Naomi reminds me of my nation – Israel. I believe we live NOW in the second fulfillment of the story that is brought to us in the book of Ruth.
What happened to the people of Israel through the generations, happened to Naomi as well. She too left her homeland and went with her family to the diaspora, to Moab. Like Israel, she too lost there all she had – husband, children, source of income, hope. All she had left was her life and two daughters-in-law, who were widows too. One chose to tie her fate with that of Naomi’s, the other one went back to her old life.
These two widows cross rivers and hills, and finally arrive at Bethlehem, knowing they have zero chance of rehabilitation. The best that life could offer them at that point was a possible glean in the fields, so that they will have just enough to eat at the end of the day. Naomi was so wounded and bitter, to the point of requiring everyone to call her by a new name – Mara (meaning bitter). Her old name, which means Pleasant, just did not suit her condition.
“Now the two of them went until they came to Bethlehem. And it happened, when they had come to Bethlehem, that all the city was excited because of them; and the women said, ‘Is this Naomi?’ But she said to them, ‘Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, and the Lord has brought me home again empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the Lord has testified against me, and the Almighty has afflicted me?’” (Ruth 1:19-21).
So typical to modern Israel too. We are also making our way back from diaspora to our Bethlehem (House of bread), but as far as God is concerned, we are bitter and full of complaints for the way He afflicted us.
Into this picture enters the faithfulness of Ruth, a gentile, who chooses to be there for Naomi and provide for her basic daily needs. Ruth encourages her, demonstrates friendship (which is what her name means) and is willing to go very far in order to soften her heart.
Ruth had no right to live in Bethlehem or glean in Boaz’s fields if she hadn’t join Naomi. But Naomi would not have been restored without the love and faithfulness of Ruth. The cooperation between them both led to the birthing of Obed, from him Messiah came into the world the first time. And now, what will the cooperation between the modern Ruth and Naomi lead to in our day and age, and how can it advance the coming of Messiah to the world the second time?
Modern Ruth and Naomi
Throughout the book, there is no direct contact between Naomi and Boaz. If he wants to deliver anything to her, he does it through the gentile. When she needs to communicate anything to him, she does it through the same gentile as well. She knew he exists, and she even knew all along the way that he can help restore her legacy and inheritance, but it did not even occur to her to approach him directly.
As of now, the majority of Israelis behave like Naomi. We are the modern Mara, who is turning in an exciting process into the modern Naomi. More and more Israelis learn that there is a redeemer in the story, that He can be approached directly, that we do not need a mediator in order to come before Him in boldness and assurance of faith. But our nation still needs some modern Ruths who will dare to go to the feet of the Redeemer in the middle of the night, even risk their reputation, if that what it takes, and take their part in the amazing restoration of this old-mew nation to her Husband, out of her widowhood robe.