Can You See Him Series
  • The son trudges uphill, bearing wood for his own sacrifice; his father has decided to give him up to death. What biblical event does this bring to mind? Is it Abraham and Isaac in Genesis 22, or Christ’s passion in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John? The kinship between these two stories is deeper than mere coincidence. Christ is present in the story of Abraham and Isaac. In fact, He is present on every page of the Old Testament. Can You See Him?
Sermon Preparation Guide
  • Importance - What are the central ideas of this text?
    • We owe a sin debt that we cannot pay. – Romans 3:10-12; 23; 5:6; Ephesians 2:8 & 9
    • Jesus has paid our sin debt in full. – Romans 3:25; 4:25; Colossians 2:13 & 14
    • With Jesus' payment of our sin debt, we are redeemed to be fully His. – Romans 5:21; 6:22 & 23; I Corinthians 6:20; Ephesians 2:10; I Peter 2:9
    1. Implications - What questions should the listener be asking?
      • What does it mean to you that you have a debt that can never be paid off?
      • There is nothing on earth that can pay off our sin debt.  Why can Jesus pay it off, and what was the cost to Him? 
      • What does it mean in your every day life to be “redeemed to be fully His?
        Talk it Over Discussion Guide 
        • Interpretation - What is the text telling/showing us?
          • What were the prospects for Naomi and Ruth after their husbands died?  What, if anything, could they do to “save” themselves?
          • By returning to Bethlehem, what did Naomi hope to accomplish?  How did her and Ruth returning relate, if at all, to faith in God's provision? How is it that Ruth ended up gleaning in the field owned by Boaz?
          • Describe Boaz.  What are his character traits?  What was his relationship with God?
          • How did Boaz treat his employees?  How did he treat Ruth?
          • What did Boaz have to give up to be kinsman-redeemer to Naomi and Ruth?
          • What was the result for Naomi and Ruth of Boaz redeeming them?
          • When we see a “picture” of Jesus in the Old Testament, it is not an exact comparison in every detail, as opposed to being a “big picture” sort of thing.  Summarize how 
          • Boaz is a picture of Jesus in the “big picture” way.
            • Implementation - What should the listeners response be?
              • How are people trapped today in the sense of needing to be redeemed?
              • Why do people today need to be redeemed?  Out of what are people redeemed? 
              • Boaz did not have to follow through and be the kinsman-redeemer to Naomi and Ruth; and Jesus did not have to give Himself up as our redeemer?  Why did Boaz follow through as kinsman-redeemer?  Why did Jesus follow through as our redeemer?
              • Jesus has redeemed us from the slavery of sin by His death on the cross, once for all. Are there things form which we need to be “redeemed” still as followers of Jesus?  If so, what might those be and how do we obtain that redemption?
              • What does your redemption in Jesus mean to you?
              • How might we as a church, and you as an individual, use the story of Boaz to proclaim the redemption from sin available in Christ?
                Sermon Teaching Notes (as compiled by Pastor Dick Murphy)
                • Investigation - What's generally going on in this area of scripture?
                The following is the question we are asking about the Messiah in the Old Testament: Can you see Him? The last studies looked at Noah, Abraham and Isaac, Joseph and Moses. These are familiar characters in the Bible. This study looks at one who is perhaps not so familiar – Boaz. While Boaz may not be one you know about, he is a man who presents us with another picture of Jesus, as we will see. The story of Boaz takes place during the time of the Judges, which is the period of Israel's history after Joshua led the armies of Israel in the conquest of the promised land. That process took some years (Joshua 23:1-4), at the end of which the tribes of Israel were each allotted a portion of the land together with the responsibility to complete the conquest by driving out the Canaanites who remained (Joshua 23:5.

                However, after Joshua and the generation who had experienced the conquest had all died, the Israelites did not complete the conquest, and in fact disobeyed God by worshiping the gods of the peoples around them, whereupon God effected His judgment on His people by allowing other peoples to defeat and rule over them (Judges 2:6-15). Each time this happened, the Israelites eventually cried out to God who then provided a “Judge” to defeat the enemy and bring peace for a period of time. (Judges 2:16-19) The last verse of the Old Testament book of Judges sums up the times when it says, “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” So, the book of Ruth begins thus, “In the days when the judges ruled ...” The story starts with a famine in the land, and a family living in Bethlehem, in Judah, consisting of Elimelech, his wife, Naomi, and their two sons Mahlon and Kilion. Because of the famine in the land, they went to “sojourn” (i.e., live for awhile) in the land of Moab, which was located to the east of the Dead Sea. Apparently, the famine did not stretch to that area.

                The Moabites were descendants of Lot (nephew of Abraham). Lot had fled from the destruction of his city, Sodom (Genesis 19:12-29), and was living in a cave in the mountains. His two daughters tricked him into getting drunk, then lay with him and got pregnant, their thinking being that they needed to preserve the family line. Two sons were born to them, Moab and Ammon, and they settled and ultimately populated area to the east of the Jordan River and east of the Dead Sea (Genesis 19:30-38). Interestingly, the Moabites were hostile to the Israelites, even though they were related, not letting them pass through the land on the way out of Egypt during the exodus (Deuteronomy 2:8 & 9), and attacking the land near the beginning of the time of the Judges (Judges 3:12-30). Nevertheless, Moab is where Elimelech took his family, though not intending to stay. While living in Moab, Elimelech died (Ruth 1:3), and his two sons married Moabite women (Ruth and Orpah).

                Naomi, her sons and daughters-in-law continued to live in Moab for another ten years at which point the two sons died (Ruth 1:4 & 5). Thus, Naomi, Ruth and Orpah were all widowed which was at the very best a difficult situation as they had no means of provision. In that day and age, it was the husbands who provided for their families, and now there were no men in the lives of these women. Furthermore, widows had no social, economic or political status, and were thus utterly dependent and often homeless. In the face of this situation, and because she has learned that God had provided food in Israel, Naomi determined to return to Bethlehem, but to give her daughters-in-law the opportunity to remain in Moab with their families (cf. Ruth 2:11) and find husbands. (Ruth 1:6-13) Orpah ultimately stayed in Moab, but Ruth determined to go with Naomi and become a part of her people (Ruth 1:14-18). Once back in Bethlehem, a trip that would have been some 70-100 miles and taken about a week, “the whole town” was stirred up when they arrived, Bethlehem being a small town (estimates indicate a population of perhaps 200-300).

                Naomi and Ruth's timing was such that they arrived in Bethlehem at the start of the barley harvest (Ruth 1:22). In Israel, the law of God through Moses provided that the poor and the alien were to be allowed to gather the gleanings of the harvest in order for them to have food (Leviticus 19:9 & 10; Deuteronomy 24:19-21). Ruth suggested to Naomi that she go to the fields to pick up gleanings for them, hoping to find an owner who was obedient to the law and favorable to her (Ruth 2:2). Ruth did so and found herself gleaning in the fields of Boaz, who was a relative of Abimelech, and a “man of standing” in the community (Ruth 2:1, 3).

                Boaz arrived at his field, immediately noticed Ruth, asked his foreman about her, and discovered that she is in fact Ruth, the Moabitess who has returned with Naomi (Ruth 2:4-7). As the story unfolds, Boaz proves to be a man of God (Ruth 2:4, 12) who is at the same time respectful, attentive, responsible, protective, informed, merciful, humble, honorable, righteous, kind and gracious. He makes sure Ruth is not harmed (Ruth 2:8 & 9), has water to drink as she gleans (Ruth 2:9), has food to eat at the end of the day (Ruth 2:14), is given opportunity to glean extra much (Ruth 2:15-17), and in general is blessed with provision both for herself and for Naomi (Ruth 2:18 & 19).

                When Naomi learns that the one who was so gracious to Ruth was Boaz, she is thankful to God and His provision for herself and Ruth. And beyond that, she sees in Boaz the one who can care for them going forward as he is of of Naomi's “kinsmen-redeemers.” (Ruth 2:20), even as he allows Ruth to continue to glean in his fields for the remainder of the barley harvest and the wheat harvest that followed (Ruth 2:23), a period of some seven weeks. In Israel, the kinsmen redeemer was the nearest relative whose responsibility was to help recover the losses of one from the tribe. In this case, with Abimelech deceased, the kinsman-redeemer was to regain ownership of Abimelech's land so that it remained in the family. The land was God's and the Israelites were in effect tenants. The law thus provided, for example, that in the year of Jubilee, every fiftieth year, each one was to return to his family property, in short, redeeming the land to its original Israelite possessors. Leviticus 25:8-28.

                But the notion of redemption extended not only to the family property but the family name such that when a man died without a son, his brother was to marry his surviving wife and the first son would carry on the name of the deceased brother (Deuteronomy 25:5 & 6). If the surviving brother refused, the responsibility passed on to the next nearest brother or relative (cf. Genesis 38:6-11, 14, 26. See also Matthew 22:23-26). So in the case of Ruth, the nearest relative of Abimelech was obligated to redeem his property and Ruth, as the wife of Abimelech's now deceased son. Naomi knew of this and directed Ruth to seek out Boaz to redeem her, and with her, Naomi as well (Ruth 3:1 & 2). The method was for Ruth to go to Boaz at night at the threshing floor, to where he would be sleeping, and to lie down at his feet, in effect offering herself for marriage which he, as the kinsman-redeemer, should be obligated to do. (Ruth 3:2- 4) Ruth obeyed and when Boaz awoke in the night and saw her, she identified herself to him and requested marriage which Boaz accepted on the condition that the kinsman-redeemer nearer in relation would not redeem her when presented with the opportunity (Ruth 3:5-13).

                The next morning, Boaz went to the city gates where business, judicial decisions and transactions took place, met with the nearer relative and presented the situation. This man agreed to redeem the property (as it would have become his on Naomi's death as she had no heir), but refused when he learned that it would include marrying Ruth (as any son born to her would inherit the property and he would thus lose what he would have paid for it upon redemption). (Ruth 4:1-6) Boaz immediately executed his right to redeem the property and Ruth, and the transaction was sealed legally by his attestation and the confirmation of the witnesses (Ruth 4:8-12). In exercising his kinsman-redeemer responsibility, Boaz undertook the total care of Naomi, and gave Ruth the opportunity to bear children, the first of which would become the heir of Abimelech and his sons.

                So, Ruth became the wife of Boaz, and in due time she gave birth to a son such that the family line was continued. And we then see that Boaz's righteous act of redemption saved the lineage through which David was born (Ruth 4:18-22), and indeed it was that very David who became king over Israel and through his line came the Messiah, Jesus (Matthew 1:1-16). Can you see Jesus in this story of Boaz? There are a number of pictures of Jesus. There is the picture of a man with a blood relationship with the ones who were dead (Abimelech and his son) and whose heirs needed redemption (Ruth 2:20), just as Jesus became a man and thus had a blood relationship with we who are dead in Adam (Romans 5:12-15) and need to be redeemed (Luke 1:31 & 32; Romans 5:15; Hebrews 2:9, 14 & 17). There is the picture of a man from Bethlehem (Ruth 2:1), just as Jesus was from Bethlehem (Luke 2:4-7).

                There is the picture of a man who had the ability to accomplish the redemption (Ruth 2:1, 3), just as Jesus had the ability to accomplish our redemption (Ephesians 2:14 & 15; Colossians 1:15-20; Hebrews 1:2 & 3; 2:18; 7:24 & 25). There is the picture of a man who was willing to carry out his responsibility as the kinsman-redeemer (Ruth 3:11-13; 4:9 & 10), just as Jesus was willing to carry out his responsibility as our redeemer (John 10:17 & 18; 15:13-15; Romans 5:8; Philippians 2:5-8; Hebrews 12:2). There is the picture of the man who paid the redemption price for Naomi and Ruth (Ruth 4:9), just as Jesus paid the redemption price for us (I Peter 1:18 & 19; 2:21-24). There is the picture of a man who was obedient to God's law (Deuteronomy 25:5 & 6), just as Jesus was obedient to the will of His Father (Philippians 2:8; Hebrews 12:2). There is the picture of a man who knew those he was to redeem (Ruth 2:11), just as Jesus know those He came to redeem (John 10:14-16).

                There is the picture of the ones who had no standing in their community and no right to insist on their redemption yet Boaz extended redemption (Ruth 1:11-13), just as we whom Jesus has redeemed have no right to that redemption yet He extended redemption through grace (Ephesians 2:4-9). There is the picture of a man who is respectful, attentive, responsible, protective, informed, merciful, humble, honorable, righteous, kind and gracious, just as Jesus is all those things and more, all of which character traits led Him to offer Himself in love for our redemption (John 15:13; Ephesians 3:18). There is the picture of a man who followed the legal process to accomplish redemption (Ruth 4:2-11), just as Jesus followed the legal process to uphold God's justice to accomplish our redemption (Romans 3:21-26; 5:18-21).

                Redemption is a concept we don't think about much. It is bound up in the notion that we are in a position from which there is no release, no escape, no deliverance from our own strength and resources, or by the exertion of our own willpower. We are dead in our sins and trespasses (Ephesians 2:1), with no way to become alive. The sin debt that we owe can only be paid through death and the shedding of blood (Romans 3:23; Hebrews 9:22), and that of a perfect sacrificial lamb such that our own blood is not efficacious in bringing about our redemption. But our of God's great love for us, and His mercy extended out of His grace, He has provided the redemption price for our sin in Jesus (Romans 3:23-25; Galatians 3:13 & 14; 4:5; Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14; Hebrews 9:12, 27 & 28; 10:12). Ruth and Naomi were bound in the death of their husbands; they could not redeem themselves to a new life; their redemption had to come from outside of themselves, and it came in and through Boaz, just as our redemption has come in and through Jesus. So, in Boaz we have a powerful picture of Jesus the willing redeemer who paid for us to have a new life (II Corinthians 5:17). All we need to do is accept Jesus death in our place through faith and receive that life in Him, a life that will extend through eternity. Can you see Him? Yes indeed, He is there!