9 Peace. Ruth 2 [Jeff Sandberg to preach]
TITLE: “The One Who Took Notice of You”
Key: v10, “Why have I found favor in your eyes, that you should take notice of me?”
N.T. Luke 1:26-38.
Last week, we meet an interesting crew. Naomi, a widow of Eli-Melech, emigrated to Moab, whose sons grow up and marry Moabites who, according to Naomi are idolaters, Mosaid lawbreakers that they are. As Naomi realizes she is aging will likely need the assistance of other family back home and after a tearful goodbye from Orpah and a plea from Ruth to return with her, they come back to Bethlehem. As we saw in Ruth 1:22, they came to Bethlehem in the beginning of barley harvest. Now, this is all in God’s planning. The question is, why at the beginning of barley harvest? The timing is perfect. Had they come back a month later, harvest would have been over and Ruth would not have been able to use the safety of gleaning the fields to have this predetermined encounter with Boaz. At least, it would have been far less likely. I’ll explain that a bit later.
2:2. Gleanings were stalks of grain left after the first cutting. Leviticus 19:9-10 commands”  “When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest.  And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the Lord your God. Later passages in Leviticus and Deuteronomy dedicate these gleanings to the needy, especially widows, orphans, and strangers.” Again, ask the question, did she know some of the Torah? My assertions is based on the following evidence: 1) there is no passage stating that Naomi to go and “glean.” 2) She specifically begged to “glean” after someone in whose eyes I may find favor,” further offering proof that she and Naomi fit the lawful category of needy and thus approved to lawfully glean. 3) In chapter 1, she very emphatically states that Naomi’s people would be her people and Naomi’s God would be her God.
2:3. As Dr. John MacArthur notes, this is a classic case of God’s providence in the life of Ruth. What we may perceive as chance, Obi Wan Kenobi wisely said, “In my experience, there is no such thing as luck.”
2:9. You recall last week that Pastor Dennis mentioned that Moabites have a bit of a bad name in the Hebrew community being descendants of one of Lot’s daughters through incest.
2:10. She was a foreigner. She was not ignorant of the tumultuous and lopsided relationship Israel often had with their neighbors (read 'enemies'). It's not clear to me whether or not she was referring to something Jesus would say on the sermon on the mount - "You've heard it said by them of old, you shall hate your enemies," which is, strangely enough, referenced in the Treasury of Scripture Knowledge to Exodus 17 with the end of Amelek's life, and Deuteronomy 23 in a list of people with certain characteristics that God will not allow into his presence. Reading the list may make on blush. Read it for yourself. For the not-so-faint-of-heart, the list includes men who clearly lack the ability to reproduce, illegitimate children, Ammonites, AND Moabites (of which Ruth was one), God had many, though particular and named, enemies. So, one could easily see why Ruth would ask what she did. She wasn't just simply a foreigner; she was on the blacklist!
Furthermore, Nehemiah 13:1-2 summarizes this relationship succinctly. They didn't come to meet the Israelites with bread and water, but hired Balaam against them in order to curse them - but our God changed the curse into a blessing.
I find it rather interesting that Peter doesn't forget this when he writes that such condemning words about Balaam in 2 Peter 2, writing that "a speechless donkey spoke with human voice and restrained the prophet's madness."
2:11. Boaz recognized her kindness to his relative, Naomi, and thus rewarded her with the kindness of allowing her to glean from his field.
2:12-16. It has been asserted by some that Boaz was between 45-55 years old and that he was either never married or a widower. Some would insert lust, covetousness, in this exchange. I don’t believe one could read any sense of immorality into the next.
On the contrary, according to John MacArthur, “Notice throughout how Boaz manifested the spirit of the law in going beyond what the Mosaic legislation required by 1) feeding Ruth (2: 14), 2) letting Ruth glean among the sheaves (2: 15), and 3) leaving extra grain for her to glean (2: 16).”
Much of this had to do with the fact that he literally saw her as a daughter as Naomi did. Not his contrast to youth by saying “my young women” in verse 8. I think there was honestly very little, if any, physical attraction to do with this interaction, yet his kindness in the “spirit of the law” should be noted here. I think this adds to the story when we see Boaz a bit startled to see this “worthy woman” at his feet, knowing she could have gone after younger men.
2:20. God speaks to Moses in Leviticus 25, and in verse 25 instructs Moses, “ ‘When your brother becomes poor and he sells part of his property, then ⌊his nearest redeemer⌋ shall come, and he shall redeem the thing sold by his brother.”
In short, a redeemer was the closest living family member that could buy back property. This has huge implications with the doctrine of adoption, especially as it relates to us Gentile believers. More on this later.
What stands out? What is, as Smee says in the movie, “Hook,” your ‘apostrophe’? Your epiphany?
How does this story relate to Christ as kinsman-redeemer?
Ruth’s understanding, or awareness of Scripture
One of the things this tells me upon further investigation is, Ruth had some exposure to the Torah, that and the plain fact that she is a descendant of Abraham through Lot. Whether or not Ruth's now-deceased husband or Naomi had anything to do with her knowledge, she sure seems to know something is up, and indeed know the Scriptures and fears God. I am assuming that she was taught, in accordance with Deuteronomy 6. She knows that Boaz, as a faithful Hebrew man, could completely ignore here and disregard her safety altogether. So, her bowing in thanks is not surprising.
This raises an important question: do you know the Word? Do you know what it says about you? Upon further investigation into God's kindness (much like Boaz’ to Ruth), have you bowed on your face in awe of His kindness towards you? As I mentioned in the prayers of the people on November 18, Paul makes clear in several places that we deserve God's eternal judgment. No wonder the church of our day is so impotent. Steven Lawson of Ligonier fame has said very famously in a sermon he gave several years ago at the West Coast Conference, "There Is A Famine In the Land."
His argument can be summed up in a quote from his book of the same title: "The most urgent need in the Christian Church today is true preaching; and as it is the greatest and most urgent need in the Church, it is the greatest need of the world also." This echoes Paul's plea for preaching the Word in Romans 10:14-17. "How then will they call upon him in whom they have not believed? And how will they believe in him about whom they have not heard? And how will they hear about him without one who preaches to them? And how will they preach, unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “How timely are the feet of those who bring good news of good things.” But not all have obeyed the good news, for Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?” Consequently, faith comes by hearing and hearing through the word about Christ.
- Boaz obedience to and manifestation of the Spirit of the Law
- Boaz willingness to immediately allow a member of his family to glean freely without fear of harassment regardless of her being a Moabite.
- Boaz’ recognition of the kindness Ruth has shown Naomi
- How does this story differ from the gospel of grace in the New Testament?
Read 1 Corinthians 3:12-18
Remember Deuteronomy 23? No Moabites could go before the presence of God? No man incapable of reproducing? No illegitimate child? Christ has taken that ALL away?
What did Ruth say? Your people will be my people and your God, my God”? If a Muslim comes through our door and says I want your God to be my God, do we turn that person away? By no means! Anyone who is under the conviction of God that Jesus is who is and believes in accordance with 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 will never be turned away!
Since we have now been gifted with faith by hearing the word of God that Christ is our Redeemer, there is now neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female - removing all of the law's restrictions about coming to the Father! Now, all who are Christ’s are Abrahams offspring and heirs according to promise.
Before, according to Paul, God saw us as law-breakers and ran a rescue program anyway. While we were YET sinners, Christ died for us. Wow.
Boaz reached out because he was family and she was incredibly kind to his close relative, Naomi. God saw nothing good about us. Jesus, himself, says “there is no one good but God.” Am I suggesting there are not nice people in the world? There are plenty of them. Nice is not the criteria used for forgiveness and admittance to heaven. Hebrews 11 does not read:
- “Without niceness, it is impossible to please God
- without reaching out to the poor
- without tithing
- Without attending Sunday service
- Without becoming a member
- Without baptism
- Without communion
It says, without faith. I have heard faith described as “taking God at His word.” The writer of the Hebrews says “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
2ND SERVICE ONLY
[Les Feldick, noted bible teacher, asserts that there are two primary absolutely in the Scriptures. The first is “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” The second is, there is no remission, or forgiveness, of sins without a blood sacrifice. As we see, there is no blood sacrifice offered in this passage. What can we take from this? First, that this story is of a category of stories called “type and shadows.” The redemption story is a type and shadow of our redeemer, Jesus. Again, we were not part of the OT program, by and large. Why? Jesus, himself, told the disciples not to go to the Gentiles but to the lost sheep of Israel. We see mercy and grace when Jesus does interact with Gentiles, but it is rare. It is only when Paul is given the directive to go to the Gentiles in Acts that we are offered the amazing gift of adoption through Jesus work on the cross.
To define briefly, The writer to the Hebrews tells us that the "Types" are but the "SHADOW OF GOOD THINGS TO COME, AND NOT THE VERY IMAGE OF THE THING."
Charles Larkin explains further:
“Jesus summed up His Discourse on the "Kingdom of Heaven" Parables of Matt. 13:1-52, with these words:
"Therefore (and we must note the "Therefores" of Scripture) every scribe (Bible Teacher) who is instructed unto the 'Kingdom of Heaven' is like unto a Householder, who bringeth forth out of his Treasure things NEW and OLD."
The "OLD" things are the "TYPES" of the Old Testament, and the NEW things what they stand for in the New Testament. The New Testament is "enfolded" in the Old Testament, and the Old Testament is "unfolded" in the New. Or as St. Augustine puts it, according to Dr. R.C. Sproul:
"The new is in the old concealed;
the old is in the new revealed."
You cannot understand Leviticus without Hebrews, or Daniel without Revelation, or the Passover, or Isaiah 53 without the Gospel account of the Crucifixion. The value of the study of the "Types" and "Antitypes" is the proof they furnish of the Inspiration of the Scriptures. Their study proves beyond question that the Scriptures had but one Author - the HOLY SPIRIT.”]
What does this have to do with me?
Boaz saw family and kindness. God saw us as law-breakers and children of the devil. Boaz saw her as family and noticed the good that she had done. God saw us as separated from Him, heading for eternal judgment... and then, what you would least expect from the Sovereign Lord of the universe but to adopt the prodigal as his own kin. What does Paul say? While we were yet sinners (read law-breakers according to 1 John 3:4) Christ died for us. I think it’s ironic that those who interpret predestination to mean that God saw us choosing him and so we are “elect” forget that God foresaw us sinning against him and He chose us anyway. What a gracious God we serve, indeed!
As Christians, we are to do good, especially to those who are fellow believers. “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Galatians 6:10.
And, how does Paul greet the Corinthian church in his first letter? “To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:
3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
How much more should we as Christians manifest the spirit of the law through the grace we experience by showing kindness to those especially who are in the body of Christ?
Evangelism. I want to draw attention to the scene in which Ruth and Boaz have this exchange. It was in the fields. What impact does this have? What would have happened Ruth would have “by chance” gone by the temple? She would have been shunned, given her place as a woman (at the time) and especially her origins as a Moabitess. Yet, the Law gives provision for the alien to glean among the fields. This was, dare I say, a less threatening environment. What am I getting at? How many people do you hear say something like, I’ll go to church when I get my act cleaned up, or the like?
Isn’t it funny that the scriptures actually use the phrase “by chance?” Think of all the parables in the New Testament where all everybody else wanted was food, and yet Jesus was there to feed them with spiritual food, the bread of life, you get what I’m saying.
Here’s the point: while the worship service is for the gathering of the saints, the preaching of the word, the training grounds of believers, there are unbelievers gleaning in our fields - our businesses, our schools, our neighborhoods, etc. While God providentially planned Ruth to be in a place that she would have never considered to be recognized and cared for to be the next in line to be in the lineage of our Savior, King Jesus, we are called to proclaim his incarnation, passion, resurrection, and forgiveness of sins. Boaz, in this story, is both a shadow “of the one who was to come,” namely Jesus, he is also a picture of us. Christian, are you, as the Apostle Paul exhorts Timothy to be, read in season and out of season? You might not be running a Bible study or preaching or teaching a Sunday School class, but, like offseason athletes are to continue to be exercising the gift of the gospel. Preach it to yourselves and then find someone to practice it on. I doubt you’ll be disappointed at the results. More than 150,000 people die every day. You never know when someone’s minute is up. We do not want anyone leaving this earth unwarned and unprayed for. As Spurgeon once said, if I knew that God’s elect had a yellow stripe running down their backs, I’d be going around lifting up shirt tails. May we be like Spurgeon, veritably running around lifting up shirt tails to find God’s elect through our witness to the gospel in our lives.
Lastly, in this advent season, we celebrate his incarnation. But, in time yet to come, the kinsman-redeemer is directly tied into Revelation 5. No matter how you look at things dealing with the last days, Jesus is and will be the kinsman-redeemer of our earth. He will wipe out sin once and for all upon his return. As we reflect back on how his first coming affected all of humanity then, we should look at the end of Revelation to see how he will forever change all who believe in him for eternity. As the Apostle John writes in Revelation 22:20, “He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!