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Tonight, I want to tell you the story of a woman whose name was Ruth. The story begins in the first chapter of Ruth, and here, as we look at this, we have to realize that the book starts on a negative note. You see, men and women, these were brutal times. The story of Ruth takes place in the days of the judges, and when you read the book of Judges, you encounter a lot of backsliding and a lot of brutality.
As you read through the book of Judges, it's easy to see a cynical pattern. The people would backslide and become corrupt. God would punish them with famine or conflict or with their enemies, and the people would repent and turn back to God. Over and over, the Lord raised up leaders to come in and try to lead his people back to himself. Some of these leaders are famous people that you and I know, people like Gideon and Deborah and Samson. And these judges would lead them to some victory or another, but when the people began backsliding again, here we go, back to the issues of the stories of the Bible that tell us what happens when we walk away from God. And these breakdowns and this time of total disregard for the rule of God in their lives, that's the time when the book of Ruth was taking place.