Ruth was a Moabitess, a member of an accursed race. She was born and raised in paganism. The priests of Moab were powerful and cruel, and they served an assortment of gods. But the most feared god of all was Chemosh, or Moloch. Chemosh had his terrible placed on a platform of movable stones under which great fires could be kindled. Chemosh’s lap was so constructed that little children placed on its red-hot surface would roll down an inclined plane into his fiery belly. Ruth heard about another god–actually a fertility goddess who offered the Moabites regeneration through the gratification of lust with harlot priestesses in the temple.
Ruth grew up a pagan, in a land cursed by the foulness and ferocity of its gods. This is the woman around whom the story in the book of Ruth revolves. Ruth came to know the living God of Israel and how she entered the family of God through the redemptive act of a kinsman-redeemer. If any book in the Bible demonstrates God’s matchless grace and illustrates the divine plan of redemption, it is the book of Ruth.
Ruth and the Sovereignty of God
Long before Ruth knew anything about God, God knew everything about her: her name, where she lived, and her secret thoughts. Long before Ruth knew anything about Him, God set in motion a series of events designed to bring her face to face with Boaz–the man who became her kinsman-redeemer. It is like that with our Christ. A chain of circumstances that in the end will bring us face to face with initiate redemption too. Long before we know Him, God works to redeem us.
One day a family moved into Ruth’s life–a family of believers. Ruth had never before met anyone quite like Elimelech. His wife Naomi, and their two sons. As time passes. Ruth became will acquainted with this family and even married Mahlon, one of the sons. Although he was a backslider, he was still a believer. Ruth discovered a world of truth of which she never dreamed. She learned about a true and living God–a kind God, a pure and holy God, a God unlike the dreadful–lust, and savage gods of her people.
A tragedy happened; death visited that home. There were three funerals, one after the other. Elimelech died. Mahlon died. His brother Chilion, the husband of Orpah–another Moabite girl–died. At this point Ruth could have become very resentful. She could have turned on Naomi and exclaimed, “If this is an example of what your God of love does, don’t ever speak to me about Him again.” Ruth could have become bitter, as many people do when death invades a home. But she did not fall into that trap of the devil. God is too loving to be unkind, too wise to make any mistakes, and too powerful to be thwarted in His plans. The death of Ruth’s husband was part of His plan. Mahlon had to die because there was no other way Ruth could come to know Boaz as her kinsman-redeemer. So Mahlon’s death was part of the overruling sovereignty of God.
A crisis came for Ruth when Naomi announced that she was going back to Bethlehem because God had “visited His people.” There had been a revival, and Naomi had made up her mind that there was going to be no more backsliding in Moab for her. She was going home to the fellowship of God’s people. Ruth must have received this news with considerable dismay because the only light she had was going out. See Part II
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