What does Ruth teach us about God’s faithfulness in terrible times?
God gives his blessings to all faithful people even in faithless times.
The book of Ruth is set at one of the darkest hours in the Biblical history. The book of Judges records horrifying evils committed by God’s own people and the cycle of judgment that came as a result of their national sin. Pagan idols were worshipped in the place of God, the country was divided by civil war, and no one listened to God’s laws, but instead, everyone did what was right in his own eyes. Israel had become a violent and terrifying place to live.
So, when the book of Ruth begins, there is a famine in the land, brought about by God’s judgment on his rebellious people. It would have been a discouraging time to try to be faithful to God. One family of Israelites was so hopeless living in Israel, they left the country to live in Moab, a sworn enemy of God’s people. The young sons marry Moabite women; they are putting down roots outside Israel. They no longer trust in God’s promises. But in Moab, the family fares even worse; everyone but the mother, Naomi, and her two daughters-in-law died. Naomi becomes bitter and plans to return home, and sends her daughters-in-law back to their homes. But Ruth refuses to stay in Moab, and instead wants to follow Naomi back to Israel. She pledges not to leave her, and says, “Your people shall be my people, and your God my God” (Ruth 1:16 ESV).
Ruth stands out as a shining example of faithfulness, and God blesses her and provides for her. Many people would have dismissed her because she was not an Israelite, and she was a woman. But God blesses her and provides for her as she follows the godly council of Naomi—who, at that point, was too bitter to have hope for herself. And Ruth’s faith not only blesses her, but brings renewed faith and hope to Naomi.
Not only are Ruth and Naomi blessed, but the book ends with hope for the entire nation; while Judges ends saying, “there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25 ESV), Ruth ends with the genealogy of King David. It’s a little preview that a godly king was about to come bless the nation.
For Christians, we can have the same hope that as we wait for King Jesus to return, God will bless us and keep us. Times may be dark, but God is always faithful to everyone who trusts in him.