Bethlehem Road is a journey through the book of Ruth and looks at the cultural nuances disrupted when a Moabite joins lives with an Israelite.
Michael Whitworth is a preacher and the author of The Epic of God and The Derision of Heaven. He regularly blogs at Start2Finish.
The book promises to comfort others who have walked the road of suffering and to strengthen faith in the providence of God. While that was a tall order, it fulfilled the task by showing how God’s hand worked with the initiative of His people to bring events around for their good and His glory.
An interesting theory was raised in the idea that Ruth parallels the Proverbs 31 woman. I find that thought exciting, because I can relate to Ruth more than the other gal. But, if written about David’s great grandmother, then the book of Ruth would be a likely target for the woman exalted in Solomon’s annuls.
Although most people don’t pick up a commentary for their reading pleasure, Bethlehem Road reads more like a conversation and shows the relevancy to current events. It brings hope to a world in bleak circumstances.
One of the things that gave me pause was the assertion that Ruth’s actions were more memorable than Abraham’s leap of faith, because she didn’t receive a call from God like Abraham did. Abraham followed God because of his relationship with God. Ruth followed God because of her relationship with Naomi, and that is a beautiful reminder of the responsibility we all have to lead others to the Lord, as we are in relationship with them.
I also appreciated the affirmation that we all need someone who will be faithful to us when we go through the storms of life. The explanation of the word hesed, or God’s blessing, is one of loyalty and faithfulness, and especially in reference to caring for one who is unable to do so on their own. It is an act of imitation, in the highest form, as one imitates the kindnesses of God.
This book is an interesting read; it draws the reader into the story of a woman who took a chance in the middle of her own heartache, and found a greater blessing through serving others.
The author compares the loss of his own father to the loss Naomi, Orpah and Ruth suffered. Indeed, “death comes knocking, leaving behind in its awful wake three graves and three widows unable to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives because some of the pieces are now missing.” (p. 26) But, the author also concludes that God comes alongside us when we suffer. God uses others to comfort us when we face shattered dreams, and His silence does not equate to His absence.
The author makes use of a vast Bibliography to substantiate his views, and the result is a well-rounded research into the hidden work of God in the daily events of our lives.
I especially appreciate the reminder that God can and will use us in the mundane as well as the spectacular. Our calling is to obey and, in the natural course of living, to act with integrity.
Every once in a while, there comes along a book that is a pleasure to recommend, and this is one of those books. It provides detail with heart, and draws the reader to understand that God is not out to get you in suffering, but to draw you closer to Himself.
Disclosure of Material: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through the BookCrash.com book review program, which requires an honest, though not necessarily positive, review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR Title 16, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”