The Book of Ruth
Jul 21, 2019
Neal looked at the book of Ruth. A love story but so much more. This is a story of love, redemption, salvation, restoration, God’s sovereignty and of a God that keeps on giving.
Naomi and her husband leave Israel due to a famine in the land and relocate to Moab – A country that is effectively at war with Israel and do not worship Jehovah but another god called chemosh and they believe in child sacrifices and all kinds of sexual perversion – not a place you would really want to go and you do wonder the wisdom of leaving?
They have two sons that marry moabite wives (not allowed under Jewish law) and then Naomi’s husband dies and her two sons die as well leaving her a widow in a foreign country with zero prospects and two daughter in laws to look after – this is the backdrop to the story and one that the writer paints to show just how bad the situation actually is!
They decide to go back to Israel as the famine has finished and make a new life for themselves – one daughter stays with Naomi (Ruth) and the other returns to Moab and Ruth says to Naomi
Vs 16 “Where you go I will go and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God will by my God”
This is a very important statement as she declares that Jehovah will be her God and that she has left behind chemosh and her Moabite lifestyle – She has let God into her life and this give God an opportunity to show what he can do!
Naomi on the other hand was angry with God and was holding a grudge against God
Vs 20 “Don’t call me Naomi (which means my pleasant one) but call me Mara (which means bitter) – because the Lord Almighty has made my life very bitter – I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty”
God does not hold this against Naomi and instead he begins a work of restoration that draws her back to him which we will see fulfilled at the end of the story.
What about us and our reaction to Naomi –
Hold on – you made the choice to go to Moab even though it was a Godless country and now you want to blame me?
The world would say “you made your bed – now go and lie in it”
I am so glad God is a God of grace and even when we have a rant and don’t understand the full picture and can’t see what God is doing – he still loves us and just carries on with his work in the background!
She may be empty now but God’s plan will fill her up again – His plans are to do you good – that is his heart – Do not hold bitterness against God in your heart!
Back to the story – Ruth was an outsider – she was a Moabite woman, a widow and yet God had a plan for her life.
The writer tells us that Chapter 2 vs 3 “It was by chance that Ruth ended up in the field of Boaz” – The word here is very unusual and it’s a kind of ironic statement that we may think it was chance but actually God was moving in the background and directing everything – which we know he was!
Today we might say that a coincidence is when God moves but decides to remain anonymous!!
Boaz finds out she is a Moabite woman but shows her great kindness, allows her to gather wheat in his fields and even instructs his workers to leave extra grain for her to gather, he says
“vs 12 May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge”
This is a very important statement and is actually prophetic about what will happen to Ruth later in the story -and the Hebrew word used here is “ Kanaph” – remember this word!
At this point in the story Naomi realizes that Boaz is a kinsman redeemer for the family and is related to her husband – this is important and we need to understand the role of the kinsman redeemer in Jewish law?
If an Israelite lost his inheritance in the promised land due to difficult circumstances the kinsman redeemer could buy it back for him.
If the Israelite was sold into slavery the kinsman redeemer could buy the person back into freedom.
If an Israelite died without children, the law said that the kinsman redeemer marry the widow and have a son with her to preserve the dead man’s lineage in Israel. This ensured that the family would not die out and lose its share of the promised land. – This is hugely important as we will see later on in the story!
So what to do?
Naomi realises how important Boaz can be to the family and so she instruct Ruth as follows
3 vs 3 “Take a bath, put on perfume and dress in your nicest clothes and then go to the threshing floor, lie down at his feet and see what happens!”
Ruth does this and lies at Boaz feet showing her feelings for him – which he can either accept or reject – It’s a risky strategy but God know what he is doing! Ruth says to Boaz
Vs 9 Spread the corner of your covering over me, for you are my family redeemer”
This is the same Hebrew word as Boaz used earlier where he said about God covering her with his wings - “Kanaph”. This is a symbolic act of love, showing protection and covering, stating he would protect her, look after her for the rest of his life – It’s a kind of modern day engagement? And this is what God promises for us as well – that he will protect us, cover us and look after us for the rest of our lives as well.
Boaz is amazed and delighted that Ruth has chosen him an older man but he also knows there is another member of the family that is a closer relative than he and he has to give him first refusal to marry Ruth and buy the land from the family. Boas has to go and see him and ask him what he wants to do but he refuses and leaves the way clear for Boaz to marry Ruth and be her kinsman redeemer – Love conquers all!!
However, the story is not over as Ruth becomes pregnant and has a baby boy called Obed – who is the father of Jesse – who is the father of David the king of Israel – and 27 generations later Jesus was born into this very family line – Look at Matthew Chapter 1
This story was always in God’s heart and plan and if you read Matthew chapter 1 – who is Boaz mother? None other than Rahab the prostitute that we looked at a few weeks ago!!
God has a plan and it’s not what we think or see or imagine – its far greater and more intricate and complicated than we could ever imagine!! Even when we make mistakes and go our own way – God’s plan will not be thwarted – he is sovereign over all and he is in control – whether we believe him or not like Naomi!!
The book of Ruth starts with Naomi watching the three men she loved all die. It ends with her delighting in her grandson, in Ruth and in Boaz – God has redeemed the situation beyond her wildest dreams!
Let’s respond to the way the book of Ruth makes all this personal. How will you respond to God’s gift to you personally? Whatever your situation and your circumstances you have a kinsman redeemer who is loving enough and powerful enough to transform it in a day. You may not know the end of your life’s story but you do know its final word – It’s not “David” like the book of Ruth – it’s something far greater – Its JESUS - - The God who keeps on giving has given you his KING – Don’t settle for anything less!!
- Does the book of Ruth encourage you that God has a plan and will see it through no matter what?
- The character of Boaz as the kinsman redeemer is so important in the story discuss how he is always pointing us to Jesus as our kinsman redeemer.
- Discuss who you have stopped praying for (for whatever reason) and get the group to pray again for that person/people.
- Did the link to Matthew and the messianic line help in seeing how God moves and works in our lives?