I’ve been reading through the Bible and this past week was the conclusion of Judges and the book of Ruth. The devotional I’m using provides some running commentary about the story – what’s happening behind the scenes, etc.
The commentary in this last week highlighted the fact:
Judges and Ruth occur chronologically at the same time (as suggested in Ruth 1:1)
What makes that startling is if you read Ruth in light of what was transpiring in Judges – total chaos. Over and over again the Israelites turn from God’s leadership and direction and make their own way – and always such a bad way it is!
Judges 18 and 19 both begin with “In those days Israel had no king” and that phrase occurs in Judges 17 and 21 as well for a total of 5 times in the last five chapters. Reading it is almost horrific. Chapter 19 and the story of the Levite and the men of Gibeah is like a train wreck – or an earthquake and tsunami…you can’t stand to read it but can’t look away either.
In the midst of this chaos, though, is the story of Ruth. It is a story of faith, hope, obedience, and redemption. Ruth had her own chaos – loss of family, home, and security. The summation of Ruth could have been “In those days Ruth had no hope” but rather it Ruth is known for the great verse of commitment and hope:
“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)
What made the difference in Ruth’s story and those of the Israelites who had no king? Ruth found joy in the midst of chaos, and God blessed her greatly.
The images from the earthquake and tsunami in Japan are startling and heart breaking. Entire villages literally washed away. The devastation is beyond our imagination. Total and complete chaos is their new reality, chaos not of their own making. In the midst of all the chaos there are amazing images – an elderly couple holding hands, a young mother hugging her little one, and three little, mischievous boys playing. In the midst of the chaos, there is joy.
Just like we have become paralyzed staring at the images of devastation from Japan, it is easy to focus on the disaster and not see the glimpses of joy and hope. As we go through this Lent season, my prayer for you is that you will see hope and choose joy. From your obedience will come redemption and blessing.