Friday, 8 June 2007

The Book of Ruth (Part 2)

The context of the story is set: two widows, one a widowed mother-in-law and her widowed daugther-in-law. To compound to their misery, the daughter-in-law is an 'outsider', a Gentile outside the covenant of Israel. But God certainly has a way with the 'poor, needy and outsiders'. The 'foreigner' is a term used in Deuteronomic law to remind the Israelites to treat foreigners properly because they were once 'foreigners' too in the land of Eygpt.

Like any good Bollywood movie, you have a girl and you will have a guy (good, handsome, tall etc). Add a conniving mother-in-law and you have a wonderful tale to tell! The story is quite straightforward: Girl goes out to look for food, collect wheat from field left behind by the reapers for poor people, spied by the handsome landowner Boaz, he asked around who she is, and that's it. Chemistry begin with sparks flying. Guy falls in love with girl with love-at-first sight. Treats her better than other girls. Mother-in-law notices the difference in amount of wheat girl brings back each day. Put one and one together and you have two! Mother-in-law knows a 'good catch' when she sees one. And guy happens to be close relative! what more do you want? Mother-in-law hatches a plan and sets into motion. Girl dutifully does what her mother-in-law tells her. Plan is to force the honourable guy to delcare his love for the girl and marry her. Plans works. Guy will do the honorable thing. But like any good movie, there is always a little snag - Guy is not the closest relative to be the kinsman redeemer (to bail out poor relatives in times of need). But guy is resourceful. Meets up with his closest rival. Tells him how blessed he is to be the redeemer blah-blah. Butter up your opponent first. Then let the cat out of the bag - but one other thing - you got to marry this Moabite girl, you know this MOABITE girl... Rival backs out of his commitment and agrees to hand over responsibility to the guy. Ta-da! Job's done. Guy seals the redeemer contract in face of public witness. Which is on the other side to say agreeing to marry his girl. So like any Bollywood movie, there is singing and dancing and congratulations all around. Like a fairy tale, it ends with not two but three. Guy and girl gets a son called Obed. Completes the family. Not to forget in the background mother-in-law beaming with smile from side to side with grandson in her arms.

Well, it looks like i was telling you a rather 'tall' story. Sounds like one except that you can read it in the book of Ruth for yourself. There are happy times in the Bible too. Note that this story took place in the context of the time of the judges. It was not an overall 'happy' situation in Israel as the people kept forgetting God and were hurling down the road to apostasy. But in their midst, a Moabite girl shows her adopted people how to be covenant-faithful. What a storyline. No wonder, this is the Gospel message in the Old Testament. God opened the door to Gentiles already here in the OT. We don't need to wait till New Testament times to hear about God's grace. God's grace is fully at work in this story.

A little side note. Obed that bouncy baby would grow up and be the father of Jesse who became the father of David. Yes, King David himself. With a Moabite great grandmother in the Jewish line! Thus, Jesus of the line of David had a Moabite ancestress. Jesus had Moabite blood in his veins. The Son of God in human form was not just Jewish but a man for all seasons and times and for all peoples.