We've been reading so much of the history* (well, what the writers want you to think is the history) of the Israelite people. History isn't really that...um...moving, so it's kind of nice to see an actual story!
But don't think of this story as removed from what we've been reading. It is a separate story, one that may have had a different author, but it fits into the larger story of Israel. And the biggest connection I draw your attention to is the fact that Ruth, the hero of the story, is not an Israelite.
Did you notice that? Maybe you noticed the odd things, like threshing floor, or untying sandals, or Naomi setting up her daughter in law with another family member and that's odd. But did you notice that she was not an Israelite to begin with?
It wasn't until she said " I will go where you go...your God will be my God" that Ruth joins in with the real story of Israel. The Israelites had a big story that involves wandering in the desert, forgetting that fact, trusting God and then not, living in the promised land and struggling with sharing it. Through out Judges, the Israelites forget that they are to worship God and God alone, and turn to their neighbor's gods.
But Ruth turned away from these gods that led to destruction and loss. Ruth turns TOWARDS the God of Israel, YHWH, the one true God. And what she finds is not loss and destruction, but a new family. She finds a home and a mother and a place to be. Ruth didn't have that before, especially after leaving her home for Naomi's son.
So, what could this mean? To the Israelites reading this it probably meant that they had a story of success. So many of their success stories had a Debbie-Downer type ending. "God saved us... but we forgot it and are facing the consequences." Not with Ruth! "God saved us...and saves other people, too!"
Let us know, what other ways did you see Ruth as a story of insiders and outsiders? What else did you notice? Comment here or on Facebook. I'm including a reference guide for the book of Ruth from a group called The Slate Project. They've got all sorts of good stuff going on, and I encourage you to have fun exploring their stuff.
The Image is taken from this tweet:
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Co-Pastors Travis and Kassie Smith McKee