Ruth – Lesson 3

Posted on: April 25, 2016 Written by
Ruth – Lesson 3
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WEEKLY WORD

 

RUTH – LESSON THREE

CHAPTER 2

 

INTRODUCTION 

God always plans ahead.  The time is right to select a couple who will be the founders of the messianic family – the royal line that will lead to King David and ultimately to King Jesus.  God needs a faithful, virtuous woman and a faithful, law-keeping Israelite from the tribe of Judah.

Most of the people from the nation of Israel were forsaking the Lord and following after the gods of the Canaanites and Moabites (Judges 2:12-15).  However, Ruth was forsaking the Moabite gods to follow the Lord.  It is fitting for a faithful Gentile to enter the picture because God always desired the worship of all humanity. The blood line of the Messiah will be all-inclusive. Of course, there are a few problems to be worked out.   Ruth has no husband.  But God never met a problem He couldn’t solve!

God is amazingly thorough in His preparation for bringing all things to His good end.  He presents types (Old Testament people or events that foreshadow greater realities to come), prophecies, and pictures to help us better understand the coming reality.  He puts people in place that will play particular roles.  Since He is outside of time and can see the beginning and the end, He knows the perfect time to orchestrate key events.  Ruth is about to experience a major event that will secure her future.  But more than that, it will put her in the lineage of the Savior.  This amazing story helps us to understand that we can surely trust God to guide us.

Ephesians 3:20-21“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever!  Amen.”

 

 

DAY ONE:  RUTH WORKED FOR HER BREAD.

READ:  Ruth 2:1-7

A. RUTH GLEANED IN THE FAMILY FIELD.

What do we know about Ruth?  We have admired her loyalty to Naomi and to Naomi’s God, but we know very little else about her character.  We learn about a person’s character by observing her choices and her behavior over a period of time

Naomi and Ruth discovered that one of Elimelech’s relatives was a wealthy farmer in the area of Bethlehem.  Ruth asked permission to glean in the grain fields of the extended family.  Families in Israel were inclined to look after each other.  God had even made special provision in the Law of Moses for widows, orphans and the poor:

  • LAW OF GLEANING (Leviticus 19:9, 23:22; Deuteronomy 24:19) whereby leftovers from the harvests were available to be picked up by the poor.
  • LEVIRATE LAW (Deuteronomy 25:5-10) whereby a childless widow was to marry the dead husband’s brother to produce a son to inherit the property and carry on the name of her first husband.
  • KINSMAN REDEEMER LAW (Leviticus 25:25-28) whereby a widow could appeal to the nearest kinsman to redeem her property rights in order to keep the land rights in the family. The kinsman had to be willing and able to do so.  If there was no heir, the land would become part of the kinsman’s property that would go to his heirs.  He would also be responsible for providing care for the widow as long as she lived.

 

There are complications to Naomi and Ruth’s situation.  The harvest season will come to an end, so the gleaning is a temporary solution.  There is no brother who was compelled to marry Naomi.  Besides, Naomi is beyond child bearing age so she cannot marry a kinsman and produce a son to redeem her property rights and carry on the family name.  There may not be a kinsman who is willing and able to buy back her land rights and take care of her.

Ruth is a Moabite, so she may not be able to find a Jewish man to marry her and provide security for her future, especially since she brings her mother-in-law with her.

It will take a creative miracle to produce a happy ending for both women.  Ruth did what she needed to do for the moment.  She went to the family fields and worked hard for her daily bread.

 

B. RUTH WAS NOTICED BY BOAZ.

Ruth had positioned herself in the family fields.  It was possible that she would eventually meet the kinsman that Naomi had mentioned.  As it turned out, she came near Boaz’s field at the exact time Boaz came from Bethlehem to oversee his workers.  (Is this an accident or the providence of God?)

The first thing she would have noticed about Boaz is that he greeted his workers with a blessing from God, and they answered with a similar blessing.  He seemed to be a man of faith.  So far, so good – his words sounded good.  But would he extend grace to a Moabitess?  Would his actions match his words?  When he inquired about her, he learned about her nationality, and he learned that she was a very good worker.  She had already earned the respect of Boaz’s foreman.

What do we know about Boaz?  Boaz was much older than Ruth.  Jewish tradition says he was about 80 years old.  At least he must have been about Naomi’s age.  He called Ruth “daughter” (Ruth 2:8).  He was wealthy, and he was related to Elimelech in some way.  We also learn that his mother was Rahab, the Canaanite prostitute (Matthew 1:5).  Perhaps his own mixed heritage would make him more gracious to this Moabite worker.

 

C. QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER STUDY OR DISCUSSION

  1. Look up the word providence in a dictionary. Record the meaning.

 

  1. Look up the word “redeemer” in a dictionary. Record the meaning.

 

  1. Do you see God’s providence in Ruth’s meeting with Boaz, or was it an orchestrated plot by Naomi that would eventually happen anyway?

 

  1. How is the law of gleaning a better way to provide for the poor than outright charity?

 

  1. What were the dangers involved in gleaning? (Ruth 2:8-9)

 

 

D. APPLICATION

  1. What kind of work ethic did you learn in your growing up years?

 

  1. What are you teaching your children about hard work and survival skills?

 

 

 

DAY TWO:  BOAZ EXTENDED GRACE TO RUTH.

READ:  Ruth 2:8-13

A. BOAZ PROVIDED FOR RUTH.

Boaz recognized how vulnerable this young girl would be as she struggled to survive and provide for his relative Naomi.  He addressed her as a “daughter” indicating the difference in age among them and also reflecting a connection with his family.

First he did what he could to insure her safety.  He invited her to stay in his field with his maidens throughout the harvest season.  He also instructed the young men to treat her with respect.

Then he invited her to drink from the water provided in the fields for his workers.  She did not have to weary herself by traveling to the wells to draw water for herself.  Ruth was overwhelmed with Boaz’s gracious provision.  She showed her gratitude and humility by bowing before him and acknowledging his extraordinary grace.  She asked why he would do this for a foreigner.

 

B. BOAZ ADMIRED RUTH’S QUALITIES.

Boaz has already learned of Ruth’s great loyalty to Naomi as well as her hard work to provide food.  Leaving her native country was considered a real sacrifice.  Boaz prayed that God would reward her for her personal sacrifices.  He reminded her that the God of Israel protects those who come to Him for safety.  She has placed herself “under His wings.”  God’s care is a much safer place to be than what Boaz can humanly provide.  Ruth again expressed her gratitude for his words and his encouragement.

The phrase “under His wings” refers to the cherubim wings on the mercy seat in the tabernacle.  Under these wings was the Ark of the Covenant, which contained the Law of Moses, a sample of the miraculous manna provided by God for 40 years in the wilderness, and Aaron’s rod that was used to produce miracles in Egypt. When the people were faithfully living by the Law, they were said to be under God’s wings.  This was a place of security and fellowship with God.  It was a reminder that God miraculously provides for His children.

Encouraging words with personal prayer for someone in need is a great kindness and should be the norm for people of faith.  We can provide physical help when we can, but our words of divine encouragement and prayer for God’s help and protection add another dimension of grace.

 

C. QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER STUDY OR DISCUSSION

  1. What is the definition of grace?

 

  1. How does Jesus model this for us? (Romans 5:8)

 

  1. What does Paul say about our role as comforters? (2 Corinthians 1:4)

 

  1. What promise is given in Psalm 36:7-8; 91:1-4?

 

  1. What promise is given in John 15:5 to believers today?

 

 

D. APPLICATION

  1. When have you provided a combination of physical help and divine help for a person who is in need?

 

  1. Who needs your comfort or encouragement today?

 

 

DAY THREE:  BOAZ TOOK A PERSONAL INTEREST IN RUTH.

READ:  Ruth 2:14-16

A. BOAZ INVITED RUTH TO LUNCH.

Boaz’s kindness did not stop as the day moved along.  When it was time for lunch, he invited Ruth to sit in a place of honor with his workers and share in the good food and wine that was provided.  She was not left to fend for herself as gleaners usually were.  This show of hospitality is another aspect of grace that people of true faith can provide for the needy.

Roasted grain was a staple food in that day.  It was barley roasted on an iron plate over an open fire.  The wine vinegar was a nice addition to enhance the meal.  Boaz provided more than enough for Ruth.  Perhaps he was aware that she would be able to provide leftovers for her mother-in-law.  Ruth is able to add generosity to Boaz’s qualities.

 

B. BOAZ SENT A PERSONAL GIFT.

Boaz’s heart goes out to this hard-working girl.  When she went back to work he sent an unexpected gift to her – not candy or flowers, but a much appreciated bonus!  Normally the gleaners took what had been dropped or not gathered into sheaves.  But Boaz instructed the men to pull out some stalks from the sheaves to leave for her.  She had the right to take all that was left behind “accidentally.”  They were told not to rebuke her for this special favor he was extending.  He was providing for his family member (Naomi) as well as Ruth.  So his efforts were not unfair to other workers.

Boaz was aware of the need to protect Ruth from any jealousy that might cause resentment.  We see his sensitivity to human tendencies toward discord in the workplace.  We also see his thoughtfulness in allowing Ruth to keep her dignity.  Working with people is always challenging.  It takes time to consider what is fair and what enables people to maintain dignity and work well together.  Jealousy and competition in the work place often lead to damaging behavior.

 

C. QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER STUDY OR DISCUSSION

  1. What attributes do you see in Boaz?

 

  1. Do you think he was fair in giving Ruth special treatment?

 

  1. Do you think the other maidens who were gleaning noticed the “bonus” Ruth received? How would this special treatment play out in a workplace today?

 

 

D. APPLICATION

  1. When have you seen a boss give unearned favors to one person?

 

  1. How do you try to treat all people fairly and still meet special needs?

 

 

DAY FOUR:  RUTH PROVIDED FOR NAOMI.

READ:  Ruth 2:17-19

A. RUTH GATHERED AN EPHAH OF BARLEY.

Ruth worked hard all day.  I was reminded of the harvest time on the farm where I grew up.  Workers would gather the cotton from the stalks all day long.  Each time the sacks were full, they would be weighed and recorded.  Some workers produced much more than others, so hard work was rewarded at the end of the day.  It was tiring and tedious work.

At the end of the day Ruth threshed the barley she had gathered by beating out the grain from the stalks.  She had an ephah of grain (c. four gallons).  This was an unusually large amount for one day of gleaning – enough food for several days.  Ruth was pleased to be able to present this bountiful provision to Naomi as well as a “doggie bag” from her lunch leftovers!

 

B. RUTH IDENTIFIED HER BENEFACTOR.

Naomi enquired about the wonderful farmer who had helped Ruth and fed her so well.  She pronounced a blessing on this unknown man.  Imagine her delight when Ruth gave his name as Boaz!  She saw a possibility of a kinsman redeemer union between Ruth and Boaz.  If Ruth could marry Boaz and produce a son, this would insure that their line could live on.  Boaz could also act as a redeemer of property if he so chose.  At this point he seemed to be a kind man who was wealthy enough to buy the rights to her family property.  He also seemed to be interested in Ruth.

Could it be that Naomi’s wretched life was about to be blessed once again?

 

C. QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER STUDY OR DISCUSSION

  1. What does the Bible teach us about hospitality in the following verses?

 

  • Luke 14:12-14
  • Romans 12:13
  • Titus 1:7-8
  • Hebrews 13:2
  • 1 Peter 4:9

 

  1. How does Jesus emphasize the importance of hospitality in Matthew 25:34-46?

 

 

D. APPLICATION

  1. How do you consider yourself a hospitable person?

 

  1. Consider how you can begin to practice this trait in some small or large way this week.

 

 

 

DAY FIVE:  NAOMI RECOGNIZED GOD’S BLESSING.

READ:  Ruth 2:20-23

A. RUTH REVEALED BOAZ’S PROVISION.

Ruth’s revelation of Boaz’s kindness was like a light bulb going on in Naomi’s brain – God was at work!  Boaz is Naomi’s relative, a close relative.  She pronounced a second blessing by the Lord.  The Lord had not forsaken the living (Naomi and Ruth) or the dead (her husband, Elimelech and Ruth’s husband, Mahlon) by providing for their widows.  God is working through Boaz.  Who knows what will happen to secure their future.  Boaz is one of their nearest kin.  There were several interesting possibilities.

 

B. RUTH WORKED THROUGHOUT THE HARVEST.

Boaz not only showed kindness for one day.  Ruth now shared with Naomi that Boaz invited her to glean with his maidens throughout the harvest season.  Naomi advised her to accept the invitation because of the danger that might lurk in other fields.  She continued to glean in Boaz’s field, but the harvest season would soon come to an end.  The widows needed a more permanent plan.

Often waiting on God can be a time of anxiety for mortals.  We always want our prayers answered immediately if not sooner!  We don’t know what kind of home Naomi and Ruth shared, but the prospect of becoming homeless could be daunting in any culture.  Naomi had acknowledged that God was at work, but time was running out.

Often we don’t know if our actions might be “running ahead of God.”  It is possible to make a mess when that happens.

 

C. QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER STUDY OR DISCUSSION

  1. What Bible character ran ahead of God and created a centuries-old conflict? (Genesis 16:1-15)

 

  1. We are told that God’s ways are not our ways. What does the Bible say about answered prayer?  (Ephesians 3:20-21)

 

  1. What do you think it means to take refuge “under His wings?”

 

  1. How would doing this affect your attitudes and actions in any crisis situation?

 

 

D. APPLICATION

  1. When have you had to wait on God for a difficult situation?

 

  1. What is promised in Isaiah 40:31?

 

 

CONCLUSION

The winds have changed.  This tragedy is beginning to feel like a love story.  Boaz was definitely interested in the welfare of this humble, hard-working, grateful stranger.  Boaz showed himself to be kind, gracious, generous, hospitable, and thoughtful.  Naomi recognized that God was moving.  Ruth was “under His wings.”  But what will that look like after the harvest season is over?  Stay tuned!!

 

PRINCIPLE FOR THE WEEK

Those who wait on God will find a righteous path.

 

CHALLENGE

Pray each day this week that God will help you become patient and trusting.

 

 

©2016 Thrive.



About the author

LaWanda Neel is a lifelong Bible student. She has served as a Teaching Leader for Bible Study Fellowship and has conducted studies for neighborhood and church groups. She is now retired and lives with her husband in Lakewood, Colorado. She spends time reading, studying, teaching, writing, traveling all around the world and entertaining her five grandchildren. This is her third Weekly Word series for Thrive Ministries. Contact her for questions or comments at lawandaneel@msn.com.

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