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Ruth

January 26, 2010

I. Her Tragedy      Ruth 1:1-7

II. Her Decision      Ruth 1:8-18

III. Her Love      Ruth 1:19-2:12

IV. Her Favor      Ruth 2:13-23

 V. Her Faith      Ruth 3:1-18

VI. Her Redemption      Ruth 4:1-10

VII. Her Blessing      Ruth 4:11-22

Commentary

Introduction:

Ruth is a love story injected in the midst of the floundering nation of Israel trying desperately to hold on to their faith and their land during the period of Judges. This could be anytime between Joshua and Samuel. She supposedly is the great grandmother of David assuming no generations were skipped in her genealogy at the end of Chapter 4. David ruled from approximately 1010-970 BC and began his rule when he was 30 years old. Therefore, we can estimate that this story takes place around 1150 BC during the time when Eli was high priest and when Samuel was young. Jewish tradition believes Samuel is the author but there is no evidence to support that claim or any other claim.

Ruth, the main character, is a Moabite who is now a widow after marrying Naomi’s son, Mahlon from the tribe of Judah. Moabites were descendents of Lot and practiced idolatry. They were traditional enemies of Israel but lived in peace with Israel except for specific uprisings from time to time. Israelites were to remain separate from them [Deut 23:3]. Ruth was an exception, becoming the third gentile woman in the lineage of David, King of Israel, and of Jesus Christ, the King of Kings. She is important, not for who she was but for who she became, a believer and follower of the Lord God Almighty.

In interpreting and applying this story to our lives, most scholars agree that:

• Naomi’s life of hardship represents Israel’s condition of apostasy.

• Ruth’s redemption represents Israel’s believing remnant.

• Boaz represents Israel’s redeemer, the Messiah.

My outline follows a similar line of thought, noting the similarity of our own personal redemption through Christ compared to the redemption of Ruth through Boaz.

Her Tragedy      Ruth 1:1-7

It was a famine that drove Elimelech and Naomi out of Bethlehem, Judah across the Jordan River east of the Dead Sea into Moab. Their two sons, Mahlon and Kilion, went with them and married Moabite women, Orpah and Ruth. The family lived in Moab 10 years. It is doubtful the famine lasted more than 3 years [there are many 3 year famines recorded in the Bible] so the family was comfortable living in Moab as foreigners. But tragedy struck the family again in that Elimelech, Mahlon, and Kilion all died. When Naomi’s sons died, she and her daughters-in-law became desperate to find a solution to survive. Her solution was to move back to Bethlehem where she had land and family to aid her, especially since the famine was over and the Lord was blessing the land and His people again.

We can speculate that the famine and the blessing was of the Lord. The famine was the Lord’s discipline for Israel’s apostasy during the time of the Judges and the blessing was due to Israel’s cry for help and turning away from idolatry and back to worshipping the Lord. Note that God is disciplining all His people, a nation, affecting “believers” who lived among those who fell away. We in America have been greatly blessed because our forefathers sought the Lord and depended on Him for survival. Therefore, it is important for we “believers” today to stand up and confront evil, unbelief, and apostasy in today’s culture. God’s judgment/discipline will come [perhaps has come] until we cry out for help and confess our sin. This is a very unpopular position to take today and brings forth much personal persecution for even suggesting such a thing as turning to God.

Tragedy in life is normal and more frequent than we like. But in tragedy, God directs His people, cares for them, protects them, and loves them. That is His promise and that is His character. We know, based on Ruth 4, that God had a very specific purpose and plan for this Godly couple [family]. God’s Will may require us to make uncomfortable decisions about where we live and it may result in some anxious moments. We must not forsake Him but trust Him and depend on Him. Call on the Lord and He will graciously lead us in His Will.

Her Decision      Ruth 1:9-18

Having decided to return to Bethlehem, Naomi encourages her daughters-in law to go to their homes in Moab and find husbands to care for them. Ruth and Orpah evidently had much love for their mother-in-law, Naomi, showing her kindness and no doubt doing what they could in the culture to make good and provide for one another after their loss. Their love for Naomi was greater than their love for their own country and family in that they both resisted and volunteered to go live with Naomi in Bethlehem, Judah. After Naomi’s insistence they stay in Moab, Orpah returns but Ruth is committed to return to Judah with Naomi. Ruth is not just committed to Naomi or to her husband’s people Israel, she is fully committed to the Lord. It is the Lord she wants to be near and she knows the Lord is with the people of Israel. Her love for the Lord and Naomi is greater than her love for her own idolatrous people. She is depending on the Lord for survival, not her own people.

We must ask ourselves who we depend on in time of need. Do we question God’s willingness and faithfulness to care for us and then seek other solutions and/or people? Do we begin to questions God’s sovereignty? Do we ever question God’s love? Let us learn from Ruth and trust the Lord God Almighty to lead us in the right direction. He wants to lead us so let Him. May our commitment to the Lord be top priority always.

Her Love      Ruth 1:19-2:12

Naomi and Ruth arrive in Bethlehem and cause quite a stir. It seems Naomi is not even recognized because she has changed [aged] so much in the last 10 years. Life has not been kind to her. She comes home disappointed and depressed. The word hope is not in her vocabulary or in her heart. She only knows of one relative of her husband, Boaz, who happens to be wealthy.

Ruth is not only loving, she is industrious. She is not going to let her current problems get the best of her so she volunteers to glean in the fields for food. She ends up gleaning in Boaz’s fields. Boaz asks his foreman who Ruth is and learns she is Naomi’s daughter-in-law from Moab. The foreman continues to tell Boaz of her work ethic. She works long hours and takes short breaks. Boaz may have first been attracted to Ruth by her beauty but he is really attracted to Ruth because of her love for Naomi. The towns people have been talking about Ruth and her devotion to Naomi. Boaz’s foreman confirms what Boaz has heard. Boaz instructs Ruth to come back and glean in his fields again and to drink from the water jugs for his harvesters. She can even stay with his servant girls. Ruth is humbled by his generosity and hospitality to a poor foreigner. Before she leaves, Boaz blesses her in the name of the Lord because of her love and care for Naomi. Ruth’s love is sacrificial. She is giving her life to give Naomi life and a renewed hope for the future.

The lesson for us is, as Christians, to practice this same sacrificial love for one another and, in so doing, offer hope eternal to them in the Name of the Lord, Jesus Christ. That’s why Paul emphasized love to the Corinthians in I Corinthians 13. Love attracts attention and through our love, man sees his Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. Boaz saw the “savior mentality” in Ruth toward Naomi.

Her Favor      Ruth 2:13-23

Ruth humbles herself before Boaz asking his continued favor and thanking him for his comfort and kind words in that she considers herself lower in value than his servants. She is elevated in stature with Boaz when he calls her over to eat with him and his harvesters. When they all return to the fields, Boaz instructs his men to treat her with kindness and compassion leaving her plenty of gleanings to gather.

When Ruth finished gleaning for the day, she threshed the grain and brought it to her mother-in-law. She also brought what she hadn’t eaten at lunch. Naomi asks Ruth many questions because she realizes Ruth was blessed with all that she had gathered. Ruth tells Naomi all about Boaz’s kindness, even about asking her to continue gleaning in his fields. Naomi encourages Ruth to do just that because Boaz is a possible kinsmen-redeemer for them and he is already willingly protecting Ruth.

Ruth is exalted because of her humility just as our Lord promises to exalt the humble [I Sam. 2:7; Matt. 23:12; James 4:6, 10; Ps. 149:4]. Ruth and Boaz portray exactly the relationship our Lord wants with each of us. We who obey Him and humble ourselves before Him will be blessed, comforted, and protected. This is the precursor to being fully blessed with redemption. Ruth’s humility, just as her love for Naomi was evident, attracts the attention of her kinsmen-redeemer, Boaz. Ruth is special because she willingly gives of herself to serve and care for Naomi. Likewise, we Christians must willingly give of ourselves to serve and care for others, loving them as Christ has commanded us.

Her Faith      Ruth 3:1-18

The grain harvest is over and it is time to act. Naomi is aware of Boaz’s kindness to Ruth and instructs Ruth to prepare herself for Boaz and ask him to be her kinsman-redeemer. Ruth is to go to Boaz’s threshing floor and hide until the men are through celebrating and are sleeping. Ruth is to lay at Boaz’s feet and await his instruction. Boaz awakens, sees Ruth at his feet, and Ruth asks him to be her redeemer. Boaz blesses her for seeking him out rather than anyone else and asks her to trust him. He is not her nearest of kin so Boaz must do this according to Jewish law. If the other person has no desire to redeem her, Boaz will gladly do it. She is to place her trust and faith in him just as she placed her trust and faith in Naomi when this evening began. Ruth leaves before the others awake but not before Boaz seals his promise by filling her shawl with barley.

Naomi asks Ruth what happened and assures her that Boaz will keep his word. Like Ruth, he too is a man of noble character.

Naomi encouraged Ruth to move on from giving herself for Naomi’s sake and give/present herself as a servant to Boaz. This is similar to a parent giving a child to the Lord or to another in marriage. It is also similar to John the Baptist telling his disciples to leave him and follow Jesus [John 1:31-51]. Yes, it was time for Ruth to leave Naomi, her earthly parent, and pledge her allegiance to her kinsman-redeemer, Boaz representing her heavenly bridegroom. She does this by expressing her love and devotion to Boaz and then placing her faith in his word. She trusted him to fulfill his promise to her. Again this is a picture of the redemption our Lord promises to each of us who seek Him and desire to love and follow Him. We who believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior must place our faith in His Promise and in His Person [character].

Her Redemption      Ruth 4:1-12

Boaz gets up that morning and goes into Bethlehem to seek out the nearest kinsman-redeemer of Ruth. Together with the elders of Bethlehem they discuss the redemption/selling of Naomi’s land. This land was probably owned by somebody else and would not return to Naomi or her kin until the Year of Jubilee. But it could be bought back at anytime for a price. It was the nearest of kin’s obligation to do so unless they were unwilling or did not have the money. The nearest kin wants to redeem the land but he doesn’t want the responsibility that goes with it, the care of Naomi and Ruth. He is afraid to take on additional responsibility which may jeopardize his own estate. This frees Boaz to buy Naomi’s land, which he does. In so doing, he announces his intent to take Ruth as his wife. The elders give their blessing to this land sale and to this marriage acknowledging Ruth’s allegiance to the Lord God as did Rachel, Leah, and Tamar in the past.

Her Blessing      Ruth 4:13-23

Bethlehem rejoices in this marriage and in the fact that Naomi will also be cared for and can live assured among them. They also rejoice in the fact that Ruth has conceived and bore a son named Orbed who was the son of Jesse, the father of David. God has taken a bad situation and is turning it to good. Naomi, Ruth, and now Israel will be blessed in the generations to come, all the way to the Messiah, Jesus Christ. God is gracious and good to all who call upon Him.

In Summary then, we have:

TRAGEDY:              Living in a fallen world brings unrest and uncertainty.

DECISION:              It is in our best interest to seek a better life in the Promised Land of heaven.

LOVE:                      We are challenged to be loving and kind to our fellow man.

FAVOR:                  God finds favor with those who love and seek Him.

FAITH:                   We must place our faith in God for our hope is in God and His Promise of redemption.

REDEMPTION:    Our Salvation is guaranteed because God keeps His Promises.

BLESSING:            We are able to bear children [fruit] for the Heavenly Father.

God uses all these elements to bring Glory to His Name.

May the Lord be your Valentine

because

God wants us to be His Valentine.

[this study was completed in Jan.-Feb. 2010]

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