I’ve always loved the book of Ruth. I spent an entire semester on working to translate it in a Hebrew course I took in college (I won’t reveal my grade from that class). Nevertheless, the book has always intrigued me. One commentator I came upon early in my study (for our four-week series that ends this Sunday) called it “Perhaps the most beautiful short story ever written.” As you really look into the plot, background, language, and images of the book, it is hard to disagree with that assessment.
At the end of any book study I like to spend a fair amount of time reflecting on the “mega-themes” that came out of the text. Ruth was packed.
Here are a few:
1) God is sovereign.
This is everywhere throughout Ruth. It’s everywhere throughout the entire text of Scripture, but Ruth is a great short story that allows us to gaze upon the beautiful hand of God graciously and powerfully at work in the lives of Ruth, Naomi, and Boaz. I love this quote by A.W. Pink:
A “god’ whose will is resisted, whose designs are frustrated, whose purpose is checkmated, possesses no title to Deity, and so far from being a fit object of worship, merits nought but contempt.
2) God is present with us through suffering, and his plans are not frustrated even when ours are.
This is probably just another way of saying “God is sovereign.” But the presence of His sovereignty in the midst of bitter suffering is certainly a mega-theme in Ruth. Naomi deals with “a bitter providence” in the opening chapter and attributes it all to the hand of God. Thankfully, as God showers mercy and grace upon Ruth and Naomi in the rest of the book, Naomi also rightfully attributes these things to the will of God.
3) The gospel of Jesus Christ.
The book of Ruth is packed with the gospel of Jesus. The “line of the king” (that we’ll look at this coming Sunday) is set up through Ruth, and as we look at this text in light of the entire context of Scripture, we see an amazing picture of God’s redemption. We see the gospel of Jesus in Ruth 2:12, as God pours His grace and blessing on those who surrender to His pursuit. We see the gospel in the life of Boaz, a man who was the son of a redeemed pagan prostitute (Rahab), and who married a Moabite. We see God’s pursuit and the free gift of grace everywhere throughout Ruth.
4) Racial reconciliation
Ruth is constantly referred to as “Ruth the Moabite.” I brought out this point many times in the exposition of chapter two. You would figure that after reading 50+ verses about this woman that we’d be on a first name basis. Yet the author continually calls her “Ruth the Moabite” or “Ruth, who was from Moab.” God’s grace in pursuing and saving people from among every nation is clear.
And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.”
5) God’s grace in temptation, sexual purity, and personal integrity
The third chapter of Ruth really brings these themes out. Yet the goal of the author is not to teach moralism (being righteous before God because of our morals). The goal of the author is once gain to ascribe glory to God because of His gracious work in helping Boaz and Ruth to stand in righteousness in the midst of sexual temptation.
6) Redemption by the grace of God
The theme of “redemption” is everywhere in Ruth. Boaz takes on the responsibility of the “kinsman redeemer,” and the theme of God’s hand at work to bring transformation, new life, and light out of darkness is constant.
7) God is always working for His glory and our joy.
As we finish chapter four, this is clearly a mega-theme of this book. God is constantly at work, even through seemingly insignificant events in our lives, to bring glory to Himself, and joy to us.