The book of Ruth follows events in the life of a Hebrew family and a Moabite woman named Ruth. The story takes place at the time of the Judges in Israel, a time when the Bible says the people of Israel were disobedient to God. Although Ruth was not born a Jew, she married into a Hebrew family and followed their God. She told her Jewish mother-in-law Naomi, "Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God (Ruth 1:16)."
God's Love for Gentiles
In the Old Testament Scriptures, the people of Israel were considered to have a special relationship with God. One of the core messages of the book of Ruth is that the Jewish God loves all people, including non-Jewish gentiles. Abraham was the father of Israel and Ruth was a descendent of Abraham's nephew Lot. In the story, Ruth chooses to serve the God of Israel and is then blessed by Him. According to Dr. Grant Richison, the story shows that gentiles are not outside the “scope” of God's redeeming love.
Divine providence is a term that describes the foreseeing care and guidance of God. The idea of divine providence is that God guides the steps of His creatures, putting them in situations that accomplishes His divine plans. The second chapter of Ruth says that when Ruth went to the grain fields for gleaning, she chanced “to light on the portion of the field belonging to Boaz” (Ruth 2:3). Wayne Jackson of the Christian Courier argued that this was no “mere accident,” but rather, her steps were guided by divine providence to lead her to Boaz so that God's purposes might be carried out.
Many Christians interpret the book of Ruth as a foreshadowing picture of the redemptive work of Jesus Christ as recorded in the New Testament. “The Spirit-Filled Life Bible” pointed out that Ruth's inability to change her state represented “absolute human helplessness” and that Boaz represented Christ's full payment of human salvation.
The book of Ruth demonstrates God's grace toward people. In fact, the meaning of the name Ruth is “grace.” In the story, Ruth received blessings from God that she did not merit. And, being a Moabite woman, she received God's blessings despite her status as a gentile woman.
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