The story of Ruth and Boaz, had we been God, likely would never have happened. Without Ruth and Boaz, there is no King David. Without David, there is no line for Jesus. Without Jesus, there is no Savior for our sins. It’s like the plot to a bad time-traveling sci-fi movie: alter the past and we risk destroying the future. But you’re probably thinking, “No, Ruth and Boaz is a love story for the ages. We would have seen to it that those two would be brought together.” Yes, if Ruth existed. However, remember that Ruth is from Moab:
They took for themselves Moabite women as wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. – Ruth 1:4a, NASB
We wouldn’t have directly stopped Ruth from being born. After all, there was no reason to do so. But we likely would have indirectly prevented her birth. The key is her origin: she is from the nation of Moab. And if we dig back into Genesis, we see that the origin of the Moabites comes from sin compounded upon sin. If it had been up to us, we likely wouldn’t have allowed the sins to happen. We would have short-circuited them because what happened wasn’t something acceptable. But God didn’t intervene. He knew there needed to be a Moab because there needed to be a Ruth from Moab. We sometimes ask why God allows evil things to happen. The problem we face is that we don’t have the knowledge and vision of God. We can’t. He’s beyond description. He’s without measure. We’re just finite creations, limited in many ways. So there are times when things happen which leave us shaking our heads. “Why, God, did you allow that to happen?” we ask. We don’t understand. It is in times like these that we really must trust God. The story of Ruth shows the completeness of His vision. So let’s take it back to the beginning of the Moabite nation.
Before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, surrounded the house, both young and old, all the people from every quarter; and they called to Lot and said to him, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may have relations with them.” But Lot went out to them at the doorway, and shut the door behind him, and said, “Please, my brothers, do not act wickedly.
“Now behold, I have two daughters who have not had relations with man; please let me bring them out to you, and do to them whatever you like; only do nothing to these men, inasmuch as they have come under the shelter of my roof.” – Genesis 19:4-8, NASB
Why do I start here, in the tale of Sodom and Gomorrah? Truth be told, I could take it back to when Abraham and Lot split. However, if we’re going to talk about sin compounded on sin, this is the best place to start. Two angels have come to visit Lot. They are there because they will deliver this man and his family from Sodom before God destroys it. The men of the city see the angels and think they are normal men. So they come to find Lot and ask him to let them at his visitors. This breaks two big taboos. The first is obvious: men having relations with other men. But keep in mind that in eastern cultures hosts were responsible for the safety and welfare of their guests. The men of Sodom knew that. But they were asking Lot to compromise that social law. That’s number two.
Lot refused, but not before offering up his own daughters to these wicked men! Perhaps Lot’s treatment of his daughters here is reflective of his parenting. We don’t know because we’re not given a picture of Lot’s family life. But certainly his response is something most fathers would find absolutely horrible. Yet God intended to save this man. That says a lot about the love of a sovereign God, doesn’t it? We would toss this guy in jail and throw away the key, but God intended for Lot’s life to be preserved. We know the rest of the story of how Lot is saved from destruction: Lot and his family flee the city shortly before God destroys it. Lot’s wife looks back and is turned into a pillar of salt, leaving him a widower. So far so good. What comes next is what curdles the blood:
Lot went up from Zoar, and stayed in the mountains, and his two daughters with him; for he was afraid to stay in Zoar; and he stayed in a cave, he and his two daughters. Then the firstborn said to the younger, “Our father is old, and there is not a man on earth to come in to us after the manner of the earth.
“Come, let us make our father drink wine, and let us lie with him that we may preserve our family through our father.”
So they made their father drink wine that night, and the firstborn went in and lay with her father; and he did not know when she lay down or when she arose. On the following day, the firstborn said to the younger, “Behold, I lay last night with my father; let us make him drink wine tonight also; then you go in and lie with him, that we may preserve our family through our father.”
So they made their father drink wine that night also, and the younger arose and lay with him; and he did not know when she lay down or when she arose. – Genesis 19:30-35, NASB
If you and I were God, we would likely have stepped in here. What Lot’s daughters plotted to do would have been something we wouldn’t have stood for. They got their father drunk and then each one slept with him. The reason they gave, to continue Lot’s line, isn’t acceptable. So where is God here? Why doesn’t He step in and stop this nonsense? He doesn’t step in because of Ruth. What? How can that be? To answer that, we just need to read a bit further:
Thus both the daughters of Lot were with child by their father. The firstborn bore a son, and called his name Moab; he is the father of the Moabites to this day. – Genesis 19:36-37, NASB
Oh. That’s why Ruth is in the picture. To stop the actions of Lot’s daughters would have prevented the Moabites from coming into being. That nixes Ruth. And that means there never is a David. Now we may say that as a sovereign God He could have come up with some other means. Yes, He could have. But if we think about the ripples that such a change would cause, and the ripples they would have caused, it’s impossible for us to say that we know there was a better way. Given that an all-powerful and all-knowing God allowed these actions to occur, it’s just better to trust He did it the only way it should have been done.
God’s plan is perfect and complete. His vision is built into the plan. Generations upon generations before Ruth, He was seeing to her well being. Just as God tended to Ruth, so does He tend to us. He loves us with a love beyond our wildest imaginations. We can’t conceive of the extent of God’s love for us. And because He is in control of everything that happens, because He is sovereign over all that passes, we can trust that His way is the best way. We can depend on Him and cling to Him regardless of what we’re facing. The question was never, “Can He do it?” but rather, “Can we?” He took care of Ruth. He will take care of us, too. Actually, He did when He tended to Ruth’s future. Because of Ruth there is a line to Jesus. She trusted Him. We only need to put our trust in Him, too.