(Focal passage 3:8-13; 4:13-17)
1. Who among us believe that God is always at work around us?
Dr. Henry Blackaby developed a study titled “Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing God’s Will”. The basic outline for the study was built around, what Dr. Blackaby called, “The Seven Realities of Experiencing God”. The first reality he listed was “God is always at work around you.”
2. How have you experienced that reality?
3. Have you experienced a time period when you doubted this reality?
We studied last week about the tragedy experienced by Naomi and Ruth. Naomi was so distraught that she wanted to change her name to Mara. Naomi meant “pleasantness” while Mara meant “bitter”. But we will see this week that God was at work, even in the bleakest of circumstances.
4. Has there been a situation in your life that seemed hopeless but turned around for good? How did you see God working through that experience?
In today’s continuing study of the story of Ruth and Naomi, we’ll see that even though their lives were struck with tragedy God was moving to give them a secure and blessed future. And, by the way, the ultimate Savior would eventually be a part of that blessing!
Naomi and Ruth completed their journey to Bethlehem and were welcomed by all the people. They arrived at the beginning of the barley harvest so Ruth, with Naomi’s permission, we out to “glean” the fields. Provision was made for the poor and destitute in Lev. 19:9-10 to follow the harvesters and “glean” the grain that was left. She just happened to go the field of a relative of Naomi’s deceased husband, Boaz. When Boaz discovered who she was he was very generous to her and gave her extra gain at least twice. When Naomi learned that Ruth was gleaning in the field belonging to Boaz she set a plan in motion to let Boaz know they would like for him to be their “family redeemer”.
Read Ruth 3:1-7
Inquiry! Read Ruth 3:8-9
1. What did Naomi instruct Ruth to do in your own words? (Naomi told Ruth to wash and anoint herself, put on her cloak, and go to the threshing floor where Boaz would be. Once he laid down, she was to uncover his feet and lie down as well.)
The reason Boaz would be at the threshing floor was for security. The harvest had been completed and the grain was ready to be put in sacks and stored. If they left it on the threshing floor it could be eaten by animals or robbers could come and take it.
2. Why did she have her do this? (She did this because she wanted to “find security” for Ruth—and herself. By this she meant she wanted Boaz to take Ruth as his wife as the “family redeemer”.)
3. What was Boaz’s reaction and how did Ruth respond to him? (There was no indiscretion or immorality here. They were both of the highest integrity and discrete in their actions.)
4. What connection did “spreading your garment” have with Boaz’s role as a kinsman redeemer? (“Spreading the garment” was an invitation to Boaz that she wanted him to marry her. In mentioning his role as a redeemer, Ruth gave the theological basis for seeking Boaz in marriage.)
How would Boaz respond, I wonder.
Interest! Read Ruth 3:10-13
1. How did Boaz respond to Ruth?
2. How did Boaz see Ruth as a person of integrity?
3. How did Boaz’s response reveal his integrity?
4. Is there any indication that Boaz had already been thinking about this situation?
Boaz wanted to proceed carefully to be sure the right thing was done in regard to marrying Ruth. His first concern was that everything was done legally, but I believe he was hoping that other fellow would not want to accept the responsibility.
5. What feelings have you experienced as you began to realize the Lord was working things out in a positive way for you?
While the concept of the family redeemer is not familiar to us in our culture today, there are lessons to be learned from the way Boaz and Ruth conducted themselves in this situation.
6. How does Boaz’s willingness to accept responsibility apply to modern Christians?
7. Are families willing to open their home to a relative in need of support today?
Once again we see their moral character coming to the forefront. Our moral character is vital to our Christian witness and our ability to be open to answering God’s call at any time.
Boaz did as he promised. He found the closest family redeemer, but he wasn’t willing to take on the responsibility of another wife. Boaz had everything legally documented and took Ruth as his wife.
Inheritance! Read Ruth 4:13-17
1. Boaz married Ruth and God blessed them with a son, Obed. How, in-turn, was Naomi blessed? (Naomi was blessed because her family had been redeemed. When it seemed hopeless because her husband and sons had died, God provided an heir, a grandson, by His good grace.)
Naomi was able to spend time with Obed as his nurse, so daily she saw God’s blessing and goodness.
2. God’s blessing was not confined to this family. How was Israel as a whole blessed? (Obed was the grandfather of David, Israel’s most beloved king.)
3. How are we all blessed through this kinsman redeemer? (See Matthew 1:5-16. The Messiah ultimately came from this union.)
4. What does the inclusion of Ruth in His redemptive plan reveal to us about God?
5. What are the implications of Ruth being included?
The story of Ruth, Boaz, and Naomi reminds us of how God is always at work, making His redemptive plan known. It tells us that God’s plan is available to all people who accept Him. It helps us see how God carries His people through obstacles in surprising ways, even during those times when it seems impossible.
Summarize and Challenge!
When we were first introduced to Naomi and Ruth in last week’s study, it would seem that they were a family struggling to hold together as they coped with famine, loss, and death. Now in chapter 4, we see how God has provided a way through the hardships and brought them joy by His grace.
1. When and how have you seen God use obstacles or challenges in your life for His honor?
2. Of how much value is our integrity in relation to our witness?
3. What actions can we take individually and as a group to foster integrity?
4. How can we demonstrate the importance of integrity to our children, grandchildren, nieces, or nephews?
Think of integrity as a legacy we can pass along to the younger people in our family and our circle of influence.
Integrity isn’t just about the really big commitments in life, it is also important when we promise a child to take them to the park!
5. Is your word your bond in all situations?
May we completely put our confident trust in God in every obstacle we face!