We just finished reading “Judges” in the Bible reading plan many people from my church use. I’ve been saying that “Judges” is my least favorite book of the Bible. It shows the total depravity of humans when they are left without any moral compass. The book closes with one of the saddest statements in the Bible. “In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.” (Judges 21:25) It sounds a lot like the day we’re living in. Pastor Stan spoke on Easter at Horizon Community Church about people following and defending “my truth.” The idea is that if it works for me, it’s “my truth” and you can’t argue with it. He quoted the Urban Dictionary definition of “my truth:” “Pretentious substitute for ‘non-negotiable personal opinion.’ Often used by academics, this is a convenient phrase for avoiding arguments because people can contradict your opinion but not your ‘truth.’”
How does a person survive and thrive following God in such a culture? I love about the Bible that it’s God’s truth, not mere man’s opinion. Fortunately for us, God didn’t leave us at the end of the book of “Judges” with the hopelessness of everyone doing what’s right in their own eyes. The very next Bible book is “Ruth.” She lived during this time period of the judges. She wasn’t even a follower of God when the story began, as she lived in a foreign country. How does a woman living in the midst of difficult and even evil times as Ruth was, remain faithful to the Lord?
Ruth had a mentor who modeled (imperfectly) what it’s like to trust in God. Naomi and Ruth walked and talked together through everyday activities. Naomi may have felt unworthy to speak into Ruth’s life, but Ruth saw something in Naomi that she couldn’t get in her own home. She was drawn to Naomi’s God. From the day that Ruth chose to follow Naomi back to the Hebrew homeland, the two women blended their lives. They walked the several days walk back to Bethlehem together. Both women had experienced the deep grief of losing their husbands. Naomi allowed Ruth to see how she carried on in the midst of her own painful circumstances. When they got to Bethlehem, they lived together and showed great kindness to each other. Ruth worked hard, and Naomi gave her everyday advice. The day came when Naomi gave Ruth a bold plan to arrange for their kinsman-redeemer, Boaz, to marry Ruth. (This beautiful love story can be read in the book of Ruth.) When Ruth and Boaz married, both Ruth and Naomi were provided for. Naomi accepted Ruth’s first son, Obed, as her own. She wasn’t in the direct lineage, but through family/mentor ties, Naomi helped raise King David’s grandfather. From there, the lineage goes on to Jesus. Ruth is in the direct blood line to Jesus, as we read in Matthew 1:5, 6a, “Boaz was the father of Obed (whose mother was Ruth). Obed was the father of Jesse. Jesse was the father of King David.” Neither of them could have known the remarkable plan God had for them when they set out on that path to Bethlehem. They just walked day by day together.
The ESV Study Bible says in the notes on Ruth on page 475, “This book highlights how God’s people experience his sovereignty, wisdom and covenant kindness. These often come disguised in hard circumstances and are mediated through the kindness of others.” We live in days every bit as evil as the days of the judges and face circumstances every bit as difficult. We need the kindness of others who are perhaps a little older to help us navigate through every pretentious “my truth” to the safety of God’s TRUTH. I’m not sure we can make it alone. We need to seek out a Naomi in our generation and learn to walk through these evil times straight into God’s amazing path for our lives.