‘Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities…Give to everyonce what you owe:if you owe taxes….if respect ,then respect; if honour, then honour.’
I write these notes in the summer of 2011 at the height of the phone-hacking, scandal, involving corruption and illegality extending into the media, politics and the police. The motives behind all this range from simple greed to news paper stories at any cost.Boaz probably had motives, desire for a family, a wish to preserve the memory and name of dead kinsmen, or simply wanting to marry Ruth.Howeve, he did everything legally in front of witnesses. He treated the man with the stronger claim with courtesy. He didn’t take short cuts to get what he thought was best. So God’s Providential loving purposes were fulfilled through Boaz’s integrity and trust in the Lord. The prior claim was fully laid out and then refused so that Boaz could claim Ruth and restore the land in the names of Elimelek and his sons. Over these few short months, the Lord has brought this couple together, fulfilling Naomi’s greatest longing, through the loving kindness and responsible behavior of these ordinary people. As we have seen, even after the tragedy of their long years in Moab, the women never acted out of bitterness and envy.
The response is public acclaim and a communal blessing for Boaz and Ruth. The richness of this book lies not just in the attractiveness of the characters and their strong faith in God, but also in the way the author ties this one year in Bethlehem into the Bible story. Here the people place this marriage into the context of the patriarchs and heroes of the past: Rachel,loved but initially childless; Leah, unloved but bearning Judah and Levi , ancestors of the kings and priests of Israel. They refer back to Boaz’s own ancestor, Perez, born to Tamar, a Cannaite,in unorthodox circumstances after the failure of levirate marriage.
Short cuts, a small lie, some income undeclared? Lord, may we be like Ruth, Boaz and Naomi: true to you, whatever the temptation.