God bless you for making the choice to be in His house this morning! Our God is good, amen? We witnessed God’s goodness in our Scripture passage last week, as we saw how God used Naomi to transform Ruth’s life, and then how God used Ruth to bless Naomi’s life. We saw straight from the pages of the Bible how a godly family should operate in the face of hard times. And last week, as we left Ruth and Naomi, they were journeying together to Bethlehem, where they were going to try to restart their lives, after the tragic death of Naomi’s husband and her two sons. This morning, we are going to look at how they fared back in Israel, and how God used one man to do mighty things for Ruth and Naomi.
Yesterday, I was thinking about that huge Christmas tree that they light every year in Washington, D.C. You know which one I’m talking about, right? It’s massive, and there are so many lights on it. And while I don’t know for sure, I imagine that it would take a pretty big generator to power all of those lights. But in my opinion, the miracle of science is not the tree covered in lights, and not even the generator that turns fuel into electricity. For me, the miracle of science is that little thing that runs between the generator and the tree. We call them wires or cords, but the technical term for anything that conducts electricity is a “conduit.” That little, seemingly insignificant wire takes electricity from the mighty generator, and uses it to power an amazing work of art. And it’s just a little wire!
This morning, we are going to look at how Boaz was just like that conduit. Except Boaz was not lighting a big Christmas tree. Oh no, he was doing something much greater. Boaz was a conduit that funneled God’s favor to two widows who desperately needed someone to help them. If you’re not already there, I invite you to turn in your Bibles to Ruth chapter two, and we are going to be reading verses one through ten of this chapter. So again, Ruth 2:1-10.
“And Naomi had a kinsman of her husband’s, a mighty man of wealth, of the family of Elimelech; and his name was Boaz. And Ruth the Moabitess said unto Naomi, ‘Let me now go to the field, and glean ears of corn after him in whose sight I shall find grace.’ And she said unto her, ‘Go, my daughter.’ And she 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?’”
As always, let’s being our time of studying God’s word with prayer.
The title of this morning’s sermon is, “Becoming a Conduit of God’s Favor.” First, we are going to examine what Boaz did that allowed God to bless others through him. Second, we are going to look at a man later on in history who exhibited these same qualities of Boaz. Finally, we are going to look and see if God would have us to be conduits of His favor to those around us.
But before we do any of that, I want to briefly explain what’s going on here in this passage. Last week I mentioned that widows in the ancient world had a very difficult time providing for themselves, because it was normally the husband that provided for the families, and there were no government programs to provide for them. Well, Ruth and Naomi witnessed this harsh fact first-hand once they arrived in Israel. They were entirely on their own. So Ruth announced that she was going to go look through the fields and see if there was any grain left over, so at least they could provide some food for themselves. And Ruth did not just pull this idea out of a hat. No, God made a provision for widows and foreigners (of which Ruth was both), by commanding farmers to not pick their grain bare, but to leave some scraps so that widows and foreigners could go in and get the scraps so that they wouldn’t starve to death. Ruth wanted to take advantage of this clause, so she set out of Bethlehem, and headed towards the fields that surrounded the town. And Ruth was a very smart person. Instead of going to fields where there was nobody around, she came across a field where the reapers were currently going through the field, and she went right behind the reapers, so that she would have dibs on the scraps. Now Ruth didn’t know it, but she was currently picking through a field owned by a man named Boaz. Now Ruth had never met Boaz, and she had most likely never heard of him. But what Ruth didn’t know is that Boaz was a relative of Naomi. This was extremely beneficial for Ruth, because Boaz had a familial obligation to be kind to Ruth. Isn’t it amazing how God works things out? So often, He uses our own free will to accomplish the things that He designed before He even created the world. God desired for Ruth to end up in the field owned by her distant relative, and Ruth decided by her own free will to go and do the thing that God designed!
I love the way that the King James Version communicates this great truth. Look at what verse three says about Ruth’s wanderings. “And she 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.” I love that phrase in the middle of the verse. “And her hap was to light on a part of the field belonging unto Boaz.” That is the King James ways of saying, “As luck would have it, she ended up in the field of Boaz.” But of course we know that the Bible is using a little bit of sarcasm, because there is no such thing as luck. God had designed one of the most beautiful love stories in the history of the world, and He set everything in motion when Ruth just so happened to wander into Boaz’s field.
But once again, Ruth didn’t know whose field she was in, and it wouldn’t have mattered if she did, because she had no idea who Boaz was. But before long, Boaz came out into the fields to see how his workers were doing. And we see a bit of the spirituality of this great man, when he addresses his workers by saying, “The LORD be with you!” How many of your bosses address you that way every morning? Boaz quickly noticed that this woman was following his workers around, so he asked someone who she was. The supervisor of the farmhands told Boaz that it was Ruth, who was the Moabite woman that had come back with Naomi. The supervisor explained how Ruth had asked if she could follow after the reapers and collect some of the scraps for her and her mother-in-law. Intrigued, Boaz went over and began talking to Ruth. Look at what Boaz told Ruth in verse eight of chapter two. “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:” This verse shows us what a good heart Boaz has. Boaz told Ruth that she did not need to go into any other fields, because he would make sure she was well taken care of in his field. While before, Ruth had been going behind the workers and getting scraps, Boaz told her to join up with his workers, and take as much as she wanted. So before, she would have gotten the nasty little pieces of barley that didn’t meet the workers’ quality standards. Now, Ruth was right there in the thick of things, picking as much barley as she wanted! Boaz also offered Ruth protection by telling her that he had commanded his young men not to touch her. As you can probably imagine, a young woman wandering out in the fields by herself would be a prime target for someone who wanted to do her harm, but Boaz assured her that that would not happen while she was in his field.
And so with Boaz’s protection and blessing, Ruth began picking. And she picked, and she picked, and she picked some more. Later on in the chapter, the Bible records that Ruth gathered an ephah of barley. An ephah was close to four gallons! It would cost the average person two week’s wages to buy an ephah of barley in the local market, but Ruth had gathered this in only one day, all because Boaz had been generous to her! Isn’t is absolutely amazing that in only one day God had transformed Ruth and Naomi’s hope for the future. Before, they were destitute widows who could only hope to find some scraps in the surrounding fields. But now, they had found a man that would protect her and make sure they had enough to eat. Any time in the Bible we see a person go from desperation to blessing, we say that that person has God’s favor upon them. And I think that we can definitely say that this is true in the life of Ruth. So the question that we must ask ourselves is, “How did God show His favor to Ruth and Naomi?”
The way God showed His favor to these two women was not some mysterious, supernatural way. God did not make manna fall out of the sky like He did when the Israelites were wandering in the wilderness. He did not keep their grain from running out, as He did with Elijah and the widow that housed him. He did not multiply her bread, as He did when Jesus fed the 5,000. Obviously, we know that God can do mighty miracles, and that even the laws of nature do not apply to our great God. But the main point of this morning’s sermon is that while God can do great miracles, He very often uses His servants as conduits of His favor to other people. And that is exactly what we have here in the case of Ruth and Boaz. God showed His favor to Ruth through Boaz. So the question that arises for us this morning is, “What qualities about Boaz allowed him to be used as a conduit for God’s favor?”
I want to quickly mention six qualities about Boaz that God utilized to bless Ruth. The first quality God used is that Boaz was a relative. Verse one tells us that Boaz was among the clan of Elimelech, which means that he was related to Naomi’s husband. And even though Boaz wasn’t related to Naomi or Ruth by blood, his sense of obligation extended to these two widows.
The second quality about Boaz is that he had the resources to help Ruth. Verse one also tells us that Boaz was a mighty man of wealth. We do not know how Boaz came about his wealth, but it seems that a good guess was that he made his money in the farming industry.
The third quality about Boaz is that he loved the Lord. While this is obvious throughout, it is seen especially in verse four when he salutes his workers with, “The LORD be with you.” Boaz lived in a day when it was very uncommon for an Israelite to still trust in God. Most of the Israelites were busy worshipping Baal, but Boaz was faithful to God. While this may seem obvious, God probably would not have used Boaz as a conduit of His favor unless Boaz loved God.
The fourth quality is that Boaz was obedient to God. Deuteronomy 24:19 says “When thou cuttest down thine harvest in the field, and hast forgot a sheaf in the field, thou shalt not go again to fetch it: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow: that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all the works of thine hands.” While people were supposed to obey this law, you can imagine that it would have been very tempting to gather up every last scrap of what is rightfully yours. But instead of doing this, Boaz was obedient to God’s commands, and God used his obedience to bless Ruth and Naomi.
The fifth quality is that Boaz had Ruth’s best interest at heart. It would have been very easy for Boaz to comply to the letter of the law and allow Ruth to pick at just the scraps; but instead, he gave her the privilege of gathering with his gatherers.
The final quality (and you will want to remember this one for later) that I want to mention about Boaz is that he was protective of Ruth. He did not want Ruth to be attacked while she was by herself in a field, so he used his young men to protect her while she gathered.
I realize that these six qualities may not seem that important to you, but I want to show you why they are extremely important to us today. In the introduction to today’s sermon, I mentioned that there was another man who exhibited these same qualities as Boaz, only this Man was the absolute epitome of these good qualities. Does anybody want to guess who that Man may be? Apparently I’m going to have to start thinking of some more difficult questions. Yes, of course, it is Jesus. Church, thus far I have been trying to demonstrate how God can use one man as a conduit of His favor to another person, but now I want to show you how God can use one man as a conduit of His favor to every person!
The first quality of Boaz was that he was a relative. God, in the same way, chose to become our relative. God, in order to redeem us, had to become one of us, so that He could defeat the sin that we so often fall prey to. That is why God the Son came down and took on a human likeness. He had to become our relative so that He could redeem us from our sins.
The second quality of our Lord and Savior is that, just like Boaz, He had the resources. If Boaz had not been a man of resources, then all of the will power in the world could not have helped Ruth and Naomi in their time of need. Jesus, in the same way, had to have the resources to save us from our sins. Boaz’s resources were a large field and a large enough workforce to protect Ruth. Christ’s resource was His ability to perfectly resist sin, so that He could be a perfect sacrifice for us.
The third quality of Jesus Christ is that, like Boaz, He loved God. While obviously there is a large difference here, because Jesus is a part of the Godhead; Jesus still had to love God the Father in order to be a conduit of God’s favor to us.
The fourth quality of Christ is that like Boaz, He was obedient to God. Understanding the Trinity is a very difficult concept, isn’t it? I mean, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are all equal in power, wisdom, and presence. God the Father is not greater than God the Son, and the Holy Spirit is just as great as the Father and Son. And yet, the Bible says that the Son obeys the Father, and the Spirit obeys the Son. The New Testament says that Christ was obedient to the point that He was willing to die on the cross.
It was very plain from Ruth chapter two that Boaz had Ruth’s best interest at heart. Boaz gave Ruth the privilege of not only picking up the scraps, but also of picking from the cream of the crop. Church, there can be no doubt in our minds this morning that Jesus has our best interest at heart. He is not up in Heaven secretly hoping that you will fail in your life. He is not crossing His fingers that you will deny His free offer of salvation. On the contrary, our Messiah desires very much for your ultimate success in life.
Finally, who can remember what the final quality was that God used in Boaz’s life? Yes, thank you. God showed His favor to Ruth when Boaz protected her by having his young men watch over her. (Insert name), what is one big thing that Christ has protected you from? Yes, thank you. If you are here this morning, and you have trusted in Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, then God has protected you from an eternity in hell.
So as you can see, Boaz exhibited all of the qualities in the Old Testament, that Christ exhibited in the New Testament. There’s an entire branch of theology, called typology, that deals with Old Testament figures that point to the Messiah. And guess what, Boaz is one of those characters! The way Boaz provided for Ruth points to the cross of Calvary! Christ is our Boaz. When you and I were in desperate need of a Savior, God, in all of His wisdom, provided a way for us to stumble across the gospel, just like Ruth stumbled across the field of Boaz. Just like Ruth needed a relative with resources, Jesus Christ became our relative, and He has all the resources in Heaven and earth! Just like Ruth needed someone with her best interests at heart, we needed a Hero who would give up the riches of Heaven for the anguish of the cross, and Jesus Christ was that hero. Just like Ruth needed someone to protect her from people who might attack her, you and I need protection from the impenetrable flames of hell. Jesus Christ is that protector.
But guess what, it does not stop there. God desires for you and I to become conduits of His favor to other people. The Bible is abundantly clear that God desires that none should perish, but that all should come to repentance. The Bible is also abundantly clear that God loves the world, and that sometimes, He desires to love the world through us. My prayer for this church is that we would all become conduits of God’s favor for those around us. Just like that wire connects that large generator to that huge Christmas tree, God desires for us to be the connection between His unfathomable love and the people that He created in His image. And while it takes an entire lifetime to learn how to effectively be that conduit, we have an amazing example right here in the life of Boaz. Boaz’s life was characterized by a willingness to bless those around him with the resources that God had blessed Him with. His life was characterized by being a follower of God. His life was characterized by being obedient to God’s command to help those who are less fortunate. His life was characterized by the drive to put other’s needs before his own.
And now, as the pianist and song leader come forward…
I ask you, what is your life characterized by? Alluding back to being an electrical conduit, is your life a fiber optic cable that transmits God’s love with an amazing efficiency, or is your life a wire that has so many short circuits, that you just hope that the light bulb flickers on when you flip the switch? My challenge for you this morning is to become a Boaz that looks for the Ruths and Naomis around him that need a blessing. Look for that soup kitchen that needs a volunteer. Look for that child who needs a mentor. Look for that struggling young mother that needs help paying for her next trip to the grocery store. Look for that struggling alcoholic that needs someone to step up and show them the pathway to freedom. Look for that man, woman, and child that is bound by the shackles of sin, and needs someone to come along beside them and show them the way of salvation. Jesus Christ was a Boaz for us, and He has commissioned us to be Boazes for others. May this church constantly be a blessing to those around us, so that they can experience the love of God through the conduits of our lives.
But if you are here today, and you do not know what it means to be a Christian, then you cannot be a conduit of God’s favor, because you have not yet experienced His favor in your own life. Before you can be a blessing to anyone else, you need to accept the free gift of salvation that Christ is offering you. Romans 10:13 says that “whoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.” I challenge you to do that this morning. If you have never committed your life to following Jesus Christ, I invite you to do that here at this altar, or I invite you to come talk to me or someone else after we dismiss our service. And if you are here this morning, and God is convicting you about becoming a better conduit of His favor, I pray that you would nail down that commitment this morning. Make the commitment to characterize your life just like Boaz characterized his. God commands all of us to pass along His love to the people around us. The only question is, are we willing to obey?
Before we open the altars, let’s pray.
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