Tonight I am sitting here watching a rerun of NCIS, eating a bowl of microwave popcorn and drinking a Pepsi. I am doing all this while I am contemplating the story of Ruth. Yesterday I wrote about the first Sunday in the series and about Ruth chapter 1. Originally I was planning on limiting my series on Ruth to two sermons. You know drop the bomb that the famous marriage covenant was first spoken by one woman to another then jump to the story of Boaz and race to then end of the story. Well this whole concept of valuing people and giving them worth intrigued me. So i wondered how this thought and if this thought carried through the second chapter. So I followed this with another sermon chasing the same theme.
Chapter 1 left Ruth and Naomi as two worthless people (according to society's standards). Granted Ruth's commitment to her mother-in-law gave Naomi some personal value in the eyes of Ruth and her own eyes, society still reckoned them as less and productive members of society. Fortunately God does not see people the same way that society views them. See God has placed in the Law certain guidelines in dealing with the marginalized, and the ones whom society looks down upon.
For example (and the one that is most pertinent to this story) gleaning.
9 ‘Now when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very corners of your field, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest. 10 Nor shall you glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather the fallen fruit of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the needy and for the stranger
. I am the LORD your God.
Lev 23:22 ‘When you reap the harvest of your land, moreover, you shall not reap to the very corners of your field nor gather the gleaning of your harvest; you are to leave them for the needy and the alien
. I am the LORD your God.’”
19 “When you reap your harvest in your field and have forgotten a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be for the alien, for the orphan, and for the widow
, in order that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. 20 When you beat your olive tree, you shall not go over the boughs again; it shall be for the alien, for the [p]orphan, and for the widow.
21 “When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you shall not go over it again; it shall be for the alien, for the orphan, and for the widow
. 22 You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt; therefore I am commanding you to do this thing.
These are the commands of God, and my reckoning Ruth fit into most of these categories. She was a widow, stranger, and needy. So she set about to fulfilling her right to glean the fields and provide for herself and Naomi. As luck would have it, or as God had ordained it, or as she had manipulated it she landed in the field of Boaz who happens to be a kinsman to Elimilech. The author calls him a man of substance. (BTW I like to think that it was God ordained) Ruth set quietly to work in Boaz's field.
Well the Bible points out that Boaz noticed Ruth and asks about her. After hearing her story Boaz, a man of WORTH, begins to give Ruth more than he is required to give her. He tells his men to leave more behind including whole sheaves. He also invites Ruth to have dinner with him, and tells her to glean only from his fields. Boaz acknowledges the value that Ruth had placed on Naomi and begins to place value on her. This time the value given is more substantial since someone who has value according to society places value on someone lower in class and position than him.
This reminded me of my own story. I was the geeky unpopular kid in high school when I came to Christ. This did not improve my status in the society of high school. However this guy named Roy was a baseball player. He was one of the cool and popular guys on campus. He came to Christ a year after I did. He joined our group of rejects and elevated our status slightly. He was not one of the less popular who leaned on each other. He took me under his wing and helped me become valuable in someone else's life. He is the one who gave me the name Hair.
The whole purpose of this statement is that the higher your status is in society then your obligation, according to God and the Bible, is to help the ones lower than you. We are to help them and lead them to a standing in society that is higher than they are now. In other words look out for those that are smaller than you. This is our role in the story of redemption.
Hair (the Theolobster)