The book of Ruth
Consider the short Old Testament book of Ruth. Why is the book of Ruth important?
The story is a great one tucked in between Judges and I Samuel. You can miss it if you are flipping through the pages of your Bible too quickly.
At the same time, the book of Ruth has been called one of the most beautiful pieces of literature ever written. Ruth and her mother-in-law Naomi set out from the land of Moab as a result of famine. They journey from Moab to Bethlehem and arrive at the beginning of the harvest. Naomi had originally been from Bethlehem. Ruth was a Moabite; a foreigner.
In the first chapter of Ruth we find some beloved words. Naomi tells Ruth that she doesn’t have to leave her home and go with her, but Ruth says, “Do not press me to leave you or to turn back from following you! Where you go, I will go; where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people and your God my God.” So they journey together.
Ruth reads like a short story and the end result is that Ruth meets and marries Boaz. The story starts out with a famine and ends with a wedding. It’s a great story!
But why is the book of Ruth important? Well, for one thing, it shows us the importance of human friendship and love. We see the friendship of Naomi and Ruth and the love of Ruth and Boaz. As a result we have the opportunity to reflect on how friendship and love are gifts from God. A person once asked a congregation to write down, “I thank God every time I think of you…” and then a name, and another name, and then another. He imagines people being asked about the list of names and responding, “Well, now it’s just some names of folks I worked with and folks who helped me. This is a group of people that, if it weren’t for them, I’d have never made it.”
Whose names would you write down after the words, “I thank God every time I think of you…”? The book of Ruth leads us to reflect how God can be active in human relationships.
Even beyond that, the book of Ruth is important because it reveals some key information about God’s plan of salvation. Ruth is in the family tree of Jesus.
We clearly find out the importance of Ruth when we get to the end of this short Old Testament book: Ruth marries Boaz, and they have a son named Obed. As time passes by, Obed has a son named Jesse. Later, Jesse has a son named David.
So it is that Ruth is the great-grandmother of David, who becomes King of Israel, and is the line from which comes Jesus the Christ. From the family of Ruth and Boaz comes THE Redeemer. The book of Ruth shows that God’s plan is to restore, repair, reconcile.