We are reading the book of Ruth in the Bible this week because this story happens during Pentecost and the weeks leading up to it, and it is commonly read among the Jews on Pentecost. My church never read Ruth on Pentecost, and yours may not have either. Most churches probably read Acts 1-2 which recounts the birthday of the Church. So, you might ask, “why is Ruth considered the book to be read at Pentecost?”
To begin with, Pentecost is God’s harvest festival. Actually, all of God’s feast days center around agriculture. Of God’s seven Biblical feasts, Pentecost is the fourth. Three of God’s feast days God commands that all men attend. They were to drop everything and go up to Jerusalem. Pentecost is one of those three.
According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, the word Pentecost come from the “Middle English, from Old English pentecosten, from Late Latin pentecoste, from Greek pentēkostē, literally, fiftieth day…” Those fifty days leading up to Pentecost are called “the counting of the Omer.” Omer means a sheaf of wheat. It is during these fifty days that the barley harvest is completed and the wheat harvest is begun.
So, when does one begin counting up to fifty? Resurrection Sunday. On Resurrection Sunday the count up begins until one reaches the fiftieth day called Pentecost. It is on the day of Pentecost that the first fruits of the wheat harvest were waved before the Lord in the form of two loaves of bread made with yeast.
Incredibly, the main story of the book of Ruth is centered around a young Gentile widow named Ruth. She chooses to accompany her widowed and broken Jewish mother-in-law Naomi back to the land of Israel and to serve the one true God. When they arrive in Judah, it is the time on God’s calendar that is between Resurrection Sunday and Pentecost, known as “the counting of the omer.” Because Ruth and Naomi had no other source of income and were poverty stricken, Ruth goes to work gleaning in the harvest fields of a godly, wealthy, highly respected, older man named Boaz. The story culminates with the stunning betrothal/wedding of Boaz and Ruth on the day of Pentecost! Yes, that is the day that they became committed to each other, and thus, this is the story that is read each Pentecost.
Naomi is representative of broken Israel, while Ruth is representative of the Gentile church, and Boaz is representative of our Kinsman Redeemer Jesus. This story depicts the incredible story of redemption and unification of both Jew and Gentile in Jesus Christ. Not only this, but the book of Ruth is a love story, a wedding story, the story of a beloved Bride who selflessly worked the harvest and made herself ready for her godly Bridegroom.
On the day of Pentecost in Acts 2, God poured out His Holy Spirit upon the 120 disciples who were gathered in the upper room of the Temple. When the Holy Spirit came upon them, they spoke in the languages of the nations, declaring the glories of God and drawing the attention of the masses from all over the world that had gathered for the Day of Pentecost in Jerusalem. And Peter stands up to preach that we are in the Last Days, and that in the Last Days God would pour out His Spirit on ALL, not just the Jews. This was the message of Pentecost: the Gospel of Salvation through Jesus is for ALL whom the Lord our God will call, the redemption of both Jew and Gentile. And thus, the Church became Jesus’ godly Bride who went out to work in His harvest field of the world.
“‘Counting The Omer’ – Messianic Rabbi Zev Porat” Explains,” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9WMAWZZCv_E
“Counting of the Omer,” https://rabbiyeshua.com/articles-by-kehilat/item/8-counting-the-omer
“Pentecost,” from the Encyclopedia Britannica, https://www.britannica.com/topic/Pentecost-Christianity
“Pentecost,” Merriam Webster Dictionary 1828, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Pentecost
Main Biblical Passages of Reference: Leviticus 23 & Deuteronomy 16