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When All is Lost - Why Study the Book of Ruth

The circumstances could not have been more tragic. A Judean woman moves to Moab because of famine in her homeland. After arrival to this foreign land her husband dies an untimely death. Her two sons marry local Moabite girls, but like their father, they also die prematurely. There were no children, either. With no government safety net or church support, or children to send out to work, the situation was hopeless.

What can you do in such circumstances?

Welcome to the Book of Ruth. Far from being a quaint, romantic tale, Ruth is a powerful manifesto of redemption - from tragedy to triumph. When all seems to be lost, redemption comes in and turns everything around -  even more than you can imagine.

And there is more. What was really at stake was not merely the fortunes of two widows - it was the Messianic lineage itself from Abraham to David. The redemption of Ruth restored this broken line. Though a Gentile from a despised race, Ruth became an honoured matriarch who is named an ancestor of the Messiah (Matthew 1:5).

What were the keys that turned this hopeless situation around?

First, it was Ruth’s faithfulness. She put all her trust in the God of Israel. Her faithfulness to God is matched by her legendary care of her widowed mother-in-law, Naomi. ‘Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God’ Ruth 1:16ff (NKJV) was her famous statement of commitment.

Second, God’s faithfulness. The LORD made provision for such tragedies through two means. First, regarding food for the needy, Israelites were commanded to leave the corners and fringes of their harvest field untouched so that the poor, stranger, fatherless, and widows can glean therein and have food (Leviticus 19:10; Deuteronomy 24:21). Ruth went to glean in the fields and caught the attention of an older man named Boaz.

Another provision of God was the ‘kinsmen-redeemer’ or go’el in Hebrew. This means a male relative (brother) takes on the widow and raises up a descendant for the deceased brother. This is called ‘Levirate Marriage,’ described in Deuteronomy 25. Since Naomi had no more sons to offer Ruth, here again all seemed lost.

Yet this same Boaz, who took notice of Ruth in his harvest field, also happened to be a relative. When Naomi saw the favour Ruth enjoyed in the eyes of Boaz, she ‘nudged’ her to invite him to do the duty of a kinsman-redeemer. The ‘Naomi nudge’ at home turned into a ‘Ruth nudge’ at the threshing floor. Once he was nudged, Boaz, son of Salmon and Rahab, wasted no time in trying to secure Ruth’s redemption.

After quickly clearing the last hurdle, Boaz married Ruth, they had a son called OBED, and redemption came to Ruth, Naomi, Elimelech, Mahlon and Chilion. Ruth, daughter-in-law of Rahab, became the great-grandmother of David. The Messianic line was preserved.

The bottom line: When you put all your trust in the LORD, there is never a situation where ‘all is lost.’ God’s redemption means you will find your blessing, with dividends.


Author:  Unknown. Probably written in the time of David, great-grandson of Ruth.

Christ:  Kinsman-Redeemer.  Go'el

1.       He was a blood relative to Israel and Son of man to the Gentiles.
2.       Redeemer must be free Himself. Christ is totally free.
3.       Purchased redemption with His priceless blood (Boaz did it with money).
4.       Needs to buy back forfeited inheritance. Christ the Redeemer has the power to buy back all that was lost.
5.       Must be willing to marry the widow. Christ has a bride (Romans 7:4).

Theme: Power of Redemption

Book of Ruth:

A Simple Outline

CHAPTER ONE: Tragedy for Naomi & Ruth
The Unfortunate Move of Elimelech & Naomi
Ruth’s Transformational Decision
Ruth Moves to Judah with Naomi
CHAPTER TWO: The Toil of Ruth
LOCATION: Fields of Boaz
Ruth Gleans in Boaz’s Field
Ruth Finds Favour With Boaz
Naomi Revives
CHAPTER THREE: Trust in Action
LOCATION: Threshingfloor
Naomi ‘Nudges’ Ruth Towards Boaz
Ruth ‘Nudges’ Boaz
Boaz Agrees to be a Kinsman-Redeemer
Naomi Transformed: From Pessimist to Optimist
CHAPTER FOUR: Triumph and Redemption
Location: Bethlehem City Gate
Boaz Redeems
Boaz Marries Ruth
Ruth Gives Birth to Obed
Genealogy of David

Note: We offer an 8 hour audio MP3 verse-by-verse commentary on the Book of Ruth, including 30 pages of printable PDF notes. It is part of our larger ‘Understanding the Bible Series.’ For further information, go to


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