Ruth Chapter 2 is where we’re going to be. And like we’ve been doing, we’re going to do through this whole book. We’re going to borrow a tradition from our Presbyterian brothers and sisters. We’re going to really elevate God’s word and make sure it stands alone and stands in front of us as valuable as it is. So we’re going to have a reading from the book of Ruth, and and at the end of it, Rose is going to say, “This is the Word of the Lord.” And we’re all going to respond with “Thanks be to God.” Yes! We had, like, eight people say it this time. Last week we didn’t have anybody say it. But we’ll all respond with a resounding, “Thanks be to God,” thanking him for his word that he has preserved for us to help us know who he is and his ways in the world. So go ahead, Rose.
Now Naomi had a relative on her husband’s side, a man of standing from the clan of Elimelek, whose name was Boaz.
2 And Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go to the fields and pick up the leftover grain behind anyone in whose eyes I find favor.”
Naomi said to her, “Go ahead, my daughter.” 3 So she went out, entered a field and began to glean behind the harvesters. As it turned out, she was working in a field belonging to Boaz, who was from the clan of Elimelek.
4 Just then Boaz arrived from Bethlehem and greeted the harvesters, “The Lord be with you!”
“The Lord bless you!” they answered.
5 Boaz asked the overseer of his harvesters, “Who does that young woman belong to?”
6 The overseer replied, “She is the Moabite who came back from Moab with Naomi. 7 She said, ‘Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves behind the harvesters.’ She came into the field and has remained here from morning till now, except for a short rest in the shelter.”
8 So Boaz said to Ruth, “My daughter, listen to me. Don’t go and glean in another field and don’t go away from here. Stay here with the women who work for me. 9 Watch the field where the men are harvesting, and follow along after the women. I have told the men not to lay a hand on you. And whenever you are thirsty, go and get a drink from the water jars the men have filled.”
10 At this, she bowed down with her face to the ground. She asked him, “Why have I found such favor in your eyes that you notice me—a foreigner?”
11 Boaz replied, “I’ve been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband—how you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before. 12 May the Lord repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.”
13 “May I continue to find favor in your eyes, my lord,” she said. “You have put me at ease by speaking kindly to your servant—though I do not have the standing of one of your servants.”
14 At mealtime Boaz said to her, “Come over here. Have some bread and dip it in the wine vinegar.”
When she sat down with the harvesters, he offered her some roasted grain. She ate all she wanted and had some left over. 15 As she got up to glean, Boaz gave orders to his men, “Let her gather among the sheaves and don’t reprimand her. 16 Even pull out some stalks for her from the bundles and leave them for her to pick up, and don’t rebuke her.”
17 So Ruth gleaned in the field until evening. Then she threshed the barley she had gathered, and it amounted to about an ephah. 18 She carried it back to town, and her mother-in-law saw how much she had gathered. Ruth also brought out and gave her what she had left over after she had eaten enough.
19 Her mother-in-law asked her, “Where did you glean today? Where did you work? Blessed be the man who took notice of you!”
Then Ruth told her mother-in-law about the one at whose place she had been working. “The nam e of the man I worked with today is Boaz,” she said.
20 “The Lord bless him!” Naomi said to her daughter-in-law. “He has not stopped showing his kindness to the living and the dead.” She added, “That man is our close relative; he is one of our guardian-redeemers.[b]”
21 Then Ruth the Moabite said, “He even said to me, ‘Stay with my workers until they finish harvesting all my grain.’”
22 Naomi said to Ruth her daughter-in-law, “It will be good for you, my daughter, to go with the women who work for him, because in someone else’s field you might be harmed.”
23 So Ruth stayed close to the women of Boaz to glean until the barley and wheat harvests were finished. And she lived with her mother-in-law.
This is the Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
So Ruth Chapter 2. In Ruth Chapter 1, we talked a little about the background of Ruth and some of the redemption roots that God was beginning to plan for. We looked at Bethlehem and its beginning. We looked at the Aphrothites, what that meant, and Judges and famine, the Lion of Judah. It was all a pretty sorrowful, sordid beginning for a lot of things. And as we get to the end of Ruth, we’re going to see the reason the writer is even taking the time to write about this one particular foreign woman that found her way into Israel, is because in her life she brought about redemption for all of those things in the past, Some of those things she know of, some of those things she had no idea about. The truth is, she didn’t get to see the fullness of redemption because it came after she had finished her life her.
But the depths of redemption, the depths and the riches of God’s love and plan, it is so true that he has in store for each one of us a future and a hope. That he can direct our paths in a way that it will not just be kindness and goodness in the land of the living, but even long after we’re gone those seeds that he’s planted through us will continue to grow up and come to fruition.
I loved what Alec was saying about the oak of righteousness, the planting of the Lord that’s restoring ancient places and rebuilding broken places. You love to see the picture of that little girl and all that she has potential for in Christ Jesus. And that’s us. That was the hope we had—we looked at how God loves to rewrite history. That was kind of the theme, I feel like, of chapter one.
And today we’re going to look at how God loves the foreigner. Ruth was definitely a Moabitess. We talked a little about the roots of the Moabite people and the enmity that was between Israel and the Moabites for generations and generations. And now there’s this Moabite woman who comes with a lot of Moabite baggage. Basically, they know she’s a Moabite. That’s what they say every time. She’s Ruth the Moabite. And what they’re saying is, “Ruth the ‘eh.’” “Ruth the ‘uh.’” “Ruth the ‘nnnh.’” That’s basically what they’re saying at this time.
And yet, in this chapter, as you read over and over and over again there are these little phrases that speak of the kindness that Boaz and Naomi were showing to Ruth the Moabitess. To where, a couple of times in this chapter she says, “Why is the happening? Why are you being so nice to me? Why have I found favor in your eyes? I don’t understand what’s happening. I’m so confused.”
And it’s because it’s the first time she is starting to interact with grace—unmerited, unearned, undeserved favor—which is the trademark of this God of the Bible, the God of the Israelites. So once again we’re going to dive further into the riches of God’s love.
Now, God loves the foreigner. And I’m not truing to make a political stance here. I will not use the word ‘wall’ at all in my message. And if I do, it’s a total accident. We need to pray for our government, that we can figure out some good solutions, that people can come together. I hope you’re praying for our government and our leaders because the truth is there. The Spirit of God can work through any nation, any leader, at any time. They just need to listen. They just need to find what God is saying in our nation and all the nations around the world. So we need to continue to pray that.
But what I’m really wanting us to do is to just get God’s heart. God’s not a Republican. He’s not a Democrat. He’s just God. He’s before all that. He’s beyond all that. He will be forever. And the Democrat and Republican parties won’t be forever. You know. Actually, who knows? They might not even last til the next election. Please don’t start filing things in the political category. You can talk to me about that, if you want. But you have your own freedom, your own right.
But what we’re trying to do is to fill in who is this God that has laid claim on our life and what does he want for us and how then can we act. And, yes, it might actually help you begin to act in society in a way that brings about justice or deals with certain situations in our society. There are all kinds of cool things happening where ICE, who’s picking up asylum refugees who are forcing their way in and they’re not sure what to do so they’re dropping them off at churches because they know the churches will take care of them.
And it’s not a political thing. You don’t hear churches saying, “And this is what we want to say. We’re taking care of…” You don’t even hear about it much, except for on some local news here and there. They’re just caring for people because the know that God loves the foreigner. And God loves all the people who are down and out and broken.
And they also know that God respects governments and sets governments up, and there are policies and procedures. We should try to help people follow them. Last year we were able to give a donation to people who were kind of stuck in that limbo situation. They needed to fill out some applications. The application was about $250 and they didn’t have that. So we went through an organization and were able to give some money to say, “Hey, if people are willing to go through the right process and they just can’t afford an application fee, we can help with that.” So we’re trying to get involved. There’s lots of different things we do to try to help the foreigner.
But I really want to make sure we try to get God’s heart. Here’s a few verses just to reiterate that same thing.
34 The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt; I am the Lord your God. — Leviticus 19:34 (NASB)
This is what God wrote into the law of the Hebrews.
Nor shall you glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather the fallen fruit of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the needy and for the stranger. I am the Lord your God. — Leviticus 19:10 (NASB)
God wants us to provide for them.
9 ‘When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very corners of your field, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest. 10 Nor shall you glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather the fallen fruit of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the needy and for the stranger. I am the Lord your God. —Leviticus 19:9-10 (NASB)
19 “When you reap your harvest in your field and have forgotten a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be for the alien, for the orphan, and for the widow, in order that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. 20 When you beat your olive tree, you shall not go over the boughs again; it shall be for the alien, for the orphan, and for the widow. (NASB)
God’s going to treat you in the way he sees you treating other people, in particular the stranger, the orphan, the widow.
28 “At the end of every third year you shall bring out all the tithe of your produce in that year, and shall deposit it in your town. 29 The Levite, because he has no portion or inheritance among you, and the alien, the orphan and the widow who are in your town, shall come and eat and be satisfied, in order that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hand which you do. —Deuteronomy 14:28-29 (NASB)
And then, in the New Testament it says:
Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it. —Hebrews 13:2 (NASB)
That verse, whatever, that is just out there; but the Lord is saying it and it’s possible that, sometimes the person you’re caring for could be an angel unaware.
And Jesus brought it home a little more in Matthew 25 when the people were saying, “When did I help you? When did I care for you? When did I show up in time of need? When did I visit you?” And he said, “When you did it to he least of these you actually did it straight to me.” And that’s the heart of our God that he’s wanting to kindle and produce inside of each of us. He loves the foreigner and you can see that on display here in Ruth Chapter 2.
So let’s get our characters real quick just to make sure we know what we’re talking about. Naomi is one of the main characters. Her name means “pleasant and delightful.” Remember in Chapter 1, at the end because of all the afflictions she said the Lord Almighty brought, she said, “Don’t call me Naomi anymore, call me Mara,” which basically means “bitterness.” But her name is Naomi. She’s pleasant and delightful. Her daughters-in-law loved her so much that even though she lost her husband and they lost their husbands (which were her sons), so it seemed like God was against her. She was even saying, “It feels like God is against me. I’m going back home. I’ve got nothing and I’m going back to nothing.” Her daughters-in-law still wanted to be around her because she was probably very pleasant and delightful and loved those daughters-in-law very well. One of them went back, Orpah. But Ruth stayed with her.
She’s probably an Enneagram 9. Yes. Laughter for that one. My wife is so Enneagram-ish right now. She’s got everybody figured out, totally. So she helped me with this.
Enneagram 9. She’s receptive, reassuring, agreeable and she has to fight against complacency. Key motivator—she liked to keep the peace and merge with others. Her key message in the Scripture is “the Almighty has.” Now this is interesting because she had a lot of good, good theology and there weren’t a lot of theology books going around at this time. She didn’t have the Apostles’ Creed. She didn’t have a lot of the things that we’ve figured out and we hold on to to help us solve some of these problems.
She just really submitted her life to the Almighty and she says things like, “the Almighty has made my life bitter. Some of you might be very uncomfortable with that phrase, but it’s Biblical. God is sovereign and he allows bitterness to come into our lives. There’s no other way to say it. There’s no other way to deal with it.
In some cases, it seems like he even causes bitterness to come into our lives. Now, it is never to ultimately bring about bitterness and pain. It’s always so that, ultimately, he can bring about goodness and life, no doubt about it. But sometimes in our lives we’re in a season where it just hurts. And God is saying, “I’m okay with this.” And she’s saying that.
But she also goes on right after that, “The Lord never stops showing kindness to the living and to the dead.” So think of Job when he says, “The Lord gives, the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord.” She understands that, “I just belong to the Almighty. I belong to this sovereign God. And there are times when he pours in the blessing and there are times when he pours in the pain. Either way, he is God and I’m going to assume my position in the relationship because I know ultimately his kindness will show through.”
She holds on. She’s really an amazing character in the BIble.
Next one: Ruth. Ruth’s name means “companion” or “friend.” Her enneagram is probably a 2. We have no idea. Demonstrative, generous, people-pleasing, sometimes she could get a little possessive. Her key motivator was to find out what people need. She did a good job. That’s probably what drove her to be with Naomi. Key message: “Where you go I will go. Where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God will be my God.” That was a massive declaration for a Moabite woman to basically submit herself to Naomi and her God and her people.
It was huge what she did in that moment, not knowing what the outcome would be; except for knowing that, as she goes into Israel, she knew she would experience persecution, discrimination, poverty, struggle and all those things. But she knew what was stirring in her heart and she went that way.
She also had some pretty awesome phrases in Ruth Chapter 2, which we read. “What is this favor I’m experiencing? Why are you doing this?” I love it. She’s just so confused by it. We’ll talk more about that in a moment,
And our last character, Boaz. Boaz means “swiftness” or “strength within.” That’s kind of cool. You could name your dog that or something, you know, if they’re fast.
Enneagram 3. Excelling, driven, image-conscious (which could be good or bad). Key motivator: being or appearing productive. Key message; “May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have taken refuge.”
That’s really the phrase I want you guys to take away today. This was what Boaz said to Ruth at one point. This is what it seems like Boaz believes and has experienced in his life—the favor of God. When he shows up in Ruth 2, he comes in and the first thing he says, “Blessed are all of you.” And they respond, “Blessed are you.” And he’s talking to his workers and his servants, all the people. He just has a kindness about him. He’s experienced kindness and he gives kindness and he receives kindness all because of it. He’s really an amazing character.
I want us to notice here, as we go through, there are some key phrases. I just want to work through some of these key phrases what it looks like, what it felt for Ruth to experience being under the wings of the Almighty. The reason I want us to do that is so we can begin to see where we’re at. Are we under the wings of the Almighty? Have we placed ourselves in that place? Have we removed ourselves from that place because God didn’t come through for us as quickly or in the way that we wanted him to?
What you can experience under the wings of the Almighty, in the grace of God, in Christ Jesus is basically the New Testament phrase that Boaz didn’t know because he’s Old Testament.
So we’re going to go through some of these phrases. The first one is going to be Attention. In verse 5, Boaz comes and asks all the people there, as he’s surveying his land, his work situation—he notices Ruth and he says, “Who does this young woman belong to?” That might sound like a funny phrase to you, like, “I don’t belong to anybody. It’s a free country.” You know, that’s America. You can stop.
It’s basically just saying, “Here’s this young woman. I know she doesn’t belong to me. I know she’s never been here before. What’s going on here?” Now, some people try to romanticize this, and he’s like, “Whoa! Who’s this young woman?” You know? But that doesn’t come until Chapter 3. So don’t go there yet. Chapter 3, yes, you can start reading in some romance. In fact, next week the sermon title is going to be “God Loves Romance.” But you should already figure it out on your own because it’s Valentine’s Day on Thursday. So don’t wait until Sunday to figure it out because you’ve already lost. Did I mention my wife’s birthday is Valentine’s Day?
So, it’s not romantic yet, I don’t think. I know we just got through the Hallmark movie season with Christmas, and you’re going to see it, but just wait until the next chapter. But in this chapter, Boaz says “Who does this young woman belong to?” Basically, he notices her. This is what I want you to hear—and some of you know this, you’ve experienced this because you’ve lived under the wings of the Almighty—but some of you don’t know about this.
God—the Bible is very clear—takes notice of you. He sees you. Phrases like he knows the number of hairs on your head. He actually has them numbered, is a different translation. And when one falls out he goes, “Oh, there goes number 470.” And for some of you he’s like , “Oh, there goes all of the 400’s.” Whatever it might be.
Psalm 139, if you read the whole thing, David is just kind of prophetically giving utterance to a song. He says, “You know me. You knew me in the womb. You know my going up, my going down, my lying down, my getting up. You just know so much about me.”
And then there’s this phrase that says, “How precious are your thoughts about me, oh God. They cannot be numbered. I can’t even count them. They outnumber the grains of sand. And when I wake up, you are still with me.”
And I love that, because, not only is he saying, “God, you know me. You’re actually thinking about me. You’re thinking about every part of my life, and when I wake up, you’re still there with me.” Because if I knew everything about you, I don’t know I’d still be with you, right? If you knew everything about me, you’d be, “I don’t know. It’s a little iffy in there somewhere.”
But I have a picture of, when I put my girls to bed or the foster boys that are living with us, and I just go in there at night and they’re not whining, they’re not fighting, they’re not hungry, they’re just sleeping. And I just look at them and I think, “Wow.” In that moment I just love them. I could just stare at them for hours.
And I think that’s the way the Lord feels toward us, toward you. And you might have grown up in a household where you didn’t get much attention. Or you might be in the loneliest season of your life. But the Bible makes it utterly clear from the beginning to the end that God is paying attention to you. The details of your life. The details of you. And he’s not paying attention looking for how he can bust you or catch you. He’s studying you so he can figure out how to show kindness to you in the way that fills your heart the most.
And if you are going to do a good job of Valentines Day or “Birth-entines” Day, whatever you might call it—it’s that same way. You study your spouse in order to be able to give them a gift that’s just going to make them go, “Wow. You really know me.” (And I’m really hoping I got the right one.)
So, moving on. That’s the first phrase that I just love in here: Who does that young woman belong to?
Number two on that list: Bam. Acceptance.
Why have I found favor as a foreigner? Is the next thing that she says as she’s interacting with Boaz. And he’s pouring out his kindness. He’s saying to her, “Hey, stay in my field. We’ll take care of you. Go ahead and get as much as you want. When you get thirsty, go ahead and drink at the same place as everybody else.” The people over there might be going, “What? We don’t want no Moabite in here?” And he’s just like, “Get over yourself.” And he’s setting this up.That phrase is “Why have I found favor as a foreigner?” And this, unpacked, is very easy.
Galatians 3:28 is Paul going off and trying to help people understand in a society that is so racist, that is so divided, that is built on a kind of hierarchical class system of Jews and Gentiles and Greeks. Everyone’s kind of looking down on each other. They all think they’re better than everyone. And Paul’s saying to them in such a massive declaration that no other religion, no other document could say in honesty, Paul is saying that in Christ Jesus there is no Jew, there is no Greek, there is no slave, there is no free, there is no male, there is no female. That is such an unbelievable statement to make, that with God there is no discrimination.
Now you might say, “Aha! What a second. God loves the Jew!” Yeah, he does. Totally. They’re his chosen people, no doubt about it. The BIble is very clear on that. But this is the way that you can understand that if you take in the full counsel of the Scriptures. God has chosen the Jew to be able to interact with them. And the way he interacts with the Jews helps us all learn how God will interact with us. They’re his chosen instrument.
I could teach everybody in here. Let’s say I really hated cell phones going off in church. I don’t. It’s just an example. Okay? I don’t care. You could call me right now. whatever. I won’t answer, unless it’s important. No, I won’t even know if it’s important. But, anyway, I could teach all of you. All I would need is for one person—let’s say Alec’s cell phone goes off. (Alec was the guy up here doing the baby dedication, but none of you noticed that because his hair touched the floor.)
So let’s say Alec’s phone goes off. I could make Alec my chosen person to teach all of you about myself. All I would have to do is — his cell phone goes off. I could jump down, punch him in the face, and then cut off his dreds, and throw his dreds, and then burn them in front of him and just laugh and mock him and say, “Don’t ever do that again!”
You guys would learn a lot about me through my one chosen vessel. You would learn that I have real problems. I need help immediately and that the smell of burning hair is disgusting. You’d learn a lot of things just from that one interaction.
God has chosen the Jew. Not because he loves the Jew better than anybody else. This is Paul teaching this, and he was like “super Jew.” But he was understanding, “Look, none of that matters in Christ Jesus.”
None what we learned from the Old Testament—there’s so much to learn from—and God’s not through with the Jew, either. If God all of a sudden was just going to be done with the Jew, guess what? All of us would have to fear that one day God would just be done with us. But God’s going to be faithful to the Jew throughout and we’re going to get to see it on display as the prophetic calendar continues to go forward. But God has been faithful to the Jew and we can understand that God’s going to be faithful to us.
And here, extended to this Moabite is the fullness of being under the wing of the Almighty. So attention, acceptance.
I love this phrase. The next phrase down says, “as it turns out.” So she goes to work in the field and it says, “As it turned out, she was working in the field of Boaz.” There’s no “as it turned out.” God orchestrated this thing. And under the wing of the Almighty, you’ll experience time and chance. You’ll experience luck. What? I thought this was church! It’s in Ecclesiastes. That’s what he says. Solomon, the wisest man that ever lived. He said, “I’ve seen something else under the sun. The race is not to the swift, or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned. But time and chance happen to them all.”
So, if you’re going to say, “Good luck” to somebody, you don’t have to be, like, “Uh! Oh no. I don’t believe in God because I said that.” Because God is orchestrating things that feel a lot like coincidence—luck and favor and all these things. It’s not a blind kind of thing. It’s not something that Bible teaches, “If you do this thing, ultimately these things will happen.” It’s just basically the favor of God.
Ruth didn’t do anything to deserve any of this, that God paid attention to her, and God accepted her, and God began to orchestrate her life as she chose to place herself under the shelter, under the wing of the Almighty. She said, “Your God will be my God.” God said, “Okay. We’re going to do something now.”
And for each one of you in this room or listening in the Philippines—(seriously—people listen in the Philippines)—if you put yourself in the shelter of the Almighty, which is putting yourself in Christ Jesus, God will orchestrate things. You will look back at some point and you will be like, “My life is a Hallmark movie!” It’s unbelieveable. And this year, we’re going to be trying to be family strong and highlight the strength of family, and we’re going to have some testimonies from our older folks. We’re going to get to hear some of their stories. Probably later on this summer. We’re just going to say, “Tell us the ‘coincidences’ that God has brought about in your life.” And we’re going to put them on display. It’s going to be awesome.
Attention. Acceptance. Coincidence. And then Favor. That same phrase, “Why have I found such favor?” “I don’t understand this thing. You’re showing me such kindness.”
For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless. —Psalm 84:11
Those who put themselves in Christ Jesus, you can experience favor. You can expect favor from God. Now the favor of God, again, you don’t control it, where you’re saying, “God, I gave myself to you, now you have to give me that girl (or that boy).” It doesn’t work that way. He decides what the favor is. But, I’ll tell you what, the favor that God brings into your life is way better than any of the small things you’re asking for right now.
I had a much different plan for my life. And God said to me, “Which one do you want? Your lan? Or my plan?” And I didn’t know, so I just said, “You’ve probably got a good plan.” And I started going the Lord’s way, and with his plan, and started taking the opportunities he said, and resist some of the times when I was, like, “But that’s a good plan over here.” And he sais, “No, go this way.” And so I went that way. And my life has been so much richer and fuller because of it.
The favor of God is what you want in your life, even more than what you think you want in your life. And Ruth got to experience that.
The next thing is Provision for the needs of you and yours. This is awesome.
And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. —Philippians 4:19
And the phrase there that I love out of Ruth 2 is that she brought home an ephah of barley. So she’s out there, and Boaz is hanging out, he’s watching her. She’s working hard. She asks for permission to work in the field. They said, “Yes.” He gets that cleared. And he asks, “Who is this?” And they said, “That’s Ruth, the Moabitess.” And everybody knows the story because everybody knows everybody’s business in the little town of Bethlehem. And he’s like, “Oh, she’s the one that stuck with Naomi and came here. That’s pretty cool.” And the go on.
She’s working all day long, and then at lunch time he’s like, “Why don’t you call her over here and let’s get her some food.” He is just showing kindness. His heart is just drawn to her. And again, I don’t think it’s all romantic at this point. It’s going to get there. But don’t go there yet. He’s showing kindness because he’s heard of what she’s done.
She comes and they have this roasted barley, mmm, you know? He’s going all out for her. That’s what I’m doing for Valentine’s Day this year. “Brittany, I got all this roasted barley for us. Yeah.”
And then he gives her some of the roasted barley to take home because there are leftovers. And she’s got that. But then also, by the end of the day, he says, “Make sure she gets a whole bunch of unroasted barley” (which is still a good thing). And she takes home an ephah of barley, which is about 30 pounds.
So here’s Ruth. She goes to the field. And they don’t have any food. She’s trying to get a little something. Now not only does she have a doggie bag in one pocket, but then she’s carrying 30 pounds of barley. She comes home and she’s like, “What’s up, Naomi?” Bam! And Naomi’s like, “Huh! That’s an ephah!” You know? Or whatever she said. I don’t know. Sorry about that.
God loves to provide for the needs of you and yours. And if you’ll hang on to the Lord’s hand, you might go through times that are lean, but in the end, you will say just like the Psalmist said, “I have never seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging bread.”
God knows how to provide for what you need. No just for you, but for those you love, as well. He’s so faithful. His riches are unbelievable in that regard.
I wrote Redemption as number 6, but we’re going to get that. The last chapter we’re going to call “God Loves Redemption.” We’re going to get a lot of those stories, so we can skip that for now. This last one is what I want to finish up with: Unending kindness to the living and the dead. That’s what Naomi says. When she sees the ephah of barley, she hears all this stuff, she catches that Boaz is a kinsman redeemer. We don’t know what that means. Ruth doesn’t know what that means at this point. But Naomi’s like, “Hmmm.” And nothing happens at this point, but Naomi, you know, “Matchmaker, Matchmaker, make me a match…” So she’s like, “Wait a second. There could be something here.”
And so she starts to have this new hope burst into her Mara soul. Do you understand what’s happening in here? So Ruth, Boaz, blah, blah, blah. They’re just kind of nice people doing their thing. But Naomi catches, all of a sudden, it’s almost as if the Spirit whispers to her bitter soul as she hears that Boaz is the field she was in. She says, “Oh. interesting.” And it’s like, boom, the light begins to shine. The sun comes out. The clouds part in her weary, weary soul. And she says this phrase…
Verse 20 “The Lord bless him!” Naomi said to her daughter-in-law. “He has not stopped showing his kindness to the living and the dead.”
And so Naomi catches something here, that is only a declaration at this point. She doesn’t know the rest of the story of her life and Ruth’s life. She doesn’t know the rest of Ruth. She didn’t get to listen to my message last week about all the seeds of sorrow that the Lord was bringing redemption to—wild redemption to through this little life, this little story in the book of Ruth. But she, all of a sudden, sees a window of opportunity open and she says, “Wow. The Lord who has afflicted me, the Lord who brought me out full and brought me back empty, the Lord who has brought great sorrow to me, that same Lord has unending kindness for the living and the dead.”
She’s saying, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, wait a second. Not only did I get an ephah of barley today and you got to see the kindness of a man of God, a man of the God of Israel; not only did you get protected as a foreigner, as a Moabite woman who probably would have been brutally raped or abused in any other situation, if not just rejected or kicked out; but you experienced favor. You experienced kindness. You experienced provision. Now you’re bringing hope. I’m getting to experience it too. And not only that, but you just so happened, as it turned out, you were in the field of Boaz, who is a kinsman redeemer.”
She starts to think, “Maybe just maybe, when my husband died and our sons died, and all hope of our future died, maybe just maybe God is orchestrating a future for us. Not only for you and I to be taken care of with some with some food, but for our family line to continue on. For Ruth, maybe you even have a future and a hope. Maybe as I die, you’re going to be taken care of.
She doesn’t know the full story. She might have this glimmer of “Maybe you’re going to marry Boaz and you’re going to have a baby and he’s going to become the grandfather of the king of Israel, the great king of Israel and he’s going to be the father, the father, the father, the father…of actually Jess, the Messiah!” Maybe she thought that. I don’t think so. But she had the beginning of that hope land in her soul.
And today, no matter what you’ve been through, no matter what you’re in right now, if you will place yourself under the wing of the Almighty, you will begin to experience the favor of the Lord and a window of hope will open in your soul and you will begin to see the kindness of God—not only to the living but to the dead. Not only will you go to heaven, but even after you.
I love what Mark Buckley says. He says, “The prayers of the saints who have passed before us, their prayers are still going.” And that was big for me, because my mom died too early. But I know all the prayers she prayed for me are still alive because God is alive.
And Naomi is saying, “Not only is the Lord going to take care of us, but he’s even going to show kindness to my husband that passed away, my sons that passed away. He’s orchestrating something.” And she’s putting her hope in him. And all of this pain, all of this sorrow can be redeemed, can come untrue. It might take a lifetime. It might take a hundred lifetimes, but she has this glimmer of hope that, “One day I’m going to stand before God and I’m going to say, ‘RIghteous and true are your judgements. Every single thing that you did or allowed, I can see how you were orchestrating beauty.’”
Some of those things are really hard to see, but if you stay under the wing of the Almighty, you will get to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living, and you will get to see the full expression of his unending kindness to both the living and the dead.
This is our God. We sang about it in the beginning. He’s with us in the wilderness, faithful to provide. This is our God. Let’s pray:
Jesus, we do thank you so, so, so, so much, for your unending, limitless kindness toward us who are foreigners. We’re foreigners because of being born in the genealogy that we are. We’re foreigners because we’ve sinned against you and fallen short of your glory. We’re foreigners because we’re weak, we’re broken. We’re poor in spirit. We’re so selfish. So small-minded. But we know that you love the foreigner, the widow, the orphan, the sinner.
And so we come and we want to place our lives, our futures, our pasts, our presents under the shadow, under the wing of your love. We thank you that all of it is possible because of Jesus. He made a way where there was no way. He abolished all the walls of enmity that separate us from you when he died on that cross. And so we can come running to you, knowing that we will be received and forgiven, because the price has already been paid. I pray that there would be some people in this room today who have never been under the wing of the Almighty, or have veered off, strayed away from it, I pray that they would come back.
And if that is you, all you have to do is say a prayer. Just speak to God. He’s paying attention to you. He’s listening for your voice Speak to him and say, “God, I need you. I’m lost without you.I pray you would receive me and teach me how to walk in your ways, and you would allow me to feel what it’s like to live under the wing of the Almighty. In Christ’s name.”
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