The ending of the book of Ruth feels a little anticlimactic. We’ve just experienced this wonderful winsome story, and all we get at the very end is a genealogy? What a letdown! But for the ancient person, this genealogy had the effect of taking a good story and suddenly making it a grand story, taking a small story and making it a story of epic proportions. Without the genealogy, this story is merely a tale about one family in Israel. But by linking the birth of Obed to the birth of the future king David, suddenly the narrator has made this a story about all of Israel, including every reader and hearer of this story. The same is true for Christian readers as well, perhaps even more so. When the gospel writer Matthew opens his book with a genealogy that includes Ruth and Obed and runs all the way to the birth of Jesus the Messiah, suddenly this is not just a story about a family, or even just a story about Israel, but a story about the whole world– how God brings about his Messiah who will ultimately redeem all things. So when we read this story, we are meant to ask: how am I now a part of this great story?
Humans are story-formed creatures. We love stories. We need stories to make sense of our lives. We are all asking unconscious questions like: What is the purpose of life? What’s wrong with the world? How will it all get fixed? How will it all end? We need answers to these questions if we are going to have lives of meaning. Unfortunately, the modern Western world no longer has answers for these questions, so much of our society is plunging into despair, power-grabbing, and nihilism. But the gospel invites us to see our little lives in the context of the Big Story, the story of what God is doing to redeem all things. We can read a book like Ruth and not just say, “What a great story!,” but also say, “How is my life a part of this big story that God is writing for the world?”
In preparation for worship this week, I invite you to reflect back on the themes of our series and ask how God has moved you or affected you. How will you live differently because of what you have learned about the Hesed of God? How will you begin to approach ordinary life differently knowing God often carries out his powerful purposes within everyday circumstances? How will you handle suffering differently knowing that God is always working behind the scenes to carry out his redemptive purposes? How will you treat the outsider and stranger knowing that God is always on the move to welcome the marginal person in? Let this story frame your own story, and you will find yourself becoming a different sort of person!
Our weekly worship guide can be found here.
18 This, then, is the family line of Perez:
Perez was the father of Hezron,
19 Hezron the father of Ram,
Ram the father of Amminadab,
20 Amminadab the father of Nahshon,
Nahshon the father of Salmon,
21 Salmon the father of Boaz,
Boaz the father of Obed,
22 Obed the father of Jesse,
and Jesse the father of David.