There’s a wonderful story of promise, fortitude, faithfulness, redemption, and blessing in the Old Testament book of Ruth. We can see the plight of Naomi and Ruth. We can see how the circumstances in their lives sent them into a desperate season. We read how Naomi (meaning pleasant) changes her name to Mara (meaning bitter) as she feels that the new name more appropriately describes her life. In Naomi and Ruth’s world, things are not perfect, in fact they are far from perfect. And we see how Ruth steps out in faith with God, trusting that things will be better. Ruth does all that she can do within the confines of the Jewish law and culture of the day. She is humble, diligent, and I surmise that she must have had a rather pleasant temperament also. We are not told the amount of time over which this particular story spans. We know that Naomi and Ruth arrive in Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest (usually the middle to end of April). Ruth starts gleaning in the field during that harvest, and continued to glean during the subsequent wheat harvest (which usually ended mid-June) – that’s around a two month time period. During that time, Ruth and Boaz, establish a relationship, developing into love, and during the threshing process become betrothed when another closer relative does not want to provide for Ruth and Naomi. The love story is completed when Boaz marries Ruth, and they have a son. Naomi and Ruth are loved and cared for. Baby Obed secures the family line for Naomi’s husband’s family. Naomi is delighted and is bitter no more. Everyone in this story is blessed when the redemption happens, including us, when down through this family line comes King David, and later Jesus. God is faithful!
There is a verse in Ruth that I have glossed over before, and today that verse caught my eye: “He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age, for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.” (Ruth 4:15, ESV) I noticed in the words that the women of Bethlehem spoke to Naomi that Ruth is more to her than seven sons. Ruth has exceeded every standard of perfection that the women of Bethlehem could think of. Through Ruth’s selfless actions, humble spirit, teachable heart, hard work, and outright dedication, God brings redemption for Naomi also.
The imagery of numbers in the Bible (not the book of Numbers, but actual numbers) is important throughout the Bible. And, the number seven is significant. Seven reflects perfection, or of something being finished/complete. God created the heaven and earth in six days and rests on the seventh. There are over seven hundred instances of the word seven in the Bible. So, the words from the women of Bethlehem are in effect saying that Naomi’s life would have been considered perfect with seven sons, however Ruth – one person, and a seemingly rather insignificant one at that because she was a woman and a Moabite – exceeds that standard of perfection. Ruth’s countenance has blessed Naomi, Ruth’s commitment has blessed Naomi. All because God brings blessings to others through us.
The prime example of perfection is Jesus himself. In human form, Jesus was the only perfect person who ever was, or ever will be, on this earth. In fact, like in the words of the women of Bethlehem, Jesus is more than seven sons. Jesus not only is perfect, He exceeds any standard of perfection that we could possibly dream up. Jesus is our true Redeemer. His love and sacrifice brings us into a right relationship with God. Without Jesus we can never, ever be pure enough for our more-than-perfect God. We can never be holy enough. But, once we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we enter into a right relationship where we become God’s child forever. We can approach God, commune with God.
When we, like Ruth, continue to be faithful in what we do, how we act, and what we think, we will be blessed. When we look to God for our future we will be blessed. When we hang on and trust that no matter what we are going through that God will bring about His goodness, His mercy, His grace, and His blessings in His time, we can count on that. I’ve seen it happen time and time again in my life, it’s too many times to even count up. Over and over, God delights me in the ways that He’s redeemed a situation, ways that I could have never dreamed of. Even more than seven sons.