Have we prepared?
This is a question that, while simple, is key for Shavuot! Just as it is for every point in our lives.
After all, the Word tells us to prepare—as the wise virgins did—and God Himself is THE great preparer…
“In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.”—John 14:2
Preparing for Shavuot:
Shavuot is a time of harvest and new beginnings. Yet, the preparation for Shavuot that takes place in the events leading up to it—Passover and the Counting of the Omer (fifty days used to examine and change our behavior)—are vital!
Without preparation, stepping into new seasons, destinies, and callings becomes difficult, and, at times, even impossible…
This is why God takes us on journeys to prepare us. However, we are to walk in His timing. His timing includes many seasons that ALL must walk through together… which is why we have to know His seasons; understanding the required preparation.
“To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.”—Ecclesiastes 3:1
Passover, and the Counting of the Omer, are such times of preparation… where we are cleansed in the blood and made ready for the new season of our calling.
Even Ruth went through this preparation to reach her destiny—and ours.
For it was during the Counting of the Omer, that Ruth went to the field to glean. A humbling time, and yet, as she gleaned seed, she was not only planting her new self, but coming face to face with her destiny!
A destiny she could not have known if she had not been humble; if she had not been willing to alter her character.
Preparing to Become the Ultimate Harvest:
‘Entreat me not to leave you,
or to turn back from following after you;
for wherever you go, I will go;
and wherever you lodge, I will lodge;
your people shall be my people,
and your God, my God.
Where you die, I will die,
and there will I be buried.
The Lord do so to me, and more also,
if anything but death parts you and me.’”—Ruth 1:16-17
This statement is what many believe to be Ruth’s conversion; the first step she took to follow the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the first of many preparatory actions.
Following her mother-in-law, Naomi, all the way from Moab to Bethlehem was the next. In that journey she was turning her back on everything she had known:
- Her biological family—whom Naomi entreated her to return to…
- Her culture…
- Her former god…
- The foods, traditions, and customs of a place so foreign to the ones she would come to know…
Yes, she had some idea of the sacrifices she would face. She had been married to an Israelite of the tribe of Judah and had lived with his family. Yet, nothing could truly prepare her for what was to come… the weariness of travel, the poverty she would live in, and, of course, the people who may not accept her.
It was a season of pruning before she would enter into her destiny. Trimming away the old so that she could embrace the fullness of life with Naomi’s God; now her God.
“…Boaz… said to her, ‘It has been fully reported to me, all that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband, and how you have left your father and your mother and the land of your birth, and have come to a people whom you did not know before. The Lord repay your work, and a full reward be given you by the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge.’”—Ruth 2:11-12
Boaz was not merely a man of great wealth, but a kinsman of Naomi. Thus, when Ruth’s behavior—honorable in its own right—was made known, Boaz was more than impressed…
She gave up everything for this kinsman!
In his awe he returned her kindness with his own. Feeding her and granting her great favor as she gleaned in his fields.
God blessed Ruth even in her time of training. Yet, gleaning in the fields was not her destiny. It was not the finish line.
She could not glean barley forever, for all seasons have their end, with a new season to take their place. Thus, Naomi prompted Ruth to go to Boaz, to obey her instructions though they must have appeared insane to her—for she did not know all the customs of Israel…
“…Naomi… said to her, ‘My daughter, shall I not seek security for you, that it may be well with you? Now Boaz, whose young women you were with, is he not our relative? …he is winnowing barley tonight at the threshing floor. Therefore wash yourself and anoint yourself, put on your best garment and go down to the threshing floor; but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking. Then it shall be, when he lies down, that you shall notice the place where he lies; and you shall go in, uncover his feet, and lie down; and he will tell you what you should do.’
“And she said to her, ‘All that you say to me I will do.’”—Ruth 3:1-5
Her following Naomi’s instructions was a great act of faith and the final step in her preparation. The final test as she entered Shavuot…
A test she passed in unwavering obedience, finding her full reward.
“… ‘I am Ruth, your maidservant. Take your maidservant under your wing, for you are a close relative.’”—Ruth 3:9
Boaz, not the closest relative to Naomi, sought out him who was closer still according to tradition, and upon his refusal of Ruth, Boaz gladly took her for his wife…
“… ‘Blessed are you of the Lord… For you have shown more kindness at the end than at the beginning, in that you did not go after young men, whether poor or rich. …do not fear. I will do for you all that you request, for all the people of my town know that you are a virtuous woman. Now it is true that I am a close relative; however, there is a relative closer than I. …if he does not want to perform the duty for you, then I will perform the duty for you, as the Lord lives! …’”—Ruth 3:10-13
Thus, Boaz indeed played a part in Ruth’s destiny. He became her kinsman redeemer; changing the lives of Naomi and Ruth to ones of wealth, status, and safety. Yet, marrying Boaz was not the sum total of Ruth’s destiny.
It was part of a greater plan. The union of Boaz and Ruth, a beautiful picture of what was to come—the Jew and Gentile coming together, creating one new man from the two...
“Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh… were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood…
“For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity… so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace.”—Ephesians 2:11-15
Yet, this bringing together of Jew and Gentile would not only occur in Ruth’s lifetime, but within a future generation; not through marriage of a traditional kind, but through redemption far greater than that Ruth experienced! For Jesus is in the lineage of Ruth and Boaz.
In this redemption and the bringing together of Jew and Gentile, lay the greatest of all Shavuot stories. For, while dozens of generations, many hundreds of years, and of course, untold Shavuots occurred between the redemption of Ruth and the life of our Messiah… it was a catalyst for one of the greatest things to come!
Yes, God could have chosen another earthly family for Jesus. He did not HAVE to use Ruth in Jesus’ lineage. Yet, what better lesson could God have chosen to give us? What better representation of what Jesus was to do?
That is to redeem…
And to graft the Gentiles into His people.