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ACCEPTANCE IN COMMUNITY
Devotional Reading : Romans 12:9-18
Background Scripture: Ruth 2, 3
Printed Text: Ruth 2:5-12; 3:9-11
BACKGROUND:
Last week Ruth made and announced her life-changing decision: she would leave her country, her kindred, AND her god behind to cling to her mother-in-law, Naomi. It is important to note that no union of people can long survive if the people involved are serving different gods. Ruth necessarily chose the True and Living God of Israel. This may well have reflected Naomi’s influence through her lifestyle...

The women arrived in Bethlehem in early Spring, to much gossip and criticism (cf. Ruth 1:19). It was just after the Feast of Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and the Spring Barley Harvest. These three celebrations took place almost at the same time – the Barley Harvest being the last in the series. The celebration itself had been ordered by God (Leviticus 23:9-14), and the Israelites were about the business of doing God’s bidding. It was probably mid-March, and the gathering of barley was just getting under way. It was an ideal time for the two women to arrive, for it was substance that they most needed, and substance was in abundance during this period. Once again, God was in the plan...

INTRODUCTION:
The first four verses of Ruth 2 (not in our printed text) set the stage for what is to follow. Boaz (later to be the name of one of the pillars of Solomon’s Temple ) was a rich man. Some say he was a senior citizen, and may have been comparable in age to Naomi. He was a man of some note, and could have been a great warrior. But read these opening verses. There is only an introductory statement that Boaz was a “kinsman” of Naomi (the relationship is not specified), and that he had great fields of grain waiting to be harvested. There is nothing in these verses that point to any plan on Naomi’s part at that time for her daughter-in-law and Boaz. In fact, it appears that Ruth just happened upon one of Boaz’ fields in her gleaning. But God was in the plan. Ruth may have assumed later that she was lucky, but she was in reality blessed...

Normally, Israelites who were of limited means (widows, orphans, etc.) were permitted to follow behind the workers who were harvesting and “glean” that which the workers dropped along the way. But there was a problem: Ruth was not an Israelite, and had no inherent right to glean. But through the Will of God, she was able to do so...

As to the choice of fields in which to work, again Ruth appeared to pick one belonging to Boaz purely by accident...

BOAZ NOTICES RUTH
Ruth 2:5-12

One can almost picture the scene: Boaz is standing supervising his many workers, all of whom he knows. There are also the poorer people following his workers collecting whatever “droppings” the workers left. Boaz may have recognized them as well. But there was a stranger, and she got Boaz’ attention. Why? Many have imagined that Ruth may have been a very attractive woman (probably no more than 30 years old) and thereby caught the eye of Boaz. But it is more likely that Ruth was dressed like a foreigner, and stood out in the crowd (As Christians today living in a sinful world, would we stand out because of the way we carried ourselves?)...

There was also the report of the workers. Ruth was a foreigner, but a hard worker. Boaz’ lieutenants reported that she stopped only once to rest from sunup to sundown. Of course when Boaz sent for Ruth, she had no idea why, but she sought to protect herself by asking (verse 7) for permission to glean in Boaz’ fields – this because she knew she had no right to do so. Of course, this was intended as a “temporary” request, as poor people tended not to stay in any one field, choosing rather to move around from field to field hoping for more to gather. That is what made the statement of Boaz so significant: “don’t leave my fields to go elsewhere, I have sufficient to provide for you.” (By the same token, we should hear the Word of God telling all Christians the same thing)...

Again, noticing this, and all the other “favors” offered by Boaz to Ruth (verse 9), the natural question arises, what motivated Boaz to hand down this kind of offer? Was it Ruth’s physical attraction? Ruth raised that general question herself in verse 10. Boaz responded with a declaration that should arrest every Christian’s attention today: no, it was not physical appearance that caused her to stand out, it was how she treated someone else. Her dedication and loyalty to God and to her mother-in-law, Naomi caused her to be attractive to Boaz...

BOAZ RESPECTS RUTH
Ruth 3:9-11

A blossoming relationship followed this “chance” meeting. Read the remainder of Chapter 2 for details. Near the end of the chapter, Naomi enters the picture and assesses the situation from her point of view. She sees that the blossoming relationship may be good for both women. With that, she announces (for the first time) that Boaz is a close relative, and goes on to explain the Levirate Law to Ruth. This law, in short, permits (or directs) a widow to marry her deceased husband’s brother, although a deeper meaning may allude to the redemption of a relative’s land (cf. Leviticus 25:25). With that, Naomi gave Ruth instructions of how to proceed...

As directed by her mother-in-law, Ruth waits until Boaz has eaten and drunk, and had laid himself to rest near a heap of corn. Ruth – following the plan – placed herself in a strategic position near to Boaz. Boaz soon discovered he was not alone. Ruth shortly announced that she desired Boaz to “...spread therefore thy skirt over thine handmaid; for thou art a near kinsman.” These words amounted to a marriage proposal. Boaz noted first that Ruth had not sought after “young men, whether poor or rich”...

This observation, added to all the other positive attributes of Ruth brought Boaz to a positive conclusion: he would accept the marriage proposal. Of course this was not simply a wedding ceremony that Boaz was entering – no, there was Jewish law, court proceedings, and possible stiff opposition awaiting the couple. But Boaz made one outstanding observation: “...the city of my people doth know that thou art a virtuous woman”....

A
 
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