(If the Soundcloud player does not display in your browser or email, follow this link to listen to the audio: From barrenness to Redemption (from the book of Ruth)by Christine Riddick)
Ruth is set in the context of unrest during the time of Judges. Ruth’s story of loyalty and devotion is a sharp contrast against the dark period of Judges which is earmarked by immorality and idolatry. It says in Judges that the people did not know the Lord or what He had done (Judges 2:10) and they did what was right in their own eyes (Judges 21:25).
The book of Ruth is a bright gem of redemption and hope. Faced with famine and poverty, Ruth, a young widow, leaves her native land (Moab) to travel with her Jewish mother-in-law (Naomi) to Bethlehem. There she gleans in the field of Boaz who becomes her kinsman-redeemer. In their marriage, Ruth and Boaz become ancestors of Jesus.
With its twin themes of faithfulness and redemption, the book of Ruth pictures God’s redeeming love and His faithful devotion to mankind.
We are going to look at three characters in the book and see what we can glean from their examples and how we can apply it to ourselves.
Her story correlates somewhat with that of Job.
She and her family leave Israel because if a famine: her husband dies and she is left with her two sons v3. A single parent in a foreign heathen country where they sacrifice their children to the foreign gods they worship.
Her two sons marry Moabite wives but then they both die and she is left without her two sons and her husband v5.
There is a sense of real abandonment.
After that she arose v6 and went with her daughter’s-in-law back to Judah.
She tries to dismiss them showing them care and affection. She has on her heart their good – may the Lord deal kindly with you and grant that you may find rest v8-9.
It is bitter to me for your sake that the hand of the Lord has gone out against me v13.
She is concerned how her tragedy is affecting her daughters-in-law and wants the best for them.
Orpah returns to Moab but Ruth continues to journey with Naomi and commits herself to God. Naomi being the evangelist!
When they get to Bethlehem Naomi tells the people that she went away full but the Lord brought her back empty v22.
I am empty – she is drained of hope, the losses assault her value, purpose and dignity.
A widow in that culture had no voice, no standing, no way of providing and was looked down upon. The woman’s identity was locked in on who her husband and sons were.
When Jesus resurrected the widow of Nain’s son, He restored both her and her sons life.
As a widow Naomi had lost the ability to contribute.
But God’s identity for her had not changed: she was still His image bearer, called to be fruitful, crowned with glory and honour Ps. 8:5-6.
Her circumstances makes her think God has withdrawn and she feels abandoned and hopeless. She cannot hide her nakedness behind her marriage, being a mother or her bank account. She is bankrupt.
Ruth happens to go glean in the fields of Boaz the kinsman redeemer. When she comes back with barley worth half a month’s wages Naomi speaks a blessing over Boaz and declares that God’s kindness has not forsaken the living and the dead v20. This is a turning point in Naomi’s life. She sees God’s lovingkindness in their lives. Hesed means Someone cares and makes it their business to look out for you. God’s kindness – His loyal and selfless love is real.
Lam. 3:21-24 This I call to mind, and therefore I have hope. The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies (lovingkindness) never comes to an end. They are new every morning, great is Your faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, says my soul, therefore I will have hope in Him.
God’s character is one of abundant lovingkindness; keeping mercy and loving-kindness
When He is our Shepherd goodness, mercy and unfailing love (lovingkindness) will follow us all the days of our lives Ps 23:6.
God’s hesed for Naomi frees her from self-absorption! She is no longer looking at herself and circumstances but is overwhelmed by His love and care. She is transformed by His goodness. His kindness leads her to repentance, she has a change of mind and heart, no longer doubting Him.
Knowing God cares and loves frees her.
Should I not seek that it may go well with you? v1 She encourages Ruth to avail herself to marry Boaz which could mean that she would be left alone. She is seeking security for Ruth, and is more concerned about Ruth than herself. Naomi is like the woman giving the 2 mites;
Mk. 12:45; giving all she has.
Tries to keep his life will lose it, loses his life will preserve Luke 17:33.
Boaz redeems Ruth and a son is born to them. The woman say to Naomi: Blessed be the Lord who has not left you without a redeemer: He shall be to you a restorer of life v15.
Perhaps today feel abandoned/empty/hopeless. Gods kindness, unfailing love is new every morning. He is our Redeemer and restorer of life. He restores!
Her husband dies and she goes with her mother-in-law from Moab to Bethlehem.
If we thought Naomi had it bad let’s see what Ruth would put on her CV.
Widow: no voice, no contribution
Barren: cursed, shamed
Foreigner: Moabites were ancestors of Lot (incest), not allowed into the assembly of the Lord to the tenth generation.
Poor: what do you have if you walk from one country to another.
She had left her father and mothers house and her country; entering the unknown – reminds one of Abraham.
But: She had faith, love, loyalty, perseverance and her faith emboldens her with courage.
Do not urge me to leave v14.
Commitment: Where you go, I will go, where you live, I will live, your people, my people, your God, my God v16. She is releasing her family, country, identity; dying to self.
Jesus said: “If any person wills to come after Me let him deny himself, lose sight of himself and his own interests, and cleave steadfastly to Me. Whoever loses his life for My sake will preserve it.” Luke 9:23-24.
Unless a seed falls to the ground and dies it cannot bear fruit.
Ruth choses to die to self and live for God and others. This commitment is what motivates her and shapes her character. The gospel has the power to rescue believer from drowning in self. Despite her circumstances she is humble, generous, diligent and loyal.
Difficult question: What motivates me and you?
They come to Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest v22– God’s timing.
Let me go glean; similar to being a beggar – she happened to come to the field of Boaz v3 – God’s provision.
She works hard. Boaz gives her favour, tells his workers to deal generously with her and protect her. Gleaning could be dangerous.
When she realizes she has found favour she falls on her face and bows to the ground v10. Why have I found favour?
You have left your father and mother and come to a people you do not know. Abraham.
Prayer: May the Lord reward you, under whose wings you have come to take refuge v12.
Ruth is covered and protected has found refuge under His wings Ps. 91:4.
She continues to work hard, gleaning from March to the end of July.
Inherit God’s promises through faith and patience Heb. 6:12
All that you say I will do v5.
I am your servant. Spread your wing of protection over me for you are my redeemer v9.
She is not just concerned about herself, but is asking for the restoration of the family of Elimelech and Naomi. A kinsman-redeemer would perpetuate the family name.
This impoverished, barren, Moabite widow becomes the great grandmother of David and is
Included in the genealogy of Christ:
You might feel you don’t really have a contribution; but Ruth’s story shows us that if we commit our lives to Him, take refuge under the shadow of His wing and lose our life for His sake we can be fruitful and make a difference.
Gods redemption in Ruth’s life: poor, widow, barren, empty – looked after, fruitful, full.
Contrast: Boaz was a worthy man; a man of valour; wealthy, a leader in community v1
The Lord be with you … the Lord bless you v4
Honours Ruth: That you left your family, come to unknown, prays that the Lord would reward her under whose wings she has come to take refuge.
Letter of the law: let the glean
Spirit of the law: be generous, feed them.
Redemption – perpetuate the name of the dead and his inheritance.
Operating with lovingkindness and integrity Boaz redeems Ruth and restores the family of Elimelech.
Ruth and Boaz join forces to advance the kingdom.
Prayer: The community pray for Boaz that he may be renowned and act worthily.
You may be a person of influence, a leader, wealthy (we are all wealthy in terms of what God has invested in us). Is our concern more for ourselves or are we more concerned about perpetuating the kingdom of God. Do we see the Naomi’s and Ruth’s in the community and what do we do about it.
Jesus because of His unfailing love, came to redeem and restore mankind.
Jesus – our kinsman Redeemer:
- Must be related by blood to those he redeems (Deut. 25:5) – John 1:14 He became flesh; being born in the likeness of man Phil. 2:7
- Must be able to pay the redemption price – You were ransomed with the precious blood of Christ 1 Pet. 1:18-19..
- Must be willing to redeem; Son of man came to give His life as a ransom Mt. 20:28. Ex. 6:6 I will redeem. He wants to gather us under His wings Mt. 23:37 so that we can be His bride. God said to Israel: I spread My garment over you and covered your nakedness and you became mine.
- Must be free; He knew no sin 2 Cor. 5:21.
We respond in faith, to Jesus our Redeemer and He makes us free and gives us eternal life. Jesus said of Israel how I have longed to gather you under my wings Mt. 23:37. He wants to be our Redeemer and cover us with His wings.
As we join with our Redeemer, He changes our lives and we as earthen vessels can be carriers of His treasure 2 Cor. 4:7
- Do you know your Kinsman Redeemer, have you responded to His redemption? (have you come under the protection of His wing)
- Perhaps today feel abandoned/empty/hopeless. Gods kindness, unfailing love is new every morning. He is our Redeemer and restorer of life.
- You might feel you don’t really have a contribution; Ruth was barren in many areas but became fruitful as she committed her life to God took refuge under the shadow of His wing. She laid down her life for His sake. We can do the same.
- Boaz was not focused on his own name, reputation. He extended lovingkindness to Ruth and Naomi. He was generous with what God had given him.
Duty makes us do things but loves makes us do things beautifully.