Maybe due to our romantic leanings, most women love the story of Ruth. Or it’s possibly a sign that we long for happily-ever-afters, for things to turn out right in the end… revealing that humans were created for something better, closer to the Divine image we see in the second chapter of Genesis…
But within this tiny book of four chapters there is so much more God is showing us—a massive amount of truths He wants us to discover, in applying to our own lives.
The multi-faceted, and very typical, mundane, elements in Ruth’s life point to the different qualities of God character:
by revealing the magnitude of His love for us,
the wealth of goodness awaiting those who choose in their lives to honor Him,
and they show how a Sovereign God uses the ordinary—when surrendered to Him—to accomplish the unimaginable!
Before going any farther, as a personal note, in opening God’s Word to you, I’m sharing what He has taught me through years of study. If you see something here contradicting what you’ve heard or read elsewhere, remember, great theologians disagree on some points, but the best of them agree on the main points. Please feel free to ask questions or add your comments.
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The last verse of Judges 21:25 tells us: In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
And the in the first verse of Ruth we’re told: Now it came to pass, in the days when the judges ruled…
In looking at the Biblical setting and time period, Israel continually wavered between trust and doubt, between obedience and disobedience. This nation experienced oppression by their enemies and then favor from God. Like a pendulum, back and forth, they were sometimes humble, other times not. Self-serving, self-indulging, and then repentant.
Some Bible commentators place the events of this book while judges still ruled. Others place it after the judges and even possibly during David’s younger years. (The genealogy, at least, at the end of chapter 4 would have been written during or after David’s lifetime, if the other passages were written beforehand.)
***Whether the events of Naomi’s and Ruth’s lives took place during the time of the judges or during the reign of King Saul, their story is told against the backdrop of human wickedness and moral depravity, causing the everyday events of these women’s lives to shine with the promises of God and the fulfillment of those promises.
The darker the sky, the brighter the rainbow.
Light, water, thick clouds—all are natural elements combined to create a spectacular phenomenon. I believe creation is full of spiritual analogies for the purpose of pointing us to the Creator. The Light is Jesus… the Water is the Word/God’s Truths… heavy, dark clouds are the trials of this life. Even in the storms, grace is within reach, and hope lies very near and shines bright for all who belong to Jehovah.
- Ruth 1:1-5 – … that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehem, Judah, went to dwell in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons.
When trouble came and food ran out in Israel, Elimelech relocated his family to a nearby country to provide for them.
(We do that, too. Only two examples out of many: In the 1600s pilgrims left religious persecution in Holland to make a new life in the Americas. In the 1800s and early 1900s immigrants left Europe and came to America to carve out a better living. When jobs in the cities were scarce, they worked on building the railroad from the East to the West. It’s a matter of survival.
It was common for God’s people to leave their home to escape hardship or work their vocation elsewhere. God told Joseph to take his family, Mary and Jesus, to Egypt when Herod had the baby boys killed.)
Elimelech means, My God is King. Scripture doesn’t say that Elimelech was out of God’s will, or that his death was a result of God’s judgment.
But when his sons married Moabite women, their decisions violated God’s Law (Deuteronomy 7:3 and 23:3), and it is possible God punished them for it.
As a side note, let’s look at trials:
Famine, disease, war, persecution, natural disasters—all trials, all pain, all struggle and sorrow are a result of the Fall, and a by-product of sin’s curse (Genesis 3). God is not to blame for the evil in the world, even though people are quick to judge the One who made them and loves them beyond measure. But God uses adversity to draw us closer to Him. Another reason why God allowed the enemies of Israel to torment them.
Ever since the Fall the whole creation groans and travails (labors in agony, as in childbirth) in pain (and suffering) together (Romans 8:22). All creation suffers because of sin.
Yet man is born to trouble, as the sparks fly upward. (Job 5:7)
Man who is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble. (Job 14:1)
(Job said) But He knows the way that I take: when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold. (Job 23:10)
(Jesus said) These things I have spoken unto you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)
Through trials God’s purpose is to refine. This refining process involves abrasion and/or heat—polishing through friction.
Some trials come by God’s direction to correct us and bring us back to Him.
Some trials are allowed in order to humble us, to prepare us for greater service, similar to pruning the branches of fruit trees or grape vines.
Some are the consequences of our own decisions.
Others are the result of someone else’s decisions or actions.
And some are allowed because God wants to strengthen or prove our faith.
All trials are either an opening for Satan to plant seeds of bitterness in our hearts and destroy us…
Or they’re an opportunity for God to teach us more about Him (and about others, ourselves, about life, etc.)… to seek and gain wisdom, strength, grace… and to develop endurance, which brings growth and leads to victory.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:31-39)
The lyrics to the song, When Trials Come by Keith and Kristyn Getty:
When trials come no longer fear, For in the pain our God draws near, to fire a faith worth more than gold, and there His faithfulness is told, and there His faithfulness is told.
Within the night I know Your peace, the breath of God brings strength to me. And new each morning mercy flows, as treasures of the darkness grow, as treasures of the darkness grow.
I turn to wisdom not my own, for every battle You have known, my confidence will rest in You, Your love endures, Your ways are good, Your love endures, Your ways are good.
When I am weary with the cost I see the triumph of the cross, so in its shadow I shall run, till He completes the work begun, till He completes the work begun.
One day all things will be made new, I’ll see the hope You called me to, and in Your kingdom paved with gold, I’ll praise Your faithfulness of old, I’ll praise Your faithfulness of old.
To be continued…