As we continue our look at the redeeming hand of Christ in the lives of Old Testament women, we cannot help but pull over and park in the life of Boaz. While I have taught the story of Ruth many times, God has recently revealed to me the beauty of His sovereignty as He prepared Boaz to be her Kinsman Redeemer. As we looked at the salvation and inclusion of Rahab into the Israelite people, we learn in Matthew 1 that she gives birth to Boaz, by Salmon. No mention is given to Boaz's upbringing or Rahab's life within the Israelite nation. The next time we see Boaz, he is introduced as a 'worthy man'.(Ruth 2:1)
Remember the story of Ruth. She was a Moabite woman who married into an Israelite family who had traveled to Moab during the famine in the Judges period. Tragedy befalls this family and the father and two sons all die, leaving three widows, helpless and alone. In this time and culture, these women had few options. They could each return to their families of origin, or take their chances on surviving long enough to find a Kinsmen Redeemer to marry one of them and provide for their needs. As Ruth is presented with these bleak options, notice her own profession in her response:
"But Ruth said, 'Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.'" - Ruth 1:16-17. While her devotion to her mother-in-law is moving, do not miss the fact that her pledge is to the Lord. She makes the declaration here that the God of Israel is her God and she asks Him to seal her purpose and commitment to His people. Just like Rahab, we see Ruth declare the Lord as her own and give us a glimpse of what being adopted into God's family looks like.
Ruth and Boaz hear of each other by reputation first, before they meet. Ruth knows that Boaz is a 'worthy man' and that he is a potential Redeemer for her family. She humbly begins to work in his field, in hopes that she will gain his favor and find security for herself and her mother-in-law. Boaz enters, and immediately inquires of this new woman in his field. When he is told who she is and what she has done, he immediately has strong compassion toward her. Look at their encounter:
"...Why have I found favor in your eyes, that you should take notice of me since I am a foreigner? But Boaz answered her, 'All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told to me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before. The Lord repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!'" (Ruth 2:10-12)
Pause and admire the sovereignty of God in this moment. You have a man who was raised by a foreign prostitute in a deeply traditional culture, now reaching out his hand of mercy to a widowed Moabite with nowhere else to turn. Boaz had no doubt seen both the ugly and beautiful side of God's people. There are always those who judge and even condemn those whom God restores and he may have seen some of that directed toward his mother growing up. He would have felt sympathy toward Ruth for this reason. However, he clearly had also seen the incredible and matchless love of God's people when they extend His grace toward the outcast and downtrodden. His mother had been brought in fully, and had experienced the power of God in her own life. He lived in that shadow of grace and flourished as a man of God in the Israelite nation. When he meets Ruth, he has the opportunity to share the grace that he and His mother received. Every detail of his life, prepared him for this moment, to be the Kinsmen Redeemer in God's story who rescues Ruth and fathers Obed, father of Jesse, father of King David. God always has a plan, and it makes all things beautiful!
There are many circumstances in life that we do not understand. Often we feel that God has forgotten or does not care about our pain, our confusion, or our need. It is in these times, that through His sovereign plan, He uses His children to be His hands of grace. Trust God in your struggles, look for ways to lean on His grace, and at all costs, seek opportunity to pour that grace out on those God places in your path!
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