Monday, July 9, 2012

Today is Ruth Day!

Last week I made a decision to repeat what I did a few weeks ago with the New Testament and read short books in the Old Testament daily for the next few days. Here's my schedule: Old Testament Reading Schedule

Please, please, please understand that what I'm writing are my initial observations. These notes are in no way to be considered absolute truth, I'm human! If I were actually studying each book, I'd be spending much more time than a day reading, rereading, observing, studying other sources, rereading, etc. I should in no way be considered a Bible expert! I am simply trying to read through the Bible this year, asking God to open my eyes to His word. I'm asking you to join me.

Here are my initial observation notes on Ruth:

* Due to the fact that this is a story, the notes will look slightly different than the letters I wrote about from the New Testament! I am going to try and find the different elements of the plot using this witches hat note sheet I had my students use when trying to pick out important details: (I filled in each spot with each piece labeled and defined for you, I hand out blank graphic organizers to my students.)

Just in case you can't read the notes starting from the bottom left hand side, traveling up the witches hat to the star, and back down to the right hand side box...
The exposition is where the protagonist (main character) is introduced and probably his/her nemesis (antagonist), as well as the setting (when and where the story takes place), as well as the point of view (1st person, 2nd person, 3rd person omniscient, 3rd person limited).
Next, is the opening scene where the action starts.
In the middle of the story is a big BOOM, the conflicts, or the problems a character(s) face with other characters, with nature, or with self.
The arrow going up is the rising action, which is all the important events leading to the climax.
The climax (the star) is the turning point of the story where the protagonist has an epiphany (an a-ha moment, a realization), from this point things will never be the same.
The arrow traveling down the witches hat is the falling action, which is all the events leading to the resolution.
The resolution is the end of the story! (I like this word because if you break it down it looks like this: RESOLved, reSOLUTION, the problems are resolved or the character has usually found a solution to his/her problem(s).)
Now that you have all that down, I think we're ready to go through the elements of this story that I picked out:

Exposition:
  • Characters
    • Protagonists - Ruth, Naomi, Boaz, GOD (He is not mentioned as a central character, but you can clearly see his hand throughout this story!)
    • Minor Characters  - Elimelech (Naomi's husband), Mahlon & Chilion (Naomi's sons, one of whom Ruth married), and Orpah (Naomi's other daughter-in-law)
  • Setting
    • When - In the days when the judges ruled
    • Where - country of Moab & the land of Judah in the town of Bethlehem
  • Point of View - 3rd person (the pronouns they, she, them, are used)
Opening Scene: Naomi gave both Ruth and Orpah the opportunity to go home to their parents so they could remarry, Orpah left, but Ruth insisted on staying with her. (1:8-18)

Conflicts:
  • Character vs Nature 
    • There was a famine in the land of Moab, so Naomi went back to Bethlehem because she heard the fields were producing there
    • Naomi's husband died as well as both her sons
  • Character vs Self
    • Naomi renamed herself Mara claiming that the Lord dealt bitterly with her, taking her husband and sons.
Rising Action:
  1. Ruth and Naomi traveled to Bethlehem and Ruth began working in the barley fields.
  2. Ruth worked hard (2:7) and was noticed by Boaz.
  3. Boaz told her to continue working in this field because he will offer her safety. (2:9)
  4. So Ruth continued working for Boaz until the end of the harvest, living with her mother-in-law. (2:23)
  5. One night, as Boaz was winnowing barley, Naomi instructs Ruth to clean up and go to Boaz, but not to make herself known to him until after he had finished eating and drinking. (Her instructions were to wait until he laid down and to lay at his feet.)
  6. She did just as Naomi instructed, and at midnight Boaz woke with a start to find her laying at his feet. (3:8-9)
  7. He told her that he was impressed with her and that he would do whatever it was that she asked and he told her to lay there until morning. (3:13-18)
  8. Boaz went up to the gate and met the redeemer and bought Naomi's land, also claiming Ruth as his wife. The elders of Bethlehem blessed him. (4:1-12)
Climax: After Boaz took Ruth as his wife she bore him a son, named Obed. (4:13)

Falling Action:
  1. Naomi became Obed's nurse and the women said to Naomi that he will restore her life and nourish her in her old age, bringing joy back into her life. (4:14-17)
Resolution: The important part of this story is to understand the genealogy because Obed was King David's great grandfather and Boaz his great, great grandfather! (4:18-22) It all points back to Jesus being King, born in Bethlehem! Remember that the when of the setting was: in the days when the judges ruled (Israel had no king! God is sovereign and had a plan all along!) In fact, if you go back and read 4:13 you can see how much control God really has: "So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife. And he went in to her, and THE LORD GAVE HER CONCEPTION, and she bore a son." (This statement is obviously showing God's sovereignty - he was in control of the sequence of events from the beginning to the end.)

The verse that amazes me the most is 4:14 when the women of Israel are telling Naomi that this event will restore her joy: "Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without a redeemer, and may his name be renowned in Israel! He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age..."
Although they are talking about the birth of Obed, think about it like this:
  • Who is the redeemer? Jesus!
  • Who's name is renowned? Jesus!
  • Who's a restorer of life? Jesus!
  • Everything in this story points back to Jesus!
Join me tomorrow, I'll be reading Joel!

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