Tuesday, June 12, 2007

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.

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15 Comments:

At 6/12/2007 8:19 PM, Anonymous karen said...

Ruth has long been a favorite of mine, John. But I had been so focused on her I had overlooked Boaz. I love that image of his grace extended to the widows. Thanks for this insightful post.

 
At 6/13/2007 4:04 AM, Blogger John Frye said...

Karen,
Is this the former BVC secretary, my novel-reading buddy Karen? If so, hello! If not, hello!

 
At 6/13/2007 6:38 AM, Blogger flyawaynet said...

I'm wondering if I could possibly gain the courage to begin greeting my co-worker with "The LORD bless you!".

 
At 6/13/2007 6:41 AM, Blogger John Frye said...

flyawaynet,
It might be worth the try!

 
At 6/13/2007 1:40 PM, Anonymous karen said...

nope not the former secretary but i sure could use one, if you've got one to spare...
this is karen the georgia girl gone up north, or west. yes, i read novels but sometimes i attempt to write them, too.

 
At 6/13/2007 4:35 PM, Blogger M.A.C. said...

Great post Brian but I do believe that Boaz was far more than a simple Judean farmer. In fact he was "kinsmen-redeemer" a role which encompassed more than economic prosperity but one of integrity as well especially during this time of apostasy. Also Ruth was related to Boaz through her late husband Elimelech.

Despite the fact that Boaz was probably a warrior of some regard previous to the role of Farmer we now find him in. He and Ruth would not have gotten together without Ruth taken the lead in that regard. I think Boaz considered himself somewhat lucky and blessed that an attractive girl like Ruth wanted him.

 
At 6/13/2007 5:45 PM, Blogger John Frye said...

m.a.c.,
You are so right. By the way, who is Brian?

 
At 6/13/2007 5:45 PM, Blogger John Frye said...

karen-not-the-secretary,
So what good books are you reading this summer?

 
At 6/15/2007 3:28 PM, Anonymous karen said...

The Gift of Fear by Gavin De Becker
The Terroist by John Updike
Finished The Big Eddy: The Stocking Stranglings and Southern Justice.
Really uplifting stuff, heh?

 
At 6/15/2007 5:48 PM, Blogger M.A.C. said...

lol, sorry Mr. John Frye

 
At 6/15/2007 6:04 PM, Blogger John Frye said...

Karen,
Are you the funny, poignant Karen of "Hero Mama" fame? If so, I'm sorry for not recognizing you. Duh!

Thanks for the list of good books for summer reading.

 
At 6/15/2007 6:04 PM, Blogger John Frye said...

m.a.c.,

No problemo, my good friend!

 
At 6/15/2007 10:40 PM, Anonymous Susan said...

*sigh* ... I love this story

 
At 6/16/2007 5:26 AM, Blogger John Frye said...

Susan,
It is classic. It was Israel that brought the true "short story" literary form into existence...and the Book of Ruth is a beautiful example. Sigh. :)

 
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