My family just took a short adventure through the book of Ruth. Because it’s such a small nugget, buried between much larger books, we like to use the humorous saying “Joshua Judges Ruth” to locate it more quickly. When I consider this little book, I think of a God fearing woman who forsook all to follow her mother-in-law and eventually give herself to the true God. Or I think of Boaz who is a clear picture of our very own Kinsman Redeemer. As we journeyed through their lives this time however, I was again drawn to Boaz, but in a somewhat different manner.
Looking closely at the scriptures, we learn that Boaz was the son of Salmon and Rahab (Ruth 4:21, Matt 1:5). Yes, the same Rahab (Canaanite harlot and all) we find in the book of Joshua whom God rescued from the destruction of Jericho. Now, God had previously made it clear to His people they were not to take these Canaanite women as wives simply because of the risk of turning from the true God to Canaanite false gods (Deut 7:3). Nevertheless, regardless of her foreigner status, God had a plan for Rahab.
Yes, our God is a God who shows no partiality (Rom 2:11). However, we are a people full of partiality and I cannot help but imagine the Israelites overflowing with it. Do you think they warmly welcomed Rahab the Canaanite harlot into their camp? Do you imagine her receiving many invites for fancy quail dinners, or having friends stop by for manna and coffee? My imagination pictures a lonely Rahab surrounded by strange Israelites, adjusting to unfamiliar customs, striving to become acquainted with an all new God. What must that have been like for her son Boaz; child of the rejected foreigner? I suspect his upbringing was no walk in the park.
God, through years of isolated rejection, formed Boaz into a man of compassion and understanding. This compassion was greatly bestowed upon another foreigner: a Moabitess named Ruth. Boaz knew what it was like to walk in her shoes. He, son of a foreigner, shunned, ridiculed, and most likely wrongly judged, considered Ruth not just an outsider, not just a Moabitess, but a creation of his God. Able to relate to her circumstances, he reached out to her, treated her with kindness and respect, and took her as wife. How proud Rahab would have been! More importantly, how please Boaz’s God was. So pleased in fact, He included them both in the genealogy of the Messiah (Matt 1:1-16)! A son to the Canaanite harlot and a foreign Moabitess, penned forever in scripture as relatives of our Lord. Does it get any better than that? His mercy and grace have no boundaries.
I pray we are able to comfort others with the comfort we have received from Him and from our brothers and sisters (2 Cor 1:3-7). What difficulties have you faced? What hardships are you facing now? Are you allowing God to use you to comfort and console those who mourn, to give beauty for ashes, and praise for heaviness (Isa 61:3)? As Boaz had kindness and understanding toward Ruth, I pray for compassion toward those around me. God, please take our circumstances and use them to bless others, furthering Your kingdom and Your gospel.
Who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort
with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
-2 Corinthians 1:4