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Survey of the Book of Ruth

Author: The book of Ruth doesn't mention an author by name, but the prophet Samuel is thought to have written it.

Date of Writing: It is approximated to have been written between 1011 and 931 BC.

Purpose of Writing: The Israelites were the audience of the Book of Ruth. The common themes in Ruth are love, loyalty, sacrifice, obedience, and the faithfulness of God. In the story of Ruth, we see that God blesses those who are obedient and He is faithful to His Word, extending mercy to those who extend mercy to others.

Key Verses:
Ruth 1:16: " But Ruth said, 'Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.'"

Ruth 3:9: "He said, 'Who are you?' And she answered, 'I am Ruth, your servant. Spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer.'"

Ruth 4:17: "And the women of the neighborhood gave him a name, saying, 'A son has been born to Naomi.' They named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David."

Brief Summary: The Book of Ruth starts in Moab, a heathen country northeast of the Dead Sea, but it quickly transitions to the city of Bethlehem in Judah. This story takes place during the period of Judges, a time when Israel was in days of perpetual failure and rebellion against God. Due to a severe famine in Israel, Elimelech and his wife Naomi were forced to move to Moab with their two sons. In Moab, Elimelech dies and the two sons marry two Moabite women, Orpah and Ruth. Then, the sons both die, and Naomi is left as a widow in a foreign country with her two foreign daughter-in-laws. Naomi decides to return to Bethlehem and tells Orpah and Ruth to stay in Moab. Orpah returns to her parents, but Ruth decides to stay with Naomi and go to Bethlehem.

This book goes on to share the story of Ruth's marriage to Boaz, a wealthy man. Their son, Obed, is the grandfather of David, and therefore, an ancestor of Jesus. Ruth is a story of love, obedience, and the faithfulness of God. Ruth not only found a new life and love with Boaz; she became a part of the lineage of Christ.

Foreshadowings: One of the primary themes of the Book of Ruth is redemption, or, the kinsman-redeemer. Boaz was a relative of Naomi on her husband's side, and according to Mosaic law he could redeem his impoverished relative (Leviticus 25:47–49). He did this by marrying Ruth, ensuring that both she and Naomi would be provided for. In a similar way, we who were impoverished by and enslaved to sin have been offered redemption through Christ. God the Father sent His only Son Jesus to be our redeemer, making all who trust in Him children of God—His own kinsmen through redemption (John 1:12; 2 Corinthians 5:18–21; Ephesians 1:3–14; 2:1–10).

Practical Application: In Ruth's story, we see Ruth's faithfulness and obedience to Naomi and to God. Rather than staying home in Moab and leaving Naomi to fend for herself all alone, Ruth was a faithful daughter who left her home to help take care of Naomi, and she left the gods of Moab to follow the God of Israel. She was obedient to follow Naomi's instructions for how to approach Boaz. In this story, we also see the sovereignty and faithfulness of God. He provided for Ruth and Naomi each step of the way. It was in His divine plan for Ruth to become an ancestor of Jesus, His Son (Matthew 1:5). When we read the book of Ruth, we can be encouraged that God has not forgotten us, and He has plans for our good. When we are lacking companionship, we can be encouraged that he brought Ruth into Naomi's life for a purpose of companionship, family, and provision. Even when times are difficult, we can have confidence that God is faithful.

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