WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday August 21, 2011
DEPENDING ON THE COMMUNITY OF GOD
(Helping the needy is the duty of every Christian)
In Ruth chapter two, we are introduced to a man named Boaz, who is a relative of Naomi’s deceased husband, Elimelech. Boaz comes into the lives of Ruth and Naomi at a time when they had no one to care for them following the deaths of their husbands. Boaz was one of the most prominent, GODly men in the Israelite community at that time, and his relationship to Naomi’s deceased husband, qualified him as a “Kinsman Redeemer” under Old Testament family law (Leviticus 25:35-36).
This law requires, first, that a relative take care of another relative who has fallen on hard times financially, or otherwise, and can no longer support themselves. Also in this situation involving Boaz, Naomi, and Ruth, there is another duty of the Kinsman Redeemer that comes into play, and that is, the obligation of the redeemer to marry the childless widow of a relative for the purpose of producing an offspring to carry on the lineage of the dead spouse, and, to preserve their property (Ruth 4:1-6).
Old Testament Law also gave any persons who were poor, the right to gather any produce that was left in the fields or orchards of an owner, after they had completed their first picking of the harvest (Leviticus 19:9-10 & Deuteronomy 24:19-21). It was at the beginning of the barley harvest, and Ruth is no doubt, drawn by GOD, to the fields of Boaz after she had asked Naomi if she could go to the fields to glean leftovers from the harvesters. After Naomi consented, Ruth went out and, inadvertently, found herself working in the fields of Boaz, and while she is there, Boaz arrived from Bethlehem and came out to greet the harvesters, as was his custom.
Upon noticing Ruth, he asked his foreman who she was. The foreman replied that she was a woman from Moab who had come back to Judah with his relative, Naomi. He told Boaz that she had asked if she could glean the leftovers from the harvest, and, that he had graciously allowed her to do so.
Boaz went over to Ruth and invited her to continue on working with them. He also told her that he had already warned the young men not to bother her. Ruth thanked him warmly and informed him of her foreign roots. He told Ruth that he was already aware that she was a foreigner from the land of Moab, however, he was more impressed with her loyalty to her mother-in-law, Naomi, and, by her choosing to come to live in a foreign land among complete strangers. He said to her, “May the LORD, the GOD of Israel, under WHOSE wings you have come to take refuge, reward you fully”.
On that day Ruth was able to gather up about 40 pounds of grain, an unusually high amount for a gleaner. When she returned home to Naomi, Naomi knew that someone had purposely helped her young daughter-in-law to gather such a large amount. And when she discovered that that person was Boaz, she encouraged Ruth to continue working only in his fields. Here we see that Naomi has already begun to hope and plan for Ruth’s future in her new chosen community of Israel.
When we leave our old lives behind and come to dwell in the community of GOD, we can always count on a warm welcome and acceptance. In fact, JESUS has already accepted the obligation to “redeem” us, and to welcome us, despite the terribly high price that HE had to pay in advance, on the cross, and despite the terrible things that we may have already done in our past.
GOD is a Rewarder to anyone who earnestly seeks HIM through their acceptance of CHRIST JESUS, and, HE will never leave us to hunger or thirst when we do. HE will provide for all of our needs, especially when HE sees us showing unselfish love and kindness to those who are in need.
It was King David who wrote, “The steps of the GODly are directed by the LORD. HE delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will not fall, for the LORD holds them by the hand. Once I was young, and now I am old, yet I have never seen the GODly forsaken, nor seen their children begging for bread” (Psalm 37:23-25) (NLT).
A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander
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