By now, you probably know the drill. If you are new to this, this series, as you may have deciphered, is an outline of the entire Bible, book by good ol’ book. Here are the previous sections: Part 1 | Genesis, Part 2 | Exodus, Part 3 | Leviticus, Part 4.1 | Numbers 1-8, Part 4.2 | Numbers 9-19, Part 4.3 | Numbers 20-27, Part 4.4 | Numbers 28-36, Part 5.1 | Deuteronomy 1-11, Part 5.2 | Deuteronomy 12-20, Part 5.3 | Deuteronomy 21-34, Part 6.1 | Joshua 1-12, Part 6.2 | Joshua 13-19, Part 6.3 | Joshua 20-24
Part 7.1 | Judges 1-5 – After the death of Joshua and a generation of leaders, we learn that there was a new generation that came forth who did not know the Lord. This generation abandoned the Lord and served idols and absorbed the culture of strange peoples that were not “utterly” driven out from their lands. The Lord gave them into the hands of oppressors because of their unfaithfulness, which caused them to eventually turn back to the Lord. It was then that the Lord empowered a Judge to deliver them from oppression. The first Judges that we encounter include: Othniel, Ehud, Shamgar, Deborah, Barak, and Jael.
Part 7.2 | Judges 6-12 – As the book of Judges continues, we see a constant pattern of faithfulness, unfaithfulness, salvation by a Judge, and faithfulness. We are introduced to many new Judges who come from various backgrounds that bring peace upon Israel: Gideon, Tola, Jair, Jephthah, Ibzan, Elon, and Abdon. Unfortunately we also learn of Abimelech, the son of Gideon, who attempts to seize the title of “Judge” on his own! When the chapters in this section come to an end, there is no sign that this exhausting habit of the Israelites would be stopping anytime soon.
Part 7.3 | Judges 13-21 – The first 17 chapters of Judges describes a tedious cyclical pattern of the Israelites as they fell from the Lord, who would then empower judges to save them from their oppressors. Although they wavered and fell many times before, we then see a particularly wicked mindset in chapters 17-21. It is made clear that many people in the nation of Israel did not live under the authority of their Lord and King! The final chapters constantly reiterate the fact that “In those days there was no king in Israel”, which was a mindset that resulted in a horrible internal struggle!
RUTH – This book of the Bible is a gem shining from the mess of unfaithfulness and darkness that tainted the time of the Judges. It is a wonderful example of faithfulness, humility, and eternal redemption compacted into a short story of only 4 chapters! As the book begins, the stage is set in the midst of the time of Judges, in which the children of Israel had no king and “everyone did what was right in his own eyes”. Despite the circumstances , we see the light of God’s glory shine so bright that darkness could not comprehend it; we read of the great woman of God, Ruth.
As the story unfolds, a man named Elimelech of the tribe of Judah is forced to take his wife, Naomi, and two sons, Mahlon and Chilion, out of the land of the Israelites. It is immediately clear that something is wrong with the circumstances of the times because Elimelech is ironically forced to move his family out of the land that flowed with “milk and honey” because of a famine! The journey of this family ended in the foreign land of the Moabites at the start of Chapter 1, and Elimelech died some time after settling into the land leaving Naomi a widow with two sons. Naomi’s sons took wives from the Moabites, Ruth and Orpah, and after 10 years, both of Naomi’s sons died as well leaving Naomi to cope with the loss of her entire family; her husband and her children.
At this point (only 1 paragraph in) there is a clear distinction in the response to the circumstances by Naomi – a Jew of the chosen nation of Israel and Ruth – a stranger, a Gentile, from the land of Moab. Naomi decides to go back to the land of Israel because the famine has passed, and she tells both Ruth and Orpah to return to their people. At first neither of them wanted to go, but after Naomi insists saying “it is exceedingly bitter to me for your sake that the hand of the Lord has gone out against me” Orpah left, but Ruth “clung” to Naomi. Naomi expressed her distress and for both Orpah and Ruth’s situation because the Lord acted against her, but Ruth’s response is one of resolute faithfulness:
“See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall by my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. may the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” And when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more. | Ruth 1:15-18
If you really think about it, Naomi reacted in a horrible way! She actually attempted to turn her daughter-in-law back towards false gods, but Ruth, on the other hand, exhibited the faithfulness and no-turning-back-type passion that should live in the hearts of all of God’s children. So because of Ruth’s heart and determination, both Naomi and Ruth return to Bethlehem. Unfortunately, Naomi still had a heart that was lacking! Despite seeing Ruth’s commitment and faithfulness to her, she responded:
“Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went away full, and the Lord has brought me back empty…” | Ruth 1:20a
In stark contrast, Ruth was not deterred by the less than perfect circumstances of her life. She immediately, or so it seems, sprang into action seeking to provide for her mother-in-law by gathering leftover crops from the one in whose sight she should find favor! Her journey and desire to find such a man, no doubt by the grace of God, led her to a man named Boaz who showed her much favor because of the great story of her faithfulness that preceded her.
Then she fell on her face, bowing to the ground, and said to him, “Why have I found favor in your eyes, that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?” But Boaz answered her, “All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told to me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before. The Lord repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!” | Ruth 2:10-12
Shortly after their first encounter, Ruth learned from Naomi that Boaz was a relative and, more specifically, one of their redeemers (a close relative that had the duty of redeeming his brothers land/possession if circumstances led to it being lost – see Leviticus 25). And with that revelation, Boaz is suddenly transformed from a well-intentioned man to a shining archetype of the Lord Jesus Christ, our Redeemer.
This example of Christ is perpetuated both by Ruth and Boaz, but the epitome of the image occurs in chapter 3. Ruth sought out Boaz as he winnowed barley at the threshing floor. After he had gone to take rest, she came and laid down at his feet. With great humility and devotion she waits for him and when he finally sees her, she claims:
“I am Ruth, your servant. Spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer.” | Ruth 3:9
Ruth’s faithfulness was immediately recognized by Boaz on the threshing floor. Eventually Boaz redeemed the land and possession of Elimelech, his cousin and took Ruth as his wife. But their wonderful example reached much farther than the Book of Ruth. It was eternally solidified! And do you know how?
Salmon fathered Boaz, Boaz fathered Obed, Obed fathered Jesse, and Jesse fathered David. | Ruth 4:21-22
So Ruth, the foreigner – the Gentile, and Boaz, the Israelite – the Jew, were the great grandparents of King David. And do you know what that means?
And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon. And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, and Zerubabbel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, and Eliud the father of Eleazer, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph the Husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ. | Matthew 1:6-16
WOW! The story of Ruth and Boaz is a story of faithfulness and redemption at a time where it all seemed to be lacking, and the gem that is their story shines eternally through their direct descendant, Jesus Christ. What a beautiful example of our Brother and Redeemer whose Perfect Will was established before the beginning of time!
Come to the threshing floor today and lay at His feet! Let Him redeem you and write your name in the book of life for all of eternity!