Have you recently read the two books of the bible named after women: Ruth and Esther?
Ruth is a gentile, who has a Jewish mother-in-law, and who was married to a son of a Jew after the Jew and his wife, Naomi, moved to Moab during a drought in Israel. The sons of the Jew and Jewess died leaving Naomi, Ruth and Naomi’s other daughter-in-law, Orpah, destitute. Naomi leads the family back Bethlehem, Israel, but Orpah returns to her own people. Ruth on the other hand adopts the land and Naomi’s God as her own with these beautiful words: “Entreat me not to leave you, Or to turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, And your God, my God.” Ruth immediately sets out to obtain food for Naomi by gleaning in the fields. The rest of the story is about God’s providence for the two women, whose property is redeemed by a close relative, Boaz who falls in love with Ruth and marries her. They become the grand parents of King David. The essence of the story is love and redemption, mirroring that which was accomplished by Christ Jesus. Naomi, who is bitter, calls herself Mara, resembling a destitute nation, but Boaz shows grace, that is undeserved favour, love and kindness to her through Ruth.
Esther is also a love story of a different type – it shows God’s love for His people, although they have mostly rejected Him. The Book of Esther shows the providence of God saving His people from certain annihilation by those that hated the Jews. An evil primeminister (Haman) plots to annihilate the Jews, but by God directing a series of events, a Jewish orphan becomes queen to King Ahasuerus instead of the vain Persian queen, Vashti (representing the world). Hadassah, known to the Persians as Esther, is beautiful, intelligent and obedient to Mordecai. She was also brave, facing death (Est 4:11) rather than seeing her people killed, and petitions the King to let the Jews go. The subplot is about the wisdom of Mordecai, the cousin of Esther, who was his ward, and his treatment under the treacherous Haman. The feast of Purim (named after the method Haman used to choose the date for the destruction of the Jews) is instigated by Mordecai (Est 9:20-22) and authorised by Esther (Est 9:29,32). For a Christian it is a reminded that God is always working, although the sin of man may prevent His glory from being evident.