This continues to be my most successful reading-through-the-Bible I’ve ever done. It’s definitely because there is no timeline imposed. I recommend it if you haven’t before!
I thought Leviticus was going to be the toughest for me in the first half of the Old Testament, but man. Judges was rough. It’s just so… dark. Sad. So much senseless pain, disobedience, departure from God. The common refrain, even until the last sentence of the book, is: “In those days, there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). There was no human king, but also God had been so rejected by these people that He was not looked to as their king either.
It honestly deeply affected my mood reading through Judges. With every new judge, the people would be brought back to God, but only as long as that judge was alive. Then they plunged themselves into darker darkness and more sinful rebellion. It’s difficult to read.
And then we come to the book of Ruth. A short four chapters, but a beauty that bears dwelling on.
I was never one of those girls growing up who was obsessed with Ruth or Esther, the two “women” books. Maybe because they’re short books, or maybe because I’ve always liked Joseph and Moses so much. I sought to keep a posture of thoughtfulness as I went through these four chapters of Ruth’s life, incomplete yet still complete. I hadn’t seen it before, but I knew there was a lesson to learn here.
Ruth was a remarkable woman. Though she came from the pagan heritage of the Moabites, she ended up showing more Christian virtue than virtually anyone in her surrounding context, only possibly matched by Boaz. There was no self-centered reason to propel her to follow a mother-in-law who held no promise for a husband for her. There was no self-centered reason for her to work tirelessly, diligently, and with the scorn of her new community to gather the remnants of grain. She was filled with the love of a God who she came to know, embrace, and follow.
And this Moabite woman was grafted into the lineage of Christ Himself — Ruth was King David’s great-grandmother.
I love the words of the women to Naomi at the close of the book: “And may [your grandson through Ruth] be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age; for your daughter-in-law, who loves you, who is better to you than seven sons, has borne him” (Ruth 4:15). Such an intensely high compliment from that cultural context! Better than seven sons. The community itself could see Ruth’s love and how she treated those closest to her.
Ruth stands as a stark contrast to the rebellion, selfishness, and evil of her times.
Amidst the chaos and evil in the time of the judges, Ruth’s story reminds me that there were still faithful people. Still hope. Still light. Still courage. Still obedience.
Ruth’s beauty was found in her character, in how she was a blessing in her sphere of influence that she refused to walk away from.
Amidst the chaos and evil in our current days, my prayer is to be like Ruth. To be faithful in love to those around me, even those who are closest to me. To not walk away from helping others just because I can. But instead to serve selflessly, diligently, and with love, however Jesus decides to arrange my sphere of influence.
The darkness cannot destroy the light, no matter how hard it tries. God is more powerful. In His hands, we can withstand any darkness; and even overcome it with His light.