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Notes & Transcripts

Sermon on Ruth 2


Theme:  God’s generosity appears when life is bitter

Goal:  to assure the congregation that during our bitterness, God’s generosity will surprise us.

Need:  we often do not see the generosity of God during life’s bitterness:

1.      Our bitterness blinds us to God’s generosity.

2.     Naomi’s bitterness made it so she did not expect to see the generosity of God.

3.     Naomi sees the generosity of God through Boaz

4.     We can see the generosity of God through his provident care and gift of completely free grace.


     Last week we had the chance to look at the first chapter of the book of Ruth.  Before we could really get into the passage we talked about cultural understanding of marriage and family in the day and age of Ruth.  Marriage and family was largely about two things:  Carrying on the line of the father, and providing old age security.  If you have sons you will be taken care of when you can’t take care of yourself anymore.  Its different in Canada today where marriage and family has tended to be more about companionship, happiness and love. 

     Interesting though, Tom and Deb deRuiter our missionaries from Mali who were here last week came up to me after the service and said, “Nate, did you know that Mali still treats marriage and family the same way they did in the days of Ruth.

     But there is another concept that we need to know about before we get into the rest of this chapter.  Part of their social security structures involved something called the Kinsman-Redeemer.  One of the important structures in their society was this kinsman-redeemer. A kinsman, actually the closest male relative in the family had the social obligation to help those in his family.  If you were the closest male relative of someone that went into debt and sold themselves into slavery to a foreigner, the person sold into slavery could at any time free themselves if their kinsman-redeemer would pay off the debt that was owed for them.

     This kinsman-redeemer could also buy or take ownership of the land, property or family of one who was having economic difficulty.  It might sound a little strange to our ears again, but just remember that we are used to the social structures of Canada and things like welfare and other programs funded through the government. 

     So if you were in desparate times, you didn’t wait for the government to process your unemployment request or file a certain amount of paperwork. You tried to find your closest male relative to see if they would fulfill their task of taking care of their family members. 

     Let’s read together the second chapter of Ruth.

     Remember Naomi has just lost her husband, her two sons.  Her one daughter-in-law has returned to Moab.  Ruth is the only one that has stayed close to her and returned back to Bethlehem with her.  Naomi is the main character of the entire book of Ruth and in the first chapter we hear her say that she doesn’t want to be called Naomi any more.  She doesn’t like how it means pleasant.  She wants to be called Mara, which means bitter.  Will God show his mercy and sweetness to Naomi or will he let her remain in her bitterness?

     Ruth 2.

     Amazing acts of the paranormal.  Believe it or Not!  There are lots of stories especially around this time of year that are just so amazing you just can’t help but tell them again and again.  Just coincidences or is there something wierd going on here. Twins.  Separated at birth, adopted to different families.  Both are named James by their adoptive parents.  Both train for law enforcement.  Both get married to ladies named linda.  Both name their oldest sons James Allan.  Both have dogs named Toy.  Both got divorced and then remarried ladies named Betty.  They met in their senior years and when they could compare stories.  Isn’t that crazy.

     There are many stories of the surprise coincidences.  How do you explain them?

     The outstanding stories get retold and make us smile or maybe some of them make the hair on your neck stand on end.  That is crazy. 

     But coincidences happen every single day.  Often they are not so fantastic that it absolutely blows us away with amazement.  But they happen every single day. 

     In a world that God is overseeing every minute of every day, could there ever be such a thing as just chance, dumb luck, or fate?  In a world with an all powerful god, doesn’t it make more sense to look at the world as all falling in place due to his great divine plan?

     Instead of looking at it a saying, what are the chances, couldn’t we more correctly say, God you are incredible!

     Let’s take the teen who sits down for lasagne.  He sits down and suddenly boom, it is right there in front of him. He gets up and puts it on facebook and twitter and texts all his friends.  I wanted lasagne and it showed up on the table in front of me.  Johnny get off the computer, the lasagne I made for you is getting cold.   That’s right, Johnny’s mom made it for him.  Its silly to get all funny about it instead of stopping and simply saying to God, thank you.

     But don’t we sometimes overlook the amazing blessings that God puts in front of us. Too often the blessings of God go completely unnoticed.  Is it because we take blessings for granted?  Is it because we don’t stop to think about the blessings.  Perhaps we are just experiencing so much of a bitter life that we stop looking to God as the source of surprising everyday blessings.

     In our passage you hear the bitterness again of main character Naomi.  Ruth asks to God to the fields to glean, instead of looking after herself and going along, or instead of at least offering a blessing to Ruth who is going to find food for the two of them, she is short with her.  VerseRuth 2:2 (NIV)

2 And Ruth the Moabitess said to Naomi, “Let me go to the fields and pick up the leftover grain behind anyone in whose eyes I find favor.”

Naomi said to her, “Go ahead, my daughter.” [1]

Short.  In the Hebrew its just two little words.  “Go daughter.”

     We can feel again that same bitterness.  Its just ripe.  Naomi is raw.  Hurt.

     But look at this.  The passage is right away saying, “Surprise!  God’s Generosity!”

Verse 1 gives away to us what Ruth and Naomi are going to find out a later.  Surprise!  God’s Blessings are coming!  He hasn’t abandoned Naomi.  He is going to redeem them.  Surprise, God surprises us with his overwhelming generosity!

     Remember that the social system of the day used a position called the kinsman-redeemer to help the poor and widowed. Well its through this that God shows his generosity.  Verse 1 says, “Ruth 2:1 (NIV)

Ruth Meets Boaz

2     Now Naomi had a relative on her husband’s side, from the clan of Elimelech, a man of standing, whose name was Boaz.[2]


     Together now:  There is a Redeemer.  From the clan of Elimelech.... 

For Naomi, the redeemer will be Boaz.

     It gives it away.  We know something going into the story that Ruth doesn’t even know.  God has big surprise generosity waiting for them.  Boaz, the kinsman redeemer.

     Its not the plan of Ruth, Naomi, or Boaz, that they come to their generous kinsman-redeemer.  Whose plan could it have been?  It is the nature of God!  It is the plan of God!  He shows his surprising generosity.

     He shows it over and over again to Ruth through Boaz.

     Another way God made sure the poor were taken care of was during the harvest time. The reapers would go and cut the stalks of wheat and drop them down on the ground.  Then other workers would come and gather the cut stalks into bundles. And God told the Israelites must not go back and pick up what is dropped. It needs to be left for the poor and the widows. 

     Apparently Israel has not been following this very well.  Ruth has to ask permission to do what God expects Israel to do.  She has to ask to be the one to follow the reapers and the gatherers.

     And surprise. God’s generosity shows up through Boaz again.  He doesn’t just let her glean his fields. 

Ruth 2:8-9 (NIV)

8 So Boaz said to Ruth, “My daughter, listen to me. Don’t go and glean in another field and don’t go away from here. Stay here with my servant girls. 9 Watch the field where the men are harvesting, and follow along after the girls. I have told the men not to touch you. And whenever you are thirsty, go and get a drink from the water jars the men have filled.”


Ruth 2:14-16 (NIV)

14 At mealtime Boaz said to her, “Come over here. Have some bread and dip it in the wine vinegar.”

When she sat down with the harvesters, he offered her some roasted grain. She ate all she wanted and had some left over. 15 As she got up to glean, Boaz gave orders to his men, “Even if she gathers among the sheaves, don’t embarrass her. 16 Rather, pull out some stalks for her from the bundles and leave them for her to pick up, and don’t rebuke her.”

She gathered enough that when she got home Naomi looks at the harvest and she how much she has.  And you can hear the way she brightens.  “Ruth 2:20 (NIV)

20 “The Lord bless him!” Naomi said to her daughter-in-law. “He has not stopped showing his kindness to the living and the dead.” She added, “That man is our close relative; he is one of our kinsman-redeemers.” [4]

     Here it is God’s generosity through the Redeemer.  No way.  Its surprising and timely generosity.

     And God has not changed one bit in the way he gives his surprise generosity.  Could it be that we need could respond more like Naomi when we see the generosity of God through the kinsman redeemer he sent to rescue all humanity.  Could it be that we need to be shocked a bit to be shaken out of the bitterness or the purposelessness of our life. Is it possible that when we get that taste of the yuck of life we might look in surprise back at the cross of Christ.

     The story is really pretty incredible. Oh, what a coincidence.  All through the Old Testament prophets were saying there would be a redeemer for all god’s people.  What are the chances that there would be a man, Jesus who would be fulfill all those prophecies exactly.

     Coincidence.  Not a chance.  This is the surprising generosity of the God who wants you to live your life for him.  Surprise.  The redeemer blesses you with salvation.  The redeemer blesses you with the Holy Spirit.  Surprise, the redeemers name is Jesus Christ and he is going way out of his way rescue you!

     Just stop.  Be surprised again!  Jesus Christ.  Thank God for you.  You have not stopped showing your kindness to us for all time you are MY REDEEMER.  Buy me back.  Free me!  Jesus!



[1]  The Holy Bible : New International Version. Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 1996, c1984

[2]  The Holy Bible : New International Version. Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 1996, c1984

[3]  The Holy Bible : New International Version. Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 1996, c1984

[4]  The Holy Bible : New International Version. Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 1996, c1984

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