"This Man is Our Relative"
So she gleaned in the field until evening. Then she beat out what she had gleaned, and it was about an ephah of barley.
She took it up and went into the city, and her mother-in-law saw what she had gleaned. She also took it out and gave Naomi what she had left after she was satisfied.
Her mother-in-law then said to her, "Where did you glean today and where did you work? May he who took notice of you be blessed." So she told her mother-in-law with whom she had worked and said, "The name of the man with whom I worked today is Boaz."
Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, "May he be blessed of the LORD who has not withdrawn his kindness to the living and to the dead." Again Naomi said to her, "The man is our relative, he is one of our closest relatives."
Then Ruth the Moabitess said, "Furthermore, he said to me, ĎYou should stay close to my servants until they have finished all my harvest.í"
Naomi said to Ruth her daughter-in-law, ""It is good, my daughter, that you go out with his maids, so that others do not fall upon you in another field."
So she stayed close by the maids of Boaz in order to glean until the end of the barley harvest and the wheat harvest. And she lived with her mother-in-law. (Ruth 2:17-23).
Ruth would have been tired when she returned. I think she would have been very, very tired. It says that she got up early in the morning. I think the indication is that she arrived in the field before any of the reapers had arrived. She had perhaps walked from within the City into the neighboring farm fields and there she had taken her place among the reapers. She had spent all day bending down and picking up, bending down and picking up - we can only imagine what that did to her back.
And when at the end of the day she had completed her reaping, she still was not finished with the work. She would have to take the stalks of barley and beat them on the ground to separate the kernel from the husk and then sweep up all the grain. She then would have to sift the grain so all the debris would be separated. Finally she would gather all the sifted grain and put it into a sack. That sack weighed about 25 pounds (an ephah) and she probably then put that sack over her shoulder and walked the long walk back into the City.
You know how it is when youíre tired, but you also have a paycheck in your hand. You know how it is to bring home the bacon (or the barley). She comes back home and gets a second wind as she approaches. She knows she has groceries to last for a good long time. She is greeted by her mother-in-law, who perhaps was also very tired at the end of the day, and says, "Mother, weíre not going to be hungry after all. Look."
She opened up the sack and there is not just a meager handful of grain picked up from the corner of a field, but a big 25 lb. sack of barley which can be ground and made into bread.
Not only does Ruth have a huge sack of grain, she also has a doggy bag. Remember the story of the doggie bag from last week? She had eaten with Boaz and it says that, "Boaz extended to her roasted grain and she had eaten until she was satisfied and then she had some left over."
Picking up on the same language it says, "She opened up her sack where she also had that which was left over after she had been satisfied." Picture this scene for a second before we move on. Itís sort of like when a mom or dad come home from the grocery store, a little tired, but the children hear the car pull up in the driveway and they all run to see what theyíve got in the sack. "Did you get this?" "Did you get those cookie?" "Do you have that kind of fruit?" "What are we having for dinner?" And they rifle through all of the great goodies as they are stocked on the shelf.
The same kind of giddiness and anticipation must have been there at this occasion when Ruth came home. Ruth and Naomi have come to love each other.
Itís kind of a hokey thing, but my mom has two daughters-in-law, and she will never refer to them as daughters-in-law. She only calls them "daughters-in-love." She calls Missy, "her daughter," and she calls my sister-in-law "her daughter." In the same way Naomi refers now to Ruth as "my daughter." They love each other - thereís a great dear fondness between these two women.
So they sit down and go through the sack and the good stuff to eat from the doggy bag. These groceries will take them days or weeks into the future. Thereís news of great success. They share, like two schoolgirls, all the events of the day. Naomi is inquisitive about the success that Ruth has had, so she asks, "Where did you get a job today? Who employed you? Where did you find such a generous landowner who gave so much - left so much grain in his field so that poor people like us could come and benefit from his generosity. Where did you go?"
Before she can even answer, Naomi blesses the landowner. She says, "Whoever he is I just want to bless him." I think there is evidence here that Naomi is beginning to warm towards the Lord. She wants to call down blessings from heaven to this landowner who was so generous with his field. And she asks, "Who is he?"
Ruth is able to say, "Well, matter of fact I got his name. The landownerís name is Boaz."
Sometimes you ask a person a question, then you want to make a comment. Before they can answer you, you are only thinking about the comment, so, regardless of what their response is, that comment comes out quickly. I think thatís exactly what happened in verse 20.
She asks Ruth the identity of the landowner and then she responds, "And Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, ĎWell, whoever he is, may he be blessed of the Lord who has not withdrawn his kindness to the living and to the dead."
Suddenly, joy has flooded into this house. There was only bitterness of soul in Naomi in the last episode. All of a sudden, this bitterness seems to be replaced by joy flooding into their home. The bitterness of Naomi toward the Lord is now being replaced with a kind of sweetness so that when she receives provision from the Lord, she immediately thinks that it did, indeed, come from the Lord.
The good news of promise and provision which Ruth brings home, reminds her that God has not forgotten about her, nor has He forgotten about her dead husband nor her dead sons. Naomi finds an opportunity here to give testimony to the new believer.
"Ruth, this is all about God. This blessing has come to us from God." I just encourage you parents and those who deal with the new believers in our midst to take every opportunity to point them to the fact that these blessings donít just fall on us by chance but they come from the hand of God. So we say to our children, "Sweetie, you know you were sick last week. Remember, you had a fever for several days and now youíre better. That just didnít happen by chance. It didnít really happen by the doctors, though God may have used them, but the healing that has restored you to health has come from God. This God is the God who forgives all our sin and heals all our diseases."
We ought to take what pleasures come to us and turn them into an opportunity to see the One from whom all pleasures come.
I canít help but think that that was part of Naomiís intention as she drew Ruthís focus to the God who has blessed her.
But, Naomi wants Ruth to see something more then just the blessing of this sack of grain. There is a much bigger blessing. Once Naomi has quickly responded, "Whoever he is may he be blessed of the Lord," then Naomi, perhaps, begins to think, "Who is he?" It suddenly begins to dawn on her that something far greater than this bag of grain has been delivered to her.
The rest of verse 20 says this, and notice the word "again," "Again, Naomi says to her, ĎBoaz?í That man is our relative. In fact, he is one of our closest relatives." Itís a different statement. She said something to begin the verse, and then she says something again. There was a pause as she realizes, "Wait a minute. Did you say, ĎBoazí? That man is our relative, in fact our closest relative."
Maybe Naomi had forgotten that there was a man named Boaz in her family. Or maybe if she had known about him prior to this news, she thought, "Well, I know I have some distant relative named Boaz but heís probably poor, probably not willing, and probably not able to help us."
Or maybe Naomi is just setting this part for Ruth and sheís saying to Ruth, "Ruth, do you understand what you just said? You just said the name Boaz, but Boaz is our relative. Do you realize what you just said?"
The Hebrew words are interesting. She says, "This man is our relative." She uses a generic word for relative, just someone who was close. It could have even been used for a neighbor, "So and so is my Ďnearí person, a person who lives near me." Then she refigures, "This person is our relative," a generic word. "In fact, this person is our very close relative." The word she uses the second time is, "This person, in fact, is our go-el, our kinsman, our redeemer."
She brings out the word from the Law which says that a person, in order to rescue another from poverty had to be his go-el. Now it bursts on her thinking that she has such a one. Her mind is now going in all directions as she thinks, "We have a go-el, he has proven himself wealthy, and he has also proven himself to be willing and generous."
Then Ruth responds, "Thereís more! He invited me to stay on his payroll. He said to ĎCome on back and you can continue with my servants right through the barley harvest and right through the wheat harvest. Keep reaping.í"
Then it dawns on Naomi altogether. She says, "My daughter, this is good."
Now, Iím not trying to present a picture of Naomi as if she were an old conniving opportunistic climber of a woman, she just suddenly realizes what has happened.. Weíve used the image of a sun rising, the Son of Righteousness with healing in His wings. And it just begins to make a little, almost indiscernible, difference in the blackest night as you look out over the ocean.
Then the first rays break over the horizon and you begin to actually see the edge of that ball of fire coming up over the water and the sun begins to shine in its fullness.
Well, now weíve reached noon day and its all bursting on Naomiís mind. Itís all coming to make sense and itís all tending to remind her that God is at work to bless her. It seemed to good to be true, "I couldnít even think of the possibility, but now itís becoming evident to me that God is putting everything together and putting everything in order and that God is going to bless me."
I think a lot of people second guess the goodness of Godís character. I think a lot of Christians do it. We tend to think of God as rather stingy, which is a blasphemous kind of thought, but we do it all the time. We know about His promise and we know about His provision, but we say, "It could never find me out" as if it had anything to do with "me." I donít want to psychologize this, but maybe it comes from a bad father figure or maybe from some negative authoritative figure who was in your live, but God is not mean-spirited. God is not stingy. As Thomas Watson reminds us, "Mercy is His darling attribute." He loves to display His mercy! Thatís beginning to dawn on Naomi. Sheís beginning to soften towards the covenant-keeping God. Sheís beginning to think, "Maybe when He made that promise, maybe, just maybe, He really meant it. Maybe He did provide for the redemption of the poverty stricken and the destitute and the widow."
These women are in bad straits. They are destitute. They are in the gravest kind of need in that rough and cruel culture at the time of the judges. They have no one to protect them. That is a bad thing when everyone is doing what is right in his own eyes. They will soon loose their land. They will have to sell it and with it their portion within Israel will be gone. There will be a break in the covenant succession of this family. They will not be able to raise up a seed for the glory of God and great shame will be their attendant curse.
They need someone. Need. Need is so glaring for them. They need someone who can rescue them, someone who can buy them back, someone who can save them from their poverty and isolation and defeat.
The Law of God does make provision for them if only a redeemer could be found. A redeemer is described in the Law but no one could be found. "God would not raise up a redeemer for me. He would make a generic kind of provision in the Law but He would not raise up one for me." But now, itís beginning to come clear to Naomi that He is raising up such a redeemer and there is one who is thus qualified to rescue her and to rescue her family. The Law stipulates that this one must be related to her by blood. And there is one - her kinsman, her very close relative.
The Law also stipulates that this person must be able to redeem. Ruth has brought back news that he is able to redeem. "He is a man of great wealth" as it says at the beginning of the chapter. He is able, he has means. All that is dawning afresh on Naomi.
But, thereís a third stipulation in the Law. He must be related, he must be able, and he must be willing. Because of his generosity and kindness, it even looks as though he may be making overtures towards Ruth. Naomi begins to think, "Maybe he is willing."
Certainly he is. All that the Law specifies as qualifications for a redeemer is met in Boaz. Thatís the source of great joy for Naomi. Thatís the thing which is turning her bitterness into sweetness.
We are so far from that situation, are we not? Weíre not in a farming community, weíre living in the 21st Century, and weíre separated from them by thousands of miles and thousands of years. How then, can this passage have anything to say to us? I donít think we can miss the differences, but I donít think we can miss the obvious parallels either.
We, like Ruth and Naomi, are in grave need. Our need is not so evident to the watching eye. Itís not that we are lacking in money or security, but our need, though perhaps less obvious, is far deeper. In fact, we are infinitely needier than a person who is experiencing mere financial poverty. We have a spiritual need. We have an eternal need. We have a legal need before the judge of heaven and earth. We are guilty in Adam - we are condemned before God, before the holy, holy, holy God, too pure to look upon sin. Yet, weíre born in sin. I was born in sin. You were born in sin. We are soaked in sin. Every action that we take is somehow tainted by sin. We have bad hearts and we have bad records. We are without rights before God. We have no right to speak with God, no right to hope for His attention. In fact, the New Testament makes clear that "we are counted dead in the sight of God."
There awaits for every person in this condition an awful day of reckoning where every man, woman, and child in this condition will be judged and condemned by the Holy Lawgiver. None of us really see that. Iíve tried to describe it and I try to describe it to myself, but I donít think any of us really see the extent of our need before God.
We can get glimpses of it. We read the Bible and it tells us about our heart and about our record, but who can really know the full horror of the soul which is under Godís wrath and justice. If someone were only qualified to redeem us, if there were only a person who was worthy and qualified to be our defense attorney before this righteous Judge of Heaven, but no one can be found. There is no one who meets the qualifications.
Iím reminded of that passage in the Book of Revelation, Chapter 5, where the Apostle John is given the great privilege of scanning and surveying every living creature ever created by God. He looks out on the vast multitude of angels and men and sees them all gathered before the throne of God. He looks for one who is qualified to open up the redemptive plan of God and to carry it out. He looks in vain. No man, no angel, no created being, no one, no one, no one is worthy, not a one.
When he thinks the redemptive plan of God will not be carried out, "I began to weep greatly." And there is John in this sea of angels and people, weeping. It is as if all heaven and all earth weeps along with John until finally thereís a tug on Johnís sleeve and he looks and thereís a fellow sinner. It says one of the elders was there, and the elder said, "Stop." And points to one, one, one, only one. He points to one single person who is qualified to finish Godís saving plan. Only one who is qualified, who is worthy to redeem. "Stop weeping" he says. "Behold the Lion who is of the tribe of Judah. He has overcome."
The obedient conquering Lion, is in the next verse called the "yielded sacrificial Lamb. He is worthy to redeem." And as soon as thatís revealed, not only John, but all of heaven and all of earth right along with John, begin to sing a song of great joy as if joy has just flooded the house. Ruth and Naomi and all of heaven and all of earth begin to sing, "Worthy, qualified, is the Lamb. Because Thou didst redeem, purchase for God, by Thine own blood, a people for Godís own choosing."
Brothers and sisters, I want to see this! I need to see this! I need to see it more clearly day by day. Itís really the greatest need I have and itís the greatest need you have. I need to see more fully and clearly the utter hopelessness of my fallen condition before the justice of God. I need to see more clearly the perfect worthiness of my Redeemer who is utterly qualified to save all who call upon His name by faith.
Just like Boaz, the Lord Jesus had to be related to us by blood and flesh, and He was. Thus related, He took on flesh. Galatians 4 says, "In the fullness of time, God sent forth His Son, born of a womanÖ" so that He could be related to me.
Hebrews 2 says, "Just as the children partook of flesh and blood so also He partook of flesh and blood." Why? So that He could be related to me. So that He could be qualified, worthy to save me and to redeem me. He partook of my flesh that I might partake of His Spirit and to defeat our enemy. He became a man so that He could be related to me.
He is able. Not only is He in a position to redeem as related to me, He is able to redeem. He is one without sin. He is born under the Law. He had to submit to all the Law of God that I have broken, but He upheld it. He was obedient to the uttermost. He kept all of Godís Law. He showed Himself obedient and righteous and therefore qualified to redeem.
Hebrews 7 shows Jesus as one who is able to redeem in that He is surpassing the abilities of any High Priest on earth. He is able to intercede perpetually. He never needs to rest but He prays for me day and night, interceding and praying on my behalf. He is a High Priest, wholly innocent, undefiled, unlike any human priest, able to redeem. He has by His precious blood, given forth the payment that God required for my redemption. That price perfectly paid my penalty.
It was Jesusí joy to redeem. Do you remember in the Law it said that the redeemer must be related by blood, he must be able to redeem, and he must be willing. And Jesus is indeed willing. "Who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising His shame and sat down at the right hand of God."
It was His great joy to be satisfying His Fatherís justice. Therefore, He fulfilled all that was required for my salvation joyously. Heís related to us, Heís able to save, and Heís willing to save.
Now, what must we do with this knowledge? What must we do if we really see clearly, really understand, and really believe and trust in the fact that Jesus is a qualified Redeemer?
First, notice that as soon as Naomi heard that there was a qualified redeemer, she rejoiced. We ought to rejoice. The life of the Christian ought to consist of rejoicing. If I could really see clearly my hopelessness and the redemption that Jesus made for me, it would make me, like, "cuckoo for cocoa puffs." I should be bouncing off the walls! My heart and my life should be overflowing with joy! A deep abiding, holy, reverent joy should lay hold of my life and change the way that I approach life.
But we see other pressing needs. We donít see the need of our soul. We see the need to mow our lawn. We see the need to pay a bill and to fill some deadline at work. All of these become the pressing need. But there is a need so much more pressing than that. Thatís the need of our soul. Thatís the legal need before God. Itís the eternal and spiritual need.
The apostle understands that we will tend to look upon those needs as the real needs of our lives. So, he prays for the Ephesians in chapters 1 and 3; "I pray that the eyes of your heart would be enlightened so that you would know the hope of your calling."
If it would just dawn on you it would just fill your heart with rejoicing. In chapter 3 he says, "I pray that you would be able to comprehend with all the saints what are the vast dimensions of Godís love for you in Christ." If you could see it youíd be filled with joy.
Thatís the need I have to meet with God in the Scriptures and to allow Him to show me my condition and the satisfaction of that condition in Christ.
Recently, I asked my home fellowship group, "Are you in a place in your life where God is happy with you?" How would you answer that question? Is God happy with you?
I went around and in each person in turn said, "I donít think so. I donít think that God is happy with me."
Is God happy with you? If youíre in the Beloved, and He is happy with the beloved, then Heís happy with you. Are you in the Beloved?
He rends the heavens and opens up and speaks through the cloud, "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased." If you are in the Son then He is well pleased with you.
Now, I know we tend to think, "Yeah, but Iíve sinned and been a failure and Iíve done this wrong, and Iíve not upheld my responsibilities here, and this is really the reality."
But I want to tell you, congregation, the reality is redemption. Redemption is the reality. Not your wavering experience - this is unreality. Yes, you must repent of it and bring it back to Jesus so that He can cleanse us from it. But the reality is, in Christ God is pleased with those who believe.
Secondly, the rights of redemption belong to Jesus. We should voluntarily and joyfully surrender to Him the rights of redemption. 1 Peter 1.18, "Conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay upon earth knowing that you are redeemed not with blood of bulls and goats but redeemed with the precious blood as of a lamb."
The blood of Jesus redeems us and therefore He buys us and buys the rights to our existence. Every day we ought to approach life this way, "Lord Jesus, You own me today. I belong to You, therefore exercise the rights that You have bought with Your own blood."
There ought to be a joyous fearsome partnership with God as we approach every day.
Thirdly, we ought to be daily casting ourselves upon this Redeemer. Some of you here, I feel certain, have never once begun to cast yourself upon Jesus. Today could be the day when you turn to Him, letting go of your sin and embracing Him. Today could be the day when you recline on Jesusí reputation, when you rest on Jesusí efforts and cease resting on your own reputation. Today could be the day that you find the redemption thatís available in Christ. I just want to urge you to come to talk with me or one of our other pastors or elders and say, "I donít really know if I am redeemed. I donít know if I really am accepted by God in the Beloved, as you mentioned, and Iíd like to know." Talk with me about that and Iíll share it with you.
But, some of you may say, "Iíve been there, done that. I do trust in Christ and I have trusted in Christ." The question for you and the question for me is, "What place of priority does continuing to cast yourself on Christ occupy in your present life?" Are you daily casting yourself, even moment by moment trusting in Christ and repenting of sin? You can cast yourself upon Him anew even right now. You can allow Him to exercise not only the rights of the Redeemer, but the power of the Redeemer, and to free you from the power of sin even as He has freed you from the guilt of sin.
To know there is a Redeemer, this makes all the difference. I pray that we would live differently this week because of that knowledge.
Now, our Father in heaven, we thank You for the fact that there is a Redeemer. We pray that it would grip us, that we would be changed by it and that we would live with effusive joy all the day long. And because of this joy, we would desire to share the hope thatís within us with those who are lost. And because of this joy we would submit to Jesus and give Him the rights of the Redeemer. We ask that we would be found every day casting ourselves upon Him, not staking any claim upon our own efforts, our own righteousness, our own records, but that we would be trusting only in the finished work of the Redeemer.
Thank You, Lord, for those here who have become knowledgeable and convinced that there is a Redeemer, and bless them this week as they live in the light of that knowledge.
In Jesusí Name we pray. Amen