Session 2: Ruth Finds Favor in Boaz’s Fields - Radical

Secret Church 24: Ruth

Session 2: Ruth Finds Favor in Boaz’s Fields

Boaz is introduced as the man who could potentially be Naomi and Ruth’s redeemer, the answer to their problems (lack of food and family), in this session of Secret Church on Ruth 2. God is seemingly in the background thus far, but Pastor David Platt reminds Christians that God is working in the unfolding of the story. Nothing happens by accident. Not when the God “whose kindness has not forsaken the living or the dead” (Ruth 2:20) is sovereign and in control.

  1. What can we learn from Boaz’s care for Ruth?
  2. How often do you acknowledge the hesed of God in your life?
  3. Are you showing love, mercy, and kindness to others in extravagant ways?
  4. Do you seek those in need out as a family, as God did with you?

I want to welcome you back to the second session. We’re actually going to start this session with prayer. Throughout this session, we’re going to have four times of concentrated prayer. These are some of the most important points in our time together. Just think about it. We have tens of thousands of hearts and voices being lifted up at the same time to God on behalf of people around the world. This is awesome, so don’t underestimate what we’re about to do. We’re not just talking to the sky. We’re standing in the gap before God, the God who inspired his Word and the God who’s promised to act in response to our words, in response to our prayers. 

During this first prayer time we’re going to intercede specifically for people who live in red zones, amidst urgent spiritual and physical need. There will be prayer points on the screen that will guide you to pray specifically. At the same time, there are a lot of needs in these red zones. So feel free to pray however God’s Spirit leads you. Let’s intercede specifically, intentionally and fervently for people right now who have little to no access to the gospel. After a few minutes, I’ll come back and close this time in prayer. So go for it. Let’s cry out to God for people without the gospel in red zones. Do this alone, or get together with others around you. Let’s pray.

God, we pray for people who, you love and know their names. You know and love all three billion plus of these people who’ve never heard the gospel. They don’t know how much you love them, O God. We ask together, right now, that you would change that. Please, O God, cause the gospel to spread to them through our lives, through us as your church. We pray that you would open their eyes and hearts, that you would break down the walls that are keeping them from the gospel, that you would remove blinders from their eyes so they will see your glory in the face of Jesus and believe, be saved and be restored to you.

We pray that they will be comforted and held by you in your mercy, in the middle of all the needs they’re facing. O God, hear our cries and even now, as we’re meeting, answer our prayers. Bring about spiritual awakening to Jesus in red zones around the world. We pray this all together in Jesus’ name. Amen. 

All right, Ruth chapter two. Let’s recap what we’ve seen so far, reviewing the stage that’s been set: 

  • Two places: a land of promise and a land of compromise. 
  • Two people: a woman with honest hurt, Naomi, and a woman with humble devotion, Ruth. 
  • Two needs: they need food and they need family. 
  • Two pictures of God: he is great, he’s the Almighty and he’s good, he’s the Lord—Yahweh
  • And one promise: God takes sorrowful tragedy and turns it into surprising triumph. In the moments when God seems farthest from you, God sets the stage for the greatest display of his faithfulness to you.

So now in the words of the book of Ruth, it’s barley harvest time. Let’s try to hear what the original readers heard when they read this. We’re going to try to put ourselves into the story, see the characters’ faces, feel their emotions, catching the beauty and depth of all that’s happening. Again, make notes along the way as we walk through this. Let’s start in Ruth 2:1:“Now Naomi had a relative of her husband’s, a worthy man of the clan of Elimelech, whose name was Boaz.” 

At the end of chapter one, we had two main characters, the odd coupleNaomi and Ruth. Things were looking pretty bleak. As we talked about, these women were in need of food and in need of family. So enter Boaz. There are two key facts about him. 

  1. He’s from the clan of Elimelech. A clan was the single most important social or family group in Israelite society. A clan basically consisted of various families descended from a common ancestor. So as an individual, you’re part of a family, that was part of a clan, that was ultimately a part of a tribe. A clan was significant because as part of a clan, you had responsibility to care for the other members of your clan. First, Boaz was from the clan of Elimelech, Naomi’s husband. 
  2. Then the second fact about Boaz is he’s a worthy man. Now, this could be a reference to his wealth, but it’s likely—and more importantly—a reference to his character. That same phrase is used back in Judges 6:12 to describe Gideon: “And the angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him, ‘The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor.’” That’s the same language that’s used to describe Boaz here in Ruth 2:1. 

So amidst the bleak ending of chapter one for this family, chapter two opens up with this picture of a worthy man in their same clan. The author tells us about Boaz at this point just by way of information, then he immediately goes back to the picture of Naomi and Ruth. In the next verse, verse two, “Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, ‘Let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain after him in whose sight I shall find favor.’ And she said to her, ‘Go, my daughter.’” 

Now, here’s the deal. In Israel, God had set up a way to care for the poor during harvest time. Leviticus 23:22 says, “When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, nor shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the Lord your God.” So the landowners and harvesters were commanded to leave grain in the corners of their field, along the edge, in order to provide for those who had no land or had no food. It wouldn’t be much. One commentator said it was like trying to survive in the past by selling bottle caps or recycling aluminum cans, but it was more than nothing. 

So Ruth set out to try to find a field where she could collect a little bit of grain for her and Naomi. Anybody like Ruth who was poor was dependent on a landowner being willing to leave some grain here and there for those who were less fortunate. As Ruth goes out, she’s completely at the mercy of landowners. And to make matters worse, did you notice that the author points out again that she is “Ruth the Moabite.” She’s a foreigner with a bad reputation in light of where she’s fromMoab. She is literally a woman without a clan. She’s going alone as a Moabite into the fields of Israelites, trying to find somebody who will let her collect just a little bit of grain. So with Naomi’s permission, she sets out.

Now listen to verse three. This is so good. “She set out and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers, and she happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the clan of Elimelech.” Don’t you love this? As it turned out, she just so happened to find herself working in the field belonging to Boaz. The language here is dramatic; it’s intentional. The language literally says, “As chance chanced it” or as we might say today, “As luck would have it.” The aim of the author is clearly to point out this was no accident. It’s like he’s saying, “Wouldn’t you know it? Out of all the fields Ruth could have wandered into that day in Judah, she just so happened to find herself in the field of Boaz.” As the writer says, “Just in case you forgot, Boaz just so happens to be from the clan of Elimelech.” Don’t miss what the Bible is teaching here: nothing happens by accident. Not when God is sovereign. Not when God is in control. 

When I think of all the “just so happens” in my own life, I think about my wife and all the “just so happens” that brought us together. 

  • I just so happened to be a totally awkward teenage boy, afraid to talk to girls. 
  • God just so happened to provide a really cute teenage girl who was totally outgoing, but not yet a Christian. 
  • Her friend in high school just so happened to invite her to summer camp one year. Though she initially said no, some circumstances just so happened in a way that she changed her mind and came to that camp. 
  • It just so happened that she came to know Christ that week and she just so happened to meet me. 

I won’t bore you with all the other “just so happened” situations that continued after that. After almost 25 years of marriage and six kids, a lot of things just so happened. The point is that none of it was by accident. None of us are driven by fate. We’re not controlled by chance or coincidence. There is a sovereign God who is always working behind the scenes for the good of his people and the glory of his namein ways we don’t see, in ways we could never realize. He’s doing that right now in all our lives. Just think about the meaning that infuses into the circumstances we walk through every day. 

Now look at this next verse, verse four: “And behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem…” So it gets better. Boaz just so happened to walk up at that time. 

The picture I have here is of sitting in a sappy romantic movie on a date night. Things start happening that are so unrealistic that you think, “This is absurd. Things never happen this way.” So I start to say something, glance over at my precious wife and see that she’s in tears. She’s totally engrossed in the romance of the movie. I’m thinking, “Are you really buying this?”

Here’s the deal. With the God of the universe, the drama is always planned. It’s real and it all takes place in his perfect timing. So, “Behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem. And he said to the reapers, ‘The Lord be with you!’ And they answered, ‘The Lord bless you.’” He’s like the knight in shining armor. He’s blessing everybody. Then listen to what he says next: “Then Boaz said to his young man who was in charge of the reapers, ‘Whose young woman is this?’” I love that. “Whose young woman is this?” That’s Hebrew for, “Check her out.” 

Notice something interesting, though. He doesn’t ask who she is. Instead, he asks to whom does she belong? The author is bringing us back around to where he started the chapter. What family, what clan does she belong to? The author then highlights through the remainder of the book the most important question: who does this woman belong to? Who is responsible for caring for her, for providing for her? 

Then the foreman replies in verse six, “She is the young Moabite woman, who came back with Naomi from the country of Moab. She said, ‘Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves after the reapers.’ So she came, and she has continued from early morning until now, except for a short rest.’” In other words, the foreman says, “This is a woman from Moab, with no husband, with no one to care or provide for her.”

So Boaz sets out from where he is standing, walks past all the workers in his field to where she is. Verse eight: “Then Boaz said to Ruth, ‘Now, listen, my daughter, do not go to glean in another field or leave this one, but keep close to my young women.’” How’s that for an Old Testament pickup line? Maybe not the most romantic, but it’s actually pretty incredible when you think about it. Boaz addresses Ruth with a term of endearment, “my daughter.” Then he begins to tell her how he wants to care and provide for her. 

Listen to verse nine: “Let your eyes be on the field that they are reaping, and go after them. Have I not charged the young men not to touch you? And when you are thirsty, go to the vessels and drink what the young men have drawn.” Basically Boaz tells her, “You stay here in my field. You can glean from the harvest here. No one will harm you.” Apparently it was common in that day for somebody in Ruth’s position to be mistreated or harmed in the field.

It’s interesting that the language here includes the same word that was used back in chapter one, verse 14. Do you remember when Ruth clung to Naomi? Just like Ruth said to Naomi, “I’m staying with you,” now we picture Boaz saying, “I want you to stay in my field. You’re going to be provided for, even to the point of getting replenished by drinks that my men provide.” This is astounding. This is a culture where women draw water for men, where foreigners draw water for Israelites. Ruth is about to drink water drawn by Israelite men for her. This is shocking.

This also explains how Ruth responds in verse ten: “She fell on her face, bowing to the ground, and said to him, ‘Why have I found favor in your eyes, that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?’” That may seem like overdoing itfalling on her face, bowing to the ground. But to original readers, they immediately identified a profound gratitude and humility in Ruth. With the language here, readers immediately remember that at the start of this day, Ruth set out in search of somebody who would show her favor. Now it’s like she’s saying, “I found the one I was looking for and he has exceeded all my expectations.” She knows this is mercy far beyond what she could have imagined. She’s awed that he’s even noticed her, and even more so that he’s showing her such kindness. Which then sets up probably the most important interchange in this whole chapter. 

Listen to what Boaz says in verses 11-12: 

11 But Boaz answered her, “All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told to me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before. 12 The Lord repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!” 

These words are majestic and poetic in the original language. Boaz talks about how God is a rewarder and a refuge for Ruth, in light of what she had done for Naomi. Listen to how Ruth responds in verse 13: “She said, ‘I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, for you have comforted me and spoken kindly to your servant, though I am not one of your servants.’” Basically Ruth is saying, “I’m on the lowest rung of the social ladder, yet you have comforted my heart. You have spoken to my soul.” Once again, just like Naomi was silenced by Ruth’s words in chapter one, Boaz is silenced here in chapter two—at least until later in the day. 

Then verse 14 tells us, “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.” Yes! The first date in the book of Ruth was a nice romantic meal over roasted grain. But this is more than just a meal. This is a picture, a symbol, and it’s shocking. Boaz offers her food, then serves her that food. He comes to her. Boaz, this Israelite man, this landowner, goes to this Moabite woman, saying, “Here’s some bread. You can dip it in the vinegar.” 

Have you ever been in a place like Macaroni Grill or Brio? I remember when we first had kids those were our favorite places to go. It doesn’t work as well now that they’re older, but when they were younger, we could sit outside where they could make a mess and be loud. So that’s step one that was helpful. Then secondly, we figured we could split a meal between the two of us, Heather and me. Then we could split a meal for the kids. And we’d all fill up on that really good bread, with that oil and vinegar and pepper combo. Back in that day, we could get out of there for less than $30 for the whole family. Anyway, that’s the picture I have here. 

So think of Ruth and Boaz at the Barley Grill, having some bread and vinegar. She’s chowing down. She eats until she is full and has some left over. Then verse 15 says, “When she rose to glean, Boaz instructed his young men, saying, ‘Let her glean even among the sheaves, and do not reproach her. And also pull out some from the bundles for her and leave it for her to glean, and do not rebuke her.’” So Boaz calls his friends together and says, “All right guys, you’ve got to help me out with this thing. Leave some good grain specifically for her.”” He makes sure Ruth is not only protected but provided for in his field. 

So what happens? Verse 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.” Do you know how much an ephah is? Let me help us out a little here. It’s about one-half to two-thirds of a bushel. Okay, let me help a little bit more. That is about 30 to 50 pounds of barley. To put that into perspective, in ancient Babylonia, the average ration of a male worker was one to two pounds a day. She just gathered 30 to 50 pounds. That’s at least half a month’s wages in one day. 

Here’s how we know Ruth did CrossFit. Verse 18 says, “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.” I love that. Not only does she have enough grain from one day to feed them for several weeks, but we find out that Ruth had brought her leftovers from lunch to share with Naomi. Ruth had been storing food in her pocket from the Barley Grill lunch, plus she carried 30 to 50 pounds of grain all the way home. Naomi was giddy, to say the least. So Naomi’s name used to mean bitter—now it means giddy. 

Listen to this scene and compare it with the last time we saw Naomi. Verse 19 says, “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.’” Did you notice how she repeats herself here? This is intentional. The author is showing words just tumbling out of Naomi’s mouth. She can’t even get her thoughts straight because she’s so excited. This is one happy mother-in-law.

Her first question is, “What man did you meet?” Now, we know who it is, but the author intentionally waits until the last word of Ruth’s response to reveal his name to Naomi. It’s almost like we’re just looking at Naomi’s face because we cannot wait to see her reaction when she hears whose field Ruth has been in. Keep in mind, Ruth doesn’t know the significance of Boaz in Elimelech’s clan at this point. So Ruth just responds casually. “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.’”

Then Naomi goes nuts! “Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, ‘May he be blessed by the Lord, whose kindness has not forsaken the living or the dead!’” Now, pause here. Circle that word ‘kindness,’ because it’s one of the most important words in the book, not just in the book of Ruth, but in the entire Old Testament. We’re going to talk about it more in a minute; just remember it for now. 

Listen to how Naomi fills Ruth in on the secret. “Naomi also said to her, ‘The man is a close relative of ours, one of our redeemers.’” Stop here and circle the word ‘redeemer.’ This is also one of the most important words in the book and in the whole Bible. We’re going to camp out on this one for a while now. I want to give you the Old Testament context, leading up to Ruth. See some of the places where we see this word in the Old Testament up to this point. Look at Genesis 48:15-16. This is Jacob speaking.

And he blessed Joseph and said, “The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has been my shepherd all my life long to this day, the angel who has redeemed me from all evil, bless the boys; and in them let my name be carried on, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.”

Do you see ‘redeemed’ there in verse 16? It’s a picture of rescue and protection. Redemption is rescue and protection from all evil. 

Then look at Exodus 6:2-7. This is one of the most famous passages in the whole Old Testament, when God comes to Moses and promises to rescue and deliver them from slavery in Egypt. God says these words:

2 God spoke to Moses and said to him, “I am the Lord. 3 I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by my name the Lord I did not make myself known to them. 4 I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, the land in which they lived as sojourners. 5 Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the people of Israel whom the Egyptians hold as slaves, and I have remembered my covenant. 6 Say therefore to the people of Israel, “I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment. 7 I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.” 

So the picture of redemption here involves rescue, deliverance, provision and protection for God’s people. This is why, when you get to the Law in the Old Testament, God sets up a way for property or people to be redeemed in order to be protected and provided for. Look at this in Leviticus 25, starting in verse 25. 

25 If your brother becomes poor and sells part of his property, then his nearest redeemer shall come and redeem what his brother has sold. 26 If a man has no one to redeem it and then himself becomes prosperous and finds sufficient means to redeem it, 27 let him calculate the years since he sold it and pay back the balance to the man to whom he sold it, and then return to his property. 

So this is where we get the picture of a kinsman-redeemer in the Bible. This is a near relative, a close relative, the next relative in line who had the right—and in some sense the responsibility—to get back the property that had been lost to the family by buying it, by paying a redemption price for it. 

So all that to come back to this: Naomi just said that Boaz is a potential redeemer for them. He’s a near kinsman, from their clan, who could be eligible to provide for, protect and rescue them from the destitute place they’re in. Ruth then says, “Well, he told me to stay with him.” Look at verse 21. “Ruth the Moabite said, ‘Besides, he said to me, “You shall keep close by my young men until they have finished all my harvest.”’”  

Now Naomi, the quintessential mother-in-law, starts plotting.  Verse 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.’ So she kept close to the young women of Boaz, gleaning until the end of the barley and wheat harvests.” What happens here is that for the next six to seven weeks, Ruth works in Boaz’s field. This means the first problem in this book has been solvedRuth and Naomi have food. They have more than enough food, likely enough for the rest of the year. But the second problemfamilyis still not solved. 

This leads to the last sentence of the chapter: “And she lived with her mother-in-law.” What? Are you serious? After all the action we have seen in this chapter, it ends with saying, “And Ruth lived with her mother-in-law.” Talk about anti-climactic. Really? That’s it? Boaz doesn’t do anything else? What is he thinking? Do something, man. You are Ruthless.” [Sorry, I couldn’t help it.] So this is how chapter two ends, with Ruth and Naomi waiting. Don’t read ahead, as much as you might want to. 

Here’s what I want us to think about together. We’re two chapters in and everything is centered now around a few main characters. We have Ruth and Naomi in chapter one; now Boaz is added in in chapter two. Meanwhile, God is mostly behind the scenes—which is the point. This whole story is unfolding in a way that we see God’s character revealed in what’s happening in the characters in the story. Think about it. In chapter one, Ruth’s love and devotion to Naomi were a picture of whose love for Naomi? God’s. Now here in chapter two, Boaz’s kindness to Ruth and Naomi is a picture of whose kindness to Ruth and Naomi? God’s. Remember back in verse 20 of chapter two? As soon as Naomi hears what Boaz has done, what does she say? She says, “May he be blessed by the Lord, whose kindness has not forsaken the living or the dead!” I encouraged you to circle that word ‘kindness.’ It’s interesting, though, that in this verse there’s actually debate in the original language about who the ‘whose’ is referring to. Is it referring to Boaz or is this referring to the Lord? Is it Boaz’s kindness that has not forsaken the living or the dead? Or is it God’s kindness that’s not forsaken the living or the dead? The point of the book is that it’s both. The kindness of Boaz is a reflection of the kindness of the Lord. 

Actually this word kindness is pretty inadequate. I told you to circle it because we’re going to come back to it at this point. This word in the original language is chesed. It is a beautiful Hebrew word that really can’t be captured in one English word. Kindness is a good translation, but it doesn’t do the word justice. If you study what this word means in the original language, when the people in this story heard it, they would have pictured love, mercy, goodness, loyalty, faithfulness and kindness all wrapped into one word. It’s like when you hear this word, you immediately picture someone who is so good, selfless, loving, merciful and kind that they will go out of their way to work extravagantly on your behalf. 

Let’s put all this together and consider what just this chapter means for our lives, realizing that the book of Ruth is written to show us the character of God in the characters of this story. I want to encourage you specifically, based on this word chesed, in two ways. 

Rest in the hesed of God in your life.

In chapter two of Ruth, you have two women in need, hurting from all that life has thrown at them, in need of hope. Specifically you have an outcast woman working in a field, then you have a redeemer, the lord of the harvest, who goes out of his way to work extravagantly on her behalf. You say, “Well, what does this story have to do with you and me?” That’s the beauty. Like I said in the beginning, this is a story within a story. It’s not just a story about Ruth and Boaz; this is a story about you and me. You and I are Ruth. Every single one of us has a story of shame and sin in our past. Every single one of us knows, to different degrees, hurt and pain of life in a world of sin and suffering. But get the picture here: the Lord of the harvest, the Lord God himself, has looked upon you. The book of Ruth is teaching us that in the midst of our sin and  suffering, there are four important things about the chesed of God in our livesin your life and mine. 

First, God seeks you as his family. The reality is that there is nothing in us to draw the Lord of the harvest to us. But God, the Lord Almighty, pursues you and me. See yourself in this story because the Bible teaches that God has pursued you, that God has called your name, that God has come to you in a much greater way than the book of Ruth could ever depict. Talk about divine drama. God has come to us, born in a Bethlehem stable. God has come to us in the person of Jesus. Jesus lived among us, caring for us.

Ladies and gentlemen, it was no accident when soldiers arrested him. It was no accident when they mocked, beat, scourged and spit on him. It was no accident when they nailed him to a cross. This was all planned for you and me. The Lord of the harvest came to lay down his life for you and me. Then three days after he died, he rose from the grave, so that anyone, anywhereno matter who you are, no matter what you’ve done, no matter how you hurt,can be called a daughter or son of God. The Lord of the harvest left his throne in glory to pursue you, right where you’re sitting right now. 

Listen to this language from Deuteronomy 33:26: “There is none like God, O Jeshurun, who rides through the heavens to your help, through the skies in his majesty. The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” God rides through the heavens to come to you. God goes through the skies in majesty to seek you as his family.

Then second, God shelters you under his wings. The language in Ruth 2 is exactly what we see for all of God’s people in Psalm 91:1: “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.” Under his wings you will find refuge. I don’t know what hurts you’ve walked through in your life, or what you’re walking through right now in your life. But I do know this: God the Almighty is your shelter and will give you refuge under his wings. Right now, and in whatever you face in the future, you can find refuge under the wings of the Most High God himself. 

Third, God serves you at his table. Don’t miss the point of this meal at the Barley Grill. See yourself in this meal and realize the Lord of the harvest has invited you to his table. He has seated you there. And not just seated you there, but the God of the universe has stooped to serve you there, to shock you with his love, to speak to your heart, to satisfy your desires. Then when you rise from that table, you can reap from his field. Oh, I urge every one of you, in the words of Boaz, “Stay in the Lord’s field.” Don’t run after the pleasures this world offers. There are fields all around you that beckon you to run after them: a better life, a bigger house, a nicer car, newer things, higher positions, worldly passion. Don’t do it. Stay in his field. You don’t need to run into the fields of this world. You will seek and taste and toil, but in the end, you will inevitably be unprotected and unfulfilled. Stay in God’s field. The Lord of the harvest is the only one who can provide for your needs and satisfy your soul. 

You can know this because God not only shelters the hurting under his wings and serves you at his table, God also showers you with his grace. See Ruth hauling 30 to 50 pounds of grain and leftover lunch. See yourself in this picture. Hear the promise of God to you in Philippians 4:19: “My God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Hear this good news. God in his chesedin his loving, merciful, good kindness toward all who trust in himgoes out of his way to work extravagantly on your behalf.

Now, I’m guessing some of you might be thinking, “I’m hurting. I’ve walked through hard times, or am walking through hard times now. Quite frankly, I don’t see God’s kindness, love and goodness in ways that I long to see.” If that’s the case, I want to especially encourage you. One of the challenges with reading this book is things seem to move so fast in the story, but in reality, they are moving really slow. We talked about this in chapter one. In a matter of three verses, there were ten years of torrential tragedy. The journey alone from Moab back to Bethlehem would have been a long process. Then we just joked that at the end of chapter two, nothing else happened for days and weeks as they waited. So we don’t feel the agony of all their long days and years. But that’s why I included this last truth, because through all those long days and years, the book of Ruth teaches us that in the midst of our waiting, the chesed of God reminds us that he is working. 

So for every one of you who ever wonders why this is happening and when this will end, you can always know that behind the scenes, in ways you don’t see, there is a good, loving, merciful, kind God who is working extravagantly at all times on behalf of all who trust in him. So rest in the chesed of God in your life.

Reflect the hesed of God through your life.

We have been shown such kindness from God. Just think for a moment about all the “just so happens” in your life and realize his lovingkindness toward you is not intended to stop with you. God’s lovingkindness toward you is intended to spread through you. God wants to use your life as a reflection of his love, his chesed. God wants to use your life to reach out to others in need like family, just as he has done in your life.

Do you want to see something really interesting? Remember back in Ruth 1:6 where we read about how Naomi heard that the Lord had visited his people and given them food? That’s what she heard when she was in the fields of Moab. Remember, this is the first time that God, the Lord, is mentioned in this book, with an emphasis on his faithfulness, his love and his kindness in visiting his people, as well as providing for them. Now, this word ‘visited’ obviously means more than to pop in and say hello. It’s a word that’s used throughout the Old Testament to describe how God came to his people and cared for them as his own family, providing everything they needed. What’s interesting is when you turn to the pages of the New Testament, you come to this verse in James 1:27: “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” In other words, religion that is pure and undefiled before God is not just popping in and saying hello to orphans and widows in their need, it’s going to them and caring for them as your own family. Do you see the connection? Just as God has cared for you as his family, you now go to those in need of family. You care for them as family. You seek after them as a reflection of the chesed of God in your life. 

I think about Jim and Dede, members of our church family in Metro DC. They were recently named Foster Parents of the Year in their state. I want to read this letter from a social worker in the Department of Health and Human Services in their particular county. The letter said, “We want to thank all of you and your church for all the support, encouragement, gifts and resources you have provided to our staff, families and the children in our community.” It goes on to talk about the number of foster children who’ve been cared for by families in this church. Some of these children were unified with their birth families, which is the hope and goal. Some of these children were not able to be reunited with their birth families, so they found homes in our church family. The letter goes on to say, “The impact that McLean Bible Church and the families in your community have had is truly amazing. Thank you for everything you as a church have done to support our staff and the vulnerable children and families in our county.” 

Then they start specifically talking about Jim and DeDe. This is an excerpt from the nomination form submitted for Jim and DeDe:

Dede and Jim are nominated as the 2023 Resource Parents of the Year because they epitomize the theme of uplifting families. They were licensed as Resource Parents in December 2019. Prior to becoming Resource Parents, DeDe and Jim were involved in supporting the Foster Care and Adoption ministry in their church, supporting the department of this ministry, supporting resource home recruiting events, the back-to-school JAM school supplies and party, the Foster Kinship and In-Home Services families, leading the holiday gift drive and gift wrapping event, supporting social work staff with thank-you notes, gift certificates and other treats, to name just a few of the many ways they worked behind the scenes in service and support of all Resource families, staff, transitioning youth, kinship and in-home service families. 

Through the Woven Ministry at their church, DeDe has also helped to lead a support group for foster and adoptive parents. If a transitioning youth, a birth family or anyone needs something, the first call is to DeDe, who has facilitated getting furniture, supplies, groceries, clothes and whatever else might be necessary to support a child, teen or family. Becoming a Resource Family was truly a family endeavor, not only for DeDe and Jim, but for their three older sons, Ryan, Zach and Luke, who have been involved in all aspects of this adventure, from helping with the events and activities to knowing the love, care and sacrifices that are part of being a Resource Family. 

Then shortly after becoming licensed, DeDe and Jim accepted placement of twin five-month-old boys who had been born several weeks premature, and both had serious brain injuries and developmental delays. DeDe and Jim have done a phenomenal job meeting these boys’ needs, managing all the medical and interventional appointments and advocating for them to receive the services, support, care and intervention that was needed. And in November, Jim and DeDe finalized the adoption of these two twins.

I wish you could meet this couple. They are right on the verge of retirement and had plans for their retirement, but God had different plans for them to reflect the chesed of God through their lives to children and families in need. 

Or I think about Randy and Courtney, friends of mine who used to live down the street. Long story short, they spent the first 30-plus years of their lives in cultural Christianity, not “pure and undefiled religion.” Then one day God visited them and opened their eyes to his love for them, opened their hearts to new life in him. They were born again and with their new birth came sacrificial compassion for the vulnerable, specifically widows. Randy is an electrician by trade and Courtney is a nurse practitioner, so they started looking for opportunities to visit the widows in their affliction. They started a ministry on the side, now spending their weekends and many days during the week doing pretty unglamorous deeds in widows’ homes like rewiring electricity, fixing plumbing, building wheelchair ramps, cleaning bathrooms, changing diapers, delivering medicine, visiting, staying with many of these widows until their last breath. I’ve heard from some of the people Randy and Courtney have visited. These are the kinds of things that they say. One widow wrote:

Randy and Courtney are my friends. They’re my family. I believe that God sent them to me to encourage me and help me. Sometimes I ask God if they’re even real. It’s like God has sent me some angels to take care of me. They pray with me. They help me with my housework. They always come and check on me. They bring me food and groceries. They read the Bible with me. I know that they care. Sometimes I just feel like I want to cry because I’m so thankful to God for sending them.

Another wrote, “When I see Jesus, I’m going to tell him everything Randy and Courtney did to help me and serve me and take care of me.” One more said, “I spent over 20 years without a friend. Then Randy and Courtney became my friends. They’ve given their lives to show mercy to people like me. To me that is the very picture of who Jesus is.” The woman who said those words was elderly and disabled; she went to be with the Lord not long ago. She died holding her friend Courtney’s hand. 

This is what it means to “visit.” It means to seek others in need like family, because this is what God has done with us. It means to shelter others in need with love. It means to serve others in need at your table, to shower others in need with grace. As you look at that list, I would just encourage you to ask what does this look like in your life? This is why we’ve received the chesed of God in our lives. 

It’s not so we can live out a nice comfortable Christian spin on the American dream. No, you are made by God for so much more than that. You were made and loved by God to make the love of God known in a world of sin and suffering. There’s a sense in which we need to see ourselves in Ruth, in this story, like receiving the mercy of the Redeemer. But we can’t stop there. There’s a sense in which we need to see ourselves as Boaz in this story, reflecting the mercy of the Redeemer in a world of urgent spiritual and physical needs.

To be super-clear, the Bible is not saying that we are the redeemer. Don’t misunderstand this. We do not care for people in need because we’re some group of good, altruistic people out to be saviors and rescuers for orphans, widows and others in need in this world. No, that’s not who we are; that’s not why we live this way. We don’t care for orphans, widows and others in need because we’re rescuers. We care for orphans, widows and others in need because we are the rescued. This is the whole point of what we’re seeing here. The whole point of the gospel is that God has come to us in our ultimate vulnerability, that God himself has visited us in our need, that God has poured out his love on us. 

So then it just makes sense for us to rise and seek out others in need like family, to shelter others in need with love, to serve others in need at our tables and to shower others in need with grace. Because this is who our God is. Because this is what our God has done in our lives. We’re not rescuers; we’re the rescued. We’re not the redeemer; we’re the redeemed. And that’s why we live this way. 

So as we close Ruth 2, just picture chesed. Picture someone who’s so good, selfless, loving, merciful and kind that they will go out of their way to work extravagantly on your behalf. Realize that God is that for you and rest in that. Then, rise and be that for others in a world of urgent spiritual and physical need, in such a way that your life is a reflection of the chesed of God in this world of sin and suffering. 

This then leads right into the opportunity we have tonight to give out of the overflow of God’s kindness in giving to us. We have a big goal for our giving tonight—$900,000 for the spread of the gospel across red zones in Asia. This offering has so much potential to make such a long-term impact in these red zones. So let me pause here and turn it over to Aaron to talk about this opportunity we have to give, then to learn about what God is doing in the church in North Korea right now. These red zones are often red because of persecution. It’s often hard and dangerous to spread the gospel there. If you try to spread the gospel there, you will face persecution which means we have a responsibility to pray for them, to stand with them, to intercede for them. So you’re going to see specific prayer points on the screen to pray and intercede specifically for the persecuted church in red zones. So let’s stand in the gap right now before our Father for our family in these parts of the world, then I’ll come back and lead us all together in prayer. So whether alone or together with some others right now, let’s pray for the persecuted church in these red zones.

O God, our Father in heaven, we are praying together right now for our sisters and brothers in persecuted places. You love them, O God. We love them. You’ve told us to remember them like we’re in prison with them. So we are coming to you on their behalf. We’re praying for their protection, for your provision for them, for their families and for their church families. Comfort them, we pray. Strengthen them. Tell them to hold fast. Embolden them like you did Stephen in Acts 7 to proclaim the gospel no matter what it costs.

God, we pray that you would draw their persecutors and people around them to Christ. O God our Father, we pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters in North Korea and in red zones around the world. In Jesus’ name. Amen. 

Okay, let’s take a break, then we’ll come back together for Ruth chapter three.


That means that the people with the most urgent spiritual and physical needs are receiving the least support. You can help change that!