A Study of Ruth 2:20
“And Naomi said unto her daughter in law, Blessed be he of the LORD, who hath not left off his kindness to the living and to the dead. And Naomi said unto her, The man is near of kin unto us, one of our next kinsmen.”
Christ is in every text in the Word of God be it Old Testament or New Testament. In every text in God’s Word there is a road that leads to Christ and Calvary, Christ and Him crucified.
For in Acts 10:43 the Scripture says, “To him give all the prophets witness.”
“God, in sundry times and in diverse manners spake to our fathers by the prophets.” (Hebrews 1:1)
Who were the prophets?
Moses, Elijah, Isaiah, Jeremiah. What was their subject? Their subject was Christ.
They said, “We have Moses.”
Christ said, “Moses wrote of me.”
They said, “We have Abraham.”
He said, “Abraham rejoiced to see my day. He saw it and was glad” (John 8:56).
“To him give all the prophets witness.” (Acts 10:43)
He turned to the Pharisees, our master did, and said, “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” (John 5:39)
“And he opened the Scriptures and began at Moses and the prophets and the psalms and he taught them the things concerning himself.” (Luke 24:27)
About all the average person knows about the book of Ruth is found in chapter one, verse 16 where Ruth said to Naomi: “Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.” (Ruth 1:16-17)
Isn’t that beautiful? But if that is all we know about the book of Ruth, we come away from our study of the book of Ruth with high thoughts of Ruth and no thoughts of Christ. And yet the one who wrote the book of Ruth was writing about Christ, exalting, magnifying Christ. And Ruth is to be honored. Oh, how I respect her and I thank God for her and how I praise God for this testimony and would God that every believer could say so emphatically, “Nothing will move me from the people of God, from the gospel of God, from the kingdom of God. I’ll live there, walk there and die there.”
But this book is about Christ.
At the beginning of the book of Ruth we read, “It came to pass in the days that the judges ruled that there was a famine in the land and a certain man of Bethlehemjudah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he, and his wife and two sons. And the name of the man was Elimelech, and the name of his wife Naomi. And the name of his two sons Mahlon and Chilion, Ephrathites of Bethlehemjudah. And they came into the country of Moab, and lived there.” (Ruth 1:1-2)
Elimelech means, “My God is king.”
Naomi means, “pleasant.”
Here is a man by the name of Elimelech. He was living in Bethlehem. Bethlehemjudah among Israel. And he was a prominent wealthy man who owned quite a bit of land, had people working for him, had a wife and two sons. And hard times came. They had a recession. They had a little famine.
And do you know what he did? Elimelech sold out. He just sold everything he had, packed up, got the money for it, all his belongings, packed it up his wife and two sons and of all things he went to a pagan, heathen, idolatrous country called Moab. What a mistake in judgment. What foolishness, to leave Israel, to leave the people of God, to leave the country that God was blessing and go to a heathen, idolatrous, pagan nation called Moab.
That’s what he did. He took his wife and sons with him. The people in Bethlehem told him good byes. They headed with their caravan out of sight.
Well, they didn’t live long in Moab until Elimelech died. He left his wife Naomi a widow. And she had those two sons and those two sons married and they married these heathen girls. And this is something you might think of when you contemplate and consider leaving where the gospel is preached and leaving where the truth of God is proclaimed and people worship the living God, going to a place, a heathen, idolatrous place, the effect that it will have on your children, the people they will marry, the lives they will live. And that is what these boys did. They married these…they didn’t know God. They married these pagan, heathen women.
It wasn’t long until both those boys died. See, the judgment of God was upon this home because of what Elimelech had done and both boys died. That left Naomi and her two daughters in law. And they were poor. She had no husband. The girls had no husband. They had no means of support. They had no help. They were in a foreign country. All their savings were gone. Everything was gone.
And Naomi heard that back in Bethlehem God was blessing, that the people were prospered (Ruth 1:6). And so that’s when she got these two girls together, Orpah and Ruth, these two daughters in law. And she said, “I am going home. I am going back to Bethlehem. God is blessing there and I am going back home. You girls stay here and go back.” It says here, “Turn again, my daughters: why will ye go with me? are there yet any more sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands?” (Ruth 1:11)
And so Orpah kissed her mother in law and went back. But that’s when Ruth said, “Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.” (Ruth 1:16-17)
Prior to this in verses 14 and 15 we read, “and Orpah kissed her mother in law; but Ruth clave unto her. And she said, Behold, thy sister in law is gone back unto her people, and unto her gods: return thou after thy sister in law.”
They returned to Bethlehem (Ruth 1:19).
Let’s look now at verse 19 and see the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ruth one, verse 19, “So they two went until they came to Bethlehem. And it came to pass, when they were come to Bethlehem, that all the city was moved about them, and they said, Is this Naomi?”
Now get the picture here. And what I see, first of all, I see ruined by the fall. I see our own condition as a result of our selling out in Adam and leaving God. When Naomi left Bethlehem with her husband and two sons she was, evidently, a fairly young woman and beautiful and well dressed and wealthy. They had everything. They had just sold a huge piece of property, farm land, everything. Here they had everything. They were a happy family and they left.
Now, years passed and here comes a woman and a girl, an old woman and a young woman walking. How far they had walked I don’t know. I didn’t find out how far it was from Moab to Bethlehem, but that’s how far they journeyed. The black hair was now gray, dirty fingernails, stooped shoulders, lines and wrinkles in her face, stumbling along in the dust and dirt, very poor, probably ragged clothes. And that was when these women of the town gathered around her and they said, “Is this Naomi? Is this the one that left here? Are you Naomi?”
Now listen to verse 20. “And she said, ‘Call me not Naomi.’” That word means ‘pleasant’. “Call me Mara.” That word is ‘bitter’. See, the pleasant is now bitter. The rich is now poor. The full is now empty. The sweet is now sorrowful. She said, “for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, and the LORD hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the LORD hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me?” (Ruth 1:20-21)
You see, this is what happened to us. Man, the Scripture said, “God created man in his image,” (Genesis 1:27) in his likeness. Adam must have been a genius. He must have been a most handsome, beautiful, powerful, just all the adjectives you want to use. What this man was… And then he sinned. He sold out. He sinned against God. He believed the lie and turned his back on God and was thrown out of the garden.
And then if you want to see what…what’s happened. “Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions.” (Ecclesiastes 7:29) Look at us.
When they saw Naomi there was something about her, not much, but something in those eyes that somewhere that they recognized that this was Naomi. It was a shell of Naomi. It as what was left of Naomi. It was a bitter Naomi. And that is the way it is. You go to the hospitals and the rest homes and the graveyards, you look at little babies and they are so cute and cuddly and healthy and all that. But I tell you, when this life lived on this, it’s end, back to the dust. You look at that and say, “Is this what God made? Is this the image of God? Is this…?”
And you watch our world with its hatred and its wars and its evil. Mankind is rotten. “And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Genesis 6:5) And this is what I see when these women are gathered about Naomi. They look at her and say, “Is this Naomi?” And I look at the flesh of mankind and I say, “is this what God made?”
She said, “Don’t call me pleasant. Call me bitter.” And that is what it is. It is a bitter thing. It is the result of a fall. It is a result of leaving God. It is a result of going into paganism. That’s what has happened.
Let’s see the second thing that I see in this thing. Ruth chapter one, look at verse 22. “And Naomi returned and Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter in law with her, which returned out of the country Moab. And they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest.”
Now barley, I guess like wheat or oats or any other grain, it is a grain that is used for making bread, especially the poor people use it. They mix it with other things and make bread. It is not the best kind of crop, but it serves the purpose and they came…it was the barley harvest. And all these fields were ripe to harvest and the grain was waving and Naomi and Ruth, they had no land. They had no support. They were poor, they had no help. They had nothing.
And so chapter two, verse one said Naomi had a kinsman. Boy, that’s a word, now, you want to watch all the way through this book. “A mighty man of wealth, of the family of Elimelech, and his name was Boaz.”
“And Ruth the Moabitess said unto Naomi, Let me now go to the field, and glean ears of corn after him in whose sight I shall find grace. And she said unto her, Go, my daughter.” (Ruth 2:2)
Now here is what she is doing. It was customary in those days during the harvest to let the beggars and the poor people, the poorest of poor follow the reapers. The reapers went with their scythes cutting down the barley, oats, wheat or whatever was in season. They cut it down and they brought it together and tied it and stacked it and took it to the threshing mill. And there were grains or tops of the plants that fell. And what they would do is they would let the poor people come along with their scythes and pick up, there would be lots of people in the field following these reapers. These reapers go across the field cutting the barley or whatever it was and these poor people back here in their rags and poverty and need and want picking up little pieces, putting it in the sack to take home.
And the law was that you leave them alone, let them do that.
Well this is what Ruth thinks of this, just a beggar. She says, “Let me go out to the field if I can find somebody that will let me in their field, some rich land owner will let me follow his reapers and get us something to eat.”
So it says in verse three, “And she went, and came, and gleaned in the field after the reapers: and her hap was to light on a part of the field belonging unto Boaz, who was of the kindred of Elimelech.” (Ruth 2:3)
This was no accident. She went out to the field and she went straight to a field that belonged to a kinsman of her father in law, a wealthy man by the name of Boaz.
Now let me tell you a little story here. In Leviticus 25 it says that if a man sold his property, this was the law in Jerusalem, in Israel. If a man sold his property it couldn’t be sold forever. But if he had a kinsman, somebody related to him who was very wealthy who was able, who was willing to buy it back, that he could buy it back for this family and restore them their property, called a kinsman redeemer.
Well, now, here this girl by God’s providence came out to the field of Boaz, this kindred of her father in law Elimelech. Boaz, wealthy, powerful, influential. She didn’t know him. But she went out to the field and she started picking up grains of barley and here came Boaz riding, I believe, on his white horse dressed in his finest clothes with his hat on, you know, and verse four. Look at it, chapter two, verse four. “And, behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem, and said unto the reapers, The LORD be with you. And they answered him, The LORD bless thee.” (Ruth 2:4) Here he was a godly man, a good man. He said, “The LORD be with you.” And they answered him and said, “The LORD bless thee.” Then said Boaz to his servants that was set over the reapers…Boaz spotted Ruth. All those folks out there and he spotted Ruth and he said “Whose damsel is this?” (Ruth 2:5)
“And the servant that was set over the reapers answered and said, It is the Moabitish damsel that came back with Naomi out of the country of Moab: And she said, I pray you, let me glean and gather after the reapers among the sheaves: so she came, and hath continued even from the morning until now, that she tarried a little in the house So she came and hath continued from the morning until now but that she tarried a little in the house.” (Ruth 2:6-7)
And Boaz went to Ruth and he said, “Ruth, hearest thou not, my daughter? Go not to glean in another field neither go from thence, but abide here fast by my maidens. Let thine eyes be on the field that they do reap, and go thou after them: Have I not charged the young men they shall not touch thee? and when thou art athirst, go unto the vessels, and drink of that which the young men have drawn. Then she fell on her face, and bowed herself to the ground, and said unto him, Why have I found grace in thine eyes, that thou shouldest take knowledge of me, seeing I am a stranger?” ( Ruth 2:8-10)
She didn’t know Boaz. She didn’t know this man, had no feeling for him, no interest in him. She had never heard of him. But he loved her. He set his eye on her, affection on her. Let me tell you that is sovereign love. That is the sovereign grace of God. He loved us before we loved Him. He set His affection on us before we knew Him. Our LORD took care of us and you know what He said over here in verse 15 of chapter two? He said, “And when she was risen up to glean, Boaz commanded his young men, saying, Let her glean even among the sheaves, and reproach her not:”
This man says to his reapers, “And let fall also some of the handfuls of purpose for her, and leave them, that she may glean them, and rebuke her not” (Ruth 2:16). The LORD God, His Boaz, loves Ruth, sets His affection on her. She doesn’t know Him. She has no regard or interest, regard for or interest in Him. But He loves her and He is taking care of her. And I see that God has taken care of us. He has loved us beggars. He has provided for us. He has cared for us all through our lives even when we were in paganism, idolatry, false religion. He has protected us, hedged us about, fed us and clothed us and cared for us.
Here is Boaz caring for Ruth though he has no relationship for her at all nor she with him, but he loved her.
And so in verse 17, “So she gleaned in the field until even, and beat out that she had gleaned: and it was about an ephah of barley. And she took it up,” she got a whole lot of barley, “and went into the city: and her mother in law saw what she had gleaned: and she brought forth, and gave to her that she had reserved after she was sufficed. And her mother in law said unto her, Where hast thou gleaned to day? and where wroughtest thou? blessed be he that did take knowledge of thee…” (Ruth 2:17-19)
Wouldn’t you have been surprised? Here instead of bringing in a little sack of barley she brought in a whole bag of barley. And she said, “Where did you glean? Blessed is he that did take knowledge of thee. That person that was kind to thee.”
“…And she shewed her mother in law with whom she had wrought, and said, The man’s name with whom I wrought to day is Boaz.” (Ruth 2:19)
That’s a special name in that household, Boaz, Boaz. Naomi had never mentioned Boaz to her. But Ruth said, “I gleaned in the field which belonged to Boaz.” And Naomi’s heart leaped with joy! Listen. “And Naomi said unto her daughter in law, Blessed be he of the LORD, who hath not left off his kindness to the living and to the dead. And Naomi said unto her, The man is near of kin unto us, one of our next kinsmen.” (Ruth 2:20)
What do you have in the margin of your Bible there? “One that hath the right to redeem.” Isn’t that what it says?
That man is one who has the right to redeem. He has got the right, the ability, the power to restore us all that we lost, all that we sold, all that we have lost in Elimelech, he…that man has got the power and God has given him the right to buy back all that we left.
Now, that is a picture of Christ. That is Christ Jesus. He is our kinsman redeemer. You see, this person, in order to redeem the land that has been sold, had to be related to them, had to be kin to them. Well, Christ became flesh, related to us, bone of our bone, flesh of our flesh. He had to be able. He had to have something to pay. It’s got to be paid. In other words, whatever Elimelech sold it for has got to be returned to the man who bought it. Thirdly, he has got to be willing to do it. Maybe he is not willing. Maybe he would say, “Well, you all got yourself in that mess, live there.” He has got to be willing. Got to be related, got to be able and got to be willing.
What’s going to happen? This man is their kinsman, and he has the right to redeem this property and buy it back. But he doesn’t owe them anything. They sold out. Isn’t that right? He doesn’t owe them anything. So here in chapter three Naomi her mother in law said to her, “My daughter, shall not I seek rest for thee? I want real rest for you, the best for you. I want the best for you that it may be well with thee. I want you to be happy. I want you to be…have restored to you the things you need and the happiness in life. And now,” verse two, “Is not Boaz our kindred, our kinsman, one who has the right to redeem, with whose maidens thou wast? Behold, he winnoweth barley tonight in the threshing floor.” (Ruth 3:2)
Why don’t they just walk down there and say to him, “You’ve got the cash. Buy it back for us.”
No, Naomi has got more wisdom than that. He doesn’t owe them anything. She says, now, “You wash yourself and anoint yourself and put on your raiment and you go down to the floor, but don’t you make yourself known to the man. Don’t you bother him. Don’t you aggravate him. Don’t you at all bother him. And when he is done eating and drinking don’t you push yourself upon him because he is a kinsman redeemer. He is the one who has a right to redeem. He is wealthy. He can put us back where we were. But don’t, don’t aggravate him. Don’t push yourself on him. It shall be when he lieth down that you shall mark the place where he lies down. You stay back in the shadows and watch where he lies down and you go in and uncover his feet and lay thee down and he will tell you what to do.”
Think of the humility that took. I can just hear some people answering Naomi there, “I’m not laying down at any man’s feet.”
Well, you see, these are beggars. And that is where a beggar will find himself, at the footstool, at the feet of the king. And that is what she told her to do. “Don’t go telling him what you are going to do and what he ought to do and what he promised to do and what he has got the right to do. You just quietly, when he lies down, you go uncover his feet and you just curl up there at his feet like a dog.” See, that’s where Mary, the one to whom the LORD showed such mercy. The Bible always said Mary was at His feet. Always it says Mary who sat at His feet looked up at His face, learned of the LORD.
The harlot in the Pharisee’s home, she came while everybody else was sitting arguing, debating with the LORD, she came and knelt and kissed His feet, washed them with her tears and dried them with the hair of her head.
John, on the isle of Patmos saw the Lord Jesus. He said, “I fell at his feet as dead.” (Revelation 1:17)
The Canaanite woman, our Lord Jesus said, “it is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it unto the dogs. And she answered and said unto him, Yes, Lord: yet the dogs under the table eat of the children’s crumbs.” (Mark 7:27-28)
So Naomi said to Ruth. “And it shall be, when he lieth down, that thou shalt mark the place where he shall lie, and thou shalt go in, and uncover his feet, and lay thee down; and he will tell thee what thou shalt do.” (Ruth 3:4)
There is too much talk today from preachers and everywhere else telling people what to do. You want to go to heaven? You want God to forgive you? You want God to buy back your inheritance? You want God to restore your soul? Just go tell God. Just rush in to the throne of grace and tell Him what you are going to do and what He ought to do. I don’t recommend that. I don’t at all. I recommend what she says do right here. Just get at His feet as a beggar. Lie down at His feet. Be still and know that I am God. Lie down at His feet.
“And when Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of corn: and she came softly, and uncovered his feet, and laid her down. And it came to pass at midnight, that the man was afraid, and turned himself: and, behold, a woman lay at his feet. And he said, Who art thou? And she answered, I am Ruth thine handmaid: spread therefore thy skirt over thine handmaid; for thou art a near kinsman.” (Ruth 3:7-9)
She said, ‘I am Ruth your servant spread therefore they skirt over thy handmaid for you are my kinsman redeemer. You are the one that has a right to redeem. You are my only hope. You are my hope.’
Oh, he said, “Blessed be thou of the LORD, my daughter.” She has learned something. “for thou hast shewed more kindness in the latter end than at the beginning, inasmuch as thou followedst not young men, whether poor or rich.And now, my daughter, fear not; I will do to thee all that thou requirest: for all the city of my people doth know that thou art a virtuous woman.” (Ruth 3:10-11)
He is saying to her, “You have made the restoration of Naomi and yourself to be the primary thought in your mind. You haven’t gone seeking other avenues of happiness and other avenues of benefit. But you have come to this place of seeking restoration.”
See what he is saying? And he said…now what is the next thing?
“And now it is true that I am thy near kinsman: howbeit there is a kinsman nearer than I.” (Ruth 3:12)
‘It is true. I am your kinsman. There is a kinsman nearer than I. There is someone else that has got first claim on you.’ That is what he is saying. The Lord Jesus Christ is our kinsman and our redeemer, but He has got to deal with someone who has a claim on us and that is the law and justice. He has got to deal with that.
And so he says here, verse 13, “Tarry this night, and it shall be in the morning, that if he will perform unto thee the part of a kinsman, well; let him do the kinsman’s part: but if he will not do the part of a kinsman to thee, then will I do the part of a kinsman to thee, as the LORD liveth: lie down until the morning.”
And so she did and she went home. Boaz had to deal with this other man. He presented to him that if he redeemed all that Naomi lost that he would have to marry Ruth. And this man said, “I can’t do that. I can’t do that. It will mar mine inheritance. So you do it.”
And so our Lord Jesus Christ met the law and satisfied it and met justice and satisfied it and came and took his bride. Everything rested on what Boaz would do. He is gone now. She is gone back home and Boaz is gone. She knows not where. She knows not what he is doing. She is anxious, walking the floor. And verse 18 of chapter three Naomi gives her some more advice.
“Then said she, Sit still, my daughter, until thou know how the matter will fall: for the man will not be in rest, until he have finished the thing this day.” (Ruth 3:18)
“He loves you. He wants you. And he is going to finish this.”
And that is what I say about our kinsman redeemer the Lord Jesus Christ. I am not in any big hurry to make something happen. I am willing to wait on God to make it happen. In your relationship with God I say sit still. He will finish it. He that hath begun a good work in you will finish it until the day of Jesus Christ.
He cried on Calvary’s cross, “It’s finished.” And He will not rest, He will not enter into his rest until everything is done that needs to be done for your redemption. He is our kinsman redeemer.
So she said, “Sit still. Sit still. He will not rest until he has finished it.”
“So Boaz took Ruth, and she was his wife: and when he went in unto her, the LORD gave her conception, and she bare a son.” (Ruth 4:13)
She is now restored. She is now married to Boaz (as we shall be to our Lord Jesus) and she bears a son.
“And the women said unto Naomi, Blessed be the LORD, which hath not left thee this day without a kinsman, that his name may be famous in Israel.” (Ruth 4:14)
And do you know this son down in verse 17, “And the women her neighbours gave it a name, saying, There is a son born to Naomi; and they called his name Obed: he is the father of Jesse, the father of David.”
The grace of God is so wonderful. All this in God’s providence.
Could you imagine this little heathen girl down in Moab? She wasn’t even an Israelite. She was a pagan Gentile. And yet in the lineage and house of Christ Jesus in Matthew chapter one there are only three women mentioned in the whole of the lineage from Adam to Christ. And she is one of them.
She became the great grandmother of David by God’s grace. And this story, just gets a hold of it. It lives, it honours and glorifies Christ. Ruth represents us. We are Ruth. Our kinsman redeemer is Christ. And we have sold out and we are beggars, poverty stricken and He is the one who can redeem us.
“Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” (Titus 2:14)
But He doesn’t owe us anything. Does He? He is not obligated. Boaz wasn’t obligated to them. So you go lie at His feet. Maybe He will take notice of you. Maybe His love for you is real. But you can’t make Him redeem you. He will do it if He will.
“I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy.” (Romans 9:15)
But I tell you, those who find mercy, will find it at His feet.
“For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.” (Romans 10:11)