A reflection on the book of Ruth
Monday 5th December 2011 @ 4:16 pm
The below appeared on the E100 website … I thought I’d stick it up here as well – as I’m getting very slack at this blog thing after a couple of thousand posts!
In the Hollywood blockbuster ‘The Blind Side” Sandra Bullock is brilliant. She steals the screen. She plays the beautiful, elegant, controlled, Christian, energetic, compassionate and sassy Southern States woman, Leigh Anne Tuohy. Tuohy steps out of her comfort zone to help impoverished teenager Michael Oher gain a dream. As a marginalised and misunderstood (and somewhat … well … sad) young man, Oher is accepted by Tuohy into the family home, because he has nowhere to go. This of course, provides the environment where Oher is able to gain confidence, learn relationships, and eventually be encouraged into college football – from where, we now know, he progressed to play for in the NFL for the Baltimore Ravens. The boy did good. It’s a true story. Inspiring.
The boy did good, primarily because of the influence of Leigh Anne.
The book of Ruth tells us how we all did good, because of the influence of one woman. Ruth. If we need to be reminded of her significance, we need to just read the opening verses of Matthew’s Gospel where the life–line family of Jesus is written. A list of men, thirty nine of them – and four women – Tamar the prostitute, Rahab the foreign liar, Berthsheba, who doesn’t even get named apart from ‘Uriah’s wife’ Mary the mother of Jesus, and Ruth. Ruth, one of four ‘named’ women in the genealogy of Christ … in other words, the world would never have got to see the ‘line of David’ completed (and therefore get to Christ) if Ruth had not been there. This woman played a vital role in the salvation history of the world.
Ruth is fundamental to the story.
I remember some years ago I was told by a friend about a female training to be an ordained minister at a college on these islands … such was the venom against women in ministry that she had been spat upon while in the hallway of that college by a trainee male minister.
A little while ago I was sitting in my office in Trinity when a female student came in and asked me what she should do because she felt God was calling her to leadership, but the church she attended didn’t believe God called women to leadership.
It’s not that Ruth is called to leadership in our book for today … it’s more important than that; if Ruth had not stepped up and played her part, the life–line of Christ could not have happened as it did. God chose women to keep the line alive.
Yes – of course there are interesting things in the text for us:
- Elimaliech is Naomi’s husband – Naomi is not Elimalech’s wife (subtle but important, and means the writer wrote against convention)
- ‘go to your mothers house’ not ‘go your fathers house’ – the normal appreciated custom
- For those who like Biblical language traits – in chapter 2, masculine endings are put onto verbs being used by and relating to females.
- In levitate marriage … the death of a husband would lead to the brother of the deceased man taking the widow as a wife to provide an heir – but this story ends in a child for Naomi, not for any male, as would be the reported custom.
But my favourite thing in the text is the flow of the big Story of God. The law has been given to Moses, the people have settled into the land of Canaan, God has been largely ignored and forgotten as the older generations have passed on – seen most clearly in the last line of the previous book before Ruth; “In those days Israel had no king; every MAN did as they saw fit” (Judges 21:25). The Hebrew word used here is MAN; it is not the gender neutral PEOPLE.
So, Israel is in trouble – they are forgetting what God has called them to be (a light to the Nations) and every MAN is doing whatever he wants.
Enter the woman.
Enter the hope. And enter the one who will keep the law of God, act with integrity, and use her femininity to keep the line of the Messiah alive.
You go girl.
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