He Has Not Abandoned His Kindness to the Living or the Dead: Lessons From Ruth Chapter Two
Updated: Sep 25, 2020
Seeing how far kindness, gentleness, and hard work can be extended in a world that desperately needs it.
The second chapter of the book of Ruth has practical elements and spiritual components that melt together well. It's undeniably wholesome. After a fruitful dig through Ruth 2, this blog post is the second expression of thanksgiving I can offer to the God who breathed out such incredible Scripture, the first being living it out by the power of the Spirit. Let's freaking go y'all, the Bible is that good.
The first practical thing that blew my mind was how Boaz had heard of Ruth. Scripture says that Boaz is a prominent man of noble character. And here's this Moabite gal, a foreigner in the land and a widow, but a follower of the Israelite God nonetheless. She has made herself known for her intense devotion to her mother-in-law in chapter one verses sixteen and seventeen. The workers of the field let Boaz know that Ruth "came and has been on her feet since early this morning, except that she rested a little in the shelter." (v. 7) Sort of similar to how Taylor Swift wrote in her song End Game, that was basically what's going on with Ruth, her reputation precedes her. Boaz knew she was a legit lady, a hard worker, and her faith in God was not to be messed with.
Ruth's faith in the Lord and the outworking of it was something to be noticed.
Christ set her apart.
The second practical aspect was the kindness of Boaz and its ripple effects. The way that Boaz provided for Ruth not only encouraged Ruth but strengthened the heart of Naomi. Chapter one ended with Naomi, who had lost her husband and her two sons, explaining to a group of local women that Naomi no longer desired to be called by her name but would prefer to be called Mara (bitter) because the Almighty had made her very bitter. But later in chapter two, after Boaz provides for Ruth and sends her home to Naomi with tons of grain, Naomi inquires about the source of this barley.
Her mother-in-law said to her, “Where did you gather barley today, and where did you work? May the Lord bless the man who noticed you." Ruth told her mother-in-law whom she had worked with and said, “The name of the man I worked with today is Boaz.” Ruth 2:19
Watch closely how Naomi's heart is about to change from "Mara" to Naomi. From doubting the Lord's goodness, kindness, and faithfulness, to seeing those attributes on display in someone being the hands and feet of the Lord.
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.” Ruth 2:20
Naomi's despair dissipates as the kindness of Boaz to her family envelops her. Not only is this a sure picture of what Christ's kindness looks like to us, but it's a convicting exhibition of the warmth we can show to others in an attempt to be the hands and feet of Jesus and dissipate their bitterness. This. Is. So. Good.
Because the love of God compels us and we have the Holy Spirit working in us, we have the power to love, serve, and be kind to others in a way that is so outside of this world it ventures to tear down the barriers and bitterness in the hearts of others.
When it's time to point out the spiritual realities of this text, it's hard to miss the blinking neon signs that show Boaz as a picture of Christ. Sure sure, Boaz has Ruth working in his field and gives her some protection, but he doesn't stop there.
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. Ruth 2:14
Boaz is not simply protecting and providing for Ruth anymore. He is inviting her in to his presence. That. Is. So. Like. Jesus. I'm so shook over this chapter in the Bible. He took someone that was a legit enemy of God's people, a Moabite, AND ME, and invited her, AND ME, to sit at His table, to enjoy a meal, to enjoy company, and to be provided for. How is this stuff in the Bible so clearly?
Themes of Jesus are laced throughout the entirety of the Bible. Written by many different authors throughout many different time periods and they all scream the same message. Christ is so worthy. Christ welcomes you to live in His presence.
I love how God looks after His people; the sojourners, the widows, the poor, the outsiders. He doesn't exclude anyone from access to the Good News. No one alive is outside the grace of God. Listen up, my heart!
The book of Ruth as a whole is a land mine of the goodness of God. The second chapter wails similarities between flawed and human Boaz and the Savior who would come to buy back lost sinners from the slave market of sin and death. We aren't provided with merely spiritual blessings, but the presence of Jesus himself. And His presence? It makes a watching world look over at us and say, we've seen that before. We've heard about you all. Just like Boaz did when he encountered Ruth. And that kindness we saw displayed by Boaz? We can extend that type of kindness through the grace of God to dissipate bitterness in others. It might just change the world.