Ruth Part Three: God Works in the Details

When things don’t work out like we thought, there can be a sudden turn in our path catching us completely by surprise. Have you ever faced a crossroads in life? Ruth certainly did. In 1:6-18, a geographical and spiritual turning point exists. A key word in the study of Ruth is “return.” This Hebrew word appears twelve times in the first chapter alone, but is sometimes translated “turn back,” “go back,” or “bring back.” The story is not merely about turning back to Bethlehem, but also about turning back to the Lord in faith. God had brought Ruth to Naomi, who worshiped the one true God and in doing so he brought her to himself. The grace of God had worked in Ruth’s heart and she stuck faithfully to Yahweh (1:14). The reader sees God’s work in the details of an unexpected tragedy – He used the death of her first husband to bring Ruth to the promised land. On a deeper level, God’s covenant promises to Abraham are beautifully displayed in Ruth.

What about Orpah? She was rational, and responded to Naomi’s logic. In fact, her pragmatism was also a form of obedience to the words and desires of someone she loved and respected. Orpah chose the logical path, a typical human response. Most of us can identity with Orpah but God honors faithfulness when things are tough. Contrary to Orpah, Ruth stepped out in faith. How does this faithfulness change our lives?

Although the period in which Ruth lived was one of disobedience, God had indeed made Abraham’s seed a great people and they were settled in the land of promise. In the “return” we see the unfolding of a masterful narrative, but it is more about God’s kindness to his people in the midst of their repeated rebellion against him. God works through Ruth’s loyal commitment. The blessing promised to God’s people proves true, as we move through the story of a God who provides for his people. Bethlehem (in Ruth) provides a link between the period of Judges and monarchy, and the period which David was chiefly King. Ruth was David’s great grandmother and both are the lineage of Jesus Christ. God uses the sorrows of life for good purpose, but our God is the God of grace, not simply in purpose but graciousness.

In the story of Ruth, God works to bless the obedience of faith. Her devotion is clearly shown. Exactly where are you in your faith walk and how might that be determined? Who are you seeking to please? Oh, if we could learn to trust God for ourselves and our families, our welfare, and our struggles! Do you seek comfort, pleasure, and a life of ease? Do you obey the Bible even when it conflicts with the ways of our world? To walk out our faith means we must live for eternity, placing value in the things of God instead of the things of man. Will you trust?

Ruth’s faith was risky yet resolute. Ruth’s road of resolve showed faithfulness in the face of calamity. In pledging her faith to the covenant God of Israel, she showed faith against what might be sensible. Ruth entered through the narrow gate, and no one who passes through ever has cause to regret following Jesus Christ. Though Christ does not promise that life will be easy, the Bible promises that he will be with us and satisfy us with his presence forever. With each new day we have an opportunity to have the courage of Ruth.

For further study: Ruth 1:6-18; Genesis 19; Numbers 22-25; Judges 3; Rev. 21

*Sources listed in last post of series.

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