by John F. Klem
The book of Ruth is a short story of 85 verses in our Bible. It takes place in the days of the Judges during a time of famine in Bethlehem, “the house of bread.”
The story peaks our interest because it recounts the happy things in the life of Elimelech and Naomi: love, marriage, children, daughters-in-law. It holds our interest because it also recounts the hard things they endured: famine, moving to another country, the death of a husband and two sons. The story ends as we would want. The widowed daughter-in-law, Ruth, is given to Boaz in marriage, and the bitter grandmother, Naomi, is given the joy of a grandbaby, Obed.
At this point we might say, “Nice story, but what is the point? Why is it in our Bible?” As I ponder the book of Ruth, I see God, the divine actor, the sovereign of the universe, working in the life of individuals, an unknown family from the little town of Bethlehem.
In Ruth, God loves this family through every event of life, both the good and the bad. He loves them even when Naomi negatively interprets God’s ways in her life.
In Ruth, God provides for them through the gracious ways of Boaz, a kinsman whom God brings to them. Boaz is more than a man of means who can feed them; he is the one who becomes the husband of Ruth, the near relative who does the work of a kinsman redeemer.
In Ruth, God brings life out of tragedy through the birth of Obed, the father of Jesse, the father of David. Yes, Ruth and Boaz are grandparents to the great king of Israel, David.
In Ruth, God is setting the Bethlehem stage for the birth of the greatest King to rule and to shepherd the nation of Israel, the Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 2:6; Micah 5:2).
So the book of Ruth is an early chapter in the Christmas story. The work of the Divine Actor in Ruth and all His subsequent redemptive acts in the course of history preserved for us in the Bible declare what He accomplished and what He is yet to do in the final acts of history.
May God help us to see Christ in this season as the divine actor Who has come to rule, to shepherd, and to shape the course of our lives.
John F. Klem is director of Regular Baptist Press.
Regular Baptist Press is committed to providing educational resources that point people of all ages to Christ not just at Christmas, but throughout the year. RBP offers a wide range of curriculum, VBS programs, Bible studies, books, and training seminars that are Biblically sound, cover the entirety of Scripture, and designed for spiritual growth.
- Read the entire series of Advent meditations.