Ruth 1-4 - The Bible from 30,000 Feet - Skip Heitzig - Flight RUT01
The Bible from 30,000 Feet, Soaring through the Scripture from Genesis to Revelation.
Turn in your Bibles to the book of--
--Ruth. The book of Ruth has only 85 verses. Because of that great fact, we don't have to fly the airplanes so high. We can go a little bit lower. We can get a good view of most all-- not all, but most all of the verses that are in these short four chapters, these 85 verses called the Book of Ruth. The book of Ruth is one of the only two books in the Bible named after a woman. What's the other one?
Esther. And I love it because, in a very patriarchal society that the Old Testament definitely was, we have two women whose names appear as the heads of these biblical books. Of course, in the New Testament, that is completely come to fruition because Paul the Apostle says that, in Christ, it doesn't matter if you're Jew, or Greek, or slave, or free, or male, or female. Galatians says you are all one in Christ.
But I love the fact that, in the old covenant, in the Old Testament, we find this short little, but very poignant, little book of Ruth, a book named after a woman. Now, the name Ruth means friend, or friendly, or better yet, friendship. And she lives up to her name. She becomes, in this story, a close friend, a loyal friend, a loyal advocate of her mother-in-law Naomi. It's a beautiful love story between these two women who love each other.
It's very unusual that you have a mother-in-law and a daughter-in-law who love each other so well, so adamantly, so permanently. But also, it's a love story between Ruth and her husband-to-be named Boaz. So one of the only two books in the Bible named after a woman. It is the only book in the Bible named after an ancestor of the Lord Jesus Christ, and that becomes really the highlight of the book.
The author will highlight the genealogical record in the very beginning of the line of King David. We'll get that at the end of this short little book. And Ruth, therefore, is the only book named after an ancestor of Christ. And it's very noteworthy that, in the genealogical records in the New Testament, the name Ruth appears. That was very unusual to have, as part of one's pedigree-- especially royal pedigree-- the name of a woman, but she appears.
She's an ancestor of Christ, and it's the only book in the Old Testament that is named after a non-Jewish woman, non-Jewish person. She is a Gentile. We'll find out that she is from the other side of Israel, the eastern side, the area of Moab. The book of Ruth is a story of providence, and that's a word, that's a doctrine, it's a concept that you should be very familiar with. And I'm going to talk a little bit about it at a couple points in this study.
Providence is something that you and I experience. We experience God's providence. Now, a lot of Christians, I have noticed, make a big deal about the miraculous. And God is a God of miracles. He can do everything He wants, but God most often works through providence, rather than the miraculous. And I remember hearing a guy on television years ago saying, have you experienced your miracle today? You can have a daily miracle.
And he didn't say miracle, he said "mee-ree-cle," so I just thought that's kind of weird. But anyway, what you really can expect is God's daily providence in your life and providence is the idea that God takes natural events, and He enacts supernatural results. Things happen in life, and God uses all those things to work out a supernatural outcome.
That's providence. Romans 8:28-- we know that all things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose. So God can take anything that happens to you. It's not an impediment to Him. It's never an "oh no" moment for God. God never says oh no, what am I going to do now? He says, this is perfect. I'm going to weave this for a supernatural outcome, these natural experiences and circumstances that we face.
So it's the story of God's providence. The book of Ruth is also a story of conversion. Here is a Moabites woman, a Gentile outside of the covenant of God, outside of the covenant land of God, who comes to believe in Yahweh, the God of the Jews, the covenant God of the people of Israel. And so the story shows how a Gentile girl comes to believe in the Jewish God, the God of Israel.
So it's a story of providence, it's a story of conversion, and it's also a story of redemption. We have, in the Old Testament book of Ruth, a preview of a very cardinal, salient New Testament doctrine, and that is the doctrine of redemption. The doctrine of redemption is where one person, one party pays the price to buy the freedom for someone else. That's redemption.
In the New Testament, the background is the slave markets of those times. In the Old Testament, it's the idea of the land that could be forfeited-- or it had to be sold, if a person was poor. But it could be purchased back. It could be redeemed back. And the great story about Ruth, it's not just land. It's a person and land that gets redeemed, as you will see.
It was a Augustine, that church theologian from North Africa, who made this statement-- "The new is in the old contained." Oh, excuse me-- yeah-- "The new is in the old contained. The old is in the new explained." Or as I think he put it, "The new is in the old concealed, and the old is in the new revealed."
What does that statement mean? It means this-- in the Old Testament, there are truths of the New Testament, seeds of the New Testament. There are predictions that anticipate the new covenant, anticipate what we experience in the New Testament. It's there in the old. It's predicted in the old. When we get to the Old Testament, we see all of those predictions, all of those anticipations blossomed and coming to fruition in the new.
So the new is in the old concealed. The old is in the new revealed. There's four chapters in this book, and you can outline the book based on these four chapters. Chapter 1 is love's resolve. There is a young Moabite woman named Ruth, who makes a resolution to follow her mother-in-law to the land of her ancestors, the land of Canaan, the land of Judah, the area of Bethlehem, the land of Israel.
She makes a resolute promise that, no matter what happens, she's going to follow Naomi. That's love's resolve in chapter 1. In chapter 2, we have love's response. Ruth goes out and gleans in the fields in Bethlehem during the barley harvest. She will encounter a man by the name of Boaz. Who will respond to Boaz. Boaz will respond to her, and a romance will start in that chapter.
In chapter 3, we have love's request. You'll see a very, very interesting twist of events in chapter 3, where Ruth asks Boaz to marry her. It's a very different kind of a setup from our culture, and even that culture, but what she does is she asks Boas to redeem her. She asks the question. It involves a marriage, but she asks Boaz to redeem her.
Then in chapter 4, we have love's reward, and love's reward is where there is a wedding. They both wed, Ruth and Boaz, and a little bit of the family is then mentioned. So the book of Ruth opens with a famine and closes with a family. It opens with a funeral, and it closes with a wedding. Very great little story.
We begin in chapter 1 verse 1. We won't read all the verses of the book, but there's enough to get the story. Verse 1-- "Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehem, Judah, went to dwell in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons."
Now, there's a lot in that verse. And since we have time, I went unravel it. If you look at verse 1, it's giving us the setting of the book of Ruth. First of all, it was a time of rebellion. It says it was during when the judges ruled. Now, we've studied the book of Judges a few weeks back. And we saw how, in that book of Judges, Israel turned away from the Lord.
God sent them these warriors, who were like little messiahs, who would temporarily deliver them from the hand of their enemy. It was dark days, days of apostasy, days of war. So that is the setting. The setting is the book of Judges. And if you wanted to put a fine point on exactly when it takes place, most scholars believe that you could fit the book of Ruth in Judges chapter 10.
That's the chronology where it fits-- Judges chapter 10. One of the judges is named Jair, or "Jayer," as we like to mispronounce it in our language. That is the judge that probably was ruling during the time the book of Ruth takes place. Also notice something else-- it was a time of relativism. It didn't say that in the verse, but how does the book of Judges end?
It says, there was no king in Israel, and everyone did what was right in his own eyes. So it was a time of humanism. It was a time of existentialism. It was a time of relativism. People just didn't follow God's statutes. There was no rule over them. They just sort of made up their own rule as it felt good to them.
It was sort of like, dude, just do whatever's in your heart to do. That's the worst advice ever. It is? Yeah, it is, because the Bible says the heart is wicked, deceitfully wicked above all else who can know it. Don't do what's in your heart. Do what the word of God tells you to do. Have that is the standard above you.
If you don't, and if you just do whatever is in your heart to do, you're in the book of Judges. There's no king, no authority, and everyone does what is right in his or her own eyes. So it was a time of rebellion, it was a time of relativism, and it was a time of judgment.
We know that because it says that, "In the days"-- verse 1-- "when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land." God had predicted, in the book of Deuteronomy, if you obey Me, I'm going to bless you. I'm going to pour out rain from Heaven. I'm going to give you abundant crops. I'm going to give your families, and your cattle, and all your flocks abundance.
If you don't obey me, if you sinned against me, I'm going to send famine to the land. There's a lot of different reasons, mechanically or naturally, why famine happened. Sometimes it happened because lack of rainfall. That's the typical reason. Sometimes it happened because invaders came into the land and destroyed crops, so they weren't as productive.
Sometimes it was high winds along with no rain from Heaven. Sometimes it was insects, like the Book of Joel, that would destroy the crops. But the real reason is the children of Israel are in the midst of a cycle that we talked about in the book of Judges-- do you remember it-- called the sin cycle. And there were four phases to the sin cycle.
Rebellion was the first stage. They rebelled against God. Retribution was the second stage. God allowed Israel to be tormented by enemies. Repentance was the third stage, and restitution was the fourth stage. That's the sin cycle. It happened over and over and over and over and over and over again in the book of Judges.
By the time we get to the book of Ruth, which takes place during the time of Judges, the book opens up by telling us we are in stage number two. There is God's retribution because of their rebellion. There is a famine that has hit the land.
"The name of the man"-- verse 2-- "was Elimelech." Great name. His name was a testimony. Elimelech is a Hebrew name that comes from two words-- Eli and melech. Eli means "my God." El is the generic term for God in the Hebrew language. When you add an I to it, you personalize it-- Eli is my God.
So his name was my God is King. Great name, right? His parents had high hopes for him. Here's a kid who's going to be named my God is the King. Now, if you live up to that name, that's awesome. If you don't, it ain't so awesome. But he had an opportunity at every stage of his life to give a testimony.
Imagine Elimelech at work, and the PA says, Elimelech, line 6-- because you're saying, in Hebrew, "My God is King, line 6." And so he had an opportunity to tell co-workers how God was his King. Just keep that in mind that that is what his name means. "The name of his wife was Naomi"-- Naomi is a word that means pleasantness.
--"and the names of his two sons Mahlon and Chilion; Ephrathites of Bethlehem, Judah. And they went to the country of Moab and remained there." Now, when couples had kids in those days, they would name their child either their hopes and their aspirations for that child to fulfill, or they would name that child based on something that happened during birth-- circumstances around the birth.
So for example, when Elimelech got his name, his parents were naming him with high hopes that here's a kid who's going to live up to that testimony, that he's going to carry around with him, my God is the King. However, sometimes things happened at birth, and the kids were named based upon that.
So when Isaac and Rebekah had two children, the first one that came out of the womb was all red, and he had hair all over his body, so they called him Hairy. That's a good name. Look at how much hair he has. Hairy, that's what Esau means.
And then his brother, the twin, followed right after him, grabbing the foot, grabbing the heel of his brother Hairy. So as soon as little Jacob came out-- Yakov means heel catcher. So he's grabbing-- look at that, he's trying to trip his brother up. Let's call him heel catcher. So they were named based on circumstances of their birth.
When we come to these two boys that are named, it's very interesting. Mahlon means sick, or sickly, or weakling. And Chilion means pining, or wailing, weeping, crying. So when I read this, I can just think, we're dealing with some very honest parents here.
I'm sure that every couple has a fear-- kind of a morbid fear that, if they're-- I'm going to have a child, it's going to be like really weird-- weird looking-- or some deficiency. I don't know if I'll be able to handle that. That's a fear that probably most every parent has. Now, when these two kids were born, it probably-- they weren't that bad, but this is dad's reaction.
He sees the first one being born-- he goes, sick. That thing looks sick. Looks like he's just a sick old man or something. So they named him Sickly. That's what his name means. That's a tough tag to have to carry around with you your whole life. So they named the first one Sicko.
They named the second one Crybaby. So you got Sicko and Crybaby-- and overreaction, but nonetheless, it's what they were called. Now, keep something in mind-- Elimelech means my God is King. Too bad he didn't live like it. Too bad he didn't trust the Lord and stay in the land of the covenant, the land of Israel.
And the first hint of bad times-- there's famine in the land-- and he high tails it across the Dead Sea to the area of Moab, the hills of Moab. He didn't stay put. Like Abraham, when there was a famine in the land, he went down to Egypt, didn't trust God-- was a mistake. Likewise, Elimelech goes to Moab.
If you were to stand on Bethlehem on the hill, you can-- if you go right to the eastern side of Bethlehem, you can stand and look on a clear day, and you can look down and see the Dead Sea. And then on the other side of the Dead Sea, the hills rise up and you see the plains, the plateau of Moab.
Moab-- the high hills are about 3,500 feet. The lowlands in Moab are about 2,500 feet. The soil is very porous, so it brings in a lot of the rain at that high plateau, as opposed to the low desert. So it can be lush. It can be great for farming. And obviously, Elimelech and his boys were farmers, so they leave the place of famine, and they go to find higher ground.
But there's a problem with Moab. If you remember your Bible, you remember back in Genesis 19 that the motorbikes were the descendants of Lot. And they were false worshippers, or idol worshippers. They worshipped god called Chemosh-- C-H-E-M-O-S-H. He is found written in the Bible, in the Old Testament. And Chemosh was a very fierce, angry god, whom they believed required blood and sacrifice.
So he was worshipped by killing people-- especially children-- as part of their worship. That's where he's going. He's leaving Bethlehem, and he's going over to Moab. How many of us are like Elimelech? There's pressure in our lives, finances aren't good, the mortgage seems to creep higher and higher.
So we make a reaction, instead of waiting on the Lord, being renewed. Like Isaiah said, those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength. We can quickly react. Verse 3, it says, "Then Elimelech, Naomi's husband, died." So evidently, he was sickly himself. The whole family must have been sort of-- had a tendency toward illness.
"Elimelech, Naomi's husband, died; and she was left, and her two sons. Now they took wives of the women of Moab"-- out of the covenant. "The name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth. And they dwelt there about 10 years." They're there a decade, out of the land, in this foreign land of Moab.
"Then both Mahlon and Chilion also died." It was a matter of time, I'm guessing. Sicko and Crybaby, they were sort of destined to a short-lived life, I'm guessing. So they died. "So the woman survived her two sons and her husband." Now, there's a lot of heartache compressed in those three short verses.
I can imagine them going to Moab. It was great at first. They settled into a nice four bedroom tent, two-camel garage, joined the donkey lodge. They were involved in the community. Things were looking up for them. They were good. Then one day, Naomi gets a phone call from Moab General Hospital-- the emergency room.
Ma'am, I hate to tell you this, but your husband Elimelech-- my God is King-- just croaked. He died. Broke her heart. Some time goes by-- her two children die. Now this woman is in the position of having lost everything-- her covering-- her husband, her provider-- her children-- her sons, who could provide in his absence. Now she has two daughters-in-law-- no way to earn living in those days.
They've walked away from their land in Bethlehem. They're in danger of losing the inheritance that they would have had in Bethlehem. So Elimelech found a grave where he sought a home. He was seeking his livelihood, and he lost his life. "Remember," Jesus said, "whoever seeks his life shall lose it. Whoever loses his life for my sake will find it."
Now, at this point, it's good to pause and bring up a point. You're a Christian. You trust the Lord. But life has taken a turn for you. It's not what you thought it would be. It's getting pretty bad, and so you start to gripe and complain, and you worry, and you fret, and you wonder, how could a God of love allow me to go through these things?
Stop there and just think of Naomi, bereft of her husband, her two sons, left wondering what's going to happen, crushed by the burdens of life. And here's the principal. The worst that God has for you is better than the best the devil has for you-- or the world, if you will.
The very worst circumstance you could be in trusting the Lord is still better than the very worst, or the very best, that the world would say, here, this is what you need. This is what you want. Chase after this. God's worst is better than the world's best. Just ask Naomi. She'd tell you. Now, fortunately, the story doesn't end here. Be a drag, if it did, if it said "the end" or this became a chapter in the book of Judges.
But while we see, that in the midst of disobedience, in the midst of leaving the land of the covenant, in the midst of boys marrying Gentile girls, we find out that God rules, but more than that, God overrules. I love that, because we make choices and we go, oh no, now it's all over. Look what I did. God overrules. All things work together for good to those who love the Lord.
Verse 6-- let's see the all things. "Then she arose with her daughters in law that she might return from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the country of Moab that the Lord had visited his people by giving them bread." Notice the language of God in this verse. I discovered that, when a person goes through deep dark trials, they sort of move away from the commitment, from the covenant of the Lord.
They go to the land-- the new land of their own desires, their own will. It's good. God isn't all that important. They don't go to church as much, Bible studies much, pray as fellowship, as much, until there's a famine, until there's a problem, until there's loss, there's death, there's problems, there's issues. Then suddenly, a person gets God conscious all of a sudden.
It's interesting how that works. They start seeking the Lord. They get a divorce, they start seeking the Lord. The bottom drops out financially, they start seeking the Lord. David said in Psalm 1:19, "Before I was afflicted, I went astray. But now, I keep Your word. It is those trials that God uses to get our attention. Famine gets our attention.
They're in the retribution phase, but the retribution phase was, as you remember, followed by the repentance phase, as God got their attention. Therefore, because she heard about what God was doing in Beth and therefore she went out from the place where she was, and her two daughters in law with her, and they went on the way to return to the land of Judah.
Now, at this point in the book-- and I know I'm kind of moving slow. Don't worry. I'll pick it up. But again, there's only 85 versus. At this point in the story, what happens next will be one of the most decisive moments in world history. I realize that it's an incredible statement to say, because you're thinking, a few women in Moab going through a bad time, having a little discussion. That's one of the most decisive moments in history.
In fact, I'll do you one better. If you were to look at all that was going on around the world at the time, there were some pretty significant things occurring at this very moment. This very moment, an era called the Neolithic era, was coming to an end-- the primitive era of making and using stones as primary tools.
It was giving way to the Bronze Age, the early stage of the Bronze Age into the Middle Bronze Age. The age of Greece was starting to happen at that time. Over in China, there was a dynasty-- a very advanced dynasty called the Zhou Dynasty that was just being settled. The Mayan dynasty in Central and South America was beginning to flourish.
Now, you'd say, those are important events on the world stage. But what happens here in this little conversation in Moab tops all of those, because if the right decision isn't made here at this moment, you might as well go tell the Magi not to come to Bethlehem. What do I mean?
What I mean is that Jesus is born in Bethlehem, right? He's born in Bethlehem because it's called the City of David, his ancestry. It's called the City of David because David was born in Bethlehem. David was born in Bethlehem because his dad Jesse was born in Bethlehem. Jesse was born in Bethlehem because his dad Obed was born in Bethlehem.
And Obed was born in Bethlehem because Ruth and Boaz had Obed in Bethlehem, and because Ruth said to her daughter-- Ruth said to her mother-in-law, wherever you go, I will go. Your God will be my God. Your people will be my people. It's because of that decision that the Magi later on can visit Bethlehem, because the Messiah will be born in that city.
So verse 11, Naomi said to "Turn back my daughters; why will you go with me? Are there still sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands"? So Orpah, one of the daughter-in-law, said, bye-bye. She went back home to Moab. Go down to verse 16. But Ruth said, "And treat me not to leave you or turn back from following after you, for wherever you go, I will go.
Wherever you lodge, I will lodge. Your people will be my people. Your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there, I will be buried. The Lord do so to me and more also, if anything but death parts you and me. What a commitment this young gal is making. It's a very steadfast commitment. I'm ready to follow you and I wherever you end up.
That's pretty steadfast. It's a steadfast commitment. But it was more than a steadfast commitment. It was a spiritual commitment because the word that is used in this book is Yahweh, the God of Covenant. What she's doing is saying, I am willing to leave my people, my family, my religion of worshipping Chemosh. And I'm ready to follow you, and your God will be my God.
This is a conversion that takes place. So they arrived back in Bethlehem. It's been 10 years, but they still recognize Naomi. They go, oh, look at them. That's that lady Pleasantness. I recognize her. Where's your husband, my God is King? He's not with her. Where's her sons? They're not with her.
But she's in tow with this young girl, who's not Israelite. She's Moabites. Verse 20-- "But she said to them, do not call me Naomi"-- don't call me pleasantness-- call me bitterness-- Mara-- for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. It's amazing, when bad things happen, that we blame God.
Now, God is sovereign. God did allow this to happen. It was under the sovereignty of God, but-- by the way, I just want to let you know something, in case you didn't know. Every person who's ever been born, so far, dies. Whether middle age, or old age, or young age, everybody has an expiration date. We just don't know when it is.
But it's funny how we know that, but then when it happens, like, I can't believe God allowed that person to die, because-- I don't know-- I thought they'd live forever and ever and ever. I've even been with people whose 99-year-old grandmother died, and they're angry at God. I'm going, really? You want her live to, what, 130?
I don't think she would enjoy that experience. But she's back, and she's angry, she's bitter, and she's-- don't even call me pleasant anymore. My new name is bitterness. "I went out full"-- verse 21-- "the Lord brought me home again empty. Why do you call me pleasantness-- Naomi-- since the Lord has testified against me, and the Almighty has afflicted me"?
So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter-in-law, with her, who returned from the country of Moab. Now they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest. The Holy Spirit puts that there for a very specific reason, which I'll show you in a moment. So they come back. It's Mid to late April. That's when the barley harvest starts.
That's chapter 1. Chapter 2 is romance. It's love's response. Ruth will meet her future husband, Boaz. Do you remember the first day, first night that you met your spouse? Do you remember it? Can you think back? It's good for you to bring that memory up from time to time-- frequently, actually. It's a good memory for me.
I'm sure was a good memory for you. I'm sure you didn't say, go, get out of here. There was an attraction. It's why you're together. So it's good to remember what drew you together, so as life goes on, you won't allow things to draw you apart. Just remember that attraction. Well, he didn't turn out the way I thought he'd turn out.
Well, opposites attract, so you're going to have to get used to some of that adjustment. Nonetheless, verse 1-- "There was a relative of Naomi's husband, a man of great wealth at the family of Elimelech. His name was Boaz. So Ruth the Moabitess said to Naomi, 'Please let me go to the field, and glean heads of grain after him in whose sight I may find favor.'"
So she said to her, go, my daughter. This is what's going on. In the Old Testament law of the Jews, there was, in Leviticus chapter 23, the laws of the harvest. And there was a welfare law that God instituted known as gleaning. And gleaning was the harvesters go through and take the crops at harvest time, but they don't go through a second time.
They only go through once. They move quickly with their paces, and when you do that, you leave a lot of stuff behind. In fact, this kind of farming, where you'd speedily go to harvest crops, you could sometimes leave as much as 25% of the harvestable crop in the field. God said, leave it that way. Don't go back and get the rest. Let the poor of the land go in and glean whatever is left, and take it home for themselves.
It was a beautiful, gracious way of God caring for the poor. It was a welfare law. So the poor could glean in the fields, according to Leviticus chapter 23. "Then she left"-- verse 3-- "and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers." Now, watch this sentence-- "and she happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the family of Elimelech."
That's what it seemed like. It seemed like it was happenstance. It just happened that way. It was just a circumstance. She goes out in Bethlehem. There's lots of landowners, lots of fields-- just happened to go to that field. It didn't just happen. It seemed like it just happened, but God is overruling.
"Now behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem, and said to the reapers, 'The Lord be with you.' And they answered him, 'The Lord bless you.'" Boy, does not sound like any of the work crews I've ever been on. My dad was a builder, and he would have me in the summer working on some of those crews, and there wasn't this kind of language.
It wasn't God bless you. It was God's something else you, usually. What a great work crew to be on. The boss comes and he says, the Lord be with you. And they say, God bless you, man. And then in verse 5, he says to the workers, hey, who's this chick? Whose young woman is this?
Now, back to the language of the work crews-- Boaz obviously is a spiritual man. For the boss to come to the fields and invoke the name of God-- God be with you, he says to his workers-- God bless you, is the response-- he is a spiritual, centered man. He becomes the husband of Ruth.
Gals, if you're husband hunting-- and I would say you probably shouldn't be that way, but you probably are anyway-- if you're hunting for a husband, make sure that he is God-oriented, that he loves the Lord, that his greatest focus-- and it's not compartmentalized-- oh, praise the Lord, God bless you, when I'm at church, but then when I'm with the work crew, it's foul language.
Get somebody who doesn't live the compartmentalized life, but it's the same. That's why it takes time to watch and observe. How are they at work? How are they with their friends? How are they with their family? Do they really love the Lord? That's what she was after, and that's what the Lord will provide for her.
Now, notice back in verse 2, Ruth said to Naomi, "Please"-- notice this word please-- that's a gracious term-- we don't say it enough-- "Please let me go to the field, and glean heads of grain after him in whose sight I may find favor"-- not knowing who that would be. And look in verse 7-- to Boaz, she says, "Please let me glean and gather after the reapers among the sheaves."
And then verse 10-- "So she fell on her face." Ouch. Now, that just means she got down as a term or a way of showing of humility and respect. It was often done. "She fell on her face, bowed down 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 listen to the sweetness.
It's always, please, please. Please, mother-in-law, can I go work out in the fields and sweat all day in the hot sun, please? Please, Boaz, can I work in labor as a poor person in your fields and glean? Now, what if your kids came to you and said, mom, dad, can I please clean my room? And then after that, can I please straighten out the garage?
Then, can I go back in the backyard, and can I please clean up after the dogs-- please? You'd need therapy for about a month. What in the world got into my kid? Well, maybe the Holy Spirit. But here's what it shows us. This graciousness is still in her voice.
She has lost her husband. She's lost her father-in-law. She's lost her brother-in-law. She has left her home. It's been a long journey. And all of those bitter experiences has not robbed her of a sweetness of spirit. That's unusual. It's awesome. The sorrows of the past haven't robbed her of the pleasantness and the graciousness in the present.
It's a beautiful, beautiful testimony. Now, compare her to another woman, you know about in the Bible-- in John chapter 5, the woman at the-- 4 and 5-- the woman at the well of Samaria. Jesus goes to Samaria-- John chapter 4-- sees a woman who has had five husbands, is living with a man is not her husband, and she has-- she's just weathered with resentment and bitterness, and the kind of language she uses-- she's just beat up by life, and she let life get the best of her.
Compare her with Ruth-- totally different spirit. So now, I'm turning the corner. We talked about looking for the right husband. Husbands, guys, if you're wife hunting, look for a gal with the right attitude. Well, I'm looking for a chick that's hot, and she's going to look awesome. That's where we place our focus.
A woman who fears the Lord shall be praised. Every part of our physique will change rapidly. There's a law of the universe, folks. It's called gravity. And we all lose. So Peter says-- 1 Peter chapter 3-- It's not fancy hair, gold jewelry, or fine clothes that should make you beautiful. He says to women, no, your beauty should come from within you. It's the beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit that will never be destroyed, and is very precious to God.
Now, in verse 11, Boaz answered and said to her, "It has been fully reported to me all that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband, and how you left your father and mother in the land of your birth, and you have come to a people whom you did not know before." Your reputation precedes you. I've heard of your kindness. You're the talk around town-- your attitude, your commitment.
"The Lord repay your work, and a full reward"-- it's one of my favorite verses in scripture-- certainly in this book-- "a full reward be given you by the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge." You've lost it all. You didn't go back home and take refuge at your parents' house.
You took the risk. You took the step of faith. You went into a new land, a new god, but you have come under the care, the covenant care. And the word he uses is-- or is used in the sentence here-- is Yahweh. The word Lord, notice it's capital L, capital O, capital R, capital D. Whenever you find that in the Old Testament, that capital LORD is a reflection of the Hebrew tetragrammaton four-consonant YHWH, or W-H-Y-H or V-H.
YHWH-- it's the covenant name of God. You've left home. You've come under the shelter, the shadow, the protection of Yahweh, the God of Israel. Boaz heard about her spiritual commitment. Boaz heard how, at that little Y in the road, when Orpah went back home, Ruth said, where you go, I will go. Where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people will be my people. Your God will be my God.
And he thought, now, that is an awesome woman. She is a converted woman. She's a Gentile who comes under the covenant of the Jewish God. In verse 15, she's out-- Boaz, in the meantime, says, stay for lunch, gives her parched grain. She has a nice big lunch. Verse 15-- "When She rose up to glean, Boaz commanded his young men, saying, 'Let her glean even among the sheaves, and do not reproach her. Also let grain from the bundles fall purposely for her; leave it that she may glean, and do not rebuke her.'"
So this gal's going to tag along out in the fields, and she's going to glean, like the poor people do. If she wanders out into other fields, don't yell at her. In fact, throw out a little bundle from time to time on the road as a little extra. So she'll come by and go, whoa, look what I happened to find. Awesome. Give her a little extra. Give her abundance.
So she goes home, tells Naomi. Naomi-- mother-in-law-- hears about this, and encourages the process. Verse 20-- "Then Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, hallelujah." Didn't say that, but that's-- the NSV, they do Skip version. It's almost, though. "'Blessed be the Lord'"-- praise the Lord-- "'who has not forsaken his kindness to the living and the dead.' And Naomi said to her, 'This man is a relation of ours, one of our'"-- goel is the Hebrew word-- "'close relatives.'"
Kinsman, redeemer-- that's the word goel. Kinsman, redeemer-- close relative. So I love this about Naomi. She's totally in for this. She kind of sees what's happening. The dominoes are getting set up. And she encourages the process that she's going to tell her daughter-in-law to go after this guy.
Which I like, because she could've said, you'll never find another man like my son-- was a good husband to you. None of that stuff-- she encourages a second chance. Now, there's an undercurrent theme I mentioned at the very beginning of this book-- I want to bring it up again-- and that's the idea of God's providence.
God's providence, once again, is God using natural events to effect a supernatural outcome. He arranges events. They seem to you like it just happened, but it didn't. See, I look back and I think, you know, it just happened that I was invited one night to my ex girlfriend's apartment for a potluck. And it just happened that, when I went, there was a girl who happened to be there named Lenya, and we happened to strike up a conversation.
And then it just happened that I had a friend of mine who said, I'm going to move to Albuquerque. And I happened to say, why? And he happened to say, you ought to come with me. And all those little happenstances became the will of God unfolded. And you don't see it at the time. You see it looking back, right?
Go, wow, if I wouldn't have met that person, if that person wouldn't have said that, if I wouldn't have gotten into that wreck, that a little fender bender, I wouldn't have met so and so. That wouldn't have happened. So that's providence. It's not miraculous. In a miracle, God intervenes in natural law.
And a miracle is the intervention and superimposition of supernatural over natural law. That's a miracle. Providence is God uses natural events, natural circumstances, natural law. The word providence-- our word-- comes from the Latin word provideo. Provideo comes from two Latin words-- pro, which means before-- video means to see-- video.
So provideo-- providence means to see it in advance, to see something beforehand. God sees your whole life, and knew your whole life before you were ever born. You're just discovering what He saw in the beginning. You don't know it. Things just happen to you. They're programmed and planned by God. That's providence. He arranges the natural to affect the supernatural.
So for example, notice the provenance, the timing of this. It says, back in chapter 1, it was the beginning of the barley harvest. Now, Naomi and Ruth come back as poor people. God's laws to care for the poor is that you go out and glean. So now, it puts poor people and professional landowners in the same field at the same time.
Timing was perfect. The place was perfect. She just happened to glean in the field of Boaz. There's a lot of fields in Bethlehem, as I said. By the way, Bethlehem is a Hebrew name that we talk a lot about around Christmas. A lot of people don't know that the Hebrew word for bread is lechem. Lechem is bread.
Beit is house or place. So Beit Lechem-- Bethlehem-- actually means the house or the place of bread. Why? Because it was-- it's terraced, and it was called the bread basket of Judah. It's where lots of farmers had lots of crops, and Boaz happened to be one of those where Ruth just happened to be gleaning. So it was the right timing, and it was the right place.
As it says in chapter 2, she happened to come to a part of the field belonging to Boaz. Chapter 3, we come to love's request. Now, this is sort of the heart of the romance of the story. Naomi is so stoked. She's being the matchmaker here. You ever see the movie Fiddler on the Roof?
So at this point in the book of Ruth, comes the song matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match. Find me a find, catch me a catch. You know the rest? Matchmaker, matchmaker, look in your book, and-- perfect match. Why am I singing to you on Wednesday night? I have no clue.
So Naomi becomes the matchmaker, but really, God's the matchmaker. It's a match made in Heaven. God had all of this planned. Verse 1 "Naomi, her mother-in-law said, 'My daughter, shall I not seek security for you, that it may be well with you'? Now, Boaz, whose young women you were with, is he not our'"-- goel, relative, kinsman, redeemer?
"'In fact, he is winnowing barley tonight at the threshing floor.'" Winnowing is where you take the grain, throw it in the air in the late afternoon, early evening. The wind comes, takes the chaff away. The meat of the grain falls to the ground. That's how they would winnow.
"Therefore wash yourself and anoint yourself, put on the best garment, go down to the threshing floor, but do not make herself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking." Naomi was practical . You know what she's saying to her daughter-in-law, right? Look like a million bucks. Look like a knock-out. Put perfume on. Get the best dress. Do your hair just right-- makeup.
Make him go, wow. Because he already said, who's this chick? Wait until he sees you tonight. "Then it shall be, when he lies down, that you shall notice the place where he lies; and you shall go in, uncover his feet, and lie down." That sounds weird to us. I'll tell you about that in a moment. "And he will tell you what you should do." Go down to verse 9.
She goes. They're winnowing. He's done. He goes down to sleep along with all the other winnowers. It's night time. She lies down. He feels, senses somebody's down there at his feet, and he goes, who are you? What are you doing at my feet? Are you smelling my feet, or-- who are you? "So she answered, 'I am Ruth, your maidservant.'"
Now, listen to this-- "Take your maidservant under your wing, for you are a close relative." She's proposing to him. She's popping the question-- marry me. Because they're poor, they have to sell the land that belonged to Elimelech. And according to the laws of the Old Testament, the only way that land can remain in the family is a close relative has to buy it back, has to redeem it.
But there was also a law in the Old Testament that, if a man and a woman marry and the husband dies without giving a male offspring to his wife, then the brother of the dead husband has to go into that woman and produce an heir. It was a way to keep the family lineage going. Again, that's an odd kind of a law to our ears today.
But she is proposing to him. She is saying, take me under your covering. Cover me over with your protection. She's asking for lifelong protection. So she's asking the question. It was like a Sadie Hawkins thing, but it worked. "Then he said, 'Blessed are you of the Lord, my daughter. For you have shown more kindness in the end than at the beginning, in that you did not go after young men, whether rich or poor.'"
Boaz is probably around 45 to 50 years of age. She's much younger-- 25, 30-- half his age. He rightfully calls her "my daughter," because she's at that age. He was a contemporary, remember, with Naomi and Elimelech. "And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you all that you request, for all the people of my town know that you are a virtuous woman.
Now, it is true that I am a close relative; however, there is a relative closer than I. Stay this night'"-- verse 13-- "'stay this night. In the morning, it shall be, if he will perform the duty of a close relative for you, good; let him do it. If he does not want to perform the duty for you, then I will perform the duty for you, as the Lord lives. Lie down until morning.'"
Nothing immoral is going on. He is simply saying, I accept. I will be you're covering. I will be your protection. So the garment is symbolic of an intent. Chapter 4, the last little chapter, this is love's reward. "Now, Boaz went to the gate and sat down there; and behold, the close relative of whom Boaz had spoken came by. And Boaz said, 'Come aside, friend. Sit down.'"
So this is the guy who has the first right of refusal-- the closer kinsman who could redeem the land for the family and marry Ruth. So he says, come here. Sit down. Let's talk. The courtroom was the gate of the city. It's where all the legal proceedings took place. It's where all the business took place. It's where all the news was disseminated.
So they're at the gate, this open, large enclosure at the entrance to the city. "And he took 10 men of the elders of the city, and said, 'Sit down here.' So they sat down." They're going like, what's up? "Then he said to the close relative, 'Naomi, who has come back from the country of Moab, sold a piece of land which belonged to our brother Elimelech.
And I thought to inform you, saying, buy it back in the presence of the inhabitants, the elders of my people. If you will redeem it or buy it back, redeem it; if you will not redeem it, then tell me, that I may know; for there is no one but you to redeem it, and I am next after you.'" OK, really quickly-- when Jewish people had a piece of property, they had a title deed.
If they lost the property or had to sell the property, there was a title deed-- a scroll that was kept by the seller, and one that was for public records, for the buyer. So the buyer and the seller had access to the deed. So the deed was this scroll sealed with wax seals. On the inside-- sometimes even on the outside-- were written the stipulations of the transaction.
Now, for somebody to redeem that land that would be lost, there were qualifications. Number one, you had to be related-- a goel, a kinsman redeemer. Number two, you had to be willing to do it. Like, yep, I want that. I want to expand my boundaries, get more land. And number three, you had to be able. You had to have the money.
So you got to be related, willing, able. "So Boaz said, on the day that you buy the field'"-- verse 5-- "'from the hand of Naomi, you must also buy it from Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of the dead, to perpetuate the name of the dead through his inheritance.'" Now, notice how slick Boaz is.
He goes, hey, man, there's some land in the family. Do you want it? Yeah. OK, but there's a catch. The catch is, if you get the land, you get the chick. You got to marry her. Now, she was obviously a very beautiful woman, but notice this. "And the close relative said, 'I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I ruin my own inheritance.'"
In other words, I'm married with kids. We've already got this thing going on. I'm not going to mess this one up. And in verse 9, "Boaz said to the elders and all the people, 'You are witnesses this day, that I have brought all that was Elimelech's'"-- that I have purchased-- bought-- all that was Elimelech's-- '"and all that was Chilion's and Mahlon's'"-- Sicko and Crybaby's land as, well-- "'from the hand of Naomi.
Moreover, Ruth the Moabitess, the widow of Mahlon, I have acquired as my wife to perpetuate the name of the dead throughout his inheritance, that the name of the dead may not be cut off from among the brethren and from his position at the gate. You are witnesses this day.' So Boaz took Ruth. She became his wife; and he went into her, and the Lord gave her conception, and she bore a son."
Verse 17-- "They called his name Obed. He is the Father of Jesse, the Father of David." Now begins the royal line. This is important because King David will be mentioned, highlighted, become the seminal king. Now, have you ever seen a person, and when you look at the person, you go, that person reminds me of somebody?
You've had that experience, right? I've had people come up to me and say, you remind me of somebody. I had somebody come up to me recently. You remind me of somebody. He's a preacher. I said, well, I'm reminding you of me. You probably remembered the younger me. This is the older me.
But I say, no, no, no, you remind me of my brother, or you remind me of my uncle, or something. When I look at Boaz, I think, you remind me of somebody named Jesus. Because what he does with Ruth and with this land is a picture of what Jesus Christ will do. The goel, the kinsman redeemer, is one of the clearest pictures of Jesus in the Bible-- a bridegroom who buys a Gentile bride, and prepares that Gentile to be his wife.
The Gentile bride is the church. Jesus gave a parable in which he said, the kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid, and for the joy over it, he goes and sells all that he has, and he buys the field. Real quickly, fast forward to the ultimate real estate transaction in history, Revelation chapter 5.
You don't have to turn there, but in Revelation chapter 5, John sees the scroll in the right hand of him who sat on the throne, written on the inside and on the outside, sealed with seven seals. And somebody said, who is worthy to take the scroll and then loose the seals? And nobody came forth.
So John said, I wept much. Why did he weep? Because he realized what is being held is the title deed to the Earth-- the title deed to the Earth that was lost when Adam gave it away, essentially, at the fall to Satan the usurper, who became the god of this world, the prince of the power of the air. And nobody came forward to redeem it, and so he wept much.
Revelation chapter 5 is what we call-- or what you would call, if you're in the real estate business-- the closing, where Jesus, at the end, comes to fully redeem the Earth. He redeemed by his own blood. He is the kinsman who was related-- that's the first qualification-- he was related. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.
So first qualification, he's related us. That's why there was an incarnation. Jesus became a man, flesh and blood, because now he's related to us, as the goel. He was willing to do it-- the second qualification. He says, nobody takes my life from me. I lay it down of myself. I have the power to lay it down and take it again. So he was willing to do it.
And third, He was able to do it. He had what it took to pay for it. What did He use for his payment? Blood. Paul said, feed the flock of God, which he purchased with his own blood. Jesus Christ, related, willing, and able, steps forward and takes the scroll from God the Father on the throne.
And that is the picture of what goes on during that tribulation period, and ends when Jesus comes back, to rule and reign as King of Kings and Lord of Lord over the field from which He purchased the bride-- the bride of Christ, the church. So yeah, it's great story.
What's amazing is that the book of Ruth takes place during the time of the Judges, which were such dark days. And in the midst of such dark days, such a beautiful love story occurs. Here's the parallel. We live in a dark day and age, but behind the scenes, God is all about preparing a bride-- the church.
And everyone who says, yes, Jesus, yes, Lord, I give myself to you, I surrender myself to you, becomes part of that great company-- the bride of Christ-- comprised of Jew and Gentile-- largely Gentile-- that he calls out, that become his own, and will enjoy that inheritance forever. Father, as we close this book, we open our hearts to these great truths of a kinsman redeemer, and of the great providence of almighty God.
Lord, you gave, through Your spirit, in this book of Ruth, a picture, a preview in very easy-to-understand form of what is going to take place with a greater transaction at the end of time, When the lion of the tribe of Judah, the Lamb of God slain, steps forward and takes that scroll and unlooses the seals, fulfilling the qualifications, and redeems the world lost at the fall, and buys and redeems the world back to You, Father.
And then Jesus will rule and reign over this creation for 1,000 years of a restored Earth. The field itself will be renewed, and the church, the bride, will be in that field ruling and reigning with Him for 1,000 years. Lord, thank you for this preview of great and coming attractions. And I pray for anyone who doesn't know You, hasn't committed their life to You, that they would say yes to Jesus, yes to the Savior, yes to the bridegroom, the lover of their soul.
If you're here tonight and you don't know Christ, you can just right now say, Lord, I believe, I trust. I turn my life, my self, my future over to You. Forgive me of my sin. Cleanse me from unrighteousness. Give me a brand new future. It's in his name I pray. Amen.
We hope you enjoyed this message from Skip Heitzig of Calvary Church for more resources, visit CalvaryNM.church. Thank you for joining us for this teaching from The Bible from 30,000 Feet.