Tuesday, March 7, 2017
Daily reading assignment: Ruth 1-4
The Book of Ruth is a beloved book of God’s people and of particular interest to Jews and Christians because it establishes the genealogy of King David as a descendant of the tribe of Judah, the royal tribe of which Jesus Christ would be born. We read in Matthew 1:5-6, “And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth [the subject of today’s Bible reading]; and Obed begat Jesse; 6 And Jesse begat David the king…”
The Book of Ruth is a bridge between two eras, from the time when judges ruled Israel, but before kings reigned in the land. It is a testimony of God’s sovereignty… overruling in the affairs of man and providentially working out His will through the frailty of human decisions.
The book of Ruth is often described as a book of “Redemption”, for it explains how Ruth, a Gentile Moabite woman who had no right of inheritance among God’s people, came to be named in the lineage of Christ because Boaz, a wealthy Jewish man, paid the price of her redemption and took her as his wife.
The opening verses of the Book of Ruth introduce us to a family, Elimelech and his wife Naomi, and a nation in the midst of a crisis (“there was a famine in the land”) that demands a response of faith and obedience. Failing to respond to the famine in faith, Elimelech leads his family to Moab and away from God, His people, and the Land of their inheritance (Ruth 1:2). Elimelech’s fateful decision ends with him and his two sons who had married Moabite women, dying in Moab (1:3-5), leaving Naomi and the wives of her sons’ widows.
What a miserable fate Naomi had suffered during her ten-year sojourn in Moab! She had become a childless widow in a foreign land and was left in poverty and despair. A glimmer of hope reached Naomi in Moab when we read: “Then she arose with her daughters in law, that she might return from the country of Moab: for she had heard in the country of Moab how that the LORD had visited his people in giving them bread” (Ruth 1:6).
Ruth determined to return to Israel and, knowing Moabite women would have no place in Israel, she encouraged her daughter-in-laws to find Moabite husbands (Ruth 1:7-9). When Orpah and Ruth, Naomi’s daughter-in-laws, insisted on returning with her, she counseled them it was an unwise decision (1:10-12). Orpah heeded Naomi’s counsel and returned to Moab (1:13-15); however, Ruth clinged to Naomi, refusing to depart. Ruth’s love for Naomi inspired one of the most beautiful confessions of faith in the Bible (Ruth 1:16-17).
Ruth 1:16-17 – And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God:
17 Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.
Naomi’s physical appearance betrayed the bitter toll of her ten-year sojourn away from the LORD and His people. When the people of Bethlehem saw Naomi, they asked, “Is this Naomi?” (Ruth 1:19).
Naomi answered their inquiries, confessing her bitter spirit toward God, she said, “20b …Call me not Naomi [pleasant], call me Mara [bitter]: for the Almighty [El Shaddai] hath dealt very bitterly with me…21b the LORD [Jehovah; Eternal, Self-existent One] hath testified [responded to her sin] against me, and the Almighty [El Shaddai—Eternal; All powerful; All Sufficient One] hath afflicted me?”” (Ruth 1:20b-21).
Time and space do not allow me to carry this story of love and grace to a proper conclusion, but I urge you to read all four chapters in the Book of Ruth. Ruth’s beauty and exceptional character captured the eye and the affections of Boaz, a wealthy kinsman of Elimelech (Ruth 2:5-17). Although Ruth was a Moabite woman and a stranger in the midst of God’s people, the LORD sovereignly led in Boaz extending his grace and love to her, acknowledging her faith in “the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust” (Ruth 2:10-18).
In Ruth 3 we read of Boaz’s proposal of marriage when he pledged his love for Ruth (3:10). Boaz’s romance of redemption is complete in Ruth 4 when he purchased the right to take Ruth as his wife (4:9). This amazing story of romance, grace, and God’s sovereignty ends stating that Ruth, a Moabite woman by birth, would be the great great-grandmother of David, Israel’s future king (4:22).
Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith