Ruth is one of the great jewels of the Scriptures, set against one of the darkest periods in Israel’s history. It’s a well-told story, and a rouching romance. But it’s so much more than that. This sermon highlights Ruth’s steadfast faithfulness, and the multiple ways she was blessed by God.
Background: Elimelech and Naomi traveled to Moab (one of Israel’s traditional enemies) during a famine. There, Ebimelech and his sons died. Naomi persuades one daughter-in-law to return to her people, but her other daughter-in-law, Ruth, is committed to Noami, her God and her people. (Ruth 1:16-17) They all return together, with few prospects.
Do we have a Moab–a place where we go when things get tough? It might be a physical place, or a relationship, or a habit, or a place in your head, or even a place in your heart.
Also, are we willing to completely embrace God’s people when we embrace Him?
Ruth’s commitment did other things, too. It put her past completely behind her. Once she moved back to Judah, there was no going back.
Ruth got busy gleaning (see Leviticus 19), a way of taking care of the poor and widows. She found herself in the field of Boaz, a godly man, who knew of Ruth’s reputation.
Proverbs 22:1 and Ecclesiastes 7:1 A good reputation is important! We never know how our love, service and grace to others can affect things!
Naomi tells Ruth to go see Boaz at the threshing floor, wait until he falls asleep, and then lie down at his feet. Then she’ll uncover his feet, and he would tell Ruth what to do. (Ruth 3) Every Jew reading about this would immediately have thought about the story of Lot and his daughters (Genesis 19:30-37), where drunkenness and incest led to the nation of Moab.
In this instance, God reversed and redeemed that sin!
Ruth’s intentions and Boaz’s response were all godly. (Putting a skirt over her meant he would take her under his protection.) The Moabite woman does it right!
We don’t have to compromise–either sexually, or in terms of ethics. That means being patient, and doing everything aboveboard. We never have to “help God along”.
The kinsman-redeemer, a near relative, could do one of several things. For a widow, like Ruth, he could marry her and raise their children as heirs of the first husband, delivering her from poverty and continuing that man’s name. If Boaz married Ruth, that would assure Naomi’s future, because a son would be considered Naomi’s grandchild because his legal father would have been Mahlon.
But there was someone else who was a closer relative. He was willing to buy the land, but felt that taking on Ruth would spoil his own inheritance.
So Boaz was able to be the Kinsman-Redeemer. Ironically, Boaz was willing to pass into history anonymously. Of course, the close relative who was concerned about his legacy has been completely forgotten, and Boaz is remembered to this day!
So this is a wonderful story, a wonderful love story, a story about the rewards of loving and serving. But it’s so much more than that!
Boaz is a model for (or type of) Jesus. Boaz was a close relative. Jesus became our close relative, by taking on flesh (John 1:14, Romans 8:3, Hebrews 2:14).
And then, as our close relative, He redeemed us. We needed redeeming more than Ruth ever did! Her situation just reduced her to poverty and discrimination. Our situation was worse–separated from God. (Ephesians 2:11-12)
Boaz willingly paid the price for Ruth. He did it to do the right and godly thing, and because he loved Ruth. Jesus willingly paid the price to redeem us. He did it because He obeyed His heavenly Father. He also did it because He loved us.
Ruth looked as if she were ineligible–a foreigner from a country that had opposed itself to God’s people and were idolaters. She wasn’t worthy in any way to receive that kind of love and redemption. We were worse off than Ruth! Romans 5:8
More than being redeemed, look how this unimportant foreign widow was positioned in history:
She and Boaz had a son (Obed), who had a son (Jesse), who was the father of King David. That’s the most important family line in the OT! More than that, Jesus was in the line of David, too.
There was no way Ruth could have known what lay ahead of her when she decided to follow the Lord with her whole heart.
The story of Ruth is a jewel set against the dark background of the book of Judges. Even in the middle of the worst depravity in Israel’s history and God’s judgments, God was still rewarding faithfulness. He is able to bless us no matter what ungodliness is going on around us, and no matter how perverse our society becomes. God sees faithfulness, and He rewards it.
Remember Ruth. Just make a firm commitment to the Lord and His people, keep serving them, and watch what God can do with that.
Or….you may have made Naomi decisions, and you may have suffered the consequences. You may think of yourself as disappointed and bitter, as Naomi first did.
If that’s the case, you couldn’t be in a worse situation than Ruth was. Just come to Jesus and let Him be your God. Let His people become Your people. Make that full commitment, and leave your past behind. Jesus is calling you today.