Ruth: A God Who Redeems

Day 1 of 4 • This day’s reading


When Bitterness Comes

The story of Ruth takes place in the time of the Judges. (You can read about that in the book of Judges). Israel has entered the promised land but is repeatedly unfaithful to God, yet God doesn’t abandon them. This context is where we read this unlikely story.

The book of Ruth begins with judgement and shame. Elimelech takes his family out of Israel and to a bitter enemy of Israel to find food. He, along with his two sons, dies while in this foreign land. Naomi is left a widow in a foreign country. These verses would have been read as a poor and condemning set of decisions by Elimelech, who instead of repentance and faith in Yahweh, took matters into his own hands, leading to disastrous consequences for him and his family.

We see here that God’s judgement is real, but Scripture also shows us that God is not vindictive with his judgement. He is patient and loving. God will one day judge all evil, but the Gospel of Christ shows us his ultimate desire is forgiveness. However, God will not be mocked.

Naomi later decides to return home when she hears God has provided food. She encourages Orpah and Ruth to return to their households and to find new husbands, as being a widowed foreigner was a terrible fate. Ruth, in a display of real courage, will not abandon Naomi but will return with her to Bethlehem.

Ruth’s decision to stay with Naomi brings to mind the promise Christ gives us in Mark 10:29-30. It’s not that Ruth is making this commitment towards God at this point, but she embodies what Jesus speaks of here. In Mark 10:29-30 Jesus reminds us that following him is not a one-time decision but a life-long commitment.

Finally, chapter one ends with Naomi (which means pleasant) returning to Bethlehem as Mara (which means bitter). She has lost everything she has, and feels the shame and embarrassment of what her life has become. But chapter 1 ends with hope: The barley harvest is coming. We will see, in spite of all the hardships Naomi has experienced thus far, that God ordains tragedy to set the stage for triumph.

God will do more than Naomi or Ruth could imagine, and it is through their suffering that his redemption is all the more amazing.

Today’s reflection:

At the end of chapter one, Naomi looks around and appears to have nothing, yet she has no idea that her foreign daughter-in-law will take part in changing the entire world. (More on that later in Ruth). Has there been a time in your life where you have seen God’s goodness come from a really difficult time?