Bible Study on the Book of Ruth, Part 2

In Part 1 of this study, we were introduced to Naomi and Ruth, the main characters of this story.  Ruth was Naomi’s daughter-in-law from Moab, a country which sometimes had a turbulent relationship with Israel.  While Ruth is the main character, we will come to the character of Boaz soon enough.  Boaz in the story is the kinsman-redeemer, and thus is actually a type of Jesus Christ, Who redeemed all mankind.  That makes Ruth a type for the Church, the Bride of Christ!

Think about that, though.  Jesus was a Jew.  Boaz was a Jew.  However, Ruth was a gentile.  In fact, Moab was not exactly high on Israel’s friends list.  This means that Ruth is symbolic of not OT Israel but of the NT Church, when the gentiles began to be called in to be part of God’s plan of salvation!

Therefore, even before King David came on the scene, we see God working through His dealings with people to make His plan come to pass!  We see God working and setting up the patterns of His workings via types and archetypes to signify His loving care for all of humanity.

What are we told to do to become a Christian?  It is important to understand that in reality, there weren’t many requirements to be an Israelite.  You had to be born of an Israelite, circumcised and eat the Passover.  However, you don’t have to be born physically into a Christian family to be a Christian.  In fact, you cannot be physically born a Christian!  It requires a conversion.

38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

~ Ac 2:38

Rather than circumcision being the mark of a Christian, one must publicly profess Christ and be baptized into His name.  By “public”, I mean confess to another person.  Obviously, persecution can greatly limit to whom, how and when to confess these things.  Prior to this, one must repent, which is to not only be sorrowful for one’s sins but be willing to turn away from them completely.

This process is called “conversion”.  You literally become like a new person.  Later, we see Saul being converted when the Spirit of God comes upon him.

6 And the Spirit of the Lord will come upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy with them, and shalt be turned into another man.

~ 1Sa 10:6

Paul wrote that a Christian is a new creation.

17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

~ 2Co 5:17

Therefore, was Ruth converted to the religion of YHWH?  I see absolutely zero evidence that she was not!  In fact, one of the most moving speeches in the Bible is out of the Book of Ruth.  Naomi tells her and Orpah to return to her father’s house, to her people and even to her gods.  Orpah listens and returns.  She is the uncalled one.  She is the one who did not recognize the pearl of great prices.  But Ruth?

14 And they lifted up their voice, and wept again: and Orpah kissed her mother in law; but Ruth clave unto her.

15 And she said, Behold, thy sister in law is gone back unto her people, and unto her gods: return thou after thy sister in law.

16 And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God:

17 Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.

18 When she saw that she was stedfastly minded to go with her, then she left speaking unto her.

~ Ru 1:14-18

If this is not repentance and total commitment, I guess someone will have to explain to me what repentance and commitment are.

In fact, she holds to that commitment, as Boaz later on remarks about it.

12 The Lord recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust.

~ Ru 2:12

At any rate, Naomi and Ruth return, and Naomi tells everyone she went out full and came back empty.  She complains of her bitterness, and she tells everyone to call her “Mara”.  They return to Bethlehem at the start of the barley harvest.

2 And Ruth the Moabitess said unto Naomi, Let me now go to the field, and glean ears of corn after him in whose sight I shall find grace. And she said unto her, Go, my daughter.

~ Ru 2:2

The farmers were not supposed to glean the corners of the field, neither were they to go back over their fields the second time because some was expected to be left for the poor.

9 And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not wholly reap the corners of thy field, neither shalt thou gather the gleanings of thy harvest.

10 And thou shalt not glean thy vineyard, neither shalt thou gather every grape of thy vineyard; thou shalt leave them for the poor and stranger: I am the LORD your God.

~ Lev 19:9-10

The above is only one of several passages that state this.

So, Ruth goes out to the fields to glean for herself and her mother-in-law.  Notice it is repeated she is a “Moabitess”.  It cannot be overemphasized just how big of a deal this was, as it was the king of Moab who hired Balaam to curse Israel.  Would she find a sympathetic land owner?  Would she find a relative?  Even if she found a relative, would she be accepted or run off?  There were no guarantees, and everything was in God’s hands to lead her to the right location.

How about I challenge your thinking a little?  We know from later on in the story that there was another close relative.  However, he obviously had no interest in helping out with being the kinsman-redeemer.  What if Ruth had landed in his field instead?  I get the impression that things would have not started out so well for her and Naomi.

So, in chapter 2, we are introduced to Boaz.

2 And Naomi had a kinsman of her husband’s, a mighty man of wealth, of the family of Elimelech; and his name was Boaz.

~ Ru 2:1

We are told he was wealthy, and he was a relative of Elimelech.  Elimelech took his family to Moab because of famine, so Boaz was almost surely not a young man.  Not only does it take time to accumulate wealth, but to overcome a famine means it took even longer.  We also see him calling his workers “young men”.  Later, Boaz speaks to Ruth as though there was a significant age difference.

Also, “Ruth”, as I pointed out in Part 1, can mean “vision of beauty”, although “companion” and “friend” are more likely.  Still, the story gives every indication she was outwardly and inwardly a beautiful woman.  The story gives every indication she was also still fairly young.  She probably could have went back home as Orpah did and had her pick of suitors.  Even with her being a Moabitess, it is likely she could have attracted some young man to help out on the family farm.

Yet, a Moabitess she is still, and a hard-working and smart one at that, it would appear.  She is impressed with Boaz’s generosity.

10 Then she fell on her face, and bowed herself to the ground, and said unto him, Why have I found grace in thine eyes, that thou shouldest take knowledge of me, seeing I am a stranger?

~ Ru 2:10

She has no illusions that she would be readily accepted necessarily.  However, Boaz understands that she sacrificed a lot in order to care for her mother-in-law.

11 And Boaz answered and said unto her, It hath fully been shewed me, all that thou hast done unto thy mother in law since the death of thine husband: and how thou hast left thy father and thy mother, and the land of thy nativity, and art come unto a people which thou knewest not heretofore.

12 The Lord recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust.

~ vv 11-12

Notice the “under whose wings” phrase.  This becomes important later on!

Notice this from Roger’s Reflections article “Under whose wings thou art come to trust”:

Ruth was amazed when Boas ordered his workers to leave extra grain in the field for her to glean. Boaz, who was much older than Ruth initially saw her as a daughter like figure and took pity her on her. Ruth’s spirit and her compassion for Naomi was well know for even Boaz knew about it. He wanted to reward her for what she had done in leaving her homeland to care for her mother in law. God was truly sovereign in this entire matter and He was in control.

Boaz was a man of God. He could have taken all the credit for what he had done for Ruth. Instead he passed the credit on to God. He did not say, “I will reward you for what you have done, but “The Lord will repay you for what you have done and HE will reward you fully.” Earlier in chapter one Ruth had put herself under God’s protection, and here Boaz refers to her faith as putting herself under God’s wings.

This is a wonderful picture of God’s protection. As a mother hen gathers her chicks under her wings to shelter us from the storm, God gathers His children under His wings. Ruth found refuge there and God used Boaz to help provide that protection, Boaz saw himself the way we all should, merely as God’s tools for His work.

Jesus, the ultimate Kinsman-Redeemer, also used the imagery of the protective wings of a hen:

37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!

~ Mt 23:37

On top of Boaz praising her, he commands his young men to “not touch thee” (v 9).  This is made clearer by his commands to intentionally drop a few stalks here and there and to even allow her to glean with the regular workers.  Before this, he tells Ruth to stay in his fields and not go somewhere else.  We need to remember that as a Moabitess, Ruth was taking her safety in her hands simply by leaving the house.  Boaz is going to extremes to look out for her safety.

Does Christ take an interest in His Church?  Does He pour out blessings upon His people?  Does He wish us under His protective wings?

Contrast Ruth’s reaction to Boaz’s generosity to ancient Israel’s reaction to God’s generosity when they came out of Egypt.  Both Israel and Ruth were travelling hard roads, yet Ruth remained gracious and appreciative while Israel continually murmured.  Ruth’s attitude led to even more blessings, but Israel’s attitude led to 40 years of wandering the wilderness.

Obviously, Ruth has a productive day, and she brings much wheat home with her.  Naomi asks where she gleaned, and Ruth tells her in Boaz’s fields.  This thrills Naomi, who informs Ruth that he is a near kinsman.  Literally, she calls him a “guardian redeemer” (S. note on Ru 2:20, NIV).  This sets up the next scene.  Meanwhile, Naomi concurs that Ruth should stick in Boaz’s fields under His watchful care.

When we are going about our business, we need to ensure we are working within our Lord’s territory.  Satan’s territories tend to be out in the wilderness, so God’s are a well-kept field.

31 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field:

32 Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.

~ Mt 13:31-32

Even the Parable of the Wheat and Tares makes it clear that it is God Who owns the field, which is the world in that particular instance.  It is Satan who attempts to disrupt and destroy God’s work in the field.

However, the Parable of the Sower shows that there are also walking paths, stony ground and weed infested areas as well as fields with good soil.  We need to make sure we are within the latter spiritual location.

Are we developing the humble attitude of an undeserving outsider trying to please our Kinsman-Redeemer?

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