I just finished an exposition of the book of Judges. My church, including me, is ready for a new book. We are tired. We are ready for some lighter more positive truth. I loved my study of Judges, and I have heard many people have benefited from Judges, especially how the storyline and the judges themselves foreshadowed Jesus or at least the need for Jesus, but it is packaged in dark truth, and one can only take so much of dark truth. There is only one book of Judges in the Bible, and for divinely intended good reason. It reveals a world apart from God. It shows hell.
However, what God wants more than anything is for us to delight in the prospect of heaven, where Jesus is the hero, the exalted one, the treasure of the faithful. And, while it took a meandering path to get us there, Judges ultimately wants this for us as well, and that is why the little book of Ruth is very purposely positioned right next to it. Ruth is where we are going now for the next five weeks. Ruth is the thin yet very bright light, piercing the darkness in Judges.
Ruth has some main themes running through it, the most important being the theme of Redeemer and redemption. But, let me give you a roadmap of some key themes to be looking out for:
1. God loves the nations. Ruth is not an Israelite. She is a Moabite woman. This nation is an enemy of God, with a history of standing against Israel. And yet, this Moabite woman is one of the main characters…on purpose. God is saying something through the fact that she is a gentile woman, barren, widowed, poor, and generally hopeless. God loves the least of these. He loves the nations!
2. Faithfulness. Ruth is faithful. She could have left her widowed mother in law, Naomi, but she didn’t. She became loyal to Naomi’s God and therefore to Naomi. In a role reversal, Ruth adopts her mother in law and provides for her. Ruth is faithful.
3. God provides redemption in unusual ways. There are several ironic and unexpected twists in Ruth. Look for them. Savor them. Learn from them. Be reminded that God still does that in our lives. Know that the incarnation and cross are the most ultimate form of ironic redemption.
4. Those who know they bring nothing to the table are those who see their need for grace. Ruth is a paradigm of the one who is poor in spirit, who mourns, and therefore is blessed.
5. Kinsman Redeemer. Boaz is obviously a main character, too. He is charming. He is good. He is faithful. He has the heart of God. He is a pointer to Jesus, the greater and truer Boaz.
6. God is at work above and beyond us, even when we can’t see it right now or even in our lifetimes. Ruth is a book that is important in and of itself. But, it is also a bridge to the life of David, which is in turn a bridge to the life of Jesus. Who would have known any of this if God had not graciously preserved and recorded it in his word? God is doing a great work through our lives, too. Believe it. It is true. You will see it one day with the panoramic view you will have in heaven.
7. Marriage is a sermon of the gospel. God is the best romance writer there is. He invented it. Of course it is moving that a powerful man who is good redeems a widow’s life. He is the strong one. She is in the place of weakness. He gives her grace, worth, and love. She trusts him and casts herself at his mercy. He redeems her. That is the gospel.
OK. Those are some of the bigger themes. Please read through the book. It is short. Just four chapters. Savor this story.