This week happy couples around the country will exchange tokens of love and affection in celebration of Valentine’s Day. If this week has put you in the mood for a little romance, we recommend you take a look at what has to be the most charming little book in the Bible.

The book of Ruth is often studied (even in secular colleges) as a masterpiece in miniature for its romantic elegance and literary value – and its charming glimpse into life in ancient Israel. It is a classic love story of loyalty and devotion, and yet it also contains some surprising insights that go far beyond the historical narrative itself.

One of the principal characters is Naomi, a Bethlehemite, who, because of a famine, migrates with her husband and her two sons to distant Moab. The two sons take Moabite women for wives. During the ten years that follow, Naomi’s husband and both her two sons pass away, leaving her destitute.

Upon hearing that things have turned for the better in her native Bethlehem, Naomi decides to return home. She encourages the two young girls to make new lives for themselves among their own people. However, Ruth refuses, insists upon remaining with Naomi. Her declaration of loyalty to Naomi is one of the most elegant and well-known passages in the Holy Scriptures:

"Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me."

Ruth’s story yields an incredible overview of God’s plan of redemption. Her persistent and devoted commitment to her mother-in-law leads to a dramatic romance, a prophecy of the coming King, and her being included in the family tree of the Messiah.

Ruth is one of the most significant books in the Old Testament for the Church. And it’s interesting that the book traditionally is read by rabbis on the Feast of Pentecost, when the Church was born. It explains, like no other book in the Scripture, the role and mission of the Kinsman Redeemer. This book is an essential prerequisite to understanding the book of Revelation. Before you study Revelation 5, you need to understand the book of Ruth.

This little book is more than a love story between Ruth and Boaz, it is a foreshadowing of another love story, the greatest story ever told. The ultimate "valentine" was written in blood on a wooden cross, erected in Judea two thousand years ago.