Refresh & Restore — August 19, 2021

We are continuing in our But GOD series by looking at life and death in Ephesians 2:1-10. You can find the written devotion here: https://justkeithharris.com/2021/09/15/refresh-restore-september-16-2021/
  1. But GOD — Episode 3
  2. But GOD — Episode 2
  3. But GOD — Episode 1
  4. Sabbath Rest & Teacher Tired
  5. Redeeming Love: A R&R Bible Study of Ruth — FINALE/Epilogue

This week, instead of a written devotion, John Goldwater and I looked at the blessings and genealogy at the end of the book of Ruth and discussed what they show us about God’s redemptive plan. It is our prayer that this kind of gospel conversation helps you to see how God’s redemptive plan involved ordinary sinners just like us and how God continues to do so today!


Keith Harris: Welcome to this week’s Refresh & Restore [devotion]! We have a special guest today; John Goldwater, say, “Hello”.

John Goldwater: Hello!

Keith: This is going to act as an epilogue to our Ruth series. So, I’m going to read our Scripture passage, and we’re going to have some interesting conversation if nothing else.

11 Then all the people who were at the gate and the elders said, “We are witnesses. May the Lord make the woman, who is coming into your house, like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the house of Israel. May you act worthily in Ephrathah and be renowned in Bethlehem, 12 and may your house be like the house of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah, because of the offspring that the Lord will give you by this young woman.”[1]

Ruth 4:11-12

18 Now these are the generations of Perez: Perez fathered Hezron, 19 Hezron fathered Ram, Ram fathered Amminadab, 20 Amminadab fathered Nahshon, Nahshon fathered Salmon, 21 Salmon fathered Boaz, Boaz fathered Obed, 22 Obed fathered Jesse, and Jesse fathered David.[2]

Ruth 4:18-22

If you have been listening/reading, you know we say we are affiliated with Christ Community Church – a cool place. So, John, whatever this turns out as is what we will have.

John: Awesome. I’m excited! Thanks for having me.

Keith: You’re welcome! As we look at this, one of the things I wanted to talk about is how at the end of the book of Ruth, you’ve got this fairly weird blessing that ends up pointing to the genealogy of Jesus, specifically David and Ruth. So, I’m going to just read a section, and, then, we’ll just kind of talk about it. You kick off whatever you think, and we’ll pause every so-often.

John: Awesome.

Keith: The first thing, you’ve got these elders, they’ve just seen Boaz pass the sandal with the unnamed not-the-redeemer, and looking at how Boaz is now going to be the redeemer. They say, “May the Lord make the woman, who is coming into your house, like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the house of Israel.” So, talk to me about that picture of Jacob, Rachel, and Leah.

John: Yeah, Jacob, Rachel, and Leah – and their cohorts, their handmaids who also added to the family – were extremely important to the nation of Israel for building up the twelve patriarchs. But it doesn’t happen in a way where we would say it’s traditionally good. It’s not a great model for home life, marriage, domestic stuff; like we would suppose they would. They’re in the Bible – they’re wives, they’re leaders – they have good qualities, but it was a dysfunctional home. Usually we think that makes us disqualified, but it seems like that wasn’t the case for Rachel and Leah. 

Keith: Right. It’s definitely not the thing where if we were talking to our kids today or to someone who is about to get married, we’d say, “Wow! We hope you have a long happy marriage of our great-grandparent!” In this case, it’s not. So, in this genealogy at the end of this time of the Judges, everyone is doing what “was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). You definitely see a picture of a whole situation that amasses on other situations like you say with Jacob, Rachel, Leah, the handmaidens, getting back in with Esau and everything co-mingled. It’s just a huge mess.

John: Yeah. It’s a big mess. When I preached on it, I called it “Putting the Fun in Disfunctional”. And we just don’t think of Bible characters that way. It’s pretty cool that they’re in this blessing like this because it kind of tips God’s hand to where He says, you know, “I know what they’ve done; I know who they are.” And, yet, He chose to work through them – with them. That’s pretty awesome.

Keith: It is. And that’s definitely a theme that we see in the book of Ruth that none of the characters…. And we’re very careful to say characters and not heroes, necessarily. Boaz definitely was a – his name was a literal pillar of the temple (1 Kings 7:21), but he himself was imperfect. His mom, Rahab, was a prostitute, but God redeemed that whole situation. You get that beautiful picture. Which moves on to this blessing that, I have to think probably did not make sense to them at the time. Like, maybe God’s Spirit? What do you think?

John: Well, for sure, God certainly inspires His Word, and I think that’s still true for us today in the sense that we may say things and are not quite sure of the whole significance of it. And the significance of the genealogy that you read, they would have no clue. They were just living life. The fact that God was shaping them and their family, as imperfect as they were, to bring out the perfect and only Messiah for mankind. That’s pretty mind-boggling.

Keith: Absolutely. So, you look as God’s Spirit moves on them – at the time, again, they didn’t know that what they were saying was even going to be a part of God’s Word, but they move from there with Rachel and Leah to “may your house be like the house of Perez, whom Tamar bore to [her father-in-law] Judah”.  Ummm….

John: Yeah, we’re calling DHS on them. You know what I’m saying? You’re calling child protective services on them. This is…something went horribly wrong in the Judah-Tamar story. And, because God is our redeemer, He takes our mess makes it a masterpiece, and it’s incredible….

Keith: …and chooses that to be the entire tribe, the entire basis, for that lineage. The entire family tree literally hinges on Israel to Judah. And there were other things that we might be tempted to say, we don’t know that it’s worse, per se, from a human perspective, what Judah did, but God knows what He’s doing. And it’s probably best we don’t get to pick in these situations.

So, you’ve got Rachel and Leah, and Tamar – talking about redeemers, the whole Boaz situation, Judah never should have been in the position to be in that. RIght, he had promised the third son after the first son had died, and then the “issue” with the second one. {John laughs.} Yeah, you can look that one up in Genesis. 

John: That’s right. Look up the word “issue” in Genesis.

Keith: Yes. {Both laugh.} We’re not going….

John: We’re not going to tell you that. You have to look that one up yourself. 

Keith: Yes, we’re not going to go into that. But there wasn’t a redeemer. He says he’s going to promise [Tamar] his son, and, then, Tamar has her people watching Judah while Judah’s people are watching Tamar. They both try to catch each other at the same time, and they, well, they caught each other. And had twins.

John: Wow. Tamar was in a desperate situation, and, you know, she felt like her back was against the wall. Her father-in-law was not – and he wasn’t keeping his word. He was at least very delayed in it. And, nonetheless, this is who God chose. This is the shaping of the genealogy. It doesn’t look perfect to us, but it was perfect because that’s the way God wanted it. It’s pretty wild.

Keith: It is. Like I said, we probably have more to identify with Jacob, more to identify with Judah, with Tamar – our backs against the wall, making the best decisions we think we know how. But we keep running back to that same problem as the end of the book of Judges: “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his eyes” (Judges 21:25). Ultimately, that wraps us up. We’ll take a break, and come back and talk about the branch of the genealogy from David’s side.

Alright, so when we look at this next part, we’ve already read the genealogy at the end of Ruth 4. I want to shift now and just, kind of, hit it from a different direction.


The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David the king.

And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah….[3]

Matthew 1:1-6

You see a lot of familiar names that we’ve already talked about. You have Jacob father of Judah. We know the whole situation: Jacob, Rachel, Leah, Judah, Tamar; it even mentions all of that. I think it’s cool. I think you said when we were talking [earlier] that we, being on the other side of this get to see the full story. Why don’t you talk to that just a little bit, the full side knowing that this leads to Jesus.

John: It’s really awesome. It really shows, in my opinion, that God is in control, and it gives us a reason to trust. Whether our family history is messed up, you know, in the day-to-day life, we see the mess, we feel the pain, we smell the stink of what’s going on in this world. But there’s a bigger Story. God has a plan. God is weaving together a beautiful tapestry of lives and purpose, and we can’t see it all. 

So, we look at the genealogy, and it has a sense of being clean – being sanitized – if you just look at it and read through it. But when you stop, like we have and you tap on certain areas, you go: oh, man. It got even worse when we got in the New Testament because we bring in David who father’s Solomon by the “wife of Uriah”. And it doesn’t go into, well, who’s the wife of Uriah? And the sinful mess that brought that about. But we see that God used it. God used it all. Now, we don’t – I always have to caution myself when I think of other folks. We don’t have to make any excuse for sin. We don’t need to go out making our own mess. We live in a pretty messy place, and it just happens. But we don’t need to be fatalistic because a lot of folks get that way too now. You know: well, I can’t do it, my parents, upbringing, I just don’t know what I could be good for….

Keith: Or, what’s the use…? I’m going to mess up again.

John: That’s right – just throw in the towel. A genealogy like this, rightly understood, really can make a big difference in this. The first two names: {this is the book…}. These are like our big hero names, and we know the dirt on them. We know the fear and the lying that Abraham, the father of faith, got caught up in. We know the sin of David, the immorality, the cover-up, betrayal, and murder that he got involved in….

Keith: …with the “wife of Uriah”….

John: …OF Uriah, who is in the genealogy of Jesus.

Keith: With that epithet.

John: Yeah. It’s right there. It’s like the both/and. We’re living in our own time, like these people were. Again, we see the mess, we feel the pain, we go through the struggle, but when you see it in the genealogy, it’s like you see it from God’s perspective. God says, yeah, I still used all that for my glory. 

Keith: Right. And I think that is a good example. One of the things you said was sometimes when we read through the genealogies we get this sanitized view. I think part of it is that we don’t…read through the genealogies. We know the parts. Sometimes we have a very Precious Moments, children’s bible view of these things when God has an accurate view of us. 

We’ve been coming back to this verse a lot at Jesus Saves Bro and at Christ Community, I guess over the last month, 1 John 2:1-2: “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin…”  – that’s our ideal, sanitized view – “but if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.”

John: That’s good news!

Keith: It is. You should make that a catch-phrase.

John: That could be a catch-phrase. Hey, that’s good news. That’s something worth telling the whole world about. When we say for folks, just leave me alone or I’ve tried Jesus – tried church – I’ve tried all these things…. It’s like, maybe you just need to let God do what God [does]. He saves. He redeems. Whatever mess you’re in, I daresay, I know I’ve had my share of mess. Then, I read David’s mess, and I feel like I’m just a baby-messer. I’ve just got baby mess in comparison. 

Keith: And I think that’s a good view of it because multiple times in the Scripture – in the Old Testament it was prophesies of David that when basically…Samuel’s talking to Saul saying, hey, your kingship is over; God’s going to send me to get a man who’s after His own heart (1 Samuel 13:14). Then, we see David – he kills Goliath – all these things that give him that hero status – but all the while there’s no perfection. There’s humanity. And it’s in that promise that God made [to] David that one day somebody would be on your throne. I mean, just looking at that, you follow the history of Israel…after Solomon, the kingdom splits, and then, ultimately, after they end up in the exile because of more humanity – more sin – you have people in the lineage of David [like] Zerrubabel who comes back and is just a governor. Like, they’re rebuilding Jerusalem but they don’t….

John: There’s no king.

Keith: There’s no king, there’s no throne.

John: There’s no wall for a minute. No temple. I mean, they’ve got to rebuild from scratch.

Keith: But one thing they don’t have to rebuild is the promise of God – the redemption of God. They didn’t need Zerrubabel sitting on a throne. They’ve had all of David’s grandsons and all of that mess. Now, they’re looking for that Messiah-King.

John: Yeah, who’s going to endure forever. He’s going to be the King over God’s Kingdom forever.

And God used imperfect people – very imperfect – to bring that about, to bring His plan, to bring His promise to fruition. That’s awesome. That’s just the awesome thing about God [being] worthy, He’s brag-worthy. You don’t boast except for in the Lord. Let him who boasts boast in the Lord (2 Corinthians 10:17). We can say, Lord, you didn’t let our weakness spoil Your plan. You didn’t let our sinfulness – our mess – ruin Your promise. And that’s stout. That’s frank and awesome.

Keith: He is willing to let us participate. He redeems us. There’s the verse that L.G. quotes all the time, Ephesians 2:10: For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

That He chose us when we were dead in our trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1-2), knowing full well the gamut when we were enemies – when we weren’t even on the same team. And He died for us, and knew what He alone could do with us. It’s cool.

John: It is cool. In going over these genealogies and looking at the people, to me, it’s always been a cool thing. You know, I guess I’m interested – maybe you, have you ever thought, God shows us these things about some of the people – I wonder what’s the dirt on the other people? You know, we don’t know all these other guys. We assume that maybe there wasn’t dirt, but no…. We know they had dirt, too; it’s just not listed.

Keith: I think that goes back to the unnamed redeemer. It’s tempting to look at it as cut-and-dry; like, oh, you’re the closer redeemer. Obviously, there was some play there. Elimilech didn’t have a brother sitting in the wings. He didn’t have a brother who was supposed to redeem. You go back and look at Deuteronomy 25, past the brother, there ain’t a list. There ain’t a genealogy. Someone could redeem, but none of them had to. And so it’s tempting to want to judge the unnamed guy harshly because he didn’t want to be a redeemer.

John: Strangely enough, he could have already had a wife that he loved and didn’t want to take on another. Imagine that, right?!

Keith: Or some unknown situation….

John: …not enough money, not wealthy enough….

Keith: What makes the lack of the name there is that he didn’t participate in the redemption. Ultimately, that’s going to be the difference. Not us participating in redeeming but us partaking in the redemption Jesus Christ offers.

John: A door was open to him, and he didn’t take it. We don’t know why.

Keith: We know they didn’t give his name. And they make a huge point to not say his name.

John: Hey, you could have been used to be a part of the genealogy. That’s like life though. We don’t always know. We don’t know what God’s doing. For this guy, he just missed – he was so close…. Again, he might have had very legit reasons.

Keith: And, obviously, God had a very specific plan for all of this. You go back and you look…Rahab….

John: He wanted Rahab’s boy in there!

Keith: And that’s another cool thing – we looked at it early on in the [series] where we realize that Naomi’s prayer for Ruth is that God “deal kindly” with her. Go back and look in Joshua, and Rahab’s deal with the spies was, hey, deal kindly with me. That hesed….

John: There’s plenty of hesed in Ephrathah.

Keith: That symmetry that God agreed – deal kindly; God agreed [again] – deal kindly. And then you get that whole cool picture.

John: One of the things we’re studying in the book of 2 Kings right now – that we notice is that God tells these guys things. Like He told Jehu, you’re going to have four generations to reign on the throne and when that was accomplished, the writer tells us that was the fourth one so God’s Word is fulfilled. And so much of Scripture is like that. God says it, and we see the fulfillment of it. God’s never going to forget anything. You know, if He promised to be kind to a prostitute in Jericho, you know, He’s going to keep His Word all the way down the line. That’s just God.

Keith: And, I think it was W.A. Criswell who kind of did a little play on the scarlet cord that was tied to signify, here’s where we are…. It’s really easy to see that scarlet cord of Christ work through God’s redemption.

John: It is, all the way through the Scripture.

Keith: And it’s cool that we get to participate.

John: Thank You, God.

Keith: Amen.

We’ll do one more little, short section after…break.

For our little wrap-up section, John and I have been chatting, talking about this next section. And one of the things that kind of comes just from our separate, yet shared, experiences is that it’s easy to convince ourselves that our failures are catastrophic. So, we want to kind of bring this back in because we’ve been dancing around the idea – and just haven’t said it yet – we are regular people. And you who are listening/reading are regular people; you have sin and failures, but, if you trust in Christ, He is the same God who dealt kindly with all of these that we’ve talked about. So, we’ve got some verses to kind of wrap it up and bring it together.

11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.[4]

Titus 2:11-14

You look at that first part, and we mess that up quick – self-controlled, upright, godly lives. Well, no checks there. But “waiting for our blessed hope”…. So, talk to us about this, John, and kind of bring it together so we can understand.

John:                    This is the lynchpin. We look at our sins; we look at our failures, our mess, and we do think we’ve blown it. And we have blown it for ourselves. We’ve blown it in our performance. We’ve blown it in our morality. We’ve blown it, maybe, physically. Maybe you’re in a place where you’ve hurt yourself through stupid acts. But nothing that we can do is greater than what God has done. We can’t undo God’s plan for us – God’s redemptive plan. That’s what we got from the genealogies – the “glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ”. Well, His first appearing came through really regular people like us – sinful, messy folks. And His second appearing is coming to save folks like us – to rescue us. He died on the cross and rose from the grave in the gospel to save us. He’s coming. It’s a rescue mission. He’s coming to save us, not because we’re worthy or because we have everything in a row, our ducks in a row.

I’ve got a sign in my office at The Foundry that says, “I don’t have ducks. I don’t have a row. I have squirrels, and they’re everywhere.”

Keith:                    The good news is, so is Jesus. {Both laugh}

John:                    Jesus, He’s the one! So, when we look at ourselves, and we get trapped catastrophizing…we make everything so dramatic. It’s as if we’re discounting what God has come to do and what God can do and what He’s going to do.

Keith:                   And has done. And is doing!

John:                    That’s right. And, if anything, we can take courage and say, “Don’t quit. Don’t give up. Keep trusting the Lord.”

Hope is a valid strategy going forward. I hope that my God and Savior – and I don’t say hope as in I’m doubting, I’m saying my hope of any kind of redemption and eternal life all is firmly set on how Christ is good enough. And how He’s big enough, not me, not on my love, not even on my faith. A lot of people say, well, you put your faith in God; well, God gave me faith. That’s a gracious gift from God in the beginning. Everything comes down to God is our Savior – the Savior of real people, messy people, sinners who have blown it bad. And He is the One. That’s good news!

Keith:                    Man, it’s good news! And again, to bring this together, remember we’ve talked about this multiple times today and throughout this series: a Jerichoan prostitute asked for them to deal kindly with her; an Israelite widow prayed over her Moabite daughters-in-law, and said may God deal kindly with you and give you a husband.

You get this beautiful picture of Orpah who did nothing wrong, she went back home just as her mother-in-law bid her to do. She was obedient. But Ruth who was obedient to a higher thing, God was working in her life and says where you go I will go, where you lodge I will lodge, your people will be my people, your God will be my God. You get that picture from Revelation 21 when Jesus comes back, when our “blessed hope” is not distant but realized and we’re in His presence. All of the things that we struggle with, they’re not going to just magically come untrue; that last tear is going to be wiped away by His hand. Now, it’s not, okay, I’m going to be your people. It’ll be like I’m here with you as my people. I’m here with you as your God.

John:                    That, especially that Revelation picture, that reveals what God’s heart has been the whole time. You know, He created people in the garden for fellowship. We fell. We rebelled. We betrayed. We sinned. But God said, I’m not giving up on what my original plan is; I’m going to dwell with you. I’m going to be your God. You’re going to be my people. And  we see in the book of Revelation that happens. He makes it happen.

Keith:                    And Jesus was part of that original plan. And none of this surprises Him.

John:                    We who are looking at the Word and trusting God can afford, like Ruth, to go forward – to go forward in faith, forward in love, forward in hope. Again, you mentioned Orpah, did she do wrong? No, but just think about it superficially…she went backwards, and Ruth went forwards. We make those decisions. I would encourage all of us – I try to do the same for myself – go forward with God. Walk forward with God even if its scary and you don’t think you’re worthy, remembering that God ultimately has a plan for us to be with Him forever through Christ.

Keith:                    I think this is a good time – and we do this often in the devotions, all the time at Jesus Saves Bro, all the time at Christ Community, where we let people know how to receive that redemption.

Romans 10:9 –

because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.[5]

                              It’s just that simple. If you’re listening/reading today, that’s not an accident, but, if you’re placing your hope in what you can do, think about some of the not-heroes that we’ve talked about and the One hero, Jesus Christ, that we’ve pointed to. As always, if you want to talk or have questions, you can contact us through the website. We’d love to talk to you. Or come check us out Grenada, MS – 2950 Carrollton Road – Christ Community Church, and you can talk to John Goldwater in person. Or any number of people who will be absolutely glad to tell you how Jesus is their blessed hope.


[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Ru 4:11–12.

[2] Ibid., Ru 4:18–22.

[3] Ibid., Mt 1:1–6.

[4] Ibid., Tt 2:11–14.

[5] Ibid., Ro 10:9.

Refresh & Restore — August 12, 2021

We are continuing in our But GOD series by looking at life and death in Ephesians 2:1-10. You can find the written devotion here: https://justkeithharris.com/2021/09/15/refresh-restore-september-16-2021/
  1. But GOD — Episode 3
  2. But GOD — Episode 2
  3. But GOD — Episode 1
  4. Sabbath Rest & Teacher Tired
  5. Redeeming Love: A R&R Bible Study of Ruth — FINALE/Epilogue

Now Boaz had gone up to the gate and sat down there. And behold, the redeemer, of whom Boaz had spoken, came by. So Boaz said, “Turn aside, friend; sit down here.” And he turned aside and sat down. And he took ten men of the elders of the city and said, “Sit down here.” So they sat down. Then he said to the redeemer, “Naomi, who has come back from the country of Moab, is selling the parcel of land that belonged to our relative Elimelech. So I thought I would tell you of it and say, ‘Buy it in the presence of those sitting here and in the presence of the elders of my people.’ If you will redeem it, redeem it. But if you will not, tell me, that I may know, for there is no one besides you to redeem it, and I come after you.” And he said, “I will redeem it.” Then Boaz said, “The day you buy the field from the hand of Naomi, you also acquire Ruth the Moabite, the widow of the dead, in order to perpetuate the name of the dead in his inheritance.” Then the redeemer said, “I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I impair my own inheritance. Take my right of redemption yourself, for I cannot redeem it.”

Now this was the custom in former times in Israel concerning redeeming and exchanging: to confirm a transaction, the one drew off his sandal and gave it to the other, and this was the manner of attesting in Israel. So when the redeemer said to Boaz, “Buy it for yourself,” he drew off his sandal. Then Boaz said to the elders and all the people, “You are witnesses this day that I have bought from the hand of Naomi all that belonged to Elimelech and all that belonged to Chilion and to Mahlon. 10 Also Ruth the Moabite, the widow of Mahlon, I have bought to be my wife, to perpetuate the name of the dead in his inheritance, that the name of the dead may not be cut off from among his brothers and from the gate of his native place. You are witnesses this day.” 11 Then all the people who were at the gate and the elders said, “We are witnesses. May the Lord make the woman, who is coming into your house, like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the house of Israel. May you act worthily in Ephrathah and be renowned in Bethlehem, 12 and may your house be like the house of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah, because of the offspring that the Lord will give you by this young woman.”

13 So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife. And he went in to her, and the Lord gave her conception, and she bore a son. 14 Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without a redeemer, and may his name be renowned in Israel! 15 He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age, for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.” 16 Then Naomi took the child and laid him on her lap and became his nurse. 17 And the women of the neighborhood gave him a name, saying, “A son has been born to Naomi.” They named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.[1]

Ruth 4:1-17

Greetings, Sojourner!

It has been a few weeks since we have last been in our study of God’s Redeeming Love in the book of Ruth, so I am glad to get to return to it today! We last saw Ruth and Naomi discussing Boaz’s promise to ensure that they would be redeemed – if not by him then by the redeemer closer than him (ch 3:12-13). I love how, for the first time since all her losses and throughout her time of grief, we get to see a glimpse of Naomi (Sweet) again where there was only Mara (Bitter). In fact, the last thing we saw in chapter three was an example of her faith and hope in what was to come: “Wait, my daughter [she told Ruth], until you learn how this matter turns out, for the man will not rest but settle the matter today” (ch 3:18).

This position of faith is important for us as we look at this narrative. First, it is important because all reading in God’s Word needs to be understood from a position of faith rather than a mere intellectual exercise or simply reading comprehension; it is, after all, not just a book but the Scriptures that are “God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16) and contain all that can be known about God. Second, it is through faith that we can see the beauty, depth, and breadth of God’s redemption for all people as He displays how He had been working behind the scenes in the lives of the clan of Elimelech, showing that He, indeed, is their God and King!

So, join me as we walk through the final scenes in Ruth that display God’s redeeming love, specifically in the lives of these seemingly ordinary individuals while illustrating the especially spectacular love of our great God and Savior! We will be able to see this in both the interactions between Boaz and their unnamed relative and in their beautiful new reality when redemption finally happens.

Do You, Redeemer, Take This Woman?

I have titled this section similarly to the wording of the vows in most contemporary wedding ceremonies. Typically, you will hear the pastor ask: do you {groom} take {bride} to be your lawfully wedded wife? In the case of Naomi and Ruth’s redemption, it was a bit more complicated. You see, there was more than meets our contemporary eyes.

Marriage to Ruth would be what is known as a levirate marriage:

“A law and custom in ancient Israel that if a man died without sons his brother would take the widow for a wife in order to provide male offspring for his dead brother. The children then would be the heirs of their dead father’s land and possessions and the family line would not be broken.”[2]

This was typically meant to honor both lineage and the keeping of the land (see Deuteronomy 25:5-10). In the case of Ruth and Naomi, this would involve taking possession of Elimilech’s land and marrying Ruth; however, this means both marrying a Moabite, the first-born child belonging to Mahlon, and possession of Elimilech’s land reverting to “Mahlon’s child” when he came of age. This would require selflessness and an understanding that it would not be a lucrative long-term investment for the redeemer.  

Boaz did what he promised and followed suit with what is written in Deuteronomy 25. He went to the city gate and waited for the closer relative to see whether he desired to be the redeemer. One thing that stands out in the narrative is that this relative’s name is never mentioned. Sinclair Ferguson holds to the idea that his name is not mentioned because he “will have no role in the advance of God’s kingdom” since he “refuses to fulfil his covenant obligations”[3]. Whether or not this is the case, it is clear that God did not intend for his name to be recorded – as clear as his desire for someone else to take his place in redeeming Ruth and Naomi.

At the gate, Boaz meets him and discusses the situation. All the elders of Bethlehem are witnesses. Boaz first tests the waters by asking if he would be interested in having the land (vv. 3-4), offering the opportunity to buy it right them. The anonymous relative sees the value in the land and the increase it could bring to his financial portfolio and agrees to redeem. Then, Boaz reminds him that he would also “acquire Ruth the Moabite, the widow of the dead, in order to perpetuate the name of the dead in his inheritance” (v. 5). Sadly, the relative sees marrying Ruth as something that would “impair [his] own inheritance” and asks that Boaz take his place. He chose “what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25), just as Elimilech had done years before, and missed out on the blessings of redeeming – in being a part of what God had planned.[4]

I do not want you to miss the sadness and the beauty in this scene. The one who was supposed to be the redeemer saw no value in redeeming even though God laid this out in His Word. Imagine the heartbreak that would have been solidified in Naomi’s heart should redemption be denied her. Imagine the inferiority that Ruth would have felt. Imagine how destitute they would have been with no way to provide for their livelihood. Thankfully, we do not have to imagine, because Boaz wanted to redeem them. He had no qualms about marrying Ruth. In the same way, there is nothing but sadness on the horizon for sinners like us if we wait on the world or people to redeem us or love us, yet there is a Savior “who loves [us] and gave Himself for [us]” (Galatians 2:20). And the redemption that takes place in the lives of these seemingly insignificant people is exactly what God uses to bring us Jesus!

Redemption at Last

I plan on talking about the blessing of the elders and the women in the community next week in a sort of epilogue to this study, so we will move on to the big moment: the marriage!

It seems odd to say marriage instead of wedding, but that is what is emphasized in the text. Boaz did just what he said he would do and married Ruth. Then, “the Lord gave her conception” (v. 13). This is important because, no matter how happy we are for Ruth no longer being alone, we must be happier that God’s will was being carried out in her life and in these circumstances! Three chapters before, Ruth had been a childless widow in a foreign land but now is neither anymore. Three chapters before, Naomi lost both of her children, her husband, and her home and found her heart empty and bitter, but now she “took the child and laid him on her lap and became his nurse” (v. 16). There is no doubt in my mind that Mara (Bitter) was long gone as the cries of that baby boy gave way to joy – to Sweet once again – in her life.

As far as Ruth, Boaz, and Naomi knew, God had visited them just as He had Bethlehem in Ruth 1:6. But we know the fuller and better truth: one day Ruth’s son Obed would marry and have a son of his own named Jesse. Then, Jesse would do the same and have a son named David, and David would be a king in Israel and a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14, Acts 13:22). Then, one day centuries later, God Himself would be born of that same lineage in the person of “our Great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us to redeem us” (Titus 2:13-14).  

While Ruth and Naomi did not know the fulness of what God was putting together in their lives, their hearts were no less full because they had been redeemed. It can be the same for us today!

Just as God worked and loved and redeemed these regular people in their times of trouble, He still works and moves in lives like theirs (ours) today. Maybe you look at your life and think that no one cares, but I assure you that there is a God who cares for you very much (1 Peter 5:7). He cared – no, He loved you enough that He would choose death on your behalf (2 Corinthians 5:21) when no one on earth would even attempt it (Romans 5:7). All one must do to receive redemption is to “confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead” (Romans 10:9), and you will be saved – you can be redeemed.

I do not know your situation or your history, but I would love to talk with you if you have questions or would simply like to have prayer. There is hope to be experienced in Jesus Christ, and it is my prayer that you find and experience it for yourself!


[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Ru 4:1–17.

[2] David Witthoff, ed., The Lexham Cultural Ontology Glossary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2014).

[3] Sinclair Ferguson, Faithful God: An Exposition of the Book of Ruth (Wales, UK: Bryntirion Press, 2013).

[4] The sandal ceremony has some interesting facts, history, and cross-references, and I would love to discuss it if you find yourself interested. But I do not want to take the focus off of redemption in this devotion.

Refresh & Restore — July 22, 2021

We are continuing in our But GOD series by looking at life and death in Ephesians 2:1-10. You can find the written devotion here: https://justkeithharris.com/2021/09/15/refresh-restore-september-16-2021/
  1. But GOD — Episode 3
  2. But GOD — Episode 2
  3. But GOD — Episode 1
  4. Sabbath Rest & Teacher Tired
  5. Redeeming Love: A R&R Bible Study of Ruth — FINALE/Epilogue

Then Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, “My daughter, should I not seek rest for you, that it may be well with you? Is not Boaz our relative, with whose young women you were? See, he is winnowing barley tonight at the threshing floor. Wash therefore and anoint yourself, and put on your cloak and go down to the threshing floor, but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking. But when he lies down, observe the place where he lies. Then go and uncover his feet and lie down, and he will tell you what to do.” And she replied, “All that you say I will do.”

So she went down to the threshing floor and did just as her mother-in-law had commanded her. And when Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of grain. Then she came softly and uncovered his feet and lay down. At midnight the man was startled and turned over, and behold, a woman lay at his feet! He said, “Who are you?” And she answered, “I am Ruth, your servant. Spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer.” 10 And he said, “May you be blessed by the Lord, my daughter. You have made this last kindness greater than the first in that you have not gone after young men, whether poor or rich. 11 And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you all that you ask, for all my fellow townsmen know that you are a worthy woman. 12 And now it is true that I am a redeemer. Yet there is a redeemer nearer than I. 13 Remain tonight, and in the morning, if he will redeem you, good; let him do it. But if he is not willing to redeem you, then, as the Lord lives, I will redeem you. Lie down until the morning.”

14 So she lay at his feet until the morning, but arose before one could recognize another. And he said, “Let it not be known that the woman came to the threshing floor.” 15 And he said, “Bring the garment you are wearing and hold it out.” So she held it, and he measured out six measures of barley and put it on her. Then she went into the city. 16 And when she came to her mother-in-law, she said, “How did you fare, my daughter?” Then she told her all that the man had done for her, 17 saying, “These six measures of barley he gave to me, for he said to me, ‘You must not go back empty-handed to your mother-in-law.’” 18 She replied, “Wait, my daughter, until you learn how the matter turns out, for the man will not rest but will settle the matter today.”[1]

Ruth 3:1-18

Greetings, Sojourner!

Perhaps it is the fact that my day job is an English teacher or maybe I am just a romantic at heart, but I am loving studying the book of Ruth. I have enjoyed getting to write and help others study the Bible, but looking at this narrative – this story – in God’s Word checks all the boxes for me to thoroughly enjoy (what I already enjoy immensely) even more!

Getting to look at how God moved in the lives of these ordinary people is romantic in and of itself. There is something touching about seeing the way that the King of kings – the almighty God of the universe – stoops from the lofty heights of His heaven and intervenes in the mundane. There is a romance to His redemption: a King leaving His throne to rescue His beloved Bride. And if He cared to do such things so many years ago, we can rest assured that our God, Jesus Christ is “the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8) and is still redeeming and rescuing.

As I said, this reads like a story and flows like a film. It is engaging. The narrator draws our attention to certain things. The focus has already been on Naomi and Ruth’s close relative – and “worthy man” (ch 2:1) – Boaz. He had heard of Ruth’s devotion to Naomi and engaged himself in their story by protecting Ruth and ensuring that she was able to gather more than enough to support her little family. Because of these events surrounding Boaz, those two ladies who viewed themselves as empty began to be filled with hesed – the loving-kindness of God through the actions of His people, namely Boaz.

I love the way that Tony Merida lays out Ruth 3:

“We read these events like a movie in which time slows down in view of the risk and the possible consequences of Ruth’s actions…the plan, proposal, promise, and provision….”[2]

We will use the way he framed this chapter to launch our look at Naomi’s plan for Ruth and Boaz, Ruth’s proposal in the threshing floor, and how God had a plan for redeeming Ruth and Naomi – and has a plan to redeem people even today.

Naomi’s Plan

Before we dive too far into Naomi’s plan, I want to say as the father of a daughter that I would not recommend such a course of action. This is a good time to mention that just because we find events in the Bible does not mean that we should live them out in our own lives. There are parts of the Bible that are prescriptive – that tell us what to do and how to live (or how not to do or live). This ain’t that. The book of Ruth is descriptive. It describes. And what a description it gives of Naomi’s plan for redemption – thank God He knows what is best when it comes to redemption and does not rely on the plans of hurried humans!

In the beginning of chapter 3, Naomi assesses the way that Boaz has come into their lives and recognizes the potential that such a “worthy man” could have in giving Ruth the “rest” that she had prayed for. I think we see a bit of the “when the Judges ruled” mentality from chapter 1 because Naomi seems to be taking things into her own hands again. Remember during this time Israel “did what was right in [their] own eyes” (Judges 21:25), which led to the deaths of Naomi’s husband and sons in the land of Moab. Here again, she hatches a very risky plan, and the risk falls on Ruth and could have very well outweighed the reward of redemption.

She told Ruth to go out under the cover of night to the threshing floor where Boaz would be working late (v. 2). Before she left, she was to take a bath and put on perfume (“anoint yourself” – v. 3). However, she was not supposed to approach Boaz until he had finished his supper, drank his wine, and laid down to sleep. Once he had fallen asleep, she told Ruth to “go and uncover his feet and lie down”; after that, she said that Boaz would tell her what to do (v. 4).

What a risk! She told her beautiful daughter to go lay down by a sleeping man and that said man would then tell her what to do next…. My dad-heart shudders. We have already seen in chapter 2 that there was risk of Ruth being assaulted as a single foreigner, even in the fields owned by Boaz!

Now, I want to lay things out as honestly as I possibly can here. There are those who try to take this whole “uncover his feet” business and chalk it up to some obscure cultural custom. If it is, it does not appear anywhere else in Scripture or in Jewish history/customs. So, that seems to be a cop out. Also, there are those who would like to sensualize it. The Bible does not shy away from showing people in their true light. If they sin sexually (like Boaz’s great-grandson David and great-great-grandson Solomon or the head of the Moabite tribe Lot), they are portrayed as such without making obscure remarks like “uncover his feet” (even though the word translated “feet” here is translated as “legs” in Daniel 10:6 and threshing floors were known to harbor prostitution from time to time as in Hosea 9:1).

While this situation had a risk of turning into sex outside of marriage – fornication (which would never be God’s plan), God had greater plans than Naomi and had already done a work in Boaz. We should also note the danger in making our own plans that flirt with dangerous territory since we are more likely to walk with God in integrity when we “abstain from all appearance of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:22 KJV) and reserve threshing floor situations for the “marriage bed” (Hebrews 13:4).

Ruth’s Proposal

Ruth trusted Naomi and promised her: “All that you say I will do” (v. 5). What faith and trust she had for Naomi! She bathed, perfumed, and left for the threshing floor. She waited until Boaz’s “heart was merry” (v. 7) after eating a hearty meal and drinking wine following his long day and evening. Then, when he had fallen asleep, she crept forward undetected, and – sure enough – she “uncovered his feet and lay down” (v. 7).

The scene is not too hard to imagine. We have all woken from sleep with a shiver and sought to re-cover ourselves in bed. But, imagine the shock that Boaz must have felt when he realized he was not alone – that “a woman lay at his feet” (v. 8)! Rather than things taking the most likely path – the path of least resistance when a man and a woman find themselves alone together in the cover of darkness where they should not be, Ruth does not proposition him but proposes. She tells him who she was (because it was that dark). She identifies herself as his servant (as opposed to how foreign she was to him in chapter 2). Then she deviates from the plan and makes an odd request: “Spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer” (v. 9).

Boaz’s Promise

A man outside the providence of the Lord could have taken a different path in this situation. The Hebrew words that Ruth spoke meant both “spread your wings” and “spread your garment”. There was nuance and history that gave context, but there was also the context of an obviously beautiful woman wearing alluring perfume laying down near him (and no one in the world knew they were there alone together…). Yet the nuance of a comment that Boaz made about Ruth’s relationship with God in the previous chapter won out: “The Lord repay you for what you have done [all she did for Naomi and her coming to faith in God], and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge” (ch 2:12). She reminded Boaz of his prayer for her and let him know that she sought him as an answer to that prayer for her redemption – that God’s protective wings would cover her via Boaz!

It would have been easy to respond as the world would by Boaz wrapping her in his blanket, especially in a time so similar to our own when “everyone did what was right in his own eyes”. Yet his prayers for her redemption overcame, and God spread His wings of protection on both of them that night.

Boaz went on to let her know how flattered he was that she would seek to marry him. He calls her a “worthy woman” (v. 11) which is translated “excellent wife” in Proverbs 12:4 and 31:10[3], showing how pleased he would be to get to redeem her. He was honorable to the customs of his people and let her know that there was “a redeemer nearer than” him (v. 12). But, then, he does something odd. He makes a redemptive promise whether or not he is the one to redeem them.

He tells her that he will talk with the redeemer for them and make sure both Ruth and Naomi were redeemed and cared for (if this other redeemer would not, then he would himself). He gives her enough grain to let Naomi know that he is caring for them and not taking advantage of Ruth. And he sends Ruth away to ensure that her reputation – and his – was left intact. He even tagged on a message to let Naomi know that he knew who had orchestrated the whole thing (v. 17).

God’s Provision Then & Now

Naomi recognized that they were on their way to being redeemed, but she had no idea how good God’s plan of redemption was for them – and for us! Boaz’s integrity in an extremely dangerous and tempting situation shows us how serious our God takes redemption. Now, there are those who would argue and question Boaz’s integrity, but I think that 2 Chronicles 3:17 and 1 Kings 7:21 speak for themselves. When Boaz’s great-great-grandson Solomon was building God’s temple in Jerusalem, he named one of two giant bronze pillars “Boaz”. The son of a Jerichoan prostitute and husband of a Moabitess was viewed as a pillar. Why? Because the Lord was a pillar in the life of Boaz!

We can see today that God still takes redemption seriously. When we find ourselves far from Him in lands where people (even us) do what is right in their own eyes, He still seeks to redeem people – to save people. We can look at Boaz and Ruth and think of Christ and His Bride, the Church. Jesus seeks us out “while we [are] still sinners” (Romans 5:8) and sacrifices Himself on our behalf because He loves us (Galatians 2:20). He sees that we are alone, without hope, without Him (Ephesians 2:12), and shows that there is indeed a redeemer closer than Boaz – God Himself. He redeems us by His own blood and does something that no other romantic hero could ever do – He lives after He dies for His beloved! And in that Him – in His resurrection life – there is hope.

To find Him, you do not have to clean yourself up like Ruth did. She had been mourning her late-husband and needed bathing and anointing to pursue Boaz (2 Samuel 14:2). We do not need to clean ourselves up to come to Christ because, in fact, we cannot clean ourselves (Romans 3:10-23). No, we come to Him for redemption and find cleansing and grace and mercy and love in such abundance that there are not words adequate to describe. We need only come to Him in belief and faith. He calls us to “confess with [our] mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in [our] hearts that God raised Him from the dead” to be saved (Romans 10:9). And, as sure as Ruth and Naomi found redemption – as sure as they found their emptiness filled with joy, we too can find a redeemer – “our blessed hope…our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify [to cleanse] for Himself a people for His own possession who are zealous for good works” (Titus 2:13-14).

Once that happens, we can look toward eternity with Him, forsake our worldly home, and lift up a cry similar to Ruth’s to our beloved Redeemer: “Your people shall be my people, and you, God, are my God!”

Hallelujah, and Amen!


[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Ru 3:1–18.

[2] Tony Merida, Ruth for You, ed. Carl Laferton, God’s Word for You (The Good Book Company, 2020), 94. ***Special Note: These four P’s are borrowed from Tony Merida’s layout of this “scene” in the Biblical narrative. This is not meant to replicate his study but to pay homage to the gifting God has given him in laying out a Bible study schema while making it my own.

[3] Here’s an interesting tidbit for you. In the order that Jewish people put the Old Testament, the book of Ruth immediately follows the book of Proverbs. So, Proverbs ends with chapter 31, talking about the “worthy woman”/ “excellent wife”, and the very next page would be Ruth 1:1!

Refresh & Restore — July 15, 2021

We are continuing in our But GOD series by looking at life and death in Ephesians 2:1-10. You can find the written devotion here: https://justkeithharris.com/2021/09/15/refresh-restore-september-16-2021/
  1. But GOD — Episode 3
  2. But GOD — Episode 2
  3. But GOD — Episode 1
  4. Sabbath Rest & Teacher Tired
  5. Redeeming Love: A R&R Bible Study of Ruth — FINALE/Epilogue

Now Naomi had a relative of her husband’s, a worthy man of the clan of Elimelech, whose name was Boaz. And Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain after him in whose sight I shall find favor.” And she said to her, “Go, my daughter.” So she set out and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers, and she happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the clan of Elimelech. And behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem. And he said to the reapers, “The Lord be with you!” And they answered, “The Lord bless you.” Then Boaz said to his young man who was in charge of the reapers, “Whose young woman is this?” And the servant who was in charge of the reapers answered, “She is the young Moabite woman, who came back with Naomi from the country of Moab. She said, ‘Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves after the reapers.’ So she came, and she has continued from early morning until now, except for a short rest.”

Then Boaz said to Ruth, “Now, listen, my daughter, do not go to glean in another field or leave this one, but keep close to my young women. Let your eyes be on the field that they are reaping, and go after them. Have I not charged the young men not to touch you? And when you are thirsty, go to the vessels and drink what the young men have drawn.” 10 Then she fell on her face, bowing to the ground, and said to him, “Why have I found favor in your eyes, that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?” 11 But Boaz answered her, “All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told to me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before. 12 The Lord repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!” 13 Then she said, “I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, for you have comforted me and spoken kindly to your servant, though I am not one of your servants.”

14 And at mealtime Boaz said to her, “Come here and eat some bread and dip your morsel in the wine.” So she sat beside the reapers, and he passed to her roasted grain. And she ate until she was satisfied, and she had some left over. 15 When she rose to glean, Boaz instructed his young men, saying, “Let her glean even among the sheaves, and do not reproach her. 16 And also pull out some from the bundles for her and leave it for her to glean, and do not rebuke her.”

17 So she gleaned in the field until evening. Then she beat out what she had gleaned, and it was about an ephah of barley. 18 And she took it up and went into the city. Her mother-in-law saw what she had gleaned. She also brought out and gave her what food she had left over after being satisfied. 19 And her mother-in-law said to her, “Where did you glean today? And where have you worked? Blessed be the man who took notice of you.” So she told her mother-in-law with whom she had worked and said, “The man’s name with whom I worked today is Boaz.” 20 And Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “May he be blessed by the Lord, whose kindness has not forsaken the living or the dead!” Naomi also said to her, “The man is a close relative of ours, one of our redeemers.” 21 And Ruth the Moabite said, “Besides, he said to me, ‘You shall keep close by my young men until they have finished all my harvest.’ ” 22 And Naomi said to Ruth, her daughter-in-law, “It is good, my daughter, that you go out with his young women, lest in another field you be assaulted.” 23 So she kept close to the young women of Boaz, gleaning until the end of the barley and wheat harvests. And she lived with her mother-in-law.[1]

Ruth 2:1-23

Greetings, Sojourner!

I am thoroughly enjoying studying and writing through the book of Ruth. One of the things that I find the most engaging is how easy it is to see God moving in the lives of Ruth and Naomi – two ordinary people. I love how we get to see God work through ordinary (even unlikely) people because, at our core, people typically think it is unlikely they will see God move and work in their lives because they are ordinary, insignificant, or unworthy or whatever other labels we attach to ourselves. Thinking about this brings to my mind another unlikely person that God worked through a generation or so before the book of Ruth: a prostitute named Rahab.

You can find Rahab’s story in Joshua 2 and 6. What comes to mind when I think of Rahab is how God used this unlikely person to fulfill His promise to His people. Before the promised land was taken – before God’s people could receive the promises of God, spies were sent out to help make plans for the conquest of the land. They found themselves in Jericho and in danger. The only person to help them was Rahab. She rescued them, hid them from her own people, and asked only that the Lord – whom she had heard of and now showed faith in (Joshua 2:9, Hebrews 11:31) – would “deal kindly” with her family as she had “dealt kindly” with the spies by hiding them (Joshua 2:12, James 2:25). And that is exactly what God did for Rahab: He dealt kindly with her.

That phrase “dealt kindly” is the Hebrew word hesed which is often translated as loving-kindness and refers to the type of unfailing, loyal love that we know is characteristic of God. The word hesed is prominent in the book of Ruth, showing God’s fingerprints in the lives of the ordinary and the unlikely.

Hesed in the Field of Boaz

Ruth and Naomi find themselves in Bethlehem, the house of bread, during the barley harvest. Their husbands are dead, and they have no one to provide for them. So, what do they do? Naomi is already bitter; does Ruth join her and just sit together and starve in angry sadness? No, Ruth looks at the harvest taking place around them and asks Naomi to “Let [her] go to the field and glean among the ears of grain after him in whose sight [she] shall find favor” (v. 2).

Now, Ruth would not have known that God had already provided for the hungry and the sojourner in the time of harvest (Deuteronomy 24:19), but, surely, Naomi knew because she told Ruth (calling her “daughter”) to go ahead. What faith Ruth showed here to go out into her new home (called “Ruth the Moabite” throughout the chapter) and seek to find favor with a random local so she would be able to feed herself and Naomi. And that faith was rewarded; notice how it says in v. 3 that the field she “happened to come to” belonged to Boaz who turned out to be “a close relative…one of [their] redeemers” (v. 20)! What appeared to her as “happenstance”[2] was actually God’s plan of redemption playing out in their lives! In the same way that Rahab’s house happened to be the one the Israelite spies stumbled into and found safety, Ruth stumbled into the field of the very man she needed to meet – the very man God intended for her to meet.

Boaz had already heard about Ruth, her conversion, and all she had done for Naomi after the death of their loved ones (v. 11). Not only that, he also got a good report about how hard she was willing to work to take care of Naomi from the man in charge of his harvest (vv. 6-7). Hearing these things prompted him to give an opportunity for Ruth to be safe while she worked for her family and be a blessing beyond what she could provide or work for herself.

As far as Ruth knew, she was being the literally breadwinner for her little family. She hoped to be able to help Naomi (who viewed herself as having been “brought…back empty” (1:21) from the land of Moab) by at least filling her belly. She went out to a local field and asked the foreman if she could go behind his reapers and harvest the barley that fell on the ground. She wanted permission to harvest leftovers – scraps off the ground! But, praise be to God, she “happened” upon a field from the “clan of Elimelech” – the clan whose God was their King – and God was more gracious and loving than she knew. She sought to gather leftovers, but she reaped hesed!

Remember the blessing that Naomi prayed over Ruth and Orpah, “May the Lord deal kindly with you” (1:8)? That phrase deal kindly is hesed. When Naomi heard of all that happened in the fields, she recognized the kindness that Boaz showed to them was a blessing of “the Lord, whose kindness has not forsaken the living or the dead” (v. 20); the word kindness there is also hesed.

Boaz’s hesed showed up in the way that he made sure that Ruth was protected from the assault she may have suffered in another field at the hands of unrighteous men (vv. 9, 22) it showed up in the way that he allowed her to move along with his reapers for protection and support (v. 8); it showed up in the way that he told his reapers to leave more than scraps behind so she could reap a bigger harvest through her faithful work (v. 16). Most importantly, Boaz showed hesed by blessing her: “The Lord repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!” (v. 12). You see, Boaz showed hesed because of the Lord. He was the conduit for the hesed of God – the very same God in whom Ruth had put her trust and taken refuge!

A God of Never-Ending Hesed

Just as Boaz had noticed, Ruth had come to the God of Israel for refuge. She had forsaken the false gods that were part of her heritage in worship of the one, true God. She had left her people and become a part of His people. She had come to the house of bread and sought to harvest bread for her and Naomi. What she did not know was that her God was more than simply a refuge for her but “Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20). Naomi asked that Ruth receive hesed from the Lord, but Ruth was just beginning to see that her God is “abounding in steadfast love” (Exodus 34:6)! He has a surplus of hesed – in fact He is rich in it (Ephesians 2:4) – and had an unexpected harvest for Ruth and Naomi that was more abundant than they could “ask or think”!

This can be seen in how Boaz allows her to have some of his workers’ food at lunch (dipping the morsel seems a bit Lord’s Supper-ish, don’t you think?), enough to eat “until she was satisfied” and take the leftovers to Naomi (vv. 14, 18). She gathered “about an ephah” (about 3/5 of a bushel or thirty pounds) of barley (v. 17)! Naomi felt like she left Israel full and came back from Moab empty, but Ruth left for the field empty-handed and came back with a thirty pound sack full of barley ready to be made into bread.

Even in her bitterness, Naomi recognized the hesed. In that way, she like Ruth was beginning to learn the beauty of God’s hesed. But neither of them knew hesed like Boaz.

You see, Boaz would have learned a lot about hesed from his mother. Many years before, she was a prostitute in the city of Jericho. She had two Israelite spies stumble into her house and asked that they give hesed to her family if she gave them safety. Through faith in the Lord and His mercy and hesed, she (in addition to her family, just as she asked) “did not perish” with the rest of Jericho. Matthew 1:5 tells us her name –  “Salmon [was] the father of Boaz by Rahab”! What hesed for God to redeem one like Rahab and include her in the family lineage of Jesus!

Naomi had no idea that God would so specifically answer her prayer of blessing in how God would choose to “deal kindly” with Ruth. There is no way she could have known, but He did! When Boaz recognized what God had done in Ruth’s life, there is no way for him to know how God intended to use him in the lineage of Jesus, but God did!

Maybe today you think there is no way that anyone could love you, but know this: God is still abounding in hesed today. His loving-kindness is so great that “He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). We have seen how a young prostitute named Rahab placed her faith in Him and did not perish. We have seen how a young Moabitess placed her faith in Him by seeking refuge under His wings and found redemption. That same faith and belief produces the same results today (Romans 10:9-10, 13). So, put your faith in Jesus and find life and redemption in Him.


[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Ru 2:1–23.

[2] Sinclair Ferguson, Faithful God: An Exposition of the Book of Ruth (Bryntirion Press, 2013), 49.

Refresh & Restore — July 8, 2021

We are continuing in our But GOD series by looking at life and death in Ephesians 2:1-10. You can find the written devotion here: https://justkeithharris.com/2021/09/15/refresh-restore-september-16-2021/
  1. But GOD — Episode 3
  2. But GOD — Episode 2
  3. But GOD — Episode 1
  4. Sabbath Rest & Teacher Tired
  5. Redeeming Love: A R&R Bible Study of Ruth — FINALE/Epilogue

Then she arose with her daughters-in-law to return from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the fields of Moab that the Lord had visited his people and given them food. So she set out from the place where she was with her two daughters-in-law, and they went on the way to return to the land of Judah. But Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go, return each of you to her mother’s house. May the Lord deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me. The Lord grant that you may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband!” Then she kissed them, and they lifted up their voices and wept. 10 And they said to her, “No, we will return with you to your people.” 11 But Naomi said, “Turn back, my daughters; why will you go with me? Have I yet sons in my womb that they may become your husbands? 12 Turn back, my daughters; go your way, for I am too old to have a husband. If I should say I have hope, even if I should have a husband this night and should bear sons, 13 would you therefore wait till they were grown? Would you therefore refrain from marrying? No, my daughters, for it is exceedingly bitter to me for your sake that the hand of the Lord has gone out against me.” 14 Then they lifted up their voices and wept again. And Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.

15 And she said, “See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” 16 But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” 18 And when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more.

19 So the two of them went on until they came to Bethlehem. And when they came to Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them. And the women said, “Is this Naomi?” 20 She said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. 21 I went away full, and the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi, when the Lord has testified against me and the Almighty has brought calamity upon me?”

22 So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabite her daughter-in-law with her, who returned from the country of Moab. And they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest.[1]

Ruth 1:6-22

Greetings, Sojourner!

I hope this finds you well and ready to dive back into the world of Naomi (“Pleasant”) and Ruth. Last week, we started our journey through this narrative and saw that “Pleasant” and her two daughters-in-law were in grief-stricken after losing their husbands (or in Naomi’s case her husband and both her children). While this is an extremely sad situation, it says something about the genuineness of the Bible that it does not glaze over the sad and unfortunate moments. It does not glaze over the sin, either. After all, what good is an example if we cannot identify with it? And what good is a Savior if no one needs rescuing?

Good News (Gospel) for Broken-Hearted Sinners

There is a common phrase in modern-day culture: there is good news and bad news. This usually prompts the person talking to ask if their audience wants the good or bad news first. No matter the order, the good news is always preferred over the bad. Naomi and her daughters-in-law already had the bad news covered. But God made sure that they were in the right place and time to hear the good news; Verse 6 tells us that “she had heard in the fields of Moab that the Lord had visited His people and given them food”!

Even though they were in a foreign land (where they went to avoid consequences of sin and their need to repent) and heard specifically that God Himself had heard His people’s cries of repentance and ended the famine in the promised land – it was harvest time at the “house of bread”! While that news was indeed good, no amount of food would cure Naomi’s broken heart, but it was enough to prompt her to return to the promised land from Moab.

Before she could “return to the land of Judah” (v. 7), she needed to take care of her daughters-in-law. They, after all, had their own gods, their own ethnic group, and no ties to Israel since neither had children. So, Naomi sent them back to their “mother’s house” – basically giving them permission to go home, get over their sadness, and start fresh. Before she parted ways with them, she did something interesting: she blessed them –  she prayed for them.

This is good news for two reasons. First, it shows that even during her sorrow and bitterness God was working in her life. Second, the specific things she prayed – “May the Lord deal kindly with you” and that He would “grant that you may find rest…in the house of [your] husband” – were very clearly and specifically answered for Ruth (and Naomi, as well, but more on that next week)!

Naturally, there was crying – a lot of it and understandably so since these women had shared life and grief together. Orpah went home just as Naomi told her to do. There was nothing sinful or wrong in her obeying her mother-in-law and starting fresh. There was just something else going on in Ruth’s life that compelled her to stay. Here, it is important to see how the phrase “good news” means something different in the New Testament: it refers to the gospel. And God was working in Ruth’s life in a gospel sort of way which impacted her decisions.

This is good for us because it reminds us of the good news – the gospel – impact of what Jesus has done for us through His death and resurrection. It helps us to identify with Naomi and Ruth. I love the way that Tony Merida illustrates this:

“According to the gospel, it is all of us who are the afflicted, the weak and wounded, the sick and sore. And Jesus has come to our aid. Christians are the people who should most identify with the orphan and widow. We were the orphan, and God adopted us. We were the widow, and Jesus became our Bridegroom. We were the stranger, and God made us citizens of heaven. We were the poor, and Jesus gave us a glorious inheritance. We must remember how God has visited us with grace.”[2]

Let’s look at how God visited Ruth with His grace.

Ruth’s Conversion and Naomi’s Identity Crisis

Looking at this backward across the New Testament at these events, we know that there was no true hope for them in the land of Moab – that the only hope anyone had came from Ruth’s great-great-descendent Jesus Christ. Knowing that highlights how awesome what God was doing in the lives of Naomi and, especially, Ruth truly was. After Orpah went home, Ruth doubled down on her intent to stay with Naomi (v. 16). She did not care that Naomi would not be able to produce another son for her to marry. She did not care that she would be a foreigner in Naomi’s land. She did care for Naomi. And it is in this care that we see the change that God produced in Ruth’s heart.

She told Naomi, “where you go, I will go”, showing their deep bond that she was unwilling to forsake. It showed a commitment to her mother-in-law, but there were bigger changes afoot. Next, she said, “your people will be my people, and your God my God”. This is a big deal because she was forsaking her Moabite heritage and native religion to completely embrace Naomi’s! This meant more than simply moving to a different country; it was equivalent to moving from death to life – from false gods to the God, from the wages of sin to the grace of the promised land. That is good news!

The spiritual change in Ruth’s life shows us the same sort of change that we need even today. Yes, the blessings that Naomi sought for Ruth would occur. God would bless her with a husband in her new home. God would deal kindly with her in many ways. But, before any of the physical or surface-level needs were met, God gave her a new life found only in Him! And, through His blessings in Ruth’s heart, Naomi would eventually find these same blessings again in her own.

Ruth’s conversion provides a huge contrast to Naomi’s identity crisis. Remember, Naomi meant “pleasant”, yet she found herself feeling the exact opposite, bitterness. She changed her name to reflect her heart: “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara [Bitter]” (v. 20). For Ruth entering the promised land allowed her to begin to realize that she could “hold fast to the confession of hope” (“your God will be my God”) as she learned that “He who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23). But, for Naomi, re-entering the promised land felt like a prison sentence.

The Barley Harvest & the Beginnings of Healing

“Bitter” and Ruth were a sight to behold when they came into Bethlehem. In fact, we see that “the whole town was stirred because of them” (v. 19). Instead of seeing the family of four that left for Moab, or even the six that could have been including Ruth and Orpah, two grieving widows entered town alone. Ruth had the testimony of a new God and was coming into the land of her new people. “Bitter” believed that “the Lord [had testified] against [her] and the Almighty [brought] calamity upon [her]” (v. 21).

In her sorrow – and anger and grief and, yes, bitterness, she could not see the hope that came from Him, that, in repentance and humility, the “mighty hand of God” would reach down, not to strike but to “exalt” (1 Peter 5:6) and lift her up out of her sorrow and restore her to Naomi. And while the town was stirred and the people had questions, God had stirred the ground in Bethlehem and produced a barley harvest where there was once famine – land that was once cursed by God was bringing bread. “Bitter” misunderstood God’s actions as dealing bitterly with her while, behind the scenes, He was dealing kindness to her like she could not fathom because bitterness had blinded her.

Unfortunately, bitterness can blind us as well. But, fortunately – actually graciously – for us, Jesus offers salvation for people “to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive the forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in [Him]” (Acts 26:18). Amid whatever difficulties we are experiencing – whatever bitterness, Jesus offers hope; He says,

“Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30

May it be so for you today!


[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Ru 1:6–22.

[2] Tony Merida, Ruth for You, ed. Carl Laferton, God’s Word for You (The Good Book Company, 2020), 31.

Refresh & Restore — July 1, 2021

In the days when the judges ruled there was a famine in the land, and a man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons. The name of the man was Elimelech and the name of his wife Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. They went into the country of Moab and remained there. But Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died, and she was left with her two sons. These took Moabite wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. They lived there about ten years, and both Mahlon and Chilion died, so that the woman was left without her two sons and her husband.[1]

Ruth 1:1-5

If you prefer to listen to this devotion rather than reading, you can find it in podcast form here or listen in the player below. The text will follow the podcast.

We are continuing in our But GOD series by looking at life and death in Ephesians 2:1-10. You can find the written devotion here: https://justkeithharris.com/2021/09/15/refresh-restore-september-16-2021/
  1. But GOD — Episode 3
  2. But GOD — Episode 2
  3. But GOD — Episode 1
  4. Sabbath Rest & Teacher Tired
  5. Redeeming Love: A R&R Bible Study of Ruth — FINALE/Epilogue

Greetings, Sojourner!

It has been a few weeks since we have joined each other for Bible Study, and I am excited to begin a new study together today and embark on a journey through the book of Ruth, looking at a beautiful story of God’s redeeming love!

Welcome to Ruth

Today’s devotion will serve as an introduction for our study and help us to get our heads around this book.

First, we need to understand that the book of Ruth is different from 1 John (which we previously studied). It is different because it is a book of the Old Testament which occurred before the arrival of the Messiah, Jesus. It is also a narrative, meaning it is told like a story. This is different than the epistles (letters) of the New Testament which were intended to relay information clearly to a certain audience in specific ways.

The beautiful thing about these differences is that we get to see how God intersects Himself into the life stories of regular, everyday people – how He brought His redeeming love to bear in their lives. This helps us see His fingerprints in our own lives! We will see people who experience the same sorts of troubles and joys that we experience. And we get to see the way that God works in these times – the bad as well as the good – to carry out His redemptive plan.

Second, we need to understand the time in which this book took place. While it simply says, “In the days when the judges ruled there was a famine in the land” and sets up its narrative, there is more than meets the eye – more is meant to give us context.

The time of the judges was a crazy era in Jewish history. There are two verses from the book of Judges that give a clearer picture of the world in which they lived. The first is Judges 2:16: “Then the Lord raised up judges, who saved them out of the hands of those who plundered them.” The nation of Israel during this era repeated a nasty cycle of 1) being warned by God about the consequences of their sin (really, He is describing the blessings of following Him), 2) willfully committing the sins they were warned against (therefore willingly forfeiting the blessings), 3) finding themselves experiencing the consequences God promised would occur, and 4) repenting of their sin, crying out to God to rescue them – which He faithfully did every, single time they repented (it happened 1, 2, 3, 4 over and over throughout their history – and honestly, ours, too).

The second verse is found in both Judges 17:6 and 21:25: “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” And somewhere in between Judges 2:16 and 17:6 is exactly where we start the beginning of the book of Ruth. God’s people doing what is right in their own eyes, fully experiencing step 3 and too hardhearted to reach 4.

Setting the Stage for a Big Move of the Lord

What a context – everyone doing what they wanted to do and treating it as if it were right. Sound familiar? Yet that is exactly where we find our family at the beginning of Ruth’s narrative. You see, before God’s people ever set foot in the Promised Land (the place they left when the famine hit them), He laid out all the blessings He would give them if they followed Him (Deuteronomy 28:1-14) as well as the consequences of their sin, two of which being infertility and famine (Deuteronomy 28:15-68; cf. v. 18) which Elimilech and Naomi’s family experienced!

Since I laid out the cycle for you above, what needs to happen to get out of their predicament? Step 4 – repenting of their sin and crying out to God to rescue them! It seems simple enough, yet they chose another path – one that led them out of the Promised Land, away of their home in Bethlehem (Heb. “house of bread”), and beyond the land of God’s promise. Elimelech and Naomi dug in their heels and decided to take an alternate path out of God’s punishment of sin. The only problem is that there is no alternate path, and the Bible is clear on this. The “wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). And death is what they found in Moab.

Elimelech and Naomi thought they were leaving famine to save their lives, but they only found death. They missed the fact that God had sent them a great warning sign of repentance by striking the “house of bread” with hunger. The shelves were empty, and so were their hearts. The message was clear, and not just because of the name of their town; Elimelech is Hebrew for “My God is King”, and Naomi is Hebrew for “pleasant”[2]. Yet Elimelech sought to be the king of his own heart and strike out to leave the Promised Land to take care of himself despite the warnings of the King.

“My God is King” and “Pleasant” had two children, boys named Mahlon (Heb. “sick”) and Chilion (Heb. “frail/mortal”). And, during the decade they were in Moab, “My God is King” died. It turns out that Moab was not beyond the reach of the wages of Israel’s sin. “Sick” and “Frail” grew up, married Moabite wives, Orpah and Ruth, and continued living in Moab – that was until they lived up to their names and died.

Can you imagine the heartbreak that these women felt – especially Naomi? When “My God is King” died, “Pleasant” became a widow, but there is no term for a parent who loses a child because it is a reality too unimaginably heartbreaking to be labeled.

And it is in this heartbreak that our story of Redeeming Love is set – in death and sorrow and loss, in a foreign land filled with foreign gods and strangers. One could argue that “Pleasant” was not alone, that she had her two daughters-in-law with her. But when one experiences grief, loneliness generally accompanies it.

Hope in the Midst of Sorrow

As we look at the beginning of the narrative Ruth, I find that I have a few things in common with the people we meet here. I often try to live as if I am king and can decide that what I want is right. That is called sin. I am a sinner. I often decide to delay repenting because I am angry that I am not God. That, too, is called sin (and idolatry, too). I also find myself identifying with Naomi and the pain that comes with grief.

What she did not know – and really what none of them could know, since they lived in OT times, was the hope that comes only from Jesus. I do not think I need to declare a “spoiler alert” here since the Bible allows us to know Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of lords has already won, but He is the ultimate hero of the book of Ruth (in fact, He is the only hero of the Bible!). The beauty of the way that this book points to Jesus shares in the same beauty as when Jesus arrived on earth, with a birth.

Ruth 4:18-22 give us a genealogy bridging the gap between Judah, father of Perez (whose mother was Tamar – Genesis 38), father of Hezron, father of Ram, father of Amminadab, father of Nahshon, father of Salmon, father of Boaz (whose mother was Rahab – Joshua 2), father of Obed (by Ruth), father of Jesse, father of David, who is the great-great-many-times-over earthly ancestor of “Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham” (Matthew 1:1).

God struck the “house of bread” with a famine and events of incredible sadness occurred when His people decided not to repent. But God, in His sovereign and redemptive plan used those sad things to highlight the good news of Jesus, “the Bread of Life” (John 6:48). Although Naomi and Ruth, in their grief and mourning, do not realize it, “weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning” (Psalm 30:5); joy in their case would come later when their hearts become as full as their bellies, when God does what He does in redeeming sinners. The cry of a baby will bring joy into their lives just as that baby’s many-times descendant would do for all who put their hope in Him throughout the ages:

“I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33

So, as we walk through the lives of Naomi and Ruth in the coming weeks, let us fix our eyes on what is to be while we are seeing the redemptive plan of God work out in their lives. And maybe – just maybe, we will begin to see how God is working through the sad and unfortunate things in our own lives.

It is my prayer that we, because we can see more than Naomi and Ruth by having the finished Story, can rejoice that our “light momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:17) if we put our hope and trust in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord (Romans 10:9-10). Then, and only then, can we realize the beauty that comes with rejoicing “in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:3-5).

Hallelujah, and Amen!


[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Ru 1:1–5.

[2] The specific English translations for the names came from:
Tony Merida, Ruth for You, ed. Carl Laferton, God’s Word for You (The Good Book Company, 2020), 20.