Ruth – A Missional Reading

“Scripture is appropriately read and interpreted as the Spirit-empowered testimony that equips God’s people for their mission…”

Darrell Guder: The Continuing Conversion of the Church p x

I am attempting something new at the moment.  If Guder’s statement above is correct then all Scripture has a missional goal.  What would this look like in practice?  I am attempting to deliberately think missionally about the Scripture I read.  In order to train myself to see not only the individual, theological, communal implications but the missional dynamic at work in Scripture.

I will ignore some details and other truths that are there in the text not because I do not think they are not important – undoubtedly they are.  But because I want to intentionally train myself to look at Scripture with a missional lens I am allowing myself to be a bit “unbalanced” in my reading.

Ruth – A Missional Reading:

1. God mission is universal in scope

We see God’s hand in bringing Ruth, the Moabite widow into not only the community of God’s people, but into the family tree of its greatest OT king – David.  Thus even in the midst of some of the worst days for Israel (the time of the Judges) we notice that God is at work bringing the blessing to nations that he promised through Abraham’s descendant(s).  Eventually Ruth is revealed in Matthew to be in not only the bloodline of David but also that of Jesus.

2. God’s mission is particular in execution.

The surprise and significance of the book of Ruth is found in the last part of chapter 4, where this odd, touching love story is found to be an integral part of the bloodline of the great king David, and ultimately the even greater king David.

The significance of this for God’s plan for the world is that God is not at work in Israel, the nations or the world in a general kind of way.  But in a very particular way – God has chosen to work through a very specific person/people in order to bring about the blessing for the nations.  It is through the descendants of Abraham that this blessing/salvation/redemption will come.  And through Abraham’s great descendant David and ultimately his even greater descendant Jesus.

It is only in this very particular context that the universal scope of the blessing has significance.

3. God’s mission is integrally linked to covenant faithfulness.

In 1v15-16 it is clear that it is not only Ruth who is devoted to Naomi but they both understand that commit to Naomi equals commitment to her God as well.  Ruth is not arbitrary foreign widow who God has chosen to bless and include in the line of David.  But rather Ruth who has chosen to forsake not only her people but their gods as well and align herself with not only Naomi and her people but her God as well.

In 4v11, 12  Ruth and Naomi’s blessedness is very clearly linked to the covenant God made to the partriachs (and their families) back in Genesis.  Their blessedness is because God has chosen to include them in his covenant plans for his people.  And as we discover in the following verses – in a more dramatic way than previously imagined.

God’s blessing to all people’s comes through association with the God of the covenant and his chosen people.

4. God’s mission has an integral call for the care of widows and the vulnerable.

I do not think it would be right to ignore this theme in Ruth.  Ruth shows her faithfulness to Naomi and  her God through her care, commitment and provision for Naomi. Ruth is commended by all for her care of Naomi, and it is in this that she shows herself to be a true Israelite who embodies the covenant life of Israel.

Likewise Boaz shows himself to be a true and faithful Isrealite (and is commended for this) by his care and provision for the poor and the widows, going beyond even what is expected of him.

In the same way we ought to show our commitment and belonging to the family line of Boaz and Abraham by our care for the poor, widows and the vulnerable (James 1:27).  These actions do not bring us into the covenant people but they show us to be worthy and faithful people of the covenant God of Israel and the nations.

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~ by John on March 15, 2009.

2 Responses to “Ruth – A Missional Reading”

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