Summary: A basic intro to Ruth, discussing its biblical and historical setting, basic story line, theme, author, date, outline, major and minor characters, location and basic teachings with a concluding discussion question about participant goals for the study.
Introduction to the Book of Ruth
June 16, 2013
NOTE: If you would like to have the formatted student study sheet that goes along with this week’s intro study with a helpful chart and a color map, write and request it at firstname.lastname@example.org.
TEXT: Ruth 1:1-5 – “Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehemjudah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons. 2 And the name of the man was Elimelech, and the name of his wife Naomi, and the name of his two sons Mahlon and Chilion, Ephrathites of Bethlehemjudah. And they came into the country of Moab, and continued there. 3 And Elimelech Naomi’s husband died; and she was left, and her two sons. 4 And they took them wives of the women of Moab; the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth: and they dwelled there about ten years. 5 And Mahlon and Chilion died also both of them; and the woman was left of her two sons and her husband.”
INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND REMARKS ON THE BOOK OF RUTH
Unquestionably, the book of Ruth is one of the most beautiful and captivating books in the Bible.
We can draw inspiration, guidance and direction from all of the Old Testament books, but the book of Ruth seems to speak in a sweet, soft way like no other book in the Old Testament…
• In GENESIS we read about the great patriarchs of the Bible, and the great lessons we can draw from their lives. Men like—
> NOAH, who was steadfast and faithful
> ABRAHAM, who was obedient and full of faith
> ISAAC, who was a man of great patience
> JACOB, who learned to be a man of God the hard way
> JOSEPH, who persevered through great trials
• In EXODUS we read of the Children of Israel, and of Moses, their great leader, and of the tragedy of the wilderness wanderings.
• In PSALMS we see…
> a reservoir of strength when I am weak…
> a treasure of inspiration when I lack motivation…
> and a repository of encouragement when I am down and discouraged.
• In PROVERBS is unparalleled practical guidance for everyday living.
In the PROPHETS we see many lions of men who preached God’s message boldly, and wonderful glimpses into the character of God.
But the book of Ruth is a diamond among the many jewels in the coffers of God’s Word. It’s special and precious in a unique way like no other book in the Bible, because not only is it a splendid spiritual narrative, but it is also an exquisite love story.
Before jumping into the book of Ruth, this week I want to look at some background information and introductory material so that we can get a deeper understanding of the book of Ruth.
• First let’s look at the HISTORICAL SETTING.
The book of Ruth takes place during the historical period of the Judges: Note verse 1 – “Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land.…” The period of the Judges was one of the darkest periods in Jewish history.
> Its place in the Bible:
Genesis – Creation through the Children of Israel in bondage in Egypt
Exodus – Moses leads the Children of Israel out of Egypt
Leviticus – Law and some historical detail
Numbers – Law and some historical detail
Deuteronomy – Law and some historical detail
Joshua – Victory as the Children of Israel take the Land of Promise
Judges – Theocracy – Period of defeat, sin, and decline / Cycle of sin (See )
Ruth – Ruth takes place in the period of the Judges
1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings, 1 & 2 Chronicles – Kingdom period = Saul —> David —> Solomon —Split of kingdom into two kingdoms (Israel and Juday) under Solomon’s sons, Jeroboam and Rehoboam.
> Another way of looking at it: Children of Israel in Egypt—> Moses—> Joshua —> conquering the land —> settling in.
> Cycle of Judges (REFER STUDENTS TO CHART ON STUDENTS SHEET):
Once in the land of Promise, God was to be their only ruler.
This was to be a theocracy—a rule by God.
But we read that the people turned from God.
Note Judges 21:25 – “In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.”
God wanted to be their ruler and to bless them, but…
they rejected God’s leadership…
they rebuffed God’s commands…
they spurned His principles…