The Promise of Ruth

Deuteronomy 23: 3 No Ammonite or Moabite or any of their descendants may enter the assembly of the Lord, not even in the tenth generation.

Ruth 4: 11-12 Then the elders and all the people at the gate said, “We are witnesses. May the Lord make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the family of Israel. May you have standing in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem. Through the offspring the Lord gives you by this young woman, may your family be like that of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah.”

Something intriguing happens here in the last chapter of Ruth. In Deuteronomy, the Law explicitly forbids Moabites and their descendants from entering the assembly of the Lord. But Ruth 4 stands in contrast to this command as the elders of the town not only bear witness to the marriage of Ruth (a Moabite) to Boaz, but also offer their blessing to the marriage. They even go so far as to ask that the Lord make Ruth like Rachel and Leah.

Rachel and Leah! The elders offer a blessing that elevates a Moabite alonside the mothers of all Israel!

The word “Moab” comes up twelve times in the book of Ruth. This is not an accident. It not only reminds us persistently that Ruth is a foreigner, but the number calls to mind the twelve tribes of Israel. (The number twelve is always key in scripture.) God is saying that he’s not into exclusion; he’s into welcome, and he welcomes those who seek him. Boaz and the elders of the village seem to understand this as well. Ruth’s story is a wonderful foreshadowing of the larger inclusion that will come in the person of Jesus, and we’ll look more at that tomorrow. But for today, spend some time reveling in God’s inclusiveness and in the promise of Ruth that we’ve been looking at this week.