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. 18 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. 19 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.” 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.
I recently read a fascinating story that struck me as equal parts beautiful and sad.
This is the true story of twin brothers from Australia. As they were growing up, Leslie and Karl were close throughout their chaotic childhood. But after their dad abandoned the family, a week after their 22nd birthday, Karl disappeared. For 23 years Leslie kept searching for his brother. Finally, on May 5th, 2013 the police found Karl dead on York Lane in Sydney. Karl had died where he had spent much of the second half of his life—on the street as a homeless person.
When the police contacted Leslie, he travelled to Sydney to take his brother back home and bury him. Much to his surprise, Leslie found a bank account in Karl’s name that was worth $30,000. The Australian Department of Human Services had been depositing a check into Karl’s account every month for the past 23 years. Leslie wanted to use the funds to support the dedicated people and shelters which had supported his brother. Unfortunately, the money was earmarked for the next of kin, which in this case was Karl and Leslie’s father, the man who had abandoned both brothers decades ago.
But Leslie also discovered an exception to the financial regulations: He could use the money from the account to pay for Leslie’s funeral and burial expenses—the entire balance of $30,000. So Leslie organized a lavish service for Karl. Before the funeral, he hosted a delicious hot lunch with a bouquet of flowers on every table for all the men and women who lived at the shelter that Karl frequented. For the funeral Leslie hired the finest organist in Sydney to play hymns. Leslie designed and printed a beautiful order of service on the best paper available. Flowers filled the church.
During the eulogy for his brother Leslie said, “I never gave up looking for my brother.” Leslie chose the following verse from the Gospel of Luke: “‘My son,’ the father said [to the prodigal son], ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.'”
That is beautiful because of the wonderful fact that a homeless man had a lavish funeral. It is sad because a homeless man had a lavish funeral.
It strikes me, hearing that story, that that is how many people view the Christian life: a life of misery here and now but a lavish party after we die. Somehow the story of Ruth strikes me as a much needed corrective to this idea. If Ruth tells us anything, it tells us that the astonishing grace of God begins to be lavished upon us here and now. That may or may not translate into physical comfort and provision, but it certainly translates into provision for the heart and soul here and now. In other words, while the full benefits of grace will not be realized until we stand before the Lord, very real benefits are open to us here and now.
You do not have to die to experience lavish grace, though, through Christ, we certainly will experience inconceivable joy after we die. The Lord Jesus came to give us life, and that abundant (John 10:10). As we rejoin Ruth gleaning in the fields of Boaz, let us continue our consideration of Boaz as a type or picture or foreshadowing of Jesus and let us continue to consider his actions towards Ruth as an unfolding vision of grace. In the process, however, let us not lose sight of the beautiful love story unfolding before our eyes as well.
God’s grace is lavish and blesses us with more and more as we draw closer and closer to Jesus.
One of the truly fascinating developments in the story of Ruth is how Ruth draws closer and closer to Boaz throughout the book. It begins with Ruth in Moab and Boaz in Bethlehem. Then Ruth moved to Bethlehem with her mother-in-law, Naomi. Then Ruth moved to the field of Boaz. Then Boaz saw Ruth and inquired about her. Then Boaz addressed Ruth, telling her not to leave his field but to stay near his women where she could continue to glean the grain that was dropped or left behind. This gradual but consistent diminishment of distance continues in our text.
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. 18 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.
Her distance from Boaz decreased as the blessings she received increased. Boaz, as we saw in the first half of chapter 2, had already blessed her by (1) acknowledging her, (2) granting her a degree of status, and (3) offering her protection. In the second half of the chapter, the blessings increase to a degree that can only be described as lavish. In our text, Boaz (1) invited Ruth to sit closer, (2) passed her roasted grain, (3) personally told his young men to let her glean not only where grain had been left behind but also “among the sheaves,” among the bound bundles of grain stalks, (4) told the young men actually to pull stalks from the bundles and drop them for her to gather, and (5) personally and directly forbade the young men to harass or harm her (as opposed to his initially sending word to the young men through his servant).
Whatever Boaz’s actions are, they are not subtle. This is outlandish, lavish, over-the-top, eyebrow raising grace! So outlandish is this kindness, that when Ruth threshed what she had gleaned, she ended up with “about an ephah of barley.” An ephah is roughly 29-50 pounds, according to our reckoning. An ephah would be enough grain to provide a single person enough food for a number of weeks. She took the grain home to a very surprised Naomi, as well as the left overs from her earlier meal of roasted grain cakes.
Here is a picture of Boaz’s growing affection for Naomi. Here is a picture of how God blesses us.
But do not forget: the blessings increase as the distance decreases.
I suppose that one of the more common and more frustrating phenomena I have encountered are Christians who complain that they are not experiencing the blessings and peace of God but who will, in the same breath, admit that they have not drawn closer to Jesus in their own walks. The blessings increase as the distance decreases. Simply put, there is something patently absurd about complaining that you do not feel God near when you are refusing to go to Him consistently in prayer, to read and immerse yourself in His word, and to serve Him. Remember: the father allowed the prodigal son to run away. When the son hit bottom and started home, however, the father ran to him with open arms. The blessings increase as the distance decreases.
The Lord Jesus had obliterated all distance by coming to us, yet we still seek to keep Him at arm’s length. Why? The closer we draw to Jesus, the more we are able to see and understand and receive and celebrate the amazing and lavish blessings He gives us. We are Ruth. We are the recipients of an embarrassing amount of grace! The Lord has opened the treasury to us in Christ and his given us stunning amounts of love, grace, mercy, peace, hope, and joy!
God’s grace gives us spiritual healing, allowing us to move from anger to praise.
What is more, there are healing properties in grace. This can be seen in the effect that Boaz’s kindness had on Naomi. Naomi, understandably, wanted to know who had shown her daughter-in-law such unexpected kindness.
19 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.” 20a 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 was stunned to hear that Ruth had gleaned in Boaz’s field. But her reaction is telling for another reason. For the first time since Naomi’s bitter complaint against God’s treatment of her in chapter 1, the realization of the grace that God had shown her and Ruth moved her to praise God. Katharine Doob Sakenfeld proposes that Naomi’s response “may be regarded as the turning point of the story both theologically and rhetorically.” She furthermore suggests that, “Naomi has begun a healing journey, a journey from despair to hope, a journey from a living death to a life worth living.”
This would seem to be the case. Naomi moves from anger at God in chapter 1 to worship and praising God in chapter 2. Old Testament scholars are divided on just what Naomi is saying in verse 20: “And Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, ‘May [Boaz] be blessed by the Lord, whose kindness has not forsaken the living or the dead!’” The question is, whose kindness has not forsaken the living or the dead, Boaz’s kindness or God’s kindness? It is notoriously difficult to translate.
Many scholars suggest that the rendering is intentionally ambiguous, however, and that it is making the point that God’s kindness is all bound up in Boaz’s kindness. This would support the idea of Boaz as a type or picture of the lovingkindness, the hesed, of God.
Regardless of how you render it, Naomi turned to God now with praise and not complaint. The name of the Lord was no longer bitter on her lips. It was sweet. She asked that God bless Boaz because God, through Boaz, had blessed her and Ruth.
It is almost certainly the case that Ruth saw beyond the blessing of food, lavish though it was, and foresaw the eventual marriage of Boaz and Ruth, or at least the possibility of such. Old Testament scholar Robert Hubbard has pointed out how similar Ruth 2 is to Genesis 24. In Genesis 24, Abraham sends his servant to Mesopotamia in order to find a wife for his son, Isaac. You may recall that the servant goes and waits by the well and asks that God reveal Isaac’s bride by having her respond to his request for water by saying that she will draw water for him as well as for his camels. In that context, when the servant discovers Rebekah, he says, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken his steadfast love and his faithfulness toward my master. As for me, the Lord has led me in the way to the house of my master’s kinsmen.” This is very similar to Naomi’s words in verse 20: “May he be blessed by the Lord, whose kindness has not forsaken the living or the dead!
Russell concludes that “the similarity of Ruth 2 and Genesis 24 suggests that Naomi’s remark probably has marriage in mind.” He also quotes Alter to the effect that “the entire dialogue between Boaz and Ruth conforms to a common Hebrew literary convention, the ‘betrothal type-scene.’ That is, in reporting vv.8-17, the author employed certain literary conventions well known to his audience in order to portray the episode as a betrothal – more precisely, a prelude to betrothal.”
Did Naomi know for sure that Ruth and Naomi would eventually marry? Who knows, but she appeared to realize that there was more in the air than just kindness. She seemed to suspect that love was in the air as well.
Regardless, Naomi was now overwhelmed by grace and its life-changing possibilities, and this grace healed her spiritually.
Are you struggling with bitterness or anger toward God? Let me challenge and encourage you to do this one thing: take some time and reflect long and hard at all the many acts of grace and kindness and hesed and love that God has shown you and is showing you now. How do you do that? Take some time and reflect long and deeply on the cross of Jesus. Consider what He has done for you, what He has won for you, what He has secured for you! Even in the midst of pain, consider what grace Jesus has lavished upon you! It will be medicine to your soul! Grace heals the hurting heart!
God’s grace provides us with a family, a people to whom to belong.
And it is God’s grace that gives us a family. Boaz had already granted Ruth a kind of familial status in his field, at least to some extent. Naomi, however, did two things to suggest that Ruth’s meeting with Boaz meant that Ruth now had family status.
20b 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.
First, Ruth tellingly uses the pronoun “our” in speaking to Ruth: “The man is a close relative of ours, one of our redeemers.” In doing so, Naomi appears to have warmed to Ruth. The rudeness she showed her in chapter 1 has now given way to open acceptance and acknowledgement of her. Ruth is now part of “our family.”
More significantly, Naomi identified Boaz as “one of our redeemers.” This had rich implications. Boaz was a kinsman-redeemer. The kinsman-redeemer referred to the closest relative who had the right and responsibility to care for destitute members of the extended family by doing certain things:
- The redeemer was to repurchase clan land sold because of economic hardships (Leviticus 25:25-30).
- The redeemer was to buy back relatives who had sold themselves into slavery as a result of poverty (Leviticus 25:47-55).
- The redeemer was to avenge murdered family members by hunting down the murderers and killing them (Numbers 35:12,19-27; Deuteronomy 19:6,12; Joshua 20:2-3,5,9).
- The redeemer “was the recipient of money paid as restitution for a wrong committed against someone now deceased (Num[bers] 5:8).”
- The redeemer assisted clan members in lawsuits.
Thus, Naomi pointed out to Ruth the possibility that Boaz could do more than merely feed them. After all, the harvest was ending soon. But we are getting ahead of ourselves. Even if we did not have the rest of the story, Boaz had already changed Ruth’s familial status. He had seen her, acknowledged her, drawn her into the circle of his people, extended to her his protection, provided for her above and beyond all expectation, and had blessed her extended family as well, her mother-in-law. He had taken a foreign woman who had no significant connections in Bethlehem and given her a name, in essence, a family.
In Romans 11, the Apostle Paul made a fascinating statement about (1) Israel’s rejection of Jesus and (2) the acceptance of the Gentiles into the family of God. He uses the imagery of branches.
11 So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall? By no means! Rather through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous. 12 Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean! 13 Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry 14 in order somehow to make my fellow Jews jealous, and thus save some of them. 15 For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead? 16 If the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, so is the whole lump, and if the root is holy, so are the branches. 17 But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, 18 do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you. 19 Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” 20 That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. 22 Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off. 23 And even they, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again. 24 For if you were cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, the natural branches, be grafted back into their own olive tree.
It is a compelling image. Paul says that we Gentiles are like branches from a wild olive tree that have, by God’s grace, been grafted into a cultivated olive tree. The cultivated olive tree stands for God’s covenant people. The wild olive tree stands for the Gentile world, the pagan world. The two do not naturally belong together. It is an act of grace that welcomes the wild branch into the cultivated tree.
Ruth does not naturally belong with Boaz. She is accepted into the circle of his people because of his grace.
You and I do not naturally belong in the family of God. We are accepted into the circle of his people because of His grace.
Grace is so powerful. Grace is so beautiful. Grace is so amazing.
It is lavish. It is powerful. It is has the ability to heal, to welcome, to draw, to include, to protect, to fill, and to bless.
All of this and more is offered to all of us this very day in Jesus Christ, the lamb of God who comes to take away the sins of the world and offer grace.
 https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2013/july/2072913.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium =feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+preachingtoday%2Fillustrations+%28Preaching+Today+Illustrations%29&utm_content=Google+Feedfetcher
 Kirsten Nielson, Ruth. The Old Testament Library. (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1997), p.61.
 Katharine Doob Sakenfeld, Ruth. Interpretation. (Louisville, KY: John Knox Press, 1999), p.47-48.
 Robert L. Hubbard, Jr., The Book of Ruth. The New International Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1988), p.187.
 Robert L. Hubbard, Jr., p.188-189.