Advent: The Hopes & Fears of all the Years (Ruth 2)

When we left Naomi at the end of chapter 1, she felt empty and believed that the Almighty was against her (1:21). If someone would have counseled her that there is still hope, she would have responded, “It’s been a long time since I’ve had any hope.” The fears of all the years haunt Naomi and Ruth as they travel back to Bethlehem to seek refuge. What will they find in Bethlehem? Will they find hope? Will they continue to fear? Let’s take a closer look.

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Ruth Finds a Field (1-3, 7)

Chapter 2 begins with an introduction to Boaz. He is “a kinsman of [Naomi’s] husband, a mighty man of excellence, of the family of Elimelech.” A kinsman (redeemer) in ancient Israel is the closest male relative who has the responsibility for caring for the widow of his deceased male relative. As a good storyteller, the writer of Ruth is letting us know that Boaz is the ideal kinsman redeemer for Naomi and the tension builds as we long for him to assume this role and care for Naomi and Ruth. 

Ruth was determined to be a blessing to Naomi. She asked Naomi for permission to go out into a field and glean “after one whom I may find favor in his eyes.” Ruth is doing this because she wants to be productive and, most likely, found out that the Law of Moses allowed the poor to go into fields and gather some of the crops (Lev 19:9-10). Ruth was a hard worker. We learn in 2:7 that “she came and has remained from the morning until now” (2:7). From Ruth’s perspective, this was a random field. From God’s perspective, this was providentially prepared. Ruth did not know Boaz and was unaware that he was a kinsman-redeemer.

From Ruth’s perspective, this was a random field. From God’s perspective, this was providentially prepared.

Boaz Finds a Stranger (4-7)

We heard about Boaz in verse 1 and now we get to meet him. His first words were to his servant: “Whose young woman is this?” (2:5) The servant replied, “She is the young Moabite woman who returned with Naomi” (2:6). Boaz quickly discovered that this is a stranger to Israel who has come to Israel for refuge. Boaz speaks kindly to Ruth and appreciates her help to Naomi and her diligence in providing for her. Boaz found a stranger in his fields and responded graciously in a way that shows love for the Lord and respect for His law. 

Ruth Finds a Comforter (8-16)

Boaz cares for Ruth and treats her well. He allows her to glean and to join in the meal. He does not want her to work in any other field so that she would not be harmed or abused. Ruth is overwhelmed by Boaz’s generosity. She said, “May I find favor in your eyes, my lord, for you have comforted me and indeed have spoken to the heart of your servant-woman, though I am not like one of your servant-women” (2:13). Boaz blesses Ruth by saying, “May the Lord fully repay your work, and may your wages be full from the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to seek refuge.” Ruth sought refuge with Naomi in Israel and found “a mighty man of excellence” (2:1).

Naomi Finds a Redeemer (17-23)

Ruth returned with the crops she had gleaned and the leftovers from the meal and Naomi was astonished. She said, “May he who took notice of you be blessed” (2:19). Ruth replied, “The name of the man with whom I worked today is Boaz.” Naomi is delighted to hear this news because she knows Boaz. Naomi replies, “May he be blessed of the Lord who has not forsaken his lovingkindness to the living and to the dead…The man is our relative; he is one of our kinsman redeemers” (2:20).

As we learned earlier, the kinsman redeemer had the responsibility for caring for the widow of his deceased male relative. The kinsman redeemer is one who redeems (Genesis 48:16; Exodus 6:6) redeems the property or persons (Leviticus 27:9–25, 25:47–55) from poverty, slavery, etc. They could also function as an avenger of blood (Num 35:12) who could legally carry out vengeance upon someone who murdered their relative.

We Find a Savior

While Ruth believes that her actions are random and Naomi believes that the Lord is against her, in Ruth 2 we see the providential hand of God providing for them. Ruth didn’t randomly arrive in Boaz’s field, God guided her to Boaz. One writer said, “As readers we’re told that Naomi does indeed have a relative in Bethlehem who may be able to provide for her & Ruth, but it’s only God’s sovereign kindness that means Ruth stumbles into the field of this relative, Boaz. And what a guy he turns out to be!” The Lord isn’t against Naomi, He is bringing her to the place she needs to be in order to be provided for and, most importantly, grow in her faith and love for the Lord.

Boaz reminds us of Jesus. Mitchell Chase said it well, “If someone invited you to listen to a story about a redeemer from Bethlehem in Judah who fulfilled and exceeded the law with his acts of mercy and abundant provision before entering into a covenant with a bride from the nations, that story could be about Boaz or Jesus.” Boaz is called a “mighty man of excellence” (2:1) who cares for his people and lavishes grace and mercy upon all who come to him. Jesus is far greater than Boaz and blesses everyone who seeks refuge in Him. 

The promise of a kinsman redeemer is not just for widows in Israel. We have the promise of a kinsman redeemer as well in Jesus.

The fears of all the years haunted Naomi and Ruth as they travel back to Bethlehem to seek refuge. In Bethlehem, they found hope and peace in a kinsman redeemer. The promise of a kinsman redeemer is not just for widows in Israel. We have the promise of a kinsman redeemer as well in Jesus. Have you found hope and peace from a redeemer in Bethlehem? Jesus was born of the virgin Mary, free from sin of Adam (Gen 3). He lived a perfect, sinless life in order to offer Himself as a pure and spotless sacrifice. Jesus’ sacrificial death provides forgiveness for all of the sins of all who place their faith in Jesus. As the old hymn says, “The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight. Take your hopes to Jesus. Turn over your fears to Jesus. 

O morning stars, together proclaim the holy birth,
and praises sing to God the King and peace to men on earth;
For Christ is born of Mary; and, gathered all above,
While mortals sleep, the angels keep their watch of wondring love.

Published by First Baptist Church of Scott City, MO

Bringing the love of Christ to a hurting world.

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