Sermons

Summary: 1) Loving-kindness in Praise 2) Loving-kindness in Hope and 3) Loving-kindness in Service

Economists point to record June housing sales as a strong indicator to Canadian Economic turnaround. What a difference a month can make.

In God’s kingdom, what a difference a day makes. Naomi and her family disobeyed God’s instructions, left His people and sought what they thought was greener pastures. When she lost what she held most dear, she returned Bethlehem stating she went out full and returned empty. Ruth, in faith, went out empty and returned more than full, overflowing from lovingkindness.

Today can make a difference in you life. How today will affect the rest of your life depends on what you do with your day, and what decisions you make (Warren W. Wiersbe. Put Your Life Together. Victor Books. 1985 p.57). Decisions have consequences. Decisions based on trusting in God and His word, experience His loving-kindness.

In Ruth 2:17-23 we see 1) Loving-kindness in Praise (Ruth 2:17-19) 2) Loving-kindness in Hope (Ruth 2:20) and 3) Loving-kindness in Service (Ruth 2:21-23)

Ruth 2:17 [17]So she gleaned in the field until evening. Then she beat out what she had gleaned, and it was about an ephah of barley. (ESV)

The main focus of this segment concerns Boaz’s generosity and grace.

Ruth’s industrisness is substantial, for verse 17 notes that Ruth gleaned/scavenged for grain in the field until evening. Then, presumably with a flail or a stick, she “beat out” the grain from the heads of barley. To beat out has this same literal meaning of threshing out small quantities of grain by knocking them loose from the stalk by means of a curved stick, club, or wooden hammer (Waard, Jan de ; Nida, Eugene Albert: A Translator’s Handbook on the Book of Ruth. 2nd ed. New York : United Bible Societies, 1992, S. 37).

Where she did this is not indicated. Given Boaz’s generosity in the previous scene, one may imagine that Boaz had invited her to use his threshing floor.

The results of a day’s work in the field are nothing short of amazing. When Ruth measured the grain that she had threshed, it amounted to one ephah of barley. An ephah denotes the unit of measurement used for dry goods, especially grain and flour. According to Ezek 45:11 it was equivalent to the bath, used in the measurement of liquids, and one-tenth of a ḥōmer, the amount of grain a donkey (ḥāmôr) could carry. Scholars are not agreed on the size of an ephah. Containers marked bt found at Tell Beit Mirsim and Lachish averaged 22-24 liters (5.5-5.8 gallons). To thresh an ephah of barley grain from one day’s labor is an extraordinary feat, not to mention Ruth’s having to carry it home! Depending upon the quality of the grain and which standard one uses, an ephah of barley could have weighed from thirty to fifty pounds.

The harvesters obviously followed Boaz’s instructions and allowed Ruth to scavenge liberally. According to 1 Sam 17:17, an ephah of grain could feed fifty fighting men. According to Old Babylonian records from Mari (nineteenth century B.C.), the ration of threshed grain demanded of a male harvester rarely was more than one or two pounds.

• This ephah of barley would be enough for 20 or so loaves of bread, which would be about a two week supply for the two women.

Ruth 2:18 [18]And she took it up and went into the city. Her mother-in-law saw what she had gleaned. She also brought out and gave her what food she had left over after being satisfied. (ESV)

In Verse 18 has Ruth picking up the fruits of the day’s labor and heading for the city. After she had showed her mother-in-law what she had gleaned, Ruth measured out as much as she needed and gave Naomi the rest.

• The toasted grain that Ruth returned with was entirely unexpected. Through his generosity to Ruth, Boaz had extended his kindness to Naomi as well.

• When we show kindness to others, going beyond what is required or even beyond what is expected, we have the ability to bless beyond the immediate recipient.

Ruth 2:19 [19]And her mother-in-law said to her, "Where did you glean today? And where have you worked? Blessed be the man who took notice of you." So she told her mother-in-law with whom she had worked and said, "The man’s name with whom I worked today is Boaz." (ESV)

Not surprisingly, the grain that Ruth brought home sparked conversation between her and her mother-in-law. Naomi’s amazement at the sight of so much grain evokes a response whose sense is as much exclamation as question: “Where in the world did you glean today, and where did you work?” The reference to where she worked would reflect the threshing of the grain. Naomi recognized both the bounty of food and the provision of working environment for her to thresh the grain.

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