Summary: Ruth found it necessary to rest at the feet of Boaz to be redeemed. We should do the same at the feet of Jesus.
There is a story about a student at Cambridge University in England who entered the classroom on exam day and asked the proctor to bring him cakes and ale. The proctor refused, expressing astonishment at the young student’s audacity. At this point the student read from the four-hundred-year-old Laws of Cambridge, which were written in Latin and still somewhat in effect.
The passage read by the student said, "Gentlemen sitting for examinations may request and require Cakes and Ale." The proctor was forced to comply. Pepsi and hamburgers were judged the modern equivalent, so the necessary accommodations were made for the student. After all, the law was on his side.
Three weeks later the student was summoned to the office of Academic Affairs to face disciplinary action and was assessed a fine of five pounds (about $7.50, the cost of the meal). He was not fined for demanding cakes and ale, but for blatantly disregarding another obscure Cambridge law: he had failed to wear a sword to the examination.
God’s Law is a bit like that. There are laws that we chose to point out to others as a way of judging them while ignoring other aspects of the law. A popular one right now is Deuteronomy 22:5 “A woman must not put on men’s clothing, and a man must not wear women’s clothing. Anyone who does this is detestable in the sight of the Lord your God.”
But three verses down we read, “When you build a new house, you must build a railing around the edge of its flat roof. That way you will not be considered guilty of murder if someone falls from the roof.”
I know when we read this we think “That only applies to flat roofs.” But the argument could be made that God expected all houses to have flat roofs. As you can see, the Law can create a dilemma around us.
The law would create a dilemma for our next character. His name is Boaz. He is the son of Salmon and Rahab.
Remember from last week that Rahab is a prostitute. She is referred to as a prostitute when we first meet her. She is referred to as a prostitute when she and her family are spared. She is referred to as a prostitute when she listed in Hebrews along with all the great examples of people with faith. She is referred to as a prostitute when spoken of in James as an example of Godly action.
Was this taking place because she had a label that would never go away? No. This label was a reminder to those throughout history of the redemptive work of God and his ability to make us acceptable in his sight, regardless of labels the world may place on us. The world called her a prostitute but in God’s eyes she was a rescuer, a woman of great faith, and a Godly example.
This was Boaz’s mother. He knew her story. He knew she was not a part of God’s family until she was taken in. This love reflected by those around her made him a compassionate man.
It was his mother’s confidence in God that kept him in the land of promise when the famine hit, unlike another man named Elimelech who took his wife Naomi and their two sons into Moab searching for fertile land.
The land of Moab was inhabited by the descendants of Lot and his incestuous child that he created through his daughter. They were under a curse for trying to bring a curse against the Israelites. God gave his children strict guidelines concerning these people.
Deuteronomy 23:3 “No Ammonite or Moabite or any of their descendants for ten generations may be admitted to the assembly of the Lord.”, and, Deuteronomy 23:6 “As long as you live, you must never promote the welfare and prosperity of the Ammonites or Moabites.”
It is while in Moab that his sons will marry Moabite women, clearly in violation of God’s law. He will die there along with his two sons. His widow Naomi finds herself stranded in this strange land. She decided to travel home. But she is now saddled with two Moabites and wishes for them to leave. But one refuses. Her name is Ruth.
Ruth 1:22 “So Naomi returned from Moab, accompanied by her daughter-in-law Ruth, the young Moabite woman. They arrived in Bethlehem in late spring, at the beginning of the barley harvest.”
Like Rahab the prostitute, Ruth had a label. She was a despised Moabite.
The story continues in Ruth 2:1. “Now there was a wealthy and influential man in Bethlehem named Boaz, who was a relative of Naomi’s husband, Elimelech.”
As we read through the second chapter of Ruth we discover much about Boaz’s character. He spends time in the fields with hs workers. He greets them with blessings and they in return greet him back. He notices when a newcomer has arrived in his field. He is told that she is the Maobitess that had returned with Naomi. Remember, according to the law he was not to allow her to remain in Israel or promote her welfare and prosperity.