by John O’Malley
“And they came to Beth-lehem in the beginning of barley harvest” (Ruth 1:22).
So much has happened in the lives of these two women in the last ten years. Travelers who passed these two women might have remarked as to the oddity of seeing two women traveling alone. Others may have queried amongst themselves as to why two widows would be traveling. No one person could aptly tell their story just from glancing at this traveling couple. The sorrow that was entombed in their hearts, the agony of disappointment that etched their faces, and the defeat that might have affected their posture, all played a role in the journey home.
They complete their sixty-seven miles of reminiscing and replaying the videos from their library of memories. Their arrival in town is marked by the comments of the townspeople and the much-awaited beginning of the barley harvest.
The latter half of this verse is marked by two elements worthy of comment. Note the first element pertains to the words “and they.” This is reminiscent of verse two of this same chapter. “And they came into the country of Moab.” The “they” is different this time. It is comprised of a Jewish mother-in-law with her recently converted Moabite daughter-in-law. Naomi did not leave Moab alone; God saved a Moabite girl who would be used to bear a child in the line of her deceased father-in-law. This child would be grandfather to David, king of Israel, and in the earthly line of Jesus Christ. The words “and they” reveal and confirm the promise God made to Abraham back in Genesis twelve and reaffirmed to Jacob’s sons (Genesis 49:10).
The second element is found in the time of their arrival. God was bringing two strangers together, and it would be set against the backdrop of the barley harvest. Outside of town, in the barley fields they passed, they did not know that God had the barley growing in Boaz’s field, waving its welcome to Ruth and Naomi. Ruth saw in the barley a potential occupation and provision for immediate needs, but God had a different plan.
You see, their story is more than just a tale of three funerals. This would be the story of three funerals and a wedding. You may be facing difficult days. You may now only see the difficult and the disappointing, but remember God’s timing is precise, perfect, and providential.
Think about it...