As we turn the page in our Bibles to the Book of Ruth we are still in the days of the Judges but the Holy Spirit gives us a glimpse behind the scenes, as it were, which is very different to that which we saw yesterday.
It is as if history moves on two levels. That which is obvious as people go about their business doing their own thing which, because of the canker of sin, more often than not ignores God and that which is hidden to most as ‘God works his purposes out as year succeeds to year’ indicating, for those who will see, that he is indeed the Sovereign God and is at work despite outward appearances.
Here in the Book of Ruth we see this at work.
was a Moabitess, a descendant of Lot and therefore not part of the line of Jacob through which God chose to bring the Saviour. Yet she features very prominently in our Advent Calendar as she has a unique place in the Genealogy of Jesus ( Matthew 1.5.)
As I can only comment briefly today, I encourage you to read the whole four chapters. Your time will be richly rewarded as you see the gracious hand of God at work in the lives of those involved.
Famine causes a Elimelech and his family from Bethlehem to go to Moab where Elimelech dies leaving Naomi a widow with two sons who marry Moabite wives but also die leaving two widows – Orpah and Ruth. Naomi, on hearing that the famine has abated in Bethlehem plans to return home and encourages her daughters-in-law to remain in Moab. Orpah chooses to do so but Ruth, with a moving statement of commitment (1.16-18) accompanies Naomi back to Bethlehem where she, Naomi, makes the sad statement “Call me Mara (bitter) for the Almighty has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the LORD has brought me back empty”
As Ruth seeks work in order to maintain herself and Naomi, Boaz comes on the scene and the rest of the book revolves around the developing relationship between him and Ruth. It is very beautiful, very pure and very circumspect and leads to marriage which in turn, three generations later, leads to the birth of David, who under God was the greatest King of Israel.
But again I am jumping the gun for we noted yesterday that when these events took place there was no king in Israel.
But today let us simply reflect on three strands in this account. The location – Bethlehem and the fact that Boaz is described as a (goel) a Kinsman-Redeemer and a word that is used to describe the relationship between him and Ruth is (hesed) covenantal (that word again) love, which Darrell Bock describes as“wrapping up in itself all the positive attributes of God: love, covenant faithfulness, mercy, grace, kindness, loyalty–in short, acts of devotion and loving-kindness that go beyond the requirements of duty,”
A beautiful and exciting insight into God’s working in fulfilling his promise to crush the serpent’s head.
And as a final thought, Ruth is brought into the genealogy of Jesus from outside– a foretaste of things to come – as we continue our trip through Advent.