The Bible fascinates me! The story of Ruth is another example of God's hand miraculously working in and through the life of His chosen ones—each piece connecting to and pointing to God and towards Christ.
In Romans 11:16-21 Paul explains how Gentiles, wild olive shoots, are grafted into the olive tree and are nourished from the tree's holy root. Ruth is a beautiful picture of that. We recently read about her mother-in-law (Boaz's mother, Rahab), who was a grafted wild olive branch also. Now, with Ruth, God has graciously given us a fuller account of how He includes her not only in His "tree" but as a branch that produced His Son, the LORD Jesus Christ.
As a Moabite, Ruth was under the curse of God. Deuteronomy 23:3 says, "No Ammonite or Moabite may enter the assembly of the LORD. Even to the tenth generation, none of them may enter the assembly of the LORD forever."
To understand why we need to look at the history of Moab. Moab was the son of an incestuous relationship between Lot and his oldest daughter. After Sodom and the surrounding area were completely destroyed by the Lord, Lot's daughters determined the only way to produce offspring was to get Lot drunk and sleep with him. Lot begat two sons this way, Moab, and Ben-ammi, the forefathers of the Moabites and the Ammonites. (Genesis 19:32-38) When Israel was traveling from Egypt to the Promised Land, the king of Moab, Balak, refused to be of any help to the Israelites in their journey. (Deuteronomy 23:4) Additionally, Balak hired Balaam to curse the Israelites, and when that didn't work, he sent the women of Moab to whore with the men of Israel. (Deuteronomy 21-25)
In the first chapter of Ruth, we learn she lived during the time of the judges in Israel. So these events in the lives of Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz occur in the context of what we just read in Judges. What a juxtaposition of events; the near annihilation of a tribe of Israel, Benjamin, and the inclusion of a Moabite into the Judean tribe of Israel.
Because of her sacrificial love for Naomi, Ruth chose to leave her home and join the people of the LORD. "For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God." (Ruth 1:16) Ruth followed that statement by claiming the name of YHWH. Boaz acknowledged Ruth's position in Israel when he said, "The LORD repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the LORD the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!" (Ruth 2:12) Then Ruth asks Boaz to "spread your wings over" me...and you know the rest of the story.
Both Lot's daughters and Ruth had sons, one by following a worldly plan, the other by obeying God's instruction of how to carry on a family name through redemption. One was destined for destruction (Jeremiah 48:42); the other to be the Redeemer of the world. (Matthew 1:1-5)
LORD Jesus, thank You for redeeming not just Ruth but me. You redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us. Thank You for grafting wild olive branches into the Tree of Life.