The Book of Ruth is truly one of the heart-warming spots of the Bible. For centuries its literary excellence has been acclaimed by a wide variety of critics.
The book traces certain events in the life of a Hebrew family.
In the days of the judges, a famine forced a Hebrew man, Elimelech, his wife Naomi, and their two sons to leave Bethlehem and migrate eastward across the Jordan into Moab. There, the sons married Moabite women, one of whom was Ruth. Eventually, both Naomi and Ruth were widowed and returned to Bethlehem.
Ruth’s magnificent, unselfish plea to accompany her mother-in-law (Ruth 1:16, 17) is a remarkable insight into her character.
Near Bethlehem, Ruth went to work in the grain fields to help provide food for her and Naomi. While working the fields, she met and eventually married Boaz, a kinsman. Later, they were blessed with a son, Obed, who was the grandfather of King David, from whom our Lord Jesus descended (see Mt. 1:5ff).
There are many marvelous lessons we can learn from the book of Ruth.
God’s Love for the Gentiles
The Book of Ruth demonstrates God’s love for the Gentiles, even during a period of history when the Hebrews are given prominence.
Ruth was a descendant of Lot, Abraham’s nephew, and therefore, a Gentile. It is also worth mentioning that the mother of Boaz whom Ruth married was a Canaanite named Rahab. Perhaps this sheds light on the willingness of Boaz to marry a Gentile.
Even though Ruth was a Gentile by birth, she was selected by Jehovah to be in the genealogy of the world’s Savior.
Although God chose the Hebrews as the primary avenue through whom to send his Son into the world, the very fact that there are Gentiles in the Lord’s genealogy is evidence that God was still an international God.
This, of course, hinted toward the time when all nations could hear the gospel and be united in Christ. (Mt. 28:19; Eph. 2:13ff).
The Book of Ruth demonstrates the workings of Jehovah’s divine providence.
When Ruth went to the grain fields to glean, the Bible says it was “her hap ... to light on the portion of the field belonging to Boaz” (Ruth 2:3). Surely this was no mere accident. As one scholar observed:
“A chance in outward seeming, yet a clear shaping of her course by unseen hands. Her steps were divinely guided to a certain field, that God’s good purpose should be worked out” (Sinker, 281).
Or as Cassel points out:
“Ruth, as a stranger in Bethlehem, knew neither persons nor properties. She might have chanced on fields of strange and unfriendly owners. Providence so ordered it, that without knowing it, she entered the field of one who was of the family of Elimelech” (28).
What a great tribute to Ruth, whom God so signally honored, that he chose her over the maidens of Israel in this time.
For more on divine providence, see A Study of Divine Providence.
Boaz: A Type of Christ
Boaz is a fitting type of Christ. Ruth characterizes Boaz as a “near kinsman.” The Hebrew term is goel. It signifies a kinsman with “the right to redeem” (see the ASV footnote on Ruth 3:9).
Boaz is thus a kinsman-redeemer.
The ancient Job declared:
“I know that my Redeemer goel liveth, and at last he will stand upon the earth” (Job 19:25).
McClintock and Strong suggest that the goel is “an eminent type of the Redeemer of mankind.”
By coming to earth as a man, Christ became our kinsman in the flesh. He is not ashamed to call us his brethren (Heb. 2:11, 14).
Furthermore, he is man’s Redeemer. At the birth of John the Baptizer, Zacharias, looking forward to the work of Christ, announced, “He (God) has visited and wrought redemption for his people” (Lk. 1:68).
Paul affirmed that in Christ “we have our redemption through his blood” (Eph. 1:7).
And so, in the very highest sense, Jesus Christ is our Kinsman-Redeemer.