Shall we turn now to the book of Ruth?
As we were studying the book of Judges last week, we pointed out that at the end of chapter sixteen, the end of the story of Samson, you actually came to the end of the history part of the book of Judges. What followed in chapter seventeen and onto the end were a couple of incidents, or scenes, that took place during the time of the Judges, just to show that it was a time of spiritual confusion and moral decay as far as the nation was concerned. When the Danites moved their area of inheritance, a portion of them went on up to the northern part of the land. How that they captured this young priest, and how he had these teraphims and so forth, these little images that had been made. It was just a time of spiritual confusion. Then it was a time of moral decay as we saw the conditions of the Benjamites, and the sodomy that was beginning to be practiced by the men of Gibeah, and it’s consequences.
Now that gives you one side of what was happening. There was another story that took place and the book of Ruth opens.
Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled (1:1),
So the story of Ruth again is sort of an appendix to the book of Judges, in that this story fits back into the period when the Judges were ruling over Israel.
Now it was a time of spiritual confusion, it was a time of apostasy, a time of moral declension, but yet in the midst of it all, God was working out His plan in those hearts and lives that were open to Him. This is always true. Though you may look at an overall condition of a nation, or a people and say, “Boy, they’re really in a mess,” yet God is always working out His plan in the hearts and in the lives of those that are open unto Him.
So here God was working in the period of moral declension, in this period of confusion, yet God was working in a very special way. The book of Ruth gives us the insight into the work of God.
Now quite often when we live in a corrupted society, such as we live today, and where in our whole educational philosophy they teach that the morals of society determine what is right and wrong conduct. Thus, having established that as a sociological fact, as we look around and see the morals, we say, “Well, everybody’s doing it,” and that becomes the criteria, “it must be right.”
It is interesting that the Bible declares that “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Now that is the biblical account of creation. You have in the educational circles today the humanistic philosophy that is actually prevailing within our educational system. The humanistic philosophy rather than saying that, “God created man,” declares that, “Man created God for his own convenience because he needed something to believe in. He needed to have some kind of a guide for moral conduct and all, and so man created God.” That actually man’s moral conduct is determined by the morals of his society. The Bible declares “In the beginning God created man.” The moral conduct were standards that were established by God which are absolutes. Humanism, “God created,” or “Man created God for his own convenience,” and man establishes his own standards, his own morals; and thus, they are relative to the situations.
Now living, and all of you have in some degree been affected by the humanistic philosophy that prevails in every level of our society today. The danger is falling into that trap of thinking, “Well, everybody is doing it. I’m weird or out of step because I’m not following along with the same pattern of the world in which I live. And to be accepted, I must join the crowd. After all if everybody’s doing it, it must be all right.” False. That is the philosophy of humanism expressed in its existentialism. Not so, God has established standards. Man is always trying to get a little twist on the standard that God has established. “Well, what if this?” and “What if that?” Trying to make it relate to a special case. But God has established the standards by which we are to live. God created man and established the moral standards for that man.
So God is always working. And in this confused, corrupted society in which we live, God still desires to work in the hearts and the lives that are open to the work of God. Oh God help me that my heart might be open to God, so that He can work in my life in the midst of this corrupted society.
Now the Bible foresaw the corruption in which you are living today. The Bible very aptly expressed sort of the scientific attitudes of uniformitarianism that have prevailed, that have set the stage for revolutionary thesis, which has of course set the stage for the whole humanism, because “God is no longer needed, man evolved from the protozoa,” and the whole thing is tied together.
Peter said, “In the last days there will be scoffers that will come and say, Where is the promise of the Father?” that is of the coming again of Jesus Christ. “Where is the Lord? He hasn’t come. Since our fathers have fallen asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning”(2Peter 3:3-4). I defy you to find me a better definition of uniformitarianism. “All things have continued as they were from the beginning.” That is exactly what the dogma, or the theory of uniformitarianism declares. All of the phenomena that has ever existed in the creation and the evolving of man, into the present day, can be observed in the world today. There have been no catastrophes, and so forth, no dramatic changes.
It is interesting that Peter foresaw this scientific theory before it was ever propounded, and he actually gave the greatest flaw within it. “For this they were willingly ignorant, that God destroyed the world that was with a flood.” They closed their eyes to that, the fact of the universal flood, which is by far a better explanation of the geological column, and of geology itself than is this theory of evolution. The geological column does not prove at all the theory of evolution, in fact, it raises great questions in regards to the theory of evolution, because within the geological column there is a total absence of any transitional forms. If the transitional forms took place over millions of years of evolving, surely we would have fossils that would show the transitional forms. So absent is the fossil record of transitional forms that has led one of the professors at Stanford to come up with the magic bird kind of a theory. Whereas a snake one time laid an egg, and a bird flew out. It’s the hopeful monster theory. He had to come up with that because of the absence of the transitional forms of the geological column. Rather than there being gradual changes, they’re now saying, “Suddenly in the Cambrian state there appeared multitudes of many faceted animals in highly developed forms.” Remarkable. Hocus pocus dominocus!
So it’s a thing that we are in this society of which the Bible said perilous times would come, men would be lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God. They would be fierce. They’d be incontinent, which speaks of this sexual freedom that people are advocating today, and goes on to describe our modern day society. Jesus in referring to these things said, “Because the iniquity of the earth is going to abound, the love of many is going to wax cold” (Matthew 24:12). But in the midst of this crooked and perverse world, God is still working in the hearts and lives of those that are opened and surrendered unto Him.
So in the period of Judges, a time much as today, when the gays were parading and declaring their normalcy, and declaring to actually propagate their own thing there in Gibeah, and were publicly parading their perverse style of life, God was working in the hearts and lives of those that were open to God.
Now the book of Ruth is another insight. It shows us how God can work, and does work His purposes on the earth even under adverse circumstances.
It came to pass when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. A certain man of Bethlehemjudah and he went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons. And this man was an Elimelech, and the name of his wife was Naomi, and the name of his sons were Mahlon and Chilion, and he was an Ephrathite (1:1-2).
Now Ephrathite or Ephra was the area, the general in which Bethlehem was situated. Like Santa Ana is situated in Orange County, Bethlehem was situated in the area called Ephra. So, he was called an Ephrathite, like you might be called an Orange Countian because you live in Orange County.
Now the names are always interesting because the names are oftentimes significant to the story. They named their children, and every name had a meaning. Now they say that names have meanings today, and you can look back to the meaning of your names in some of the dictionaries, what your name actually means. The name Elimelech means, “My God is King!” Beautiful name. The name Naomi means “Pleasantness,” a very beautiful name indeed. But the name Mahlon means “Sickly,” and the name Chilion means “Pining.”
Now often the children were named after circumstances of their birth. When Esau was born he was all covered with hair, and so they called him “Hairy.” The word Esau means “Hairy,” and he’s just a hairy little kid so it’s a good name. When his brother was born, his twin brother, he reached out and grabbed hold of Hairy’s heel. So they said, “Look at that he’s a heel catcher.” They called him Jacob, “Heel catcher.”
So they were named after circumstances of their birth. Probably when Mahlon was born perhaps he was premature, maybe it was touch and go for a while, he just didn’t look well. They said, “Oh he’s sickly, he’s Mahlon.” So he picked up the name Mahlon, “Sickly.” Later when his brother was born, he didn’t look much better so they called him “Pining.” Sickly and Pining. No wonder they died young, they were sickly and pining.
So in the land of Bethlehem there was a famine, there was a drought, which does take place periodically over there. Last year they had a drought. They heard that there was good land over in Moab and so Elimelech decided to sell out and with his wife, and two sons move over to Moab, which is the high plateau country against a great rift, the Jordan river, the Dead sea. Over on the other side, the high plateau country which is very fertile area. So they moved over to Moab. While they were there Elimelech died. So the boys married girls from Moab. The one married a girl by the name of Orpah, the other married a girl by the name of Ruth. And it came to pass in time that both of the boys also died without having any children.
So Naomi said to the two daughters in law, Go back and return to your families, to your mother’s house: and may the Lord deal kindly with you, even as you have dealt with the dead and with me (1:8).
So during this time of family tragedy these two girls actually brought, showed a real depth of character. They were very kind to Naomi, and comforting of Naomi. They took their tragedy very well. So Naomi is wishing them that they also might receive this same degree of kindness that they had displayed unto her.
And the Lord grant that you find rest, each of you in the house of her husband (1:9).
So, “May, may you both find some good boys and get married. May you have a happy, married life. May you find someone else, and may you live at rest in the house of your husband.” So she’s just encouraging the girls, “Hey girls, you know you’re better off here, you’re better off with your families. You’re better off just getting married with someone else.”
So the two girls went with her for a while on the way back. So they wept and all, and then Ruth, I mean, Naomi said to them again, “Look girls, I’m really too old to have any more sons. Even if I have a hope of having sons, let’s say that I was married now and became pregnant tomorrow, would you want to wait until my sons grew up old enough to get married? They don’t want to wait, and anyhow it’s not going to happen. So you just go ahead and return home, and get your husbands and get married.
So Orpah [fell on her neck and] kissed her, [and bid her farewell, and returned to her mother’s house]; but Ruth [then uttered these beautiful words], Entreat me not to leave thee [or to forsake thee], or to return from following after thee: because where you will go, I will go; where you lodge, I will lodge: your people will be my people, and your God will be my God: God forbid if anything but death should separate between us (1:14, 16-17).
So the, the devotion of Ruth to her mother-in-law. “Look I’ll go with you. Don’t ask me to leave you, or to forsake you, or to return back to my family. For wherever you go,” evidently there was a beautiful bond that was created between daughter-in-law and mother-in-law. “Wherever you go I will go, wherever you lodge, I will lodge. You’re people will be my people, your God will be my God. God forbid if anything but death should separate us.” So they came back into the land.
When she saw that she was steadfastly minded to go with her, then she left speaking unto her. So the two went until they came to Bethlehem (1:18-19).
Now when they arrived in Bethlehem, the people said, “Oh Naomi has returned!” And she said, “Don’t call me Naomi.” Now let’s put it in their language. They said, “Oh pleasantness has returned!” She said, “Don’t call me pleasant.”
Call me bitter: for the Lord dealt bitter with me (1:20).
Mara, “bitter.” “Don’t call me “Pleasant,” call me “Bitter,” the Lord has dealt bitterly with me.”
Now it is interesting that she sort of blames the tragedy on God. “The Lord has dealt bitterly with me.” There seems to be a natural inclination for us to blame God for our tragedies, especially for death. When Jesus arrived in Bethany at the time of the death of Lazarus, he had been very sick. His sister sent the urgent message down to the Jordan where Jesus was staying, “Come quickly the one you love is sick!” Jesus tarried there at the Jordan for two days, and then headed off for Bethany.
Now for a message to get from Bethany to Jordan took two days. Jesus stayed there an extra two days, and it took Him two days to get back to Bethany. So in the meantime, six days had transpired from the time the message went out, “Your friend is very sick, the one you love is very sick.” It was six days later that Jesus was arriving in Bethany, and the girls knew that it was too late. They knew that it was actually later than it should be. He could’ve arrived earlier. They were aware that He was delayed, they didn’t know why. Martha came out to meet Him, and in an accusing way said, “Lord, if You would only had been here, my brother would not have died! Lord, where were You when we needed You? Lord, why didn’t You come quicker? We told You come quickly, the one You love is sick! Lord, what took You so long? Why didn’t You respond, Lord?” Really the idea is she was blaming the death of her brother on the Lord. “Lord, You could’ve averted this!”
Now we know that that is true. We know that God does hold life in His hands. We know that God is able to sustain life. We know that God is able to restore life. We know that the days of man are appointed of God. Thus, there is this inclination to blame God for death, and in a sense that is right. But in another sense we only feel bitterness because we have a totally wrong concept of death as it being the end, “Oh, he had his whole life in front of him, everything going for him. Oh, what a shame.”
I heard this so much when my younger brother was killed. Handsome, good-looking, big guy, just had everything going for him. Good sense of business, and he was making investments and just everything falling into line. Bought an airplane so he could get back and forth between his business better. Crashed in his airplane. People said, “Oh, what a shame. Whole life in front of him, what a shame.” Yeah, what a shame. He got there before I did! By the time I arrive, he’s going to know every nook and cranny. Gonna take me awhile to catch up.
You know he’s with the Lord. What’s so bad about that? He’s there in God’s kingdom; what’s so sad? The sad part is that I miss him. The sad part that I miss all the fun that we used to have together. He was an exciting person. He used to always be doing crazy things and exciting things. I miss that. I sorrow because what I have lost, but I don’t sorrow for him. I’m jealous of him being with the Lord, how glorious. Not having to hassle with gas lines, with bills, and all of the kind of things that we have to experience. How wonderful. I’ll catch up with him one of these days.
But we have the wrong attitude, you see, concerning death. We look at this life as though, “Oh, it is so precious. It’s so wonderful. Hang onto it.” That’s because of the uncertainty of that life that He has promised to us, our lapses of faith. “Don’t call me pleasant, call me bitter!” That’s sad. It’s sad whenever you become bitter over any experience of life, because bitterness only hurts you. We are warned to be careful of any root of bitterness within our lives because of the effect that it can have on your total life. The bitter roots can bring forth bitter fruit in your life. We must guard against bitterness. Bitterness is an attitude that I choose because of the circumstances that I face. I don’t have to become bitter, I choose to become bitter. For there are other people who go through the exact similar circumstances and they become better people because they learn to commit and trust in God all the more. They say, “Well it’s all in the Lord’s hands, and I belong to the Lord, and God is just given me strength, and God has just given me capacities and all.” They become actually better people.
Some of the greatest people I know are people who have suffered incessantly through life. And through the suffering there has been a depth of character developed that is unparalleled by others who have never experienced suffering or sorrow. Out of suffering, out of sorrow, the roots can go deep into God and the life can become beautiful, and strong, and powerful. Or you can root into bitterness and your life becomes bitter and tight, and tense.
It’s tragic when a person gives himself over to bitterness. It’s all in how you look at the situation. I can look at it and I can become bitter and say, “If God loved me then why did He allow that to happen to me?” My life becomes tense, and I become tight, and my blood vessels begin to constrict and there’s not a real flowing anymore. My whole life is so tense. I begin to actually get the effects of it physically.
Or I can say, “Well, the Lord has given, the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord! All things work together for good, and God has a plan and He loves me, and I know that He’s watching over me. Whatever it is God’s working out a plan in my life. Praise the Lord! God you know that I need to have this worked out. You’re just seeking to conform me into Your image, have Your perfect work within my life, God.” I can become a better person, an open person, and filled with God’s love. I can flow out the beautiful fruits, of love, and faith, and hope to others.
Naomi for the moment was responding in the wrong way, “Don’t call me Pleasant, call me Bitter!” Oh sad, that’s sad when you’ve allowed the circumstances of your life to jaundice your feelings and you turn bitter against God, and bitter against the circumstances of life. Naomi thought it was all over. She thought that was the end of the road. She didn’t know the plan God was working out.
I went away full, and the Lord hath brought me home again empty: why do you call me Pleasant, seeing 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, they came out of the country of Moab: they came to Bethlehem in the beginning of the barley harvest (1:21-22).
Now Naomi had a kinsman of her husband’s, a mighty man of wealth, of the family of Elimelech; his name was Boaz (2:1).
So Elimelech had, and in the fourth chapter Boaz calls him, “our brother Elimelech,” so a relation, perhaps a full brother, perhaps a half-brother who became a very wealthy man, a mighty man of wealth.
And Ruth the Moabitess said to Naomi, Let me now go to the field, and glean the ears of corn [after that which I must] after him in whose sight I shall find grace. And she said unto her, Go, my daughter (2:2).
Now in the law, God made a provision for the poor people. There were welfare laws in those days. I think they are far superior to the welfare laws today. It wasn’t just a “give me,” or give-out dole to people. But the law declared that when you had fields, you could only harvest your fields once. You couldn’t go back through to pick the second time. You had one shot at your harvest. You went through once, that was it. Nor did you pick up anything off the ground. So that the poor of the land could come into your field after your harvesters had gone through, and whatever wasn’t ripe when they had gone through, whatever was there, was free for the poor people. Thus, they could always go into the fields and they could come in after your harvesters. They could pick up any vegetables, or any fruits or whatever that remained after your first once harvest through the thing then the rest was left for the poor, thus, were the poor of the land taken care of. It was a very excellent welfare law. The poor of the land were taken care of adequately by this law. If you wanted to eat there was always food. You could always go out into the field and gather it after the harvesters.
So Ruth said to Naomi, “I’m going to go out and glean in the field after the harvesters.” It says,
And it was her hap [or we would say today, “It so happened,”] that she was in the part of the field that belonged to Boaz, who was of the family of Elimelech (2:3).
“It so happened,” no that’s not so. Nothing just so happens. When we relate a thing we say, “You know it was the strangest coincidence.” But really when you’re God’s child, and God’s hand is on your life, there aren’t really coincidences. God’s hand is in all of these things.
Now when God guides our lives, somehow we’ve got a mental concept that in order for God to guide me, there’s got to be some kind of a mystical, spooky kind of an aura, you know. Where you almost go into a semi-trance and a fog begins to sort of come around you. You hear a voice in the echo chamber that says, “Goooo left.” You expect God to lead you in some kind of a mystical way, when in reality God leads you in such natural ways. You say, “Well, it just happened that I was there at that moment.”
For the last few weeks my wife has been asking me concerning a doctor that was with us in Israel last year who helped her when she broke her arm. She said, “I’m so concerned about him? I wonder if everything is all right. We haven’t heard. We sent him a Christmas card, and we haven’t heard. I wonder, oh I wonder how he’s doing, if you’ve seen him.”
“No I haven’t seen him.”
“Well I wonder how they’re doing.” She’s been on to me for this for a few weeks. Well, at my son’s church the ladies were having a retreat up at Idlewild last weekend, not this, but the previous, and so Kay went up to teach the ladies. Because the dust was getting to her, she decided not to eat lunch there in the camp, but to go into a little restaurant called, “The Breadbasket.” So as she was in there eating lunch, who should come in but the doctor’s wife, who was passing by and decided, “Oh, I want to get one of the specialties of the bakery shop there.” So she just on impulse ran in to get something out of the bakery. It just so happened, you see? No, those things don’t happen, God is leading, God is guiding, and God put these things together but it happens so naturally, that you don’t recognize that it’s God doing it.
God leads us in very natural ways. It comes as a thought, it comes as an impulse, it comes as an idea, or it comes as an inspiration. “Oh, I’m hungry for a tamale.”
“Got to have a tamale.”
“Well where shall we go?”
“Well, let’s go there.” God is actually putting together circumstances. You get there and there’s the plan of God unfolding. He’s been guiding and it just so happened-but no. It doesn’t so happen. God’s hand is there leading and guiding. “For the steps of a righteous man are ordered of the Lord, and he delights in His ways.” If you will in all your ways just acknowledge Him, He will direct your paths.
Now looking at it from our side, we say, “Now it so happened that she came into the field of Boaz.” But in reality God was holding her by the hand, and directing her to that field. She was going out wondering, “Where in the world am I going to glean? Oh my, this is all new. I don’t know any place around here. Oh, there’s some gals out there, I’ll follow them.” God was just leading all the way along.
Neat the way the Lord does lead our lives. It’s glorious the way God directs our paths as we just yield ourselves to Him. Before I get out of bed in the morning, I say, “Lord today is Yours. My life is Yours. Now You just lead me Lord in whatever You have for me. Direct my life today Lord. I don’t have any hard, fast plans that can’t be broken, Lord. You just bring into my path whatever You want. I want to be open to You today.” It’s always exciting because you never know just what God has in mind for you each day as He puts the circumstances together. We look at it and, “Man, that is the most amazing coincidence I’ve ever seen.” Not really. God was bringing the ends together all the way along.
And, behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem, and he said to the reapers, The Lord be with you. And they answered him, The Lord bless thee (2:4).
Now Boaz does show many characteristics of a fine, outstanding, godly man. Just remember it’s a time of spiritual declension and apostasy, the period of the Judges. But here’s a man who’s walking with God, who comes out and greets his servants by saying, “The Lord be with you!” Evidently there’s a good management relationship here with servants, and they say, “And the Lord bless thee!” What’s the other indications of this man’s spiritual nature?
Then said Boaz unto his servant that was over the reapers, Where did this chick come from? [that’s a modern translation] And the servant that was over the reapers answered and said, It is the Moabitish damsel that came back with Naomi out of the country of Moab: And she said, I [beg you, or] pray you, let me glean and gather after the reapers after the sheaves: and she came, and hath continued even from morning until now, she only tarried for a little time in the house. Then said Boaz unto Ruth, Listen my daughter? Don’t glean in any other field, neither go from here, but abide here fast by my maidens: And let your eyes be on the field that they reap, and follow after them: for I have charged the young men that they shall not touch thee? and when you’re thirsty, you can go to the vessels, and drink of the water that the young men have drawn. And she fell on her face, and bowed herself to the ground, and said unto him, Why have I found grace in thine eyes, that you should take knowledge of me, seeing I’m a stranger? And Boaz answered and said unto her, It has been fully shown unto me, all that thou hast done unto your mother in law since the death of your husband: and how you have left your father and mother, and the land of your nativity, and are come unto a people which you did not know before this. The Lord recompense thy work, and a full reward be given to thee of the Lord God of Israel, unto whose wings thou art come to trust (2:5-12).
So it’s a beautiful scene. They are meeting and he speaks to Ruth and says, “You know just stay in the fields of my maidens, follow them. Don’t go to any other fields. When you get thirsty you can drink from the containers that the young men have drawn.” She’s amazed by the kindness.
She’s a stranger here, and she said, “How come you’re treating me so kindly? I’m a stranger.”
He said, “I’ve heard all about you. I’ve heard about your kindness to Naomi. I’ve heard about your decision really to come into a new land, and under the shelter of Jehovah.” So his beautiful words, “May Jehovah recompense thy work. May the Lord just reward your decisions. And a full reward be given to you from the God of Israel under whose wings you have come to trust.”
The people there were very close to nature. They were very earthy people. Thus, they pictured God in earthy pictures. One of the pictures that they had of God was that loving, protecting concern over His children, as a mother hen has that loving, protective concern over her little chicks. So that when danger threatens, the little chicks run under the mother who ruffles out her feathers and covers them, and stands there to protect them against danger. This is one of the pictures of God in the Old Testament. “Under His wings shalt thou trust.” This picture of a mother hen brooding, and covering, and protecting with her wings, with her feathers, her little coop. It’s a very earthly kind of thing, and if you haven’t been around a farm or chickens, you don’t understand it fully. Fortunately when I was a kid, even growing up here in California we were country enough where we still had chickens around in the backyard. “But may the Lord reward you under whose wings, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to trust.” Trusting in God now. Looking to Him.
Then she said, Let me find favour in thy sight, my lord; for you have comforted me, and you have spoken friendly unto your handmaid, though I am not like one of your own handmaidens. And Boaz said to her, At mealtime you can come here, and eat of the bread, and dip your morsel in the vinegar. And she sat beside the reapers: and he reached her parched corn, and she did eat, and was sufficed, and left (2:13-14).
So Boaz is showing a definite interest in her, reaching over and getting some parched corn for her. Inviting her to eat and showing the protection.
And when she was risen up to glean, Boaz commanded his young men, saying, Now you let her glean even among the sheaves, don’t approach her: [“If she happens to wander over into the area where you haven’t been yet, don’t yell at her, let her go.”] Then every once in a while just let a handful drop on purpose for her,… So Ruth gleaned that day and she came up with about a bushel of barley. [So that when she got back to Naomi,] Naomi said, Where in the world were you gleaning today? The Lord be gracious unto that man. Ruth said, Well I happened to be in the field of a man whose name is Boaz. And Naomi said unto her, Blessed is he of the Lord, who has not left off his kindness to the living and to the dead. And Naomi said to her, The man is near of kin to us, he is one of our next goels, kinsman redeemers. [“This man is a family member, he’s a goel, he’s a kinsman redeemer to us, one of the next of kinsman redeemers.”] And Ruth the Moabitess said, He said unto me also, You shall stay fast by my young men until they have ended all my harvest. And Naomi said to Ruth her daughter in law, It is good, my daughter, that you do not go out with his maidens, and that they do not meet you in any other field. So she kept fast by the maidens of Boaz to glean unto the end of the barley harvest and of the wheat harvest; and she stayed there with her mother in law (2:15-23).
Then Naomi her mother in law said unto her, My daughter, shall I not seek rest for thee, that it may be well with thee? And now is not Boaz of our family, with whose maidens you have been working? Behold, he winnows the barley tonight in the threshingfloor. So wash yourself, put on your perfume, and your beautiful gown, and get down to the threshingfloor: but don’t let them see you, until they have finished eating and drinking. And it shall be when he lies down to sleep, that you mark carefully where he’s lying, and you go in, and uncover his feet, and lay down there; and he will tell you what you’re to do. And she said unto her, All that you say to me I will do. So she went down to the floor, and she did according to all that her mother in law had instructed her. And when Boaz had eaten and drunk, his heart was merry, and he went to lie down at the end of the heap of corn: she came very quietly, and uncovered his feet, and laid down. Now about midnight, he woke up, and was afraid; as he was rolling over he became aware of the fact that a woman was lying there at his feet. And he said, Who are you? And she answered, I am Ruth your handmaid: spread therefore thy blanket or covering over thine handmaid; for thou art a near kinsman (3:1-9).
Now under the law because God sought to preserve families, if a man married a wife, and died before they had any children, then it was his brother’s obligation to take that woman as his wife, so that the first son that was born would be named after the dead brother, so that the family’s name would continue in Israel.
In the book of Genesis, about the thirty-eighth chapter or so, we find that Judah had a son who took a gal as his wife, and he died without having any children. Tamar was the name of the wife. So the second son took her and he died without having any children. Judah was afraid to give the third son. So he said, “Well, he’s too young to get married. Wait for him.” Then long after the guy was old enough to get married, Judah hadn’t really come through with the third son. So Tamar took things into her own hands. But it’s a case where this law was being enacted, and Judah was in the wrong for withholding this son. It was just the law to keep the family name alive.
Now because Elimelech had died, and his two sons had died, the family name was about to die out. So she was actually asking Boaz to take the part of the goel, the kinsman redeemer, and to have a son by her that could be named after the family of Elimelech so that that name would not die as a family in Israel. Actually, what she was asking, “Cover me with this covering of the family, because you are a goel, you are the kinsman redeemer.”
And he said to Ruth, Blessed be thou of the Lord, my daughter: for you have showed more kindness at the latter end than at the beginning, inasmuch as you followed not the young men, whether they were poor or rich (3:10).
Now Boaz was probably an older man. He was very flattered that this younger girl, rather than following after these young guys would ask him to fulfill this kinsman relationship, this goel kinsman redeemer relationship. Again notice his, “Blessed be thou of the Lord,” he shows all the way through good, godly characteristics.
And he said,
Now my daughter, fear not; for I will do unto you all that you require: for all the city of my people know that you are a virtuous woman (3:11).
Ruth’s reputation had gotten around. She was a virtuous girl. Her taking care of her mother-in-law, her whole attitude of really worshiping and serving God, word had gotten around concerning Ruth, “She’s a virtuous girl.” He said, “I will do all that the law requires and what you’re requiring. Don’t be afraid, I’m going to do it.
But it is true that I am a near kinsman: [“I’m a close family relative.”] however there is a kinsman that is closer than I am. Now you tarry tonight, and in the morning, [if he will not perform unto thee or,] if he will perform to you the part of a kinsman, fine; let him perform unto thee: but if he will not do the part of a kinsman to thee, then will I do the part of a kinsman to thee, as the Lord liveth: lie down until morning (3:12-13).
Now not always would they fulfill this part. Sometimes they didn’t like the gal. Their brother married sort of—all right, you. And he died and he didn’t have any children, and you say, “Hey no way I don’t want her.”
So you take off your shoe and hand it to her like “Hey you’re a dirty shoe as far as I’m concerned.” You’re giving up your right. “I don’t want to marry you. I don't want to have anything to do with you.” She then would spit in your face, and you would be called “The man from whom the shoe was loosed in Israel.” You were considered sort of a dirty dog kind of a guy because you didn’t fulfill the family obligations, no family loyalty. So that was the little ritual and that oftentimes happened. The fellow didn’t want to carry through. “I don’t want to marry her. I don’t want the obligations of her, not interested.” So he’d take off his shoe and hand it to her.
So he said, “Ruth, don’t worry I will do it.” But the hitch is there’s another fellow who is actually closer of kin and he has the right first to be the kinsman. “If he is, fine, but if he doesn’t then I will be the kinsman unto thee. I will raise up a child, and I will take you as my wife, and I will fulfill this obligation. So don’t worry one way or the other it’s going to be taken care of.”
So he said, “Lie down until morning.”
And so she lay at his feet until morning: and she rose up before any one could know each other. [In other words it was still so dark you couldn’t recognize anybody.] And he said, Don’t let it be known that a woman was on the threshingfloor tonight. And so he said, Bring me the veil that you had on you, and she held it. And when she held it, he measured out six measures of barley, and laid it on her: and she went into the city. And when she came to her mother in law, [It was still dark, and so, Naomi said, “Who is it?”] and she said, Who art thou, my daughter? And so Ruth told her all that Boaz had said and done. And she said, These six measures of barley he gave to me; for he said, Don’t go empty to your mother in law. Then Naomi said, [She’s a wise old gal, she’s been around. She said,] Sit still, my daughter, until you know how the matter will fall: for this man will not rest, until he’s gotten everything taken care of (3:14-18).
So when Boaz rose up he went to the gate of the city, he sat down there: and, behold, the kinsman of which he was speaking came by, and he said, Ho, such a one! turn aside, sit down here. And so he turned aside, and sat down. And he took ten men of the elders of the city, and said, Sit down here. And so they sat down. And he said to the kinsman, Naomi, that is come again out of the country of Moab, is selling a parcel of land, which was our brother Elimelech’s: And I thought to let you know, saying, Buy it before the inhabitants, and the elders of the people. And if you will redeem it, redeem it: but if you will not redeem it, then tell me, that I may know: for there is none to redeem it besides thee; and I am after thee. And he said, I will redeem it (4:1-4).
Now another Jewish law declared that whenever you sold a parcel of land there was always a reversionary clause where you had the right to buy the land back again within a specified period of time. Usually they would write up the deed in a scroll, and then they would seal the scroll. In that specified period of time, when the right of redemption had come, or the reversionary clause, then you could bring the title deed, and you could break the seals and you could, with the elders of the city there present, and you will show that you have the right and the ability to buy the field back. You could always buy back your property. The revision clause was in every sale. The right of buying it back.
Now under the Jewish law if you were not able because you were too poor, to buy the land back when the time of redemption had come, then one of your family members could step in and buy it in order that it remained in the family, because God wanted to preserve the family inheritances in Israel. So the next of kin could come in and take your part, or your place in the purchasing, or the repurchasing of the land.
So when Naomi and Elimelech had moved to Moab they had sold their parcel, and according to the reversionary clause, the time was up, and now it was again coming on the block, the time to redeem it. So he said, “You know Naomi is getting ready to sell this parcel, she can’t redeem it. The right of redemption is yours and if you’re going to redeem it, then redeem it. If not, there’s no one except me after you, and so what do you want to do?”
The fellow says, “Well, I’ll redeem it.”
And so Boaz said unto him, In the day that you buy the field from the hand of Naomi, you must also buy it from Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of the dead, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance (4:5).
In other words, “You’re going to have to take Ruth a wife and have a son in order that the name of the inheritance might continue.
The fellow said, “Oh man that would mess up my own inheritance.” Cause he’s already married, and he already had children lined up for the inheritance. He said, “Man, my wife wouldn’t go for that. We can’t handle that one.” He said to Boaz, “Why don’t you redeem it?” So Boaz was very happy about that turn of events.
And so the kinsman said, I cannot redeem it for my self, lest I mess up my own inheritance: you redeem it take the right to thyself; for I cannot redeem it (4:6).
Now there was a custom in the former times. Now this custom died out, however it is interesting, there was a lady recently in Israel who tried to get her brother-in-law to enact this old law because her husband died. So she tried to get him to marry her and all to fulfill the ancient law. He refused to do it, and so she insisted that he take off, she sued the poor thing, and take off the shoe so she could spit in his face and all. So they did go through this ceremony of recent vintage in Israel, but actually it was a custom that died out in time. But it is saying in the older days they did have this custom. So the book of Ruth was written at some later date.
And so he’s recording,
Now this was the manner in the former time in Israel concerning redeeming and concerning changing, for to confirm all things; a man had to take off his shoe, and give it to his neighbour: and this was a testimony in Israel. [So the fellow took off his shoe and handed it to Boaz.] Therefore the kinsman said to Boaz, Buy it for thee. So he drew off his shoe. And Boaz said to the elders, and to all the people, You are witnesses this day, that I have bought all that was Elimelech’s, and all that was Chilion’s and Mahlon’s, of the hand of Naomi. Moreover Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of Mahlon, have I purchased to be my wife, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance, that the name of the dead is not cut off from among his brethren, and the gate of his place: you are witnesses this day (4:7-10).
So, “I have purchased the whole thing, all that belonged to Naomi, and to Elimelech, and to Mahlon, and Chilion, and I have purchased Ruth to be my wife.
Now here is an interesting case. Where because of his love for Ruth, he bought the field in order that he might obtain the bride. His primary interest was not the field at all. He was a very mighty man of wealth. He didn’t need any more fields. But he bought the field in order to obtain the bride. In that he becomes a very beautiful picture of Jesus Christ, who bought the world in order that He might purchase His bride, the church, out of the world. Not interested necessarily in the planet earth as such, but interested, and in love with His bride. Jesus purchased the world in order to take His treasure.
So in the kingdom parables, “The kingdom is like unto a man going through a field, discovering a treasure, who for the joy thereof immediately goes out and sells all that he had in order that he might buy the field, and obtain the treasure”(Matthew 13:44). So Jesus seeing the treasure, His church, His bride, within the world, bought the whole world in order to take His bride out of it. Beautiful, beautiful sort of a parallel here with Boaz and Ruth, and Jesus and the church.
And all the people that were in the gate, and the elders, said, We are the witnesses. The Lord make the woman that is come into thine house like Rachel and Leah, which two did build the house of Israel: and do thou worthily in Ephratah, and be famous in Bethlehem: And let thy house be like the house of Pharez, whom Tamar bare unto Judah, of the seed which the Lord shall give thee of this young woman (4:11-12).
Now it is interesting that they speak of Judah and Tamar and Pharez, because here is where this whole thing, this particular law I mentioned earlier, that one of Judah’s sons married Tamar, he died without having any children. Judah gave the other son; he died without having any children. Judah then was reluctant to give his third son, “Wait until he grows up; he’s too young.” After a period of waiting and all, Judah hadn’t come through with the third son. So as I said, Tamar took things into her own hands. What she did is she put on the clothes of a prostitute, and she went out and sat there at a place in the path where Judah was walking by. Judah—she was all veiled, had the garb of a prostitute on. He thought she was a prostitute. He propositioned her.
And she said, “Well, what will you pay me?”
He said, “Well, I’ll give you a little goat out of the flock.”
She said, “Well, how do I know you’ll come through with it?”
He said, “Well, I’ll give you my ring as a pledge.” So he came in unto Tamar, had relations with her, and gave her his ring as a pledge that he would send back a goat to her. That was what he propositioned for.
So Tamar took off the clothes of a prostitute, went back home, and was pregnant. Judah sent his servant back to get his ring back with a young little goat. The guy came and he looked and there was no prostitute sitting there in this area where Judah said she was. So he said to the guys around there, “Where’s the prostitute that usually hangs out here?”
They said, “There is no prostitute that hangs out here.”
So he came back to Judah and said, “Hey, I couldn’t find any, and the fellows said there isn’t any prostitute that hangs out there.” So Judah said, “Oh well let it go.”
Then word came to Judah, “Your daughter-in-law Tamar is pregnant.”
He said, “Bring her forth, we’ll stone her!”
So she came forth, and she held out the ring, and she said, “By the man who owns this ring am I pregnant.”
Now you see it was the obligation of a kinsman to raise up a child for the dead son. Judah was trapped by the young gal into doing it. He acknowledged that she was, “You’re more righteous than I am. I was really withholding. You’re more righteous than I am.” The son that was born was called Pharez. He became a part of the line of the genealogy of Jesus Christ. So he was also of the line of Elimelech, coming on down, he was one of the ancestors of Elimelech.
So the people said, here’s a similar situation, an older man fulfilling the kinsman part, raising up a son, “And may the Lord bless you, and may she be like Tamar who bore Pharez. May you have a son and may there be a progeny that comes forth, a blessed progeny that comes forth from this relationship.” So the people in their congratulations to him go back into his own ancestry to a somewhat similar situation, at least the situation where the kinsman raised up the family name for those who had died. So, “Let your house be like the house of Pharez whom Tamar bore to Judah, of the seed which the Lord shall give thee of this young woman.”
So Boaz took Ruth, and she was his wife: and when he went in unto her, the Lord gave her conception, and she bare a son. And the women said to Naomi, Blessed be Jehovah, which has not left thee this day without a kinsman, that his name may be famous in Israel. And he shall be unto thee a restorer of thy life, and a nourisher of thine old age: for thy daughter in law, which loves thee, which is better to thee than seven sons, hath borne him (4:13-15).
So Naomi who said, “Call me bitter” is now experiencing really the blessings and the joy of a grandson knowing now that the family name is not going to die. They’re saying, “May he be a blessing unto you,” and so forth, “and a nourisher of your old age.”
And Naomi took the child, and laid it in her bosom, and became a nurse unto it. [Actually she wet-nursed then her little grandson which was a very common thing in those days.] And the women her neighbours gave it a name, saying, There is a son born to Naomi; and they called his name Obed [Which means “worshiper.”] and he is the father of Jesse, who is the father of David (4:16-17).
So the grandfather of David, who became king of Israel, this is the parentage and all.
Now these are the generations of Pharez: Pharez begat Hezron, Hezron begat Ram, and Ram begat Amminadab, Amminadab begat Nahshon, Nahshon begat Salmon, Salmon begat Boaz, Boaz begat Obed, Obed begat Jesse, Jesse begat David (4:18-22).
So ten generations are listed from Pharez unto David. So we have the background of the genealogy of David, which also becomes the background of the genealogy of the background of Jesus Christ, for Christ came through the genealogy of David, which came through the genealogy of Pharez, who was born of Tamar, by Judah in this unsavory kind of a situation. Here you have a Moabitess who were cursed by God, as far as the children of Israel were concerned, who could not come into the house of God till the tenth generation and here happens to be ten generations listed to David. So you, you have the line of Christ, so that no matter what your background, you can always identify with Him. You say, “Well, my relatives weren’t the nicest people in the block.” Well, neither were His. Thus each man can identify with Jesus Christ in a unique and special way.
Even as Boaz was the kinsman redeemer, fulfilled the law, redeemed the property in order to get the bride, so Jesus Christ is our kinsman redeemer. He became a man in order that He might be next of kin to man, in order that He could redeem man. It was necessary for Him in order to be the kinsman redeemer, the goel, to become a man. That was an essential. That is why the incarnation, so that as a man He could be a kinsman redeemer to redeem man, because the earth had been sold by Adam to Satan.
Now the whole deal has been wrapped up in a scroll and it’s sealed with seven seals. Satan now rules the world: it’s his. It belongs to him. He took it from Adam, or Adam actually sold out to Satan. Jesus came to redeem the world back to God, to pay the price of the redemption, which was His own blood, His death. Now in Hebrews it says, “God has put all things into subjection unto Him, Jesus Christ” (Hebrews 2:8), but we do not yet see all things in subjection to Him. We don’t see the whole thing established as it’s going to be, the Kingdom age. But we see Jesus who was made a little lower than the angels in order that He might suffer death. Crowned with glory and honor, waiting really for that day in which the earth is to be redeemed back to God.
Now there is a period of time in the history of Israel when Saul was king over Israel. Because of his disobedience to God, God said to Samuel, “Go down to the house of Jesse and anoint one of his sons to be the king.” So Samuel came down to the house of Jesse, and the first son—Iliad came in, good looking, big strong guy. And Samuel said, “Wow what a good looking, surely this is the one God wants.”
God said, “Hey no, no. You look on the outward appearance, but I look on the heart.” So one by one Jesse paraded his sons through, and the Lord didn’t bear witness to any of them. Finally Samuel said, “Is that all the boys you’ve got?”
“I’ve got one more but he’s just a kid. He’s out there watching the sheep. I didn’t figure he was going to count.”
“Well bring him in.” He went out and whistled. David came running in sweaty and dirty.
The Lord said to Samuel, “That’s the one.” Samuel took this cruise of oil and poured it over David’s head, and this little kid’s standing there with oil running down him, and he didn’t know what was going on, you know. But God anointed him king over Israel.
Now what happened? Did Saul suddenly advocate the throne, and David’s sitting on it? Oh no, no, no. Saul now began to try to destroy David. He attempted to kill him, he attempted to drive him, ultimately drove him out of the country. For Saul was trying to hang on to that which was no longer rightfully his. He was doing his best by force to hold on to that which didn’t belong to him anymore.
Now we have a sequel to that. The world technically belongs to Jesus. He redeemed it, He paid the price. Yet, we do not yet see all things into subjection unto Him. Satan is still hanging on doing his best by force to drive Jesus out. To hang on to that which is no longer rightfully his, to hold by force that which is no longer rightfully his. But the day is coming as is according to the fifth chapter of the book of Revelation when this scroll with the seven seals will be brought forth.
The angel will declare, “Who is worthy to take this scroll, and to loose the seals?” And Jesus will step forth as the Lamb that hath been slain. He’ll take this scroll out of the right hand of God as the church sings his praises, “Worthy is the Lamb to take the scroll, and to loose the seals, for He was slain and has redeemed us by His blood.” This word redemption again. “He’s redeemed us by His blood out of all of the nations, tribes, tongues, and people, and hath made us unto our God, kings, and priests and we shall reign with Him upon the earth.”
Then as you go through the book of Revelation, you see Him beginning to break the seals. In the tenth chapter He comes back upon the earth, sets one foot upon the earth, one upon the sea, holds up the scroll that is now open, the title deed showing His right as they declare, “The kingdoms of this world have now become the kingdoms of our Lord.” He begins His reign, there shall be no longer delay, and He begins His reign over the earth. He takes that which is rightfully His, lays claim to it, and establishes God’s kingdom upon the earth.
So here you have in the history of Israel, actually in the history of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, a little foreshadowing of the future when Jesus comes as King of Kings, and Lord of Lords, to take that which is rightfully His. But the whole transaction as Boaz had the elders of the city there, and they went through this whole thing, so the twenty-four elders gathered in heaven around the throne as this legal transaction takes place. Of course, we will be gathered there too, because we’ve got to sing this song, because only we can sing it. As this whole thing is consummated there in heaven. Oh, I can hardly wait.
You know Satan has had his day. You look at the world today, and you see the results of rebellion against God. “Oh Lord Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven.”
Shall we pray. Father, we thank You for the hope of Thy soon coming kingdom, Thy return for Your church and our being gathered together with Thee around the throne of God. When You take that authority and dominion that is rightfully Yours because You died. Your blood was shed for our redemption. Lord, give us that strength that we need, that guidance that we need, that wisdom that we need in the meantime, as we Lord, seek to represent You and Your kingdom in this foreign territory. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.