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Ruth

Themes of Old Testament Books—Law or Torah

  • Genesis: Beginnings
  • Exodus: Redemption
  • Leviticus: Reconciliation
  • Numbers: Divine Discipline
  • Deuteronomy: Choose Life

Themes of Old Testament Books—History

  • Joshua: Holy War
  • Judges: Syncretism, Oppression, and Grace
  • Ruth: Grace Kinsman-Redeemer

Place in the Hebrew Bible

  • The Law
  • The Prophets
  • The Writings include Ruth

Background to Events

  • The Israelites were living in the land after the conquest under Joshua.
  • The Israelites failed to root out the Canaanites and took on their pagan beliefs and practices.
  • There was no strong and righteous leadership in Israel except for the occasional judge-administrators-military leader.
  • But there were pockets of godly believers in Israel—Boaz was one.
  • In the ancient Middle East widows had a very difficult time living.
  • God commanded His people to care for widows and orphans (Deuteronomy 24.19-22).
  • God commanded His people to leave some of their fields unharvested so that the poor and strangers could gather grain for their food (Leviticus 19.9, 10; 23.22).

When Did All This Happen?

  • The events of Ruth took place during the period of the Judges (Ruth 1.1).
  • Ruth and Boaz lived sometime around 1125 BC (Ruth 4.21-22).
  • The book was likely written during the reign of David or Solomon (Ruth 4.22, David is in the tribe of Judah, the king tribe).

Story

  • Because of a famine in the Bethlehem area, Elimelech took his wife, Naomi, and their two sons, Mahlon and Chilion, and emigrated to Moab, about 50 miles away. The sons married Moabite wives, Ruth and Orphah. All three men died in Moab, so once Naomi heard that the famine was over she went back to Bethlehem.
  • Ruth, out of loyalty to Naomi and the Lord, returned to Bethlehem with her.
  • Elimelech had left land in Bethlehem, but someone in the family had to redeem it for the family.
  • God used Ruth’s need for a protector to bless her and to continue the Messiah’s genealogy.
  • Naomi sent Ruth out to gather grain at Boaz’ farm. He was a relative of Elimelech who was wealthy enough to redeem the property and keep it in the family.
  • Boaz also could redeem Ruth by marrying her. So, Naomi instructed Ruth on the proper protocol for asking Boaz to redeem her. Boaz held back because there was a closer relative who would have first choice. This unnamed relative gave up his right to redeem Ruth.
  • Boaz redeemed Ruth by marriage. God blessed Ruth and Boaz with a son, Obed, who became the grandfather of David.

Ruth Key Verse 1, Ruth 2.12

  • Ruth 2:12 "May the Lord reward your work, and your wages be full from the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to seek refuge." 

Ruth Key Verse 2, Ruth 3.11

  • Ruth 3:11 "Now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you whatever you ask, for all my people in the city know that you are a woman of excellence."

Theme: Grace Kinsman-Redeemer

  • Ruth trusted God during undeserved suffering to provide His best for her. God blessed Ruth’s faithfulness to Him and to Naomi by guiding her to Boaz’ field where she gathered grain and met Boaz’, who soon redeemed her by marriage. God further blessed Ruth by placing her in the lineage of the Messiah.

Overview Outline

  • Bethlehem to Moab and Back, 1
  • Boaz and Ruth, 2-4

Chapter Titles

  • Chapter One: Famine, death, and loyalty
  • Chapter Two: Ruth gathers grain
  • Chapter Three: Ruth at Boaz’ feet
  • Chapter Four: Boaz redeems Ruth

Main People

  • Elimelech, of the tribe of Judah, was Naomi’s husband who took his wife and two sons to Moab during a famine in Bethlehem, is found 6 times (Ruth 1.2, 3; 2.1, 3; 4.3, 9).
  • Naomi, a widow and mother-in-law of Ruth, is mentioned 22 times (Ruth 1.2, 3, 8, 11, 19, 20, 21, 22; 2.1, 2, 6, 18, 20, 22; 3.1; 4.3, 5, 9, 14, 16, 17).
  • Ruth, a Moabite widow, is mentioned 12 times (Ruth 1.4, 14, 16, 22; 2.2, 8, 21, 22; 3.9; 4.5.10.13).
  • Boaz, a relative of Elimelech, of Judah’s tribe, is mentioned 20 times. He redeems Ruth (Ruth 2.1, 3, 4, 5, 8, 11, 14, 15, 19, 23; 3.2, 7; 4.1, 5, 8, 9, 13, 21).

Key Words Used

  • Bethlehem (Ruth 1.1, 2, 19, 22; 2.4; 4.11).
  • Ephrathahà Ephrathite was another name for the region of Bethlehem (Genesis 48.7 and Micah 5.2; Ruth 1.2).
  • Moab was the area north and east of the Dead Sea. The people descended from Lot and his older daughter who had fled Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19.30-38). Her son was Moab. The Moabites fought Israel throughout their history. Moabites were forbidden to become part of the Israelite covenant community and worship life (Deuteronomy 23.3-6). Same held true for the Ammonites.
  • Redeem, 12 times (Ruth 3.13; 4.4, 6, 14). Strong #1350. ga’al to redeem, act as kinsman-redeemer, avenge, revenge, ransom, do the part of a kinsman who acts as protector or guarantor of family rights. Also Job 5.20; 19.25; Ps 44.26; Isaiah 43.14).
    • to buy back property that the family had sold.
    • to provide an heir for a deceased brother by marrying that brother’s wife and producing a child with her.
  • Redeem, 12 times (Ruth 3.13; 4.4, 6, 14).
    • to buy back a family member who had been sold into slavery due to poverty;
    • to avenge a relative who had been murdered by killing the murderer.
      • The Scripture calls God the Redeemer or the "close relative" of Israel (Is. 60:16), and Jesus the Redeemer of all believers (1 Pet. 1:18, 19).
      • Nelson Study Bible, Ruth 3.13

Let’s see Ruth’s Theme

  • Ruth remains loyal to Naomi and Israel’s God (Ruth 1.16-18; 2.11-12).
  • Ruth trusts God, during undeserved suffering, to provide His best for her (Ruth 1.16-17; 2.1-3, 7, 10, 14; 3.9-10, 14, 18).
  • God graciously provides Ruth a kinsman-redeemer husband, Boaz, who redeems Ruth and the family property (Ruth 2.3, 8-17; 3.9-13; 4.8-13).
  • God puts Ruth in the lineage of the Messiah (Ruth 4.13-22).

Key Doctrines

  • The LORD, Israel’s God, honored Ruth’s faith in Himself. She believed that God would provide for her care and God’s choice for a redeemer-husband (Ruth 1.16-17; 2.3, 10-13; 3.18).
  • Grace takes precedence over law. Ruth, a Moabite widow, becomes the great-grandmother of King David and is listed in Christ’s genealogy (Ruth 1.4; 2.6-8, 12, 21; 3.10-14; 4.8-22).
  • Grace can remove bitterness. Naomi saw God work in Ruth’s life and it changed her attitude (Ruth 1.12-13, 20; 2.18-20; 4.13-17).
  • Kinsman-Redeemer (2.19-20; 3.12-14; 4).

Lessons For Us Today

  • God’s grace overcomes our past and our heritage to bless faithful believers (Philippians 3).
  • Christ’s redemption of mankind is illustrated by Boaz redemption of Ruth (Galatians 3.13; Ephesians 1.7; 1 Timothy 2.4-6; Titus 2.14; 1 Peter 1.18).
  • God will provide His best for the believer trusting Him when facing undeserved suffering (Romans 8.28-32; 1 Peter 5.6-11; Philippians 4.19). How do we face undeserved suffering?
    • Elimelech: by escaping or running to details of life?
    • Naomi: by existing or resentfully putting up with it?
    • Ruth: by enlisting the suffering for blessing and applying our spiritual resources to gain God’s good?

Lessons for Us Today, 1 Peter 5.6-11

  • Mental attitude humility (Humble yourselves, authority and grace orientation).
  • Faith in the Father’s person and work (casting).
  • Faith application of word of God (sober and alert) Undeserved suffering and testing (adversary’s attacks (resist him).
  • The Father builds us into mature believers able to enjoy His blessings (perfect, confirm, strengthen, establish).

Four Questions to Ask

  • Am I believing in Jesus Christ to give me eternal life (John 3.16-18; 20.31; Romans 6.23)?
  • Am I walking in fellowship with God (1 John 1) and living by faith, by the Holy Spirit, in the Word of God, and in love (Galatians 2.20; 5.5; 2 John 4-6)?
  • Do I accept the fact that what I believe is more important that how I feel (Psalm 13)?
  • Am I watching for the good (the blessing) that God is working out in my life and testing (Romans 8.28)?

"Sanctify them in the truth; Thy word is truth." John 17.17