Ruth

Ruth 2:18-23 – Family Ties

Ruth 2v18-23

FAMILY TIES

INTRODUCTION.

 

One of the greatest needs a human being has is the need to ‘belong’. Belonging means that one is accepted, loved and appreciated!

One of the many heart cries of our society is loneliness – if you don’t believe me look at the local newspaper of get onto the internet and see the 1000’s of adverts in the “Lonely Hearts” / “Dating” section or go around visiting Homes for the Elderly.

People are lonely for all sorts of reasons but the basic reason is that they do not belong.

 

In OT times, as in the days of Ruth, not to belong to a family meant isolation, insecurity and usually poverty.

 

So Far …      … this is a story about a family that ran into major difficulties. Chapter 1 tells us that a man, Elimelech, and his wife, Naomi left Israel during a famine to make a new life in a foreign land. They had two sons – in Moab the two sons married local women and then one after another Elimelech and this two sons died leaving three widows. They returned to Bethlehem – Naomi and one faithful daughter-in-law, Ruth.

Was the plight of this family because they made bad choices or was it simply that they were the victims of the circumstances of life beyond their control? We can’t know for sure!

Back in Bethlehem we have these two widows – one old and one young – one a native Israelite and one an alien – both poor – both with faith in God in spite of Naomi’s feelings of bitterness she still believed.

 

Being a Christian doesn’t mean that we don’t have feelings of bitterness / anger / sorrow / disappointment ……but it means believing and trusting God in spite of our feelings and adverse circumstances of life.

 

The God of Israel was a family God – He portrays himself to his people as both father and husband. One who cares and provides. These characteristics were to be reflected in the community of Israel who was the people of God. Indeed it is God’s intention that these characteristics be in all communities and families. Sadly we know that that is not always true because as human beings we are basically selfish and we look after No.1!

BUT because God is concerned for the poor, the widows, the orphans and the foreigners he gave instructions to treat the poor with equality and generosity.

 

  1. 1.     Being part of God’s Family means Living by Faith in God.

 

Naomi & Ruth know they can glean in the harvest fields because farmers were ordered by God to leave the edges of the field & the dropped grain for the poor.

To live by faith means to take God at his word and to act upon it – “Faith without works is dead” the bible tells us in James 2v20.

Ruth knew God had said he would care for the poor but she didn’t sit around waiting to breakfast to fall from heaven. She set out to glean in the fields – she did what she could do and trusted God for what she couldn’t do. She was not responsible to make the harvest grow / nor was she responsible if a farmer was too miserly to leave gleaning.

 

Ruth happens to come to a field that is owned by a man named Boaz. He also happens to be a relative of her late father-in-law. The Family tie means that he has a responsibility to Naomi and Ruth. We will see later in the story that there was a closer relative who is not esp. inclined to fulfil his responsibility. Boaz is not just concerned with the letter of the law but he goes beyond duty to generosity.

 

Ruth has trusted God and God has arranged things so that Boaz becomes the means by which God provides for Ruth.

 

Living by faith means that we trust God, we pray, we make decisions  (and sometimes we make mistakes) but it is God who orders events and guides his willing children.

 

  1. 2.     Being part of God’s Family means Living by the Grace of God.

 

When Ruth set out that morning to glean she was looking for someone to show her kindness – grace. Ruth 2:10-13       10 At this, she bowed down with her face to the ground. She exclaimed, “Why have I found such favour in your eyes that you notice me — a foreigner?” ……. 13 “May I continue to find favour in your eyes, my lord,” she said. “You have given me comfort and have spoken kindly to your servant — though I do not have the standing of one of your servant girls.”

 

This story is a wonderful picture of the race of God.

Grace is favour shown to someone you doesn’t deserve it and can’t earn it.

It is easy to be kind to those we like – those from whom we can gain something.

ILLUS.: Employers are kind to employees as long as they serve their purposes. People are kind and loving towards their partners until he/she no longer meets their needs and then they conveniently abandon them.

 

Grace is giving / forgiving / unselfish – if not it is not grace!

The channel of God’s grace to Ruth was through Boaz. It is clear from what we know of Boaz that he knew something of God’s grace in his own life and thus he is willing to act graciously towards Ruth.

 

We looked at some of these things last time. What we did not do was see how they illustrate the relationship between Jesus Christ and the Christian. Often in the OT we have stories that illustrate a deeper spiritual meaning in the NT.

What does this story teach us abot the grace of God.

 

a)     God takes the initiative.

Ruth 2:8      8 So Boaz said to Ruth, “My daughter, listen to me. Don’t go and glean in another field and don’t go away from here. Stay here with my servant girls. (NIV)

Boaz goes to Ruth – he takes the initiative. That is what God does with us. God makes the first move and comes to our aid – not because we deserve it but because he is gracious. The Bible tells us that we are spiritually dead (Eph 2). It tells us that we are sinners with no power to rescue ourselves and that we are naturally God’s enemies. Romans 5:6-10

6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 …… 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. ……. 10 For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! (NIV)

 

Boaz knew about Ruth and her plight and he took steps to rescue her – that is how the story unfolds. He wasn’t obliged to / he wanted to.

God is not obliged to do anything for us but he has taken the initiative.

How?

 

b)    God has spoken / is speaking to us.

Ruth 2:8 So Boaz said to Ruth, “My daughter, listen to me. Don’t go and glean in another field and don’t go away from here. Stay here with my servant girls. (NIV)

 

Boaz spoke to her first. Ruth was a poor foreigner – what right did she have to address a man like Boaz – the owner of the harvest? Yet Boaz interrupts his conversation with his foreman to speak to this poor stranger gleaning in his field.

 

ILLUS.: Imagine if you were standing outside Buckingham Palace on the day of the Opening of Parliament. The Queen’s carriage drives by and stopped and the Queen looks straight at you and calls you by name.

 

Now the Queen has never spoken to me and is not likely to BUT Almighty God has spoken to me in Jesus Christ and through his word the Bible!!

Hebrews 1:1-2    1 In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, …… (NIV)

And God still speaks today – What God says is that he wants us to come to him. The Bible tells us that he wants to give us a full / meaningful life that begins now and goes on forever! Jesus is the “Lord of the Harvest” and he has a place in his field for all of us if we will listen to him speaking to us and do what he says.

What is he saying?

Romans 3:23 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (NIV)

Matthew 11:28-29         28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (NIV)

John 3:16 16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (NIV)

 

c)     God offers protection and provision.

 

Ruth 2:9 9 Watch the field where the men are harvesting, and follow along after the girls. I have told the men not to touch you. And whenever you are thirsty, go and get a drink from the water jars the men have filled.” (NIV)

Ruth 2:14-16        14 At mealtime Boaz said to her, “Come over here. Have some bread and dip it in the wine vinegar.”

When she sat down with the harvesters, he offered her some roasted grain. She ate all she wanted and had some left over. 15 As she got up to glean, Boaz gave orders to his men, “Even if she gathers among the sheaves, don’t embarrass her. 16 Rather, pull out some stalks for her from the bundles and leave them for her to pick up, and don’t rebuke her.” (NIV)

 

Boaz offers her water for her thirst / food for her hunger / rest when she id weary / protection from harm. In fact he ate with her and personally handed her the food.

This is a wonderful picture of the God of grace – The master becomes like a servant so he can show his love to a stranger / foreigner. Ruth took Boaz at his word and was wonderfully provided for.

Jesus Christ came into the world as a servant – he was not to proud to serve. Jesus said of himself…Matthew 20:28 28 .. the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (NIV)

We are undeserving foreigners but he is willing / he desires to share his riches with us!! 2 Corinthians 8:9 9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich. (NIV)

Philippians 4:19 19 And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. (NIV)

 

ILLUS.: according to his riches – if I give a beggar £1 or even £10 that would be according to my riches. IF Bill Gates of MircoSoft – the computer software giant worth billions of $$ gave £10 that would not be according to his riches!!

 

You may be thinking but my life as a Christian is not a bed of roses – it is tough. Yes life can be and often is difficult but in the midst of it we can have peace with God, contentment in spite of circumstances and even material blessing BUT the greatest thing is that the best is yet to come!

 

There is hope for the future beyond this life

 

  1. 3.     Being part of God’s Family means Living with Hope in God.

 

At the end of her day of gleaning Ruth returns to her mother-in-law and recounts the days events.

Naomi’s response is very different from chapter 1 where she describes herself as bitter! Now…Ruth 2:19-20      19 …    Then Ruth told her mother-in-law about the one at whose place she had been working. “The name of the man I worked with today is Boaz,” she said.

20 “The LORD bless him!” Naomi said to her daughter-in-law. “He has not stopped showing his kindness to the living and the dead.” She added, “That man is our close relative; he is one of our kinsman-redeemers.” (NIV)

Having heard who this man is you can hear the hope returning to Naomi.

Here is someone who is family and has the where-with-all to provide for their future needs – but what is more he has already shown his kindness / he has taken a personal interest in Ruth / he has shown a desire to provide for their wellbeing / this gives great hope for the days ahead.

 

Those who believe in Jesus Christ should also rejoice in hope! When we consider who he is and what he has done that gives hope for the future. As we look back and read the OT and see what God promised we see how in Jesus Christ he did what he said he would do.

He said he would send a redeemer who would die in our place to rescue us from sin – to breach the gulf between us and God  – that he would rise from the dead. He did what he said. This same God says that Jesus will return and then all who have believed in Him will live with him, under his protection and provision, in a perfect environment, forever.

 

For the Christian hope is not a shallow ‘hope-so’ feeling generated by optimistic fantasies. Hope is an inner sense of assurance and confidence as we trust God’s promises and face the future with his help.

Now matter how we may feel today, no matter how difficult our circumstances may be, we can have hope if we focus our faith on Jesus Christ. If we focus our hope and security in this world we will always, ultimately be disappointed. Right now you may have good health, good relationships and a stable financial base – that’s great – God is not against that he gave them to you. BUT your health will eventually fail / sooner or later your friends and family will be taken from you or you from them / and you can’t take your money with you when you die!!

ILLUS.: After one of the Rockafellas [sp?] died a reporter asked his lawyer “How much did he leave?” The Lawyer replied “He left everything!”

 

The small amount of grain that Ruth gleaned that day would be gone in a week BUT it represented the ‘Firstfruits’ of all the Boaz would do for her and Naomi in the future.

When a person come to Jesus Christ by faith God gives us a gift – His Holy Spirit – which doesn’t last for a week but forever. BUT it is just a down payment.

Ephesians 1:13-14 13 …. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession — to the praise of his glory.

deposit – engagement ring – promise that the groom will return to claim his bride. {Bible likens Church to bride  / Christ to bridegroom – and talks about a glorious weeding feast in heaven}

There is a glorious future for the Christian beyond this life – hope! We know at an earthly level when people loose hope they stop living BUT if our hope is only in this world then it is very small!

 

However it is not just “pie in the sky when you die” – As with Ruth and Naomi God is concerned about the here and now as well. We are talking about God as Father and being part of his family –

Luke 12:6-7 6 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. 7 … Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. (NIV)

 

Do you have Faith in God? Have you experienced the grace of God? Do you have hope in God for the future?

 

All these things are available to everyone – Because God is a loving Father who desires to bring us into his family.

 

 

FAMILY TIES

 

Ruth 2

 

1.       Being part of God’s Family means Living by Faith in God.

 

2.       Being part of God’s Family means Living by the Grace of God.

 

  • God takes the initiative.
  • God has spoken / is speaking to us.
  • God offers protection and provision.

 

3.       Being part of God’s Family means Living with Hope in God.

 

 

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