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God Awakens Hope through a Gracious Redeemer

December 4, 2016 Speaker: Bret Rogers Series: Ruth: From Emptiness to Fullness

Topic: Advent Passage: Ruth 2

I find it astonishing that some Bible teachers refuse to preach the Old Testament. They say that since we’re a new covenant people, the New Testament should be the steady diet of the church. But chapter one from Ruth was such a feast last week. We would do well to remember that the Old Testament is also our Christian Scripture. Second Timothy 3:16 says, “all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.”

The book of Ruth has been breathed out by God for us. Through this story we come to know who God is and what he is like. We also learn about our Savior. Again, there’s a special reason that Ruth begins with the days of the judges—when there was no king in Israel—and ends with God’s faithfulness to David. Our Savior is born the Son of David (Matt 1:1; Luke 1:32). God’s commitment to Naomi and Ruth grows out of his commitment to the Son of David, Jesus Christ.

Hang on to that thought, because we’ll eventually return to it. The point being here that if you belong to Jesus, you have a long history that shapes who you are and how God chose to redeem you. Part of knowing Christ grows out of this second chapter.

Recalling the Lord’s Kindnesses & Naomi’s Bitterness

So let’s pick up where we left off last Sunday—get everybody on the same page. Chapter one followed one Israelite family who sojourned in Moab during a dark and empty time—a famine in the land and a famine in people’s hearts. Naomi’s experience is bitter: her husband and sons die; and she’s left with no home, no name, no inheritance, and seemingly no future hope.

But, all the while, the Lord was sovereignly orchestrating everything in Naomi’s life not only to save her, but also to save a Moabite named Ruth, and work his plan to save the whole world through Christ. The Lord provides bread in Bethlehem; he works repentance in Naomi’s life; he saves Ruth; and then he uses Ruth to extend his kindness to Naomi. Chapter one began with emptiness, but ends with fullness.

But not everyone is experiencing the fullness. Naomi is still bitter. God’s kindnesses are truly there for her, but Naomi misses them in her grief. She’s so focused on what the Lord has taken that she can’t see all that he has given. The Lord has been working everything for Naomi’s good, but she interpreted everything as the Lord working against her. She thinks that her future is only going to be bitter: “Call me Mara.” Chapter two is when the sun begins to rise on Naomi’s darkness.

The Narrator Introduces Boaz before Boaz Arrives

The story continues in 2:1, where the narrator—the one telling the story—introduces us to a very significant individual named Boaz: “Now Naomi had a relative of her husband’s, a worthy man of the clan of Elimelech, whose name was Boaz.” We’re actually going to meet Boaz in verse 3. We’ll learn his name, again. We’ll also be told he’s from the clan of Elimelech, again. What’s the point of telling us things about Boaz that we’re going to eventually found out anyway once we meet him in the story?

This happens a lot in biblical narrative. The storyteller knows what’s going to happen before it happens. He even knows the mind of God, how God is viewing the situation, and how we should understand the events from God’s perspective. Of course, the ultimate Storyteller is the Holy Spirit. We’re getting his side-notes, so to speak.

He’s giving us a heads up, “Hey, you really need to pay attention to this guy. For one, Boaz is a relative of Naomi’s husband. More than an acquaintance. A relative. Maybe he can help. Two, he’s from the clan of Elimelech. That’s even more important, especially since Elimelech is now dead. Could he be next in line to take responsibility for Elimelech’s inheritance? And even better, Baoz is a worthy man.

All that to say, the Holy Spirit just put a huge flashing arrow above Boaz’s head. When Boaz enters the story, he’s got everybody sitting on the edge of their seats watching this man’s every move. He’s a worthy man in the line of Judah. Hmmm…might he be able to rescue Ruth and Naomi? Hmmm…might he be pointing to another worthy man in the line of Judah who is able to rescue us? Let’s keep reading to find out. Verse 2

2And 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.” 3So 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.

God’s Providence Working for Naomi’s, Ruth’s, & Our Good

Who’d a thought that she just “happened” to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz, after he told us about Boaz. Literally it says, “and her chance chanced upon” Boaz’s part of the field. Our English equivalent would be, “and as luck would have it…”

Anybody who knows the sovereign God of the Bible wants to stand up and say, “Oh yeah, she happened to come! Come on, we know God did that. It’s not just coincidence.” Precisely. That’s the point. The narrator is seeing if you’re awake. Are you hearing this family’s story merely from the limited, human perspective that can’t always see God’s hand at work? Or, are you hearing this family’s story from God’s perspective? Do you see God bringing this widow all the way from Moab into the field of a worthy man in the line of Judah?

One of the lovely takeaways from the book of Ruth is that it forces us to come to grips with our own family stories, and then pulls them up into the context of God’s greater story. At the human level, we can’t always see what the Lord is doing. We can’t always see how God is going to use this or that suffering, this or that displacement, this or that leader, this or that job termination, this or that success. There might be a large number of ‘it-just-so-happened-thats’ in our lives.

But the book of Ruth teaches us that there’s another perspective we must not forget; and that is God’s perspective in Scripture. Nothing happens outside God’s providential care and movement toward finishing his purpose for us in Christ. Even down to the mundane affairs of finding a field to get some food on the table, caring for someone in need, answering that phone call that you’d prefer to ignore. Verse 4…

4And behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem. And he said to the reapers, “The LORD be with you!” And they answered, “The LORD bless you.” 5Then Boaz said to his young man who was in charge of the reapers, “Whose young woman is this?” 6And the servant who was in charge of the reapers answered, “She is the young Moabite woman, who came back with Naomi from the country of Moab. 7She 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.” 8Then 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. 9Let 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.” 10Then 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?” 11But 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. 12The 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!” 13Then 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.” 14And 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. 15When she rose to glean, Boaz instructed his young men, saying, “Let her glean even among the sheaves, and do not reproach her. 16And also pull out some from the bundles for her and leave it for her to glean, and do not rebuke her.” 17So she gleaned in the field until evening.

The character of Ruth and Boaz really stands out in this section. Last week we saw that Ruth exemplified the Lord’s kindness, his hesed, his committed love. Ruth remains steadfast in love even when Naomi could give her nothing back. In chapter two, the same kindness and committed love stands out in Boaz. So what I want to do is make two passes through verses 2-16 and point out how the Lord’s kindness continues to manifest itself in Ruth and Boaz, and show you why that’s so significant.

Ruth: Humble & Hope-Filled Initiative Grounded in the Lord, Her Refuge

Let’s begin with the humble and hope-filled initiative of Ruth. First, we see that Ruth is proactive in her care for Naomi. Israel didn’t have a welfare program. But the Mosaic covenant did make provisions for the poor and the widow. The Law reflected God’s character. God saved Israel when they were helpless in Egypt. So we shouldn’t be surprised to find laws in Israel for helping the helpless.

Specifically, Deuteronomy 24:19 says that “when you reap your harvest in your field and forget a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow…” Leviticus 19:9-10 says, “When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, neither shall you gather the gleanings…You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner…” This is what we find Ruth pursuing. Ruth is a widow just like Naomi. Her state is even worse since she’s a foreigner. But Ruth presses onward for the family. She goes above and beyond duty to care for Naomi, while Naomi seems paralyzed by grief.

Ruth is also a very hopeful woman. Notice her words in verse 2: “Let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain after him in whose sight I shall find favor.” The Hebrew word behind “favor” is sometimes translated “grace.” She’s hopeful that some landowner might show her grace from the Lord. She doesn’t know about Boaz yet. She’s just banking on grace to provide in her time of need.

Ruth is also a hardworking woman. In verse 7 it says, “So she came, and she has continued from early morning until now, except for a short rest.” Verse 17 shows that she worked all the way through the evening. In verse 18, she’ll carry home an ephah of barley, which is like carrying a fifty pound sack of feed. Ruth is tough.

Ruth is also a humble woman. There’s a tendency in my generation and younger to feel entitled to just about everything. You know, people think they deserve a trophy even if they don’t win; people think they deserve the higher paying job without hard work; people get peeved when someone doesn’t respond to a text in five minutes.

But Ruth knows that she’s not entitled to anything. Her attitude is one of humility. She asks permission to pick up leftovers in the field in verse 7. Also notice her response to Boaz’s grace in verse 10: “she fell on her face, bowing to the ground, and said to him, ‘Why have I found favor [or grace] in your eyes, that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?’” She knows who she is: she’s a Moabite who shouldn’t be with God’s people at all. She deserves separation and nothing from God’s hand but wrath. And yet even with the provision of food, she falls on her face in thanksgiving.

Humility comes from knowing that you’re unworthy to receive grace. When was the last time you fell on your face before God for anything? Shouldn’t this be the way we respond to the grace of God in our lives? “Why, Lord, have you taken notice of me, since I am a stranger to your covenants, since I deserve nothing but your wrath?”

What excellent qualities we find in Ruth. There’s a reason that the Hebrew Bible places the book of Ruth immediately after the book of Proverbs. Ruth is a spitting image of the Proverbs 31 woman. But we need to ask one further question: where are these qualities coming from? We find our answer in the words of Boaz in verse 12: “The LORD repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the LORD, the God of Israel [get this], under whose wings you have come to take refuge!”

This is a most beautiful metaphor describing God. It comes from the Exodus, when God bore Israel up with eagle’s wings and carried them to safety. The metaphor includes the Lord’s protective care of his precious ones like a mother eagle would care for its young chicks beneath her wings (e.g., Deut 32:11-12; Ps 36:7). Psalm 57:1, “Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by.”

Ruth’s hope-filled initiative and hardworking humility—it’s all growing out of Ruth making the Lord her refuge, her safe-place. When you truly see how the Lord takes the initiative to rescue you, when you were cut off and when you had no inkling to pursue him, you take the initiative to rescue others. When you truly make the Lord your security, you go through life hopeful about the future—God is with you; he stands beside you. When you truly run to the Lord for your refuge, you really sense that you don’t stand a chance without him, and that kills pride and produces humility.

Godliness grows out of the Lord being your refuge. Committed love grows out of the Lord being your refuge. You can give and give and give till it hurts, and then give some more—you can lay down your life for others; you can be vulnerable; you can leave your father and mother and your native land for the Lord’s sake—because the Lord is your refuge.

You cannot be a godly person if the Lord is not your refuge. You cannot be saved without making the Lord your refuge. Forsake self-reliance every day and rest your weary soul in the shadow of God’s presence through Jesus Christ. Wasn’t it Jesus who cried out, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!” (Matt 23:37). Come to Jesus, all who labor and are heavy laden; he will give you rest (Matt 11:28). That’s what we see through Ruth.

Boaz: Grace-Filled Generosity & Care Pointing to Christ the Redeemer

But what do we observe about Boaz—the man with the flashing arrow above his head? He’s a worthy man, verse 1 said. But what does that really look like? To begin, it’s obvious that he walks with the Lord. He carries the Lord’s blessing with him to others, even at work. In verse 4, he greets his employees, “the Lord be with you.” Boaz isn’t a man who walks with God on Sunday and forgets God Monday through Friday. Just being around Boaz, you knew that he walked with the Lord.

Boaz is also a man who fulfills God’s law with love. Galatians 5:14 says, “the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” We see this in Boaz. He willingly opens his fields for the widow to glean (Ruth 2:3-4, 8). He’s also not the fella who says, “Well, I did all that I had to.” Boaz goes above and beyond what the law required. He permits not just a sojourner, but a foreigner to glean—and a Moabite at that.[i] Boaz’s compassion, his love, his kindness, isn’t deterred by social class or ethnicity. Oh for men like Boaz in our day, whose kindness won’t show favorites economically or ethnically, but will leap across barriers for the sake of love.

Which leads to something else about Boaz: he is a generous provider. He owes Ruth nothing, but he chooses to give her everything she needs and more. In verse 14, he invites Ruth over to his table. He’s glad to eat with the outsider and share the best of what’s on the table: “Come here and eat some bread and dip your morsel in the wine.” He passes her the roasted grain. Ruth eats so much she has to take home a doggie bag. In verse 16, Boaz commands his own workers to pull out some from the bundles and leave it for Ruth on purpose. He’s a very generous provider.

Boaz also becomes Ruth’s protector. Look at verse 9, “Have I not charged the young men not to touch you?” Again in verse 15, “Let her glean even among the sheaves, and do not reproach her…[and again at the end of verse 16] do not rebuke her.” Boaz puts measures in place to protect Ruth from harassment, shame, and insult. And by doing so he exemplifies the Lord sheltering Ruth beneath the shadow of his wings.

You can even feel Ruth’s sigh of relief when she experiences Boaz’s provision and protection. Verse 13, “I have found favor/grace in your eyes, my lord, for you have comforted me and spoken kindly [literally, you have spoken on the heart] to your servant…” His grace-filled generosity and care have become a helpless woman’s relief.

In sum, Boaz is this ideal man, this ideal Israelite from Judah, who shows extravagant grace to Ruth. When we want to emphasize something in writing, we use bold, italics, underline, ALL CAPS. The way emphasis happens in Hebrew is with repetition. So in 2:2 we get, “…in whose sight I shall find favor/grace.” Then again in verse 10, “Why have I found favor/grace in your eyes…?” Then verse 13, “I have found favor/grace in your eyes…” The text is shouting at us, “Consider Boaz’s graciousness!”

Are you making the connections yet? Boaz is an ideal Israelite, he’s from the tribe of Judah, he fulfills the law through love, he welcomes outsiders to his table, he provides and protects for his people, he lavishes grace upon them… Should I also add in verse 14 that while he’s the lord of the harvest, he’s still depicted as a servant, who passes Ruth the roasted grain? Oh there’s a real good reason the Holy Spirit pointed out this man back in verse 1. Boaz is a type of Christ.

The Good News Awakens Hope in Naomi

More on that in a minute. But with that in mind, let’s rock on to the next scene where Ruth returns to Naomi with the good news of this gracious man. Verse 17,

…Then she beat out what she had gleaned, and it was about an ephah of barley. 18And 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.

So Boaz’s graciousness provided more than enough for Ruth, in order to also bless Naomi as well. He provided more than enough for the Gentile, in order to also bring blessing to the Israelite. Are we in the New Testament or the Old, here? Verse 19…

19And 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.” 20And 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.” 21And Ruth the Moabite said, “Besides, he said to me, ‘You shall keep close by my young men until they have finished all my harvest.’” 22And 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.” 23So 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.

What just happened? First of all, I want you to notice that the Lord has answered Naomi’s prayer. Back in 1:8 she said to Orpah and Ruth, “May the LORD deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me.” And what do we find here? “May [Boaz] be blessed by the LORD, whose kindness has not forsaken the living or the dead!” The Lord’s kindness—his hesed, his committed love—has not forsaken the living or the dead.[ii] He hasn’t forsaken Naomi and Ruth or their dead husbands.

How does she know that? What turns on the lights of hope? God has sent to them a gracious redeemer. The sun of God’s kindness and committed love has risen, and it begins to shine on Naomi’s darkness. It’s like she comes alive as Ruth is telling her the news: “May he be blessed…this man is a close relative…it’s good, my daughter…” She begins to see the Lord’s committed love at hand; and Naomi then becomes quite active throughout the rest of the book—as we’ll see. Like Ruth, her hope gives way to initiative.

It’s like we’re meeting a new Naomi. Funny that she called herself Mara, bitter, but the narrator never calls her Mara. The narrator knows that her future is pleasant. Her future is pleasant because God was providing her a gracious redeemer.

You may even recall that Naomi’s faith was imperfect. We felt this tension in the way she kept counseling Orpah and Ruth, as if she wasn’t really trusting the Lord completely. But here we see that God still answered her prayer. Remember that, when you’re praying to God with imperfect faith. He does far more than anything we can ask or think. Don’t let your imperfections in the faith keep you from crying out to a God who lavishes grace on sinners.

He did for Naomi far more abundantly than anything she could ask or think. That becomes clear when the lights go on about Boaz being one of their redeemers, a go’el. In the Law of Moses, a go’el was a close relative who was responsible for the economic well-being of another relative.[iii] When the relative got themselves into a crisis and couldn’t get out of it, the go’el stepped in to redeem them. They could redeem their property to ensure it stays within the clan, they could buy back the relative if they happened to sell themselves into slavery, and so forth.[iv]

But another way the go’el could help the relative was by marrying the widow of a deceased brother-in-law. This is the levirate marriage mentioned in Deuteronomy 25:5-10. Now, some have objected to this connection because Deuteronomy 25 doesn’t actually mention the word go’el. And besides, Boaz wasn’t Elimelech’s brother-in-law but a more distant relative. That’s the point of the story, though. Boaz doesn’t just do the letter of the law; he pursues the spirit of the law. He goes beyond duty to lavish kindness and grace in redeeming Ruth and Naomi. That’s coming in chapters three and four.

So what are we left with, then, at the end of chapter two? God awakens hope through providing a gracious redeemer. He is a redeemer who is from the tribe of Judah, who fulfills the law through love, who welcomes outsiders to his table, who provides for and protects his people, who lavishes grace upon them, and who is a lord who becomes a servant. Oh, God, answers Naomi’s prayer, and in a way she never got to see come to fruition fully…but we do get to see it because of the incarnation.

Boaz is a type of Christ. A type is a person, event, or institution in the Old Testament that foreshadows the future realities bound up with Christ and his kingdom.[v] Boaz is a figure prophetically pointing us to Christ and what Christ would be like but in a far superior way. Jesus is from the tribe of Judah, but he is the Lion of the tribe of Judah (Matt 1:2; Heb 7:14). He conquers and brings God’s kingdom on earth like no other man from Judah did or could (Rev 5:5). He was a mighty Lion, but took the form of a Lamb, slain to ransom people from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation (Rev 5:9).

Jesus is also God’s Son who came to earth as a Jew to fulfill the law for us through love. Everywhere we broke God’s law, Jesus obeyed it for us fully, and he did it to be our Redeemer. Here’s a good Advent/Christmas text for you to tuck away in your heart: Galatians 4:4-5, “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” God sent his Son in a unique and purposeful way.

That he was born of a woman means he took on our human nature. Human sinners needed a human substitute (cf. Heb 2:14). And because our sin is an offense against an infinitely holy God, we also needed an infinitely worthy sacrifice. Only one, who was both God and man, could bear our curse and satisfy holy wrath (Rom 3:25-26).

That he was born under the Law means that he had to live under the Law, in order to redeem us. The Law required full obedience and punishment for every infraction. That’s bad news for us. We are lawbreakers and deserve punishment. But the good news is that Jesus obeyed the law for us and then suffered the punishment we deserved. The righteous died for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God (1 Pet 3:18). Boaz was pointing forward to the one and only true law-fulfiller and redeemer, Jesus Christ.

Boaz was also pointing forward to a lord who would become a servant. Jesus is Lord of the universe, but he condescended to us. He set aside his right to be seen as glorious, and he took the form of a servant (Phil 2:5-9). He served us even to the point of death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name. Now Jesus is Lord of a superior harvest of people from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation, whom he is calling home through the gospel. And he has called us to reap the harvest by winning souls (John 4:35-36).

In Christ, God’s committed love has also brought us protection from sin, death, and the devil (John 8; 1 John 5:19). You are more right that you know, Naomi, he has not forsaken the living or the dead; he will raise our bodies to new life to be like his glorious body. Death has no power against God’s steadfast love in Christ (cf. Rom 8:38-39).

In Christ, God has won for us every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, Ephesians 1:3 tells us. He is our provider. And remember how Boaz’s generosity not only provided for a Gentile like Ruth but also provided more than enough for Naomi the Israelite? So also Jesus reconciles Gentiles into his family by tearing down the dividing wall of hostility. And as Israel looks upon all the grace showered on the Gentiles in Christ, Romans 11 says it provokes them to jealousy and grafts them back into God’s people through the gospel. Why is Israel picking up leftovers after Jesus feeds the five thousand, and twelve baskets at that? Because his grace is more than enough for Israel, and more than enough for you and me.

Boaz was pointing to a much greater Redeemer, my friends…a Redeemer who also welcomes outsiders, law-breakers, to sit at his table. He eats with tax collectors and sinners (Matt 11:19). No matter what sins you have or where you’ve been, your greatest sins are no match for his extravagant grace. In Christ, God lavishes his kindnesses upon us through a gracious redeemer. He passes us the best bread and invites us to take of his wine, unworthy as we are. Oh, did God ever answer Naomi’s prayer!

He has awakened hope in our hearts too. This should leave us saying with Ruth, “Why, Lord, have I found favor in your eyes, that you should take notice of me?” It should leave us on our faces, bowing to the ground before a God who shows such grace to sinners. His grace in the Redeemer also compels us to run to the Lord and make Christ our refuge. In Christ, God has provided a safe place for the storms of life. God extends grace to those who run to him for refuge. Do not refuse him and try to save yourself. You won’t be able. He can! Run to Christ for help.

And finally, since there is so much hope for the world through our gracious Redeemer, let us report the good news to others. It is the good news of a gracious redeemer that awakens hope in Naomi. It is the good news of a gracious Redeemer that God uses to awaken hope in our neighbors and the nations. May we be faithful to carry that good news to others—to church members who are bitter, to family members who are hurting, to neighbors who sit in darkness, and to the nations who have never heard. But before we depart to tell others, let us first remember what the Lord’s grace means for us. Come and eat at the gracious Redeemer’s table. He offers his abundance to the unworthy.

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[i]The Law distinguished between three classes of individuals: the “native” (‘ezrakh) born in the land; the “sojourner” (ger) born outside the land but who comes to live in the land; and the “foreigner” (nekhar). The Law treated a “sojourner” differently than the “foreigner,” the latter being excluded from things the former wasn’t (cf. Num 9:14 with Exod 12:43; Lev 22:18 with Lev 22:25).

[ii]The Hebrew particle ’ser is rather ambiguous in 2:20, and has led to debate over whether “kindness” should be attributed to Boaz or to the Lord (or possible both!). Four observations lead me to attribute the kindness to the Lord: (1) the Lord is the nearest antecedent; (2) it seems to be a direct answer to Naomi’s prayer in 1:8, “May the Lord deal kindly with you…”; (3) a very similar construction in Genesis 24:27 appears: “Blessed be the Lord…who has not forsaken his steadfast love [i.e., hesed]…”; (4) “the man” (versus just “he”) in the latter part of verse 20 is required to bring Boaz back into the picture. See Daniel I. Block, Judges, Ruth, NAC (Nashville: B&H, 1999), 673, who also notes points (1), (3), and (4).

[iii]Block, Judges, Ruth, 674.

[iv]See, e.g., Lev 25:25-30; 27:47-55; 35:19-27; Num 5:8.

[v]For more on “typology,” see my sermon from John 13, "The Scriptures, the Christ, and Representing God."

More in Ruth: From Emptiness to Fullness

December 18, 2016

God Keeps Promise to the Royal Line

December 11, 2016

God Assures Rest through Relentless Kindness

November 27, 2016

God Brings Bread to Bethlehem