Ruth 2:1-23: God Packages The Gift of the Gospel to Heighten Our Joy When We Meet Christ

God Packages The Gift of the Gospel to Heighten Our Joy When We Meet Christ

(A message inspired by the notes take when listening to a message by Pastor *Jesse-Meekins* at KBC in Sycamore Illinois. 12-6-20)

Ruth 2:1-23                                                                Kevin E. Jesmer

Key verse 2: 15-17                                            12-13-20

“When she rose to glean, Boaz instructed his young men, saying, ‘Let her glean even among the sheaves, and do not reproach her. 16 And also pull out some from the bundles for her and leave it for her to glean, and do not rebuke her.’ 17 So she gleaned in the field until evening. Then she beat out what she had gleaned, and it was about an ephah[b] of barley.”  (ESV)

    Great gift givers know how to package their gifts in excellent ways. There is a such a thing as Christmas hype. There is an expectation generated that will increased day by day, all, the way to Christmas. The decoration of the package is not to just give the gift to someone, but it is to raise the expectation of the receiver. Gd knows how to revive the hearts of the people, by packaging the gift that they would receive. Ultimately this gift will be Jesus and the Gospel.

    God raised the expectation for Naomi and Ruth by wrapping an upcoming spiritual gift in just the right way. Naomi felt empty after as decade of suffering in the land of Moab. Look at verse 1:20-21,

She said to them, ‘Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. 21 I went away full, and the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi, when the Lord has testified against me and the Almighty has brought calamity upon me?’

     Her own people were stirred by her return after a decade. They remembered her and many were calling her by her name, “Naomi”. The etymology of her name is not certain, but it is possible that it means “good, pleasant, lovely, winsome.” (Wikipedia).  She wanted people to call her “Mara” meaning “bitter”. It was an expression of grief after the deaths of her husband and sons, while enduring a hard life, full of suffering.

      But her days of bitterness and grief were soon to be over. God would fill them up after they have been emptied. And this time of filling was beginning now. Look at 1:22, “So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabite her daughter-in-law with her, who returned from the country of Moab. And they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest.” The famine was over. The fields were abundant with new grain. The land was experiencing newness of life.  They were led by God’s sovereign hand, to Boaz’s field at this time of a fruitful and abundant harvest. The Sovereign Lord was completely behind this.

    There were harvesters in the field. Some were Boaz’ employees. Others were poor people with little of no income, like Naomi and Ruth. According to God’s word, the employees were allowed to glean the field once and then leave what was left over for the poor. They had to leave the edges. This custom developed from the early agricultural laws of the Hebrews (Leviticus 19:9; 23:22; Deuteronomy 24:19-21). Breaking this law was a punishable offense. It was God’s welfare system. The poor were given food for free, but they still had to work for it. God was protecting their dignity. It reflected God’s heart for the hurting. Through this scene, our hopes rise within us, to see what God had in store for Naomi and Ruth. God is making a wonderful package for his gift, increasing their expectations.

      God was with Naomi and Ruth. He inspired Naomi to tell Ruth to go and glean in Boaz’ field. Look at verses 2:1-3,

Now Naomi had a relative of her husband’s, a worthy man of the clan of Elimelech, whose name was Boaz. 2 And Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain after him in whose sight I shall find favor.” And she said to her, “Go, my daughter.” 3 So she set out and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers, and she happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the clan of Elimelech.”

     I don’t get the sense that Naomi knew what was happening. She was simply doing what made sense in order to survive.  She knew where to go for social services and she knew that it was right for Ruth to glean in Boaz’s field. But God was fully aware of what he was doing. He was continuing to put the package on his graceful gift.

       Let’s think a little more about Boaz, especially how he reflected the image of God. Look at verses 4, “And behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem. And he said to the reapers, ‘The Lord be with you!’ And they answered, ‘The Lord bless you.’” This quick exchanged revealed so much about Boaz. This man was very graceful, though he was a rich landowner with many people working under him. He said, “The Lord be with you”. People saw God’s image exude from him. He didn’t need to be around his fields all the time. He had trusted and faithful foremen who willingly managed the workers. The workers were faithful and could be trusted to bring in the harvest. His workers were happy to be laborers in Boaz’s fields for Boaz was just that kind of boss.

      He was a man who would care for the commoner and the foreigner. Look at verses 5-9,

5Then Boaz said to his young man who was in charge of the reapers, ‘Whose young woman is this?’ 6 And the servant who was in charge of the reapers answered, ‘She is the young Moabite woman, who came back with Naomi from the country of Moab. 7 She said, ‘Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves after the reapers.’ So she came, and she has continued from early morning until now, except for a short rest.’ 8 Then Boaz said to Ruth, ‘Now, listen, my daughter, do not go to glean in another field or leave this one, but keep close to my young women. 9 Let your eyes be on the field that they are reaping, and go after them. Have I not charged the young men not to touch you? And when you are thirsty, go to the vessels and drink what the young men have drawn.’”

     Again, we see the image of God embedded into the character of Boaz. God cares about the foreigners. He cares about the commoner. The fact that Boaz took notice of Ruth, meant that God was taking notice of Ruth. Ruth was near to God’s heart all along. By showing us the godly qualities of Boaz’s character, he is raising our hopes and expectations in what part Boaz will play in this who story of God’s abundant grace.  

      God cares for our welfare. He cares for the commoner. This is his character. This is part of his image. Knowing this God, makes submitting to him as Lord comes naturally. Living under his divine care is a blessing for those who know his grace.

    Boaz set out to protect the commoners gleaning in the fields.  Look at verse 8, “Then Boaz said to Ruth, ‘Now, listen, my daughter, do not go to glean in another field or leave this one, but keep close to my young women.’”  Boaz was not blind to what could happen to an unprotected, poor, young, foreign woman. She would be one of the most vulnerable in the fields. If it were not for Boaz’ protection, Ruth most probably would have been mistreated if she gleaned anywhere else. She could begin to sense the protection given her by God, through the people of God.

    The grace of God did not stop there. Look at verses 14-17,

14 And at mealtime Boaz said to her, ‘Come here and eat some bread and dip your morsel in the wine.’ So she sat beside the reapers, and he passed to her roasted grain. And she ate until she was satisfied, and she had some left over. 15 When she rose to glean, Boaz instructed his young men, saying, ‘Let her glean even among the sheaves, and do not reproach her. 16 And also pull out some from the bundles for her and leave it for her to glean, and do not rebuke her.’ 17 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 was invited to sit beside Boaz to eat lunch and then she was invited to glean once again. The workers were told by Boaz to leave behind grain. This time Ruth gleaned about forty pounds of grain! Ruth had been weighted down and overrun by grace. Who is this Boaz? He is a servant of God, who loved the lowly and reflected God’s care for the hurting. His life was a conduit of the grace of God.

      God was packaging the gift of the Gospel, through Boaz’ service to Naomi and Ruth. God was raising the hopes of Naomi and Ruth for the greater grace to come. And excited they were. Look at verses 20-24,

“20 And Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “May he be blessed by the Lord, whose kindness has not forsaken the living or the dead!” Naomi also said to her, “The man is a close relative of ours, one of our redeemers.” 21 And Ruth the Moabite said, “Besides, he said to me, ‘You shall keep close by my young men until they have finished all my harvest.’” 22 And Naomi said to Ruth, her daughter-in-law, “It is good, my daughter, that you go out with his young women, lest in another field you be assaulted.” 23 So she kept close to the young women of Boaz, gleaning until the end of the barley and wheat harvests. And she lived with her mother-in-law.” 

     Naomi now can sense that the Lord had more in store. God was raising the expectations that Ruth and Boaz would marry. But we know that marriage to Boaz was not the ultimate gift. It was simply the packaging to the gift. The gift that would come, is Jesus.

    Boaz is a faint refection of who Jesus is. Jesus provides for the poor. He died and rose again to protect the powerless. Under his Kingship, foreigners are foreigners no more. They were now God’s people. Jesus sacrificial love drove him to endure suffering, even death on the cross. To reveal to us, the love of the Father, he suffered, died and rose again. In Him, the living Christ, one grace after another is poured out on his people.

May I suggest two points of encouragement from this passage?

  1. Put your hope in Jesus…not in yourself or not in some other gift, … not even in the packaging that God gives you. We need the wrapping paper. It is all part of God’s gift to us. But we need the gift all the more. All good things point to the real gift, Jesus. We need him. Ask yourself, are you putting your hope in Jesus the true gift or something else? Are you putting your hope in the wrapping paper that God has given and not in Jesus?
  • Are you sharing that hope with others, not just with your lips but with your actions, like Boaz? With your life. Reflect the heart of God for the hurting, the powerless, commoner. Reflect it with forgiveness and lavish self-sacrifice.

Are you doing that? Are you leaving uncut edges in your fields?… Leaving the gleanings for others because you have been blessed with overflowing blessing?

In our living out of our faith, show your love for others. Care for others in the name of Jesus. It will mean some sacrifice. Jesus did that for us in a HUGE way. It is all by his grace. Is this what others in your life, see?

There are two shovels at work here. God measures out shovel-full’s of his grace to us, so much so that you can’t take it back home. It is so big and heavy! Then we shovel God’s grace to others and God gives his grace back to us and others as well.

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