But Ruth said, “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. “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.”
Ruth 1:16, 17
What an oasis is the Book of Ruth after the death valley days of the Book of Judges which depicts Israel falling further from grace embracing idolatry on a more regular basis. Judges is not a delightful read. Yes, our Lord proves over and over that He is gracious and compassionate. But it is with an almost overwhelming sadness we read that God’s chosen people keep rejecting Him and the goodness He promises preferring to give themselves over to worthless inanimate objects of idolatry. After reading Judges we welcome the fresh air of Ruth, proving that even though the nation and leadership was Hell bent, there were individuals who maintained the hope that was promised.
It is interesting that out of all the people of Israel it is a foreigner that is selected by God to continue the line of the promised seed which lead through King David down to Mary and Joseph and their son Jesus, the Messiah. This further validates the grafting in of the wild olive branch that Paul mentions in Romans 11:24, 25, and the other nation the prophets indicated that God was going to call into His fold. (Is. 55:5; Is. 65:1) No one it seems is beyond the reach of the awesome arm of the Lord.
The small Book of Ruth is a charming story of some good people who loved God and their nation and lived honorably. Not dependent on the life she was used to in Moab, not clinging to her own people and way of life and culture, she recognized something greater in Naomi and her family. That must have been quite a witness, but Ruth had a heart to see it while Orpah did not. It is extremely difficult to see beyond one’s own comfort level, look beyond the horizons that make up your world, and see things that are not granted to most. Ruth saw and it changed her life dramatically. It is especially difficult in the midst of heartbreaking circumstances as the death of most of your loved ones. But if one is careful enough to listen the call of God’s grace may be heard.
Another interesting point is that Boaz lived in Bethlehem, which is where his descendants Mary and Joseph must return for the census of Caesar Augustus, required to return to their ancestral home. This is further confirmation of the prophets mentioning the Messiah was to come from this town. (Micah 5:2)
I recommend reading this book in one sitting. That’s easily accomplished since its only four chapters long. Its a sweet story, a feel good story, love and devotion conquers all and becomes a blessing to boot! And as you read through Judges, Ruth, and Samuel, it is a refreshing break between some painful events in the life and death of the nation of Israel.
[Scriptures taken from the New American Standard Bible © 1995]