An Unveiling Portrait – Ruth 2

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Further Application


  1.  How have you reacted during times of blessing and times of difficulty? Have you drawn closer to God or wandered from him? In difficult times, we can be tempted to blame God, become bitter, and back away. In times of blessing, we can be enticed to elevate our blessing to the point where our blessing becomes our source of gladness, and we can fail to be thankful for the One from whom all blessings flow. How can we keep close to God and display faithfulness during seasons of blessing and times of difficulty? How do we prepare during one season for the next?
  2. What virtues/characteristics do you esteem in your personal relationships (e.g. husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend)? Are these characteristics more informed/shaped by popular culture like television, movies, etc. or by the Bible? In what ways should you reconsider what you look for in your personal relationships?
  3. No one likes going through a breakup, especially the breakup of a marriage. Why is it important for your expectations of yourself and your mate to be shaped by the Bible, before you say, “I do”?
  4. But what happens if your mate does not live up to your expectations? Consider the truth that you will not always live up to the standard you have set for your mate or for yourself, just as you have not lived up to the standard set by God. But God showed you mercy and grace through Jesus. If you are both believers, you possess the Gospel. And because you possess the Gospel, you can likewise show mercy and grace to your mate. You can go beyond the law and extend grace. How can you make it your practice to go beyond the law and extend grace in your relationships?
  5. Have you ever considered yourself as a destitute outcast before you surrendered your life to Christ? How can you tell the story of Ruth to the people you know in such a way that you introduce Jesus Christ as the Redeemer of the destitute outcast?

Sermon Notes


Main Idea: In the lives of God’s people, there are no coincidences, only divine appointments. God has set today as a divine appointment for you to meet your kinsman redeemer, Jesus Christ.

Introduction
Illustration
Have you ever been to an unveiling? I was once at an unveiling for a new housing community. There was the ceremonial gathering. The news outlets, various government dignitaries, and the normal run of precursor speeches. But what everyone was waiting on was the unveiling of the artist’s rendering of the new project. There, the entire time, just to the side of the podium, with a white sheet over it, was what everybody was waiting on. We were all waiting for the big reveal.
The same can be said of the people of God. The Bible is a progressive revelation – an unveiling – of God’s plan of redemption. And you see this unveiling of God’s Story, in the story of Ruth.

In Chapter 2 of Ruth, there are 3 portraits that are being unveiled.
1. Ruth unveils a Portrait of Faith in Desperate Situations
2. Boaz unveils a Portrait of Godliness in an Ungodly Culture
Both of these are important, but they are supporting works. The main exhibit is a…
3. Portrait of God’s Salvation being progressively unveiled

For Today
1. Read through the Scripture, so we don’t lose the narrative that Ruth is.
2. Unveil these three portraits.

A. Narrative

1 Now Naomi had a kinsman of her husband, a man of great wealth (lit. “Mighty man of wealth”) of the family of Elimelech, whose name was Boaz. 

Who is Boaz? Two key facts about him in this verse. First, he is a mighty man of wealth, and secondly, he is from the family, of Elimelech (Naomi’s husband who died in Moab back in Chapter 1). This is a very important point. God had set up in His law back in the days of Moses way before the Period of the Judges in which Ruth is set (c.f. Deuteronomy 25; Leviticus 25) a way for a kinsman of the same family to provide for a family who found themselves destitute or in desperate circumstances. One of the ways they could provide for someone in their family was to redeem their property. Basically the kinsman would redeem, our buy back, whatever had once belonged to the now destitute family members and provide for them. The kinsman redeemer would literally bring them into his family. Now, in order to do this, three factors were necessary. One of those, in fact the first requirement, was that the kinsman redeemer had to have the right to redeem. There had to be a connection to the family line of whom he was redeeming.

Recall 1:11-13, Naomi said she had no hope. She could not fathom a kinsman redeemer because she was trying to go it alone without God. She thought God was against her, and she had become very bitter. But God had a greater plan, and God had prepared the path of redemption. God had set things in motion before Naomi ever knew she would have the need.

APP:
So we must remember, redemption is God’s plan with his power with his wisdom (c.f. Ephesians 1).

2 And Ruth the Moabitess said to Naomi, “Please let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain [KJV: ears of corn, not corn though wheat] after one in whose sight I may find favor.”

Ruth was acting on faith & with courage. She was depending on God. The welfare system of that day according to Gods instruction (Lev 19:9-10) was that crop owners wouldn’t go to the very corners of the field and would not strip the land barren by taking every stalk. Then those without land, the poor & needy would come in behind and gather food enough to eat; they would “glean” the field.

3 And she said to her, “Go, my daughter.” So she departed and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers; and she happened to come to the portion of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the family of Elimelech. 

“Happened to” according to the plan of God. And see how the writer is reinforcing the redemptive future ability of Boaz to redeem Ruth and Naomi; this is the second time in three verses that we as the readers are told that Boaz is “from the family of Elimelech.”

APP:
There is a sovereign God who is at work behind all the “accidental details” of your life. Nothing in your life happens by accident. Everything happens by appointment.

4 Now behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem…

Check out God’s perfect timing! In comes God’s man at God’s appointed time, and he’s slinging out blessings and receiving them in return.

…and said to the reapers, “May the Lord be with you.” And they said to him, “May the Lord bless you.” 5 Then Boaz said to his servant who was in charge of the reapers, “Whose young woman is this?” 

Ruth has caught the eye of Boaz.

6 The servant in charge of the reapers replied, “She is the young Moabite woman who returned with Naomi from the land of Moab. 7 And she said, ‘Please let me glean and gather after the reapers among the sheaves.’ Thus she came and has remained from the morning until now; she has been sitting in the house for a little while.” 

Notice Ruth was a polite and hard worker. The “house” here is a shelter in the field, so she’s taking a short break.

8 Then Boaz said to Ruth, “Listen carefully, my daughter…

Take note of Boaz compassion in his address of Ruth as his “daughter.”

 …Do not go to glean in another field; furthermore, do not go on from this one, but stay here with my maids. 9 Let your eyes be on the field which they reap, and go after them. Indeed, I have commanded the servants not to touch you. When you are thirsty, go to the water jars and drink from what the servants draw.” 

Now take note of Boaz unwarranted care. Boaz doesn’t have to, but he is looking after Ruth’s well-being and safety. Boaz reception of her is so puzzling that she even asks him, “Why are you doing this?”

10 Then she fell on her face, bowing to the ground and said to him, “Why have I found favor in your sight that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?” 11 Boaz replied to her, “All that you have done for your mother-in-law after the death of your husband has been fully reported to me, and how you left your father and your mother and the land of your birth, and came to a people that you did not previously know.

Ruth’s testimony preceded her. See that it was known that as much as Ruth had committed herself to her mother-in-law she had committed herself to The Lord. And then Boaz says:

12 May the LORD reward your work, and your wages be full from the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to seek refuge.” 

Figuratively this phrase symbolizes God as the Protector (Ps 36:7; 57:1; 91:4).[1] And it is has very important implications as you will see in Chapter 3.

13 Then she said, “I have found favor in your sight, my lord, for you have comforted me and indeed have spoken kindly to your maidservant, though I am not like one of your maidservants.” 14 At mealtime Boaz said to her, “Come here, that you may eat of the bread and dip your piece of bread in the vinegar.” So she sat beside the reapers; and he served her roasted grain, and she ate and was satisfied and had some left. 

Check this Old Testament first date! Ruth was invited to the table of the lord (the master) of the harvest. Ruth was blessed beyond her need. She was taken in as an equal among the others.

15 When she rose to glean, Boaz commanded his servants, saying, “Let her glean even among the sheaves, and do not insult [KJV: reproach] her. 16 Also you shall purposely pull out for her some grain from the bundles and leave it that she may glean, and do not rebuke her.”

Now Ruth is not just gleaning the leftovers, but at Boaz’s instruction, she is gathering from the harvest in abundance. Boaz is caring for her way beyond what anyone would expect of him. He is giving out of abundance and giving graciously.

17 So she gleaned in the field until evening. Then she beat out what she had gleaned, and it was about an ephah of barley. 

Just to give you a little background. An ephah is between a half to a third of a bushel, which is about 30-50 pounds of barley. To put that in perspective, that is about a half a month’s wages in one day! (The average ration for a male worker was 1-2 pounds per day.)[2]

18 She took it up and went into the city, and her mother-in-law saw what she had gleaned. She also took it out and gave Naomi what she had left after she was satisfied. 

So Ruth comes and shows Naomi all that she gleaned from the field. And you can imagine how Naomi’s draw just dropped. And then on top of that, remember how in verse 14 she ate the roasted grain until she was satisfied? Well it turns out she was stuffing her pockets with the roasted grain s she could bring some back to her mother-in-law! Things are going well. She could have gotten caught up in the moment, but Ruth never backs off her commitment to care of Naomi in Chapter 1.

19 Her mother-in-law then said to her, “Where did you glean today and where did you work? May he who took notice of you be blessed.”… 

The brevity and repetition by the writer is intentional here. The narrator is showing how words are almost tumbling out of Naomi’s mouth in awe.

…So she told her mother-in-law with whom she had worked and said, “The name of the man with whom I worked today is Boaz.” 20 Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “May he be blessed of the Lord who has not withdrawn his kindness to the living and to the dead.” Again Naomi said to her, “The man is our relative, he is one of our closest relatives.” 

Literally, the Hebrew reads: “The man is near to us, he is one of our redeemers.” The KJV reads he is “one of our next kinsman.” We need to understand as the original audience would have definitely understood, that Naomi’s eyes were being opened to God’s provision. Boaz was a candidate to redeem them! And notice how Naomi’s bitterness begins to turn when she recognizes the goodness of God. This was the woman who just a short while earlier had changed her name to “Bitter” and swore God was against her. But now she is invoking the blessing of God!

21 Then Ruth the Moabitess said, “Furthermore, he [Boaz] said to me, ‘You should stay close to my servants until they have finished all my harvest.’” 22 Naomi said to Ruth her daughter-in-law, “It is good, my daughter, that you go out with his maids, so that others do not fall upon you in another field.” 23 So she stayed close by the maids of Boaz in order to glean until the end of the barley harvest and the wheat harvest. And she lived with her mother-in-law. 

Of course Naomi cares about Ruth’s safety and shows it with this counsel to stay close to the “maids of Boaz,” but make no mistake about it. The wheels are turning in Naomi’s mind about how this benevolent interest between Boaz and Ruth can blossom into a genuine love interest. (As we will see as the story unfolds.) So Ruth continues to live with Naomi and goes to the fields each day through the two harvest seasons would have lasted for about seven weeks (c.f. Deuteronomy 16:9),[3] and during these seven weeks this beautiful love between Boaz and Ruth does indeed begin to blossom. But we will get to that next week!

So let’s unveil these three portraits: A Portrait of Faith in Desperate Situations; A Portrait of Godliness in an Ungodly Culture; A Portrait of God’s Salvation.
B. Ruth unveils a Portrait of Faith in Desperate Situations (vv2-3)
2 widows: Single women have no place in ancient Near Eastern Society. No husband support… no son support…for Naomi or Ruth
Childless women = cursed by God
Moabites = cursed by God
Therefore, Ruth was seen as on doubly cursed.

Suffering: Emotionally – grief and isolation… Socially – estrangement/out casts… Physically – barely surviving
NAOMI and RUTH were DESTITUTE OUTCASTS

APP:
Character is NOT defined by our situation, BUT our (difficult) situations reveal our character

Unveiling of 5 Character Traits of Ruth
1. Steadfastness in faith
Remember her full-hearted, fully surrendered profession in 1:16: “…your God, will be my God…” All of this despite the negative example of Naomi (her plea for Orpah and Ruth to return to paganism of Moab and Naomi’s bitter claims)
2. Submission to the law
In gleaning fields. Lev 19:9-10: 9 Now when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very corners of your field, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest. 10 Nor shall you glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather the fallen fruit of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the needy and for the stranger. I am the Lord your God. This is God’s welfare program in Israel – poor still had to work, but they didn’t starve.

Ruth initiated the gleaning (v2). Not Naomi. Gleaning was an expression of faith for Ruth. Ruth is a newcomer acting on faith.

APP:
People who visit the church are similar: Being drawn by God… Never been here before, never seen you before, don’t know what’s going to happen… They’re looking for God, answers and love. If you are visiting today, I want you to know that:

— This church is not perfect, BUT we are the perfect place for people who aren’t.
— This church – as it can be said of other churches who will not back off of the absolute truthfulness and authority of the Word of God and the necessity of the Gospel of Jesus Christ – is the place to find God, to find answers, and to find love. The church centered on our living Lord Jesus Christ has the answers everyone is looking for. The answer to sin, to sickness, to death, and to significance.
— Jesus Christ is the Truth. He is the Healer. He is the Life, and by his Gospel he delivers unto us life more abundantly.

3 Circles: Life Conversation Guide[4]

3. Selflessness
Ruth had needs but she selflessly is caring for her mother-in-law (v11)
4. Solid character and sure wisdom
This was on display in Ruth’s question in verse 10. She was grateful (v13) for Boaz’s generosity, but she wanted to know Boaz’s heart and his character
5. Strong work ethic
Ruth was willing to work for her food. Didn’t ask for a hand out. Took the initiative.

APP:
Would it be to God if the church would take initiative! Christ has called us to take the initiative (c.f. Mt 28, Acts 1), and the New Testament Church (c.f. Acts and the Epistles) demonstrates the early church’s understanding that the Gospel must advance. We have witnessed in America what happens when the church sits back. We must take the initiative!

C. Boaz unveils a Portrait of Godliness in an Ungodly Culture (vv4-12)
5 Character Traits of Boaz
1. Apparent strength
v3 – owned a field; v4ff – had employees; Therefore, Boaz was a man of financial means.
v1 – Good: (NASB, NKJV) “a man of great wealth”; Better: (KJV) “a mighty man of wealth”;
Mighty man – term for the mightiest warriors for King David, (Isa 9) Messiah referred to as “Mighty God”; Boaz was mighty man of noble character; Boaz was a man’s man
2. Evident faith
v4 – greeting to his workers; He wanted to be a witness at work.

APP:
His faith in the Lord was evident where he worked…He spoke about the Lord. Are you?

3. Excellent values
v5 – Boaz didn’t know Ruth and asked his foreman about her; vv6-7 – Foreman’s reply
Boaz’s response reveals his character:
Learns of a destitute outcast – who had nothing and knew no one – was in his field. Could have responded: ignoring her, feeling puffed up inside. But Boaz responded by taking personal interest in her.
Contrary to contemporary opinion, NOT likely because of her looks:
1. Bible doesn’t say anything about that
2. Reality: in field working all day (this is real life not a not a soap opera)

v10 – Boaz’s response was so puzzling, so counter to the culture and anyone’s expectation, that Ruth asks Boaz why Boaz took an interest.
Consider Ruth’s bio at the moment:
immigrant….homeless….dirty….different race….raised in a cult….already been married….couldn’t produce a child in 10 years….mother-in-law who changed her name to “Bitter.” She’s not getting much traffic on farmersonly.com

Boaz’s interest reveals his character because (v11) he esteemed her values:
1. Ruth was a selfless servant
2. Had real commitment to the Lord
3. Had courage

Ruth had nothing to offer Boaz BUT character, commitment, courage. Boaz was a man guided by godly principles NOT by superficial matters
Boaz wasn’t looking for a “good time” in the contemporary sense:
Illustration:
Consider 50 Shades of Grey released this Valentines Day. This is a dangerous movie that is essentially pornography, first rated NC-17 until two scenes were craftily edited to narrowly escape that rating (a move that was purely a marketing decision). This movie is a version of pornography that entices both men (visual) and women (narrative). It is a perversion of sex, a perversion of intimacy, a perversion of a healthy relationship between a man and a woman. And a perversion of what our relationships should value in each other, according to God – our Creator and the Architect of relationship.

Boaz wasn’t looking for a “good time” in the contemporary sense; he was looking for a GOOD LEGACY:
1. Woman willing to walk away from everything to follow God
2. Woman to teach their children how to walk with God
3. An example to their grandchildren
4. Who would leave a testimony of bold faith

APP:
Husbands esteem these things in your wife. Husbands esteem these virtues in your own heart. Wives model these virtues for your daughters.

4. Boaz’s abundant generosity
Boaz protection and provision (vv8-9):
v8 – Ruth not to go to another field but stay as long as she wanted
v9 – offer of water (custom was for her to have to draw her own)
v9 – states his protection and orders the male servants not to touch her
Boaz went far beyond the law and far beyond expectation
5. Devout prayer
v12 – In conversation with a woman he just met, he prayed for her

APP:
Offering prayer for those we meet in order to share the true source of strength, faith, generosity

So we have unveiled A Portrait of Faith in Desperate Situations, A Portrait of Godliness in an Ungodly Culture, but don’t miss the main exhibit…
D. Portrait of God’s Salvation through our Kinsman Redeemer, Jesus
1. God’s Providential Direction
God is the main character of Ruth
God works in 2 Primary Ways:
1. Visible means of miraculous intervention
2. Invisible means of His providence

APP:
God is working even when we don’t see His hand

The Invisibility and Sovereignty of God’s Direction in Ruth 2:
v3 – Ruth “happened” to glean in Boaz’s field
Boaz “happened” to be a relative of Naomi’s deceased husband (making him a potential kinsman redeemer)
Ruth “happened” to be in the field when Boaz showed up
Boaz “happened” to notice Ruth and ask about her
Boaz’s foreman “happened” to know about Ruth and was able to tell Boaz
…BUT NONE OF THIS WAS CHANCE
…(Proverbs 16:33) “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.”

APP:
In the lives of God’s people, there are no coincidences, only divine appointments…Even when we don’t see God’s hand working, He is still there.

2. There is always a Purpose in God’s Providence
His purpose in Ruth’s life was the salvation of sinners.
Ruth is one of only 5 women mentioned by name in the genealogy of Jesus Christ (c.f. Mt 1:1-17).

3. Portrait of God’s Salvation being Progressively Unveiled
Boaz Like Jesus:

Boaz surveyed the field and saw Ruth, a destitute outcast…
Jesus sees you.

Boaz saw Ruth’s need, and took compassion… 
The cross is the ultimate act of love borne of compassion.

Boaz reached out to Ruth… 
Jesus came for you, to save you from sin and death.

Boaz spoke kindly to Ruth… 
Jesus is calling you. He is speaking to you through the Holy Spirit. He is making the invitation to dine with him at his table as did Boaz to Ruth. Rev 22:17, “The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.”

Boaz went beyond law to give grace… 
Jesus goes beyond the law to fulfill it through the cross, to atone for your sin and out of the depths of his mercy to give you grace – the forgiveness of sins, the reconciliation of you and your holy God, new life and a new identity in him as a true child of the King no longer destitute and no longer an outcast.

For a pdf version: An Unveiling Portrait-Ruth 2-Redemptions Love Story Series


[1] F. B. Huey Jr., “Ruth,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 3 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1992), 530.

[2] David Platt, “For the Love of God,” of the series “The Mystery of Mercy” (Radical: August 10, 2014). Accessed http://www.radical.net/files/4682/FTLOG_TS32_Web.pdf.

[3] F. B. Huey Jr., “Ruth,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 3 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1992), 533.

[4] “3 Circles: Life Conversation Guide Training, Leader Resources,” (NAMB). Accessed February 2015 http://lifeonmissionbook.com/?page_id=13.

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