Revive Our Hearts Podcast

A Life That Speaks Volumes

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: The wonderful message of the gospel is that Jesus wanted us. He had a willingness to redeem us, to buy us back from the slavery of our sin and ourselves.

Leslie: It’s Wednesday, July 11, and this is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss. Redeemed. The word can be thrown around like a cliché, but for every believer in Jesus, the concept of redemption is crucial. The story of Ruth will help you see redemption in a new light. Nancy will explain why today in a series called Ruth: The Transforming Power of Redeeming Love.

Nancy: Do you ever feel like nobody notices all the little things that you do to serve around your house? Do you feel like you don’t get a lot of appreciation and that you perhaps do a lot of little things that people don’t even realize that you did. It’s easy sometimes to start to feel that it doesn’t really matter if we serve others.

We’re looking at the story of Ruth. We’re in the second chapter of the book of Ruth. Ruth has gone to glean in the field of Boaz. She’s a poor, destitute widow and she’s found that this field is a field of grace. Boaz has said to her, "I’m going to meet your needs. Don’t go to another field and glean. Stay here and your needs will be met. There will be food. There will be water. There will be protection from those who might try to harm you in this field."

Ruth has responded in the passage we looked at yesterday with amazement that Boaz would have taken notice of her, that he would have an interest in her. She has a humble spirit. She has a grateful spirit. She says in chapter 2, verse 10, “Why have I found such favor in your eyes that you notice me—a foreigner?”

She’s astounded. She knows she doesn’t deserve this kind of attention and care. Let me just say again that none of us deserves the grace of God. That’s what makes it grace—it’s free; it’s unmerited; it’s undeserved. We can’t work for it. We don’t deserve it. We can’t earn it.

I find so many women in their walk with God today really frustrated because they’re trying to make themselves acceptable to God. The only way you and I can ever be acceptable to God, find favor in His eyes, is through Jesus Christ. He’s the One who makes us acceptable through His death on the cross.

Well, back to Boaz and Ruth. “Boaz replied,” verse 11, “‘I’ve been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband—how you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before.’”

Boaz says I’ve been told. I’ve heard. The word is out. People are talking. Do you think Ruth realized this? I don’t think she did. I think she was just going about doing what she was supposed to be doing and not doing it for reputation. I’m sure she had no idea there would be a book in the Bible by her name and that there would be that kind of credit; that we’d be sitting studying her life today.

She was just a humble servant doing what she was supposed to be doing. Yet Boaz says, "You’ve got a reputation. People know. People are talking about what it is that you’ve done." I don’t think Ruth thought it was any big deal. I think she was just being faithful. But Boaz said, "I’ve been told." People have noticed.

I noticed that Ruth did not exalt or promote herself. I tell you one of the things that really grieves me when I look at my own life is the extent to which I so often, truth be known, am trying to get credit or recognition for acts of obedience and service. You might never know it about me.

When God turns on the light inside my own heart, I find that there is this huge issue of motives. Why do I do what I do? Do I do it to be seen? Do I do it to be recognized? Do I do it to be appreciated? Or do I do it out of a heart of faithfulness and obedience and true love and service?

Ruth didn’t exalt herself. She didn’t promote herself. She wasn’t drawing attention to herself. She allowed God to promote her and exalt her in His time and that wasn’t what she was seeking. The verse that comes to mind is from Proverbs 27:2, which says, “Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; someone else, and not your own lips.”

I can still hear my dad telling us that verse as we were growing up. How important it was to allow God to make your reputation a good one, to live a holy life and a loving life, but not to be self-exalting or self-promoting.

He says in verse 11 of chapter 3, “All the city knows that you are a virtuous woman” (paraphrased). You see, a good reputation will travel. A woman who does right in the eyes of God will be known as a woman of virtue and a woman of kindness. That’s what Proverbs 31 says.

We’ve said that Ruth is really perhaps the woman who sat for the painting of Proverbs, chapter 31. Solomon, who wrote that Proverb, was her great, great grandson. It’s possible that he had heard tell of his ancestress Ruth and that was what was being described in that passage.

In that chapter, he says that a woman who fears the Lord will be praised. Her children will rise up and call her blessed. Her husband will brag about her with his friends in the place of commerce.

So Boaz says to Ruth,  "All the city knows that you are a virtuous woman." You may think that no one notices. You may think that no one cares. But people do notice. When you are a kind and giving and sacrificial and serving woman, people will know.

We don’t have to draw attention to ourselves. No behavior goes unnoticed. Her boss had watched. The whole city had watched. The whole city knew what Ruth’s character and her heart was like.

I’ll tell you something else they knew and that was Naomi’s spirit. They knew Naomi’s bitterness. Remember that back in chapter one when all the women looked at her and said, "Is this Naomi?" Now, I’m speculating a little bit, but in the context there, it appears that they were astounded that this woman looked so sad, so beat down, so weary from all that she’d been through.

She goes on to say, "Don’t call me pleasant. Call me bitter." They knew about her bitterness. She talked about it. They knew what kind of woman she was. What kind of woman we are on the inside invariably will come out on the outside and people will know.

That’s why what we need to do is not so much guard our reputation as guard our hearts. Because if we’re guarding our hearts and letting them be filled with Jesus, then the reputation will be a right kind of reputation.

I think that Boaz was drawn to Ruth not primarily because of any natural beauty, though she may or may not have been a physically attractive woman, but I’m convinced that what drew Boaz to Ruth was her servant’s heart, her spirit, her humility, her character, her trust, her relationship with God.

So he says to her in verse 12, “May the LORD repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.”

He’s saying to her, "You will be repaid. This is thankless work right now, but there’s a reward coming." The Scripture promises a reward for faithful work, for faithful labor. All through the New Testament we’re promised that if we are faithful to obey God, to serve Him, that there will be rewards.

I think of that passage in Colossians, chapter 3, that says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving” (Colossians 3:23-24).

So when you clean your house and when you cook meals and when you wash your kids’ clothes and when you pick up after your family, who are you serving? If you’re doing it primarily for the appreciation and gratitude of others, there’s a selfishness there.

But if you’re doing it as a servant with a heart of love and serving Christ in your daily work—if I’m serving Christ in my daily work, in the monotony, in the routine, in the long, lonely hours sometimes in a study, reading, studying, meditating, and preparing. That’s not glamorous work.

But if you will remember that you are serving Christ—if I will remember I am serving Christ—He says in Colossians you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. There’s a promise that there will be recompense.

That’s what Boaz says to Ruth. "May the Lord repay you for what you have done." If you’re seeking the response and the gratitude and repayment from the world, then the thanks of men may be all that you get.

I don’t know about you, but I would much rather have the thanks of the Lord, repayment and reward from Him. If need be to forfeit all gratitude and thanks and appreciation that I might receive from people here on this earth, if I could just know that the Lord has been pleased, if I can have His reward.

Now Boaz says to Ruth, “May you be richly rewarded by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge” (verse 12). The wings of God. Ruth had come to find security and protection under God’s wings. It happened in her life long before she found refuge under the wings of a husband.

You see, Naomi had said to her daughters-in-law in the first chapter, "Go back to Moab. Stay there. That’s where you’ll find rest. That’s where you’ll find a husband. That’s where you’ll find a home."

But Ruth had been willing to forfeit the possibility of every having a husband, ever having children because she knew that ultimately security is not found in any man, any person, any thing, any experience, or any place on the face of this earth. Ultimately, security is found under God’s covering and His protection, under His wings.

A woman who has come to find her resting place in God, whether she’s married or single, whether she has children or no children, will be a woman who is protected and cared for. She will be a woman with a refuge.

As I think about Ruth’s life, I see in her the result of a woman who takes refuge in God. She was a contented woman. As you read through that story, you find a woman who’s got a free spirit. She’s free because she’s not controlled by her circumstances because her ultimate circumstance is God.

She can trust God to work through others. She still has this bitter mother-in-law but she can trust God to give direction through that mother-in-law even if the person giving direction may not be all that spiritually mature or sensitive, because her trust isn’t in her mother-in-law or her husband. She has none.

Her trust is in God. As a result of taking refuge under the wings of God, she has a quiet spirit. She doesn’t need to strive, to manipulate her circumstances. There’s a restfulness in the spirit of this woman. There’s no sense of being frantic, of being in turmoil, but there’s a quietness.

I think much of the moodiness and the rowdiness that sometimes characterizes us as women is a result of insecurity and lack of trust in God. As a result of finding her refuge under the wings of God, she put herself in a position where God could bless her. The blessing begins in her life and God begins now to turn her circumstances. He’s been planning this all along.

Now let’s pick up in verse 17 of chapter 2. It says that, “Ruth gleaned in the field until evening. Then she threshed the barley she had gathered, and it amounted to about an ephah.” That’s a weight of about 30 pounds so that was a good day’s supply that she was provided there in the field.

Verse 18, “She carried it back to town, and her mother-in-law saw how much she had gathered. Ruth also brought out and gave her what she had left over after she had eaten enough.” By the way, when we are disciplined and controlled in even these practical areas of life such as eating, one of the benefits will be we will have resources to share with others.

Verses 19 and 20, “Her mother-in-law asked her, ‘Where did you glean today? Where did you work? Blessed be the man who took notice of you!’ Then Ruth told her mother-in-law about the one at whose place she had been working. ‘The name of the man I worked with today is Boaz,’ she said. ‘The LORD bless him!’ Naomi said to her daughter-in-law. ‘He has not stopped showing his kindness to the living and the dead.’”

That word kindness—God has not stopped showing His kindness—is that word you’ve heard me talk about before, that Old Testament Hebrew word hesed. It means the covenant, faithfulness and lovingkindness of God. I love that word, and I hope that you will grow to love it as you see it throughout the Scripture. Here it’s translated “His kindness.”

“She added, ‘That man is our close relative; he is one of our kinsmen-redeemers.’” We’re going to come back to that phrase in just a moment, but let’s continue through to the end of the passage.

Verses 21-23: “Then Ruth the Moabitess said, ‘He even said to me, “Stay with my workers until they finish harvesting all my grain.’" Naomi said to Ruth her daughter-in-law, ‘It will be good for you, my daughter, to go with his girls, because in someone else’s field you might be harmed.’ So Ruth stayed close to the servant girls of Boaz to glean until the barley and wheat harvests were finished. And she lived with her mother-in-law.”

Let’s go back to verse 20. “‘The LORD bless him,’ Naomi said to her daughter-in-law. ‘He has not stopped showing his kindness to the living and the dead.’” She said, "God has a plan for us. He is fulfilling it though our lives have seemed hopeless, though we’ve lost the ones who were dearest to us." Remember that Naomi had lost her husband. She had lost her two sons, those who were most precious to her, and Ruth had lost her husband. Naomi is saying, "God has still been kind to us. Even in spite of this loss, God is still showing us His covenant love and faithfulness."

Then she adds what it is that makes her realize this. She said that man—which man? Boaz. The man in whose field you thought you just happened to land today, he is our close relative. He is one of our kinsmen-redeemers.

Now your translations will translate that word differently, but it all goes back to the same Hebrew word, which is the word goel. G-O-E-L. We’ve referenced this a little bit earlier in our study, but I want to expand on that a little bit today now that the concept really comes into focus in this part of the story. He is a close relative. He is one of our goels.

The word goel, just by way of review for those of you who may not have been with us in the earlier sessions, actually means protector. It speaks of a kinsman who protects or redeems a needy relative from trouble or from loss. You remember that according to the law of Moses the next of kin had both a right and a responsibility with regard to an impoverished relative.

Now remember that the qualification was that you had to have a need. In order to have a redeemer, you had to be needy. There were two ways that this would take place. One was in relation to the family lands. The other was in relation to the family name. As it related to the lands, if a man had to sell his property because of poverty, the next of kin, the nearest living relative, had the right to redeem those lands, to buy them back, and to restore them to the man who was losing his lands.

God wanted the property to stay in the hands of the families. Then, even more importantly, when a man died with no male children to carry on the family name, his brother would marry his widow. I know this can sound a little complicated, but we’ve tried to review it a few times so that it would really stick in our minds. The brother of the deceased would marry the widow. Through their union, the first male child would actually be considered the son of the deceased man and would carry on the family name, the family line.

Now in order to be a goel, in order to be a kinsman-redeemer, there were three qualifications that had to be met. We want to look at those because then as we come back to the story of Ruth and Boaz, we’re going to see that not only did he meet these qualifications, but even more importantly, when Christ came to earth to redeem us, He met these qualifications to be our goel, our Kinsman-Redeemer.

Now let me state the three qualifications and then we’ll expand on them just a little bit. First, he had to have the right to redeem. Secondly, he had to have the power or the ability to redeem. Thirdly, he had to have the willingness to redeem. In order to be a kinsman-redeemer, a goel, a protector, he had to meet these three qualifications.

First, the right to redeem. What gave a man the right to redeem was the fact that he was a relative, that he was a near kinsman. He was a close relative. No one else had the right to insist that the purchaser sell the property back to the poverty stricken Jew.

Now as we come into the New Testament, we find that Christ has the right to redeem us. How did He have that right? He became our near Kinsman. The Scripture says the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. God took on human flesh. He became a man. That’s what we celebrate at Christmas, the incarnation. He became a man.

Hebrews 2 tells us, “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too [Christ] shared in their humanity” (verse 14). Philippians 2 tells us He humbled himself and took upon Him the form of a servant. He was made in fashion as a man (Philippians 2:7-8, paraphrased).

Now, the incarnation alone did not make Christ a close enough relative to redeem us because remember He was a sinless man. He was a perfect man. He was the God-man. In order to redeem us, He had to take one step further to get the right to redeem us. The One who partook of our flesh and blood had to go to the cross and become sin for us. Then He became our near kinsman, our close relative.

At the manger in Bethlehem, He was made in the likeness of man, but when He went to the cross, He was made in the likeness of sinful man. He became sin for us. It’s the cross that made Christ the sinner’s nearest kinsman and gave to Him the right to redeem us.

Now a kinsman had to have not only the right, but also the power or the ability to redeem. That means he had to have the financial means to do so. He had to have the money to buy the property back or to take on this widow as his wife. It was a costly decision. It required the payment of a price.

The Scripture tells us that we were not redeemed with perishable things as silver and gold from the empty way of life handed down from our forefathers but with the precious blood of Christ. That was the price. Christ, our wealthy near Kinsman had the ability to redeem us. He had the wealth. The price was His lifeblood and He offered that up as the payment for our redemption.

Thirdly, the kinsman-redeemer had to have the willingness to redeem. You see, Boaz not being a brother of the deceased but a near relative actually was under no obligation to intervene on Ruth’s behalf. He was willing to intervene when he didn’t have to. In fact, we’ll see next week when we come to chapter 4 that there actually was a nearer kinsman. There was a closer relative who wanted the land but didn’t want Ruth.

The wonderful message of the gospel is that Jesus wanted us. He had a willingness to redeem us, to buy us back from the slavery of our sin and ourselves. Titus 2:14 tells us He gave Himself for us that He might redeem us unto Himself, a people for His own possession (paraphrased). So we have in Christ our heavenly Boaz, One who is, as Naomi said of Boaz, our near Kinsman. He is our Goel.

He has the right to redeem us. He became flesh and He was willing to be made sin there at the cross on our behalf. He has the power, the ability to redeem us by the willingness to pay the price that God required for our redemption, and then He demonstrated that he was willing. He did it not because He had to, but because He wanted to. His love, His mercy, His grace said, “I am willing to redeem them.”

So we come to the end of chapter 2. We have as we did at the end of chapter 1 another reference to the harvest. When we finished chapter 1, it was a sorrowful scene. Here were these two destitute, lonely widows coming back to Bethlehem and not knowing where they would get any provision, but in the course of a chapter, a lot has changed.

A lot is still going to change because near at hand there is a kinsman-redeemer who is going to be willing to pay the price to redeem these two women out of their poverty and need.

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss will be right back to pray.

One of the wonders of the book of Ruth is that it will remind you how incredible salvation is. If you’ve enjoyed hearing Nancy’s teaching through Ruth, would you pass your learning on to others? Put together a small group in your church or at home and study Ruth with some women who need to hear the good news this book has to offer.

Start your small group time by watching Nancy teach through Ruth on DVD. Then share your insights using the workbook we’ve put together. When you order five or more workbooks, we’ll include the DVD at no charge. Of course, you can order each separately as well along with the radio series on audio CDs or one MP3 CD. To order visit ReviveOurHearts.com, or call us at 1-800-569-5959.

In the story we’ve been studying, it could appear that Ruth asks Boaz to marry her. Is that the way it went? We’ll look at that incident tomorrow. Now let’s pray.

Nancy: Thank you, Lord, for the message of redemption and for Christ our Redeemer. We worship You, O Christ, our Goel, our near Kinsman, for to You alone belongs the right and the power and the ability and the willingness to redeem us from ourselves, from our sinfulness, and from this world system. So we give You thanks, amen.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the New International Version unless otherwise noted.

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