January 12, 2017

A Righteous Foreigner

Ruth 2:1-3, 17-20

She went out, entered a field and began to glean behind the ­harvesters.

—  Ruth 2:3

Ruth’s commitment to Naomi was both admirable and costly. She left her family home to live with Naomi in a strange land, even saying she would die there (Ruth 1:16-17). Joining herself to Naomi’s future promised only a shared emptiness: no food and no family. What’s more, her homeland, Moab, was a country often at odds with Israel. How could this “outsider” help Naomi? Well, Ruth began by gleaning grain that was left for the poor.

God’s Word to Israel included an instruction to support the poor at harvest time: “When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field. . . . Leave them for the poor and the foreigner” (Leviticus 19:9-10). Ruth began to fill Naomi’s emptiness with the food God reserved for the poor. By behaving like a righteous Israelite woman, this Moabite Gentile saved Naomi from starvation.

This was an example of the righteousness of true mercy, showing that you love God above all and your neighbor as yourself. Ruth’s righteousness brought life-giving food to Naomi.

When Ruth explained where she’d gleaned the grain, Naomi rejoiced, for this gift had come from the field of a close relative, who would become her guardian­-redeemer.

We too can praise God—for sending our Redeemer, Jesus Christ, as our Savior from sin!

Thank you, Lord, for the righteousness of Christ, which saves us from sin and fills all our needs. In his name, Amen.

About the author — Arie C. Leder

Dr. Arie C. Leder is the Martin J. Wyngaarden Senior Professor of Old Testament Studies at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He previously served as pastor at Ebenezer Christian Reformed Church, Trenton, Ontario, and with Christian Reformed World Missions in Latin America. He teaches courses on the Pentateuch and on historical books of the Old Testament.

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