A Love Story
May 26, 2022
-by Dr. J. Vernon McGee, from the Ruth Bible Companion
… The Lord God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge. -Ruth 2:12
When you think of the grand and sweeping truth the Bible covers, from cover to cover, you might wonder why God devotes an entire book to the story of a young woman who came from a foreign country into the land of Israel. She left paganism and idolatry behind and met the Lord God of Israel, and as her future husband said, she found in Him safety, “under whose wings you came to trust.”
The book of Ruth has only four short chapters, but it has a couple mighty messages. First, it tells us the family line that leads to the Lord Jesus Christ and explains how He came from the line of David. It connects David’s line with the tribe of Judah, linking the story that begins in Genesis, and follows it to that stable in Bethlehem and to the Cross. This alone could be why the book of Ruth is included in the canon of Scripture.
But there also is another reason and it is wrapped up in a metaphor, a picture of redemption fulfilled by the Lord Jesus Christ. Since God is the only one who can redeem us, He needed to become a kinsman–redeemer, a mediator.
In our story, that role is played by Boaz who furnishes the only figure for the kinsman–redeemer aspect of redemption, which is so essential for any proper understanding of the atonement. This little book of Ruth comes down to our level and tells the simple story of first a family, then a couple who love each other. They were ordinary folk, average folk, and their love story is a mirror in which we can see the divine love of a Savior for you and me. As we proceed into the book of Ruth, we see this wonderful love story unfold before us.
The book of Ruth can be divided up different ways, and the one we will follow will satisfy the content of the book more than any other. We’ll organize our study around its geography—where that part of the story took place. Chapter one is in the land of Moab. Chapter two takes place in Boaz’s fields. Chapter three is on Boaz’s threshing floor, and chapter four wraps it up in the heart and home of Boaz. I’ll tell you now, there is a special baby involved.
In our study, I have attempted to lift out of this little book some of the great spiritual lessons that are here—and there are many. The kinsman–redeemer is one of the most marvelous pictures we have of our Lord Jesus Christ who redeemed us. In other words, this story is a picture of our redemption. This is the way our Kinsman–Redeemer has acted in our behalf.
We see Boaz as a picture of this Redeemer. First he redeems the property. Then he redeems Ruth. He acts the part of a kinsman and makes her his wife. He does it because he loves her. Since Boaz depicts the Lord Jesus Christ, our Kinsman–Redeemer, it is very important to see that He has acted in our behalf.
The people of Bethlehem are rejoicing in this redemptive picture because—as we've been told twice—this girl, though a foreigner, an outsider, has made a wonderful name for herself in their town. It was obvious that she, as a Moabite, had made a tremendous sacrifice to trust God as her Savior. And she didn't spend her time running around chasing every man in the community, and Boaz noted that.
As a man chooses a woman for his bride, and as Boaz claimed Ruth, so Christ came to this earth for His bride. He is the One who demonstrated His love by dying for us. And we are the responder—we are to respond to His love. We are to receive Him as Savior, then come to know Him.
Oh, friend, that should be the ambition of every Christian—to know Him! It is sad that a great many people make a trip to Bethlehem once a year and look in a manger. He's not there, friend. Although He did come as a baby, He hasn't been a baby for a long time. Then at Easter they go look in an empty tomb, and He’s not there either. He’s the Man in the Glory today. And Paul could write that his ambition was “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings” (Philippians 3:10). That should be our goal, too. Oh, that we might know Him, our Kinsman–Redeemer, and love Him because He first loved us.
The book of Ruth tells a family story—a family struggling to survive, hammered by grief, in search of hope, open to possibilities, looking to God in faith, restored to wholeness. It’s likely at least one of those situations resonates with you. Which one?
- Can you identify with Naomi—looking to God for healing from loss and struggle?
- With Ruth—overcoming tremendous hurdles to believe God has a plan that includes you?
- With Boaz—intent on doing the righteous thing God’s way?
Reread the four chapters of Ruth again with a special eye for “your person.” See how God meets their need—and trust Him to meet yours.