Ruth in the Time of the Judges

Posted on February 17, 2012 · Posted in Gospel, Worldview

The news headlines have been consistent as of late – consistently discouraging.  Moral norms continue to plummet. There seems to be little hope in our darkening world.  However, in the Bible, the story of Ruth takes place in the time of the Judges and offers hope and encouragement for you.

The book of Judges tells the story of a very dark time in the history of Israel. God was mocked, the legacy of Moses’ faith was abandoned, and the people of God appeared to have left the fear of God. Yet even in the darkness, God was at work. As He often does, He brought light and hope from the most unexpected place. Naomi accompanied her faithless husband, Elimelech, to Moab; he doubted that God could provide for him in the land of promise. Years later, Naomi returned to Bethlehem from Moab. Her husband and her two sons had died. All she had to bring back with her was her daughter-in-law, Ruth.  Yet, even in Naomi’s bitterness and sadness, she still retained her faith in the Lord of Hosts. This faith was observed by Ruth and began to grow within her.  Ruth embraced Naomi’s God, the God of Israel, as her own God with these famous words:

But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.

What was it that caused Ruth to claim the covenant promises of Israel’s God for herself? She had seen her husband, her father-in-law, and her brother-in-law die in Moab. She had seen the sadness of Naomi. She knew Israel was no longer the political and military power that it was during the conquest of Canaan under Joshua. She knew Naomi had no promise of prosperity once they returned to Israel. She knew she would most likely have to care for her mother-in-law in her new homeland. Not a bright future! Nonetheless, Ruth was drawn to the God of Naomi.  The pull was so strong that she rejected her people and their gods and chose to honor Naomi and follow her God. So we see that in the midst of her sadness, Naomi remembered her God, so much so that Ruth was willing to give her life to follow this God.

As Ruth arose from the ashes of a miserable life in Moab, God caused the power of life-giving faith to flourish in her. This young woman entrusted her life to Naomi’s God.  She cared for her mother-in-law; she respectfully followed Naomi’s direction; in doing so, she followed Naomi’s counsel to present herself to Boaz. In all of this, Ruth demonstrated that the faith that lived in Naomi now burned brightly within her.

In darkness came light. In despair came hope. In faithlessness came blessing. From the womb of a foreigner came royal offspring.  Ruth became the grandmother of King David and ancestor to Jesus Christ, the King of Kings!

In our world today, things are dark indeed—but the God of Naomi and Ruth still lives and reigns. He still brings hope from the ashes of life. Tell your children about Ruth. Remind them of the power of faith that God gives as a gift to his children.  Remind your children that God’s purpose for all of history still stands. No one can turn back his hand.  Show your children the power of the faith living in you.

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Jay Younts
John A. (Jay) Younts is the Shepherd Press blogger, and is a ruling elder serving at Redeemer Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He has written Everyday Talk, Everyday Talk About Sex & Marriage, Finding the Right Track, the In Touch With Paul stewardship series, and What About War. He has studied and taught about biblical childrearing for 30 years. He and his late wife Ruth have five adult children.