Thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God

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After the brutality of Judges, Ruth is often seen as a nice little love story.  A rom com to take our minds off all the raping and genocide!

But if we think like that perhaps we need to rehabilitate our view of romantic comedy.  The story of Scripture is most certainly a romance – the tale of Christ winning a bride.  And it is definitely a comedy – there is a eucatastrophe in which all things end well.  And so Ruth tells us the story of the bible in miniature.

Ruth is from Moab but is married and then widowed by an Israelite.  Her mother-in-law, Naomi, seeks to return to Israel alone.  But Ruth insists,

“Whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.” (Ruth 1:16)

Wasn’t it Martin Luther who said “The heart of religion lies in its personal pronouns”?  Well Ruth owns the God of Israel as her God.

But it’s costly for her to trust the LORD.  In Israel she will have to rely on the kindness of strangers, rather than her own people.

Thankfully she meets Boaz.  And he seems to embody everything written in the Jewish law about care for foreigners and widows (Deuteronomy 24:19-21).  In fact those laws themselves are meant to embody the LORD’s care for foreigners and widows (Deuteronomy 10:17-19).  Boaz is like the LORD.  And just as Ruth finds shelter under the wings of the LORD (2:12), so she finds shelter under the wings of Boaz (3:9).

He is a near relative of her deceased husband – a “kinsman”.  He’s a wealthy man and in a position to redeem Ruth – that is, to marry her and “raise up the name of the dead.”  In other words he will continue the family name for his dead relative.  Boaz is a kinsman redeemer, an embodiment of the good law and able to, in a sense, raise up the dead.  He is extremely Christ-like!

And when he agrees to marry Ruth, this foreign woman is raised up to dizzying heights.  She is brought in to the covenant people.  More than that, the book ends by reminding us that Ruth is brought right into the Messianic line.  She becomes the great grandmother of King David.  (Ruth 4:18-22)

From widow and foreigner – a stranger to the covenants of promise – Ruth is adopted into the chosen people, given life from the dead (so to speak) and made royalty.  It all happens through marrying her kinsman-redeemer.

In just this way, any of us can join the chosen people.  No matter where we have come from or what we have done, we are offered a marriage union to Christ.  When we call out to Him as “my God”, He in turn calls us “my people.”  And all that is ours – our sins and shame – goes to Him.  And all that is His – His righteousness and royalty – comes to us.

This is the great love story.  And it brings the ultimate ‘happily ever after’.  So maybe romantic comedy’s not so lame after all!

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