Ruth, the Moabitess, is one of the great women in the Bible. Her life and choices illustrate many vital lessons.
On the canvas of human history, our God has graciously employed the unexpected and unknowns to fulfill His plans and purposes. Ruth illustrates this beautifully.
The main characters are: Naomi (bitterness), Ruth (grace), and Boaz (in him is strength). In Naomi we have RESTORATION, in Boaz REDEMPTION, and in Ruth CONSECRATION. Keep in mind that Ruth, the heroine, comes onto history’s page during a period of anarchy and faithlessness in the nation.
The Greatness of Her Test
From the dark history of Moab we enter upon one of the greatest gems in Biblical history, a bright spot in a dark background – Ruth the Moabitess! Ruth finds a prominent place in Jewish history and in the purposes of the Almighty. It is interesting to note that in Jewish synagogues the book of Ruth is read to this day at the harvest festival Shavuot. The book of Ruth is a bridge between the apostasy of Judges and the ascendancy of David the King of Israel. May every sister in Christ read it again! For as God had need of a Ruth, He has need of you!
The widow Ruth, without doubt, finds a place among heaven’s “Heroines of Faith.” Humanly speaking, Ruth was most unlikely to be among the great ones in heaven’s reckoning. Her culture, her nativity, her paganism were all against her. However, this Moabitish girl triumphs in her genuine love and active faith in God. Indeed, the trio of faith, hope, and love is intertwined in this intriguing story. We cannot but marvel at the unseen hand of the Almighty guiding in the adverse circumstances of Ruth’s life to bring triumph out of tragedy, joy out of sorrow, happiness out of hopelessness, and life out of death! God still does the same today! The woman who puts her life in the hand of God will never be disappointed. Every great woman in God’s economy adds her own rays of beauty in the tapestry of the history of God’s redeemed people.
Ruth stood at three graves – one belonging to her own husband. Hope was crushed, sorrow multiplied, life shattered! Naomi, her mother-in-law, is returning to the land of her nativity after discipline from the hand of God. Naomi and her two daughters-in-law, Ruth and Orpah, each made a definite choice. Naomi lifted her sights to the land she loved; her choice was homeward. Before going, she tenderly and lovingly urged Ruth and Orpah to return to Moab, a land of idolatry and vileness; it offered them, though, the hope of remarriage. Naomi could offer them no such hope. Orpah returned to Moab. Ruth, on the road to Bethlehem, in the greatest crisis of her life, determined otherwise.
The Greatness of Her Traits
Ruth chose to cleave to her mother-in-law in the midst of a chain of disappointments. We see a faith that produces conviction and confession, a faith that conquers! Ruth’s choice that day must have moved heaven. It will be to her eternal credit. We see Ruth’s commitment and confession: “Intreat me not to leave thee nor to return from following after thee … for where thou diest will I die and there will I be buried” (1:16-17). This loyalty has etched its impact on many hearts since this lonely widow first uttered the words. To Naomi’s credit, Ruth witnessed true faith operating in Naomi. Ruth desires her companionship: “Intreat me not to leave thee.” Ruth desires to be her disciple: “nor to return from following after thee.” Ruth desires to be with her in death and in burial. Can discipleship be clearer? It is for life! No turning back!
No turning back, no turning back,
The handles of my plow
With tears are wet,
The shears with rust are spoiled
And yet, and yet,
My God! My God!
Keep me from turning back.
The Greatness of the Teaching
God can take “a vessel of wrath“ (a Moabitish damsel), to bring forth “a vessel of honor and glory.” What mighty, matchless, and marvelous grace is displayed in Ruth! She is marked by SALVATION (ch 1), by SERVICE (ch 2), by SANCTIFICATION (ch 3), and by SATISFACTION (ch 4). She portrays true virtue and pure motivation; she is truly “a vessel of pure gold.” Her path from the fields of Moab to the field of Boaz, to the feet of Boaz, and to the fellowship of Boaz is most intriguing! The strong cords of love that drew her out of the land of Moab brought her into the lineage of Israel and into the ancestry of Jesus Christ (Ruth 4:13-22; Matthew 1:5, 16). We admire Ruth and Ruth’s God. Her impact extends beyond time into the everlasting ages.
This fascinating and classical drama bows our hearts with worship to our God, Who works all things for good. Ruth’s path of faith ultimately links her with the coming Messiah! Boaz was not only willing to buy Elimelech’s inheritance and all that was Mahlon’s and Chilion’s, but also to purchase Ruth the Moabitess to be his wife. The people and elders said to Boaz, “Let thy house be like the house of Pharez whom Tamar bare unto Judah” (4:12).
Who was Tamar? A Canaanite, marked by immorality and deceit; her history makes one blush! Tamar the deceitful and Ruth the debarred (according to the law of Moses) are found in the royal line ultimately leading to “the Christ” (Matt 1). This is grace beyond measure!
The Greatness of Her Testimony
The women said to Naomi, “Thy daughter-in-law which loveth thee is better to thee than seven sons” (4:14). This is a monumental testimony to Ruth. The page of Ruth’s biography concludes in triumph. Obed, the son born to Boaz and Ruth, was the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David. A greater triumph followed when David’s greater son was born – Jesus the Son of God, the Messiah. This is grace abounding!
Remember, dear saints, the circumstances in life, often adverse, are permitted in the ways of God to produce Christ-likeness, to promote the glory of Christ, and to give us eternal blessing. The challenge to all hearts is to trust and obey! Those who cave in to the world’s ways of fashion, foolishness, and flippancy will be not only disappointed in time, but lose out in “that day” of recompense.
Women are of tremendous value in the economy of God when yielded to His will. Ruth is a pattern to follow in devotion and determination. Little did Ruth think that her biography would be read after three millennia! Let us learn spiritual and practical lessons from this remarkable woman who possessed such love and loyalty and was marked by simple trust in God.