2019-07-28 – Ruth 2 – On The Wings of Love
Bible Text: Ruth 2 | Preacher: Pastor Jerry Higdon | Series: Ruth | 2019-07-28 – Ruth 2 – On The Wings of Love
(VBS Success!-25 children, 3 decisions, High-Noon Showdown)
Good morning everyone. It is so nice to be able to spend some time with you all in fellowship with the Lord. Thank you and God bless you for being with us today.
Last week we went through the first chapter of the book of Ruth. This Old Testament book is a great narrative of love demonstrated. We believe it was written by the prophet Samuel around 1046 B.C.
Today we are going to continue where we left off with the second chapter of Ruth. Each of these four weeks we will go over one more chapter of this great story. You won’t want to miss any of them, but if you like you can also listen online from our website FbcOrion.org.
Please turn in your Bibles to Ruth 2, pg 229 in the Pew Bibles, The Inspired, Infallible and Living Word of God, and let us start with Prayer.
In chapter 1 of Ruth, God’s hand fell hard upon Naomi and her family. A famine in Judah, a move to the foreign land of Moab, the death of her husband, the marriage of her two sons to foreign wives, then the death of her sons. One blow after another caused Naomi to declare “the Lord’s hand has turned against me.” In fact, she is so oppressed that she can’t even see any of the signs of hope as they started to appear. She knows there is a God, and she knows that He has dealt bitterly with her. Her life seems so tragic. As the chapter concludes, God lifts the famine, opens a way for Naomi to return home, and He gives her an amazingly devoted and loving daughter-in-law Ruth to accompany her. At the end of the chapter Ruth and bitter Naomi settled in Bethlehem. Naomi says to the townspeople, “the Almighty has made me very bitter. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty.”
As we discovered last week Ruth was a huge blessing to her mother-in-law Naomi. Ruth is a truly wonderful and inspirational example of godly women of faith. The takeaways for last week were: 1. God is in control; 2. “God moves in a mysterious way”; 3. Don’t give up: This book of Ruth was written that we might abound in hope. Today we will see in chapter 2 the mercy of God becomes so obvious that even Naomi will recognize it.
Maybe some of you here today can identify yourself in either Ruth or Naomi’s situation. We will all go through the ups and downs of life that is for sure. Where are you at today? Are you on top of the mountain like Ruth, or at the bottom of the mountain like Naomi. My hope is that you all will find hope in this message.
2 Now Naomi had a relative on her husband’s side. He was a prominent man of noble character from Elimelech’s family. His name was Boaz. 2 Ruth the Moabitess asked Naomi, “Will you let me go into the fields and gather fallen grain behind someone with whom I find favor?”
Naomi answered her, “Go ahead, my daughter.” 3 So Ruth left and entered the field to gather grain behind the harvesters. She happened to be in the portion of the field belonging to Boaz, who was from Elimelech’s family.
As we talked about a little last week, God gives us family, and family is supposed to take care of family. Naomi returned to the land of her late husband in hopes to acquire some charity from them. I can tell you that everyone here will at some time in their lives need charity. Whether it be financial, physical or emotional, or maybe even all three, we all will experience times of trials, hard times, and maybe you are experiencing that right now. God gives us family to help us get through these tough times. Of course it humbles us when this happens, but it is unfortunately inevitable. The bible talks about this in many ways, saying that we should take care to treat our family with compassion when this happens.
In 1 Timothy 5 Paul wrote, “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever”. Paul also wrote, “But if any widow has children or grandchildren, let them learn to practice godliness toward their own family first and to repay their parents, for this pleases God”. We need to be taking care of each other, and especially our own families. That is God’s will for us.
And notice in our text how Ruth immediately asks her mother-in-law if she would let her go to work. Ruth not only didn’t want to be a burden, she wanted to be part of the solution. She wanted to pick up grain off the field that the harvesters had left behind. She wasn’t asking for a hand out, she was willing to work for her own food. We should all want to be contributing to the welfare of our self and that of our families.
There is another great lesson from this first block of verses, that we should be aware and caring for those that don’t have. Those that are struggling to support their families. I think of people that have two jobs to make ends meet. I think of waitresses and people who render services to you. In Ruth’s situation, it was actually a law to leave some behind for others. In the Old Testament book of Leviticus 23, Moses wrote, “‘When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and for the foreigner residing among you. I am the LORD your God.'”
The same principle still applies to us today. God doesn’t want us to be a tight-wad like Scrooge. He wants us to give charity to others from the muchness that He provides. Like we see here with Ruth, that little left behind by the harvesters, can make a big difference to some folks. Our verse 4 continues:
4 Later, when Boaz arrived from Bethlehem, he said to the harvesters, “The Lord be with you.” “The Lord bless you,” they replied. 5 Boaz asked his servant who was in charge of the harvesters, “Whose young woman is this?”
6 The servant answered, “She is the young Moabite woman who returned with Naomi from the territory of Moab. 7 She asked, ‘Will you let me gather fallen grain among the bundles behind the harvesters?’ She came and has been on her feet since early morning, except that she rested a little in the shelter.”
8 Then Boaz said to Ruth, “Listen, my daughter. Don’t go and gather grain in another field, and don’t leave this one, but stay here close to my female servants. 9 See which field they are harvesting, and follow them. Haven’t I ordered the young men not to touch you? When you are thirsty, go and drink from the jars the young men have filled.” 10 She fell facedown, bowed to the ground, and said to him, “Why have I found favor with you, so that you notice me, although I am a foreigner?”
11 Boaz answered her, “Everything you have done for your mother-in-law since your husband’s death has been fully reported to me: how you left your father and mother and your native land, and how you came to a people you didn’t previously know. 12 May the Lord reward you for what you have done, and may you receive a full reward from the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge.” 13 “My lord,” she said, “I have found favor with you, for you have comforted and encouraged your servant, although I am not like one of your female servants.”
The first thing we notice at verse 4 is that Boaz and the workers believed in God. He greeted them with, “The LORD be with you.” And “The LORD bless you,” they replied. Remember, Ruth didn’t grow up in the Jewish faith. I would guess she didn’t even speak the language well. But she was familiar with their faith because of Naomi and her family. But how much a simple greeting can put things in good order. How do you greet one another at your work place? I know these days we might even be chastised by saying even God bless you or Merry Christmas, but I am here to tell you that God want’s you to give blessings like these as you are greeting the folks He sends your way. It can really make a difference in the people’s day.
In Matthew 10:33 Jesus said, ”whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven”. Don’t hide your faith. Speak like a Christian. Even today in the Middle East everyone says shalom or something like that as they greet them on the streets. We should be doing likewise.
The next thing we see here is that Boaz took care of Ruth, even though she was an outsider. We too should be caring for the people that God puts in our paths. He didn’t ignore her, he cared for her well being. But he also put Ruth amongst the other women, knowing she then would be out of harms way.
Ruth recognized his generous care and thanked him. We too should thank those that care for us as well. I think sometimes we take people kindness for granted more and more these days. Kind of reminds me when I offer a kind gesture or support to a young person these days, and the response I get back frequently is just “I’m good”. No thank you, just “I’m good”. I know that is the language of today, but we need to be expressing gratitude people. Gratitude to each other, and most importantly gratitude to God.
Notice next how Boaz told Ruth “Everything you have done for your mother-in-law since your husband’s death has been fully reported to me”. People notice and people talk. Your good deeds and your bad deeds are “reported”. As a Christian, we need to be good ambassadors. Always act as though somebody is watching, because you know what.. Somebody is watching; Jesus is watching, Amen?
14 At mealtime Boaz told her, “Come over here and have some bread and dip it in the vinegar sauce.” So she sat beside the harvesters, and he offered her roasted grain. She ate and was satisfied and had some left over.
15 When she got up to gather grain, Boaz ordered his young men, “Let her even gather grain among the bundles, and don’t humiliate her. 16 Pull out some stalks from the bundles for her and leave them for her to gather. Don’t rebuke her.” 17 So Ruth gathered grain in the field until evening. She beat out what she had gathered, and it was about twenty-six quarts of barley. 18 She picked up the grain and went into the town, where her mother-in-law saw what she had gleaned. She brought out what she had left over from her meal and gave it to her.
Ruth was a worker. In the previous verses they said “She came and has been on her feet since early morning”, and now, according to this that “Ruth gathered grain in the field until evening”. I would guess that the effort of gathering the left-over grain from the harvesters was not an easy task. But there were no complaints, as a matter of fact her hard work was noticed by all it seems.
We all should be striving to be like Ruth here, working for our living. But sadly we all know folks that just don’t seem to care. I was contacted by an old friend just yesterday who said that they were over their head in debt and in their struggles. When I asked what they are doing about it, they effectively conveyed that since they were now educated and degreed, they didn’t want to work at the fast food place anymore. They were looking for something more dignified and worthy of their credentials. Let me tell you that if you have debt and burdens that are painful to bear, then you should be working even double-time at what ever job you can get to make yourself right again. Ruth was not too proud to pick up the left-over grains to support her family, and we should never be so proud that we are not willing to do what it takes to get from under the challenges we face, that we created in the first place.
I recall when I first got my job at John Deere, I told a dear elder deacon friend of mine that I was just starting at the bottom ranks. His reply was classic. He said, “Well the way I see it, the only place you start at the top, is digging a hole”, lol. He was right of course. Also my father-in-law, in his infinite wisdom reminds me that “the cream always rises to the top”. God wants you to support your family. God want’s you to pay your bills. But even more than all of that, God wants you to be the cream that rises to the top. Ruth was supporting her family, she wasn’t complaining, she was grateful to be picking up the left-overs. We should do likewise. Boaz noticed Ruth, and the world too will notice you in that regard.
19 Her mother-in-law said to her, “Where did you gather barley today, and where did you work? May the Lord bless the man who noticed you.” Ruth told her mother-in-law whom she had worked with and said, “The name of the man I worked with today is Boaz.”
20 Then Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “May the Lord bless him because he has not abandoned his kindness to the living or the dead. ”Naomi continued, “The man is a close relative. He is one of our family redeemers.” 21 Ruth the Moabitess said, “He also told me, ‘Stay with my young men until they have finished all of my harvest.’”
22 So Naomi said to her daughter-in-law Ruth, “My daughter, it is good for you to work with his female servants, so that nothing will happen to you in another field.” 23 Ruth stayed close to Boaz’s female servants and gathered grain until the barley and the wheat harvests were finished. And she lived with her mother-in-law.
So the tide is starting to change for Ruth and Naomi. What seemed to be a doom and gloom situation has started to turn into a huge blessing. Naomi now sees the hand of God working in her life. I love it when I see things coming together into a solution that makes it very obvious that God is working all around us. I can’t tell you how many times here lately I have felt the hand of God on even our situation here at church. How God gave us the people and resources to do great things for His glory and purpose. He shows up all the time around here for some reason.
We all have been through times of famine, where we did not feel God’s presence. But these days that I am living through now feel to me like a time of plenty.
You all here today is part of that blessing and I am so grateful to God for His care and His providence in this regard. Naomi is feeling God’s presence now and as we will see in the chapters to come, she will KNOW that God had a plan all along.
The one key verse out of this chapter 2 message we have today is from verse 12. Boaz said to Ruth “May you receive a full reward from the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge.”
What I want you to realize is that as Christians, we should continually seek refuge under the wings of God. That’s where He wants us to be. This reminds me of the many bald eagles we have around the Quad Cities. When they take flight it is a most beautiful and awe inspiring thing to witness isn’t it. Their average wingspan ranges from 6 to 7.5 feet wide. They are mighty birds of pray and they demand respect for sure. But let me tell you that God’s wingspan is way bigger than all our problems. We need to choose to reside in the refuge of our Most High God.
I love the verse that Jeremy read to us this morning from Isaiah 40, “those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not become weary, they will walk and not faint”.
That is God’s will for you today. Though your situation might look bleak at times, wisdom should tell us, and scripture does tell us, that we can overcome these difficult times, we have to put our trust in Jesus Christ. And He will make our paths straight.
When we finally get to heaven and we are standing before our maker. He doesn’t want to hear about all your accomplishments and accolades. What God wants to hear is that you put your trust in the life of His wonderful Son Jesus. And in that, He will have great joy indeed.
Please Rise, Let us Pray.. On Eagles Wings (at 2:20)