Reports of people in desperate and vulnerable situations are ubiquitous. Refugees flee their war-ravaged country seeking asylum and safety. Widows are assaulted by those trying to steal their land. Pedophiles exploit economically vulnerable mothers, persuading them to allow their children to be used to make sexually explicit videos. Destitute families are sold into forced labor in factories, where they live for years in deplorable conditions. And there are many others who have fallen on hard times and have limited ability to work and no family to help. For all of these people, hope for a future can be very hard to come by.
- What hope do you have to offer for the most desperate and vulnerable people you encounter?
READ THE WORD: RUTH 2:14-23 (ESV)
14 And at mealtime Boaz said to her, “Come here and eat some bread and dip your morsel in the wine.” So she sat beside the reapers, and he passed to her roasted grain. And she ate until she was satisfied, and she had some left over. 15 When she rose to glean, Boaz instructed his young men, saying, “Let her glean even among the sheaves, and do not reproach her. 16 And also pull out some from the bundles for her and leave it for her to glean, and do not rebuke her.”
17 So she gleaned in the field until evening. Then she beat out what she had gleaned, and it was about an ephah of barley. 18 And she took it up and went into the city. Her mother-in-law saw what she had gleaned. She also brought out and gave her what food she had left over after being satisfied. 19 And her mother-in-law said to her, “Where did you glean today? And where have you worked? Blessed be the man who took notice of you.” So she told her mother-in-law with whom she had worked and said, “The man’s name with whom I worked today is Boaz.” 20 And Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “May he be blessed by the Lord, whose kindness has not forsaken the living or the dead!” Naomi also said to her, “The man is a close relative of ours, one of our redeemers.” 21 And Ruth the Moabite said, “Besides, he said to me, ‘You shall keep close by my young men until they have finished all my harvest.’” 22 And Naomi said to Ruth, her daughter-in-law, “It is good, my daughter, that you go out with his young women, lest in another field you be assaulted.” 23 So she kept close to the young women of Boaz, gleaning until the end of the barley and wheat harvests. And she lived with her mother-in-law.
- List all the ways that Boaz provided for Ruth in verses 14-16 and 21-23. (Note what Boaz instructed Ruth to do at the beginning of this passage.) What does this tell you about Boaz?
- How much barley did Ruth harvest on her first day (vs. 17)? (An ephah of barley weighed roughly 30 pounds, and the average worker usually harvested two pounds of barley per day.) How did Naomi respond when Ruth returned, carrying 30 pounds of barley and her mealtime leftovers (vss. 19-20)? Whose kindness turned Naomi from bitterness to blessing?
- In verse 20, Naomi blessed Boaz for not forsaking the living or the dead. At this point in the story, would Naomi and Ruth have been counted among the living or the dead? Why?
- What are the two identity descriptors that Naomi gave Boaz in the second part of verse 20? What does it mean to redeem something/someone? Why would this have given Naomi hope?
- In what areas of your life do you need hope that the Lord will restore and redeem? Where do you need his kindness to turn your bitterness to blessing?
RESPOND TO GOD
The term “kinsman-redeemer” refers to a male relative who rescues or redeems property or person (Lev. 25:25-31, 47-55). With no way to provide for themselves, no heirs, and no land, Ruth and Naomi were the walking dead, desperately in need of a kinsman-redeemer. We, too, are dead in our sins (Eph. 2:1), separated from the family of God, and in need of redemption. Boaz’s abundant provision gave the widows hope that he would ultimately redeem their land and restore them to family and life. This foreshadows Jesus, the ultimate kinsman-redeemer, who promises that those who turn to him in faith will be redeemed from death and restored to God’s family.
- Thank God for Jesus, the ultimate kinsman-redeemer, and thank him for the hope of future restoration and redemption.