Famine to Favor - Ruth 1-4 NIV
Today Ruth. We think of Ruth as a love story. So much more. In Hebrew Bible Ruth comes after Proverbs. Example of wisdom and Proverbs 31 - the godly woman. 8 examples of Christian-Judeo principles to live by
8 Lessons Learned From Ruth
#1: ___________ matters most in a crisis and reveals character.
“Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.” Ruth 1:16 NIV
This may be most famous verse from Ruth. Famous for a reason. Wasn’t said dreamily or romantically. Hardship and uncertainty. Naomi’s husband deceased. Her sons deceased. Ruth’s husband. Orpah’s husband. Famine. Living as outsiders in another country. Orpah does what most of us would do - what Naomi expects - she goes home. Ruth declares loyalty to the very end. Ruth “clung to her.” “Where you die I will die!” Those weren’t lyrics. Death was a real possibility! Loyalty matters. But it matters most when the chips are down, when it’s disadvantageous to be loyal. That’s when it reveals a true, godly character. We all need loyalty - people we know we can count on no matter what!
#2: Loyalty + _____________ reveals opportunity.
“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.” …As it turned out, she was working in a field belonging to Boaz.” Ruth 2:2-3 NIV
Ruth doesn’t expect a handout. She goes to work. She suggests it. “Let me go…” Turns out that she is “working in a field belonging to Boaz.” The story is written to suggest this was a surprise - a happy opportunity. Life is like that - when you take initiative you discover opportunities you didn’t know were there. Opportunities don’t come a knocking. YOU knock and opportunities open their doors to you.
#3: Loyalty + initiative + _______________ reveals recognition.
“Boaz asked the overseer of his harvesters, ‘Who does that young woman belong to?’ The overseer replied, ‘She came into the field and has remained here from morning till now.’” Ruth 2:5,7 NIV
Gleaning was hard work. Picking left over grain. There is a reason it was left over. Just wasn’t worth the effort. Unless you’re starving. There’s also a reason why Ruth would stay from morning until evening. It would take all day to gather enough grain to make a loaf of bread. But here’s the thing about L+I+HW. That combination almost always gets recognized - in almost every situation. Stands out because it’s not the norm.
#4: Loyalty + initiative + hard work + ___________ reveals results.
“‘I will do whatever you say,’ Ruth answered. So she went down to the threshing floor and did everything her mother-in-law told her to do.” Ruth 3:5-6 NIV
This is Naomi’s world, not Ruth’s. Naomi sees the opportunity of the guardian-redeemer. The land owned by Naomi’s husband could not be owned by Naomi, but couldn’t be owned by just other man either. Had to be a close relative, a “guardian-redeemer.” So Naomi sees the opportunity and gives Ruth instructions. To follow Naomi’s instructions took considerable boldness. She had to find the place where Boaz would sleep guarding his grain at night, sleep at his feet.
“And now, my daughter, don’t be afraid. I will do for you all you ask.” Ruth 3:11
This is why Naomi says to not be afraid. Fearful of rejection. Embarrass-ment. Of being thrown out. Ruth is exceptional. “I will do for you all you ask. Remember - this is Naomi’s husband’s land that is being redeemed. Boaz favors Ruth not Naomi. Presumably Boaz older and unattractive to a young woman. Obeying when you take risk for another’s reward!
#5: Even with loyalty + initiative + hard work + obedience, we must ______________
She said, “Spread the corner of your garment over me, since you are a guardian-redeemer of our family.” Ruth 3:9 NIV
This is important. Sometimes we can have all the internal character traits but we must also be able to communicate what we desire with our words. Words matter. Unique to humans in all of creation. Words come harder to some than to others, but we all can do this. Important lesson for toddlers. “Use your words!” These words: “Spread your garment” are code words for this society. Here’s how it translates today: “Will you marry me?” This is NOT about a sexual encounter! No cynics here please! The rest of the story wouldn’t fit if that’s what this was about, and it certainly wouldn’t be Scripture. Nevertheless, this had to be hard to do for Ruth!
#6: _____________ so L + I + HW + O + W aren’t wasted.
“Although it is true that I am a guardian-redeemer of our family,
there is another who is more closely related than I.” Ruth 3:12 NIV
Every society has rules, laws. We must accomplish our wishes within that set of rules. Otherwise we risk losing all we have worked for over a technicality. (You caught the ball for a touchdown but the tackle offsides) Boaz knows there is one guardian-redeemer who is closer than he and who has first rights to Naomi’s husband’s property (and therefore to Ruth) than his right. So he has to take that into account… to strategize!
Before we move on, important for us not to skip this value. Society depends upon it. We can lower the rules below our own wishes but then there would be chaos. That was the whole point to Judges 17:6; 21:25 - “Everyone did what seemed right in their own eyes.” Knowing and following the rules may be harder, but long-term lasting!
#7: L + I + HW + O + W + Rules + __STRATEGY__ equals win-win.
“I thought I should bring the matter to your attention and suggest that you buy it in the presence of these seated here and in the presence of the elders of my people.” Ruth 4:4 NIV
Important principle - How can I accomplish what I want and yet still remain within the rules? Takes thinking through. Boaz knows there is another redeemer-guardian closer than he. If Boaz tries to talk him out of his right, that will make him want it all the more! So strategy is to make him want it but then realize the complication (Ruth). And also, to do it in front of witnesses. The entire thing is staged accordingly. This is presented as a good thing. I didn’t bend the rules. I followed the rules and then used those same rules to cement my preferred position so that everybody wins! This takes patience and wisdom and maturity!
#8: L + I + HW + O + W + R + S + _________ equals more than we could ever imagine!
So far this seems like a story without God. No miracles. No prayer. Yet every single chapter refers often to “the Lord.” Always an awareness of His Presence and participation. Yet we don’t see the point of the story from God’s perspective other than live right. Yet when we live right, there is an outcome that God will use and bless. Multiple times “May the Lord bless” and he absolutely did in a huge and miraculous way…
“The women living there said, ‘Naomi has a son!’ And they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David… David was the father of Soloman… and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah.” Ruth 4:17 Matthew 1:6,16 NIV
To understand the rest of the story - from God’s perspective - we have to fast forward 1200+ years. Ruth gives birth to a son, “Obed” (serving, worshiping - root word of our “obedience!), who has a son, Jesse, who has a son, King David! And down through the generations to Joseph the earthly father of Jesus. God works through our righteous living. Our stories become God’s stories and are used by Him long after us!