Inside: The second installment in our Bible study on the book of Ruth.
This is the second post in a series. If you haven’t done Chapter 1‘s study yet, you can find it here.
Just a reminder:
- Be prayerful before reading,
- Keep a notepad handy, and
- Take your time!
Without further ado, let’s dive in and read Chapter 2!
Questions to Consider
- In what ways do we see the foreshadowing of Jesus while reading Chapter 2?
- Am I living from a position of fear or of understanding God’s grace and favor?
- Are there any steps in my life that I’ve felt led to take but haven’t? What’s holding me back?
- What are some of the things Jesus gives freely?
- What does the grace of God mean in my life? What does it enable me to do that I would have struggled with on my own?
- What is redemption, and what does it look like? How has God redeemed me?
Favor and Work
So 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?”Ruth 2:10 (NKJV)
Living from Fear or Favor
The chapter opens on Ruth asking Naomi if she can go to the fields and glean. Gleaning was a sort of public welfare system back in biblical times, as set up by God in Leviticus 19:
“When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the Lord your God.”Leviticus 19:9-10 (NIV)
Naomi and Ruth would have been extremely poor, and Ruth was a foreigner. Both of those things qualified them to go and glean after the harvests. Since Naomi was old, Ruth was dedicated to shouldering that burden for the two of them.
As we see later though, there is a very real danger for her. She’s a young woman, meaning there’s a threat of sexual assault in the fields, as indicated later by both Boaz and Naomi.
Despite these threats, Ruth is determined to work to support herself and her mother-in-law. Instead of giving into fear, she hopes for favor. She steps out into the unknown, come what may, to honor her commitment to Naomi and their new life together in Israel.
A Divine Appointment
… And she happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the family of Elimelech.Ruth 2:3 (NKJV)
Ruth set out to glean in the fields and hoped to find favor in one of them. She “happened” to come to the portion of the field that Boaz owned. He was a wealthy man who was part of Elimelech’s family. As we see later in the chapter, she didn’t realize this. She wasn’t looking for this appointment. It was sovereignly positioned by God.
What would have happened if Ruth had been afraid to go to the fields? Or if she hadn’t decided to come to Judah with Naomi at all? What would her story look like if not for her commitment to do what was right?
She gave her willingness, and God blessed it.
What Boaz Gives Freely
Shortly after, we meet Boaz. There are 2 parts of what he says to Ruth that stick out to me:
- Protection and
First, he tells her to stick by the women who work in his fields and that the young men who work there have already been instructed not to bother her. That’s one big fear checked off the list. In his field, she is protected from the threats that would normally face her.
Secondly, he tells her that when she’s thirsty, she can drink from the water that the young men have drawn. So not only does she not have to fear. Not only is she protected. But she also has access to life-giving water while she works. And to top it off, it’s not even water she has to draw herself! The work of getting the water has already been done. All she has to do is receive when she needs it.
If that’s not an image of what Jesus is for us, I don’t know what is! It makes me think of the story of the woman at the well. She came needing a drink and left with living water. (John 4)
“Why have I found favor?”
Boaz’s conversation with Ruth leaves her bewildered. In spite of her hopes that she would find favor, what he offers her is more than she had imagined. I think the only thing she hoped for was to not be harmed. Instead, he exceeds her expectations by showing her true kindness. This is the picture of Jesus.
We may come to Him, hoping only to get mercy for what we’ve done in our past (or present), praying that we don’t face wrath and hatred for the things we’ve done. But instead, He always exceeds expectations. To our amazement, when we come to Jesus, we find grace, or unmerited favor.
In Boaz’s response (verse 11) to Ruth’s question, I see this:
- He meets her where she is.
- He shows compassion for her and what she’s been through.
- He is concerned with things in her heart and her character more than her background as a Moabite.
Again, we see Jesus foreshadowed so well in Boaz.
Then he prays a blessing over her.
“The Lord repay your work, and a full reward be given you by the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge.”Ruth 2:12 (NKJV)
As we’ll see later in her story, his prayer for her is answered. She is repaid for her work and also heavily rewarded by God!
Working with Favor on Our Side
And 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.”Ruth 2:15-16 (NKJV)
Woah! So not only does she have protection, water for her thirst, and even food that she eats among Boaz’s workers, but now he tells the men who work for him to let her glean from the bundles of wheat that have been gathered AND to let handfuls fall onto the ground so that she can have even more!
She’s still working. But the fruit of her labor is now a lot heartier than it would have been without his favor.
Depending on the translation you’re reading, Boaz may just be referred to as a relative, or he may have a different title like guardian redeemer or kinsman redeemer. To grasp what this means, we have to go back and look at the laws of the time.
To try and put them simply:
The Law of Inheritance
Basically, all inheritance passed through male heirs (unless there were none, in which case the daughters could inherit, Numbers 27). Since Elimelech and his sons all died, there was no heir for their land and the rest of the family’s inheritance. However, because of a law called the Law of Levirate Marriage, Ruth could still produce an heir for Elimelech’s family by getting remarried and having a child. By law, that child would be considered the son of her dead husband. This would ensure the inheritance would not be lost to another family.
Naomi has already sold the land belonging to her family (Ruth 4:3), most likely due to their poverty. That’s where the next law comes into play.
The Law of the Redeeming Relative
This law gave family members the ability to buy back land that had been sold or lost because of poverty. The closest relative then was the redeemer for that family. The land and the inheritance belonging to the family were restored through this individual.
Again, we can see so clearly how Boaz points to Jesus, our Redeemer. Because of the price He paid, we have been redeemed from the clutches of sin and brought in to the family of God. Jesus secured a full inheritance for us! (Acts 20:32, Romans 8:17, Ephesians 1:11-14, Colossians 1:12, 1 Peter 1:3-5, Titus 3:7)
♥ We have favor with God! It’s not because we earned it but because God is gracious. When we live with that in mind, we don’t have to operate from a place of fear.
♥ We, like Ruth, have the freedom to put ourselves out there, trusting that God will bless our efforts that align with what He calls good.
♥ In Christ, we’re protected from the fiery darts of the enemy, and we are refreshed with living water.
♥ Jesus is compassionate and kind toward those who come to Him. He’s more concerned with the condition of your heart than with your past. He is in the business of making all things new.
♥ Jesus’ role as our redeemer means that our place in the family of God is secure and so is our inheritance.
Until next time,