Why I Love Jim Elliot

“Father, make of me a ‘crisis man’. Bring those I contact to decision. Let me not be a milepost on a single road. Make of me a fork, so that men must turn one way or another on facing Christ in me.”

“What is written in these pages I suppose will someday be read by others than myself.  For this reason I cannot hope to be absolutely honest in what is herein recorded, for the hypocrisy of this shammering heart will ever be putting on a front and dares not to have written what is actually found in its abysmal depths.  Yet, I pray Lord, that You will make these notations to be as nearly true to fact as is possible so that I will know my own heart and be able to definitely pray regarding my gross, though often unviewed, inconsistencies.  I do this at the suggestion of Stephen Olford whose chapel message of yesterday morning convicted me that my quiet time with God is not what it should be.  These remarks are to be written from fresh, daily thoughts given from God in meditation on His Word.”

“The world cannot hate you”, so Jesus said to those who were of the world spirit.  O’ that it could!  The Lord is not enough ‘with me’ that the world can recognize and hate me for what I am – “not of the world.”  The world loves its own, and for me it shelters not hatred.  Lord, have I wandered so far?”

Jan 25, 1948 – “There is now no longer any inheritance for me down here. I’ve been bought by the labors of that great Shepherd who came from afar to gain me as His bride. Lead on, Lord, whatever God’s command is or wherever He may lead, I am now ready to go.”

Jan 29, 1948 – “God, I pray, light these idle sticks of my life and may I burn up for Thee. Consume my life, my God, for it is Thine. I seek not a long life, but a full one like Yours, Lord Jesus.”

Feb 2, 1948 – “Lord, I know Thou art with me, but I fear that because my life is barren for Thee so much of the time, that You gain little glory from being with me. I pray Thee, make my way prosperous, not that I achieve high station, but that my life might be an exhibit to the value of knowing God.”

Feb 16, 1948 – “Lord, here at Wheaton we need some affliction to unite us in our purpose, to make us prosper, to scatter us abroad. I pray, then, Lord, for should I ask for a Pharaoh who knows not our Joseph and is antagonistic? (Gen. 37- Ex. 1) Yes, send persecution to me, Lord, that my life might bring forth much fruit.”

Two Final Reasons I Love the Book of Ruth

I love the book of Ruth, for two reasons:

a) In Naomi and Ruth we see ourselves so clearly.

Naomi was a bitter angry old woman who was made hopeful by the redeemer Boaz. Ruth was a Moabite, a pagan woman who was far away from God, who didn’t know God, or His Word. She was an alien, a foreigner, a stranger in a strange land. So too are we. We’re like Naomi and Ruth, apart from God, we’re lost, aliens, strangers, those who are far away. Just as Ruth needed to be redeemed, we need to be redeemed, do you see that?

We’ve got a problem called sin, and if it’s not dealt with it’ll send us to hell. Ruth did nothing to be redeemed. It was all Boaz. She didn’t ask for it or do anything to receive it, she was just making it from day to day. And when Boaz redeemed Ruth it changed everything for her and Naomi.

So too when you put your faith in Jesus, if you put your faith in Jesus now, He’ll do it all, and His redemption will change everything for you even more. Even if you remain poor in this life you’ll be ridiculously wealthy because you’ve got Jesus. Ruth’s redemption was a gift of love from a willing redeemer, and so too our redemption was a gift from Jesus, our greater willing Redeemer.

b) In Boaz we Jesus so clearly.

Boaz redeemed Ruth, just as Jesus became human to be our Redeemer. Boaz was able to redeem Ruth because he was a dude. Even more, Jesus is able to redeem sinful people because of His sinless life. Boaz was willing to redeem Ruth, and Jesus is willing to redeem us. But just as there was a cost that Boaz had to pay to redeem Ruth, there was a cost to redeem us that Jesus took, the cross. Where the Son of God died for sin, and secured the salvation of all those will believe in Him.

Just as Boaz had to make a legal transaction to redeem Ruth, Jesus made a legal transaction as well on the cross. He took our sin, and absorbed and satisfied the wrath that was coming our way from God. We get His perfect righteousness, so that when we stand before God He doesn’t see our sin, but Jesus. Boaz took Ruth to be his own, just as Jesus takes us to be His own, to be His bride upon believing in Him.

Amen 🙂

For the Christian the Best is Yet to Come, Always

Well, we’re at the end of Ruth, which is easily one of the greatest love stories ever told, and it’s clear to see now that as it began in pain, it ends in joy, as it began in emptiness, it ends in fullness, and as it began hopeless, it ends beaming with hope.

I think the main lesson of this book is that the life of the Christian is not a straight line to glory. Our path is not an interstate highway like I-75, it’s a mountain road with slippery curves, and hair-pin turns, that make you go backwards in order to go forwards. But God doesn’t leave us alone on this scary road of life, He puts signs on the side of the road that say, “The best is yet to come!” “I’m working all this out for your good and My glory!” “Don’t trust yourself and your own understanding, trust Me and what I’m doing, even if it feels like the whole world is against you right now!” This road will lead to our destination eventually, because God is plotting and planning our course, He is paving our road to Himself, and He will see to it that our car makes it to the end, to our destination, to Him! This is why Ruth was written – to help us see how God not only plans, plots, and paves our road, but leaves us signs of grace, so that when the road darkens or curves too much for us to navigate well, we know someone greater than us in control.

We see this play out as the story ends. Naomi “pleasant”, who once called herself “bitter”, is now full of hope and even has a grandchild. Ruth was nothing more than a pagan Moab, and now she is a Christian who’s got a husband who loves her and a son. She was barren before when she was married for ten years with Mahlon, and no babies. But now with Boaz, in one day, she got married and got pregnant! This is a God thing.

But notice who this son is. The women of the town name him “Obed”. Obed grew up and also had a son, named Jesse. Jesse had a son, and named him David. Who was one of David’s descendants? Jesus Christ the Son of God Himself! Jesus was a descendant of Boaz and Ruth. Don’t think that God is up to nothing in your life. They didn’t know God would bring forth David out of this mess, much less the Savior of the world! But He did. So we should look upon our troubles in light of Ruth. God’s purposes in your life are bigger than you can imagine!

The best is yet to come, even if the road is pitch black right now.

Ruth Almost Goes Off with the Wrong Man

Now back to Ruth 4.

Most every love story has the moment when some kind of intruder comes into play, who’s trying to break up the love between the two main characters. This is exactly what happens at the end of Ruth 4:4. After Boaz tells this unnamed man the details of redeeming Naomi and her land, he says, “I will redeem.” Instantly we think NO! You’re telling me that after all Boaz has done for Naomi and Ruth in the previous 4 chapters, this no named bozo’s going to get the girl!? NO WAY!

Thankfully the story continues. Boaz now tells this guy the whole story. If he chooses to redeem Naomi’s land, he not only gets Naomi, he gets Ruth the Moabitess as well. Upon hearing this news this no name man realizes that he would be obligated to have a kid with Ruth in order to continue the line of her dead husband. Bottom line, this man’s selfish and doesn’t want to mess up his own family or his own finances, so he gives his right of redemption to Boaz. Than as was the custom in Israel, they traded sandals to let everyone know they made an agreement. This is the equivalent of signing a contract today. Than Boaz, the man, stands up and tells the people what he has just agreed to do. He will redeem the land of Elimelech, bring Naomi into his home, gain Ruth as his wife, and have a child with Ruth to make sure the name of Ruth’s dead husband continues.

After Boaz speaks the people agree that Boaz is a dude, and give their blessing to him. They pray for him and for his children.

The Men of Ruth

Ruth 4:

Now Boaz went up to the gate and sat down there, and behold, the close relative of whom Boaz spoke was passing by, so he said, “Turn aside, friend, sit down here.” And he turned aside and sat down. He took ten men of the elders of the city and said, “Sit down here.” So they sat down. Then he said to the closest relative, “Naomi, who has come back from the land of Moab, has to sell the piece of land which belonged to our brother Elimelech. So I thought to inform you, saying, ‘Buy it before those who are sitting here, and before the elders of my people. If you will redeem it, redeem it; but if not, tell me that I may know; for there is no one but you to redeem it, and I am after you.'” And he said, “I will redeem it.” Then Boaz said, “On the day you buy the field from the hand of Naomi, you must also acquire Ruth the Moabitess, the widow of the deceased, in order to raise up the name of the deceased on his inheritance.” The closest relative said, “I cannot redeem it for myself, because I would jeopardize my own inheritance. Redeem it for yourself; you may have my right of redemption, for I cannot redeem it.” Now this was the custom in former times in Israel concerning the redemption and the exchange of land to confirm any matter: a man removed his sandal and gave it to another; and this was the manner of attestation in Israel. So the closest relative said to Boaz, “Buy it for yourself.” And he removed his sandal. Then Boaz said to the elders and all the people, “You are witnesses today that I have bought from the hand of Naomi all that belonged to Elimelech and all that belonged to Chilion and Mahlon. Moreover, I have acquired Ruth the Moabitess, the widow of Mahlon, to be my wife in order to raise up the name of the deceased on his inheritance, so that the name of the deceased will not be cut off from his brothers or from the court of his birth place; you are witnesses today.” All the people who were in the court, and the elders, said, “We are witnesses. May the LORD make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, both of whom built the house of Israel; and may you achieve wealth in Ephrathah and become famous in Bethlehem. Moreover, may your house be like the house of Perez whom Tamar bore to Judah, through the offspring which the LORD will give you by this young woman.” So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife, and he went in to her. And the LORD enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son. Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed is the LORD who has not left you without a redeemer today, and may his name become famous in Israel. May he also be to you a restorer of life and a sustainer of your old age; for your daughter-in-law, who loves you and is better to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.” Then Naomi took the child and laid him in her lap, and became his nurse. The neighbor women gave him a name, saying, “A son has been born to Naomi!” So they named him Obed. He is the father of Jesse, the father of David. Now these are the generations of Perez: to Perez was born Hezron, and to Hezron was born Ram, and to Ram, Amminadab, and to Amminadab was born Nahshon, and to Nahshon, Salmon, and to Salmon was born Boaz, and to Boaz, Obed, and to Obed was born Jesse, and to Jesse, David.”

Boaz wakes up from his eventful evening at the threshing floor, and goes to the gate to take care of business. He goes to the gate because the gate is the center of town where all things that matter happen. “It just so happens” that as Boaz sits down at the gate, the other redeemer walks up. Boaz seems to have the “midas touch” here, he tells him to sit down and the other redeemer sits down. Boaz goes and gets 10 elders of the city, tells them to sit and they sit down. Now the stage is set for the legal transaction to take place concerning Naomi, Ruth, and their land.

But before I move on, notice this other redeemer. He’s not given a name in this story. Why? I think it becomes clear when you compare this man with Boaz. This unnamed redeemer was legally obligated to take care of Naomi and Ruth because he was their closest family, and to this point in our story he’s done nothing for them at all! Naomi and Ruth arrived in Bethlehem with no home, no food, and no hope, and this man didn’t do a thing for them. He didn’t go visit them, didn’t feed them, shelter them, didn’t listen to them, or grieve the death of their husbands with them, he did nothing, he didn’t lift a finger for them! Boaz, on the other hand, has no legal obligation to Naomi or to Ruth at all, yet we read in the story that Boaz was the man doing everything for these two widows!

Think about the 3 main men of the book of Ruth:

a) We have Elimelech who took the family out of the promise land to go back into the pagan wilderness of Moab, he was a risk taker, but he was a fool.

b) We have the other unnamed redeemer of chapter 4 who doesn’t do anything and who’s not responsible at all.

c) Than we have Boaz, the dude of dudes, who is not only picking up the mess that these other two men made but is freely and willingly giving over and above what he was required to do. He lavishes gifts upon Ruth and Naomi, he makes sure they’re well fed, and that they won’t have to worry about things.

Boaz is a dude, the other two are not. That’s why we don’t get a name for this other redeemer in chapter 4.

I Don’t Pastor Because I’ve “Arrived” – I Haven’t

Now, the Israelites would have read Ruth 3 and seen that Boaz is like God, a redeemer. We read this today, and see that Boaz is like Jesus, a redeemer.

That means that we’re like Ruth, the ones needing redemption. Therefore, all people, no matter how dirty or ugly you think you are because of what you’ve done, if you turn back to God you’ll find welcome in Jesus just like Ruth and Naomi found welcome in Boaz!

People too often say, “I can’t become a Christian right now because I’m not a good enough person. If you only knew the things I’ve done, or what feelings and thoughts go through my heart, you would agree that I’m not a good person.” Oh what a lie this is! Christianity and the redemption found in Jesus isn’t about making squeaky clean people. It’s about God saving sinners.

People often think the reason I am a pastor is because I’ve got this Christianity thing figured out, and that since I’ve “arrived” I can now teach people.  What a lie this is.  I don’t pastor because I’ve got the Christian life figured out, or that I’ve “arrived” – God knows I never will!  I pastor because I know I’m a sinner, and that the only hope in this life is in Jesus.  This has gripped me to the core of my being.

Has it gripped you?

Ruth Must Wait for Boaz

Notice in 3:10 Boaz makes it clear that he thinks Ruth is out of his league. He’s old and not very good looking. He’s not the best looking dude, he’s probably doesn’t have a six pack, he probably has nice round belly, similar to a cooler, instead. She could go after anyone else she wanted in that town, she was pretty and any man would have been glad to be her husband.

Ladies, Boaz teaches us something about men here. Sometimes a man won’t pursue you because he thinks you’re out of his league, and that a girl as pretty as you would never go with a guy like him. He’s humble, and he’s aware of his own lack in view of other younger men in town.

This is point in the story where the “oh no” moment comes in. Boaz says so in 3:12. Isn’t this a bummer? We were rooting for Boaz all this time and now another guy comes into the picture? That stinks! Boaz says, “It is not my job to redeem you, there’s another who’s legally obligated before me, I’m not supposed to be your guy.” Under the Old Testament law, if a man dies, it’s his direct brother who is supposed to redeem his widowed wife. Boaz is not Mahlon’s brother!

Legally, Boaz has no tie to Ruth at all! But Boaz loves Ruth and even though this is true he’ll try to fix things. Boaz tells Ruth, “I want to marry you, but we’re not going to break the law, you belong to someone else before me, stay here for the night at my feet so no one else snatches you up in the middle of the night, leave in the morning when it’s safe, and I’ll work on this tomorrow.” He told Ruth to stay there for the night because he knew what kind of men wandered the street at night. He then tells her to leave in the morning when everyone is sleeping to protect her reputation, so that no one would see her leaving and wonder, “What did they do last night?” Again, Boaz takes care of Ruth, he’s a dude.

The story ends with Boaz sending Ruth home with six measures of barley, which is a lot of grain, and says that it is specifically for her mother-in-law. Boaz takes care of not only Ruth, but her mother-in-law. Boaz had said, “Do not return to your mother in law empty.” He is still being the answer to his own prayer from 2:12. Ruth returns to find Naomi awake at this early hour of the morning.

Naomi was probably up all night wondering about what happened because she was well aware that her counsel to Ruth was risky. She sees the grain and hears all that happened, and then gave more advice, (read 3:18). Naomi encourages Ruth to let Boaz figure it out. Ruth does not make a plan and send it to Boaz, she lets him figure it out. Besides, Ruth wouldn’t want to marry a guy who couldn’t figure things out anyway. Girls, this shows us that you may have to wait on a guy one day to figure things out, and that it’s not a bad thing to have to do so!

Boaz Isn’t a Boy and He’s Proves It

Ruth shows her godliness and obeys everything her mother-in-law told her to do.

The place where Ruth goes is the threshing floor, this is where all the harvested grain is kept, and men often slept near the grain so robbers wouldn’t break in and steal their crops. The threshing floor was not a very clean or nice place to be. It was a common place for prostitution in Israel, because the men often had large amounts of money in their pockets from the grain they’ve sold, but Boaz can’t leave his grain or someone will run off with it, so there he is, and here comes Ruth.

She uncovers Boaz’s feet and lays down. 3:8 says that about midnight Boaz woke up, probably because he was cold and felt a draft from being uncovered. What is he going to say? Everything is now hanging on how Boaz responds to this! He turns over, notices someone lying next to him, and says “Who are you?” Boaz didn’t say this because he was still drunk from before; he was a godly man who knew drunkenness was offensive to God. He said this because it was dark. Ruth answers in 3:9 and asks Boaz to propose to her. Really?  Yep.  Putting your blanket over a woman in their day was the same as putting a ring on a woman’s finger in our day.

Ruth is being very bold here by asking this, a woman asking a man, a Moabite asking an Israelite, an employee asking her employer, a young woman asking an older man! She’s basically saying, “Love me, protect me, hold me close, ask me to marry you.” By asking Boaz to, spread his covering (or “wing” in the original Hebrew) she is asking Boaz to be like God and “cover her with his wing.” This reminds of Boaz’s prayer in 2:12. She’s asking Boaz to answer this prayer in a deeper way now. She’s asking Boaz to ask her to be his wife. She’s saying “I would love to be your wife. Make your move Boaz.”

Notice Boaz though. Will he take advantage of her? No one would know right? Even if Ruth told someone what he did no one would believe the word of a Moabite over the word of an Israelite. Will Boaz think she’s trying to take advantage of him and ruin his own reputation? Boaz is a holy man, he could have her stoned, and killed, and than Naomi would have nothing left. This scene is just loaded and ripe with sexual tension, and people say the Bible is boring.

But look at what Boaz does: he wakes up, turns over, asks who’s there, hears what Ruth is proposing and says, “May you be blessed of the Lord my daughter!” Yes! He stops the situation from escalating any higher than it already is! This is a godly man! This is a man who doesn’t fit in with today’s modern ideas about sex and marriage! Oh how I want us to be like Boaz here. Rather than giving in to what we all know he wanted, he stops it and directs the conversation Godward.

What is Naomi Thinking?!

Ruth 3:

Then Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, “My daughter, shall I not seek security for you, that it may be well with you? “Now is not Boaz our kinsman, with whose maids you were? Behold, he winnows barley at the threshing floor tonight. “Wash yourself therefore, and anoint yourself and put on your best clothes, and go down to the threshing floor; but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking. “It shall be when he lies down, that you shall notice the place where he lies, and you shall go and uncover his feet and lie down; then he will tell you what you shall do.” She said to her, “All that you say I will do.” So she went down to the threshing floor and did according to all that her mother-in-law had commanded her. When Boaz had eaten and drunk and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of grain; and she came secretly, and uncovered his feet and lay down. It happened in the middle of the night that the man was startled and bent forward; and behold, a woman was lying at his feet. He said, “Who are you?” And she answered, “I am Ruth your maid. So spread your covering over your maid, for you are a redeemer.” Then he said, “May you be blessed of the LORD, my daughter. You have shown your last kindness to be better than the first by not going after young men, whether poor or rich. “Now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you whatever you ask, for all my people in the city know that you are a woman of excellence. “Now it is true I am a close relative; however, there is a relative closer than I. “Remain this night, and when morning comes, if he will redeem you, good; let him redeem you. But if he does not wish to redeem you, then I will redeem you, as the LORD lives. Lie down until morning.” So she lay at his feet until morning and rose before one could recognize another; and he said, “Let it not be known that the woman came to the threshing floor.” Again he said, “Give me the cloak that is on you and hold it.” So she held it, and he measured six measures of barley and laid it on her. Then she went into the city. When she came to her mother-in-law, she said, “How did it go, my daughter?” And she told her all that the man had done for her. She said, “These six measures of barley he gave to me, for he said, ‘Do not go to your mother-in-law empty-handed.'” Then she said, “Wait, my daughter, until you know how the matter turns out; for the man will not rest until he has settled it today.”

For most of this story Naomi had been depressed, and for good reason. Depressed people move into the future with no sense of purpose or direction. But Naomi seems to be moving with purpose in chapter 3, why? Because she began to praise God in 2:20. Naomi has purpose now, and she’s planning and being strategic about finding a husband for Ruth. Perhaps Naomi is aware of the emotional baggage Ruth is now carrying over Boaz. She’s been gleaning in the field for almost 2 months now, and her and Boaz haven’t had a second date. They ate dinner together when they met, and nothing since, so you could imagine that Ruth was thinking all sorts of things about where they were in their relationship.

Naomi gives her a risky strategy! This is the point in this Ruth series where I have to say that this plan is descriptive rather than prescriptive. Meaning that this story is only supposed to tells us what happens, not tell us how to find a spouse.

So, what’s the strategy?

Naomi walks up to Ruth and says, “Hey Ruth, I heard there’s gonna be a party, and you know who’s going to be there? Boaz! So, wash up, take a shower, get dressed up, put your face on, because every time Boaz has seen you you’re dirty and covered with barley, clean up and go to this party to see Boaz.” Some girls may be thinking that Naomi is telling Ruth to chase after Boaz and therefore also think that I’m saying you should do the same thing to the guy you like, I’m not. I don’t think any girl should pursue a guy, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get in his way, or get in front of him. That you should do. And this is what Naomi is telling Ruth to do. “Get in front of Boaz, look nice, smell like something other than grain and B.O., go see him, but don’t let him know you’re there until he’s done eating and drinking.”

Notice that Naomi doesn’t tell Ruth to walk up to Boaz and unload all of her emotional baggage and say “We need to talk; I don’t know where we’re at in our relationship! She does not walk up to him and say, “I’m so confused! You’ve sent me mixed messages, we went on a date, I dipped my bread in your vinegar, and you don’t call even once? Where are we?! Do you even like me?” No, Ruth is going to just chill, and play it cool. She’s gonna let him be, let him eat, let him drink, let him hang with his friends, and go to him at night.

This is the risky part, she says, “When Boaz lies down to sleep, after he’s eaten and drank, go to him, uncover his feet and wait for him to tell you what to do.” WHAT! This is risky counsel Naomi! Remember this is in the days of the judges, a time when people did whatever they wanted to do, they weren’t the most moral people, and Ruth’s a Moabite, an alien to Israel who isn’t treated well by others. You can’t help but wonder why Naomi tells her to do this.

Go to Boaz, he has a full stomach, he’s been drinking, it’s the middle of the night, take his covers off, and wait for instructions.

This is risky for sure.

Boaz is a Dude – Jesus is the Man among Men

Well, we’ve covered the events of Ruth 2, but chapter 2 is not done. It has a greater story in it that you may or may not see.

Ruth 2 is a pointer in the Bible, pointing forward to a similar and even greater story than this one. This greater story becomes clear to us when we examine how Boaz welcomes Ruth, the foreigner. You see Ruth was an alien. Imagine what it would be like for an alien immigrant living in a foreign land. They would feel like a complete outsider, the culture and the customs are vastly different, all you want is someone to welcome you and make you feel at home rather than making you feel like an outsider, and to make matters worse Ruth was homeless, hungry, and hopeless. This was Ruth, the stranger in a strange land. When Boaz welcomes Ruth, he changes everything for her! He gives her food, friends, and hope that sustains her and Naomi.

You see, we are like Ruth, and Boaz is like Jesus. Eph. 2:12-13 says it like this, “…remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” You see it? We are like Ruth, I was like Ruth, without hope and without God in this world, empty handed, dirty, an alien to God, and more so, His enemy because of my sin. But just as Boaz welcomed Ruth and lavished such grace on her, so too Jesus welcomed me and lavished grace on this dirty alien! The same is true for all Christians! We are Ruth, and we were and are being pursued by Jesus, just as Boaz did.

If you find yourself far away now, without hope and without God in this world, dirty and rotten in your sin (which all of us are!), come to Jesus. He is the greater Boaz, who not only welcomes sinners, but dies for them on the cross, opening their way back to God. He died for all those who’ll trust in Him. If you come to Him you know what you’ll do? You’ll cry out as Ruth did in 2:10, because you know who you are, and know who Jesus is, and you’ll be amazed, astonished, and befuddled that Jesus would love a dirty sinner like you.

Boaz did all of this for Ruth, because he understood the essence of the gospel. Whether other people can tell or not, Boaz knows he is a sinner in need of grace, and when he came into the kingdom of God by faith, he was astonished that he didn’t get what he deserved, but got what we didn’t deserve, grace. He not only knew this, remember he saw a real life example with his parents Salmon and Rahab.

When God welcomed Boaz, it changed Boaz’s life. When Boaz welcomed Ruth, it changed her life. When Jesus welcomes us, it changes everything! So there are two calls here:

1) If you don’t know Jesus, He is calling you to come right now, empty handed, sinful, and dirty, as Ruth did.

2) If you have been so welcomed by Jesus and know Him now, you know you received something you didn’t deserve. This should lead you to welcome others as Boaz welcomed Ruth, and as God welcomed you through Jesus. Your cry is now 1 John 3:1, “See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we (who were strangers and aliens, far away from God, lost and without hope in this world) can now be called children of God.”

Boaz and Ruth’s First Date

Despite the fact that Ruth is a poor immigrant humbly laboring for her survival, Boaz invites her to dinner in 2:14 and serves her dinner himself, showing his humble character.

This is again ridiculously gracious, because Boaz treated Ruth as a member of his own household. Only those of his household were allowed to dip their bread into the vinegar. Boaz is inviting her into his household even though she was a Moabite alien. She rose again to glean, and by the end of this first day she had acquired 1 “ephah” of barley. That’s equivalent to 30 to 50 lbs. of food, and in our modern day this is like a few thousand dollars for one day’s work. Boaz is lavishing grace upon Ruth.

Remember in chapter 1 the clouds were thick right?

Here in chapter 2 we begin to see the clouds passing away, letting more of the sunshine beam through for Naomi and Ruth. God is always up to something in our pain, designing more than we know for our good. Although it is tempting to remain angry at God during these times, let Ruth teach you that God is not angry with us when things in our life fall apart. Rather, God is doing what He does best, working for our good and His glory.

When Ruth returned home Naomi sees this ridiculous amount of food she immediately wants to know who Ruth worked with that day, and when she finds out it was Boaz, she remembers something that sets the theme for the rest of the book, 2:20 says it, Boaz is a close relative of theirs, he is a “redeemer.” In the OT a redeemer was a relative who could redeem people and property. A redeemer had the ability to take in a widow and care for her as his own wife and have children with her to continue the name of the deceased husband (Lev. 25:23-55). Ruth than told Naomi that Boaz said he would take care of them until harvest was over. This is huge, because it meant that Boaz would provide them with almost a year’s worth of wages and food in just a few months. When Naomi heard this astonishing news, she gives Ruth some advice, “Stay close to Him! Don’t go to another field!”

So Ruth remained with the maids of Boaz to reap and glean in his field until the end of the harvest.

Girls, You Want a Boaz Not a Bozo

In Ruth 2:8 Boaz replies to Ruth and says, “Listen, my daughter, don’t go glean in another field, stay here…”

There are some things to notice here in 2:8-9.

Boaz calls her “my daughter”. This is major because every time Ruth is addressed in this book she is called “the Moabitess”, except for when Boaz talks to her. If you’ve ever been in a place where you’re the foreigner you know what Ruth is feeling right now. You know what it’s like to feel out of place, like a stranger in a strange land, and when people are calling you Moabitess all the time, it rubs your alien-ness in a little bit! A person’s identity is a large part of who they are, and Boaz is helping her identity out because with him she is just “my daughter”. Oh yeah, he’s digging her. Boaz shows his own character here. He not only provides her with a group of girls to hang around with (his maidservants) so she won’t feel lonely, but he provides water for her also, the same water he gives to his servants. Boaz has given Ruth, friends, food, and by allowing her to not merely glean, but reap the crops behind his servants in his field, he’s given her a job.

Girls, here’s a free dating tip, date guys like Boaz. He knows Jesus, he has a job, and he takes care of Ruth. You want a guy like this. You don’t want a guy who slothfully lazes around the house playing video games all day!

Ruth is aware of how gracious Boaz has been toward her, she falls on her face and responds to Boaz in 2:10, “Why have I found favor in your sight, that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?” Before we go on to Boaz’s answer wait and wonder for a second, why did Ruth ask this question and respond in such a seemingly drastic manner? I think she asked it because she knew two things really well: she knew who she was, and who Boaz was. She knew the social and relational difference between them was massive. She was homeless, she was hungry, she was dirty, and any man making an approach toward her would have to deal with her crazy, old, bitter mother-in-law also. She was an alien, a foreigner, and she’s an immigrant in Bethlehem, an outcast, a Moabite. Some of you guys have a mental list you’re making for your wife; would these things be on your list?

No. Boaz was an Israelite, he’s rich, well-fed, and powerful. He was a man of influence, a man of strength, a man’s man. Why would someone like him show such kindness and favor to someone like her? You see Boaz was only required by law to let her glean in his field, but he went above and beyond what the law required and gave her friends, gave her food, and gave her a job. Why? Two reasons:

First, in Matthew chapter 1 Matthew writes a thorough genealogy leading all the way to Jesus. You know who’s on the list? Boaz. You know who else was on it? Boaz’s mom Rahab. Rahab, like Ruth, was an alien, a pagan woman, a stranger who came to know the Lord God of Israel. This means that Boaz grew up in a house knowing that his mother used to be far away from God but is now near to God. So you can imagine the soft spot in his heart for Ruth, a foreign women in need who came to know the Lord, like his momma. Perhaps he saw a glimpse of his mother in Ruth when their eyes met for the first time in the field.

Second, 2:11-12 give another reason: Boaz heard of what Ruth did for Naomi, and loved her for it. He’s heard of her character and it’s just like his, its righteous, its good, and its worthy of respect. Boaz than prays that God would bless her in every possible way, taking care of her every need. God answered this prayer, but do you see that God answered this prayer by sending Boaz to Ruth. Boaz was the answer to his own prayer in 2:12. This shows us that prayer sometimes moves the hand of God to do something, and sometimes it moves the heart of the one praying to do what is being prayed for!

The Hungry, Homeless, Helpless Ruth Catches the Eye of Boaz

Notice Ruth 2:3, “So she departed and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers; and it just so happened (“her chance chanced upon her”) that she came to the portion of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the family of Elimelech.”

Did you catch it? “It just so happened”, that Ruth wandered into the field of Boaz? The Bible uses this strange phrase to raise our attention. She “just happens” to pick Boaz’s field out of all the other fields in Bethlehem? This is not good luck. It’s not happenstance, circumstance, or chance, its providence. What looks to us, from our human perspective, as mere free will, good karma, good luck, or great coincidence, is really the good and sovereign hand of God who is moving and working so that Boaz would meet Ruth the Moabitess. What looks like a coincidence, from our view, is God doing His amazing providential work among His people.

2:4 is where the story begins to heat up between Boaz and Ruth. She is gleaning, doing her welfare thing, and “it just so happens” that Boaz is approaching his field to check on the work at the same time Ruth is there gleaning. As soon as Boaz, our man’s man and dude of dude’s, enters all you see is godliness. He comes out to the field and says, “May the Lord be with you.” Instantly his servants respond, “May the Lord bless you.” This is not normal. How many of you have had bosses who walked in and said to you, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” With you responding “…and also with you?” Never. That never happens. But with Boaz it does, because he’s a godly man’s man, who obviously shares his faith with his servants and cares for them very well. This is where the scene heats up. After he greets his servants something catches Boaz’s eye.

Can’t you picture it? As he looks out over his field and his harvesters, he sees a woman. But no ordinary woman, she is a dirty, homeless, malnourished, and skinny girl that he’s never seen before. Most of you girls are thinking what Ruth would admit to in this moment, that she isn’t looking very good right now, she’s dirty and grain is all over her, but she catches Boaz’s eye, and Boaz asks his servant “Who’s that?” We’ve all been here right guys? We see a pretty girl and immediately turn to our friend and ask “Who’s that?” Boaz is a guy, he knows what’s up. He wants to know this girl, and make sure she knows him as well. The servant tells Boaz that she’s the Moabite woman who recently came into town with her old, bitter, crazy mother-in-law Naomi. Apparently Ruth was close enough to hear this conversation going on, and she chimes in and speaks to Boaz for the first time in 2:7, asking permission to glean among his field.

Boaz is a Dude

We left Ruth 1 when Naomi’s life seemed to be pitch black. Famine in the land, a move to Moab, Elimelech her husband died, Mahlon and Chilion her sons died, Orpah returned, Ruth clung, all to enter back into Bethlehem with no source of food, shelter, or money and no one to take care of them. They were hungry, homeless, and hurting. BUT, we also saw that the sun still shines even when the clouds block its light, and that God is up to more than the eye can see. As we enter chapter 2 we’ll continue to see the clouds scatter to let more of the sunlight beam through.

Read chapter 2

Now Naomi had a relative of her husband’s, a worthy man of the clan of Elimelech, whose name was Boaz.  And Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain after him in whose sight I shall find favor.” And she said to her, “Go, my daughter.”  So she set out and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers, and she happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the clan of Elimelech.  And behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem. And he said to the reapers, “The Lord be with you!” And they answered, “The Lord bless you.”  Then Boaz said to his young man who was in charge of the reapers, “Whose young woman is this?”  And the servant who was in charge of the reapers answered, “She is the young Moabite woman, who came back with Naomi from the country of Moab.  She said, ‘Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves after the reapers.’ So she came, and she has continued from early morning until now, except for a short rest.” Then Boaz said to Ruth, “Now, listen, my daughter, do not go to glean in another field or leave this one, but keep close to my young women.  Let your eyes be on the field that they are reaping, and go after them. Have I not charged the young men not to touch you? And when you are thirsty, go to the vessels and drink what the young men have drawn.”  Then she fell on her face, bowing to the ground, and said to him, “Why have I found favor in your eyes, that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?”  But Boaz answered her, “All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told to me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before.  The Lord repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!”  Then she said, “I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, for you have comforted me and spoken kindly to your servant, though I am not one of your servants.” And at mealtime Boaz said to her, “Come here and eat some bread and dip your morsel in the wine.” So she sat beside the reapers, and he passed to her roasted grain. And she ate until she was satisfied, and she had some left over.  When she rose to glean, Boaz instructed his young men, saying, “Let her glean even among the sheaves, and do not reproach her.  And also pull out some from the bundles for her and leave it for her to glean, and do not rebuke her.” So she gleaned in the field until evening. Then she beat out what she had gleaned, and it was about an ephah of barley.  And she took it up and went into the city. Her mother-in-law saw what she had gleaned. She also brought out and gave her what food she had left over after being satisfied.  And her mother-in-law said to her, “Where did you glean today? And where have you worked? Blessed be the man who took notice of you.” So she told her mother-in-law with whom she had worked and said, “The man’s name with whom I worked today is Boaz.”  And Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “May he be blessed by the Lord, whose kindness has not forsaken the living or the dead!” Naomi also said to her, “The man is a close relative of ours, one of our redeemers.”  And Ruth the Moabite said, “Besides, he said to me, ‘You shall keep close by my young men until they have finished all my harvest.’”  And Naomi said to Ruth, her daughter-in-law, “It is good, my daughter, that you go out with his young women, lest in another field you be assaulted.”  So she kept close to the young women of Boaz, gleaning until the end of the barley and wheat harvests. And she lived with her mother-in-law.

I love manly things. I love watching manly movies, doing manly dirty things, and being manly. In 2:1 the author lets us in on something that Naomi and Ruth don’t know, Naomi has relative in Bethlehem. This relative is “the man” of the story. His name is Boaz. Boaz is the man’s man. Not only does he have a cool name, “Boaz”, but his name means “strength.” This means that Boaz is the “dude of dudes”, and we’ll see shortly that Boaz is much more awesome than the other men we’ve met so far in the book of Ruth. Boaz is a relative of Naomi’s former husband Elimelech, he’s rich, and he loves God valiantly. Because he’s such an awesome, stud-ly, guy, you’d think he’d be married, but “it just so happens” that he’s still very much available and “on the market.”

In 2:2 Ruth expresses her desire to go and get food for her and Naomi, by doing what is called “gleaning in the fields”. Now in the OT God commanded the field owners to not harvest all their crop, but leave some leftovers around the edges for the widows, orphans, and foreigners. These often overlooked people would come and be allowed to “glean” in order to feed their families by these extras and leftovers. “Gleaning” is the Hebrew equivalent of “welfare”. So off Ruth went, to find a field where she could “glean.” Gleaning was not ideal labor, especially if you were a woman. The ones who gleaned were usually in the back, not cared about, and just kind of there. Often women who gleaned were raped (2:9 and 2:22) by the servants of the field owner.

So Ruth was running off into dangerous work to feed herself and Naomi.

Pain in Ruth 1 Makes the Way for the Messiah

Lastly, Naomi and Ruth arrive in Bethlehem. Ruth 1:19-22 says:

“So they both went until they came to Bethlehem. And when they had come to Bethlehem, all the city was stirred because of them, and the women said, “Is this Naomi?” She said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me.”I went out full, but the LORD has brought me back empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the LORD has witnessed against me and the Almighty has afflicted me?” So Naomi returned, and with her Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter-in-law, who returned from the land of Moab. And they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest.”

All the city was stirred when Naomi and Ruth came walking in because they hadn’t seen Naomi in so long. Did you notice what Naomi said when people began noticing she was back? She said, “Don’t call me Naomi (pleasant), call me Mara (bitter), because the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, but the Lord brought me back empty.”

What do you make of Naomi’s theology here? Do you agree with her? She thinks God has caused her emptiness and bitterness. She thinks God was not surprised at her trials. I agree with her, and I think you should too. Jesus does and made a similar statement when He said that not even a sparrow falls to the ground apart from His Father’s will (Matthew 10:29-31). What does this mean? It means God is sovereign. That God works, plans, ordains, and allows all things that happen, everywhere, good and bad. Naomi knows this, but she has forgotten something very important. God is not only sovereign, God is good as well.

You remember Joseph’s story in Genesis right? His brothers sold him into slavery, he spent years in jail, and when he was prince and saw his brothers face to face he told them that it was God who had done these things to him. In Genesis 50:20 he said, “As for you (brothers), you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good…” So Naomi is right to say that God has done these things to her, but she forgot what Joseph knew, that God has done these things for her good. Romans 8:28 confirms this, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good, for those that love God, for those who are called according to His purpose.” God works in the best possible way to bring about our best possible good. True, not all things are good, but God causes and works all things for good.

We know this from the rest of the book of Ruth. Ruth meets Boaz, he feeds her and Naomi, he married Ruth, had a baby and paved the way for the Messiah. Think about it: if there had been no famine, Elimelech wouldn’t have taken his family to Moab, if they hadn’t gone to Moab, Ruth wouldn’t be in the picture, if Ruth isn’t in the picture, she never would’ve married Boaz, if she didn’t marry Boaz, David wouldn’t exist, and if David didn’t exist Jesus wouldn’t be in the picture. If Jesus hadn’t been in the picture, we would have no hope. Naomi doesn’t know these things, she’s just angry. Therefore, we must be patient when we find ourselves in bitter seasons and be patient with those who receive bitter seasons from God in this life, because our sin will lead us to be angry at God. But hold onto Him and stay as close as you can to Him, because He’s up to more good than we could ever imagine or realize.

Chapter 1 ends on a note of hope, (read 1:22). The barley harvest has begun. There’s bread in the “house of bread” again. And the way is now open for Ruth to meet Boaz.