Barley Harvest. Knowing that nothing in God's Word is superfluous, what is the significance of Naomi returning to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest? I think we need to be careful that we do not put too much added meaning to this sentence, but there are some significant points that we can glean from this verse.
Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess her daughter-in-law with her,
who returned from the country of Moab. Now they came to Bethlehem at the
beginning of barley harvest.
Ruth 1:22, NKJV
In Ruth, chapter 1, we find Naomi, bereaved of husband and sons, returning to Bethlehem, the land of her birth, with her daughter-in-law, Ruth, a Moabitis. Tucked away in this last verse of Ruth 1 is the sentence: Now they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest.
Knowing that nothing in God's Word is superfluous, what is the significance of Naomi returning to Bethlehem at the this particular time? I think we need to be careful that we do not put too much added meaning to this sentence, but there are some significant points that we can glean from this verse.
This harvest, which in Israel takes place in the month of April, is the beginning of the spring harvests. When the Israelites celebrated the year's firstfruits, they were offering the first of their barley to the Lord.
From a physical standpoint, this was the perfect time for Naomi and Ruth to return to Bethlehem. It was a time a drought, or lack of harvests, that drove Naomi and her family to the land of Moab. Now, at a time of the hope of abundant harvests, they return.
How can we not help but understand the significance of springtime? It is currently April and our little town of Pella is bursting with new life. The robins have been back for over a month, the crocuses bloomed a few weeks ago followed by the daffodils and hyacinths. Just yesterday, I noted the first tulips in bloom, which has great significance for this little Dutch town. Spring is always a time of great hope, for no matter how severe the winter has been or how difficult has been the last year, spring always blooms anew with life and color.
Though the tulips were probably not even in existence in Bethlehem at the time Naomi and Ruth returned, the barley brought great hope for their future. When we consider the coming this harvest, how can we not think of the words of Christ from John 6?
35 And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.
51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.
The book of Ruth is a continuing picture of Christ, our Kinsman Redeemer. As we see the book of Ruth unfold, we see the story of God's provision for Ruth and Naomi. In the same way, we see the constant references to Christ and His provision for His children today. Christ is truly our only bread of life. In Him we will never again hunger or thirst, and in Him we will live forever.
What an amazing God who has so wondrously provided for His dear people. This same Christ is available this day to all who call upon Him for life. Go to Christ this day and receive Him as your Bread of Life. In Him you, too, will never again hunger or thirst.