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 THE BOOK OF RUTH

A Survey of one of the most beautiful pieces of Literature ever written! Plus, it's God-breathed, inspired and without error.

 

 A Preacher in his Study

 

 

LESSON 1, INTRODUCTION:

The Lord is leading me I think to a study of the Old Testament Book of Ruth. And I invite you readers to join the journey.

Recently here we've looked carefully at the Book of Judges. What a dark time in Israel's history! Every man was doing what was right in his own eyes. The ladies were doing so as well.

Well, Ruth's story is set in those days. Ruth 1:1 tells us this. "Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled ...."

That's when we meet Elimelech and Naomi and their boys. Their lives form the dark background against which the Lord displays one of his brightest jewels!

Ultimately the Messiah, our Lord Jesus Christ, will be born from the offspring of this family!

But a lot must happen first. And that's where we'll be, Lord willing, tomorrow morning.

Anyone interested?

              --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 2, MORE INTRODUCTION:

The Book of Ruth, our next target of study, is the only Book in the Old Testament that's named after a non-Jew! Yes, Ruth was a gentile, a woman from Moab.

Many scholars believe the name Ruth is derived from a Hebrew background that suggests "friendship." Others think this is not the case. Still, it may be derived from "reuth," meaning a "mate or companion." And even this root word has a background, "raah" which means "to pasture, tend, graze, feed." And a related word, "rea," means "neighbor, lover, fellow."

Plus this unusual fact, this Book is mostly narrative. By this we mean it's dialogue, people talking to each other. By count 55 of its 85 verses quote or partly quote what its characters are saying. Of the 1,294 words in the Book, 678 issue from the lips of its participants.

And coming as Ruth does, immediately after the Book of Judges, we have a stark contrast drawn. The lukewarm attitudes and outright apostasy of Judges are dramatically bettered by the genuine faith Ruth and its characters present! And the Lesson here? In very dark days God can still produce some wonderful shining lights!

Also Ruth, all four chapters, illustrate the concept of "hesed" in Hebrew, the "lovingkindness and mercy and grace" of God! Ruth exhibits it toward Naomi. Boaz toward Ruth. The nearer kinsman toward Boaz. And God toward everyone! This is a Bible Book about kindness!

And the Book, as sweet a short story as it is, ends on a theological note of extreme importance. It concludes with a genealogy! How God, through many generations, brought Jesus His Son into the world to be the Saviour of mankind.

We have some exciting Lessons ahead, Lord willing. That's because we are spending time in the precious, living, powerful Word of God!

Amen.

            --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 3, LEAVING BETHLEHEM ... THEN RETURNING:

The Book of Ruth is cyclic in nature. Its events eventually come full circle.

It begins in Bethlehem, the very city where Jesus was born ... and after years of living in the wicked foreign land of Moab ... the story and its main characters come back home, to Bethlehem!

It ends where it began.

But why did this family, Elimelech and Naomi and their two boys, leave Bethlehem in the first place? "Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehemjudah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons. And they came into the country of Moab, and continued there." Ruth 1:1-2

Famine in the land!

But note this, the very name "Bethlehem" means "house of bread!" It's a picture of the promise God gave the Jews, that He would feed them and water them and care for them in the Land He had given them.

That is, "unless." Unless Israel sinned. Then God could take away their crops. Dry up their sources of water.

And that's exactly what happened in the Old Testament Books of Judges and Ruth, That pre-monarchy time for God's people. They had backslidden! And now, in parts of the Country anyway, no food was available.

So Elimelech, the only time this name is used in all Scripture which is an amazing fact by itself, decides to relocate his family. Even going to a heathen Land, to avoid God's chastening!

And it seems he pays dearly for his decision. He himself unexpectedly dies, leaving Naomi a widow. Then both their sons, grown and married by now, die also.

Well, after ten-plus years Naomi "hears" that the famine has ended. God has indeed filled "Bethlehem" with "bread." Of Naomi we are told: "She had heard in the country of Moab how that the LORD had visited his people in giving them bread." Ruth 1:6

Naomi decides. She's going back home. Returning to her roots, maybe even to the God of her Fathers. Back to Bethlehem!

And there's where she ultimately found blessing and provision from the Lord, in the City they should have never left.

And therein is the Lesson for today, for us all. Stay where God has planted you! If you're in His "House of Bread" for your life, your "Bethlehem," don't get impatient and leave.

If you're in a Church where you are being fed God's Word, do not move. Don't let some minor issue force you away.

Almost always such a move will lead to trouble.

Through the years I've seen lots of people leave some good Bible-preaching Churches for numerous reasons, some of them pretty flimsy!

The youth.

But are you being taught God's Word?

The way they handle missions.

But is the Preacher expounding the Book?

The new song leader.

But are the Scriptures exalted and proclaimed regularly?

If you want to leave your "Bethlehem," you can assuredly find a reason. Maybe two or three really.

But if it's really the place God wants you, His "House of Bread" for your life ... I'd advise you to think twice before heading south or north or any other direction.

Elimelech sure wished he had stayed home.

                 --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 4, NAOMI'S BITTERNESS:

The initial female character in the Book of Ruth is Naomi. Her name appears only in the Book of Ruth, but there 20 times by count.

The name itself means "delightful" or just "my delight." It's derived from "noam," a Hebrew noun meaning "kind, pleasant," even "beautiful!" Further back yet, the word's root signifies that which is "sweet."

But this Naomi is the wife of a man named Elimelech. The family has moved from Bethlehem, their native home, and has relocated in an ungodly Country called Moab.

Well, Naomi's husband dies while they are in that strange land. Their two sons, by now grown, die also. No reason is really given for any of these untimely tragedies.

Naomi is now not only a widow, practically an automatic sentence to poverty for the rest of her life, but also childless!

And what happens to this lady? Presumably a believer in the Lord God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob?

According to Ruth chapter one, the lady whose name means "sweetness" becomes, perhaps even understandably so, "bitter."

By the way, Naomi by now is well over fifty years of age, almost elderly by some ancient lifespans.

Listen to her talk. "It grieveth me much for your sakes that the hand of the LORD is gone out against me." Ruth 1:13, where "grieveth" is "marar," in essence "to be bitter!" She just confessed to her daughters-in-law, confessed to being "exceedingly bitter," possibly more than anyone before her has ever been!

Then Naomi, being so "hurt" at God, advises these "girls" to go back home to their own "gods!"

Wow!

"And Naomi said to Ruth, Behold, thy sister in law is gone back unto her people, and unto her gods: return thou after thy sister in law." Ruth 1:15, where "gods" is "elohiym" but here simply meaning "idols!" Ruth, go with Orpah, even to her polytheistic way of worship!

This is true bitterness. So disgusted at God that she is recommending His competition! Naomi is more disgusted that Jeremiah ever was, or Jonah or even Job.

And this bitterness is  not short-lived, either. Even when Naomi (and Ruth but that's another lesson) arrive back in Bethlehem, the city of bread, she's still saying to the inhabitants: "Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me." Ruth 1:20, bitterness still controlling her! "Marah" and its cognate "mar" means "vexed" for sure, but often "angry" as well. Mad at God! Also "discontented, provoked!"

But Naomi is just getting started! "I went out full, and the LORD hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the LORD hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me?" Ruth 1:21

The word "empty" here means "without cause." God has no reason, according to the lady here, for His harsh actions against her!

The verb "testified" is "anah," that is "responded, answered, given." God has given Naomi nothing but grief!

And "hath afflicted" is "raa," a verb indicating "to be bad, to be evil," even "to sin!" This is a strong charge! Naomi just said God was "wrong" for the way He has treated her!

I've never noticed the meanings of these words before now. In all her wrongness, I still feel sorry for Naomi. A widow, a childless mother now, and all she had done was obey and follow her husband to Moab.

But the question is this. Can a person like this, wounded and hurt in so many ways, ever get over this anger and resentment?

Did the prodigal son's older brother ever improve? Ever overcome his wretched bitterness?

Did Esau overcome his?

Or Jonah?

We know Ahithophel never did.

But here's the good news! God gave Naomi the victory! By the end of the Book she will be a happy Grandmother dandling a little Grandson on her knees. Little Obed, who was the Grandfather to, of all people, David! That's right, King David of Israel.

Praise the Lord.

God literally did for Naomi what Isaiah 61:3 promises: "He can give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness."

What a great God!

             --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 5, RUTH A MOABITESS:

One of the key characters in the Book of Ruth is, of course, Ruth herself! The name probably means "friendship."

But concerning this amazing young lady, we are five times told that she is "Ruth the Moabitess." See the Book of Ruth 1:22 and 2:2 and 2:21 and 4:5 and again 4:10.

A Moabitess, yet given the vast benefits of the Grace of God, maybe more than any other person in the whole Old Testament!

And again I say, a native of Moab!

Why is that so surprising?

For a number of reasons. First of which is the fact that the people of Moab, that nation, began as a result of an incestuous relationship between Lot and one of his daughters, his firstborn girl. See Genesis 19:37 and surrounding verses for the lurid details. The Moabites have a wicked foundation, springing from an abominable sin in the eyes of God.

Yet Ruth found Grace in the eyes of the Lord!

Second, when Elimelech's son Mahlon, now dead, married Ruth they both violated one of God's laws about intermarriage, a clear prohibition the Lord had placed upon Israel. See Deuteronomy 7:3-4 for further information. "Neither shalt thou make marriages with the Canaanites; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son. For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly."

Yet Ruth found Grace in the eyes of the Lord!

Third, when Israel began her journey from Egypt to Canaan, the Moabites were cruel and combative to the young Nation God was forming. "An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD; even to their tenth generation shall they not enter into the congregation of the LORD for ever. Because they met you not with bread and with water in the way, when ye came forth out of Egypt." Deuteronomy 22:3-4

Yet Ruth found Grace in the eyes of the Lord!

Furthermore the Moabites once hired a man named Balaam to "curse" the Israelites, a sin for which God promised severe consequences in Genesis 12:1-3. God in turn transformed Balaam's curses into blessings though! "And Balak the son of Zippor was king of the Moabites at that time. He sent messengers therefore unto Balaam the son of Beor to Pethor, which is by the river of the land of the children of his people, to call him, saying, Behold, there is a people come out from Egypt: behold, they cover the face of the earth, and they abide over against me. Come now therefore, I pray thee, curse me this people." Numbers 22:4-6

Yet Ruth found Grace in the eyes of the Lord!

With all these things against her and her people, one would have thought this girl did not have a chance with God!

Yet she was forgiven!

Changed!

Blessed!

Double blessed!

Honored!

And she's in Heaven eternally, forever dwelling with the God Who saved her and provided for her!

Folks, that's Grace!

And it is still available today!

In fact, according to Paul in Romans 5:21, Grace is on the throne and reigning right now!

Peter in his first Epistle goes this far, to call the Lord Jesus "the God of all Grace!" 1st Peter 5:10

Today let's all be thankful for this amazing God!

And His Grace!

                    --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 6, RUTH AND ABRAHAM:

Ruth the Moabitess was minding her own business one day when a family of Jews invaded her neighborhood. Elimelech is the patriarch, along with Naomi his wife and their two boys, Mahlon and Chilion.

In time Elimelech dies, apparently prematurely. The boys grow into manhood and fall in love with two local girls! Mahlon had earlier met Ruth, and she became his bride.

It's true that he violated Jewish law by linking with this foreigner, this heathen, this pagan lady who worshipped many gods. But nonetheless they lived together as husband and wife for some time.

But Mahlon died, again far too young. His Brother did too, a couple more graves in the Moabite countryside.

Ruth is now a widow. She loved the Jewish ways, or at least by now was fond of them. And she really was drawn to her mother-in-law Naomi.

Then one day Naomi made the announcement. She was moving back home, back to Israel, back to Bethlehem.

Ruth was forced into making a decision.

Point of today's lesson is this. Ruth's faith-based determination to leave her homeland and kinfolks and go with a Jehovah-knowing Naomi to the Holy Land ... that move was every bit as dramatic and influential as was Abraham's departure from Ur of the Chaldees!

Of Abraham we are told: "Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee. And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing. And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him." Genesis 12:1-4

Now of Ruth: "And Naomi said, Behold, thy sister in law Orpah is gone back unto her people, and unto her gods: return thou after thy sister in law. And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God. Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me. When she saw that she was stedfastly minded to go with her, then she left speaking unto her. So they two went until they came to Bethlehem." Ruth 1:15-19

Both the patriarch and the matriarch here exercise great examples of faith! Stepping out, cutting the ties with the past, and following a God Whom they've learned to love and trust!

Great credit and honor to Abraham. His obedience ultimately brought the the Nation of Israel into existence and the Lord Jesus Christ into the world!

And Ruth's obedience did the same thing! She augmented God's Plan and should be honored equally as a hero of the Faith!

Thank God for Ruth.

Thank God for ladies who have amazing faith and trust in God!

Most of all, thank God for Jesus!

                           --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 7, BOAZ AND JESUS:

In many ways the real Hero of the Old Testament Book of Ruth is a man named Boaz. The name means "fleetness" according to some sources. Another thinks "vigorous, strong of spirit."

He's the man who was so kind to Ruth when she began to glean the scattered pieces of grain in a field he owned. In fact, Boaz is one of the most gentle men in all the Bible, his life is a genuine example of the Hebrew word "hesed." The term is often translated "lovingkindness" and is one of the fundamental traits of Almighty God.

Boaz is so noble and so kind and so faithful that he immediately reminds most any Bible student of the Lord Jesus Christ. So much so that we might call him a "type" or "symbol" of Christ.

Here are some ways Boaz is similar to Christ. There are enough to assume the Holy Spirit is telling us something here.

1. Boaz is a kinsman to Naomi and her family. Ruth 2:1 tells us: "And Naomi had a kinsman of her husband's, a mighty man of wealth, of the family of Elimelech; and his name was Boaz." Jesus took upon Himself a human body too, through He was virgin born. Galatians 4:4 says, "But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law." The likeness here is unmistakable.

2. Boaz was a man of great wealth. So is Jesus! He owns the cattle on a thousand hills! Psalm 50:10

3. Boaz was associated with a harvest, really being the "lord" of the harvest! Jesus is too! "The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest." Luke 10:2

4. During their first meal together Boaz gave Ruth bread and wine! Jesus during His Lifetime instituted the Lord's Supper!

5. In one way it could be said that Boaz was the "provider" of all Ruth's needs. "And when she was risen up to glean, Boaz commanded his young men, saying, Let her glean even among the sheaves, and reproach her not." This is Ruth 2:15. And Jesus is the great Provider of all our needs. Listen to him: "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened." Matthew 7:7-8, what a blessing!

6. Boaz was willing to help Ruth, even being a "redeemer" of her family's land and inheritance. And Jesus was certainly willing to die on the Cross for all the world. He shed his Blood that we might be saved.

7. Boaz took on the task of doing legal work on the behalf of Naomi and Ruth. He became their advocate. He was indeed their intercessor! And Jesus perfectly fulfills that task in our lives too. Hebrews 7:25, exalting Jesus: "Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them."

8. According to Ruth 4:10, Boaz "purchased" Ruth to be his wife! Glory to God, Jesus "purchased" us too! Paul preaching in Acts 20:28, says: "Feed the Church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood."

9. And finally, Boaz became Ruth's Bridegroom. Ruth 4:13 tells the story. And Jesus will be our Bridegroom also! Yes, there's going to be a Wedding some day, with a wedding feast glorious.

This little Account of Ruth is packed with Truth. Lovely Scripture at every turn. And no doubt in every Book of Scripture, without exception, there's some picture of Jesus. But surely Boaz is one of the loveliest!

                   --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 8, KINDNESS:

In the Book of Ruth the obviously prevailing attitude, through all four chapters really, is "kindness." Overboard, second-mile, more than expected kindness!

The example I'd like to present you today is that of Boaz. The Text is longer than usual, Ruth chapter 2, nearly all of it. I'll just comment on its major truths.

"And Ruth went, and came, and gleaned in the field after the reapers: and her hap was to light on a part of the field belonging unto Boaz, who was of the kindred of Elimelech. And, behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem, and said unto the reapers, The LORD be with you. And they answered him, The LORD bless thee. Then said Boaz unto his servant that was set over the reapers, Whose damsel is this? And the servant that was set over the reapers answered and said, It is the Moabitish damsel that came back with Naomi out of the country of Moab. And she said, I pray you, let me glean and gather after the reapers among the sheaves: so she came, and hath continued even from the morning until now, that she tarried a little in the house. Then said Boaz unto Ruth, Hearest thou not, my daughter? Go not to glean in another field, neither go from hence, but abide here fast by my maidens. Let thine eyes be on the field that they do reap, and go thou after them: have I not charged the young men that they shall not touch thee? and when thou art athirst, go unto the vessels, and drink of that which the young men have drawn. Then she fell on her face, and bowed herself to the ground, and said unto him, Why have I found grace in thine eyes, that thou shouldest take knowledge of me, seeing I am a stranger? And Boaz answered and said unto her, It hath fully been shewed me, all that thou hast done unto thy mother in law since the death of thine husband: and how thou hast left thy father and thy mother, and the land of thy nativity, and art come unto a people which thou knewest not heretofore. The LORD recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust. Then she said, Let me find favour in thy sight, my lord; for that thou hast comforted me, and for that thou hast spoken friendly unto thine handmaid, though I be not like unto one of thine handmaidens. And Boaz said unto her, At mealtime come thou hither, and eat of the bread, and dip thy morsel in the vinegar. And she sat beside the reapers: and he reached her parched corn, and she did eat, and was sufficed, and left. And when she was risen up to glean, Boaz commanded his young men, saying, Let her glean even among the sheaves, and reproach her not. And let fall also some of the handfuls of purpose for her, and leave them, that she may glean them, and rebuke her not. So she gleaned in the field until even, and beat out that she had gleaned: and it was about an ephah of barley." Ruth 2:3-17

Ruth the Moabitess, daughter-in-law to Naomi, can enjoy the advantages of a Mosaic Law in Israel, one given by God many years earlier. Poor people, Jews or foreigners, can pick up fragments and leftovers in any grain field, provided they do so after the harvesters have reaped the lion's share of the crop.

Ruth, apparently at random according to the author of the Book, comes to the field of a man named Boaz. The Hebrew noun "hap" means "an unforeseen meeting" or even "an accident." Something that occurred "by chance." We Christians of course know better than that!

Soon the landowner appears to supervise his employees. And he consequently sees a strange young lady gleaning on his property. His first "sight" of her is obscured, hidden by the Text. Personally I am convinced this is a case of "love at first sight" anyway. Boaz is soon asking "Whose damsel is this?" He uses a word that means a "maiden" or "young woman." Surely Ruth was a pretty girl too!

Here begins a string of "benefits" Boaz heaps upon his newly arrived little foreign laborer!

Let me be more specific.

As soon as he sees her, after simply learning who she was, Boaz invites Ruth to glean in no other field! He wants her back tomorrow, already a sign of future good will! "Go not to glean in another field, neither go from hence, but abide here fast by my maidens. Let thine eyes be on the field that they do reap, and go thou after them." Ruth 2:8

Next Boaz commands his men workers not to dare "touch" Ruth! Is he just protecting her or is he interested in her "for himself" alone? "Have I not charged the young men that they shall not touch thee?"

And when she got thirsty, anytime, she can go to the employee canteen and get all the water she wishes!

Then to the company cafeteria, Ruth is invited! "And Boaz said unto her, At mealtime come thou hither, and eat of the bread, and dip thy morsel in the vinegar. And she sat beside the reapers: and he reached her parched corn, and she did eat, and was sufficed." Ruth 2:14, bread and sauces and anything else she wanted apparently!

Then, perhaps most generous of all, the reapers were told, commanded really, to leave lots of grain in the field! Plenty so that Ruth will carry home an astounding amount. Biscuits for many days! That will please a future Mother-In-Law, Naomi for example. "And when she was risen up to glean, Boaz commanded his young men, saying, Let her glean even among the sheaves, and reproach her not. And let fall also some of the handfuls of purpose for her, and leave them, that she may glean them, and rebuke her not. So she gleaned in the field until even, and beat out that she had gleaned: and it was about an ephah of barley." That's somewhere between thirty and fifty pounds of grain! Depending on the value assigned to a "ephah." Quite impressive!

And the kindness, truthfully, is just beginning!

You can now see why I said it. That perhaps the key word, one of them anyway, in the whole Ruth corpus is "kindness" or in Hebrew "hesed."

And certainly kindness is one of the fundamental attributes of our great God. He is so gracious and merciful to us all.

No wonder the Book of Ruth reflects the Lord Jesus in so many ways. He Himself is indeed a wonderfully kind Saviour.

More specifically ... Jesus, like His forerunner Boaz, is kind to His Bride, the Church! And we who are saved enjoy that Kindness daily! "It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness." Lamentation 3:22-23

Thank God for our Boaz!

                   --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 9, RUTH'S BOLD MOVE:

The Book of Ruth, really the whole Old Testament, occasionally contains some sensitive material. Never anything dirty or improper, yet the honesty and clarity of many Biblical accounts is nearly startling.

Ruth chapter three is, at least to me, a mild example of a young lady nearly pushing the "line" of propriety. Yet I admire her greatly. And more importantly, the Lord certainly does not rebuke her in any way.

Naomi, Ruth's Mother-In-Law has the initial idea. A "plan" to help the good but rather slow-moving Boaz follow through on his heart's desire. There's absolutely no doubt that Boaz is in love with Ruth.

So the ladies go into action. Again, Naomi to Ruth, concerning Boaz: "Behold, he winnoweth barley to night in the threshingfloor. Wash thyself therefore, and anoint thee, and put thy raiment upon thee, and get thee down to the floor: but make not thyself known unto the man, until he shall have done eating and drinking. And it shall be, when he lieth down, that thou shalt mark the place where he shall lie, and thou shalt go in, and uncover his feet, and lay thee down; and he will tell thee what thou shalt do." Ruth 3:2-4

Watch these instructions. They are quite bold by most anyone's standards. Yet God blessed them with success.

Ruth, bathe yourself, specifically using perfumes and ointments. The old lady advises the young lady to do this.

Get dressed. The noun "raiment" used here is from a root word that means "to resemble." This is a form fitting garment! Ruth is not trying to hide her beauty. My computer lexicon defines the word as "a cover assuming the shape of the object underneath."

Go to where Boaz is, at his work place. Notice, this night it was Ruth taking the initiative. She made the first move.

And in these kinds of situations, "atmosphere" is everything. Wait until he has eaten and has consumed whatever beverages he wishes. Nothing about intoxication here, just a relaxed employer. A potential husband too!

Keep your eye on him, too. Notice exactly where he lies down for the night. "Mark" that place. That's where you must approach him, after he has gone to bed!

Then "go in," uncover his feet, and lay down beside him. He will soon awake, surprised no doubt, and his response will be critical!

Wow!

What a chance Ruth took here. There's not an immoral intention in her heart. She just wants to know if Boaz loves her. If he's planning on marriage. If he's interested in providing her and Naomi's needs. And this series of actions will reveal, one way or another, Boaz's aspirations and hopes.

If the man thinks Ruth is behaving like a prostitute, many of whom worked the fields of ancient farmers during harvest time, no wedding will ever occur.

Yet again, if something does not happen soon, all will be lost anyway. The farm, the hopes of ever having children, even the future of godly Israel in a way.

And guess what?

Boaz responds positively!

Here's his reaction. "Blessed be thou of the LORD, my daughter: for thou hast shewed more kindness in the latter end than at the beginning, inasmuch as thou followedst not young men, whether poor or rich. And now, my daughter, fear not; I will do to thee all that thou requirest: for all the city of my people doth know that thou art a virtuous woman." Ruth 3:10-11

And a wedding soon follows!

Why did Brother Bagwell write such a lesson? Risking criticism for even doing so? The very idea!

Because to me this is a picture of how we acted, me anyway, in coming to Jesus. Boaz is, as we've seen earlier, a picture of Jesus.

I was eager to see Him!

I wanted to be for Him the best I could. Still do!

I was interested in His Comfort and Wellbeing and Praise.

I sought Him, not knowing He also sought me.

I sat at His Feet, waiting to hear His instructions!

I fell in love with him.

He spread His Skirt of Protection over me.

He is my Bridegroom.

Oh, how He should be loved.

Ruth did fine.

Leaving us all an example of approaching the One Who is our Heart's Desire!

Amen.

            --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 10, MORE THAN ENOUGH:

After that midnight encounter between Ruth and Boaz, the one described in Ruth chapter three, the wealthy landowner and future husband (Boaz) did something amazing for Ruth and Naomi.

"Also Boaz said, Bring the vail that thou hast upon thee, and hold it. And when she held it, he measured six measures of barley, and laid it on her: and she went into the city." Ruth 3:15

He sent the pretty little Moabitess Ruth back home with a gift. Barley, the very food item that household once needed so badly! To make bread and other nourishing items for the table.

That's why Elimelech left Bethlehem years earlier anyway ... a lack of bread!

That's probably what indirectly killed him and his two sons ... that famine in Bethlehem and his wrong response to it!

That's what has been this Book's focus ... no bread!

And now Ruth, having met the right Deliverer, the right Redeemer, has bread aplenty! Or the grain from which to make bread.

He sent home "six measures of barley."

How much was that?

If these measures were "ephahs," the unit used earlier in the Book, Ruth 2:17, he gave her over a hundred pounds of grain!

And she carried it all home.

Strong lady!

"Also Boaz said, Bring the vail that thou hast upon thee, and hold it. And when she held it, he measured six measures of barley, and laid it on her: and she went into the city."

This is ironic.

The place of "no bread" which contributed to a lack of faith and trust ... has now become a place of "much bread" contributing to great faith and trust!

More bread, more barley, than could have ever been needed!

That's our great God!

Abounding Grace!

Doing more than we could ever ask or think!

Giving us a Book, the Bible, that's loaded with food, milk and bread and meat and honey spiritually.

A buffet of spiritual delight.

Measureless.

Again I say, That's our God!

                 --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 11, THE "SEVENTH" MAN:

The Book of Ruth closes with a genealogy. A list of ten generations extending from Pharez the son of Judah to David the son of Jesse. "Now these are the generations of Pharez: Pharez begat Hezron, and Hezron begat Ram, and Ram begat Amminadab, and Amminadab begat Nahshon, and Nahshon begat Salmon, and Salmon begat Boaz, and Boaz begat Obed, and Obed begat Jesse, and Jesse begat David." Ruth 4:18-22, the Book's closing verses.

Let me show you an interesting facet of truth contained in this paragraph of Bible history.

But first I must use a verse from a genealogical reference in the Epistle of Jude. "And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints." Jude verse 14, preaching about the Second Coming of Jesus our Lord!

The seventh man in the Adam to Jesus line is "Enoch!" A holy man, a preacher of the Word, a man who walked with God! A man who is "special" in that he dedicated himself to the things that please God. "Seven" is a special number in Scripture anyway, probably indicating "spiritual perfection."

Now back to our genealogy in Ruth chapter four. Count the seventh man there! "Now these are the generations of Pharez: Pharez begat Hezron, and Hezron begat Ram, and Ram begat Amminadab, and Amminadab begat Nahshon, and Nahshon begat Salmon, and Salmon begat Boaz, and Boaz begat Obed, and Obed begat Jesse, and Jesse begat David."

That would be "Boaz!"

He is the seventh one listed, perhaps hinting that he too is a holy man! A man who wanted to please the Lord!

And indeed he did!

Boaz, the Kinsman Redeemer!

Boaz the generous, wealthy benefactor of Ruth and Naomi!

Boaz, a clear Picture or Type or Symbol of Jesus Christ, Who is indeed very "Spiritual Perfection" personified!

What a great Bible we have to study!

And what a Great Saviour to worship!

               --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 12, CONCLUSION:

The Book of Ruth is possibly "the greatest short story ever written." So said one of the prominent literary scholars of yesteryear. I agree, provided we add that Ruth is divinely inspired and without error, a factual account of events long past.

Dr. C. I. Scofield labels the Book's four lovely chapters like this. "Ruth Deciding," chapter 1. "Ruth Serving," chapter 2. "Ruth Resting," chapter 3. and "Ruth rewarded," chapter 4. Pretty accurate!

But the question remains unanswered, maybe forever. Why was the Book written? No doubt for many reasons, all in the Mind of God.

Perhaps to show the amazing Grace of our dear Lord in action, God's wonderful "hesed." That is the Hebrew noun for "lovingkindness" The Book of Ruth abounds in it, is flooded by it!

Perhaps to show the intricacies God endured to bring David, the Son of Jesse, into the world. Both Judges and Ruth are prerequisite to the Israelite Monarchy. Which by the way, in God's "best" would have remained a theocracy! God needed to be King, God alone! But David would be likely the "best" King the Country ever knows. That is, until Jesus comes again and reigns!

Perhaps to show how God saves sinners and uses them for His Glory! The ten family genealogy with which Ruth concludes both begins and ends with a questionable lady! Tamar who seduced Judah to bear the little boy Pharez. And Ruth the vile Moabitess who was also saved by the Grace of God.

Thank God for the Book of Ruth! Let's all read it again today. And then worship the God Who is Above All.

                        --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

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