advent lettering

This is Why He Came

Stories of Salvation and Transformation from Around the World

A Gentile in the Lineage of Jesus: The Story of Ruth

by Sarah Tarpley, DBU Alumna

Today's Reading

Ruth 1-4

The story of Ruth cannot be as beautifully told without also including the story of Naomi, her mother-in-law. It is a story of redemption, of God’s grace to Gentiles, and a glimpse into the lives of those in the lineage of Jesus Christ.  

The book starts with a family escaping famine from Bethlehem. Naomi, along with her husband, sons, and daughters-in-law, moved their lives from Bethlehem to Moab. Over the years, Naomi’s husband and sons all passed away, leaving her with her two daughters-in-law. She pleaded with them to move on from her, go back to their parents, and start a life as they were still young and she would never be able to give them new husbands. One took her up on her offer, but Ruth stayed by her side. 

Ruth’s loyalty to her mother-in-law who could offer her nothing except companionship is beautiful. She said to Naomi, “Wherever you go, I will go… your people shall be my people, and your God, my God” (Ruth 1:16-17). So, knowing Ruth was determined to stay by her side, they returned to Bethlehem together.  

The beginning of the barley harvest had just started; Ruth pleaded with Naomi to go into the fields to glean heads of grain so that she would find favor with her father-in-law’s relative, Boaz, and to provide for the both of them. Boaz quickly took notice of Ruth, and she found favor with him. He told her to go to no other field, but to reap alongside his women and drink from the water the men would draw for her. He commanded his men not to touch her, and to even drop extra for her on purpose from which she could glean.  

After gleaning in the fields that day, Ruth told Naomi all that had happened. Naomi noticed how unusual the favor Ruth had acquired, only to discover that Ruth had been gleaning in the field of her close relative. Determined to make a match for Ruth and redeem all she had lost, Naomi instructed Ruth on how to assure her redemption through Boaz. As Ruth and Boaz went through the customs and traditions in order to gain her redemption, the beautiful story comes to a close with Boaz marrying Ruth, starting a lineage that would lead to King David. 

While the story itself is a beautiful tale of physical redemption, there are some key themes that display the love of God and his providence as well. The book may be called “Ruth,” but the story of Naomi goes from fullness to emptiness, back to restored fullness at the hand of God. Through Ruth and Boaz, she is restored to physical security and provision with grain and family, and poetic restoration through Ruth and Boaz’s son.  

Secondly, we see the beauty of God’s sovereignty in guiding Ruth to be elected for salvation and an heir to the Messiah to come. As a Moabite, she would have been an unbeliever, and yet God chose to graft her into the family of God, even as a Gentile in the very lineage of the Messiah to be born in Bethlehem. That theme ties in with the physical redemption provided by Boaz, but also through Christ redeeming Ruth from her sin and grafting her into the family of God, looking forward to the day when God would declare over a global Kingdom of Jews and Gentiles, “I will be their God and they will be My people” (Revelation 21:3).   

Previous Article Next Article