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                          "THE STORY OF RUTH"

                             Ruth 1:1-4:22

INTRODUCTION

1. The story of Ruth is a beautiful "interlude of love," set in...
   a. The period when judges ruled Israel - Ru 1:1
   b. An era marked by immorality, idolatry, and war - cf. Judg 21:25

2. It tells a heartwarming story of devotion and faithfulness...
   a. Concerning a Moabite widow (Ruth) who leaves her homeland
   b. To live with her Jewish mother-in-law (Naomi)  in the land of
      Israel

3. God honors Ruth's commitment...
   a. By guiding her to the field of Boaz (a near kinsman to Naomi)
   b. Where she gathers grain and finds a place in the genealogy of
      Christ!

4. It has been said the book of Ruth serves two purposes...
   a. To illustrate how Jehovah rewards those who make wise spiritual
      choices and show steadfast familial loyalty
   b. To explain how Ruth, a Moabitess, came to be an ancestor of David,
      and ultimately, the Messiah - cf. Ru 4:21-22; Mt 1:5-6

[The book's brevity and beauty makes it easy to read in one sitting, and
it easily divides into four sections.  In chapter one, we learn of...]

I. RUTH'S NOBLE CHOICE:  "I WILL GO" (1:1-22)

   A.  FATEFUL SOJOURN IN MOAB...
      1. Famine prompts the journey
         a. The setting - Ru 1:1
         b. The family - Ru 1:2
         c. The move - Ru 1:2
      2. Death strikes three times
         a. Elimelech dies - Ru 1:3
         b. Mahlon and Chilion marry - Ru 1:4
         c. Mahlon and Chilion both die - Ru 1:5

   B. FATEFUL RETURN TO JUDAH...
      1. Naomi chooses to return home
         a. The famine in Judah has ended - Ru 1:6
         b. Naomi encourages her daughters-in-law to remain in Moab - Ru
            1:7-9
      2. Ruth chooses to return with her
         a. At first, both want to return with Naomi - Ru 1:10
         b. Naomi tries to dissuade them - Ru 1:11-13
         c. Ruth cannot be dissuaded - Ru 1:14-18
         d. Note carefully Ruth's noble choice - Ru 1:16-17
      3. Naomi and Ruth arrive in Bethlehem
         a. Their arrival sparks excitement in the city - Ru 1:19
         b. Naomi believes she should be called Mara - Ru 1:20-21
         c. Naomi and Ruth settle in Bethlehem at the beginning of
            harvest - Ru 1:22

["Ruth's Noble Choice:  I Will Go" has brought her to a strange land.
Now let us read of..]

II. RUTH'S LOWLY SERVICE:  "LET ME GLEAN" (2:1-23)

   A. RUTH GLEANS IN THE FIELD OF BOAZ...
      1. Ruth requests to glean in the fields
         a. We are introduced to Boaz - Ru 2:1
         b. Ruth gains permission from Naomi to let her glean - Ru 2:2
         c. Ruth "happened" to come upon the field belonging to Boaz
            - Ru 2:3
      2. Boaz inquires about the woman in the fields
         a. We see the respect between Boaz and his workers - Ru 2:4
         b. Boaz asks about the strange woman - Ru 2:5-7

   B. BOAZ EXTENDS KINDNESS TO RUTH...
      1. His initial kindness
         a. Boaz encourages her to glean in his field alone - Ru 2:8-9
         b. Ruth learns why he is so kind to her, a foreigner - Ru
            2:10-12
         c. Ruth is comforted by his kindness - Ru 2:13
      2. His extended kindness
         a. Shown to her at the noontime meal - Ru 2:14
         b. Shown by the instructions given his young men - Ru 2:15-16
         c. Allowing her to reap an ephah (30-50 pounds) of barley - Ru
            2:17

   C. NAOMI RESPONDS WITH GREAT JOY...
      1. Ruth shares her produce with Naomi
         a. Shows her mother-in-law what she has gleaned - Ru 2:18
         b. Gives Naomi her excess grain - Ru 2:18
      2. Naomi rejoices over God's kindness
         a. When Ruth tells her about Boaz - Ru 2:19
         b. Naomi blesses the Lord for His kindness - Ru 2:20
      3. Naomi counsels Ruth to continue
         a. When told of Boaz's instructions - Ru 2:21
         b. Encourages Ruth to stay with the women in Boaz's field - Ru
            2:22
         c. Which Ruth does till the end of the harvest, living with
            Naomi - Ru 2:23

["Ruth's Lowly Service:  Let Me Glean" provides for Naomi's care, and
opens the door to further blessings for Ruth.  As we continue to read,
we learn of...]

III. RUTH'S TENDER PLEA:  "TAKE YOUR MAIDSERVANT" (3:1-18)

   A. NAOMI'S ADVICE TO RUTH...
      1. Motivated by motherly concern
         a. Naomi loves her daughter-in-law as a daughter - Ru 3:1
         b. She is concerned for Ruth's security and well-being - Ru 3:1
      2. Prompted by providential circumstances
         a. Boaz, in whose field Ruth works, is a relative - Ru 3:2
         b. Boaz would be winnowing barley at the threshing floor - Ru
            3:2
      3. Devised to prompt a response
         a. Ruth told to wash, anoint herself, and put on her best
            garment - Ru 3:3
         b. Ruth told to wait, until Boaz has eaten and fallen asleep
            - Ru 3:4
         c. Ruth told to uncover Boaz's feet, lie down, await his
            response - Ru 3:4
         d. Ruth consents to Naomi's plan - Ru 3:5

   B. RUTH AT THE FEET OF BOAZ...
      1. Ruth follows Naomi's advice
         a. She goes to the threshing floor - Ru 3:6
         b. She does as instructed by her mother-in-law - Ru 3:6-7
      2. Boaz startled by Ruth's presence
         a. At midnight he is startled by a woman's presence - Ru 3:8
         b. Upon inquiry, Ruth identifies herself and makes her plea
            - Ru 3:9
      3. Boaz responds with gratitude, honor, and kindness
         a. He is grateful for her kindness - Ru 3:10
         b. He is concerned about preserving her honor - Ru 3:11-14
         c. He gives Ruth six ephahs of barley - Ru 3:15

   C. RUTH RETURNS TO NAOMI...
      1. Ruth reports to Naomi
         a. All that Boaz has done for her - Ru 3:16
         b. Explains the six ephahs of barley - Ru 3:17
      2. Naomi advises Ruth
         a. To wait and see how things turn out - Ru 3:18
         b. Confident Boaz will act immediately - Ru 3:18

["Ruth's Tender Plea:  Take Your Maidservant" sets the stage for the
happy solution to the misfortune experienced by Naomi and Ruth.  In the
final chapter of the story of Ruth, we read of...]

IV. RUTH'S MARITAL JOY:  "SHE BORE A SON" (4:1-22)

   A. BOAZ CONFRONTS A CLOSE RELATIVE...
      1. At the town gate
         a. Boaz meets a close relative at the gate - Ru 4:1
         b. Boaz calls together ten elders of the city - Ru 4:2
      2. Regarding Naomi's land
         a. Naomi had sold her husband's land - Ru 4:3
         b. Boaz encourages the close relative to redeem it, or Boaz
            will - Ru 4:4
      3. Who refuses to redeem the land
         a. Boaz points out the obligation involving Ruth - Ru 4:5
         b. Prompting the relative to refuse to redeem the land - Ru 4:6

   B. BOAZ REDEEMS NAOMI AND RUTH...
      1. The transaction for Naomi's land
         a. Confirmed by the removal of a sandal - Ru 4:7-8
         b. Witnessed by the ten elders and all the people - Ru 4:9
      2. The arrangement for Ruth's hand
         a. Boaz has acquired Ruth as wife - Ru 4:10
         b. Witnessed and blessed by townspeople and the elders - Ru
            4:11-12

   C. BOAZ MARRIES RUTH...
      1. They have a son named Obed
         a. With conception given by the Lord - Ru 4:13
         b. With praise and prayer offered by the women - Ru 4:14-15
         c. With nursing by Naomi - Ru 4:16
         d. With his name (Obed) given by the neighbor women - Ru 4:17
      2. Who will be grandfather to David
         a. As mentioned - Ru 4:17
         b. As illustrated in the genealogy of Perez - Ru 4:18-22

CONCLUSION

1. At the beginning of our study, we noted that the book of Ruth serves
   two purposes...
   a. How God rewards those who make wise spiritual choices and show
      steadfast familial loyalty
   b. How Ruth, a Moabitess, came to be an ancestor of David, and
      ultimately, of the Messiah - cf. Ru 4:21-22; Mt 1:5-6

2. The book also reveals examples of commendable character...
   a. The nobility of Ruth, who proved to be better to Naomi than seven
      sons!
   b. The nobility of Boaz, as an employer, and believer in God's
      promises and commands

Remember that such character was manifested during a dark period in
Israel's history:

   In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was
   right in his own eyes.  - Judg 21:25

May their example of character encourage us to do what is right, even
when we live among people who seem to be little different than those in
the days of the Judges...!
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