RUTH AND BOAZ
Galatians 3:13, ESV
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us...
RUTH 1:1-5, NIrV
1 There was a time when Israel didn’t have kings to rule over them. But they had leaders to help them. This is a story about some things that happened during that time. There wasn’t enough food in the land of Judah. So a man went to live for a while in the country of Moab. He was from Bethlehem in Judah. His wife and two sons went with him. 2 The man’s name was Elimelek. His wife’s name was Naomi. The names of his two sons were Mahlon and Kilion. They were from the tribe of Ephraim. Their home had been in Bethlehem in Judah. They went to Moab and lived there.
3 Naomi’s husband Elimelek died. So she was left with her two sons. 4 They married women from Moab. One was named Orpah. The other was named Ruth. Naomi’s family lived in Moab for about ten years. 5 Then Mahlon and Kilion also died. So Naomi was left without her two sons and her husband.
The story of Ruth takes place during the time of the book of Judges. In the Israelite city of Bethlehem, there was a famine: a time of too much sun, too little rain, and not enough food. To save his family from starving, a man named Elimelech packed up his wife Naomi and his two boys, left the promised land, and moved into the next door country of Moab. But sadness followed the family on their journey. Elimelech, the dad, died. Ten years later, his sons joined him in the grave. Living in a land far from home, the only family Naomi had left were the two women of Moab her sons had married.
+ What were the names of the two women of Moab that married Naomi’s sons? (vs. 4)
+ Look ahead at vs. 20-21. How did Naomi feel about what had happened to her?
RUTH 1:6-18, NIrV
6 While Naomi was in Moab, she heard that the Lord had helped his people. He had begun to provide food for them again. So Naomi and her two daughters-in-law prepared to go from Moab back to her home. 7 She left the place where she had been living. Her daughters-in-law went with her. They started out on the road that would take them back to the land of Judah.
8 Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Both of you go back. Each of you go to your own mother’s home. You were kind to your husbands, who have died. You have also been kind to me. So may the Lord be just as kind to you. 9 May the Lord help each of you find rest in the home of another husband.”
Then she kissed them goodbye. They broke down and wept loudly. 10 They said to her, “We’ll go back to your people with you.”
11 But Naomi said, “Go home, my daughters. Why would you want to come with me? Am I going to have any more sons who could become your husbands? 12 Go home, my daughters. I’m too old to have another husband. Suppose I thought there was still some hope for me. Suppose I married a man tonight. And later I had sons by him. 13 Would you wait until they grew up? Would you stay single until you could marry them? No, my daughters. My life is more bitter than yours. The Lord’s power has turned against me!”
14 When they heard that, they broke down and wept again. Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye. But Ruth held on to her.
15 “Look,” said Naomi. “Your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods. Go back with her.”
16 But Ruth replied, “Don’t try to make me leave you and go back. Where you go I’ll go. Where you stay I’ll stay. Your people will be my people. Your God will be my God. 17 Where you die I’ll die. And there my body will be buried. I won’t let even death separate you from me. If I do, may the Lord punish me greatly.” 18 Naomi realized that Ruth had made up her mind to go with her. So she stopped trying to make her go back.
Years before, Naomi traveled to Moab with her husband and two sons. But as she sadly packed her bags, she was the only one left alive to make the trip home to Israel. Her two daughters-in-law begged to join her, but Naomi said, “I have no more sons for you to marry. It’s best for you to stay here and find a new family.” Orpah took her mother-in-law’s advice, kissed Naomi goodbye, and stayed behind in Moab. But Ruth wouldn’t budge. She held on to Naomi for dear life and promised, “I’ll go where you go, live where you live, and die where you die. And your God will become my God.’’
+ The first time Naomi told Orpah and Ruth to go, what did they say? (vs. 9-10)
+ Growing up in Moab, Ruth was taught to worship their pretend gods. When she made her promise to Naomi, what did she say about Naomi’s God? (vs. 16)
RUTH 1:22-2:12, NIrV
22 So Naomi returned from Moab. Ruth, her daughter-in-law from Moab, came with her. They arrived in Bethlehem just when people were beginning to harvest the barley.
1 Naomi had a relative on her husband’s side of the family. The relative’s name was Boaz. He was a very important man from the family of Elimelek.
2 Ruth, who was from Moab, spoke to Naomi. Ruth said, “Let me go out to the fields. I’ll pick up the grain that has been left. I’ll do it behind anyone who is pleased with me.”
Naomi said to her, “My daughter, go ahead.” 3 So Ruth went out to a field and began to pick up grain. She worked behind those cutting and gathering the grain. As it turned out, she was working in a field that belonged to Boaz. He was from the family of Elimelek.
4 Just then Boaz arrived from Bethlehem. He greeted those cutting and gathering the grain. He said, “May the Lord be with you!”
“And may the Lord bless you!” they replied.
5 Boaz spoke to the man in charge of his workers. He asked, “Who does that young woman belong to?”
6 The man replied, “She’s from Moab. She came back from there with Naomi. 7 The young woman said, ‘Please let me walk behind the workers. Let me pick up the grain that is left.’ She came into the field. She has kept on working here from morning until now. She took only one short rest in the shade.”
8 So Boaz said to Ruth, “Dear woman, listen to me. Don’t pick up grain in any other field. Don’t go anywhere else. Stay here with the women who work for me. 9 Keep your eye on the field where the men are cutting grain. Walk behind the women who are gathering it. Pick up the grain that is left. I’ve told the men not to bother you. When you are thirsty, go and get a drink. Take water from the jars the men have filled.”
10 When Ruth heard that, she bowed down with her face to the ground. She asked him, “Why are you being so kind to me? In fact, why are you even noticing me? I’m from another country.”
11 Boaz replied, “I’ve been told all about you. I’ve heard about everything you have done for your mother-in-law since your husband died. I know that you left your father and mother. I know that you left your country. You came to live with people you didn’t know before. 12 May the Lord reward you for what you have done. May the Lord, the God of Israel, bless you richly. You have come to him to find safety under his care.”
Without husbands, food or money, Naomi and Ruth were in a tough situation. In Israel, needy people like widows were allowed to “glean.” They could pick grain plants that grew on the edge of a field or gather any leftover bits dropped by the workers. With this extra grain, Ruth and Naomi could make bread to eat. For a young woman on her own, gleaning was a dangerous job. But God made sure Ruth “just so happened” to end up in the field of Boaz, a man related to Naomi’s husband. After hearing how Ruth had treated Naomi, Boaz warned his workers, “Don’t you dare lay a finger on her!”
+ What instructions did Boaz give to Ruth? (vs. 8-9)
+ What did Boaz ask God to do for Ruth? (vs. 12)
RUTH 2:14-20, NIRV
14 When it was time to eat, Boaz spoke to Ruth again. “Come over here,” he said. “Have some bread. Dip it in the wine vinegar.”
She sat down with the workers. Then Boaz offered her some grain that had been cooked. She ate all she wanted. She even had some left over. 15 Ruth got up to pick up more grain. Then Boaz gave orders to his men. He said, “Let her take some stalks from what the women have tied up. Don’t tell her she can’t. 16 Even pull out some stalks for her. Leave them for her to pick up. Don’t tell her she shouldn’t do it.”
17 So Ruth picked up grain in the field until evening. Then she separated the barley from the straw. The barley weighed 30 pounds. 18 She carried it back to town. Her mother-in-law saw how much she had gathered. Ruth also brought out the food left over from the lunch Boaz had given her. She gave it to Naomi.
19 Her mother-in-law asked her, “Where did you pick up grain today? Where did you work? May the man who noticed you be blessed!”
Then Ruth told her about the man whose field she had worked in. “The name of the man I worked with today is Boaz,” she said.
20 “May the Lord bless him!” Naomi said to her daughter-in-law. “The Lord is still being kind to those who are living and those who are dead.” She continued, “That man is a close relative of ours. He’s one of our family protectors.”
God’s law instructed Boaz to let widows like Ruth glean in his fields. But Boaz went way beyond what the law required him to do. He fed Ruth such a massive meal, she had leftovers to take home to Naomi. And since he told his workers to leave behind extra grain, Ruth gathered enough to feed her and Naomi for two weeks! When a tired Ruth came home that night to tell her mother-in-law about her first day of work, Naomi said, “God bless that man! The Lord has been kind to us! Boaz is part of our family and one of our redeemers!” Tomorrow, you’ll learn exactly what a “redeemer” is.
+ What did Boaz tell his workers to do to help out Ruth? (vs. 16)
+ When Naomi heard about Boaz’s kindness, who did she thank? (vs. 20)
RUTH 3:1-5, NIRV
1 One day Ruth’s mother-in-law Naomi spoke to her. She said, “My daughter, I must find a home for you. It should be a place where you will be provided for. 2 You have been working with the women who work for Boaz. He’s a relative of ours. Tonight he’ll be separating the straw from his barley on the threshing floor. 3 So wash yourself. Put on some perfume. And put on your best clothes. Then go down to the threshing floor. But don’t let Boaz know you are there. Wait until he has finished eating and drinking. 4 Notice where he lies down. Then go over and uncover his feet. Lie down there. He’ll tell you what to do.”
5 “I’ll do everything you say,” Ruth answered.
When a man died in Israel, God’s law required his living family members to take care of his widow (the wife he left behind). Often, a man did this by marrying her. These people were called “family redeemers.” Boaz was one of the family redeemers responsible for Naomi and Ruth. When Naomi found out that Ruth “just so happened” to glean in Boaz’s field, she saw it as a perfect opportunity to find a new husband for Ruth! But instead of telling her daughter-in-law to ask Boaz out on a date, she instead told Ruth to sneak up as he slept in the middle of the night and pull the covers off his feet!
+ How long had Ruth been working in Boaz’s field ? (see Ruth 2:22-23)
+ Describe everything Naomi told Ruth to do. (vs. 3-5)
DAY 6 – TWO PARTS
READING 1 – RUTH 3:6-13, NIRV
6 So she went down to the threshing floor. She did everything her mother-in-law had told her to do.
7 When Boaz had finished eating and drinking, he was in a good mood. He went over to lie down at the far end of the grain pile. Then Ruth approached quietly. She uncovered his feet and lay down there. 8 In the middle of the night, something surprised Boaz and woke him up. He turned and found a woman lying there at his feet!
9 “Who are you?” he asked.
“I’m Ruth,” she said. “You are my family protector. So take good care of me by making me your wife.”
10 “Dear woman, may the Lord bless you,” he replied. “You are showing even more kindness now than you did earlier. You didn’t run after the younger men, whether they were rich or poor. 11 Dear woman, don’t be afraid. I’ll do for you everything you ask. All the people of my town know that you are an excellent woman. 12 It’s true that I’m a relative of yours. But there’s a family protector who is more closely related to you than I am. 13 So stay here for the night. In the morning if he wants to help you, good. Let him help you. But if he doesn’t want to, then I’ll do it. You can be sure that the Lord lives. And you can be just as sure that I’ll help you. Lie down here until morning.”
After a long day of work, Boaz slept next to his pile of grain to keep thieves away. When his cold toes woke him up in the middle of the night, he was surprised to discover he wasn’t alone! Ruth said, “Spread your wings over me, for you are my redeemer.” What did that mean? It was a fancy way of saying, “Will you marry me?” It’s not every day you wake up to a pretty lady asking to be your wife! Boaz let Ruth know that his answer was a 100% “Yes!” But he first needed to check with another family member. By Israel’s law, this man was first in line to be Ruth’s family redeemer.
+ What did Boaz give Ruth when she left? (vs. 15)
READING 2 – RUTH 4:9-17, NIRV
9 Then Boaz said to the elders and all the people, “Today you are witnesses. You have seen that I have bought land from Naomi. I have bought all the property that had belonged to Elimelek, Kilion and Mahlon. 10 I’ve also taken Ruth, who is from Moab, to become my wife. She is Mahlon’s widow. I’ve decided to marry her so the dead man’s name will stay with his property. Now his name won’t disappear from his family line or from his hometown. Today you are witnesses!”
11 Then the elders and all the people at the gate said, “We are witnesses. The woman is coming into your home. May the Lord make her like Rachel and Leah. Together they built up the family of Israel. May you be an important person in Ephrathah. May you be famous in Bethlehem. 12 The Lord will give you children through this young woman. May your family be like the family of Perez. He was the son Tamar had by Judah.”
13 So Boaz married Ruth. Then he slept with her. The Lord blessed her so that she became pregnant. And she had a son. 14 The women said to Naomi, “We praise the Lord. Today he has provided a family protector for you. May this child become famous all over Israel! 15 He will make your life new again. He’ll take care of you when you are old. He’s the son of your very own daughter-in-law. She loves you. She is better to you than seven sons.”
16 Then Naomi took the child in her arms and took care of him. 17 The women living there said, “Naomi has a son!” They named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse. Jesse was the father of David.
After working out the details with his relatives, everyone agreed: Boaz would be Ruth’s redeemer and the happy couple would be married. God blessed these two with a baby boy, whom they named Obed. This little guy grew up to be the grandpa of King David, the giant slayer, and the super-great grandpa of Jesus, the sin-slayer!
To “redeem” someone means to pay the price to help someone out. For example, a person could redeem a slave by paying the price to set them free. This week, we saw Boaz redeem Ruth by paying the price that was required to marry her.
While you might not be a widow like Ruth, did you know that you needed to be redeemed, too? The Bible book of Galatians says that Jesus redeemed us from the curse of God’s law. So what does that mean? Remember, the word “redeem” means to pay the price to help someone out or rescue them. Jesus redeemed us by paying the price for the curse we earned because we disobeyed God’s law. That curse, as we’ve said many times before, is a forever fiery death outside of God’s good kingdom.
That’s why it’s good news that God’s Son Jesus redeemed us. He paid our price of forever death so that we wouldn’t have to pay it ourselves. That death price was paid the day Jesus died on the cross to pay for our sins.
The book of Ruth isn’t in our Bibles just to give us a love story to read. It’s there to point us to Ruth’s many-times-great grandson, Jesus. Just like Boaz redeemed Ruth and paid the price to marry her, Jesus redeemed sinners like you and me. He paid our price of death so that we can enjoy him forever in God’s good kingdom!
+ What happy job did Naomi have after baby Obed was born? (vs. 16)