“Hesed and Providence” Ruth: Week 3 (Ruth 2:14-23)
Ruth 2 / August 5th, 2018 / Dr. Todd Gray
“Hesed” is a Hebrew word that means “kindness.” This week, we see God’s Hesed on display in different ways. See how Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz all experienced Hesed and how you can experience it as well.
1. Naomi: God’s Hesed and Hidden Hand of Providence
2. Ruth: Hesed on Display
3. Boaz: Hesed in the Redeemer
Today in Chapter Two, Boaz, our kinsman-redeemer is taking center stage again. But before we talk about him, if you haven’t been here, or even if you have been here and it’s been a while, I want to kind of catch you up where the story is. If you remember, Ruth is a Moabite, which means she was a pagan.
Like how did a pagan, one, get to Bethlehem? And two, become the bloodline of Christ? Well, that’s the point of Ruth. She met one of Naomi’s sons in Moab and they got married. Now when we see them transition from Moab to Bethlehem, you see both Ruth and Naomi come back widowed. That means both of their husbands had passed away. Also, Naomi’s other daughter-in-law, Orpah, her husband had also passed away.
So when Naomi was in Moab, she lost her husband and two sons and had no grandchildren. No one to carry on the family name. No one to protect the family land. No one to help her husband’s name, Elimelek, carry on. So what you see in the story is though Naomi comes back, she comes back and she describes herself empty and bitter.
She felt like she left Jerusalem and the land of Israel full, a husband and two sons, and the anticipation of maybe more children, and probably grandchildren, but she feels like she comes back empty. So what is she? She is bitter. She even asked people to, “Don’t call her Naomi,” which means pleasant, but to, “Call her Mara.” She says, “That’s my new name, bitter, because the lord’s hand is against me.”
But almost opposite of Naomi, Ruth, this pagan woman, comes to Bethlehem full. Full of joy. Why? Because she’s full of God. Yahweh, Somewhere between the transition of Moab and Bethlehem, Yahweh is her Lord, he is her savior. She follows him, and she also, therefore, commits to Naomi. So she has this beautiful commitment.
But when they arrive back in Bethlehem, they’re in a pretty desperate situation, aren’t they? They’re widows, which means they have no husband to provide for them. Thousands of years ago, a woman, only on rare circumstance, had any capacity to provide for herself outside of her husband. They had no sons. They had no daughters. They had no children. They had no one to help them. They also had no food, which means they had no hope of survival, if it were not for one thing, God’s providence.
His hand of providence guided them back to Bethlehem when it was what time of year? Barley harvest. It probably saved their lives. They come back hungry and Ruth takes it upon herself, this initiative, to realize that it’s harvest season, realizing that the law said that she could go into the field after the harvesters, after the maidservants, after they had taken off all the grain, and the landowner would leave some of the corners of his fields full of grain. Some of the leftovers if they fell on the ground, she could go and glean that.
So she asked her mother-in-law, “Can I go and glean what is left over in the fields?” According to God’s law. It was basically their form of benevolence. God’s form of welfare, if you will, to the poor. To the widow. To the orphan. To the foreigner, which Ruth and Naomi were in a desperate situation. So she goes into the field, and what do you see Ruth doing? You see her working. You see her being diligent.
She goes and asks the foreman of this field, “Can I glean?” And I want you to notice something very interesting this week. It seems as though she was just asking to be allowed to do the normal thing according to the law. To go in after the harvesters, after the maidservants, and then pick up what is left over. But I want you to notice something very interesting this week in Verse Seven. I think she was asking for something even more than that. God had given her a boldness. I think she was brave here. Look at Verse Seven.
“And she said, ‘Please let me glean and gather after the reapers, among the sheaves.'” So while the bundles were still on the ground, she was asking to glean. Now here’s how it worked in ancient Israel. The reapers, during harvest season, the harvesters, they would come through and they would cut the stalk of grain, or the barley, and they was leave it on the ground.
And after the reapers would come, the maidservants, the women servants who worked explicitly for the landowner, they would take those and they would gather into sheaves, or into bundles, up to about 200 pounds. And then they would put those sheaves, before anybody poor, before any widow, before anybody else came in, and they would take those sheaves, those bundles away on the back of donkeys, and then the widow, the foreigner, the orphan, then they would come in.
Ruth seems to be asking to come in like a maidservant, before the sheaves are picked up and taken away. And it makes sense if you read the rest of the story, because the amount of barley that she harvested was an ephah. Now how much is that? Well let me tell you it’s about 30 pounds, which was far more than a day’s wages for any servant that Boaz would have. It was not just enough to feed Ruth for a day or two, it was not enough just to feed Ruth and Naomi for a day or two, it was probably enough barley to feed them for weeks.
I think she was asking something special or something bold. And, of course, God’s providence allowed her to do this. And so she’s in the field gathering, and then, who notices her? If you remember, Boaz notices her, and once he asks his foreman, “Who is this?” They say, “It’s Ruth, she is the daughter-in-law to Naomi, she came for Moab.”
He remembers the stories, and he goes to her and he goes to her and he does something extraordinary. He says, “Not only can you gather, can you glean in this bold way that you’ve asked to glean, but I’m going to help you. I’m going to ask you to glean just in my field. Don’t go to another person’s field. I don’t know if they have the same integrity that I do. I want you to stay next to my female servants so they will watch over you and they will help you. I want you to drink the water from where my servants drink the water.” And so she did that.
And now we pick up the story today, still in the barley field after Boaz has interacted with Ruth and she says, “Why have you blessed me so much?” And he says, “Because not only have I seen you do for your mother-in-law, Naomi, but God has seen it and he’s blessing you.” Why? Do you remember the key point last week? Because you’ve placed yourself underneath his watch care. Underneath, as I described it last week, the shadow of his wing. Now he does something in the kindness, the hesed love just starts pouring out. It gets crazy today.
He says, what I want you to do is I want you to come with me and have a meal with me and my servants. It was very odd for a Israelite landowner to ask someone who should be just gleaning to come share a meal with him, especially from a man to a woman. It was just very strange. But in his kindness, he did it anyway. But the kindness continues to be poured out as he says. “Not only do I want you to come eat with me, but I want you to sit with …” Who? “My reapers, my harvesters.”
These are his top servants. They were like family to him. He’s asking her to sit around his family table and share a meal with him. Now it gets super crazy in just a second when the bible tells you something that you probably don’t think that’s big of a deal. It says that he served her roasted grain. Like, yeah, he’s the man, that’s what he’s supposed to do. In a patriarchal society, church, a man never served a woman. Most of the time, not even his wife or his daughter. They would serve him.
I don’t care if you like it. I don’t have to like it. You just have to be in shock by it. That this is the mercy that he is serving this pagan, as far as he knows. He probably sees something different because of her character. He is serving this foreigner. This widow-woman. This poor, destitute woman. And he serves her, and what does the bible tell you? She eats until when? Until she is satisfied.
Not only till she is satisfied, but to where she has leftovers to take home for her and her mother-in-law. As a starving widow-woman, when was the last time you would suppose that Ruth had should a meal that she was satisfied when she was done? A long time. You don’t even know what I’m talking about. That’s why it’s hard to preach these kinds of messages to us as Americans. Every single meal that you eat, this is why most of us have a little extra right here.
Every single meal that I eat, I eat till I’m satisfied. All the restaurants that I go to, I take home a doggie bag because, yes, even a big man like me cannot eat all that they serve me. But want you are in a famine, every meal you eat is not to satisfaction, it’s just to keep you alive until the next meal. So you can have enough water maybe, a little bit of grain, maybe a bite of bread, until the next meal. Until the next meal. For the first time maybe in years, she eats until she can eat no more, and she has more than enough. Well, there’s a message there, but we’re not getting to it yet.
There’s more than enough, and she does what? She eats, but she doesn’t laze around the dinner table. She doesn’t just sit there and enjoy the company of Boaz, I’m sure she did. She doesn’t even leave the food that she has extra for somebody else. She gathers it up. She takes it with her and what does she do? She gets back to work. She starts gleaning again. and then she goes home and the first thing she does is go to her mother-in-law, who she’s committed to, and she gives her the roasted grain.
Now the mother-in-law is kind of in shock and awe right now with the amount of grain that she brought home, both raw and roasted. But she’s so hungry she can’t talk yet. It’s a famine. They’re starving. So what does she do? She eats until she’s what? Full and satisfied. And we know that she has leftovers because the amount of barley that Ruth gathered was enough for weeks. So she’s satisfied. She has leftovers, and then she notices the reality of what’s going on. She goes, “Ruth, where did you glean today? And who was the landowner that showed you so much favor and blessing?”
And here it is. The game changer. A paradigm shift for Naomi, who was bitter up until this moment in the story. Ruth keeps with the good news. It just keeps pouring out, doesn’t it? She goes, “I was in the field of Boaz.” It may have taken a second or a minute or two, but in this part of the story, although you can’t see it, I want you to imagine a smile, for the first time in years, just like her belly was full for the first time in years, starting to come across who’s face? Naomi’s face. Why? Because she realizes what’s going on. Something that she had been blinded to because of her pain. She realizes that the name Boaz means that she has a kinsman who can redeem her.
Now we use the word, “kinsman-redeemer,” so much, which Boaz is labeled that in this particular text, that we forget the impact of that. It means a living relative, who’s a male, who can buy back the land so that you don’t have to lose it that your husband and his family worked hard to keep. It means now you can have a relative that can be financially responsible for you and Ruth, when you thought you were going to die, be a widow, and have no hope.
It means you have a male relative, that if he sees fit, in the tradition of the land, can marry a widow. Probably not Naomi, she’s past, already told us, the marrying of age. But don’t think for a second that in Naomi’s mind the wheels of love weren’t a turning. She’s thinking of Ruth. Now she tells her why she has had such a paradigm shift from darkness to light. She says because Boaz is the kinsman. He’s our close relative. The word could be translated there. Redeemer. He’s our kinsman-redeemer. And that changed the game for Ruth and Naomi.
What blows my mind in this passage of scripture is not only Ruth and her action with Naomi, coming home with the food. She goes on to tell her, “Stay with the maidservants. Continue to work in his field.” And then something amazing, Ruth says, “Oh, on top of all that, I stay in the field until the end of the harvest season, which means that she could’ve collected grain up to 30 pounds a day, which was weeks worth of food for seven more weeks. If you do the math on that, the amount of grain that Ruth collected for her and Naomi could’ve been equal to a year’s worth of survival for these two widows.
But more than that, it’s the fact that Boaz showed up and it starts to make sense to Naomi that God can use him to be a game changer. Isn’t it amazing how this story through Chapter One, and we’re like trudging through the brokenness and pain in Naomi. There’s hope in Ruth, but it is just bitterness and hurtfulness, and pain, and sorrow all through Chapter One. But just with a few acts of kindness, the story for Naomi completely turns around.
I use that word, “kindness” on purpose because look at Verse 20 with me. This is going to consume the rest of our thought for the rest of the morning. Ruth, 2:20. “May he,” meaning Boaz, “be blessed of the Lord.” Meaning Yahwah. Now what has Yahwah done? “He has not withdrawn his kindness, this is Yahwah to Ruth, Yahwah to Naomi. He has not withdrawn or withheld his kindness to the living and the dead.” This word, “kindness,” though it may not jump off the page at you, is the Hebrew word, “hesed.”
And though it only occurs three times in the Book of Ruth, I believe the more I read it, the more I study it, this is the theme of the book. That’s why hesed only occurs three times, but the actions of hesed is all through the book. You see it almost any time Ruth does anything. You see hesed almost any time that Boaz does anything. You even see it in Naomi. I don’t believe I could put enough emphasis on what hesed means, so that you could understand it. So for a few minutes we’re going to kind of discuss it.
We discussed it week one, but this word, “Hesed,” is so rich with meaning, we cannot give it one English word. You’ll see it translated the three times in Ruth as kindness. And kindness it is. The kindness of God to his people. The kindness of Ruth to Naomi. The kindness, even on occasion, from Naomi to Ruth, and the kindness of Boaz to both women. But it means so much more than kindness, so we give it other words.
As we see it throughout the Old Testament, it’s God’s covenant-commitment to his people. We call it God’s grace, God’s mercy, God’s loving kindness. And sometimes we just call it God’s love. And all those English words are good words, but any single English word on it’s own, like “kindness,” is not enough.
I was reading this book that I recommended to you, The Gospel of Ruth by Carolyn Custis James. Go get it. And when she’s discussing this chapter on Naomi, she’s discussing hesed. She says, “Though we translate it, we often lose the meaning, as it gets lost in translation.” And she gives this great story that I want to share with you.
She says, “It’s like this one scholar that I heard about that was translating the Old Testament for a people group. And when he came to the word, “lamb,” he didn’t know what to do because this particular people didn’t have any lambs. So he said, “Oh, I know what they have, they have llamas.” So instead of coming to the word, “lamb,” and translating it like we see what lamb means in the bible, like he was, “led by a lamb to the slaughter,” like, “a lamb to the shears of silence so he did not open his mouth.” He used the word llama.
And it seemed like a pretty one-for-one translation in the beginning. A llama is a livestock animal like a sheep is. A llama has wool that you can use, or this fur that you can use. It is a four-legged animal. But that’s where the similarities stop. Have you ever been around a llama? A llama is nothing like a lamb. In fact, what we use a llamas to protect lambs. Let me just tell you a llama is a bad mamma-jamma.
A llama does not really have meekness in it’s character. A llama is buck wild on occasion. They like to wrestle with their necks and throw each other down. In fact, when the enemy approaches, like a wolf, a llama will spit at it. It can spit at you by the way. Stay away from a llama. But it uses this leg, and it kind of works the opposite of what your arm. It kind of goes backwards. It’s like a whip kick. And when a llama uses it’s whip kick, not only can it make the wolf go away with one kick, it can kill a wolf.
I mean, a llama is like a ninja. And its attitude is mean, ornery, stubborn. And can you start to see the problem? Will it write a lamb, like a llama before the shears of silence. No, no, no. A llama is not going to be silent. It’s not going to be meek, like you see a lamb. It’s not going to be peaceful. It’s going to be violent and aggressive.
It totally changes the meaning of what the bible is trying to help you understand about Jesus when it say, “Well he was like a lamb.” He wasn’t like a llama. He wasn’t boxing people all the way to the cross. He wasn’t whip kicking. I wish he would’ve, but he didn’t. He was like a lamb, humble and meek and silent.
So when we get to hesed, if we’re just casual with it, we can miss the meaning. Hesed is God’s never-ending, no matter what, unchanging commitment to his people. That does not change because of their sin. It does not change because of their circumstance. It does not change at all. Why? Because he is God. Now, hesed, this covenant commitment can happen between two people. But most often it is described as what God has towards his covenant people, even when they don’t deserve it. Now for hesed to work, there has to be two types of people associated before hesed can happen.
Number one, the one party, like you and me, has to be in desperate need. And then the other party, God, or the other person, has to have the desire to meet the need and the resources and the ability to meet the need. So when you see it between people: Boaz, the ability and the desire to meet the need, and Ruth, in desperate need, it illustrates this hesed love of God to his people.
So rather than us just seeing the word kindness three times, what I want you to see is a word picture. This is what the Old Testament is good at. This is why people write narrative books, by the way. They try to illustrate their point through a story. And through this story, God is trying to help you, as his child, his creation, to understand his hesed, his loving kindness. His mercy, his grace, his commitment, his everything to you. Though the relationship of Boaz and Ruth, through the relationship of Ruth and Naomi.
So I want to take a few minutes and I want us to look at hesed in all of these characters. I want you to see hesed as someone who passionately takes it upon themselves to make your needs their priority and has the ability to meet said needs. See, church, God does not want bystanders who just watch his story unfold. He wants willing participants that he can use through his hesed love by putting it on display, so it can accomplish his will for his glory and your good, so other people can see it.
I hope that’s not too complicate to grasp. We’re going to try it out. Let’s see the hesed in Naomi. In Naomi, you see the hesed in providence. What Naomi does for us is she gives us this wonderful opportunity to see God’s hesed, I’ll add the word love there to better help us understand it. God’s hesed love and his providence in the darkest of days. She’s a great resource for us to see his commitment to us in the worst of times. To know that he’s in control when in your life everything seems out of control. That his hesed, his providence is good for you even when it doesn’t feel good to you.
Now in Chapter Two, I know it’s hard to grasp this because Naomi is in such a transition. She is transitioning back from Mara, bitterness, to pleasant and joyful Naomi. Isn’t that neat that her name transitions back and forth? Remember in the beginning of the story, in Chapter One, it’s hard to remember in Chapter Two when all the blessings are coming, but she was bitter and she was empty. And she says, “Change my name,” to Mara, which means bitter, from Naomi, which means blessing.
But now, without even saying it, her name is changing back, isn’t it? She is Mara as she approaches this moment, but because of the mercies of God, and the gray, and the mercies of God in Boaz, her name is changing back from Mara, bitter, back to joyful and pleasant. And I know what we want to do in Chapter Two. We want to see Naomi. We want to see the paradigm shift, and we want to fast forward.
We want to fast forward and see her hooking up Boaz and Ruth, and we want to see them having a baby. And then we want rush to Chapter Four and see her holding her grandson, Obed in her arms because he was the grandfather, of David, who was the greatest king of all time.But also the paternal bloodline for Jesus Christ, and we want to rush to that, and we almost want to forget about her pain.
But for a second, for a minute together, I want to tell you the one person that did not forget about the pain was Naomi. God may be bringing her out of the pain in Chapter One, but that pain in Chapter One will always mark her. Think about losing a child. Think about losing a spouse. And even though the mercies of God are new in the morning, his blessings can be seen in the future, does that event ever leave you? Does that tragedy ever leave you? No, it’s always with you. So it was always with her but what she forgot to see is that it was also with her during the pain.
In Naomi’s story, we see God’s providence and his commitment. His love for her while the pain is happening. The problem with pain is that it can skew your view of not only God, but it can skew your view of God’s work in you and through you. Don’t forget that Naomi didn’t really lose her view of God, necessarily. Maybe a little bit. Because she still saw him as sovereign. Remember in Chapter One? She says, “It’s God who is doing this to me.” He was with her, and she knew that he was with her, she just forgot about his hesed love towards her, and she thought that he was with her but against her.
What she was blinded to because of her pain was that not only was he with her, but in his hesed love, he was still for her. It’s easy to see God’s hesed in the blessings. When times are good, when the job offer comes in and they say, “yes.” When the cancer is said to be in remission, and when the money is flowing. But here’s the question that Naomi allows us to ask: Does God’s hesed, his covenant commitment, ever stop working for you? No. It doesn’t. It may be hard to see it, but God’s hesed, just like his providence never departs you.
For Naomi, though it was there, it was hidden to her for many years because she let her pain rule her. Naomi’s story is helpful for you and me here today because if you lived through a tragedy that has rocked your world, you’ve asked this question that Naomi has asked probably a dozen times, where is God? Or is God for me?
Remember Naomi lost her husband, and for 10 years she lived without her husband with two boys who were married to pagans without grandchildren. And then she lost her two boys as well. And then she lost a daughter-in-law, and all she was left with was Naomi, she was feeling empty. Naomi was feeling embittered to God. But even in those moments, I think the story shows us today that God’s providence and his loving commitment was still with her and for her.
Back to this book I was reading, Carolyn James, when she was writing this—it’s kind of, again, God’s providence in her life, I think for our benefit today—as she was writing this chapter about Naomi, crossing over from bitter to pleasant again. As she was writing this chapter about Naomi, existing in pain, and yet God’s hesed had been with her, she was reading about her pain, and how God’s commitment was with her. It was one thing on a page, but as she was writing the chapter in 2006, she lived a very similar circumstance.
She was writing this chapter one night when her husband, in the middle of the night, got a phone call. The phone call was from his mother saying that his brother, Carolyn James’s brother-in-law, although he was a great mountain climber, was stuck on top of Mt. Hood in Oregon. He got just enough cell service in his snow cave, because the snows came in, to make a phone call to his wife, which got passed onto the family. He was in the snow cave with him and two other experienced climbers. The snow just came in too quickly for them to leave—they were almost to the summit to the mountain—to leave the mountain.
So, the next day, her husband, guess what he does? He gets on a plane, and by the time he arrives, rescue workers were everywhere. It was like unprecedented how many rescue workers from around the nation responded. You many even remember the story from 2006. It made national news. They were all there to help. They were all are searching. But because it made national news, Carolyn was telling about this army of Christian warriors that was gathered together not only thinking about them but praying for them.
And because of all the rescue workers and because of all the prayers, Ms. James said, “I was confident, and so was my husband,” who shared his confidence on CNN, that they were going to find his brother-in-law alive. But, instead of the situation getting better, it got worse. And in God’s providence, it got worse and a blizzard came in. And the rescue operation, because the rescuers couldn’t get to the mountain for days, turned into a recovery operation. They found her brother-in-law dead. And in that moment, as she was writing this chapter, she asked the question, “Has God’s hesed run out for me?”
The same question that Naomi was asking as she was transitioning from Moab to Bethlehem. You may have asked that question before. “Has God’s love run out for me?” Or maybe they asked, “Where is the providence of God in my tragedy?” When the cancer returns? When my spouse is gone?” For Naomi, the answer comes in Chapter Two, and it’s a loud, resounding answer that comes through a very simple act of mercy of having a full belly because of Boaz’s grain and having a kinsman-redeemer waiting for the family.
Church. I want you to know that it was because Naomi lived in such a dark place for such a long time, because she lived in such a dark place, that she was able to see the light of God’s hesed all the more clear. The reality is is that God’s hesed love towards her, and for you, and for me does not quit working. Just like his providence, his hesed, his loving kindness, his mercy, his commitment to you, walks and works right alongside of the pain.
The question is, Do you see it? Will you accept it? Naomi didn’t and her life was worse off for it, though she’s a blessing for us so we can see it in her. She could’ve had a different circumstance if not only she saw God’s sovereignty, his power and control, but if she would also see his loving kindness and commitment to her during the pain.
So what I prayed for you this week was a different prayer than what Naomi experienced. I pray that if you’re going through a tragedy right now, if that season of tragedy is today for you, if your here today, I prayed for you that God would show you and you would accept his loving kindness and his providence while the situation is happening. ‘Cause did God use Naomi when she saw his providence? Sure he did. Do you remember when she was traveling from Moab to Bethlehem? She was in a small way a picture of God’s hesed to her daughter-in-laws.
They were coming with her into poverty, into widowhood, into barrenness, so she stops them, and she tells them, “Turn back.” What would’ve been better for her? For her to bring them along. To work with her and to be an emotional comfort for her, but in her selflessness, she turned them away. He still used her. What I’m telling you is God will use what you give him, but he would rather you be in a situation like Ruth. Not only use you a little bit. He would rather you see his pleasantry. He would you see his commitment. He would rather you to feel the blessing of his life and be used on a whole nother level.
Did God use Naomi? Absolutely, in Ruth’s life and in our life. But my question is how could he have used her? He will still use you with whatever you give him, but how could he use you? If you would not let the bitterness come in but you would let the hesed love of God wash over you. How much more of an example could you be. How much more of an example could she have been? She could have been right there with Ruth as this wonderful picture of God’s commitment to his people, not just by Ruth’s commitment to her, but by her commitment to Ruth.
So we learn from Naomi. But next, let’s get to Ruth. Not only can we learn from Naomi, but I believe we can emulate Ruth. You see God’s hesed on display through Ruth. See, this idea of hesed or loving kindness or God’s grace or mercy is not some mental ascension, it’s not some lofty or esoteric idea that’s only discussed by scholars. It’s something that is meant to be experienced by you and something that is meant to be walked out through you. What I’m telling you is hesed is better caught than taught. It’s better lived than just learned. But it has to be learned first. You have to be able to see it first.
I believe that Ruth was able to show God’s loving commitment to us through her commitment to Naomi because she had it set deep in her heart in her understanding. She understood it completely, therefore it could live through her completely. She was committed to Naomi. Look at Chapter One. She says, “Where you go, I will go. Where you stay, I will stay. Where you die, I will die. And where you’re buried, I will be buried.” It’s like beyond a commitment, commitment that she makes to Naomi. You see hesed there.
But you also see hesed as she transitions to Bethlehem. As she’s working in the field. In her humility and her kindness and her servitude to Boaz. And you see it in her commitment to Naomi. Even in the field, in this particular chapter, when Ruth goes into the field, who’s always on her mind? I know what you want to say, because you’re an American who always loves love stories. You want to say Boaz. Boaz wasn’t on her mind. He was an extra blessing. Who was on her mind? Naomi was on her mind.
She shows God’s hesed to us through her hesed, her commitment to Naomi. How much grain does she collect that first day? An ephah, 30 pounds. What that enough for her? Yeah. But who else was it enough for? Naomi. Even after she shares this wonderful dinner with Boaz, she gets back up and gets back to work, why? For Naomi. When she carries it home, who does she give the grain to? Naomi. Why does she collect almost in over seven-weeks a year’s worth of barley? Not just for her but for Naomi as well. She worked hard so she could give something to eat. What a picture of God’s hesed in Ruth in her commitment to Naomi. She never stopped thinking about Naomi. She always wanted to provide of Naomi.
What does that show us about God? How does that reveal his hesed love for you? Hear me. God never stops caring for you. Your name never leaves the mind of God. He is always looking for ways to prosper you. To bless you and to provide for you. The question is, Do you see it? J.R. Packer, one of my favorite authors, he makes a note that God’s love is what matters most to him. God’s hesed is what matters the most.
He says, “It is not that I even know God. That’s not the big deal.” He says, “The big deal is that God knows me. Me knowing that I’m in the palm of his hand. That I’m never out of his mind. All I know of him is because of his initiative …” He says, ” … of first knowing me.” He says, “He knows me as a friend. He’s one who loves me. Who never takes his eyes off me, nor his attention is ever distracted from me.” He says, “There’s an unspeakable comfort in knowing that God is constantly taking notice of me and watching over me for my good.”
When I thought about that this week, I thought this: He knows the worst about me, God does, and he loves me, listen to this, despite me. Because of Christ who died for me. Church, this is great comfort. Seeing and believing God’s hesed love for you so it can be lived out through you. Oh, how I see it displayed in Ruth’s life from Chapter One, through Chapter Two, through all the way through Chapter Four. Hesed could so clearly be seen in Ruth’s life, because it was set so deeply in her heart.
If you read the book of Ruth, and you think something like, “Boy wouldn’t it be great if I was a picture of God’s hesed love like Ruth was to Naomi? Like Ruth is to me?” Here’s how it can happen. Gods hesed love can clearly be seen in you only if it’s settled deep in your heart. Only if you believe it can you display it. So in Naomi, we have a lesson in Ruth, we have someone we can emulate, but finally let’s look at Boaz. The hesed we see in Boaz is a redeemer kind of hesed.
Boaz takes center stage in this story. And in Verse 20, we learn why he takes center stage. So that for the first time, and I never when you to leave here again without knowing this about Boaz, he is finally named as the kinsman who is the redeemer. This term for relative is used twice. It’s the Hebrew term, Go’el, and it can be translated, “relative,” and if it’s used twice, close, very intimate relative.
But another word for Go’el in the Old Testament is to redeem, or to be a redeemer. And that’s the idea. There was a law, a Go’el, a family law, that said, close male relative would come into another family’s life, his relative’s life, when the patriarch died and he would do what? He would redeem the family name and the family land. His first priority was to make sure the land was redeemed. I mean, he had to make a financial contribution and sometimes it would bring him almost to destitution so that name would not leave that family or that clan.
And then what he would do is he would do other aspects of redeeming the family. He would make sure they had justice. And if there was a widow, the tradition what that he could marry the widow, so not only would the land be saved, but the name, like Elimelek, that name would be saved and passed of as well. So, Boaz is this close relative who is a redeemer. He was the perfect picture of Christ, the redeemer, for us. Not just for Naomi, not just for Ruth, and the redemption of their family that Jesus Christ picture that Boaz shows is the redeemer for all us.
It goes so much further than just Ruth and Naomi. See in the marriage between Ruth and Boaz, the kinsman-redeemer Boaz is, there would come a bloodline of David, who is not only the greatest king in Israel’s history, but from the bloodline of David would come Jesus Christ, who is the eternal redeemer of the world. Therefore the hesed that we see in Boaz foreshadows the hesed that is perfectly fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
See, even in the redeemer word, we see it perfectly fulfilled in Jesus. See, Boaz may have redeemed the property, and even redeemed the widow, Ruth, but through his bloodline, Jesus Christ, the eternal redeemer, redeemed much more than that. He redeemed and he brought back us from slavery to sin. This is the example of hesed because he is the redeemer.
Remember what I told you earlier for hesed to work that you must have someone in desperate need, and then you have to have the person who wants to meet that need, and have the resources to meet that need? This is God to us. You and I, we’re desperate in our need to be forgiven because of the sin that weighs on us. God is the one who has the desire and has the capacity and the ability, through Jesus Christ, to provide for your greatest need, which is to be forgiven.
And what is the payment that Jesus Christ paid for you? The bible tells us that you were bought with a price, and that’s the blood of Jesus Christ. And when he shed his blood, as the perfect savior of the world, God accepted his payment. Why? Because he lived the perfect life that you couldn’t live. He died a death that you couldn’t afford because he was both God and man. Had to be fully God so he had the capacity to forgive your sin, and he had to be man so he could be your kinsman.
He had to be your relative in a human so he could be your eternal redeemer as God. Our greatest need is to be forgiven, and Jesus Christ has the desire and the capacity to fulfill that need and he did so on the cross. The question is not, Is Jesus Christ the penultimate kinsman-redeemer? The question is, Is he your kinsman-redeemer?
We see this picture of Christ over and over again in the life of Boaz. In this particular text, look at what Boaz is doing. In the beginning of the story, what does he do for Ruth? Not only provides her a way to glean, but in our particular verses, he invites her to dinner. That is an outrageous invitation. He serves her and then he provides for her not just enough, but more than enough. And why does he provide her with more than enough? So she can take the grain what she has for her satisfaction, and extra grain that he has given her to give it to another.
And then when she goes out into the field, do you remember what he tells his workers? Do not impede her. I want her to work amongst the harvesters, while the grain is still being in bundles. In fact, not only that, but I want you to take some of the stray grain and put it out in the rows for her to gather.
How can we look at that that in Boaz and Ruth and not see Jesus? Do you realize that Jesus has given you an outrageous invitation, and it’s not to dinner. It’s to salvation. To sit at the supper table of all eternity with him. Because he sees your great hunger and your great need. He has a desire to meet your need and he has the capacity to meet your need. But once he provides for your need in salvation, and he provides for your daily needs, I ask you in your own experience, Has he given you just enough or has he given you more than enough?
The Psalmist, David, says, “My cup overflows.” I can give you hundreds of times in my life when God has not given me enough. Not just in salvation, but in daily satisfaction, more than enough. Why does God give you more than enough? So you can put it in the bank, so you can store it for yourself and you family forever? No, God gives you more than enough so you can share it with those that he’s put into your life.
So the first question is, Is he your kinsman-redeemer? I didn’t say, “Has he accomplished salvation?” We know that he did on the cross. And what he accomplished on the cross has the capacity to save everyone in here today. I asked you, has he freed you from sin? Just because it happened doesn’t mean it’s effective for you. Have you repented of your sin and believed upon him alone for salvation? If you have, he is your kinsman-redeemer. If you haven’t, I’m pleading with you today allow him to be that which he has earned for you.
But if he is your kinsman-redeemer, I want you to believe it today I want you to believe it today, that his providence is not only God in you, but his hesed is more than enough for you. And if you would think through it, you would realize that the blessings that he’s given you spiritually are more than just enough for you. If he is your kinsman-redeemer, I ask you when’s the last time you shared your abundance with somebody?
Let’s start with the gospel. The gospel is enough for you. Not only for eternity, but in daily satisfaction. But it’s more than enough for you, and you have an abundance of gospel truth, so you can share it with somebody else. Here’s the simple question. So let me just put it to you straight. When’s the last time you shared the gospel with somebody? When’s the last time you’ve shared your testimony with somebody? If God’s given you encouragement, when’s the last time God has allowed you to encourage somebody else?
I know God’s made you wealthy. Like, “I’m not wealthy, I’m poor.” You live in the wealthiest nation in the world’s history. You’re the wealthiest generation that’s ever existed. Now you may be hindered in your wealth because of debt. But the change has been made. We are wealthy. When was the last time you shared your wealth with somebody. I’m not trying to step on your toes or get personal, but I am.
When was the last time you shared God’s abundance that he just showered you with in America today with somebody else? If he is your kinsman-redeemer and you realize that he’s provided enough in an overflowing amount, do you see his hand of providence guiding you? Do you see his love always with you? Maybe here today? Then my prayer would prove true for you. Maybe like Naomi.
God would show you just one of those simple graces in your life, like a full stomach or some provision that he’s given you. It would cause you to realize that not only is he providing for you now, not only is hesed love for you now, but it’s always been there. And it will always be there and you would never go into that bitter, dark place again. That’s my prayer for you this week.
May 12, 2019