By Nick Batzig
Reading the genealogies in Scripture can often feel like reading the Yellow Pages. (Social media Luddites will remember that big yellow book that arrived every year on the front porch.)
If we are honest, we are tempted to skip over the lists of names in the Bible because we struggle to recognize their importance. Yet, there are many reasons why God deemed it necessary to include those lists in His Word for our good. One is the fact that they tell a crucial part of the redemptive history. This is seen most clearly in the way the book of Ruth comes to an end.
In the verse immediately before the genealogy, we read that the people rejoiced at the birth of Ruth and Boaz’s son, saying, “‘Naomi has a son!’ And they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David” (Ruth 4:17).
Naomi’s sorrow had been taken away by the faithfulness of God. This woman who had returned home without her husband or sons, with one daughter-in-law and no hope of having anymore children, had her bitterness of soul taken away through God raising up Boaz to marry Ruth and give her a child. Ruth’s blessing was Naomi’s joy.
But the narrative would not be complete without the genealogy. The end of this book leaves the story of Naomi and Ruth pressing forward into the redemptive metanarrative (i.e. the overarching story) of Scripture. Ruth would be the mother of Obed and the grandmother of King David.
The triumph of Ruth is not merely found in the fact that she received a husband and son. The triumph of Ruth is that God’s grace would place her in the line of the Redeemer. God’s grace is so great that He can take a Gentile widow (who had no claim to the covenant promises) and make her an important figure in the history of redemption.
Ruth is one of five women in Jesus’ genealogy (Matthew 1:2-16). Two of whom were prostitutes, one was a pagan, one was an adulterer, and one was a virgin. By His grace, God wove together this beautiful tapestry of redemption, using the disreputable and despised. And this is how God continues to work today.
Even though we are not waiting for the Redeemer to descend from one of our own children, we, who have received Jesus Christ by faith, have received the same grace as Ruth. Our names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. It is grace—sheer undeserved and unmerited grace-—that makes the tapestry of God’s redeeming work so glorious.
God takes the most unworthy people and makes them to sit before Him as princes and princesses. He did it for Ruth, and He continues to do it for all who trust in the Son of Ruth—Jesus Christ.
Written By Nick Batzig