This Sunday, we are beginning a teaching series following the book of Ruth. Perhaps no book in the Bible presents such a clear, poetic look at redemption.
But most believers would struggle to define the concept of redemption that the book of Ruth teaches. For most of us, redemption is defined by St. Anselm’s Satisfaction Theory – that Jesus satisfied God’s price for mankind. We believe that redemption is the equivalent of paying someone’s debt.
This is not the image of redemption provide by the book of Ruth. In this wonderful book, redemption is pictured in the idea of planting and harvest. The book is full of agrarian language – famine, harvests and threshing. It is so apparent but so neglected.
Harvest was central to ancient societies in southwest Asia. The Israelites’ main annual feasts – Pashah, Shavuot and Succoth – all revolve around the harvest. Their sacrifices often included grain, bread or beverages derived from grain (i.e. beer).
Redemption and harvest were one and the same to this culture because harvest is all about what was once dead (seed) coming to life (grain). Redemption and resurrection are identical, and they are celebrated in Ruth.
Ruth is the story of resurrection – the resurrection of hope, of family, and of the land. Ultimately, it is a story of redemption from the will of man and into the will of God.
It is an amazing book with tremendous insight.