The book of Ruth is known as the “love story” of the Bible. Yes, it is, but it is so much more.
As we have emphasized in our study of Jesus’ ancestors in Ancestry. Jesus, the series, to fully understand God’s Word, it is important to grasp the context of the day in which the book of Ruth is set.
Originally a scroll contained in the Ketuvim (Hebrew: writings) (Greek: Hagiographa) of the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh), the book of Ruth exemplifies several themes important to Judaism.
The story of a Moabite sojourner in Bethlehem, Ruth, the non-Jewish refugee, had to provide for herself and her family in a foreign land. Being a Moabite and an enemy to the Jewish people, Ruth obviously had many obstacles to overcome.
An overarching theme of the book of Ruth is the Jewish concept of chesed – the Hebrew word that encompasses the indescribable attributes of God. Christians often describe chesed as being Christ-like, and can also be explained as God’s amazing grace.
Ruth exhibited many attributes of chesed to those around her despite the obstacles placed in her path. One of these was the loyalty that Ruth showed to her mother-in-law, her deceased husband, to her future husband, and above all, to the Lord.
Another theme brought forth that is important to Judaism is a charity, or tzedakah (Hebrew). Fending for herself in a foreign land, Ruth awakened in Boaz, her future husband, the sense of tzedakah that wasn’t just a Levitical mandate but was something much deeper, and much more caring.
Enter the picture, Boaz, who redeemed Ruth in his self-sacrificial manner, foreshadowing Jesus Christ with his self-less love and unlimited charity.
Boaz was Ruth’s earthly redeemer, in a similar way that Christ is the ultimate redeemer of souls. In many ways, Boaz foreshadowed Jesus through his chesed and love.
As a redeemer-kinsman, Boaz made it possible for Ruth to live the life God meant for her to live. Similarly, Jesus Christ makes it possible for us to have a relationship with the Father, allowing us eternal life.
In many ways, Ruth was the epitome of the person who God uses for His glory. Ruth became a convert to Judaism from a pagan-worshipping religion and married Boaz, a righteous Jewish man from the tribe of Judah. Of interest is that Ruth, through her union with Boaz, became the matriarch of the most famous family line in Jewish and Christian history – the House of David.
Despite her Moabite heritage, Ruth entered into the fold of God, even though her background and ethnicity were from the people who were the enemies of Israel and, therefore, of Yahweh, the God of Israel.
Steeped in Jewish culture, the book of Ruth brings home our Jewish-Christian roots and gives us the opportunity to explore our Jewish background. As Christians, we must never forget that our Savior, Jesus Christ, was sent to earth as a Jew, and through exploring His ancestors, we become acutely aware of our roots.
Additionally, we should never forget that all ethnicities are accepted by God the Father. This concept is exemplified by exploring the book of Ruth. A gentile in origin, Ruth, through her conversion to Judaism, set the standard for all who want to be a member of the family of God, no matter your background or ethnicity.
The book of Ruth is indeed the love story of the Bible, and so much more. Not only is it wonderful history, but it illustrates how the Lord works undercover and imparts wisdom and direction to those who are willing to follow Him in faith.
The book of Ruth fits into God’s Masterplan for the salvation of humanity as it is the love story of God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and His followers who are welcomed into His family for eternity.
Other Books by Dr. Jana Jones McDowell
Jana Jones McDowell DVM, DAVCA, DAVECC, has spent a lifetime practicing Veterinary Medicine and former Professor at a College of Veterinary Medicine.
A Christian, Dr. Jones, began her research into Biblical studies a number of years ago, focusing on “context.”
Her research revolves around the “context,” with the study and application of the Judaica Books of the Prophets and the Hagiographa (A new English translation of the Hebrew Masoretic text and commentaries by Rashi and other Rabbinical scholars), and the books of the Midrash Rabbah. The basis of this was the exegesis of the Hebrew Bible with application to the origins of Christianity.
Dr. Jones-McDowell continues her research on the Jewish roots of Christianity as a student of the Israel Bible Center.
Dr. Jones-McDowell and her husband, reside in the southwest with their horses, a Bengal cat named Ravi and their border collie, Sarah.