Real People: Real Savior: Ruth

Matthew chapter 1 lists the ancestors of Jesus. You will learn more about your Savior as we trace through segments of his family tree.

Thomas D. Kock

Even though you may think you have been dealt a bad hand, God knows exactly what he is doing.

What a bad hand Ruth had been dealt! She’d taken a chance; even though she was from Moab, she had married into an Israelite family, a family which was already struggling. Her husband’s family had left Bethlehem because of a famine, hoping to find better fortunes in Moab. But then his father had died! That meant that Ruth’s husband had a double duty—to care both for his mother, Naomi, and for her. But that was okay. Love conquers all, right? Her husband had one brother, and he also married a Moabite woman, Orpah.

But then . . . ugh. Both her husband and her brother-in-law died! So there she was, a widow. And both her sister-in-law and mother-in law were widows too! What a bad hand she’d been dealt!


Except for one thing. Through all of this Ruth became a believer in the true God. So when her mother-in-law Naomi decided to go back to Bethlehem, Ruth wanted to go with her. Naomi tried to dissuade her, but Ruth said, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God” (Ruth 1:16). So the two women traveled to Bethlehem.

Now put yourself into Ruth’s shoes. She’s a widow and left her homeland to go to a place where she knows one person: Naomi. It’s a different culture, and since she is Moabite, it will likely be difficult for her to break into that culture (cf. Deuteronomy 23:3,4, where God says, “No Ammonite or Moabite or any of his descendants may enter the assembly of the LORD, not even in the tenth generation. For they did not come to meet you with bread and water on your way when you came out of Egypt, and they hired Balaam son of Beor from Pethor in Aram Naharaim to pronounce a curse on you”). Her life was filled with difficulty, even tragedy.

And how did she respond? She worked hard and faithfully! She was willing to listen to advice from her mother-in-law. She was willing to move forward, not to continually look back!

Long story short, she ended up marrying Boaz, who was a relative to Naomi. In doing so, she became not only part of Israel but also one branch in the family tree of the Savior! Ruth became a believer in the true God and part of the line of the Savior through famine; the deaths of her father-in-law, brother-in-law and husband; and a journey that uprooted her from her homeland and family to move to another culture. Wow!


Yes, sometimes we feel like life has dealt us a bad hand. That doesn’t mean that God has abandoned us or that God doesn’t know what he’s doing. God knew exactly what he was doing every step of Ruth’s life. He was making sure that Ruth became a believer in him and that the line of the Savior was extended.

Lest we forget, that’s your Savior and mine whose family history extended through Ruth! Yes, God was working every step of the way—through what looked like a really bad hand—to make sure that the gates of heaven would be opened to you and me! He was working for your benefit, way back then! And he’s working for your benefit today too.

Contributing editor Thomas Kock, a professor at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, Wisconsin, is a member at Atonement, Milwaukee.

This is the third article in a nine-part series on people in Jesus’ family tree.



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Author: Thomas D. Kock
Volume 102, Number 10
Issue: October 2015

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