Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Introduction to the Book of Ruth

For this introduction to Ruth , I'm sitting here wondering how to give you the important points of this book without making it boring--because it isn't boring at all. But when facts are lined up in a row, it can be more than anyone is willing to read. Hopefully, you'll take the time to look closely at these facts--so here goes.

1) The name "Ruth" most likely comes from a Moabite and/or Hebrew word meaning "friendship."

2) Ruth arrived in Bethlehem as a foreigner (2:10), became a maidservant (2:13), married wealthy Boaz (4:13), and was included in the physical lineage of Christ (Matt. 1:5).

3) Jewish tradition credits Samuel as the author of the book of Ruth and the book most likely appeared shortly before or during David's reign in Israel (1011-971 B.C.), since David is mentioned but Solomon isn't.

4) Goethe labeled the book of Ruth as "the loveliest, complete work on a small scale." Ruth is to literature what Venus is to statuary and the Mona Lisa is to paintings.

5) The book of Ruth begins in Moab--a country east of the Dead Sea and a perennial enemy of Israel. This country originated when Lot fathered Moab by an incestuous union with his oldest daughter (Gen. 19:37).

6) Balak, king of Moab, opposed the Jews through the prophet Balaam. Moab oppressed Israel for 18 years during the time of the judges. Saul defeated the Moabites while David seemed to enjoy a peaceful relationship with them. Moab later troubled Israel again, and was eventually cursed by God because of their idolatrous worship of Chemosh.

7) This story takes place during the time "when the judges ruled," and the period of Ruth would most likely be during the judgeship of Jair (1126-1105 B.C.). 

8) Ruth covers about 11 or 12 years when broken up this way: 10 years in Moab,  several months in Boaz's field, one day in Bethlehem and one night at the threshing floor, and a year in Bethlehem.

9) Genealogically, Ruth looks back almost 900 years to events in the time of Jacob and forward about 100 years to the coming reign of David. Ruth focuses on the lineage of David back to the patriarchal era.

10) At least 7 major theological themes can be taken from Ruth:
  1. Ruth the Moabitess illustrates that God's redemptive plan extended beyond the Jews to Gentiles.
  2. Ruth demonstrates that women are co-heirs with men of God's grace and salvation.
  3. Ruth portrays the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31:10.
  4. Ruth describes God's sovereign and providential care of seemingly unimportant people at apparently insignificant times which later prove to be monumentally crucial to accomplishing God's will.
  5. Ruth, along with Tamar, Rahab, and Bathsheba, stand in the genealogy of the messianic line.
  6. Boaz, as a type of Christ, becomes Ruth's kinsman-redeemer.
  7. Christ's right as the Messiah is traced from David's right to the throne of Israel through Judah.
There are other facts and details which I'm leaving for you to look at on your own, but these are interesting thoughts on Ruth that make us aware of its message for us today. May God bless our hearts and minds with the willingness to absorb the teachings of the book of Ruth.