Be strong and courageous.
Do not be afraid;
do not be discouraged,
for the Lord your God will be with you
wherever you go.”
Leviticus is one of those books in the Bible that really doesn’t help us Old Testaments nerds. Yes, it’s boring and yes, it is a lot of laws, in fact it’s all laws, many of which seem odd and quite unnecessary for us today. Having said that, Leviticus is fascinating because laws provide a unique glimpse into the struggles as well as the priorities of a culture. For example, we have been working on a list of rules for Sunday school. Our current list has things like: no leaving the room without permission, raise your hand before you speak and no cell phones, goo or fidget spinners. To us, this list looks standard yet if people saw this list 30 or even 5 years ago there are things listed they wouldn’t understand. If this list was seen by someone from another country, especially thousands of years from now, even common things like “raise your hand before you speak” would sound really odd. Reading that students can’t leave the room without permission may even seem barbaric.
Last Sunday we looked at Leviticus 19:9-10 which says,
9 “‘You harvest your crops on your land. But do not harvest all the way to the corners of your fields. If grain falls onto the ground, don’t gather it up. 10 Don’t pick all the grapes in your vineyards. And don’t pick up the grapes that fall to the ground. You must leave those things for poor people. You must also leave them for people traveling through your country. I am the Lord your God”.
This is how we opened our reading of Ruth, the story of woman who left her family and country to follow her mother-in-law back to her home in Bethlehem. The two women have nothing, as uneducated widows with no male relatives they are in a very, very bad situation however Bethlehem is Israelite territory. The Israelites have strange laws, one of which makes it illegal for them to pick all the crops they grow. This command makes them unique and a welcomed site for hungry travelers as well as the destitute. Seeking barley Ruth goes to a field that belongs to Boaz. A wealthy landowner, Boaz is filled with compassion when he hears all that Ruth has done for her mother-in-law. With his help and the grace of a law commanded by God, Ruth and Naomi are well provided for. As we continue studying this book we will see how some more of these silly and boring laws beautiful weave into their lives.