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Squid Game and The Book of Ruth

Updated: Nov 22, 2021

By Nick Brzozowski

Before we get started, I want to give some disclaimers. One of the most popular shows today and possibly the most popular in Netflix history is Squid Game. The plot is interesting and surprising. The character development is thoughtful. But, there is lots of language and violence (pretty gruesome) and one or two scenes sex scenes that I fast-forwarded through. It's definitely not a show to watch with your kids. And, of course, before we start, I do go into details of the show here so spoiler alert!

While watching episode 6 of Squid Game this week, something came to me. This is Ruth!

If you can find Biblical themes in shows, movies, the news and science, you can find God working everywhere.

You see, all truth is God’s truth. And if you can find Biblical themes in shows, movies, the news and science, you can find God working everywhere. This is a practice that helps my Bible reading come to life. But, even more so, it helps me integrate my faith and my life. Following Jesus is more than just going to church and reading the Bible. Instead, it permeates into every moment of the day.

So, I was excited when I made the connection.

What I find most fascinating about Squid Game (and other works in the apocalyptic genre, like Hunger Games), is how the evil and absurd can be justified and believable. I think the challenge of the writers is to create a world in which the audience will actually accept that all this chaos could actually happen.

To do this, they have to know at least a little about history and the human condition. For instance, we all understand that greed is a powerful force in our lives. Without greed, there would be no motivation to be in the game. That’s the human condition part.

Then, I thought of the Roman colosseum in episode nine and the final 1:1 game. You watch it and wonder, how can people just watch two guys fight to the death out of entertainment? Well, unfortunately, it's happened before.

By episode six, we are invited into a dark and hidden world; one in which hundreds of people are shot and killed within a five minute game. This is a world in which people fear for their lives at night. This is a world in which you team up with someone you kind of trust in order to survive.

The world of Squid Game is similar to the world of Judges.

The world of Squid Game is similar to the world of Judges. The time of the judges in Israel’s history occurred directly after they conquered other nations and took over their land. Before they had a king with a central government, they were all on their own. On top of that, they had several neighboring countries that they weren’t on the best of terms with. In that time, a pattern emerged. Enemies of Israel would raid and attack; they would cry out to the Lord who would raise up a judge; the judge would fight back and give Israel a time of peace until the next enemy rose up.

The writer of Judges forms the book specifically with a message in mind. The words, “And they did what was right in their own eyes,” is repeated again and again.

Also, when you look at the judges as a whole, you notice that they just get worse and worse. Toward the end of the book, you meet Jephthah who sacrifices his own daughter and then Samson who shows no restraint and kills everyone. The final two chapters document a gang rape, followed by a national retaliation. It's terrible and violent.

Do you see the similarity between Squid Game and Judges? Chaos, violence, fear, retaliation, and survival. In Squid Game, Seong Gi-Hun trusts Cho Sang-Woo because they were friends and he was so competent, only to discover his selfishness throughout. Like Samson, Cho Sang-Woo was willing to do whatever it took to look out for himself. Also, like Samson, the most noble thing he did was to protect others by taking his own life.

The book of Ruth comes directly after the book of Judges and takes place during that time. In it, we find a story of loss and love. It starts out with a woman, Naomi, who moves to Moab from Israel and loses her husband and two sons. She is on her own, vulnerable and hopeless. Ruth, her daughter-in-law, offers to stay with her as she heads back to Israel, against her own interests. There, she meets Boaz, who shows kindness and generosity to her as a vulnerable immigrant.

Ruth is a symbol of loving-kindness amidst chaos and evil. In episode 6, Kang Sae-Byeok and Ji-Yeong are paired up playing marbles where only one would survive. They decide to use up the clock, spending the last minutes of one of their lives connecting with someone instead of competing. As they talk, they share about their own loss and pain. The time draws near where they have to play and Ji-Yeong purposely loses. She offers her life for a friend. Against the backdrop of all the selfishness and chaos and violence, this act of kindness offers a glimmer of hope.

Against the backdrop of all the selfishness and chaos and violence, this act of kindness offers a glimmer of hope.

And that is what Ruth becomes: a sign of hope. A side story of side characters, who show loyalty without being noticed. Ruth and Boaz do end up getting married and having children. The writer ends the short book with a genealogy showing that Ruth’s great grandchild would be David, who would be king of Israel and a main figure in Jesus’ lineage.

So, when the world feels out of control, remember this. God is still working in the small, hidden places. When you think that your kindness goes unnoticed, God sees. When you are grasping to find hope, it may be closer than you think.

If you'd like to get involved with Anchor Church, you can jump into an Anchor Group right now by clicking here!

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