A story of redemption, love, hope, and restoration
As we close out chapter one, this final verse holds an important nugget…
“So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabite her daughter-in-law with her, who returned from the country of Moab. And they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest.”
The chapter started out with a severe famine and a man leading his family into an ungodly land. But when the remnants of that man’s family return to the Promised Land, they arrive at the beginning of barley harvest. Now we may read this and think, What’s the big deal about a harvest? Don’t they happen all the time? However, in this one little detail God reveals much about His character and sovereignty.
Ruth and Naomi had just traveled over 50 miles, and were starting over as widows in a culture that didn’t really provide well for the needs of a poor widow or foreigner. They had no provider and no male family member to grow them food. But God was taking care of them. He brought them back to Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest.
The barley harvest was one of the first harvests of the year. It preceded the wheat harvest by one or two months and was generally expected in early April. It was also one of the most widely grown crops in Israel and was a staple food, especially among the poor. So God brought Ruth and Naomi back in time for one of the biggest harvests of the year! And not only were they present in time for the barley harvest, but they arrived at the beginning of it. Not in the middle nor towards the end, but at the very beginning. Do you not see the loving provision and immaculate timing of God?!
God’s timing is always perfect, and while we could argue that Naomi probably planned her return trip around the barley harvest, God was still the Master Orchestrator. He is the One who allowed Naomi to hear about the good fortunes of the people of Israel that prompted her to return in the first place, and He is the One who gave the harvest. So no matter what, God still gets all the credit. And just as God provided for the needs of Ruth and Naomi and brought them back in His perfect timing, so also He provides for each one of us and directs our steps according to His will.
Therefore, are we trusting God to see us through? Are we fully relying upon Him for our every need? Do we truly believe that God will provide when all seems hopeless? As we walk through life, are we trusting God has and will place us exactly where He wants us for this season of our lives? Will we trust Him to bring us into His promised land at the beginning of harvest?
We often overlook the little ways in which God is faithful. For instance, in the verse before the one quoted at the beginning, Naomi is found complaining about how the Lord has brought calamity into her life, while at the same time she stands in a town surrounded by fields ready to be harvested. How easily she did not focus on the wonderful provision and faithfulness of God! But we are just like Naomi. We whine about the hardships and troubles in our life, blaming God for them, all the while we are standing surrounded by the incredible blessings He has given us! So let us stop overlooking the seemingly small, mundane provisions of God like a barley harvest in biblical times or running water and electricity for 21st century America, and let us remember these promises from God through the pen of Ruth’s great-grandson, David:
“All the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.”
“The LORD upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down. The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing.”