Ruth takes place during the latter part of the Judges period. So many of the theological thoughts and themes that happen during the Judges dark and twisted period are in contrast to some of the redemptive aspects of Ruth. Boaz will be in great contrast to most of the Judges and almost all of his fellow Israelites during the period he is living.
One phrase to keep in mind as we read this week is the last verse in the book of Judges. “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit”. The ESV translates that last part as, "everyone did what was right in his own eyes”. This line is true for Elimelech, Naomi, and there family. This line is true for Gideon at points and a big chunk of Samson’s life. And most importantly this line is true for all of Israel as they continually prostitute themselves to Baal and the worship of false gods. So keeping this line in mind tells us that most of the book of Judges is given to us for a negative example and to show what not to do in certain situations.
Finally, the book of Judges is a book about God. Yes, it has stories with Ehud the left-handed man and Samson but ultimately the book is about God, revealing us some major truths about God and His character. So, keep an eye out for the faithfulness of God in spite of the fact the people continually reject Him. The Hebrew word hesed shows up many times throughout the book in theme. That Hebrew word means, covenant faithful love. Also keep an eye out for the patience of God as even the men He chooses to use go in wrong directions. So take notice of everything the writer wants to show us about God and His character in contrast to the faulty people He uses and saves.
Here is a thought from the reading today about Gideon and his fleece trick.
Gideon asks God to do some special tricks in order to give him confidence in what he was doing. So Gideon twice lays out a fleece and tells God to make it wet or make it dry. But I believe this is not a good example for us and not a tool of decision making we should ever use. For starters, Gideon did not have a Bible and probably did not even have a single page of the book of the Law. Secondly, Gideon did not have the Holy Spirit living in him. Remember what I said earlier to, everyone do what they thought was right in their own eyes rather than the eyes of God sets the tone for the fleece action by Gideon. But also remember, God is faithful to us and patient, even when the man he chooses is boneheaded. I think this story is recorded to show us more about God faithfulness and Gideon’s cowardice and unbelief. Please do not ever “test” God to make a decision. As I said yesterday in the teaching time, God test us more with decision making to see if we obey Him and are faithful to His Word.