It's week 8, and praise God - we are not without a Redeemer....
This week we will finish Judges - that dark, dark record of Israel's history as a very young nation - and then, the book of Ruth.
I've always wondered a little about the book of Ruth. After spending so much time viewing Israel's history from a bird's-eye view, it has always seemed a little strange to suddenly zero in on one small and seemingly irrelevant family - especially when I've just left the cliffhanger that is the end of Judges, which leaves me wondering if there is any hope for Israel at all.
But this time it made perfect sense.
Just after the dark days of the judges, the days when "everyone did what was right in his own eyes" (Judges 21:25), the brief story of a hurting woman is slipped into the pages of Scripture. And though it seems at first unrelated to the national failures of God's people, in reality it is the answer to the question Judges left us with - it is the story of the hope of Israel.
Though the book is called Ruth, its story belongs to Naomi. It begins with the loss of her homeland, the loss of her family, and the loss of her future. When she finally returns to Israel, she is empty-handed and unprotected, hopeless. She has even renamed herself "Mara," meaning bitterness.
The evolution of the story into something of a romance between Ruth and Boaz makes it a very popular book, especially among women. Yet this love story is nothing like our perceptions of Disney princess fairy tales; it is so much greater. There is no flirting, no swooning, no "love at first sight" in the book of Ruth - instead, there is powerful covenant love.
This is the love that acts deliberately to meet a need simply because there is one, while expecting nothing in return.
The love that obeys God's law for the good of others even when it comes at a cost to oneself.
The love that will not let go, ever, no matter what else may change.
It's the love of Ruth for Naomi - the love of Boaz for Ruth - the love of God for Israel - the love of Christ for me.
In choosing to meet her mother-in-law's needs more than her own, Ruth helped Naomi survive as an unprotected widow in the land of Israel. In choosing to meet Ruth's needs more than his own, Boaz redeemed both Ruth and Naomi from a life of hopelessness, poverty, and peril. And in choosing to hold fast to His beloved Israel with a love that would never let her go - even when she most deserved it - God shone a glimmer of light, a droplet of hope, into the pitch-black darkness of the period of the judges.
So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife, and he went in to her. And the LORD enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son. Then the women said to Naomi, "Blessed is the LORD who has not left you without a redeemer today, and may his name become famous in Israel. . . ." Then Naomi took the child and laid him in her lap, and became his nurse. The neighbor women gave him a name, saying, "A son has been born to Naomi!" So they named him Obed. He is the father of Jesse, the father of David.
Ruth 4:13-14, 16-17
Blessed is the Lord, who has not left Naomi without a redeemer.
Tucked into the redemption story of Naomi is the redemption story of Israel - the answer to the wickedness of their nation and the cure of the sin of the world. From David, the son of Jesse, the son of Obed, a Redeemer will rise who is the Son of God.
Blessed is the Lord.
Ruth: God of Redemption
Total read time: 15 minutes
1 Samuel: God of the Throne
Total read time for 1 & 2 Samuel: 4 hours