaz blessed Ruth with protection and provision, so God will protect and provide for those families who remain in or return to Him at this hour, even in times of famine. Whether this lack is experienced naturally or spiritually, the Lord intends to satisfy those who come to Him with bread from His table (Isaiah 55).
Christ teaches in Matthew 13 that the reapers are the angels. There is a powerful partnership with angelic reapers available to all believers at this time. Where you have labored tirelessly like Ruth, there is promotion and acceleration available to you as you lean in to the supernatural help God is providing through His Spirit. Ask the Lord for these ministering and reaping angels to bring supernatural help as you labor for your harvest!
We are in a time of “winnowing,” where wheat is clearly being separated from the chaff. Yet for Ruth and for believers today, the time of winnowing can become the time of promotion! It is at the threshing floor that Ruth receives her greatest reward: the promise of a covering and full redemption by her soon-to-be bridegroom.
Notice that Ruth had to walk in a precarious place of integrity and trust throughout her difficult journey. While she grieved, she retained honor for her elders; worked tirelessly for little pay while obeying the laws of the land; had the boldness to approach her “redeemer” undercover, in the darkness of night; and found courage to invite Boaz to partner with her.
Deep trust and strong faith are necessary components for relationships that work in difficult situations. Steps of bold faith - not running from hard times - will lead you into God's current places of provision.
It is through this tiny “community” of three faithful people - two of them extremely broken but yielded to God - that healing, restoration, and the continuation of a family line are preserved. It is through these three faithful people - Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz - that healing and restoration are made possible for the world as the generational line of Christ is continued! (Matthew 18:19-20.)
Faithful, intimate alignment with God in today's “winnowing” season is a key to receiving the fullness of your inheritance! God is waiting for you to ask Him for your full inheritance in prayer. Alignment with others who share a similar commitment to excellence and integrity is essential to your survival!
THE "KING IN THE FIELD" SEEKS FRIENDS
Proverbs 22:11 describes the type of person who has the King as his friend. It is someone whose heart, like Ruth’s, is pure, and who celebrates purity of heart in others. It is someone whose words, like Boaz’s, are governed by the law of kindness, even in times of deep loss, hardship, or alienation.
When the “King is in your field,” as He is in this beautiful story of Ruth, you’ll see a shift from poverty to blessing. Widowhood to marriage. Bitterness to joy. Gleaning to reaping. Scraps to sheaves. Famine to harvest. Isolation to friendship. Barrenness to fruitfulness. Vulnerability to protection. Alienation to covenant!
My prayer for you today contains words from the book of Ruth:
Blessed is the Lord who has not left you without a Redeemer!
May His Name become famous through you. May He be the One who restores your life and sustains you in old age as you devote yourself to serving Him faithfully; in season and out of season.
May you never be afraid to stand your ground when famine or loss strikes. May you have the courage to always return to God, even if your soul must journey from very far away.
May you receive the fullness of your own inheritance in Christ as you seek to remain intimately within the protection of His covering. May you find refuge under His outstretched wings. Amen.
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A severe hearing loss from childhood caused Deborah Perkins to develop what she now calls her secret weapon: tuning in to God's voice. A Wellesley College graduate and an award-winning writer, Deborah is now a wife and mother of 3 boys. Deborah has devoted over 25 years to professional and lay Christian ministry in New England and beyond. Her passion is inspiring people to cultivate greater intimacy with God.