Ruth: A Love Story

Out of the 66 books in the Bible, there are two books in particular I think are weird to find there: the Songs of Solomon and Ruth. It’s pretty obvious why Songs of Solomon is weird (it gets a little steamy), but don’t worry, it’s Ruth that I want to focus on today. Before the book of Ruth we have books devoted to our origin story, our laws, and our wars, but Ruth departs from all of that to teach us seemingly little about theology. Her book is more or less a short, random, overlooked love story.

This 4 chapter book begins with Ruth losing her husband and committing her life to her mother-in-law who also lost everyone dear to her. Ruth was from a different people and culture than her mother-in-law so it must have been a bit terrifying to follow her mother-in-law when she decided to return home to her own people in Bethlehem, but Ruth was committed to her, so she did it anyways.

While they were in Bethlehem, Ruth met a guy named Boaz. He let her freely take any food she wanted from his farm and made sure all the guys in his workforce left her alone. He protected her and took care of her and when mealtime came around he gave her more to eat than she needed, though she hardly knew who he was.

But he knew who she was, because he was a relative of Ruth’s mother-in-law. He had heard of how Ruth had committed herself to her mother-in-law instead of her own parents and how she had chosen the discomfort of being with her mother-in-law’s people rather than her own people.

And he was impressed.

Ruth and Boaz moved pretty quick. In chapter two they met and in chapter three Ruth gave a proposal of sorts through a bunch of interesting and confusing cultural practices, which you can all check out later if you want (don’t worry, it’s a short book). Whatever exactly it is that truly happened in chapter three, Boaz feels blessed by it and by chapter 4 they’re married.

So what’s the point of this book? Maybe to show us how God loved Ruth the Moabite, a woman from a people group outside of his own chosen Israel. Or maybe it was to tell us more about King David’s back story seeing as how Ruth ended up being David’s great, great grandmother. Or maybe it was so we’d know that not all mother-in-laws are evil—I don’t know!

But I do find it interesting that the Bible pauses for love. It pauses to tell us the stories not just of our heroes, but also of their love interests. Sure, many of these stories evolve into soap operas of sorts, but in this case, we find an incredibly short book breaking from stories of our origins, wars, and laws to tell us the seemingly unimportant story of how one little lady on the outside married a farmer on the inside—showing us that things like marriage and love matter.

Jesus himself (who was also a descendant of Ruth) talks about the importance of marriage. Even though he never married, he understood that it was a HUGE deal. He explained that in marriage we “are no longer two but one flesh” and that what “God has joined together, man shouldn’t separate.” He went on to explain that divorce was made by man, not by God—making it clear that not only does God care about our marriages, but that he takes them more seriously than humans do. He cares about your marriage whether your dating life was 3 chapters long or 6 years long.

Why does He care? Because He knows every hair on your head! I love my wife and my children immensely, but I don’t have the slightest idea how many hairs are on their heads! A God who is that meticulous about something so minuscule and unimportant as hair, of course cares about your marriage! That’s a huge part of your life! From today on out you’re two lives are fused as one and you need to know that God cares about it. He cares more than you do, which will be important to remember on some days.

He is a God who is constantly creating life, and he’s still doing it today in our marriages. It’s like our physical birth from our parents and our spiritual birth from salvation in Christ being melded together into some new kind of physical, spiritual, marital rebirth. Cherish it, just as God Himself cherishes it for you. For love is God and God is love and you dwell with God when you love each other.

Allow me to leave you with a scene from the movie Stardust. If you’ve seen it, you may recall in this movie that there’s a star that falls to the earth and becomes a human. Her name is Yvaine. After going on some adventures with a boy named Tristan she begins to wax poetic about love. Speaking from her prior perspective as a star looking at the earth she says:

“I know a lot about love. I’ve seen it, centuries and centuries of it, and it was the only thing that made watching your world bearable. All those wars. Pain, lies, hate—It made me want to turn away and never look down again. But when I see the way that mankind loves—You could search to the furthest reaches of the universe and never find anything more beautiful. So yes, I know that love is unconditional. But I also know that it can be unpredictable, unexpected, uncontrollable, unbearable and strangely easy to mistake for loathing, and—what I’m trying to say, Tristan is—I think I love you. Is this love, Tristan? I never imagined I’d know it for myself. My heart—It feels like my chest can barely contain it. Like it’s trying to escape because it doesn’t belong to me any more. It belongs to you…. Just your heart, in exchange for mine.”

I encourage you to make the same exchange. Your heart for theirs. Their heart for yours. If both of you are always about each other, consistently handing your hearts to one another rather than keeping it to yourself, your marriage will be filled with the love that God has for you, for He showed us that love for one another is found in humility and service to one another—freely handing us his heart if we wanted it even in times when we didn’t deserve it. We could just take the free gift of his heart in exchange for our own.

Jews and Gentiles

Throughout the decades, people have debated if God turned His back on the Jews by simply allowing anyone to find salvation in Jesus. Because previously, God was the God of the Jews and no one else.

Except that’s not entirely true. By God’s saving grace (even in the Old Testament), cultures outside of the Jewish faith could find salvation and claim the God of the Jews as their own. You see, other cultures could, in a sense, be adopted into the family of the Jews. For example, servants from other cultures would serve the Jews and so long as they abided under the law and were circumcised among other things, they could officially become Jewish despite what they truly were.

I made a post on the genealogy of Jesus awhile back which is great proof of this. Whoda thunk Jesus’ relatives included people like Rahab and Ruth, both women who were not originally Jewish, but adopted into the culture. Do you see the foreshadowing?

And then, Jesus comes to fulfill God’s promise to Abraham that He would bless all nations. Under the new covenant, everyone can claim God as their own, just as they could before, but this time without having to become a Jew. There is new freedom in the new covenant.

You see, before the ordeal of Jesus, it was custom to become part of the line of the Jews to claim God as your own.

And after Jesus came, it was custom to become a part of the line of Christ in order to claim God as your own. Just like His own genealogy, we can all be adopted into this faith and claim God as our own.

Whether Jew or Gentile.
Whether Christian or Muslim.
Whether White or Black.
Whether Rich or Poor.
Whether Human or Zombie?

We can all make the royal line of Christ our own.

The Genealogy of Jesus

I decided to start on Matthew tonight and then hit the hay, but I was struck by an epiphany as I read through the genealogy of Jesus. I recognized a bunch of these names from some of my classes and realized that God chose some of the most unlikely people to send the Messiah through. Seriously, check out some of the people He came from:

Tamar: Judah’s daughter-in-law who tricked Judah into thinking she was some random prostitute. She ended up bearing two twins named Perez and Zerah due to this encounter with her father-in-law.

Rahab: A prostitute who lived in Jericho. She would have been killed with the rest of Jericho’s residents as she was technically the enemy. But she hid the spies Moses sent into Jericho and in doing so, saved their lives. Israel spared her life and so that threw a woman who was not originally a part of God’s people into the mix. Yet, Jesus still made His line through her.

Ruth: After losing her husband, the lowly widow Ruth engages in what appears to be a random love story. But when we see that Ruth is an ancestor of David and Jesus, all of the sudden her random little romance takes on more meaning through her relation. Royalty is born out of this relationship. On top of that, Ruth is a Moabite, a traditional enemy of Israel in many different ways.

David: A king after God’s own heart, but also a guy who made quite a few mistakes in his life. Among other things, he screwed up big time by coveting Bathsheba—a married woman—getting her pregnant, and basically having her husband killed and marrying her after that.

Bathsheba: Despite her situation, Jesus’ genealogy continues through her blood. She and David have a royal son named Solomon.

Solomon: Although he did quite a bit for God, he—like his father—made a lot of mistakes. He allowed false gods into Israel’s worship system, had far too much wealth and far too many wives, and fell off the deep end.

Then Jesus’ line moves through several screwed up kings before reaching:

Manasseh: The most evil king of all. He literally brought hell to earth—witchcraft, false gods, child sacrifice—the whole deal. The evil caused during his reign was reason for God to send His people into captivity. However, despite how evil Manasseh became, he eventually repented of his evil and sought to follow God.

The line continues after that, but there’s a couple things we might be able to grasp from these quick people. Despite people’s insufficiencies and sins, God can still move through them and use them to his potential. Also, forgiveness is for everyone—not just God’s people, but for outsiders as well. From the lowest of prostitutes, to the highest of kings. From those after God’s heart to those chasing after satan’s.

And one other thing. People get bored quite quickly of genealogies. In fact, I was reading 1 Corinthians the other night and could hardly concentrate on who did what and had relation to who and whatnot. But isn’t it amazing that from the beginning of time, the Bible has kept such specific and detailed genealogies listed within it that we can track Jesus all the way back to the beginning of time? It gives the Bible something many books cannot boast. It has genuine records of past people as well as kingships, which can be found true through historical documents and archaeology. Perhaps we should all realize that when we’re reading these sometimes tedious genealogies, we are reading our true history. Not just the genealogies of the past, but the genealogies of our own lives. All of the people who need to be listed to find links to Jesus are there.

Alright, it was just 1:11 when I looked at the clock and so I shall now go to bed… An hour later than I was expecting.
Peace out brusselsprouts.