Summary: 5th in series on what Pentecost means. This was also a Mother’s Day sermon about the need to have a Redeemer. Ruth had Boaz, we have Jesus, as evidenced by Pentecost.
Galatians 3:10-14 – I Will Sing of My Redeemer
Turn with me to the book of Ruth. Today’s message was fairly difficult to bring together. Not because there’s not much to say on Mother’s Day, but rather there is so much to say. We’ve been looking at the holiday of Pentecost. That in itself is not hard to tie in with a sermon directed towards women. Even to this day, in a Jewish worship service on the holiday, there is a section read from the book of Ruth.
Well, why then? What’s the connection between the book of Ruth and the holiday of Pentecost? Quite a number of connections, actually. I’ll summarize the book in a minute, but Ruth was a gentile becoming a Jew, receiving the Law. Well, Pentecost is an anniversary of God giving the Law to Moses, of the Jewish people receiving the Law. Also, Ruth participated in the harvest of barley and wheat. Well, Pentecost, also called the Feast of Harvest, happens during the barley season and right at the start of the wheat harvest. As well, Ruth’s great-grandson was King David, and Jewish tradition says that David was born on Pentecost and died on Pentecost.
There’s at least one more connection, but I’d like to share it with you after I sum up this short book. The setting for the Book of Ruth begins in the heathen country of Moab, a region northeast of the Dead Sea, but then moves to Bethlehem. This true account takes place during the dismal days of failure and rebellion of the Israelites, called the period of the Judges. A famine forces a wealthy man named Elimelech, his wife Naomi, and their 2 sons from their Israelite home to the country of Moab. While in Moab, Elimelech dies and Naomi is left with their 2 sons, who soon marry 2 Moabite girls, Orpah and Ruth. Later both of the sons die, and Naomi is left alone with Orpah and Ruth in a strange land.
Naomi sends the 2 girls back to their parents. Orpah returns, but Ruth determines to stay with Naomi as they journey to Bethlehem. These are Ruth’s words in 1:16-17: “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me.”
Now, it so happens that they had return to Israel at harvest time and Ruth is able to take advantage of the laws of Israel concerning gleaning. The law requires that reapers in the fields leave a portion of the crop to be collected by the needy and if the reapers miss a part of a field they are not to go back to it. It was part of God’s care for the poor.
So Ruth goes out into the fields to glean. The story says in 2:3, “As it turned out, she finds herself” working in a field owned by a man called Boaz, but this is no accident. What to Ruth is coincidence is part of God’s grace and care.
Before long Boaz, the owner of the field, spots her, He has heard of all she did for her mother-in-law, and makes it clear that she is welcome to gather from his field, wishing her a full reward from the God of Israel, in whom she has come to trust. In addition, he tells his foreman to look after her and make sure that bundles of corn are "accidentally" left behind for her to glean.
Ruth gets home, and tells this all to Naomi. Well, Naomi realizes that God’s hand was working. Naomi tells Ruth not to stray from Boaz’s field because he’s now her benefactor. He doesn’t know it yet, but he’s about to become her kinsman-redeemer, too. Let me explain.
Maybe you’ll remember that God had assigned each family of each tribe a section of the Promised Land to inhabit. Now this land was very important to God and the Israelites. If a Jewish family were to lose its property or possessions by some kind of misfortune or distress, their property could not be permanently taken from them. However, their losses were listed in a scroll and sealed seven times. Then the conditions necessary to purchase back the land and their possessions were written on the outside of the scroll. The kinsman-redeemer law was instituted to bring the land back to its proper ownership.
So if a man died and left land and a widow who had borne no sons, his nearest kinsman would be given the opportunity to buy his land and to marry his widow and have sons to carry on the deceased’s name. If he wouldn’t, then the next closest kin could redeem and so on. This kinsman-redeemer would buy back the land, and the one who had taken the property was required to return it to the original owner.