Summary: In Ruth chapter four, we learn what possibilities can result when we open our lives up to God.
As has been mentioned before, the book of Ruth is one of the greatest love stories in all of the Bible. Not just because it tells of the love relationship that developed between Ruth and Boaz; but because it tells us about the love relationship our heavenly Father has with each of His children.
The book of Ruth is a story of how God enabled His children, namely, Naomi and Ruth, to pass from bitterness in life to blessedness. We have looked to each chapter of this book to discover how we might do the same when bitter experiences come our way in life. Let’s review them quickly and make note of how one builds upon the other.
First, from chapter one, we said that if we are going to pass from bitterness to blessedness, we must “Open Our Eyes” to recognize the personal concern of others and the providential care of God. Naomi was blessed to have a friend in Ruth. While she didn’t seem to appreciate Ruth in chapter one, she does by the end of this book, because God brought Ruth into her life to strengthen and bless her. As we looked at chapter one with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, we also note how God was orchestrating circumstances on Naomi’s behalf as, when they returned to Bethlehem, they did so at the beginning of the barley harvest.
Second, from chapter two, we said that we must “Open Our Mind” to consider what the right thing is to do to better our circumstances or better ourselves in the midst of our circumstances. Ruth did what God revealed to her was right. She considered what was morally right - she needed to provide for her aged mother-in-law; she did what was ethically right - she provided for her aged mother-in-law through a willingness to work; and she did what was biblically right - through exposure to the Word of God, Ruth discovered God’s provision for the orphans, windows, and foreigners in Israel - she gleaned after the harvesters to gather the “leftovers” (Leviticus 19:9-10; 23:22; Deuteronomy 24:19-22). She did what God had revealed was the right thing for her to do in her situation and trusted God with the rest. Consequently, she was at the right place at the right time to be provided with a God orchestrated opportunity.
Third, from chapter three, we said we need to “Open Our Heart” to the possibilities God wants to bring to reality. Naomi recognized such a possibility presented by God the first day Ruth returned from gleaning.
When Ruth told Naomi that she had gleaned in the fields of a man named Boaz, and how kind he had been to her, allowing her to eat at table with him and the harvesters, God put in Naomi’s heart the thought that Boaz was one of her family’s “Kinsman-Redeemers” (Leviticus 25:23-28) - a possibility that she became convinced God wanted to become a reality. So, when the time was right - when the barley and wheat harvests were completed - she sent Ruth with instructions as to how to approach Boaz with this possibility. Naomi resolved by faith to believe God for the possibility He had placed in her heart; she and Ruth responded by faith when the time came to walk through the door of God-given opportunity; and she and Ruth had their faith rewarded when Boaz agreed with Ruth that their spending time together over the weeks and months of the barley and wheat harvests were orchestrated by God. He agreed to act as Kinsman-Redeemer and purchase Naomi’s family’s land back and restore to her.
Each of these builds on the other. If we don’t open our eyes to recognize God’s providential care; we won’t be in a position to open our minds to consider God’s guidance for us; and if we do not have God’s guidance to follow, we won’t be in a position for God to place in our hearts those possibilities that He wants to bring into reality. All of these lessons, when applied in the midst of a bitter circumstance, will keep us from becoming bitter, but will help us to become better, as our circumstances change or we change in the midst of our circumstances. Positive transformation can occur, even through negative circumstances, when we open our eyes, our minds, and our hearts to God, because of the powerful dynamic of His love. Let’s notice what results when we open our lives up to God’s love. The love of God . . .
1. Can make possible what you thought you’d never have - vs. 1-12
Now, in order to understand better what is going on here, let’s consider what the law of Moses provided concerning the perpetuation of a family’s lineage - Deuteronomy 25:5-10. This is known as the Levirate Marriage, which required a man marry the childless widow of his brother to produce a child who will carry the deceased brother’s name. If he refuses to marry the widow, then she must inform the Elders sit that her brother-in-law refuses to marry her. The Elders then call the brother to them, and if he states affirms this to be true, the