Chapter 1.
Introduction to RUTH

The book of Ruth is one of two books in the Bible named after women. It is a book that gleams like a beautiful pearl against silk of ebony. It takes place during the times of the Judges when every man did that which was right in his own eyes. The events of the book possibly indicate it occurred near the time of Gideon (1300 B.C.). The famine referred to in Ruth may have been the one caused by Midianites when they plundered the land for seven years.

In San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge spans its arms across the bay joining land to land. The book of Ruth serves the same purpose only it serves as a bridge from the book of Judges to 1 & 2 Samuel. This book provides us background insights of how people lived in this time period.

There was apostasy in the nation of Israel at this time, yet, there were people of conviction, consistency, and commitment to the Lord. Their godly lives were like lilies, perfuming their environment with their fragrant life and displaying the purity of their character as a lily displays its petals of ivory. The contrast between Israel, Ruth, and Boaz is obvious.

Israel Contrasted With Ruth/Boaz
Israel Ruth & Boaz

1. A life of rebellion.
2. Immorality
3. Ignorance of the Lord
4. Period of Irresponsibility
5. Idolatry

1. Lives of righteousness.
2. Integrity
3. Insights into God's Ways.
4. Demonstrated Responsibility
5. Idolized the Lord

The book of Ruth reminds us that God NEVER leaves Himself without a witness. He always has a flame for the darkness, whether it is Moses in Egypt, Elijah in Israel, or John the Baptist who prepared the way for the ministry of Jesus Christ. God has His men!

The author of this book is unknown. Tradition says it is the prophet Samuel. The genealogy at the end of the book proves the book was not written prior to the time of David. It is possible it was written during the reign of David.

FACTS ABOUT THE BOOK OF RUTH

There are four chapters in this book with eighty-five verses and more than 2500 words. The time period covered about twelve years. The three key people the book revolves around are Ruth, Naomi, and Boaz. The two words that continually ring out like the bells of the Tower of London are redemption and kinsman. They appear around twenty times in one form or another. The key verse is

Ruth 4:14—And the women said unto Naomi, Blessed be the Lord, which hath not left thee this day without a kinsman, that his name may be famous in Israel.

The Stages of the Story

The setting of the book takes place on two stages, Moab and Bethlehem. At this time there were three countries into which the people of Israel went when they were in a backslidden condition.

  1. Egypt—A picture of bondage, worldliness, and sin.
  2. Babylon—A place of cultural and spiritual apostasy.
  3. Moab—Jeremiah described Moab.

    Jeremiah 48:11—Moab hath been at ease from his youth, and he hath settled on his lees, and hath not been emptied from vessel to vessel, neither hath he gone into captivity: therefore his taste remained in him, and his scent is not changed.

    Moab is unfaithful, unconcerned, unengaged, undiscernible, and unmoved toward the things of God.

The story begins in Moab which was located east of the Dead Sea. It's a place of sin and idolatry and was nicknamed "God's Washpot" (Psalm 60:8). It was off limits to the Jews. From Moab the scene changes to Bethlehem of Judea. This was a town surrounded by grainfields that gave it its name "House of Bread."

THE PURPOSE OF THE BOOK OF RUTH

God uses this book to teach the providence of God in blessing His children even in the area of finding a spouse. The story reveals the great love the Lord has for women as well as men. It shows God has a special unique purpose for the family. The pages of this book have God's fingerprints everywhere. In the midst of trouble, trials, and tragedy His salvation shines as brilliantly as the noonday sun. We have seen this truth time and again throughout the pages of Scripture.

This book shows how three people remained strong in character and true to God when the society around them was collapsing morally and spiritually. The nation was permissive, but Ruth remained pure. The nation was irresponsible, but Boaz was responsible. It was a dark period for Israel, yet, in spite of the nations condition, God was still working in people's lives. This story also demonstrated God's grace in the midst of difficult circumstances. The time of the Judges was a period of disobedience, idolatry, and violence. Every man did that which was right in his own eyes. God continued to bless those devoted to Him.

The Kinsman Redeemer

The book of Ruth also teaches us the concept of what a Kinsman Redeemer was. The kinsman redeemer is a picture of the person and work of Jesus Christ on behalf of the bride... His Church. The name for a kinsman redeemer was a goel or levirate. He could redeem a widow, orphan, or slave. There were several QUALIFICATIONS he had to meet.

Another purpose for the book of Ruth is it traces the ancestry of King David and verifies ten generations had passed since the illegitimate conception of Pharez to Judah (Genesis 38). The Bible says in

Deut. 23:2—A bastard shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord; even to his tenth generation shall he not enter into the congregation of the Lord.

You and I are affected by the events of this book. Through Ruth, David came into the world. Through David our Savior came into the world. No Ruth... No Savior!? Ruth played an important role in God's plan for mankind.

LITTLE KNOWN NOTES ABOUT THE BOOK OF RUTH

Ruth was second among five Jewish festival scrolls.

  1. At Passover—Song of Solomon is read.
  2. At Pentecost—Ruth is read.
  3. On the 9th of Ab (Memorial of Jerusalem's destruction)—Lamentations is read.
  4. At the Feast of Tabernacles—Ecclesiastes is read.
  5. At the Feast of Purim—Esther is read.

Notice that at the Feast of Pentecost the book of Ruth is read. The Feast of Pentecost commemorates the giving of the Law on Mt. Sinai. It occurs at the time of the beginning of the offering called the First Fruits of the Harvest. At this time the barley was being winnowed, separated from the chaff. The significance of Pentecost for us as believers is it is the day the Church begins with the giving of our Comforter, the Holy Spirit. Pentecost is the day of engagement or betrothal for the Church. The Holy Spirit is our engagement ring if you please. Paul said in

Ephesians 1:13-14—In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, [14] Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

The word "earnest" means down payment or engagement ring. As Boaz took a Gentile wife unto himself, redeemed her, Jesus Christ has taken a Gentile bride for Himself too... His Church which just so happens to have begun on Pentecost.

A LOOK AT THREE BOOKS

A look at the three books, Ruth, 1 Samuel, and 2 Samuel reveal some interesting insights.

We find Ruth was written during the times of the Judges when Israel had no king at all. The Bible says every man did that which was right in his own eyes. It was a time of apathy because God's people failed to claim all the land for their inheritance. They failed to obey God and were indifferent to His commands. It was also a time apostasy. Apathy lead to apostasy. Israel compromised and lived like all the other heathen nations. They were idolatrous and immoral. It was also a time of anarchy. The apostasy ended in anarchy because everyone was doing their own thing and running their own life without any regard for God's word.

When we examine 1 Samuel we find a king but it was the wrong king. It was a king chosen by men and not God. In chapter eight of this book Israel cried for a king so they could be like all the other nations. They were tired of being different and wanted to be like everyone else. They picked a man named Saul but this wasn't God's choice. First of all Saul belonged to the wrong tribe. The kings were to come from Judah from what I gather from Genesis 49:10. Saul was from the tribe of Benjamin.

"We want a king! We want a king!" they cried. The Lord decided to teach them a lesson and gave them what they wanted, but they ended up losing what they had. Saul was allowed to be king to discipline and chasten Israel. He started out well as a deliverer but ended up as a destroyer. Saul began as a peacemaker and ended as a peace-breaker and persecutor.

Saul is a type of the Anti-Christ to come. The world will cry for a ruler soon! Satan will have his man ready in the wings. The Anti-Christ will start as a peacemaker but will become a tyrannical peace-breaker and persecutor of Israel. The Anti-Christ will be destroyed and replaced by the coming of Jesus Christ who was part of King David's family tree just as Saul was replaced by king David.

Scrutiny of 2 Samuel reveals it is the book of the right king, the king of God's choice. David was Ruth's great grandson. David was a picture or type of Jesus Christ.

  1. He was born in Bethlehem in the tribe of Judah.
  2. His occupation was a shepherd. Jesus said He was the good shepherd in John 10:11.
  3. David was rejected by his people as the Lord was rejected.
  4. David defeated his enemy Goliath on the battlefield. Jesus defeated Satan in the wilderness.
  5. David was chosen to reign, but had to wait for his coronation. Christ has been appointed as God's king but He is still awaiting His coronation.

Soon we will hear the words of millions around the throne of God singing with a loud voice, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, riches, wisdom, strength, honor, glory, and blessing." Soon we will shout and hear the words, "Hallelujah for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth." Soon we shall see His vesture and on His thigh a name written, King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Soon at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father!

Judges is the book of no king... where we are right now as every man continues to do that which is right in his own eyes. First Samuel, the book of man's king... where the world is heading and will be crying out for a leader. Second Samuel is the book of God's king and it reminds us that Jesus Christ, the king of kings will return to straighten out our mess and establish His kingdom on this earth for a thousand glorious years.

THEMES IN THE BOOK OF RUTH

There are several key themes found within the borders of the book of Ruth.

CONTRASTING RUTH WITH THE BOOK OF ESTHER
RUTH ESTHER
  1. Gentile marries a Jewish prince.
  1. Jewess marries a Gentile king.
  1. Book begins with a famine.
  1. Book begins with a feast.
  1. Ends with the birth of a baby, a new beginning.
  1. Closes with the hanging of an enemy.
  1. About the poverty of Bethlehem and how God provided a Savior through His law.
  1. About riches in the king's court. God provided salvation through a law.
  1. She helps preserve Israel.
  1. She helps preserve Israel.
  1. Ruth was an ancestress of the Deliverer. She perpetuates the line of Jesus Christ.
  1. Esther saves her people that the Deliverer may come. She preserves the line of Jesus Christ.
  1. Kinsman Redeemer was Boaz.
  1. Kinsman Redeemer was Mordecai.

TYPES IN THE BOOK OF RUTH

{See the REVIEW questions for this chapter on page 186}