READING THROUGH THE BIBLE: 2008
THE BOOK OF RUTH
July 1-2

Ruth has 4 chapters.
If you read 3 chapters a day
you will finish the book in 2 days
(Actually you will be able to finish this short book in less than a day)
 
In Hebrew - Meanings of these names have prophetic underpinnings:

Bethlehem: House of Bread (Fruitful, prosperity)
Moab: From her father (pointing to the origin of incest)
Elimelech: My God is King (Israel)
Naomi: Pleasant, also beautiful (Israel)
Mahlon: Sickly (afflicted, grieved)
Chilon: Pining away (withering, failing, being consumed)
Orpah means: Stiff necked or back of the neck (Towards God and Israel)
Ruth: Friend, companion, kindness (Towards God, Israel and her future husband)
Boaz means: Fleetness, nimble, swiftness or speed (To obey God)
 
The last verse in the book of Judges reveals much about the book of Ruth. But, Ruth is also an amazing love story of friendships, marriage and God's love for man. In it we see the love between:

Naomi and Ruth
Ruth and Boaz
God and Israel
God and mankind
 
"In those days there was no king in Israel: Every man did that which was right in his own eyes." Judges 21:25
 
As we begin Ruth we see the time frame is still in the days of the Judges. We saw God appoint the first  and only woman judge: Deborah,  as a prophetess and judge of Israel. She was the only one, which makes it very significant.
 
Now in Ruth, three women are brought to the forefront of Old Testament Scriptures by the death of their husbands while they lived in a foreign land of a people called Moabites, descendants of Lot by the incestuous relationship initiated by his daughters with their father.
 
The Moabites came to be because of the perverse influence of Sodom and Gomorrah on Lot's family. This is a land and people who worshiped perverse, false gods. Gross sexual sin was at the forefront of their worship.
 
This is the place that a man called Elimelech journeyed with his wife Naomi and two sons. He died in this land. He left Naomi an impoverished widow, with two sons who later married Moabite women.
 
Then the two sons die. Nothing is given as to how they died. Given it is the time of the Judges we can determine this was a judgment on God's part for, doing what was right in their own eyes.
 
But God's plans cannot be altered. Through Naomi and Ruth God would bring about the most pivotal event in this season of Israel's existence.
 
Both famine and widowhood caused Naomi to return to her homeland in Israel: Bethlehem. One of the two daughter in-laws decided to return with her. The other desired to stay with her own people.
 
Naomi became bitter and weary and tried to discourage Ruth from following her.
 
Ruth 1:15-22

And she said, Behold, thy sister in law is gone back unto her people, and unto her gods: return thou after thy sister in law. 16 And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: 17 Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.

18 When she saw that she was stedfastly minded to go with her, then she left speaking unto her. 19 So they two went until they came to Bethlehem. And it came to pass, when they were come to Bethlehem, that all the city was moved about them, and they said, Is this Naomi?

20 And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me. 21 I went out full, and the LORD hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the LORD hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me?

22 So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter in law, with her, which returned out of the country of Moab: and they came to Bethlehem in the beginning of barley harvest.

With no one to care for them, Ruth being a single woman and desiring to provide for both her and Naomi, decides to go find work in the fields. This is where the plan of God begins to take shape. It was the terrible circumstances in Moab that caused Naomi to return to her people in Israel with Ruth. How different things would have been had their family prospered in Moab. They probably would not have returned to Israel. God has a way, though sometimes tragically, of bringing us into His perfect will. In those times we have to trust him knowing His desire is to bless us, not curse.


A LOVE STORY

Ruth is led by God to the fields of one of Naomi's relatives. The events in this book lead to an amazing love story that will climax in a marriage between Ruth and Naomi's kinsman Redeemer, Boaz.

WHY GOD SANCTIONED THIS MIXED MARRIAGE?

It is of great importance because it symbolizes how the Lord would tie together our Messiah Jesus with Gentile believers to make one people.

God Remembers Lot...

It is also God's remembrance of Abraham and faithful Lot. Lot was vexed living in the land of Sodom and was obedient to leave before God judged it. This is an aspect of the story of Ruth that generally goes untold and yet is the back drop for Moab being a part of the story. Lot had the unfortunate role of being the father of the Moabites. But God remembered Lot (See 2 Peter 2).

The marriage between Boaz and Ruth would produce the child whose offspring would give Israel the most infamous and beloved King in their history: King David, a man after God's own heart. His life would also detail the negative influence of Moab as he sought out many wives during his life time.

Nonetheless, his reign would prove to be both prophetic and historical, producing the City of David (Mount Zion):Jerusalem, make Israel a nation, the most feared place among the nations on the face of the earth and, the home of believers in Messiah from both the Jews and Gentiles.

The story of Ruth is also a glorious example of what God can do when a woman, no matter how many horrors stain her background, decides to trust in God and obey Him. Ruth went from being a woman from a land of God's enemies, to a woman blessed when she decided to make Naomi's God, her God.

Her faith in the God of Israel gave her a permanent and beloved place in the Canon of Scripture. God was glorified and poured out tremendous blessing on Ruth, a Moabite.

I could not possibly detail all the many blessings and prophetic markers in this tiny book, among them, the connection with and shadow of Jesus our Messiah and the Church made up of Jew and Gentile.


THE ROLES OF WOMEN

What stands out most for me is the fellowship of these women and their biblical obedience to God to walk in roles as godly women, wives, widows, mothers and grandmother.

Great judgment hovered over these seasons in mankind's existence. The neglect of the role God created women for was the basis of the fall in Genesis and will become an increasing point of revelation as we continue to read through the Bible.

We would be remiss to ignore that these women were blessed not only because they returned to Israel. But more important, because they walked in the roles God created women for, they became the instruments of amazing blessing to future generations to this very day.

This was a time when men were doing whatever they pleased. God uses two women (one older and the other younger) as a prophetic marker pointing back to Genesis and the role He ordained for women. A role almost ignored today in our homes and churches.

GOD WATCHES OVER HIS WORD

Note how closely God watches over His Word. Ruth being single, a widow with no children goes out into the fields to work to provide for her mother-in-law and herself. She has learned to be a godly wife from watching and learning from Naomi. She in fact, is being brought by God to meet her future husband.

Compare with another widow with two sons in 2 Kings 4:1-7. She is given a miraculous way to stay home with her sons and earn an income, rather than having to leave them to go out and work. God's attention to the patterns and details he ordained is amazing.


Genesis 2:18 - Ruth

And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.

Titus 2:1-5 - Naomi

But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine: 2 That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. 3 The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;

4 That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.