In fact, the very first word, I love this, that Ruth says to Boaz is the word why. Why have you shown such favor to me, a foreigner? Why are you treating me so kindly? Why have you extended such grace to me? What have I done to deserve your attention?
Why me? And I think that's a wonderful analogy to the gospel. Everyone loves a good fairytale, especially the ones with happy endings. As a Christian, you're part of a real life tale with a great rescue, a real prince, and true love. In Matthew's gospel, the lineage of Jesus includes Boaz and Ruth, a real love story. It depicts and reflects the redemption that Jesus Christ made more than 1,000 years later for all who believe in him. It's a story that begins before time and ends happily ever after. Here's Stephen with this message he called Happily Ever After. I appreciate the way one author pointed out that the average treatment of salvation misses the romance.
It refers to it as if it's some kind of cold transaction. He writes 1,000 times no. In fact, the book of Ruth will declare that redemption is not a business transaction. It is a love story.
How true. Well, let's dust off that love story. In fact, I think we'll have time to just cover this particular insertion in the lineage of Jesus. Go back in your copy of the Old Testament to the book of Ruth. The book of Ruth, I like to think of it as a fairytale that came true.
This is the real deal here. I want to make a few observations of the analogy of the love story between Boaz and Ruth and that of Christ for his bride, the church. While you're turning, you ought to know that for centuries in Jewish history and culture, Ruth was one of five scrolls which would be read annually at different times during their year. We know that Esther would be read at the Feast of Purim. Ecclesiastes would be read at the Feast of Tabernacles. And I find it wonderfully ordained by God that Ruth would be read for centuries during the Feast of Weeks, otherwise known as Pentecost. It isn't a coincidence that the reading of this story at Pentecost over the centuries of Boaz winning his bride would coincide centuries later at Pentecost on that very day with the church, the bride of Jesus Christ being brought into existence on that day by her kinsman redeemer, Jesus Christ.
Not a coincidence. Now, whenever my wife and I have couples around at our table or we eat with a couple, invariably my wife is going to ask them, all right, when did you meet? And where did you meet? And we want to know the story. It's always fun to hear the story. Usually the wife has all the details right and down pat. Well, that's exactly where Samuel is beginning who writes this love story.
You'll notice in Ruth chapter 1 and verse 1, now it came about in the days when the judges governed that there was a famine in the land and a certain man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the land of Moab with his wife and his two sons who, if you know the story line, will marry two Moabite women. That'd be easy to skip over this kind of opening line and kind of get to the good stuff. But this sets the stage for what happens. In fact, it sets the stage to reveal to us the key players in the story line. So what I'm going to do, because some of you take notes, I'm going to give you five points, four or five, to serve as an outline as we fly through this narrative today. In fact, we're going to cover the whole book of Ruth today. Amen. This is your Christmas miracle. All right.
It's going to take us till three in the afternoon, but we're going to get through it. Here's the first point. This is an unexpected setting. You see, these opening words now came about in the days when the judges governed. That historical remark, again, isn't a throwaway line. It makes the redemption of Ruth even more unexpected. In fact, if you just look across the page at the last verse of the previous book, the book of Judges, and you look at that last verse, it reads, in those days, that is, in the days of the judges, there was no king in Israel.
Everyone did that or did what was right in his own eyes. These were not the days when widows were offered any assistance. These were not the days of moral character and pure relationships. These were not the days of worship and obedience to the law of God. These were not the days when farmers followed the law of God and planted out to the corners of their fields and then left them unharvested for the poor and especially the widow who would come to forage in the field. These were not the days when anybody was willing to give anything. But these were the days of the judges.
What were those days like? Those were the days when everybody did that which was right in their own eyes. I say all that to make application for us that here in the midst of those days, you have a man who is doing what is right.
In fact, as I've thought about it, I can't think of any time in history when culture could not be defined in those same terms. Everyone does what is right in their own eyes. It is never an easy time to do the right thing, to follow after God. Boaz and Ruth weren't living in a time when godly relationships were typical, when sacrificial giving to others in need was normal, when moral character was common, when trusting God was easy. Here's Boaz and if we understand the historical marker, he is bringing in the first harvest of seven years. The famine is over. Bethlehem is rejoicing. Naomi hears the news and rushes back with one daughter-in-law who will go with her and Boaz is preparing to bring in his first crop perhaps in seven years.
And here you have this farmer, even though he has great need the first time in seven years, leaving the corners for the widows to glean. So right off the bat, this love story that is going to develop has an unexpected setting. Secondly, I want to point out that this is an unlikely courtship. We learn from chapter one that Ruth is a Moabite. She is a pagan Gentile, an idolater. At some point she converts. We're not told up to what point she was an idolater, but she converts in following Naomi.
You go back into the Old Testament law of Moses and you discover that the Moabites are singled out because of their idolatrous rebellion to never be allowed into the temple or tabernacle precinct to worship. So the law is telling people like Ruth, stay out, but you're going to see grace say, come on in. We're not given much information about Ruth's past.
We're given more information about Boaz. So if you look over at chapter two and verse one, the record reads, Now Naomi had a kinsman of her husband, a man of great wealth, of the family of Elimelech, whose name was Boaz. He was related to Naomi's late husband. In fact, to be a kinsman redeemer, you had to be closely related to the widow. This is, by the way, why Jesus becomes human. He has to be related to us in order to redeem us and many other things.
But here he is. In fact, most scholars believe Boaz is a nephew. And we're told in the text that he was a man of great wealth. That Hebrew phrase is a little more elastic. It's translated valiant warrior in Joshua chapter six and verse two. In fact, we're informed that when the angel of God came to one of Israel's judges who was judging during the days of Boaz by the name of Gideon, the angel used the same adjective, the same phrase as the angel called Gideon, oh, valiant warrior. Since Boaz lived in the days of the judges, many Old Testament scholars believe that Boaz, since he's given the same description by Samuel, was more than likely a military veteran.
But more than that, some scholars go so far as to say that since Boaz earns this commendation as a valiant warrior, he more than likely not only volunteered to serve with Gideon, but he was one of Gideon's 300 valiant men. The adjective shows up as well. And for Samuel nine, it's translated moral excellence or influence. Finally, the word is used to refer literally to wealth, material wealth, and the context helps you decide which nuance to use. And since the context here refers to Ruth gleaning in his fields, Samuel is more than likely hinting ahead of time that Samuel is, that Boaz is capable of comprehensively settling the debt of these two widows, Ruth and Naomi.
I think Boaz was actually all three, valiant, morally excellent or influential, and wealthy. And what we know about him has led me to give you that point in that manner. It's highly unlikely for a man who worships Yahweh, a man of valor, a man of moral excellence, to be interested in someone like this pagan, former idolater, penniless widow.
Why? Well, he informs her, and through that us later on, that he's heard all about her statement of faith in the God of Israel. She's converted. He's heard all about her kindness and compassion to her mother-in-law, Naomi. And by following Naomi, she effectively says farewell to her family, her comfort, her friends, everything she's known, certainly her idols, and any kind of future potential marriage to a Moabite man. He's heard all about the fact that Ruth walked away from all of that and said in that classic text and statement to Naomi, where you go, I will go. Where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people will become my people.
And more importantly, your God will become my God. Hey, as far as this older bachelor is concerned, who'd evidently turned down a few candidates himself along the years, this was the kind of girl he's been looking for his entire life. Everything he hears about her and her character strikes his attention.
Thirdly, you have a very unusual proposal. Over the course of several months, and we've got to skip through all of that, but Boaz has been taking Ruth out to lunch every day. He's been loading her down with grain.
The first day was 25 pounds, if you do the math. Naomi sees her come home with 25 pounds of grain and she thinks to herself, what a farmer. In fact, she knows that farmer must have more interest than what might meet the eye. Ruth doesn't get it, by the way.
Naomi does. In fact, the very first word, I love this, that Ruth says to Boaz is the word why. Why have you shown such favor to me, a foreigner? Why are you treating me so kindly? Why have you extended such grace to me? What have I done to deserve your attention?
Why me? And I think that's a wonderful analogy to the gospel. Beloved, one day when you kneel at the feet of your kinsman redeemer, I think one of the first things running through our hearts and minds is why me?
That's the point of grace. Did we have anything to offer Christ? No.
Was there something about our tattered robes that got his attention? No. Were we related to the right people? Did we have the right memberships and the right clubs and churches so that we naturally got God's attention? I got to add that person to the bridal party.
No. Why would Jesus redeem us and save us and insert us into the family tree of faith? The answer in a word is grace.
Grace, unmerited, undeserved, unwarranted, amazing grace. We need to get Boaz and Ruth married here pretty soon. It's going to be an unusual proposal. By the way, before I dive into that, I like hearing those stories too, my wife and I do. I did a little research. It means I googled creative proposals. I came across some examples of how not to do it.
This is what you need to write down first. Like one lawyer who worked out a plan with some of his policemen buddies. According to their plan, policemen pulled his girlfriend over on her way home from work, made up some bogus charges, had her Parker car handcuffed her, put her into the police car and drove her to the city jail. Once incarcerated, they informed her that she could make only one phone call. Of course, she called her lawyer boyfriend who probably came down to the station, was let into her cell where he told her that the only way they would let her go was if she agreed to marry him.
That's romantic. I mean, she was angry for a very long time. I read about another young man who pretended to have died. He planned the entire funeral home visitation with his funeral home buddies, all dressed up in his best suit, lying motionless in the coffin. When his girlfriend arrived standing by the casket sobbing, he suddenly sits up and asks her to marry him. After she stopped screaming, she slapped him and then said yes.
They both need help. And I came across a couple of illustrations. I got time for one about a guy who got it right. One guy lives in a different state than his girlfriend, and he surprised her with a plane ticket to come visit him. When she arrived, a limo was waiting for her as planned, and the CD and the limo was actually a compilation of their favorite love songs. She was taken to a high-end store where a rack of dresses and shoes were waiting for her, personally hand-picked by him, and she was able to choose one favorite outfit. Then she was driven to a salon for a three-hour treatment, massage, pedicure, manicure, hairstyling, the whole deal. Following that, she was driven to the entrance of a resort where a horse and buggy awaited her.
And as she was driven to the resort entrance around a small lake, more than a hundred candles lit the path to red carpet. As she walked up the stairs, an orchestra began to play a song he had composed. He appeared at the top of the stairs and began to sing to her. When she arrived at the top stair, he knelt down on one knee and a huge lightboard behind him lit up with the words, will you marry me? Before she could answer, he stood to his feet and sang the finale to his original love song backed up by a 45-piece orchestra. When he finished and she said, yes, fireworks exploded in the sky above them.
This guy makes me sick. Some of you wives are out there, you know, rethinking what your husband did, you know, slipping that diamond ring into the banana pudding at Cracker Barrel just doesn't quite do it now. You'd like to redo that one. Well, we have here in the Old Testament a very unusual proposal. In fact, in this case, Ruth is the one doing the proposing. See Naomi, if you look over at chapter three and verse one, her mother-in-law said to her, my daughter, shall I not seek security for you?
We got to take care of you, that it may be well with you. Now is not Boaz our kinsman with whose maid you were? She's already informed Ruth of the doctrine of kinsman redemption.
Isn't he related? And I love this next phrase, behold, look, he winnows barley at the threshing floor tonight. How did Naomi know that? Naomi knew everything. She'd been planning this.
Ruth, it's time to let that farmer know you love him too and he's the one you want to marry. So verse three, she says, wash yourself. The Hebrew verb signifies the full treatment, just like that gal I referred to earlier. There, pedicure, manicure, the Avon lady comes over the whole deal. Next, Naomi says, anoint yourself, literally perfume yourself. I don't want to smell like the barnyard out there. Perfume yourself. We know from history that even the poor people in these ancient days had access to cheap perfume.
In fact, the royalty of Egypt, a thousand years before the birth of Christ, had scouting parties around the known world looking for the newest perfume creation. Get perfumed. She says, further, put on your best clothes. In a nutshell, get all dolled up.
Go out there to that threshing floor where Boaz is no doubt going to be in a wonderful mood, bringing in a bumper crop, first one in seven years. It's time to let him know. It's time for you to tell him you want him. This is a wonderful analogy to salvation. Jesus Christ can save you. Have you asked him to?
Jesus Christ can redeem you and settle your sin debt. Have you asked him to? If I can fast forward the tape, Boaz says yes, gains the right of redemption from that closer relative who isn't interested in Ruth. He isn't interested in tarnishing his reputation with a Gentile bride.
He has no interest in settling her debt. I mean, the only man on the planet that would be willing to do all of that is someone who loves the widow, and Boaz does. That leads us, fourthly, to what I'll just call an unusual marriage. Here's a wealthy, probably famous, well-known, valiant, badly Jewish man marrying a penniless, former idolatrous, Moabite widow. The man who had everything gives to his bride who has nothing, everything he has, which is exactly what Jesus, their bridegroom, did.
He who had everything gives you everything. He, though rich, became poor, joined the human race. You can't get any poorer than being born in an outdoor cattle stall so that we, the bride, could become rich in him, 2 Corinthians 8 and 9, eternally rich with an inheritance that is spiritual, which will last forever.
Now, if we were able to climb back into this scene here, we're not given any details. In fact, it just kind of skips past 9 or 10 months and immediately gets to the point that they had a baby boy in Bethlehem. But if we climbed back into that ceremony, you would find Boaz arriving, if he were wealthy, wearing a crown or a headpiece made of gold, which was the cultural standard, and we know he was wealthy and he would have.
It was also the custom of the bridegroom, as well, to be perfumed with two perfumes, one made of frankincense and the other one made from myrrh. So here stands Boaz prefiguring the coming kinsman redeemer who is legally descending from his union with Ruth. Centuries later, that kinsman redeemer will be visited by the magi who come to the home where he and Mary happen to be. He's toddling by that time chasing around the house, probably, and the magi give him gold, frankincense, and myrrh, significant gifts for a number of reasons.
What's easy to overlook is that these were the gifts of the groomsmen who'd come to win a bride. I love the well wishes of the witnesses. If you look over at chapter 4 and verse 11, you hear them saying, may you become famous in Bethlehem. They sure did. They sure did. Boaz and Ruth will become the great grandparents of King David.
More importantly, they will enter the family tree of the coming kinsman redeemer, those reflected in that lineage of faith, although all are not trusting in his coming, they do, and the Messiah eventually is born. When I used to read those fairy tales to my girls, they always begin with the words, once upon a time, didn't they? Once upon a time. And then they always ended with, they lived happily ever after. I can't help but think how appropriate these words are for all who've been redeemed by Jesus Christ. Every one of you, beloved, every one of you will live happily ever after, no matter how difficult your biography is right now, no matter how painful, how challenging, how desperate, how disappointing, how surprising, how unexpected. For the believer, the concluding line of your story, after you've taken your last breath, it will close with those same words, and you lived happily ever after.
And that's for real. Forever rejoicing in the presence of your everlasting Father, all doubts and insecurities and questions settled by your wonderful counselor, swept away to the Father's house by your Prince of peace. Let me note one more analogy. On the last page of every one of those fairy tales I read to my girls were two final words, the final, final words.
And they were the what? The end. Not for you. Not for you. Not for the redeemed. There is no the end.
Only happily ever after. Why? Because your kinsman redeemer joined the human race to become related to you. Because he was willing to love you and save you. Because he was able to comprehensively settle the debt of sin when he said it is finished on that cross.
That's why. So the final words on the last page of your biography are never going to be the words, the end. The last words we'll read instead. And they lived happily forever after. That was a message called Happily Ever After. And it brings to a close Stephen's series entitled His Family Tree. If you missed any of the four messages in this series, or if you want to listen to the full length version of each message, you'll find them at wisdomonline.org. God has blessed this ministry with a faithful team of dedicated people and several volunteers. I'm Scott Wiley, and on behalf of Stephen and all of us here, we wish you a very Merry Christmas. May God bless you as you celebrate the birth of Jesus, this season.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-23 00:28:37 / 2022-12-23 00:37:39 / 9