Summary: Three exhibitors of compassion making the point that when we turn to the Lord for refuge we experience his outrageous mercy and compassion.

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Unless otherwise noted all scripture quotations are from the New Living Translation of the Bible.

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When we started out in Ruth a couple of weeks ago I gave you a homework assignment to read through the book of Ruth a few times. How many of you have actually read through the book of Ruth in the past couple of weeks? How many of you have thought about reading through Ruth? How many of you know that Ruth is a book in the Bible.

My job is so fulfilling.

Actually, people have been coming up to me saying – “I’ve been reading Ruth” – it’s really, really good. Yeah, of course it’s good. Why are you so surprised?

This is not just a lovely story but it is very moving – it almost brings tears to my eyes when I start to enter into it and realize the acts of mercy and compassion that are exhibited here. These are highly unusual people – exhibiting outrageous mercy and compassion.


This is not your standard fare. These are not people just doing the minimum to meet some kind of social obligation. What is happening here in Ruth is outrageous – wild and extreme.

Now, there are three exhibitors in the story – at least in chapter 2. There are more characters in the story but at this point it highlights three exhibitors for their outrageous acts of mercy and compassion.

The first, of course, is Ruth herself.

You know the story. Naomi and husband and two sons move to Moab because there was a famine around the hometown of Bethlehem. The sons marry Moabite women. Naomi’s husband dies – as do the two sons. Naomi decides to return to Bethlehem. She encourages her daughters-in-law to return to their original families so they can get married again.

One does – but not Ruth. She is hopelessly devoted to her mother-in-law. So leaving behind her native land, language, culture, and people she goes to Bethlehem with Naomi.

This was a great sacrifice on the part of Ruth. Although, in chapter 1 you’re thinking – Oh, poor Naomi – now she has to look after a daughter-in-law who is going to be going thru culture shock. You’re wondering if she’ll be more of a burden than anything.

But as soon as we get to chapter 2 we see that Ruth is no slacker and that she has come along to take care of her mother-in-law.

Verse 2 – “One day Ruth said to Naomi, ‘Let me go out into the fields to gather leftover grain behind anyone who will let me do it.’

“And Naomi said, ‘All right, my daughter, go ahead.’"

This is a reference to the practice of gleaning. According to Hebrew law a landowner – a farmer was required to leave a part of his crop in the field so the poor people could come in after the official harvesters had done their thing – and the gleaners would pick up what was left over. It was a form of welfare.

Think about it – if the law required that you leave some of your almonds on the ground or some of the peaches in your tree so that the welfare crowd could come in after you harvest and they would pick your trees clean...

For example: Leviticus 19:9-10 -- "When you harvest your crops, do not harvest the grain along the edges of your fields, and do not pick up what the harvesters drop. [10] It is the same with your grape crop—do not strip every last bunch of grapes from the vines, and do not pick up the grapes that fall to the ground. Leave them for the poor and the foreigners who live among you, for I, the Lord, am your God.”

God has given you a harvest. God has given you success in your business. So make sure that you leave something for the less fortunate.

This was how society looked out for the poor. It was not charity. It was not a nice thing that you did for people. It was the law. Those who had were obligated to look out for those who had not – regardless of why they were poor.

Now, notice that it wasn’t a total handout. Gleaners had to come in and actually pick-up the left overs themselves. They had to work, too!

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Perry Friesen

commented on Jul 6, 2018

15 years later, and my independent take on Ruth 2 looks a lot like yours. I called my sermon: Hesed superheroes. Ruth, Boaz, and God. That's my outline. Blessings, sermon buddy!

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