Reading: Ruth 2:1-23 NET
 Now Naomi had a relative on her husband’s side of the family named Boaz. He was a wealthy, prominent man from the clan of Elimelech.  One day Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go to the fields so I can gather grain behind whoever permits me to do so.” Naomi replied, “You may go, my daughter.”  So Ruth went and gathered grain in the fields behind the harvesters. Now she just happened to end up in the portion of the field belonging to Boaz, who was from the clan of Elimelech.  Now at that very moment, Boaz arrived from Bethlehem and greeted the harvesters, “May the LORD be with you!” They replied, “May the LORD bless you!”  Boaz asked his servant in charge of the harvesters, “To whom does this young woman belong?”  The servant in charge of the harvesters replied, “She’s the young Moabite woman who came back with Naomi from the region of Moab.  She asked, ‘May I follow the harvesters and gather grain among the bundles?’ Since she arrived she has been working hard from this morning until now—except for sitting in the resting hut a short time.”  So Boaz said to Ruth, “Listen carefully, my dear! Do not leave to gather grain in another field. You need not go beyond the limits of this field. You may go along beside my female workers.  Take note of the field where the men are harvesting and follow behind with the female workers. I will tell the men to leave you alone. When you are thirsty, you may go to the water jars and drink some of the water the servants draw.”  Ruth knelt before him with her forehead to the ground and said to him, “Why are you so kind and so attentive to me, even though I am a foreigner?”  Boaz replied to her, “I have been given a full report of all that you have done for your mother-in-law following the death of your husband—how you left your father and your mother, as well as your homeland, and came to live among people you did not know previously.  May the LORD reward your efforts! May your acts of kindness be repaid fully by the LORD God of Israel, from whom you have sought protection!”  She said, “You really are being kind to me, sir, for you have reassured and encouraged me, your servant, even though I am not one of your servants!”  Later during the mealtime Boaz said to her, “Come here and have some food! Dip your bread in the vinegar!” So she sat down beside the harvesters. Then he handed her some roasted grain. She ate until she was full and saved the rest.  When she got up to gather grain, Boaz told his male servants, “Let her gather grain even among the bundles! Don’t chase her off!  Make sure you pull out ears of grain for her and drop them so she can gather them up. Don’t tell her not to!”  So she gathered grain in the field until evening. When she threshed what she had gathered, it came to about thirty pounds of barley!  She carried it back to town, and her mother-in-law saw how much grain she had gathered. Then Ruth gave her the roasted grain she had saved from mealtime.  Her mother-in-law asked her, “Where did you gather grain today? Where did you work? May the one who took notice of you be rewarded!” So Ruth told her mother-in-law with whom she had worked. She said, “The name of the man with whom I worked today is Boaz.”  Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “May he be rewarded by the LORD because he has shown loyalty to the living on behalf of the dead!” Then Naomi said to her, “This man is a close relative of ours; he is our guardian.”  Ruth the Moabite replied, “He even told me, ‘You may go along beside my servants until they have finished gathering all my harvest!’”  Naomi then said to her daughter-in-law Ruth, “It is good, my daughter, that you should go out to work with his female servants. That way you will not be harmed, which could happen in another field.”  So Ruth worked beside Boaz’s female servants, gathering grain until the end of the barley harvest as well as the wheat harvest. After that she stayed home with her mother-in-law.
When the wheat and barley were ready to be harvested, harvesters were hired to cut down the stalks and tie them into bundles. God’s law necessitated that the corners of the fields not be harvested. In addition, any grain that was dropped was to be left for widows, orphans, foreigners, and the poor, who would gather (glean) it and use it for food as per Deuteronomy 24:19. The purpose of this law was to feed the poor and to prevent the landowners from hoarding. This law taught the people of Israel how to care for the marginalized in their midst, as God had cared for all of them when they were slaves in Egypt. Because Ruth was a widow and a foreigner with no means of providing for herself, she went into the fields to glean the grain.
Ruth made her home in a foreign land. Instead of depending on Naomi or waiting for good fortune to happen, she took initiative. She went to work. She was not afraid of admitting what she needed or working hard to get it. When Ruth went out to the fields, God provided for her. If you are waiting for God to provide, consider this: He may be waiting for you to humbly take the first step, trusting him to lead from there. How can you take action in your circumstances with a faith-filled and trusting heart?
Ruth’s task, though menial, tiring, and perhaps degrading, was done faithfully. What is your attitude when the task you have been given feels below your station? The task at hand may be all you can do, or it may be the work God wants you to do. Or, as in Ruth’s case, it may be a test of your character that will open new doors of opportunity.
Ruth took the initiative to provide for herself and Naomi, even though the situation could have been dangerous. There are times when tough work with little rest is our only option. Boaz noticed Ruth’s tenacity. In fact, he was so impressed with Ruth that he let her follow directly behind his harvesters in order to pick up the choicest grain that they dropped. Ruth probably chose this field to gather grain randomly, but God knew exactly which field would lead her to cross paths with Boaz. And Ruth had to do her part as well. Had she considered herself too proud or embarrassed to work in the fields, accepting the charity of someone else, she would have missed the opportunity to meet Boaz, which would change her life and give her the honour of becoming the ancestor of a king and the Messiah.
Ruth’s life exhibited admirable qualities: She was hardworking, loving, kind, faithful, and brave. These qualities gained for her a good reputation because she displayed them consistently in all areas of her life. Her past actions were a report card by which others judged her. Wherever Ruth went or whatever she did, her character remained the same.
Ruth’s reputation was one of her most valuable assets. Our reputations are formed by our actions — and particularly by how we treat other people. Those who watch you at work, in public, at home, and at church will notice the nature of your true character. Good character comes by consistently living out the truth God reveals in his Word — no matter who we are with or where we are. As your character goes, so goes your reputation for being a person of trust, of truth, and of commitment to honour God in all you do.
The people in the book of Ruth are classic examples of the godly in action. Boaz went far beyond the intent of the gleaners’ law in demonstrating his kindness and generosity. He not only let Ruth glean in his field but also told his workers to purposely let some of the grain fall in her path. Out of his abundance, he provided for Ruth and Naomi’s need. How often do you go beyond the accepted patterns of providing for those who are in need? We should all follow Boaz’s example and do more than the minimum for others who are needy.
Naomi had felt bitter about her predicament in Ruth 1:20-21, but her faith in God was still alive, and she praised God for Boaz’s kindness to Ruth. In her sorrow, she still trusted God and acknowledged his goodness. We may feel bitter about a situation, but we must never despair. Choose to be hopeful. Each day is a new opportunity to experience God’s gracious provision.
Though Ruth may not have always recognized God’s guidance, he had been with her every step of the way. She went to glean and “just happened” to end up in the field owned by Boaz, who “just happened” to be a close relative. This was more than mere coincidence. As you go about your daily tasks, God is working in your life in ways you may not even notice. We must not close the door of hope to what God is presently doing in our lives that we may not be noticing. Events do not occur by luck or coincidence. We should have faith that God is directing our lives for his purposes.
Boaz brought the Lord into his daily life. His greeting to his employees took the form of prayer. Such personal prayer habits will be a witness to other people. Boaz expressed his desire for the God of Israel to richly bless Ruth the Moabitess. God does bless those who take refuge under his wings. His salvation goes beyond all national and political boundaries. Ruth is included in the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1:5 “Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse”.
Ruth had chosen God. Boaz invoked his blessing on her. Intercession is not limited to desperate situations. It includes seeking God’s blessing on his faithful people. Communities must provide for the weak and unfortunate members of their society. The weak and poor also have a responsibility to share with their aging parents and others.
The loving protection of the helpless, deeply ingrained in the Old Testament, is attractively portrayed in the care Boaz extended to Naomi and Ruth. The law provided that responsibility for property and offspring of deceased relatives were to be assumed by next of kin so that no family member was left dispossessed or without name and kinship family. In such laws God has clearly revealed his compassionate nature.
Naomi praised the kindness and the grace of God. This joyous recognition of God’s goodness to his people in their distress stands in stark contrast to the darker sentiments voiced in Ruth 1:13,20-21. God will bless his people in the midst of their needs. He is slow to bring suffering upon his people, even if they deserve it. The suffering he does cause his people is for the purpose of helping his people grow. The righteousness of God would not let him bring evil and suffering upon his people without just cause. The righteousness of God prompts him to aid and bless his people when they are in distress. That is the nature of God as a God of grace. God’s Grace is sufficient for us all. Praise the Lord!
We share The Grace
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit
be with us all, evermore. Amen.
God Bless you all.