I believe the Lord has been speaking to me about his desire to give great favor for the people of God. We began by looking at favor in the story of the deliverance of Israel from Egypt. The Lord told the Israelite women to ask the Egyptian women for gold, silver and clothing. God gave the Israelites favor and the Egyptians complied with their request. Because of this favor, the Israelites left Egypt with great wealth.
In Acts chapter 2 we see the beginning of the church age. In verses 46 and 47, we see that one of the first things that happen is that the church gains great favor and people are added daily to the church. This was not favor with the Jewish leaders or with the Roman government. It was favor with people who responded to the message of the gospel by receiving Jesus as Lord.
I believe that God wants to give us both kinds of favor. It takes resources to preach the gospel and favor can release the resources needed by the church and her people. It is even more important that we see the kind of favor the early church had so that whatever ministry we undertake for the Lord will be received and people will hear and believe the message of Jesus Christ.
As I was praying for this week’s message, I felt the Lord say, “Who in the bible had favor?” I thought of Ruth. Ruth is one of the more interesting characters in the Word. The book of Ruth is set in the time of the judges in Israel. However, neither Judges nor Ruth were written during that time. Both were written much later. In Ruth chapter 4, we find the genealogy of King David. Ruth had become part of that lineage. By this, we know that the book of Ruth was written sometime after David became king. This is a long time for a story about a foreign woman to survive.
Ruth’s life was built upon the fact that she found favor with a man named Boaz. The question I wanted to ask myself was what in Ruth’s life put her in the position to have such favor. Favor comes from God. It is a divine force that God gives on behalf of his people that brings blessing into their lives. However, I believe we can do things that will release that favor. I believe that is the real story of Ruth.
Before we talk about favor in Ruth’s life, we need to become familiar with her story. I want to give a synopsis today. Ruth is the daughter-in-law of an Israelite family. A man named Elimelech took his wife Naomi and two sons to the land of Moab because there was a famine in Israel. While there, his sons married Moabite women. After 10 years, Elimelech and both his sons died leaving three widows to fend for themselves.
In that day, women without men to take care of them were at great risk. Naomi decides to return to Israel where she has family and some land that belonged to her husband. She tells her daughters to return to their families, as there would be nothing for them in Israel. Both object but one of them, Orpah, decides to go home. Ruth begs Naomi not to send her away and makes one of the most beautiful statements in the bible.
Ruth 1:16-17(NKJV) 16But Ruth said: “Entreat me not to leave you, Or to turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, And your God, my God. 17 Where you die, I will die, And there will I be buried. The Lord do so to me, and more also, If anything but death parts you and me.”
Naomi gives in to Ruth’s insistence and together they return to Israel. Once they get there, they are still two women with no man to care for them. Their options as to what they can do to survive are limited. It was the time of harvest so Ruth decides to take advantage of a custom that existed in Israel. After farmers made their initial harvest cuts there was always some grain left in the field. The farmers did not go back and get this grain, but left it for the poor to harvest. Ruth decides to find a field and follow the harvesters to see if she can get enough for her and Naomi to live on.
It just so happens that the field she chooses belongs to Boaz. She does not know who Boaz is. She just picks his field. As it turns out, he is a near relative of Elimelech. He is what is called a kinsman redeemer. This means he is one of the family members who had the responsibility of raising up heirs for Elimelech and his sons.
This was a law in Israel. If a man died without any heirs, his brother was to marry his wife and the first son born to them was the heir of the dead brother. This seems strange to us today, but in that day, it was very important to have an heir and for the family name to continue. If there were no brothers, this responsibility would extend to other family members. Boaz was second in this line.
Boaz sees Ruth and asks who she is. The workers tell him that she is Naomi’s daughter-in-law. He has heard of her so he tells the young men to leave her alone. He gives her lunch and tells her to stay in his field and follow the young women working for him. He makes sure that she has plenty of grain to take to town to sell. He also tells her to keep coming back for the whole harvest season.
When Ruth returns to Naomi, she asks Ruth who has had such favor on her. She says a man named Boaz. Naomi knows who this is and knows that God is doing something to bless them both. She tells Ruth to return to Boaz’s field that evening because they would be threshing the grain. She tells her to bath and put on her best clothes. She tells her to wait until Boaz goes to bed, then lie at his feet, and uncover them. This was a practice for servants in that day.
When Boaz wakes he sees her there and asks, who she is and what is she doing. She tells him she is Ruth and asks him to cover her with the skirt of his garment. She is asking him to fulfill his role as kinsman redeemer. He assures her he will do so, but there is another relative who is closer to her so he must talk with him.
To make a long story short, Boaz talks to the second relative who cannot fulfill this obligation and Boaz marries Ruth. They have children and both Ruth and Naomi are greatly blessed. Ruth, a foreign woman, becomes part of the lineage of David and ultimately of the Messiah. This is a beautiful story of love and blessing. It is even more a story of the favor of God in the life of Ruth.
What was it about Ruth that enabled God to give her such favor? What did God see in her and what did Boaz see in her? Can we cultivate those same things in our lives? I believe we can. This week we are going to find out what caused Ruth to have such favor with Boaz. I believe that if we cultivate these same characteristics, we can have the same kind of favor today.
As we read about the lifestyle and character of Ruth, let us examine our own lives and see if we have the things working in us that led to such favor for Ruth. We need favor in our day. God wants to give favor to his people. However, he cannot do that if we are not the kind of people that deserve it. Ruth was that kind of person. We can follow her example and learn to be as well. We can have favor in our lives.