On Sunday, Bill preached on one of my favorite books in the Bible – the book of Ruth. (Bob McCaskill is doing a five-week study of the book right now on Wednesday nights).
This book is so beautiful, and the story has a little bit of everything – drama, intrigue, romance, and a good dose of heroism. In fact, when I taught a series on the book in the Singles Bible Study last year, several of the ladies asked if I could find a picture of Boaz! It’s that kind of story – the kind that draws you in! It is like a true-life fairy tale!
To follow up Bill’s lesson, I just wanted to use this space today to share some closing thoughts on this beautiful book. Ruth teaches some important lessons about loyalty, integrity, and honor. It also gives a preview of Jesus Christ – our Kinsman Redeemer.
Here are three lessons that we can learn from this book:
Ruth helps us see the goodness of God–When you read through the book of Judges, which is connected to Ruth, you don’t walk away feeling overly impressed with the goodness of people. In the book of Ruth, you can’t help but be impressed with Boaz and Ruth, but even more impressive than their goodness and faithfulness is what this book shows about God, which is mainly this: God is Good. Always.
Even more than that, God’s purposes and promises aren’t dependent on our goodness – they are the result of His goodness. God is able to cause all things to work together for our good and His glory. Even in the darkest of times, God is providentially at work.
Take Naomi for example. Even when her eyesight is clouded and she falls into hopelessness, we are able to see God at work in her life. What a wonderfully comforting truth this is: our eternal well-being is dependent upon the perfections of our God, and not on our performance.
Ruth helps us see a healthy view of marriage — In our day and time, there are lots of people who are unwilling to pay the price of marriage. They seek to enjoy the benefits and privileges of marriage without the “legal process” of marriage. I guess they believe that a marriage license is only a piece of paper, and they avoid making the covenant commitment that a Biblical marriage requires. According to that view, marriage is about personal pleasure, rather than servanthood. Marriage is about me, about finding a mate who makes me feel good, who fulfills my desires and expectations.
Contrast that view of marriage with what we see in Boaz and Ruth. Boaz rightly recognized that Ruth could have found a younger husband who would have been more desirable, but she chose him for all the right reasons. Boaz, too, knew that marrying Ruth would involve sacrifice (which is why the nearest kin backed out of his obligations). Each one entered into marriage with a servant’s heart – “I’m going to serve God and I’m going to serve this person, too.” That is a healthy view of marriage – the willingness to sacrifice for someone else instead of fulfill my own desires.
Ruth helps us see that doing what is right in God’s eyes requires faith– Throughout the story, we see faith in action. A farmer had to exercise faith when he left a portion of his field for the poor. Ruth exercised great faith in leaving her family and homeland to dwell in Israel and placing herself under the protective wings of God. Boaz exercised faith when he gave the nearest kin the first option to carry out his obligations. He exercised faith by fathering a son who would be the heir of a kinsman. Doing what is right in our own eyes is living by sight. Doing what is right in God’s eyes requires faith, for we often cannot see how doing the right thing will produce what God has promised.
So let me end by asking you these questions: “Who do you trust?” “Are you living your life by doing what is right in your own eyes?” That is the spirit of our Postmodern world, and it is dead wrong. You will never get into God’s heaven by doing what is right in your own eyes. Heaven, salvation, is a matter of faith. It means trusting that Jesus is the Living Savior – accepting Him as Kinsman-Redeemer, and then blindly following Him – as Ruth followed Naomi. If we can approach God with that kind of faith, a happy ending is a certainty.
In fact, there is only one difference between the ending of our story and those fairy tales we used to love. We do get “happily ever after”, but we never see those next words – THE END. With Christ as Savior, there will never be an ending to our joy.