Naomi, after the death of her husband and sons, implores her daughters-in-law, several times, to “return” to their people and their gods. However, it says in Ruth 1:22 that Ruth the Moabitess “returned” to Bethlehem; but keep in mind, Ruth had never been there, so how could she return? This is a theme of Ruth 1, and many commentators draw out the fact that this is a story of a Gentile becoming a part of God’s people.
Think of the passage in Eph. 2:13 where Paul tells the Ephesians that they who were once far off have been brought nigh. Yes, the Hebrews were God’s chosen people, but they were chosen to be a light unto all the nations and that God might use them to reconcile and bring all men unto Himself. Thus, we see in Ruth a Gentile “returning” to God and to His people.
Now, when we peel into the Hebrew, something interesting happens in Ruth 2; as Boaz inquires about who Ruth is, and then he addresses her, the first word he says to her is the imperative of the verb שָׁמַע (shama, i.e. hear/listen). This should call to mind that great creed of the ancient Israelite church: “Hear (שָׁמַע), O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD (Deu 6:4).” The first words from the kinsman redeemer (Boaz), unto the Gentile believer (Ruth) is to hear & listen (with the implication of then obeying what is said). He then goes on to tell her “do not go” from his field to another’s field, obviously wanting to not let this lovely lady catch someone else’s eye!
This comes home to us in this way. The Redeemer of all mankind, of whom Boaz is a type, is to be listened to, heard, heeded and obeyed. The first words unto the regenerated sinner are “repent and believe”, or as God thundered at Christ’s baptism an transfiguration, “Hear Him” (Mar. 9:7). Our Redeemer has given to us His word and His will, and those who have returned unto Him, by faith, must submit to His directives. The Gospel is God’s message to mankind, to return to Him, repent of our foreign gods, and submit to His Word and commands. His command? “Believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another” (1 Jn. 3:23).