Session 21: Ruth
So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. Then he went to her, and the LORD enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son. Ruth 4:13
Key verses: Ruth 4:10-13
Timeline: about 1300-1050 BC. During the nearly 400-year time of the Israelites entering the land, the areas were ruled by Egypt who built a great canal from the Nile to the Red Sea, King Tutankhamen rules briefly, and cats are domesticated and considered royal. The Iron Age is growing, music notes are developed, and the influence of Greece is gaining in prominence.
Key personalities: Ruth, Naomi, and Boaz
Ruth is a short Book after Judges that takes place in the same time period of man's disobedience, bloodshed, and God's judgment. It portrays a striking distinction to Judges with a story of redemption, faith, and romance. This story showcases Israel's sin and corruption and refusal to do the right things. Then, a hero--a man of faith--conviction and character, Boaz, emerges to save the day. Ruth, not a Hebrew, was from one of the enemy people groups, the Moabites; yet, her loyalty to her Hebrew mother-in-law, Naomi, paved the way for her faith in God.
The Book of Ruth offers a striking contrast to the Book of Judges, but its story is associated with the same period. In Judges, national sin and corruption portray a dark picture. The story of Ruth the Moabitess and her loyalty and devotion to Naomi, her Hebrew mother-in-law, presents the reader with a picture of the nobler side of Hebrew life in the days of the judges.
Some scholars say Ruth was during the time of the prophet Samuel and Saul and the early rein of David around 1050 BC. This may be plausible due to the portrayal of good relationships between Moabites and the Israelites that was not there during the Judges. The term during the Judges in the first chapter possibly refers to the instability of the late period of Saul's reign. However, the main problem is that Ruth is also the great grandma to King David. History and textual criticism/debate aside, this book shows us the character of our God as the Redeemer (Judges 21:25; 1 Samuel; Ruth 4:7).
Key Happenings, Love and Redemption!
This is a love story--love for people and God's unfailing love--and a description of how God cares for those who love and trust in Him. It follows the adventures of three principle characters, Ruth, Naomi, and Boaz. Ruth, a grieving widow, was in a state of loss and confusion. She felt helpless and hopeless, but turned from her false gods to pursue the One True God. Even though she was not a Jew, she remained faithful to God. God looked beyond Naomi's sin, because of her faith in Him, and worked it out for good as He does with us. God protected Naomi and Ruth, who is an alien, through many harsh trials and tribulations. God blessed Ruth's faithfulness and brought to her a new and better husband, Boaz. God even allowed her to be in the genealogy of Jesus. Naomi, at first, was bitter and did not want to take Ruth back with her, but she learned about faith and received blessings for her faithfulness, too. Boaz was a relative of Naomi, and culturally, held the position to redeem her, which meant to take care of her, which he did. In the process, both he and Ruth remained faithful to God, and took their time to get to know one another before falling in love. This book shows us the importance of faith and commitment.
· Ruth. She lived a life of real, effectual faith. She was a Moabite, a descendant of Lot and a non-Jew, who was under a curse "Moab," who was of unclean Gentile blood, but whose lineage birthed David and the Lord Jesus. This is an example of God's faithfulness to the faithful and how He Redeems, showing that God is indeed a friend of the humble, poor, and obscure, and He favors faith over pedigree-even those who "corrupted" the royal blood line with Gentile blood (Ruth, Duet. 23:3-5; Matt. 1:5).
· Naomi. She was Ruth's mother-in-law, a Jewess, who lived in Moab, married a Gentile, had sons and lost them all to war. She was led by family traditions to go back to her homeland, thereby exercising faith, too. Naomi trusted God even though she sinned against God by leaving her homeland in the first place and marrying a Gentile.
· Boaz. He was a man of integrity who had the opportunity to take advantage of a young, pretty widow. Instead, he chose righteousness as he protected Ruth, and looked after her needs. He made an extremely difficult situation for her by not seeking his comfort or lust, and, eventually enjoyed a beautiful marriage. If he had chosen the way of the world, he could never have had a good, enduring relationship with Ruth. Ruth, who remained faithful, would also have missed out on the relationship (Ruth 2:20; 3:10-11).
· Kinsman-Redeemer. This was Boaz duty for his, Naomi's, family. This meant he was a close relative whose call and obligation was to come to the aid of a family member in distress. According to Levitical Law, he could redeem property, family members sold into slavery, assets such as farm animals, and he could care for a widow, or orphans, and such. This alludes to the promise of God. However, in practice, this rarely occurred, because greed usually took over and people took advantage of the weak and helpless. This is one of the main reasons God judged the Israelites and sent then into captivity, as found in the book of Jeremiah (Lev. 25:25-34; 27:9-33 Deut. 18:15;; Ruth 4:6-8; Psalm 2:7; Isa. 42:1).
· Redemption means to flee a slave or here a piece of property by paying the price for it. This is about the forgiveness we receive; that God redeems Israel and He redeems us by paying for our sins by what Christ has done through His shed blood (Rom. 8:23; 1 Cor. 4:8-13; Gal. 6:12; Eph. 1:7; 2:13-16; Col. 1:14, 21-22; 2:13, 17, 20; 3:9-10; Heb. 9:14; 1 Pet. 1:19).
· Famine in God's promised land flowing with milk and honey? Yes, He gave the promise of wealth but with the caveat of obedience that was not adhered to by the people (Ex. 3:8; Deut. 28)
Allow the precepts of this neglected book from God's Word to motivate you on the importance of love and romance, and character, commitment, and the value of a lasting growing relationship. Allow this book to warn you of the mistake and regret that Solomon made by not following his own wise advice. Do not be the person who looks back at his or her life with shame and regret. Yes, God will forgive; but, why put yourself in that position? Be committed, be romantic, and be the Christian who loves and is loved (Prov. 5:20)!
Ruth is about the call to keep God's standards! Even when no one else will. Ruth took a great leap of faith and turned from her near hopeless situation to a wonderful, prosperous life filled with blessings, and a lasting legacy. Ruth lost her husband; her sister-in-law lost hers, too. But, Ruth put her faith in God, and she was not even a Jew! She, with her mother-in-law Naomi's leading, left Moab, and went back to Israel. She committed herself to integrity and caught the eye of a godly man who redeemed her and later became her husband. Ruth was willing and able to yield to God's standards and keep them. As a result, her life was for the better-as yours will be, too!
Keeping God's standards enables us to receive His best for us, because we will avoid the pitfalls and traps that lead us to become lost in sin. This is also so true in our sexuality! When there is physical intimacy without a permanent commitment, the hurt will extend to God, to you, and to your future spouse (Ruth 4:8-10; Prov. 6:25-29; Matt. 5: 27-32; 19:4; Rom. 1: 27; 8; Eph. 4:19-24; Eph. 5:22-33; Col. 3:5; 1 Thess. 4:3-8; 1 Peter 3:7-12; 1 John 2:16-17)!
Christ is our Redeemer, and He does not take advantage of us or let us rot, as we deserve. In our dating and marriage relationships, we should also look to Boaz's example, who was a righteous gentleman. We can look at Ruth's example--a woman of faithfulness and patience. Boaz took it slow, got to know Ruth, and did not take advantage of her. This led to a better, stronger relationship, with romance and love entering at its proper time and place. In addition, Ruth did not fall to immorality and prostitution, nor take advantage of Boaz. Ruth and Naomi were attracted to the kindness and integrity of Boaz as he treated them both well. Boaz was attracted to Ruth's humility and nobility. Thus, we are to be kind, listen, learn, not take advantage, care, share, and take care of one another! Although both were physically attractive, their attractiveness is not what caught each other's eye; nor should it be with us. We need to see the importance of nobility and authenticity, as it will pay off much better and greater than the ways of the fast world would. We are to be attracted to goodness and integrity, not looks, power, wealth, or position.
The great news is that even when life hits us hard and you have feel you have taken so much damage you cannot go on, you can get through it by trusting in Christ and being faithful. Your situation can be saved and be rebuilt better than ever! We can simply rid ourselves from self destructive behaviors by seeing God's way of:
· Grace (Colossians 4:6; Ephesians 4:32).
· Truth (Proverbs 12; John 1:14).
· Using language (Matthew 5:17-26)
· Patience (Proverbs 25:15).
· Humility (Philippians 2:3-8).
· Respectfulness (1 Peter 2:17, 1 Peter 3: 7).
· Reassurance (Proverbs 12:25-28).
· Valuing others (The Book of Ruth; Ephesians 4:11-15).
· Speaking the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15; 1 John 3:16, 1 Peter 1:22).
Simple from the concept, easy on the surface, yet tough in the practice! Can I actually do this? Is it possible? Yes, it is; or else we would not be called to do it! Just think this through; what would your life be like if you were actually putting into practice these principles in Ruth, as in "God's Way" attitudes? How would your friendships, your workplace, and your marriage improve? We can take these Scriptures and make them real in our life. We cannot just apply it to our lives; rather, apply our lives to God's Word!
When we have His picture of how life is suppose to be, we can make the determination to follow God's precepts. We can be committed to live at peace with others by putting the principles of the Fruit of the Spirit in the forefront. There will be times we cannot reconcile, but we can be determined to be peaceful (John 13:3-4; Gal. 5:19-23).
We can take these preceding Scriptures and resolve to:
· Be committed to change our attitude, allowing it to change our behavior so we model God's ways.
· Give gentle answers and not harsh attacks.
· Be instigators of reconciliation.
· Understand the other person's situation and point of view.
· Know that we are responsible and accountable for our behaviors.
· Be confessors of our sin and not allow sin to confess us.
· Understand the effect you are having on others.
· Be committed to forgiveness and let things go.
· Not allow our behaviors to be justified to us so we rationalize them as OK.
· Own up to our misdeeds by seeking to give restitution.
· Know what causes us to be hurt and angry so we do not let it fester.
· Not to deny that the other person is of value to God, so they can be of value to us.
· See the hope He has for us so we see it in all situations.
· Be interested in others' interests and opinions.
· Be grateful for what Christ did for us, so we can respond in kind to others.
· Be committed to be a listener and understand the other person.
· Remember what love is all about!
Key Takeaway: This Book gives us a glimpse of Redemption and love, God's love to us and our love to one another, romance and what Christ will do. The call is to know the Scriptures and keep God's precepts, so we can know God's will and what is best. By knowing God's best for you, you can then make a commitment to it, because it is in your best interest, too. Remember, it was rough for a while for Ruth, too. We can walk with God, hold to His principles and receive Hs blessings even in dire times. The theme of Redemption is how God forgiveness our sins, by giving us a "pardon" by grace alone and grants us a "remission of our sins." (Psalm 103:12; Micah 7:19; 2 Cor. 5:19-21; Rom. 8:12-14; Eph. 1:7).
The foreshadow of Jesus Christ. Christ is our ultimate Kinsman-Redeemer, as He represents humanity and our bloodline (Mathew. 1:1-17; Galatians 4:4; Heb. 2:16-17). He represents our need (John 10: 15-18; 1 John 3:16), and He has the resources (1 Corinthians 6:20; 1 Peter 1:18-19).
Questions to Ponder
1. What does a hero, a person of faith, conviction and character look like to you?
2. What did you think about the Book of Ruth? Why did God include this story in His Word?
3. How is Ruth a story of redemption, faith and romance?
4. Did you notice that Naomi, at first, was bitter and did not want to take Ruth back with her? What caused her to learn about faith and then received blessings?
5. How have you seen God care for those who love and trust in Him? Why did He bless Ruth's faithfulness?
6. What do you do in extremely difficult situations? How do you feel when someone makes it easier for you?
7. What is a Kinsman-Redeemer? Why is this important? How is this a picture of what Christ has done for us?
8. How does sin and corruption and refusal to do the right things hurt people? What can the church do?
9. What can you do to develop and hone character and commitment? How would this help you with lasting growing relationships?
10. What would the world look like if the Church was better at training its people, us, to be kind, listen, learn, not take advantage, care, share, and take care of one another?
11. What can your church d to help you keep God's standards, even when no one else is doing so?
12. Ruth was willing and able to yield to God's standards and keep them. What can you learn from this? In what situation do you need to put this into practice? What will be the result?
© 2013 R. J. Krejcir, Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries www.intothyword.org