This article is based on David Marvin’s teaching on Ruth and Naomi in “Retold: History Everybody Should Know.”
Have you ever struggled to see what God is up to? Do you know God is at work, but you can’t see what He’s doing in the moment? You are not alone. Thankfully, the Book of Ruth is filled with reminders that God is at work even when it doesn’t look like it. It’s a story you may have never heard, but one that everyone should know.
But what exactly does the story of Ruth tell us?
Eight Things You Might Not Know about the Book of Ruth
- Ruth is a story filled with tragedy. While Ruth has its beautiful moments, it opens with incredible difficulty and tragedy. The lives of Ruth and her mother-in-law, Naomi, are filled with pain, death, famine, and loss. In these chapters we see clearly both the severity of life and the need for redemption.
- Ruth is a picture of loyalty. Ruth 1:16-17 is one of the best examples of loyalty in the entire Bible. Ruth promises she will stay with and care for her mother-in-law, even though her husband has died. She boldly declares that, “Wherever you go, I will go” and “where you die, I will die.” This love prompts Ruth to serve Naomi sacrificially, even when she was not obligated to do so.
- Ruth is the first time the word hope is used in the Bible (Ruth 1:12). The events of this story produce a hope that leads us to Jesus. They point to how Jesus himself will redeem His people.
- God cares deeply about the poor. Gleaning grain in the fields was a way the people of Israel cared for those who did not have anything to eat. This system allowed Ruth, Naomi, and countless others to feed their families when times were hard.
- God is at work in the details. When we read Ruth, we see that God is sovereign over every part of the story. There was no randomness or chance here. It is clear God was moving in people’s hearts, world events, and the day-to-day circumstances of life. The same is true for us today.
- God is at work when it doesn’t look like it. The Book of Ruth occurs at the same time as one of the darkest segments of the Old Testament: the Book of Judges. Ruth shows us that God is at work even through times of famine, death, and loss.
- God cares about the foreigner and outsider. God took a widow from a foreign land and made her the great grandmother of King David (and therefore a direct ancestor of Jesus Himself). This is no mistake. God’s people were always blessed so that they might be a blessing to the nations.
- Your story is not finished yet. Just like with Ruth and Naomi, God is not done with your story. Even if life seems particularly difficult right now, do not give up hope. God is actively at work, even if you cannot see it now. Pray that he would fill you with an assurance that he is at work. Look for him in the details. Remember that Jesus is in the business of changes lives.
Are you interested in learning more about Ruth, Naomi, and God’s sovereignty? Spend some time reading the following Bible passages: Ruth 1-4; Proverbs 21:1; Proverbs 16:8-9; Psalm 139:13-14; Ecclesiastes 3:11; Luke 24:13-35. For more on God’s sovereignty and the presence of evil, check out the sermon, If God Exists, Why Does He Allow Evil?.