Now Naomi had a relative of her husband’s, a worthy man of the clan of Elimelech, whose name was Boaz. And 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.” So 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. And behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem. And he said to the reapers, “The LORD be with you!” And they answered, “The LORD bless you.” Then Boaz said to his young man who was in charge of the reapers, “Whose young woman is this?” And 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. 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.”
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. 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.” Then 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?” 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. 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!” Then 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.”
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. 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.” (ESV)
Ruth and Boaz shine like stars as righteous exceptions in the midst of a wicked generation. Their lives inspire us – and they are meant to. We ought to leave here today and ask: How is my desire to fit-in and belong impacting my life? Am I seeking first the Kingdom of God and its righteousness or am I trying to enjoy as much of the passing pleasure of sin as I can while still appearing respectable? Am I seeking primarily the praise of man or the praise of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? Ruth and Boaz remind us that our circumstances do not need to determine our characters. Ruth and Boaz are shining encouragements that you too can be an exception to your generation. But there are two more things that we must take from today’s passage:
First, Ruth and Boaz are not merely good people … they are God’s people. Earlier in the story we see that Orpah was what we would call a “good person.” She was kind to her husband and to her mother-in-law. She was willing to courageously leave her homeland to be with her mother-in-law and to care for her. We would be happy to have Orpah as a friend, a neighbor, or a colleague at work. Orpah was a basically decent person … but she wasn’t a light shining in the darkness like Ruth and Boaz. The difference was simply this: Ruth and Boaz knew and loved Yahweh while Orpah didn’t. Being nice is important, but it is not the gospel. If you want to be a part of God’s plan to reconcile the world to Himself in Jesus Christ: You must know and love Jesus Christ. And if you truly do know and love Jesus Christ – then you too will be an exception to any generation that turns its back upon Him.
Second, while Ruth and Boaz are heroes in this story they are not the Hero of this story. From a human standpoint, Ruth just happened on the fields of Boaz. But Ruth is written in a way which makes clear that the LORD is guiding their steps … indeed that the LORD is guiding all the details of history that will lead up to the birth of King David … and ultimately to the Messiah Jesus Christ. Loving Jesus Christ will cause you to be an exception to your generation. Knowing that Jesus loves you with an everlasting love and that He is in exhaustive control over every detail in your lives will cause you to shine like brilliant stars on the darkest night
MEMORY WORK – Shorter Catechism Q/A 64
Q. 64. What is required in the fifth commandment?
A. The fifth commandment requireth the preserving the honor, and performing the duties, belonging to every one in their several places and relations, as superiors, inferiors or equals.