The Romance of Redemption
The Bible is remarkable in its ability to reach the tenderest parts of our hearts and the roughest corners of our minds. Many of us have a favorite book of the Bible; Genesis, Isaiah, Romans, Revelation — each is powerful and touches us in deep, personal ways. When somebody once asked me to name my favorite book of the Bible, I realized the Book of Ruth might easily top the list.
That might seem surprising. Ruth is a small interlude between Judges and 1 Samuel in our English versions, one that tells the simple story of King David’s great grandmother. Yet, we find a wonderfully elegant love story in its four short chapters. Ruth holds a great treasure; as a work of literature, Ruth is venerated even in secular college classrooms, but, more importantly, we find the Gospel threaded throughout the entire tale. In fact, it’s one of the most dramatic books of prophecy in the Bible, and I regard this book as an essential prerequisite to studying the book of Revelation.
In Ruth, we find that every detail carries not just a story of romance, but specifically the Romance of Redemption. It gives us a perspective of God’s plan for us, and you and I are profiled here in a very surprising way. In Ruth, we discover a concept called the Goel — the Kinsman-Redeemer.
We also find here a primer on the distinctions between Israel and the Church. One of the tragic by-products of Christianity today is confusion about God’s purposes for Israel. God has a specific plan for Israel and a specific plan for the Church, and in certain ways these are mutually exclusive. They are parallel but separate, and as we read Ruth, we want to remain sensitive to the differences.
The Bible is a masterpiece of communication from a God outside our time domain. The message of salvation is simple enough for the youngest of minds and yet, intellectuals can spend decades studying its pages and still find new hidden treasures in each passage. As we read Ruth, we need to adjust ourselves to multiple levels of understanding.