There are a few books of the Bible that we might read and wonder – “Why is this in here? What is God communicating and teaching us through this book?”
We can get turned around by the imagery and allegory of the Song of Solomon, confused by the laws and census data in Numbers, or lost in the seemingly disconnected history of Esther and Ruth, which is where we find ourselves today.
At first glance, Ruth may seem to be a disconnected story, but it’s really an integral part of what God was doing in redemptive history. Let me show you how:
The participation of Ruth in the broader Biblical narrative is definitely understated, and mostly takes place in the very beginning and very end of the book, in the genealogies that we so often gloss over.
First, the author spends the opening section of Ch. 1 reaching backwards through a genealogy, and very clearly introduces Ruth as a Moabite woman. This certainly seems like a random detail, until we get to the very end of the book. Ch. 4 ends by reaching forwards in Ruth’s genealogy, and identifies her as the great-grandmother of David, the future King of Israel. And that’s a big deal.
The inclusion of Ruth in the genealogy of David, through the powerful and purposeful providence of God, goes a long way in explaining how Israel was meant to interact with the Gentiles. In the same way that Rahab hid the spies in Jericho, and was welcomed into the people of Israel, so Ruth, a Moabite, was not only welcomed into Israel, but became great-grandmother of King David. Gentiles are meant to be part of the kingdom of God – and as a Gentile – I praise God for that!
Ruth’s story also reminds us that God gladly works through women to accomplish his purposes. The Bible is full of stories of God working through unlikely women, through their barrenness, Gentile lineage, poverty, and a whole list of other human limitations, to do amazing things for the kingdom of God. And we ought to celebrate the gifts and contributions of Godly women in our midst, whom the Lord uses to do great things!
Finally, the story of Ruth is a gospel redemption story. Ruth had no claim upon Boaz. He was not required to redeem her, or provide for her and Naomi. But he did.
Boaz serves as a type, or a model, of Christ, because Jesus redeems us in the same way. We have no claim upon Christ, we do not deserve redemption, and Jesus is not obligated to give it. But he does.
Praise God that:
“By grace you have been saved through faith.
And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God!” (Eph 2:8)
Lord would you help us to see how you are working, your redemptive history, everywhere in Scripture. Thank you for the story of Ruth, who demonstrates so well our need for redemption. And for Boaz, who shows us how our redemption in Christ is an undeserved, and unearned gift of grace. Lord we thank you that you worked through even Ruth, a poor gentile woman, to accomplish your great purposes. Would we submit our lives to you, that you would be able to accomplish great things through us, by your powerful and purposeful providence. Amen.