Ruth: A Story of Redemption
Women play an important role in the redemptive history of humankind. One of those women is Ruth. The book of Ruth is recorded in the Old Testament between the time nearing the end of the judges (Judges) and the beginning of the reign of kings (I Samuel). It was during an era marked by immorality, idolatry and war (Judges 21:25). Ruth is a love story about a strong, courageous woman, who, as a widow herself, demonstrated loyalty to her widowed mother-in-law, Naomi. And in the end, God rewarded Ruth.
God uses little things to do great things: There’s no burning bush, no parting of the Red Sea, no booming voice coming down from heaven. But God’s hand is all over the story of Ruth. We must look at the bigger picture in Ruth. It’s clear how the famine in Judah, Naomi and her family’s relocation to Moab, the return to Bethlehem and Boaz’s bloodline had a hand in Ruth’s life. The fingerprints of God are all over her life. Nothing happened by accident.
Great character must be valued: Ruth showed incredible character and integrity. She went above and beyond showing respect and honor to her mother-in-law. She did what was right, even if the logical thing for her to do was to stay in Moab. As a result, her character increased her influence on others (2:11; 4:11-12). She was humble and kept working, even after receiving favor from Boaz. And she honored her commitment to Naomi, who she told in 1:16: “For wherever you go, I will go.”
God has a Redeemer who can rescue us from sin: His name is Jesus. Why does God stick this story in between Judges and I Samuel? Because of the lineage (4:17). Ruth is in the lineage of King David. But she isn’t just David’s great-grandmother. She’s also is in the lineage of Jesus Christ (Matt. 1:5-6). Jesus is a descendant of Ruth.
Naomi claimed she was “empty” in 1:21 after she had lost everything and returned to Judah. But God redeemed her and her cup overflowed. Our sin has rendered us empty, but Jesus has redeemed us so that our cup overflows. God uses the story of Ruth to foreshadow the story of Jesus. Through the book of Ruth, we get a glimpse of what it means to be redeemed.
-- Steven Matthews