A Love Story
The story of Boaz and Ruth is one of the most beautiful love stories in the Bible and is a picture of our relationship with Christ, who is our Kinsman Redeemer as we, His Church, are His spiritual bride.
Let me give you a little background on how I came to include this love story in this message from the Gospel of Luke, which just so happened to be preached on February 15, 2009, the day after Valentine’s Day. I did not plan this in advance.
Actually, for the last six years we have been working our way through the Gospel of Luke and as I write this, we are in the 20th chapter dealing with the events that occurred as Jesus prepared to go to the cross to be sacrificed for our sins. Many of the messages from this Luke series cover a wide variety of topics that can be found on this web site under the following links: Beatitudes, Discipleship, Hypocrisy, Kingdom, Lost and Found, Prayer, Prophecy, Service, Stewardship,and others. I’m constantly amazed at the wide variety of topics I cover just by preaching through books of the Bible verse by verse; sometimes, topics that I would normally try to avoid.
In Luke 20:27-36 we observe the continued efforts of the Pharisees and Sadducees to snare Jesus in their traps and find reason to turn Him over to the Roman authorities for crucifixion.
A SILLY ‘WHAT IF’ QUESTION OF THE SADDUCEES
The Pharisees were the Legalists and the Sadducees were the Liberals of His day. The Sadducees, as the Liberals today, did not believe in a literal, bodily resurrection.
Though the Pharisees and Sadducees were enemies, they were united in their common hatred of Jesus to have Him killed. In the Luke passage before us the Sadducees asked a silly “what if” question concerning the Resurrection. These “what if” questions, usually a waste of time and a distraction from the more important issues of life, were presented to Jesus to try to trip Him and find a cause to destroy Him and His powerful influence.
This “what if” question concerned a woman whose husband had died and she married his brother. The brother died and this was repeated until the woman had been married to seven husbands. “In the Resurrection,” they asked, “which husband of the seven will she have?”
A STRANGE MOSAIC LAW
They are referring to the Mosaic Law in Deuteronomy 25:5-10. It concerns a man who marries and then dies childless. It was the responsibility of the next marriageable brother to marry his deceased brother’s widow to give her one child in the name of his deceased brother so that his descendents could receive their inheritance.
To refuse to take this responsibility was considered shameful and it was the custom for the rejected widow to remove a shoe from the one who rejected her and spit in his face. Yes, that sounds crude to us, but that was the law according to Deuteronomy 25:5-10
One selfish drawback to fulfilling this responsibility was that by raising up a seed to receive his brother’s inheritance, he was diminishing his own inheritance as it was divided among more people.
Of course, the Sadducees were taking this law to ridiculous extremes in order to try to trap Jesus. Jesus takes the opportunity to teach important truths concerning the resurrection which we will consider in the next message.
THE LOVE STORY OF RUTH AND BOAZ
The story of Ruth and Boaz is a wonderful love story, illustrating some facets of the Deuteronomy 25 law concerning marrying widows. Let’s enjoy and be blessed by the love story of Ruth which occurred in Bethlehem a thousand years before the baby Jesus was born there in a stable.
I encourage you to read the story directly from the Book of Ruth. Let me summarize it for you.
Elimelech and his wife Naomi of Bethlehem went down into Moab to escape a famine in their region. They took their two sons, Mahlon and Chilion with them. Their sons married Moabitess girls: Mahlon married Ruth and Chilion married Orpah. Then trouble and grief came to the family. First, Elimelech died leaving Naomi a widow; and then the two sons died, leaving their wives as widows.
Distressed, Naomi decided to return to Bethlehem with Ruth and Orpah. As she began her journey, she turned to her daughters-in-law and encouraged them to stay in Moab with their families. She was growing old and had no other sons to offer them as husbands.
Orpah agreed with her mother-in-law and decided to stay in Moab. Ruth, on the other hand, had a special bond with Naomi and with Nomi’s God who had become her God. Listen to her beautiful soliloquy in Ruth 1:16-17, often used at weddings.
“Entreat me not to leave thee, nor to return from following after thee; for whither thou goest, I will go. Where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God, my God. Where thou diest, I will die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if aught but death part thee and me.”
So Ruth returned to Bethlehem with her mother-in-law. Back in Bethlehem she was providentially led to glean grain in the fields of Boaz, a wealthy young man who was related to Elimelech, the deceased husband of Naomi.
Note Ruth’s prophetic statement of faith in Ruth 2:2 “Let me now go to the field, and glean ears of grain after him in whose sight I shall find grace.”
Note in Ruth 2:3 that “her hap was to light on or to glean in the fields of Boaz. There are no happenstances with God. Every detail of our life is important to God and He orchestrates and guides all our steps.
BOAZ SMITTEN BY LOVE FOR RUTH
It didn’t take Boaz very long to discover this new gleaner working in his fields and he asked his workers about her. It was not difficult to see that he had a very special interest in this young lady.
He invited her to continue gleaning in his fields and gather all she needed. He was also concerned about her safety among the workers and instructed her to stay close to the other women gleaning in the fields. He also commanded the male workers to leave her alone and to allow her to drink the water they drew for themselves. Ruth bowed herself before Boaz and was amazed at the grace and love he bestowed on her, a Moabite stranger.
The reasons Boaz was drawn to Ruth is found in verse 11. He was impressed; not only by her beauty, but by the beautiful relationship between Ruth and her mother-in-law, Naomi. He was impressed that Ruth loved Naomi and Naomi’s God enough to leave her Moabite family and friends to come to the people of Israel and to Israel‘s God.
Boaz blessed Ruth in verse 12. “The Lord recompense thy work and a full reward be given thee of the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust.” Ruth responded to him in gratitude and humility and they had dinner together.
Boaz instructed his workers to leave handfuls of the barley untouched on purpose to make it easier for her to glean more. One thing was obvious about this young lady. She was a hard worker and continued gleaning until evening and harvested over a bushel of barley for her own needs.
NAOMI, A WISE MOTHER-IN-LAW
Naomi was very aware, as most mothers are, when their daughters are in love. In Ruth 3:1-4 Naomi instructed Ruth concerning her next very delicate steps in regard to Boaz who at night was winnowing barley on the threshing floor and sleeping there. She was to wash herself, anoint herself with perfumed oils, put on a clean dress and make her way down to the threshing floor. She was to keep hidden from the men, including Boaz.
After he had eaten supper, he would lie down on the threshing floor, cover himself with a blanket and go to sleep. Before dark she was to take note of that spot. Then in the darkness, she was to slip into the room quietly and gently uncover his feet and lie down at his feet. When Boaz awoke, he would tell her what to do. Ruth followed Naomi’s instruction and crept into the room when all were asleep and uncovered Boaz’s feet and laid down at his feet, sharing his blanket.
Can you imagine Boaz’s shock and fear when he awoke at midnight and found a woman sleeping at his feet? He asked her who she was.
She replied that she was Ruth, a near kinsman to him. Boaz may have been a brother of Mahlon, her deceased husband. She asked Boaz if he would spread his skirt over her, reminding him of his responsibility as a near kinsman- as though he needed to be reminded!
In Ruth 3:10-11 Boaz blessed her for her virtuous reputation and he admitted that he was her kinsman and had a responsibility to her; however, he said, “there is a nearer kinsman than I.”
Boaz said to her, Let’s get some sleep and in the morning we will check with the nearer kinsman and see if he is willing to take his responsibility. If he is not willing, then I will fulfill my responsibility.
Next morning Ruth returned to Naomi with more grain from Boaz. With excitement she told her mother-in-law all that had happened that night. Both Boaz and Ruth were honorable and pure. They were simply following Jewish custom under those circumstances. Naomi gave her daughter-in-law some valuable advice, advice that every mother should give her daughter at times like this.
She said, “Sit still, my daughter, until you know how the matter will fall.” She knew Boaz and recognized the signs of love for her in his eyes. She continued, “This man is not going to rest until this matter is settled.”
THE WEDDING CEREMONY
Next morning Boaz went up to the city gate, known today as City Hall. He gathered ten elders of the land together to witness a legal transaction and instructed everyone to sit down.
Acting on behalf of Naomi, he was about to sell some of her land that had belonged to Elimelech, her deceased husband. This land would have been inherited by her deceased son, Mahlon. Because Ruth had been Mahlon’s wife, marrying her was part of the land deal.
Just then, the nearer kinsman of Mahlon came by, as Boaz expected. This nearer kinsman had the first chance to buy the land. Then Boaz explained to the elders Naomi’s sad story of losing her husband and sons. He told about Ruth, her widowed daughter-in-law. Then he spoke to the kinsman. “Naomi is come again out of the country of Moab and she needs to sell a parcel of land which was our brother, Elimelech’s.
The kinsman agreed to buy it. Then Boaz explained that the one who buys the land must also marry Ruth and raise up a child in Mahlon’s name to carry on his inheritance in Israel.
The Kinsman answered just as Boaz hoped he would. “I cannot redeem it for myself lest I mar or diminish my own inheritance. I cannot redeem it!
Part of an interesting custom took place, as we read in Deuteronomy 25 earlier. Because Ruth was not present at the proceedings, she did not remove his shoe or spit in his face. The kinsman took off his own shoe and gave it to a neighbor as a testimony that he could not, nor would not redeem the land and take his responsibility as near of kin.
Boaz immediately did what he so wanted to do. He bought the land and he took Ruth as his wife as these proceedings were witnessed by the elders of Bethlehem. Boaz and Ruth were now married. He took her to his home and in time Ruth bore a son who became the grand-father of David. Now Ruth the Moabitess, was in the royal line of whom Jesus was born one thousand years later.
Not only were Boaz and Ruth blessed with their baby boy, but Grandma Naomi was also blessed. It was as though her beloved son Mahlon was in her arms once again. Would you note that her friends and neighbors observing her joy, named the baby, Obed, a Hebrew word that means worshipper.
For a very interesting sequel to this story, go to VIRGIN BIRTH https://hiddentreasures.wordpress.com/category/virgin-birth/ on this web site and learn of the significance of that list of names in the genealogies found in the last five verses of the fourth chapter of Ruth.
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