When Grace Sneaks Up on You--Book of Ruth 2
God's grace wears a human face.
In Ruth chapter 2, we meet Boaz. Boaz, without sword or shield, becomes Ruth's rescuing knight (a term suggested by Leon Morris). Boaz is called a "worthy man," a man of high moral integrity. The phrase is translated "mighty warrior" in Judges 11:1.
How does this single, simple Judean farmer become God's new kind of warrior for a Moabitess named Ruth?
Boaz embodies grace. He's curious ("Who is this young woman?"), caring, and quite capable of taking charge of Ruth's welfare. Also, shhhhh, he's a relative of Naomi's now dead husband, Elimelech.
Boaz incarnates God's gracious provision for the widows, orphans and aliens by not harvesting the corners of his grain fields. Boaz knows from Leviticus 19:9-10 and Deuteronomy 24:19 that YHWH cares for the lives of those who have become hardship cases. Living in a time of moral corruption and religious rebellion, Boaz could have done what was right in his own eyes. Yet Boaz adheres to God's word. Ruth is the beneficiary of Boaz's obedience.
Boaz commands Ruth's protection. As a foreigner, some of the the young men, the thugs, could have molested her, shamed and mocked her, even harmed her. Boaz will have none of that. Boaz provides her with social status by welcoming her to his workers' meal and by personally offering her special recognition. He provides enough food for Ruth to share with Naomi. He makes sure that the harvesters purposely leave extra for Ruth to glean. Grace is abounding.
Boaz recognizes Ruth's fierce dedication to Naomi and he blesses Ruth as a worshiper of YHWH. Boaz knows that Ruth is a hard worker, not a free-loader.
Grace always surprises us. "Why have I found such favor in your eyes that you notice me--a foreigner?" Ruth asks Boaz in shocked, genuinely humbled surprise.
Boaz turned his workplace into God's place. Notice his morning greeting to his workers--"The LORD be with you!" His fields of grain became fountains of grace for a young, poor widow. Boaz's loyal obedience to some old harvesting laws opened up a new future for Ruth and Naomi.
A simple Judean farmer's devotion to YHWH's hesed ("loyal love") transformed that same farmer into God's gracious knight. God's grace in Ruth's life had a face and a name: Boaz. We become like what we worship.
Israel's gracious God calls out and creates a gracious people who in turn bless others.
Centuries after Boaz, the Word would become flesh and live among us...with a face and a name: Jesus. Jesus---full of grace and truth.