Ruth 2:14-23

Since our recording equipment is not operating, here is my sermon from February 19th in manuscript format:

Ruth 2:14-23

 

A Shadow of Christ

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. When she rose to glean, Boaz instructed his young men, saying, “Let her glean even among the sheaves, and do not reproach her. And also pull out some from the bundles for her and leave it for her to glean, and do not rebuke her.”

 

          So she gleaned in the field until evening. Then she beat out what she had gleaned, and it was about an ephah of barley. And she took it up and went into the city. Her mother-in-law saw what she had gleaned. She also brought out and gave her what food she had left over after being satisfied. And her mother-in-law said to her, “Where did you glean today? And where have you worked? Blessed be the man who took notice of you.” So she told her mother-in-law with whom she had worked and said, “The man’s name with whom I worked today is Boaz.” 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.” 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.’” 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.” 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.

(Ruth 2:14-23 ESV)

Have you ever been so hungry that you could, borrowing a cliché from my childhood, “eat the broad side of barn”?  Most of the time a quick trip to a restaurant or refrigerator will take care of that problem.  But what if every day was like that?  What if you didn’t know where your next meal was coming from?  What if there was no family or church body to help, no savings to tap into, and no social service programs to provide assistance?  What if every day was a struggle just to survive?  Believe it or not, there are places in our world where what I just described is a reality.  Many people in our country are blind to such things because even the poorest among us are considered affluent by the world’s standards.

Go back approximately 3000 years ago to when the book of Ruth was written. Israel (during the time of the Judges) was basically an agrarian society.  Famine was commonplace in the ancient world.  In Israel’s case famine was a direct result of the nation’s disobedience; but widespread famine, and its resulting hunger, was a reality.  Today a person is considered wealthy by the amount of money they possess.  Back in Ruth’s time a person was considered wealthy by being food secure.  Remember this account from the book of Genesis?

Now there was no food in all the land, for the famine was very severe, so that the land of Egypt and the land of Canaan languished by reason of the famine. And Joseph gathered up all the money that was found in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan, in exchange for the grain that they bought. And Joseph brought the money into Pharaoh’s house. And when the money was all spent in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan, all the Egyptians came to Joseph and said, “Give us food. Why should we die before your eyes? For our money is gone.” And Joseph answered, “Give your livestock, and I will give you food in exchange for your livestock, if your money is gone.” So they brought their livestock to Joseph, and Joseph gave them food in exchange for the horses, the flocks, the herds, and the donkeys. He supplied them with food in exchange for all their livestock that year. And when that year was ended, they came to him the following year and said to him, “We will not hide from my lord that our money is all spent. The herds of livestock are my lord’s. There is nothing left in the sight of my lord but our bodies and our land. Why should we die before your eyes, both we and our land? Buy us and our land for food, and we with our land will be servants to Pharaoh. And give us seed that we may live and not die, and that the land may not be desolate.”

 

          So Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh, for all the Egyptians sold their fields, because the famine was severe on them. The land became Pharaoh’s. As for the people, he made servants of them from one end of Egypt to the other.

         

(Genesis 47:13-21 ESV)

In the time of Joseph and Pharaoh, food became the currency of the day.  Those who controlled the ability to produce food had power and wealth.  Those who weren’t able to buy food often became the servants of those who could provide for them.  But even that wasn’t a sure thing.  The daily activity of many people revolved around procuring food.  This is the situation Naomi found herself in upon her return fromMoab.  Perhaps Naomi, and her daughter-in-law, Ruth had received some charity from relatives when they showed up in Bethlehem.  But it is obvious by Ruth’s request to glean from the fields that no amount of charity was going to sustain them.

The text doesn’t tell us why it was Ruth alone who set out to glean for grain.  Perhaps Naomi was physically incapable, or she was in state of despair caused by coming back to Bethlehem in shame.  Whatever the reason Ruth was alone in her efforts.  Perhaps it was partly for this reason, along with the fact that she was a young unmarried woman, that Ruth caught Boaz’ attention.  It would be rare for a young woman of Ruth’s age to be gleaning in the fields.  Most woman of Ruth’s age would be married and raising children.  It would be the man who would be working to provide food for the family.  In the case of a widowed bride there would be her extended family, and if necessary the kinsman redeemer, who would provide for her.  But Ruth had none of these advantages.  She was a Moabite woman, not a member of the covenant people of Israel.  She had no relationships in Israel– no one to be concerned for her welfare.  These things made Ruth stand out, if not made her an outright spectacle.  Boaz’ tenderhearted demeanor proved itself by the things he did for Ruth.

Prelude to the Kinsman Redeemer

The main theme of the book of Ruth is the Christological implications of the Kinsman Redeemer role that was filled by Boaz.  The role of the Kinsman Redeemer was to redeem the family name and/or property of a close male relative.  This relative may have gone into debt and sold his land, or perhaps became an indentured servant.   As in the case of Ruth, the close male relative may have died without leaving an heir and the means to purchase back his land and/or free his family.  Since Israel was God’s covenant nation, it was never God’s plan to allow a family name to be blotted out.  The role of the Kinsman Redeemer was two-fold.  The first role was financial.  If the close male relative was destitute, the Kinsman Redeemer was to purchase back his property or pay for his freedom (Lev. 25).  If the close male relative was a brother who had died without an heir the Kinsman Redeemer was to fulfill the responsibility of Levirate Marriage (Deut. 25:5-10).  In a Levirate Marriage the Kinsman Redeemer takes the dead brother’s wife and raises children in his brother’s name in order for his brother’s name not to be cut off from the people.  Boaz’s role as Ruth’s Kinsman Redeemer does not take place until chapter 3, but the prelude to that role takes place right here in chapter 2.

The Kinsman Redeemer is also a beautiful representation of Jesus Christ.

Let’s look at the reason that the human race needs both redemption and a redeemer.

First – mankind is bankrupt and sold into bondage.

I’m not referring to financial bankruptcy, but moral and spiritual bankruptcy.  The first human being, Adam, was created in perfect fellowship with God.  He lived in a perfect world and enjoyed personal fellowship with his Creator.  God gave him a perfect compliment to himself, the woman, Eve.  When Adam gave in to the temptation of the serpent he made a transaction.  Adam traded something of infinite worth for something that was a fraud.  We hear about scams all the time.  People give over their money for something that seems to good to be true; whether it be a “genuine Rolex” sold out of the back of some guy’s station wagon, or high risk financial investments that turn out to be more risk than investment.  Both of these “opportunities” bring the same result: wasted money.  But Adam used a currency much more valuable than the United States dollar.  Adam used the currency of eternal life and received, in return, eternal death.  Adam bought into the lie that God was somehow holding out on him and that by eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil that he would somehow become just like God.  The fraud that was perpetuated on Adam was infinitely worse than winding up with a fake Rolex or an empty bank account.  Adam traded away the destiny of his soul; and not only that, he plunged the entire human race into spiritual bondage in perpetuity.  The bible tells us that everyone is a sinner:

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

(Romans 3:23 ESV)

Sin makes us slaves of unrighteousness.

Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.

         

(John 8:34 ESV)

Second – God provided a way to redeem mankind from the bondage of slavery.

Who needs a redeemer more than a slave?  Can a slave ever be freed from slavery?  The good news is “yes”, but only by someone who can pay the price of redemption.

“If a stranger or sojourner with you becomes rich, and your brother beside him becomes poor and sells himself to the stranger or sojourner with you or to a member of the stranger’s clan, then after he is sold he may be redeemed. One of his brothers may redeem him, or his uncle or his cousin may redeem him, or a close relative from his clan may redeem him. Or if he grows rich he may redeem himself.

(Leviticus 25:47-49 ESV)

In relation to the Law of Moses, a person who became a slave can be redeemed for money.  John Stevenson lays out a good outline on the role of the Kinsman Redeemer:

There were four qualifications which were necessary for a man to fulfill the role of Kinsman Redeemer. It was only when a man possessed these four qualities that he was permitted to perform this task.

1. He must be a Kinsman.

The passage is very explicit that this redeemer must be related to the one whom he is going to buy back out of slavery.

2. He must be Free himself.

A slave was unable to purchase another slave.   A Kinsman Redeemer must be himself free of the debt and of the bondage which had fallen on the one who was to be redeemed.

3. He must be able to pay the Price.

If he did not have the necessary sum of money which was required to pay the purchase price, then he would not be able to redeem his relative.

4. He must be willing to pay the price.

It was not enough to have a kinsman who was able to accomplish the work of redemption. He must also be willing to may the sacrifice of paying the price.

Each of these qualifications was fulfilled in Jesus Christ. God sent Jesus into the slave market of sin to purchase men from their bondage of sin. He alone met the qualifications of the Kinsman Redeemer.

Look at Hebrews 2:11-18.

For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers, saying,

“I will tell of your name to my brothers;

in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.”

And again,

“I will put my trust in him.”

And again,

“Behold, I and the children God has given me.”

Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

         

(Hebrews 2:11-18 ESV)

Note that Jesus Christ is our brother.  He was born of a human mother.  He is of the same race as we are.  Not race as in the color of His skin, but race as far being a part of humanity.  Jesus took on flesh and blood and faced the temptation of sin.  Unlike us, Jesus did not give in to sin; He did not barter away both His right and His ability to meet the price of redemption.

The book of Ruth presents Boaz as the Kinsman Redeemer for Ruth, but also as a type of Christ, as our Kinsman Redeemer.  What Boaz did for one family, Christ did for all who believe in Him.

Boaz satisfies Ruth’s physical hunger.  Jesus satisfies our spiritual hunger.

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.

(Ruth 2:14 ESV)

Boaz displayed compassion towards Ruth.  He didn’t just say, “Look at the hard working young woman.  I sure hope she’s able to find food to eat.”  Boaz went the extra step and displayed grace.

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”

(John 6:35 ESV)

Jesus satisfies our hunger for spiritual food.  Imagine a life in which you are guaranteed that every physical need you have is met.  You would never have to worry about food, clothing, or a place to live.  Would you sign up for that guarantee?  What if that guarantee had a caveat that said you could have all these things but they would cost you your soul.  Still sound like a great deal?  Jesus, our Kinsman Redeemer, provides for our eternal needs free and without cost.

And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.

(Revelation 21:6 ESV)

 

Boaz provided for Ruth’s protection and security.  Jesus purchased our protection and security.

When she rose to glean, Boaz instructed his young men, saying, “Let her glean even among the sheaves, and do not reproach her. And also pull out some from the bundles for her and leave it for her to glean, and do not rebuke her.”

(Ruth 2:15-16 ESV)

Boaz understood the dangers that a young woman would face if left alone to glean in the fields.  Boaz was concerned for Ruth’s safety and well-being.  For this reason he gave strict instructions that she was to be treated with respect.  Boaz also gave orders that the workers were to leave some of the harvested grain on the ground for Ruth to pick up.  In this way Boaz was providing for her ongoing need, not just the meal she enjoyed a few minutes earlier.

All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

(John 6:37-40 ESV)

When Jesus redeems us He does more than just grant us freedom.  What good is freedom from sin if we are subject again to the bondage of sin?  What good is salvation if it can be lost?  Jesus promises to accept all those who come to Him.  Not only that, it is the Father’s will all those that He gives to Son will be secure and that they will be raised up with the Son on the last day.  Jesus Christ, our Kinsman Redeemer, not only accepts us; not only keeps us; but He will also raise us up with Him to glory.

Boaz provided for Ruth more than she deserved.  Jesus provides for us more than we deserve.

So she gleaned in the field until evening. Then she beat out what she had gleaned, and it was about an ephah of barley. And she took it up and went into the city. Her mother-in-law saw what she had gleaned. She also brought out and gave her what food she had left over after being satisfied.

         

(Ruth 2:17-18 ESV)

An ephah of barley is equal to about half a bushel.  That is a large amount of grain to be gleaned for one days work.  Boaz more than provided for Ruth.  This was purely and act of grace on the part of Boaz.

So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.”

         

(John 6:53-58 ESV)

As sinners the only thing we deserve is death and judgment.  We do not deserve God’s forgiveness and grace.  But to those who place their faith in Christ, they are granted God’s forgiveness and grace, plus much more.  All who come to Christ are given the free gift of eternal life.

Boaz was a faithful Kinsman Redeemer according to the Law of Moses.  Boaz would prove to be a great benefactor to Ruth and her mother-in-law, Naomi.  He was a type of Christ.  Jesus is a more effective Kinsman Redeemer.  He did not pay an earthly price of redemption, He paid a heavenly price.  When Jesus laid his life down on the cross, and shed his blood, He satisfied the righteous requirement of the Law that the soul that sins must die (Ezekiel 18:20).  But since He presented Himself as a perfect and acceptable sacrifice in the sight of God, He was able to secure forgiveness and eternal life for all who would place their trust in Him.

Chapter 2 concludes with Naomi rejoicing that Ruth had found favor with one of their close relatives.  Naomi’s despondency since returning fromMoabwas starting to dissipate.  Things were starting to look up.

If you’re a believer here this morning you have a good reason to look up.  Consider what your Redeemer has done for you.  Give Him thanks for His marvelous grace and the security you have in Him.

If you’re not a believer, then you have need of the Kinsman Redeemer this morning. Will you put off the bondage of slavery and seek release through the Lord Jesus Christ?  I pray you will.