Ruth wasn’t stuck, she was redeemed.
The Second Message in the “Stuck?” series.
Find the other messages here.
When we looked at Joseph I pointed out to you that while sometimes we look at a few verses or a whole chapter, sometimes there are lessons to be drawn from the span of a Biblical character’s life and that’s what we’ll be doing through this series.
Today we will be looking at the life of Ruth. While Joseph’s story spans 15 chapters in Genesis, Ruth has very own book. However, it’s a little book.
I’d encourage you to read this afternoon or tomorrow morning.
It’s easily read in a single setting, but you may want to take a few readings to go over it slowly because it’s deep and it’s sweet.
The book of Ruth is a love story that’s all about God goodness.
Ruth is like a romantic comedy where God is the hero.
Ruth is a Nicholas Sparks book in which God is the God of romance.
Ruth’s story is the story of two people coming together to be married, but more importantly it’s a story of God’s grace and goodness.
To appreciate the marriage of Ruth to Boaz at the end of the story, you’ve got to understand the background and setting of this story and that’s what chapter 1 lays out.
The final 3 verses of chapter 1 gives you a good sense of the over all situation. Let’s read tht and then I’ll give you a synopsis of what brought them to this point.
Naomi has just returned to her home city of Bethlehem with her foreign daughter-in-law Ruth and her friends and family are excited because she’s been gone a long time…
20 And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me.
Naomi: that is, Pleasant
Mara: that is, Bitter
21 I went out full, and the Lord hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the Lord hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me?
22 So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter in law, with her, which returned out of the country of Moab: and they came to Beth–lehem in the beginning of barley harvest.
Have you ever had that feeling that the world is against you?
That nature, circumstance, fortune, luck, that they were all turning on you?
Have you ever felt like if it weren’t for bad luck, you’d have no luck at all?
In 2012 the Canadian Press reported of a man who had taken a nap on a grassy hill and awoke to find himself surround by a grass fire, so he jumped up and hopped on his bike to flee the fire but was then hit by a train.
Talk about horrible luck.
But as authorities treated the man for his minor injuries they realized that the reason he was sleeping in the grassy field was that he wasn’t napping, he had passed out there because he was drunk and the reason for the fire was that he was smoking when he passed out. He ran into the train because he was still drunk and attempting to flee the scene of the fire he had just accidentally started.
Everything happens for a reason and sometimes the reason is that you’re foolish- that’s what happened to this guy.
Everything happens for a reason and sometimes the reason is that people are evil- that’s what happened to Joseph.
Everything happens for a reason and sometimes the reason is that this world is broken, not as God intended.
The story of Ruth starts when Elimilech and his wife Naomi leave the land of Judah because of a famine.
They journey to Moab where there is food with their two boys, Mahlon and Chilion.
Not long after they are there, Elimilech dies and Naomi and her two boys are left without their leader in a foreign land.
Both of the boys marry Moabite women and they are married for around 10 years but are never blessed with children.
Naomi has no grandchildren.
And then another tragedy strikes… Both of the boys die, so Naomi has lost both of her sons, her husband, and then as if things were not bad enough, Moab experiences a famine too.
Naomi hears that the famine has passed in Judah and decides to return home. She pleads with her daughters-in-law to stay in Moab and remarry.
She says, I have no one for you, there are no men for you to marry back in Bethlehem. Go and live your lives. Have children…
Ruth refuses, she says in 1:16
16And Ruth said, Entreat 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:
So this is what brings Ruth and Naomi back to Judah and now you can understand why Naomi says, don’t call me Naomi for that is a pleasant name and my life has not been pleasant.
The Lord has dealt harshly with me and been unpleasant to me.
He has afflicted me.
I think that we can all understand why Naomi felt this way, but she was wrong. God had been gracious to her. God was bring gracious to her. The rest of the book of Ruth bears this out.
Chapter 2 begins the turn in the story.
We’ll come back to verse 1 in a moment, but read verse 2 & 3 of chapter 2 with me:
2And Ruth the Moabitess said unto Naomi, Let me now go to the field, and glean ears of corn after him in whose sight I shall find grace. And she said unto her, Go, my daughter.
I want you to notice the initiative of Ruth.
Ruth was in a pretty awful situation. She probably felt stuck. She probably felt like every where she and Naomi had turned there had been more bad luck. She probably missed her husband. She probably missed her family and friends back in Moab.
But she rises and says to Naomi, I will go to the fields and glean.
In the law of Israel which God had given to Moses, there had been provisions to help those who found themselves in poverty- without land and without wealth.
Those who owned land would reap, but they were not to make several passes over the land reaping.
Farming would have been quite different then without the equipment to put crops into neat rows and harvesters to systematically get every last bit of grain, so there would be places that would be overlooked, grain left in the field, and the landowners were not to comb back over it to get every last bit, instead these hidden and hard to reach grains were left for anyone who was in need and willing to do the work.
God instituted practices into Israel’s laws that gave anyone willing to work a way out of poverty.
So Ruth, despite her situation and circumstances doesn’t become hopeless, rather she goes to work.
She does the hard work of reaping in the fields, gathering the hard to find and hard to reach grain.
We’ll get to verse 3 in a second, but in verse 4-7 we notice something else about Ruth’s character.
4And, behold, Boaz came from Beth–lehem, and said unto the reapers, The Lord be with you. And they answered him, The Lord bless thee.
5Then said Boaz unto his servant that was set over the reapers, Whose damsel is this?
6And the servant that was set over the reapers answered and said, It is the Moabitish damsel that came back with Naomi out of the country of Moab:
7And she said, I pray you, let me glean and gather after the reapers among the sheaves: so she came, and hath continued even from the morning until now, that she tarried a little in the house.
I want you to notice that not only was Ruth industrious and hard working, she was humble.
Ruth had hustle and she was humble.
Now I just told you that this practice of gathering the grain after the reapers was a part of the law of God.
It was the law, but Ruth did not presume to glean in the field, rather she comes to the workers and asks permission.
Ruth did not feel entitled to glean in the field.
Ruth did not feel that she was owed anything.
Ruth was a humble hard working woman who was caring for her mother-in-law.
But now the story gets really good.
I want you to see that while Ruth was doing what she needed to do, God was doing what only He can do.
Let’s look back at verse 3 this is when Ruth is going to glean the fields…
3And she went, and came, and gleaned in the field after the reapers: and her hap was to light on a part of the field belonging unto Boaz, who was of the kindred of Elimelech.
There’s a lot in this verse.
First of all “her hap” in other words she just happened to end up in Boaz’s field. Like it was some kind of coincidence… yeah right.
verse 1 gave away that
1Naomi had a kinsman of her husband’s, a mighty man of wealth, of the family of Elimelech; and his name was Boaz.
The rest of chapter 2 would show us that not only was Boaz a kinsman of Elimilech, and not only was he rich, but he was a good man.
He goes to Ruth and says, don’t reap in any other fields but stay here in our fields where you know the workers have been instructed to leave you alone and let you glean.
Then he tells the foreman to get sloppy leaving more grain the field than he would normally.
When Boaz greets the workers, he speaks of the Lord.
He’s a godly, gracious, and generous man. – We could do a whole sermon on the kind of man that Boaz was- but I need to get back to verse 3- she just happened upon the field of Boaz.
You know what God is saying to us here?
I’m up to something.
My grandmother used to say, those boys look like they’re up to no good.
God tells us constantly in His word that He is up to nothing but good and He was up to some kind of good here.
Ruth just happened upon the field of Boaz because God directed her path.
Can I just give you a little testimony this morning of how I’ve just happened upon some of the best things in my life?
In high school I played basketball and I was by no means great, but it was my passion. I loved it. Then I tore my ACL and I was sidelined for an entire year. When the doctor told me that I would miss the entire season I broke down and cried right there in the examination room. I was a 17 year old athlete sitting with my dad and this doctor and I just cried.
Not long after I was sidelined with that injury I traveled with the team to a tournament where there was also a cheerleading tournament. One of our cheerleaders fell and broke her arm. We were both sidelined. We still made all the trips sitting on the sidelines together and I married her.
When I was in college I had lined up what I thought was a dream job and then the job offer was rescinded. I was crushed, but then the opportunity opened up to go and intern with Mark Thomas in Greeley, CO in a church very much like this one- most of what I know about ministry I learned in that internship. It was the best thing I could have done with that time.
Then when I approached graduation I was offered a job that seemed ideal, we’d stay close to home, but then that job fell through- but this time I wasn’t that disappointed because I had noticed a theme.
All of the guys I was graduation from ministry school with had jobs lined up and I didn’t, but I wasn’t worried.
I called Bob Helms to see if maybe by some chance the church was looking to hire an associate minister, and he said well it just so happens that I’m resigning this Sunday.
There was a conference in pigeon forge that this church participated in and one of the speakers had to cancel, so I was asked to speak as a fill in.
I ran into Brother Helms there and asked him and he said he’d be sure to mention me to the pulpit committee…
Ruth is moved by how kind Boaz has been so she goes to him and asks, why have you been so kind?
Boaz says, I have heard how kind you have been to Naomi.
But then he says something very, very important in verse 12.
12The Lord recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust.
Boaz humbly points out that this is the doing of God, the God who she has come to trust, the God whose wings she has come under.
You see, in chapter 1 when Naomi is trying to convince Ruth to go back home, Ruth says no, your people are my people, your land is my land, and your God is my God.
This wasn’t happening because God owed Ruth for her kindness and good work, it was happening because she trusted in God.
The book of Ruth is already good, but it only gets better.
When Naomi realizes how kind Boaz has been to Ruth, she also realizes that Boaz is her kinsman.
You see, not only were there statutes like the one for gleaning in the fields that helped those in poverty, there was one called the kinsman redeemer.
If someone lost all their crops due to a fire or flood, or they made a foolish business venture and had to sell their land, instead of it being sold to a bank, the first people who had the opportunity to buy it were those closest in the family, this way the farm or the house would be kept in the family and it could be worked back into the hands of the person who was losing it.
This saved many people from losing everything with no means of getting it back.
The statute also applied to widows.
So if woman lost her husband, it would be the opportunity and responsibility of the closest kinsman to marry her and take care of her and her kids… The opportunity/responsibility would start with the closest kinsman and work outward.
Ruth comes to Boaz and lays herself at his feet, a gesture to ask him to be her kinsman redeemer.
Boaz has to attend to some business because while he is of kin to Elimilech, he is not the nearest kinsman.
He will have to work to become the nearest kinsman.
He will have to go to the gate and negotiate with that kinsman to become the kinsman so that He can marry Ruth and lift of the fallen name of Elimilech.
He does this and with great compassion and love, marries Ruth.
He brings her and Naomi into his home.
They have a son, and that son is the grandfather of king david.
Ruth is a direct ancestor of King David and of Christ the King.
How does this happen? How does the woman who it seems will be stuck in a life of poverty is saved? Because of the graciousness of God. Because of the grace of the God who she came to trust.
The Bible tells us that Christ is our kinsman redeemer.
He was not like us, but he became like us.
He was not our kinsman, but he became our kinsman so that we would not be stuck in abject poverty.
Christ became like us so that He could save us.
When someone has their car stuck in the mud you have to be careful that you don’t get your car or truck stuck while trying to get them out. You need a long chain or strap that will reach them in the mud so you can stay on solid ground, or you need to have a superior vehicle that will not get as easily stuck…
When Christ came to earth He became like us except for one major detail…
Hebrews 4:15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
Christ became like us so that He could save us.
Christ remained holy so He is able to save us.
Boaz came near to Ruth, yet he was a powerful, wealthy, and gracious man.
He was a picture of Christ. God comes near to us, yet without sin so that He is still powerful, rich, and gracious…