East Side Church
(Baptist - Disciples of Christ)
201 Spruce Ave.
Sharon, PA 16146
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December 8, 2013
"The First Goel?"
Ruth 2

Intro: Advent, visiting little town of Bethlehem. But events of Ruth occurred 1100 years before Jesus' birth! Review: Famine; Naomi & family go to Moab; husband dies; sons marry Moabite girls; sons die; Naomi, feeling beat up by God, returns to Israel with one daughter in law, Ruth. Last week, struggled w/question, "Where is God in a suffering world?" Today, discover the answer in a surprising place!

God Hides! (Read Ruth 2:1-3.) Introduced to Boaz; a near relative of Naomi; man of standing! But don't know significance of this information! Meanwhile, Ruth takes initiative to provide; Naomi is depressed, resigned. "As it turned out!" Heb., literally: "And Ruth's chance chanced upon a field of Boaz." Narrator, w/nudge & wink: Coincidence? Not a chance! This is the hidden hand of God!

Boaz Hosts! (Read Ruth 2:4-16.) Frederick Bush translates beginning of v. 4, "And wouldn't you know it...!" Coincidence? Not a chance! This is God working behind the scenes! Boaz appears, greeting his workers by blessing them in God's name! Notices Ruth, asks who she is. His foreman: "Moabitess who came back with Naomi. She's been working non-stop!" V. 7's "except for a short rest in the shelter." NIV's guess; Heb. impossible to translate? Proposal I like: awkward attempt to explain an awkward situation. "This man...she's just going home for a little bit." Harassment?! Boaz's words to Ruth would confirm this interpretation! (Read Ruth 2:8-9.) Boaz encourages Ruth to stay working in his fields, and advises Ruth, for her safety, to stay close to his servant girls . He also commands his male workers not to harass Ruth in any way!

Ruth is astounded by Boaz's kindness to her; a foreigner (2:10), a lower socio-economic class, a woman (2:13)! She hasn't seen anything yet! Boaz invites Ruth to eat with his servants; he even serves her (v. 14)! Boaz also commands his workers to leave extra grain for Ruth (v. 15-16)! (Repeat, stress Boaz's kind acts!) Notice how encouraging Boaz's speeches to Ruth are!

True, Boaz only obeying God: Deuteronomy 24:19-22. But remember, time of Judges; Israel disobedient! Boaz is kind to a Moabite widow! Why? (2:11-12)! He recognizes Ruth has taken refuge under God's wings. Significant; see it again next week!

Ruth's Harvests, then Naomi Hopes! (Read Ruth 2:17-23.) Staggering amount of grain Ruth harvested! Almost 30 pounds! About a week's worth of food in one day! How lucky was that? Luck? Not a chance! This was Boaz's kindness and generosity!

Naomi's revelation: Boaz is a Kinsman-Redeemer! ("Goel.") According to some passages in Lev-Deut., a goel, a kinsman-redeemer, was a near relative who was responsible to help their less-fortunate relatives. (Lost property, sold into slavery, in a lawsuit; the goel steps in, buys property, redeems from slavery, provides legal counsel.) Boaz's kindness to Ruth is one thing, but who Boaz is, their goel, might be a bigger kindness than Ruth ever imagined!

End of this chapter; unfinished business! Ruth the Moabitess, the outsider, still living with Naomi. End of harvest; they have enough food for the coming year. But no long-term solution to their problem: They need a man! Boaz is Naomi's kinsman-redeemer, and he is kind. Will Boaz, their goel, be the solution to their problem?

Application: Through Boaz's kindness, the hidden God was revealed. Where is God? God certainly works behind the scenes in life's coincidences. But we need more than a hidden God. We need God's people demonstrating God's loving kindness in generous, practical ways. To Christians, a reminder & challenge: Boaz a picture of Jesus; kinsman who redeemed us from sin. We've received Christ's generous kindness. He is our Boaz. But we are also Boaz! People around us stumbling through gracious coincidences but hungering for more than a hidden God. They need God's people demonstrating God's kindness in generous, practical ways ! Our responsibility! What generous, practical kindness can we show to foreigners? Women? Despairing? Less fortunate?

Some here, like Ruth, wonder if a good God is hiding behind all of life's madness. I encourage you: go to the place where you most clearly see God's blessing. "Stay with my workers." May God's people show you kindness; may they show you God's love!

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© East Side Church, 2013