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The Women of Jesus' Family Tree: Ruth

Community Group Study Guide — The Women of Jesus’ Family Tree: Ruth
Ruth 1:1-5, 4:13-22

Study Information:
In our last study guide we looked at the genealogy of Jesus Christ in the gospel of Matthew. There is a curious feature in the genealogy (the family tree of Jesus), specifically that Matthew names five different women. Jewish genealogies typically only mention the men in a family line and Matthew broke the norm by highlighting these five women to make some theological points about the promises fulfilled in Jesus. We looked at Tamar’s story in the last study guide and learned that Jesus makes a home with the sinful and broken. Next we learn through the focus on Ruth that we need a king and a redeemer. 

Jesus is Our King
Ruth 1:1-5, 4:18-22
Matthew 1:5 is like a hyperlink back to the whole story of Ruth. Matthew wrote “Boaz was the father of Obed by Ruth” and this helps us recall God’s work of redemption in that critical story in Israel’s history. We’re first introduced to Ruth’s mother-in-law Naomi who lived during the time of the Judges, when there was no king in Israel but everyone did what was right in their own eyes. Things were lawless and it showed with just how bad things got throughout the book of Judges. Ruth took place sometime during that part of Israel’s history and reveals to us our need for a good and righteous king. 

When we are first introduced to Naomi we find that she has to leave Bethlehem (what would later be the birth place of Jesus) because there was a famine in the land. The irony being that Bethlehem literally mean “house of bread” and yet there was a severe famine in the land that forced Naomi and her family to leave. Another added irony is that Naomi’s husband was named Elimelech which meant “God is my King.” Yet, they struggled to trust God during the famine and they journeyed to Moab. 

In Moab, Naomi’s life fell apart; her husband and two sons died in the span of just a couple verses. Naomi was left with her two daughter’s in law but heard a rumor of God’s grace in that he had visited Israel and there was grain again in the land. Naomi picked everything up and headed back to Bethlehem and tried hard to convince her two daughter’s in law to go home and find new husbands, but only one of them turned back…, the other pledged her life to Naomi and that is how we first really meet Ruth. We get a sense of her steadfast love and commitment. Not only did Ruth pledge her life to serve and help Naomi, but she also pledged her life to God. 

As the story moved forward we learn of how Ruth worked each day gleaning in the fields and how Boaz took notice of her love and selfless care of Naomi. Boaz responds by giving her a measure of protection and generosity with extra grain left out during the gleaning. Each day Ruth would wake up and have to depend on God and his kindness and provision. In many ways we see Ruth trust God as her king. One key repeated word in the book of Ruth is the Hebrew word “Hesed” which is often translated as “Steadfast Love” but in the book of Ruth often is gets translated as “kindness” in our English bible. God is provider and shows his grace to us through his steadfast loving kindness. 

Eventually in the book you read that Ruth and Boaz get married and have a child and the big reveal is that God used this family line to led to king David (Ruth 4:18-22). 

Matthew’s genealogy tells us that Jesus is the “son of David,” which means he is the promised king who will reign forever and a fulfillment of God’s promise to David 2 Samuel 7 that God would send a king who would be on the throne forever. 

Jesus is Our Redeemer
Ruth 4:13-17

The story of Ruth introduced us to the concept of a kinsman redeemer, a close family member who took on another’s debt to provide redemption for them and buy them out of poverty. Naomi and Ruth came to Bethlehem with nothing and embrace an impoverished life gleaning the edges of the field. But Boaz was a close relative of Naomi and could redeem Ruth from this life of destitution. Boaz was attracted to Ruth’s steadfast love for Naomi and her dedication and commitment to God and God’s people. We do not know much about Boaz’s age or family history, but what we do know is that he had power and status and was able to take Ruth (and by proxy Naomi) out of poverty and destitution. Just as Ruth pledged her life to Naomi to rescue Naomi from destitution so too does Boaz redeem Ruth. He married her and by doing so Boaz also took on the care of Naomi and provided for “a name.” a family line, for Naomi through Ruth. An interesting feature of the book of Ruth is that when Ruth has a child the people praise God that he had provided a redeemer for Naomi, even saying “a son has been born to Naomi” (Ruth 4:17). This image of a redeemer reminds us that God is the restorer of life (Ruth 4:15). God the son took on humanity and became a redeemer for us. 

We all need redemption. We’re spiritually separated from God because of sin and are unable to save ourselves from that separation. God took the first step to be our redeemer in sending his son Jesus. Galatians 4:4-7 tell us that at the fullness of time God sent forth his son to redeem those under the Law and to bring us into his family as adopted sons. In Jesus we not only have a king, we also have a redeemer who bore the cost of our sin to give us new life in Christ. 

This Christmas season know that God is our king and the one who bears the cost of our redemption so we can be rescued and restored to him.

At your community group:

Take 15-20 minutes to share about how God has been at work in your life, prayer concerns and pray for one another.

How did God speak to you through the scripture and the sermon this week? 

Discussion Questions:
Read Ruth 1:1-5, 4:13-22

How does the story of Ruth highlight the tragedy and hopelessness of Naomi and Ruth’s life? What are some ways that God provided for them throughout the story?

Why is it good news for us that Jesus is our king?

What does it mean for someone to be redeemed?

Read Galatians 4:4-7. What are some of the benefits we receive spiritually from the incarnation of Jesus? How does the reality that you can be brought into God’s family through redemption encourage your faith this Christmas season?