God uses a faithful non-Israelite to bring restoration to his people.
The book of Ruth is a beautifully-crafted look at how God’s good purpose interplays with human decision. It’s a tale of love, loss, faithfulness, and redemption.
The Faithful Gentile
Picking up "in the days when the judges ruled," the book of Ruth tells the story of Naomi, the Moabite widow Ruth, and the farmer Boaz. The four chapters of the book are each designed with intentional symmetry. The first and last chapters reflect how loyalty turned this story of tragedy and death into a story of joy and birth. The inner chapters show how Naomi and Ruth make a plan, followed by an encounter between Ruth and Boaz, followed by Naomi and Ruth rejoicing.
Curiously, God is hardly mentioned in the book of Ruth. At a time when we look for God to be active through a judge or king, God instead works out his will through the everyday faithfulness of his people. This faithfulness not only benefits Naomi and her family but goes on to bless the world through the family of David, the line from which the Messiah would eventually come.
Tragedy and Death
Naomi and her family go to Moab during a time of famine. Her sons marry Moabite women, but they and their father die in Moab. Naomi counsels her daughters-in-law to leave, but Ruth shows loyalty to Naomi.
The Man of Noble Character
In need of food, Ruth gleans barley from the field of a man named Boaz, who turns out to be Naomi’s kinsman redeemer. This is a person who would marry a widow in order to preserve the family line.
The Woman of Noble Character
Naomi and Ruth hatch a plan to get Boaz to notice Ruth. Going to Boaz, Ruth asks Boaz to redeem the family and marry her. Boaz notices her noble character and agrees. Ruth and Naomi celebrate!
Joy and Birth
Boaz mirrors Ruth’s act of loyalty by marrying Ruth in the presence of the city elders. Their marriage produces joy and birth, becoming the lineage of King David, from whom the Messiah would come.
Epilogue and Prologue
The book of Ruth ends with a geneology, showing how this Moabite widow became the great-grandmother of King David. We see God's saving purposes for the entire nation brought about through simple faith.
You can read so many of the books of the Old Testament looking for a great children’s tale suitable for bedtime stories, and if this is all you‘re looking for, it’s all you will find. However, below the surface, there is so much more....