In the era of the Judges, a young widow from Moab named Ruth returned to Israel with her mother in law. In fact, both were widows, and widows in their society had little social support and little hope. For sustenance they would be dependent on the kindness and charity of others, something that the book of Judges indicates was in short supply in Israel at the time.
In Ruth 2:2-3 Ruth asks her mother in law’s blessing to go out into the field to glean: “And Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, ‘Let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain after him in whose sight I shall find favor.’ And she said to her, ‘Go, my daughter.’ So she set out and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers, and she happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the clan of Elimelech.” (Ruth 2:2–3, ESV)
Gleaning was the social welfare of the time. According to Leviticus, those who harvested fields were to leave the edges, enough that the poor could come and, with work, gather enough to get by: “When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the Lord your God.” (Leviticus 19:9–10, ESV) Gleaning would have by no means been a good life, nor an easy life, but with effort the poor would be able to survive.
Now, of course, many Christians do not live in such an agricultural society, and many of our poor are nowhere near a field where they could gather grain, nor would they know how to turn that grain into bread. But the change in cultural situation between the Scriptures and modern life doesn’t make those Scriptures irrelevant. An adjustment is needed, for certain, but the principle behind the Scripture remains relevant. In the next three weeks, six authors consider the implications of Ruth 2 for the believer in Jesus who lives in a modern economy:
- On Wednesday Dr. Luke Bobo, the Director of Resource and Curriculum Development of Made To Flourish, presents the first of three meditations on care for others with his further thoughts on Ruth 2 in Gleaning, Generosity, and Imaging God.
- On Friday Dr. Bobo continues his meditations with an encouragement to engage those from different vocational situations in Othering.
- On Monday, April 25 Dr. Bobo concludes his three part meditation with a consideration of how believers might help those formerly incarcerated in Vocational Clout for the Common Good.
- On Wednesday, April 27 Alexis Stanford considers Ruth’s example of diligence in Work Like No One’s Watching.
- On Friday, April 29 Sara Kathryn Cole meditates on our obligation from Ruth 2 in Peculiar and Unusual Kindness.
- On Monday, May 2 Baylee Molloy reflects on a child’s life during war in Boaz, Ruth, and Ukraine.
- On Wednesday, May 4 Stanton Coman considers Christ’s call for us to love this entire world in Ever Heard of South Sudan?
- Finally, on Friday, May 6 Mary Mitchum considers the experience of being a Ruth in A Change in Flight Plan.
Where could I provide for others through my vocation? Where would I have to alter my life to do so?
Images: FreeImages.com/Michael Illuchine, Clayton Rocha