SET UP TO RUTH
Today the journey starts! I encourage you to become familiar with the Book of Ruth over the next few weeks. If you are ready to go deeper, you can use the text below as a commentary to the Scripture, there are a few online for free, but I also encourage you to invest in a commentary of your own. Here are a few I recommend.
The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures by Dallas Seminary Faculty [Old Testament Edition]
Holman Old Testament Commentary: Judges, Ruth
The Book of Ruth consists of four chapters and is based on the same season and setting as that of the Book of Judges (Ruth 1:1). The Book of Ruth is about a Moabitess who had married a Hebrew man living in Moab. After her husband's death, Ruth migrated with Naomi, her widowed Hebrew mother-in-law, to Bethlehem in Israel. There God providentially provided for her and led her to marry Boaz, a prosperous Hebrew farmer. Ruth became the great-grandmother of King David. She is listed in the genealogy of Christ in Matthew 1:5.
Ruth and Esther are the only two books in the Bible named for women. Esther was a Hebrew woman who married a Gentile king. Ruth, on the other hand, was a Gentile woman who married a Hebrew man. Through this book, we see that God used Ruth, a Gentile, to participate in the coming Messiah.
The characters in the Book of Ruth are Elimelech (the husband of Naomi), Naomi (the wife of Elimelech), Mahlon and Kilion (sons of Elimelech and Naomi), Oprah and Ruth (the wives of Mahlon and Kilion), and Boaz (a near relative to Elimelech). Naomi is the main character of Ruth. Naomi and Ruth return to Naomi's homeland, and Ruth helping care and provide for her mother-in-law until another provider in Boaz would come. Through this story, one sees provisions that come through unexpected ways and ultimately, the provision of the lineage of King David that ultimately leads to the coming of Jesus Christ.
This was a dark time in the land of Israel as the people of God began to depart from His will and Law, "Everyone did what was right in his own eyes" (Judges 17:6, 18:1, 19:1, and 21:25). This becomes clearer when hearing stories like that of Abimelech; he was one of Gideon's seventy sons (yes, you read that correctly) and killed all but one of his brothers (Jotham). Abimelech then established himself as a godless and bloody king (Judges 9). The Book of Ruth is a beautiful light amid complete and utter darkness. Those days were some of the darkest for Israel as they continued to depart from God and His directions. Against this background of national irresponsibility and weak character Ruth, a Moabitess, and Boaz, a Hebrew landowner, shone as bright examples of purity, faith, and responsible living. But Ruth also stands out in great contrast to her nation of Moab, which was considered as even further from God and His heart.
The writer of Ruth stressed several theological truths. Several names of God were used extensively in the book. "Lord" (Yahweh) was used 17 times, "God" (' ělōhîm) 3 times (1:16 [twice]; 2:12), and "Almighty" (šadday) twice (1:20–21). Yahweh was the name that spoke of God's essential nature as a present active force in the lives of His covenant people.
Boiling the entire book down to one word would be 'hesed.' This word is displayed repeatedly. 'Hesed' is a loyal love and unconditional love, a love that we see on display in many ways throughout the book and a foretelling of a love that comes from God to His people.
During a period of great irresponsibility in Israel's history, the Book of Ruth was a clear call to responsible living. Clearly, this message is needed today as well.
Look over this outline below and read the Book of Ruth one time through. Then begin to focus on the first point: Introduction (1:1-5). Who is in this story? What is happening? Where is this occurring? Why is this important? Soon we will look into this deeper! See you soon!
I. Introduction (1:1–5)
A. A tragic sojourn (1:1–2)
B. A depressing emptiness (1:3–5)
II. Seeking a Home by Faith (1:6–22)
A. A loving choice (1:6–18)
B. A bittersweet return (1:19–22)
III. Seeking Provisions Responsibly (chap. 2)
A. A God-guided happening (2:1–3)
B. A well-deserved kindness (2:4–17)
C. An expression of joy (2:18–23)
IV. Seeking Redeeming Love (chap. 3)
A. A plan for redemption (3:1–5)
B. A claim for redemption (3:6–9)
C. A pledge of redemption (3:10–15)
D. An anticipation of redemption (3:16–18)
V. Receiving Redemption's Loving Rewards (4:1–13)
A. A refusal of redemption (4:1–8)
B. An accomplished redemption (4:9–12)
C. A rewarded redemption (4:13)
VI. Conclusion (4:14–21)
A. A joyful filling (4:14–17)
B. A surprising genealogy (4:18–21)