Boaz, the Redeemer (Sermon)
I went to a Christian school, and I knew this guy that would go up to the girls at cafeteria tables and read Scriptures that spoke of wives submitting to husbands, just to get a rise out of them. As I think back to that guy and as I have studied the
Scriptures more, I realize that guy didn’t understand the Scriptures at all. As one of my friends pointed out the Scriptures do not highlight the role of leader in the home as one of privilege along the lines of being able to say "Hey woman, get me some chips!” but instead it is a role of weighty responsibility of a man who must be willing to provide, protect, serve, and even die for the sake of his bride!
This morning we will see Boaz reflects much of this as he gives a picture of a godly man who provides, protects, serves, and redeems, but also he gives a picture of a godly believer whether male or female that should care for the most vulnerable in our world—the hurting, the poor, the marginalized and so on. As we see Boaz it is my prayer that our affections will be stirred toward God who in His loving-Kindness has provided a Boaz for us and that we will in turn turn around and be a Boaz to others!
This story takes place in the time of the Judges. There is spiritual famine in the land because as we highlighted last week everyone does what is right in their own eyes. And so in great irony Bethlehem, which means “house of bread,” experiences physical famine meaning in the House of Bread there is no Bread. And so, an Israelite family from Bethlehem (Naomi and her family) leave for Moab for bread. They do what they ought not by giving their sons in marriage to non-believing Moabite wives. And tragedy strikes as the sons and father die and all that is left is Naomi and her daughter in Laws!
Ruth however has come to believe in the God of Abraham and returns with Naomi to the house of bread. We see once again because of God’s loving-kindness to Israel in that there will be bread which pictures there is a hope for these two widows—hope that Ruth will find a husband and she met Boaz in Chapter 2 and even for Naomi that she will one day have offspring through grandchildren.
God demonstrates His Loving-Kindness by providing a redeemer and protector for those who cling to Him by Faith. What is striking in this book is that this providential care of Yahweh over Israel isn’t done through signs or miracles by a prophet. Instead it is just the common everyday life of Israelites by which He displays over and again His kindness to fulfill His promises to care for and protect His people and to set up an everlasting Kingdom through one family!
Naomi Plots (3:1-6)
Naomi begins the chapter by planning to find rest and security for Ruth. She may be a little discouraged because it has likely been up to seven weeks since the initial meeting of Boaz and Ruth in chapter 2. Not much has happened and so Naomi, just like a mom by the way, begins to scheme so that her daughter-in-law will be well provided for!
Naomi’s plan is to honor her daughter-in-law, who has honored her by staying with her and taking Yahweh as her God, by finding her a protector and husband who will provide and care for you. Let me translate verse 1 for you, Naomi is saying, “Ruth, let’s get you a man!” And as she does so she points her back to Boaz who has already shown interest
Single ladies, you can imagine your mom doing this right, “You know that Boaz is a such a nice guy!” or when my parents used to say, “You know so and so would make a really nice Pastor’s wife!” Naomi is really saying, “Boaz is the kind of man eligible to redeem you and make you well cared and provided for.” Naomi points out where Boaz will be this evening … and so it’s date night!
So Naomi says its date night so, “Ruth take a bath… and maybe put on some Moab #7 and some nice clothes.” Now, this isn’t a text about dating, but that’s just good advice ladies and probably more so single dudes. Naomi is not promoting seduction, but it is wisdom!
Some scholars believe it is also intended to be a sign to Boaz that her period of mourning over husband is over, meaning there ain’t no ring on the finger anymore. Naomi’s plan is that Ruth not reveal herself to Boaz while he is eating and drinking and celebrating the harvest. Again not about dating, but good advice: Probably not best to sit down next to the guy while he’s watching college football and pounding queso and say, “It’s time for a relationship talk!”
What in the world is going on here? Naomi has instructed Ruth to demonstrate her dependence on Boaz by essentially make a marriage proposal, and this is a bold and shocking play. Naomi believes that Boaz will initiate from there: But she says be careful to note the place where he lays down.
Ruth by leaving Moab has become a daughter to Naomi and now she acts like a Daughter who honors and obeys father and mother. Here we see the character of Ruth as she carries out what her mother has told her. This is not a reckless plan (although it could have been in those days at times the Threshing Floor could be a seedy place) but instead it seems to be a bold move of faith that is based in Naomi’s understanding of the integrity of Boaz!
Ruth Acts (3:7-9)
After celebrating the harvest and a good day’s work he went to lay down in the field to protect his harvest. Here she comes along, and I love how the text says “softly.” She’s approaching like a Ninja and she does exactly as Naomi has instructed. Imagine this scene: Tonight around 2am you wake up thinking is there a draft in here, my feet are cold, and you look down and a woman is laying at your feet. I mean this writer had to have had a sense of humor in writing when he says, “he was startled.” I’d say so!
Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night thinking someone is in your room and it freaks you out? Now imagine it were true. This must have been something akin to what Adam is feeling when he wakes up from his rib being removed and boom he has a wife. Some in this room are thinking “best surgery ever!” But now, in a sense, how Boaz reacts to this marriage proposal means everything about his future, Ruth’s future, and the future of God’s people!
I like to imagine Boaz responding like Joey Tribiani, “How you doing?” He doesn’t chide her for this bold move but says “who are you” – I think he knows who she is (though its dark so possibly he doesn’t), but I think it is more like he is asking what are your intentions or “What can I do for you?” And she replies with a marriage proposal in striking language, “Spread your wings over me!” Here is her marriage proposal, “Boaz, be my refuge.” We live in a time of cheesy pick up lines but that’s a pick-up line: “Hey baby, take me under your wings!”
This is a marriage plea because she is saying I am your servant humbly at your feet asking you to redeem me, to be my covering, to make me your own, to fulfill your own prayer in 2:12. Be to me a symbol of the Lord’s protection: Protect me the way a mother bird would take her chicks under wings to protect them from prey. It is quite a proposal and Ruth is awesome: Her tone is deferring for sure, but she is making her intentions clear by reminding him you are a redeemer that can fix my plight!
Boaz Responds (3:10-18)
Boaz responds with remarkable honor by calling her daughter and recounting her kindness. He could have taken advantage of her. Remember this is a time when men are doing what is right in their own eyes. Instead he honors her by proclaiming a blessing on her and showing integrity in the darkness!
When Boaz recounts her earlier kindness, he is speaking of the kindness that Ruth had shown to Naomi by clinging to her and her God. Boaz points out he knows what’s going on by saying that this second kindness the one now shown to him is even greater than the one she showed to Naomi. He is quite honored that she didn’t run after the young or even rich.
Some believe the text is implying that Boaz wasn’t the hunkiest guy, I mean he’s no Derek Zoolander. But he’s a man of great integrity and character and Ruth runs after that. Single people what you need is not what the world prizes. What you need is a spouse of integrity and character!
In this text we see a certain theme highlighted by the beautiful Hebrew word “chesed” that means “loving-kindness.” Ruth’s kindness to Naomi in caring for the widow. She has shown her new devotion to Israel’s God by following His ways which demand care for the widow and now she is turning that kindness upon Boaz. And so, he says, “do not fear” as he is stepping up to provide for her, and he speaks of her using the same language used of the worthy woman in Proverbs 31 who is praised at the gates of the city as is Ruth!
We should revel in the grace of God this morning and let it draw our affections to Him. If you think you are outside or the reach of God’s grace, of God’s Loving-Kindness this morning, you are not. Ruth has now gone from being a stranger in the land and a gentile rebel to a Proverbs 31 WOMAN because of her faith!
In addition, Boaz demonstrates to us one who cares for those that the world may not, like the widow Naomi and the widow Ruth. Even though we are in the time of the Judges, there is a faithful remnant called worthy. Both Boaz and Ruth are called worthy in this book and why are they worthy: They are people of Loving-Kindness!
There is one who lawfully is a bit closer than Boaz so Boaz acts properly according to the law as he commits to protecting Ruth (v.12—13). This also indicates that what he is doing for her he is doing out of kindness and not obligation as he will show real love and real sacrifice to care for a former gentile. Which is a reminder to us that in the gospel we are not owed anything but instead we gain much because of God’s unmerited and overwhelming loving-kindness!
These two verses (v.14—15) are all about how Boaz honors Ruth. He honors her by protecting her reputation and by feeding her a little breakfast in bed. He seals his promise with some food because in a sense he is saying I don’t have a ring, but here’s a biscuit. Actually it is much more than a biscuit as it is likely somewhere around 100 lbs of grain. So Ruth must be a beast or CrossFitter in order to get this back to Naomi! What we are seeing here from Boaz is grace upon grace, kindness upon kindness. As not only does he protect her and will redeem her, but he lavishly provides for her by giving her bread.
Naomi basically says, “How’d it go?” and Ruth tells her about all of Boaz’s kindness (v.16—18) Naomi lets her know the man “will settle this today… it will be finished.” The author is highlighting the rich heritage of the Messianic Forerunner King David, but in one sense this book is more about Naomi. The book begins with her losing her sons and saying her name should now be bitter to one who is blessed now because of the redeemer Boaz.
From Boaz to Jesus
What a story! A love story but also one of resurrection! Famine to fullness, curse to blessing. You see Israel would have been reading this story in Exile where once again they would wonder if the blessings and promises of God’s Loving-Kindness would come true. God’s loving-kindness would once again show up in Bethlehem in one of Boaz’s descendants who would show loving kindness to sinners!
You see there would be another Redeemer, a greater redeemer. One who would take vulnerable sinners under his wings (Matt 23) saying, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem…How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings.”
There would be another redeemer who would be a light to the Gentiles and showing Loving-Kindness to the Sojourner. Of whom Paul would say to the church in Ephesus that some of you were once: “strangers to the covenants of Promise, aliens to the commonwealth of Israel, having no hope and without God in the world, but Now… you who were once far off have been brought near!” There will be another, a son of Boaz who will care for the least of these. Another redeemer who provides bread for his people!
And there will be an even greater love story in which a redeemer takes for himself a bride and purchase for her an eternal Inheritance. This redeemer would not rest until the matter was settled until He cried out, “It is finished!” Even as the judgment of God against sin touched down upon Him at Golgotha so that He could redeem His bride at great cost to Himself, costing Him His very life!
His name is Jesus of Nazareth, Lord of the Heavens and Earth, born in Bethlehem of the line of Boaz and Jesse and David. How do we know He can redeem us, protect us, prove to us our inheritance is imperishable? Well, on a Sunday morning like this one though He was dead, His dead heart began to beat again, and He vacated a tomb in the Middle East. He proved to us that even death itself has no hold on Him nor on His bride.
You may think you are beyond redemption, but you are not. Christ stands willing to redeem. Fall like Ruth at the feet of the Redeemer and say as she did: “Please make me your own!” And He will cover you, He will protect you, He will save you, He will provide for you.
Believers, let’s be encouraged by grace this morning. Consider, why in the world would this one set His affections on us? Grace! And may that make us love Him more.
Now we who have been redeemed, protected, and who have been lavishly provided for, need to be Boaz’s to others. We need to love the widow, orphan, hurting, and marginalized. We need to love neighbor, all neighbors as we do ourselves.
We must see that even in tough times of famine and loss and hopelessness, God is using these slight momentary afflictions and working out for us an eternal weight of glory. We must trust with eyes of faith that our God is working even in ordinary circumstances for His faithful ones to increase His glory and provide for His people.
In high school that boy that would read those scriptures to those girls at the cafeteria table didn’t have a clue what it meant to be a godly man. In so many ways I still don’t, but I have high hopes that I am being formed into a man like Boaz as I am being conformed into the image of the greater Boaz. Boaz’s great, great, great, great, great grandson, Jesus Christ, who for the good of the hurting set His face like flint to Jerusalem to drown in His own blood to protect and rescue a sinful bride.