I love the book of Ruth. Ruth and Naomi are two of my favorite characters throughout scripture.
Ruth is a model of faith. The author presents her without a single spiritual flaw as a model Israelite (despite being a Moabite!). She models unwavering faith in the face of uncertainty, taking refuge under the Lord’s wings. She wraps herself in courage and walks into danger. Ruth is a picture of covenant faithfulness, the fulfillment of love, as she takes primary responsibility for leadership, protection, and provision in the home. Ruth is unexpected, outwardly weak, despised by men, and acquainted with grief—and yet the one through whom redemption would come. Ruth is a type, a shadow, a picture of Christ.
If Ruth is a model of what the Lord’s people ought to be, Naomi is a model of what Israel was—and what God’s people too often are today (of whom I am the chief). She suffers and her faith fails. She tells her daughters-in-law to go back to their (little-g) gods. There is no good for her to be expected from the Lord. His hand is against her. She despises others, counting Ruth as worthless. Despite the weakness of her flesh, she is not forsaken. God remembers her and shows her kindness. And, when Naomi sees and remembers his covenant faithfulness, her faith is fanned into flame. She takes initiative, crafts a plan, and waits in confident hope.
Through these two believing women—each so different from the other—the line of the promised seed is preserved in the days of the judges. Through them, through their faith and actions, the Messiah would arrive to save us all.
I don’t just love Ruth. I love kids. I want kids to know and be excited about Jesus.
I went to children’s Sunday School almost every Sunday of my childhood—sometimes as the only child in my class. I didn’t always want to be there. I can remember only a handful of particular lessons—and only snippets of those. (Retention is over-rated. Spiritual influence is far more than capturing a short-attention-span and enabling the recollection of facts.)
I recall a Sunday School teacher who, with tears in her eyes, told our class, “I love Jesus. I love him more than anyone in the world.” I don’t recall anything else from that class. I remember sitting dumb-founded, wondering how on earth she could love someone she had never seen “in real life.” I wondered about that until I experienced it for myself. That little church and the women and men who told us about Jesus week-after-week were no doubt a means by which God brought me to love Jesus.
When Ames Christian School asked if I’d speak in their chapel, I jumped at the chance to tell kids why I love Jesus. I go once a month to help them understand their memory verses. So, when I learned they’d be closing due to COVID, I offered to spend time with them via video.
A 4-Part Miniseries
Over the past four weeks, I tried to walk through the story of Ruth in a 4-part video miniseries (see below). I am by no means an expert in childhood education. But I do trust the power of the gospel over my own skills and expertise. So, I’m happy to step outside my comfort zone to tell kids about Jesus.
The book of Ruth, set in the days of the judges, reminds us of how God so often works his purposes. The Messiah did not arrive through the crazy antics of a superhero-like judge. He arrived through ordinary people of faith doing ordinary things—like loving a parent, harvesting crops, and showing kindness to strangers in the name of the Lord.
(For grown-ups, here’s a four-part sermon series at my local church.)