Monday, April 6, 2009

Tica

We have a dramatic change of pace today. The entire book of Ruth only has 4 chapters, so the entire book is today's reading.

My sister is called Ruth. "Ruthie", we called her sometimes. Our favorite name was "Rutica", the diminutive form of the name in Spanish. Of course, that got shortened to "Tica." So, today's blog is called "Tica", diminuitive for Ruth, and dedicated to my sister.

So the story starts out as a tragedy. 1 -2 "Once upon a time—it was back in the days when judges led Israel— there was a famine in the land. A man from Bethlehem in Judah left home to live in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons. The man's name was Elimelech; his wife's name was Naomi; his sons were named Mahlon and Kilion—all Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. They all went to the country of Moab and settled there."

Financial hardship led to a move. In the new country the boys married.

3 -5 "Elimelech died and Naomi was left, she and her two sons. The sons took Moabite wives; the name of the first was Orpah, the second Ruth. They lived there in Moab for the next ten years. But then the two brothers, Mahlon and Kilion, died. Now the woman was left without either her young men or her husband."

Over time dad dies, older brother dies, and younger brother dies.

6 -7 "One day she got herself together, she and her two daughters-in-law, to leave the country of Moab and set out for home; she had heard that God had been pleased to visit his people and give them food. And so she started out from the place she had been living, she and her two daughters-in-law with her, on the road back to the land of Judah."

So Naomi's going back home. This is clearly a loving and lovely woman. Both daughters in law want to go with her.

8 -9 "After a short while on the road, Naomi told her two daughters-in-law, "Go back. Go home and live with your mothers. And may God treat you as graciously as you treated your deceased husbands and me. May God give each of you a new home and a new husband!" She kissed them and they cried openly."

She tells them to stay in their country, with their people. Orpah stays (she started a TV show and became very successful). Ruth goes with her. Ruth has found an older woman that she loves and respects, but also there was something about the God that Noami worshipped that really impacted her.

Ruth put out a statement so strong and moving that we often use it in wedding ceremonies.
"Where you go, I go; and where you live, I'll live.
Your people are my people, your God is my God;
where you die, I'll die, and that's where I'll be buried,
so help me God—not even death itself is going to come between us!"

So the two women come back into Israel, settling in Bethlehem.

What do you do when you are poor and life has dealt you a hard blow?

Look up your rich relatives. Of course!

Naomi did that. His name was Boaz. So she moved near to him.

Ruth, meanwhile, was not only sincere, and sweet, and loving; but she was also plucky and a hard worker. God's laws had established that the gleaners were always to leave some grain for the poor. Well Ruth was poor. So she found some fields nearby, asked permission, and went to work.

Here is where the story gets really cool. (Do you hear the music building in the background? You KNOW something is up...)

Rich man Boaz comes to his field and greets all his workers. By about this time, Ruth had come to his fields. Boaz notices her. (I think she was attractive, in addition to all her other good qualities) Who's the young lady over there, working away?

"Oh", he's told by his foreman, "Why, that's the Moabite girl, the one who came with Naomi from the country of Moab. She asked permission. 'Let me glean,' she said, 'and gather among the sheaves following after your harvesters.' She's been at it steady ever since, from early morning until now, without so much as a break." He calls her over. Stay in my fields. I have given orders for my servants to treat you well. If you need water, go ahead and have a drink.

Her reaction?

10 "She dropped to her knees, then bowed her face to the ground. "How does this happen that you should pick me out and treat me so kindly—me, a foreigner?"

He says, "They told me all about you. You are a good person. You are caring for your bereft mother in law.
13 She said, "Oh sir, such grace, such kindness—I don't deserve it. You've touched my heart, treated me like one of your own. And I don't even belong here!"
14 At the lunch break, Boaz said to her, "Come over here; eat some bread. Dip it in the wine."
So she joined the harvesters. Boaz passed the roasted grain to her. She ate her fill and even had some left over. "
Mutual admiration. Mutual respect. I think a healthy dose of attraction as well! This interchange turns into caring, into friendship, into romance, into marriage.

10 -13 "He said, "God bless you, my dear daughter! What a splendid expression of love! And when you could have had your pick of any of the young men around. And now, my dear daughter, don't you worry about a thing; I'll do all you could want or ask. Everybody in town knows what a courageous woman you are— a real prize!"

All the legal necessities are taken care of.

9 -10 "Boaz then addressed the elders and all the people in the town square that day: "You are witnesses today that I have bought from Naomi everything that belonged to Elimelech and Kilion and Mahlon, including responsibility for Ruth the foreigner, the widow of Mahlon—I'll take her as my wife and keep the name of the deceased alive along with his inheritance."

Out of tragedy - a beautiful story of love, loyalty, hard work, romance and marriage.

A special bonus! "Tica" is in the bloodline that Jesus the Messiah came from...

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