LESSONS FROM THE BOOK OF RUTH

Did you know that there are only two books of the Bible which are named after women? Those two are Esther and Ruth.

Did you know that Ruth was a Moabite woman and not an Israelite? (Ruth 1:4).

Did you know that Ruth was the great- grandmother of King David? (Ruth 4:13,17,22).

Did you know that Ruth is mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus? (Matthew 1:5).

Did you know that all the historical events recorded in this book transpired either in Bethlehem or in the land of Moab? (Ruth (1:1,6,22).

Did you know that these events took place during “the days when the judges ruled” in Israel? (Ruth 1:1).

Though the period of Judges was a dark period in Israel’s history, the book of Ruth clearly shows that there also were some godly people living at that time. The main message of the book of Ruth centers around three such characters: (1) Ruth, a Gentile woman from Moab who married the son of Naomi; (2) Naomi, who was Ruth’s first mother-in-law; (3) Boaz, a kinsman of Naomi’s husband, who married Ruth. Here is a quick glance at the contents of the book of Ruth:

Chapter 1 – Naomi and her family went to Moab; later Naomi returned to Bethlehem with Ruth.

Chapter 2 – Ruth harvested barley in the field of Boaz.

Chapter 3 – Ruth approached Boaz about marrying her.

Chapter 4 – Boaz and Ruth married, then they had a son, Obed.

We might say that the book of Ruth is a story of love and devotion. It shows the love and devotion which Ruth and Naomi had to one another, as well as the mutual love and devotion shared by Ruth and Boaz.

In the big picture of God’s scheme of redemption, what is significant about the book of Ruth? First, it showed the Israelites that God cares for and receives not only Jews, but Gentiles, too. The fact that Ruth, a Gentile, is mentioned in Jesus’ genealogy indicates that God’s blessings for mankind through the Messiah would be open to Gentiles (Matthew 1:5). Furthermore, the book of Ruth shows the ancestry of King David, through whom the Christ would come (Ruth 4:17,22). Jesus being born in Bethlehem is connected with Joseph’s ancestors being from Bethlehem, and the background for that goes back to the book of Ruth.

What lessons can we observe in the life and conduct of Ruth? What qualities did she demonstrate which are worthy of our reflection?

Consider these thoughts, all taken from the book of Ruth:

Ruth greatly loved Naomi. Some Israelite women reminded Naomi about Ruth’s commitment to her: “. . . your daughter-in-law, who loves you, who is better to you than seven sons . . .” (4:15).

Ruth dealt kindly with her husband and mother- in-law. Naomi admitted to Ruth, “The LORD deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me” (1:8).

Ruth brought comfort and happiness to Naomi at a time when Naomi felt that the Almighty had dealt bitterly with her (Ruth 1:20). Naomi had to leave her home in Bethlehem to go to a strange land (1:1,2). There in Moab, Naomi lost her husband and two sons to death (1:3,5). She was disheartened, and Ruth was a great blessing to her in her hour of need.

Ruth was willing to sacrifice in order to help Naomi, leaving behind her parents and the land of her birth (2:11).

Ruth spoke to Naomi some of the most tender, moving words of devotion ever spoken by a human: “Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from following after you; for wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there will I be buried. The LORD do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts you and me” (1:16,17).

Ruth was very responsible, as she desired to care for Naomi. She was willing to go to work in the fields in a land that was strange to her, doing so in order to provide for her herself and her deceased husband’s mother (2:2). Not every person would be ready to “go the second mile” like Ruth did for Naomi.

In that connection, Ruth was a hard worker. In order to meet the needs of her family, she worked from morning to evening (2:3,7,17).

Ruth was humble, which she demonstrated when she bowed before Boaz as a servant, though she was not acquainted with him at the time (2:10,13).

Ruth gave up idolatry in order to serve Jehovah God. Boaz told her, “. . . and a full reward be given you by the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge” (2:12). Many find it extremely difficult to take the huge step that Ruth did.

Ruth maintained a good reputation. Boaz told her how she was viewed by others in the Bethlehem community: “. . . all the people of my town know that you are a virtuous woman” (3:11). Those who spend time in serious study of this book will be blessed!

— Roger D. Campbell

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