The setting for Ruth is the time of the Judges. Judges records God’s people doing some of the ugliest things imaginable. It is the story of a faithful God’s mission to love an unfaithful people and save them from their sin.
Most of the story of Judges takes place on a gigantic scale with major rebellion, powerful judgments, brutal oppressors with big armies, and over-the-top heroes.
Ruth is a story of ordinary people in Bethlehem facing everyday events, from loss and dislocation to marriage and family life. In all of this, however, Ruth reminds us that no matter how dark or dramatic our days may seem, God still protects His people and accomplishes His purposes. Within life’s humdrum and routine events, we discover His loving hand at work.
The story of Ruth is a glimpse into what a sovereign and good God is doing to accomplish his mission, not despite the sinful choices of men, but through them. The story is not big, it is small; the characters are not amazing, they are very ordinary. It is a story about one small family, and one young non-Israelite widow, serving as light of hope that ultimately leads us to Jesus Christ, the light of the world. When all things appear hopeless, God is faithful.
Ruth reminds us not only that God works visibly through prophets and miracles, but that he is invisibly and mysteriously working all of the time, even within tragedy. It’s a story for those of us who have suffered, are suffering, and will suffer tragedy, loss, or pain. It is a story for those who doubt whether God is in control, whether God is good, and whether faithfulness to do what is right is worth it in hard times. And it’s a story for people who question whether all things, including suffering, are in fact purposed for good.
Ruth explores the interplay of God’s purposes with human decision and will. God weaves together the faithful obedience of his people to bring about his redemptive purposes in the world.