If Ruth indeed represents Gentiles who are followers of Messiah Yeshua, i.e. Christians, then it would certainly be beneficial to examine Ruth's character to see why the townspeople of Beitlechem and Boaz himself proclaimed her to be of such excellence.
One of the most profound and famous proclamations in all the Bible is the one Ruth makes to Naomi as Naomi tries to persuade Ruth to leave her and return to Moab, her people, and her gods.
Ruth determinately exclaims in Ruth 1:16-17,
"Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. 17 "Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may the LORD do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me."
It was Boaz who later explained to Ruth that all the favor she received from him was due to this very attitude and commitment she had to Naomi. In Ruth 2:10-12, we read,
10 Then she fell on her face, bowing to the ground and said to him, "Why have I found favor in your sight that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?" 11 Boaz replied to her, "All that you have done for your mother-in-law after the death of your husband has been fully reported to me, and how you left your father and your mother and the land of your birth, and came to a people that you did not previously know. 12 May the LORD reward your work, and your wages be full from the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to seek refuge."
It was Ruth's commitment to Naomi, her willingness to leave her own people and be joined to the people of Israel, and her desire to put all her trust in the God of Israel that brought her great favor.
Let's think about what this teaches us Gentile believers.
1. First and foremost, we can see in the Book of Ruth that the people of Israel and the God of Israel are intimately connected. Ruth was committed to both the people and God. We must not think that we can be committed to the God of Israel and at the same time ignore the people of Israel. What would have happened to Ruth had she walked away from Naomi (as Orpah did) but then tried to continue to worship the God of Israel? It takes little imagination to see how quickly Ruth would have succumbed to her old ways. But even if she did not, how much knowledge of the God of Israel would she have really had? And, most importantly, how would she have ever taken part in the redemption and gained an inheritance? How would Naomi ever have been restored?
2. Ruth came to Israel in all humility. She viewed herself as a foreigner. She did not come into Beitlechem and try to take over the joint, so-to-speak. In the same manner, as Gentiles of the body of Messiah, we need to have a humble attitude toward Israel, both the believers and unbelievers. We should be grateful to the unbelievers:
"Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God's kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off." – Romans 11:22.
We should also honor and understand our need to connect with believers of Israel:
"…do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you." – Romans 11:18.
Imagine all that Ruth learned about Boaz and the ways of Israel by working alongside the other faithful Israelites (the believers). Without them Ruth really would have been lost.
3. It was by Ruth showing mercy to Naomi that Boaz showed mercy to Ruth. By Ruth obtaining mercy and favor from Boaz, Naomi had a hope of redemption, restoration, and resurrection of the dead. The Apostle Paul painted the exact same picture for us when he described the relationship between Israel and the Gentile believers in Romans 11:30-31:
"For just as you once were disobedient to God, but now have been shown mercy because of their disobedience, so these also now have been disobedient, that because of the mercy shown to you they also may now be shown mercy."
4. Boaz's first commendation was of Ruth's faithfulness and loving-kindness to Naomi. In the same way the Gentiles in the Church should show the same care and faithfulness to unredeemed Israel.
5. Ruth left her identity with her people in order to be a part of Israel. She did not bring the customs and practices of her people into Israel; she became one of them. Notice that she declared she would go where Naomi went and even die where Naomi died. That is a serious commitment to being a permanent part of Israel. The picture of Ruth is not that of a once-in-a-while visitor. It is a lifestyle and lifelong commitment.
6. Her life may have been much easier had she returned to Moab. It seems that Orpah most certainly understood it that way. But given that choice, Ruth chose to take the hard way and walked by faith alongside Naomi. We face the same choice. We need to come to terms with committing ourselves to a strange people and a way that we are not always familiar with or comfortable with.
As Gentile followers of Messiah Yeshua, we truly have a model of excellence in Ruth. It behooves us to take note of the Lord's reaction to her faithfulness, integrity, and character. It would do us well to follow her example. The blessings Ruth received literally brought back the name of the deceased, restored Naomi and her family, gave Ruth a part in Obed and Boaz’s inheritance, and left a legacy to learn and glean from—for all who would choose to be grafted to Israel.