Ruth Rewarded
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

Open your Bibles, please, to the book of Ruth, that portion of the Word of God which we are studying together. We come now to the last chapter of the book of Ruth. You will recall that we gave you an outline of the book as it revolves around the life of Ruth. We want to emphasize that outline again so that you will have the subject matter of the chapter in your minds as we read it. Chapter 1 tells of Ruth's return to the land of Bethlehem-judah from the land of Moab where she was born. Chapter 2 tells of Ruth reaping in the fields of Boaz. Chapter 3 tells of Ruth resting on the decision of Boaz that he would take care of her needs; and chapter 4, which will be under discussion, is telling the story of how Ruth was rewarded for her faith, for her belief.

You will remember that we said to you that there were several ways that we could study the book of Ruth, several ways which people have followed. We referred to the manner in which we would study as a threefold approach from the standpoint of analogy, soteriology and eschatology. Analogy is taking the historical event recorded in the book of Ruth and drawing a spiritual truth from it. We have scriptural foundation for that in I Corinthians, chapter 10; I Timothy, chapter 3, and the latter chapters of the book of Romans. Soteriology represents the study of salvation, and eschatology represents the study of last things.

We have been approaching our study of the book for the past several weeks from the standpoint of analogy. As we come to chapter 4, approaching the book from that standpoint, we are going to conclude our analogical study of the book of Ruth; and then we will be studying it from the standpoint of soteriology.

I would like for you to follow in your Bible as we read chapter 4, but we are going to do something a little different. Other times we have simply read the chapter and after the completion of the reading of the chapter have pointed out the analogies that we felt the Lord would have you notice with us. This chapter is rather complicated, and I believe if we are going to have all of the historical points clearly settled in our minds, it is important for me to make some comments as we read along so that you will know exactly what we are talking about.

Obligation of the Kinsman Redeemer

You will recall that we left Ruth sitting still in the home of her mother-in-law, Naomi, while Boaz was to take care of the obligations of the kinsman redeemer. In chapter 4 of the book of Ruth, as you have discovered when you have been reading as we suggested you should, this is exactly what he does. Notice, please, in verse 1 of chapter 4:

Ruth 4

1Then went Boaz up to the gate, and sat him down there: and, behold, the kinsman of whom Boaz spake came by; unto whom he said, Ho, such a one! turn aside, sit down here. And he turned aside, and sat down.

You will notice a reference to the gate here. At the gate of the city of Bethlehem, as was true of the gates of those ancient cities, there was an enclosure without a roof. The elders of the city met within this enclosure to decide governmental matters that were related to the city or to adjudicate any individual problems that arose between the citizens within the city. Because Boaz wanted to get the matter settled as to whether or not he could be the husband of Ruth, he went up to this place that is referred to here as the gate. Then he watched for the one who was the nearer kinsman to Ruth than was he. He asked that one to come and sit down and discuss the matter. You will notice how he addressed the man: “Ho, such a one.” That would be the same as our saying, “Hey, there,” or “Hey, fellow; Hey,buddy.” The point is no one knew what this nearer kinsman's name was. Perhaps it would be more accurate for me to say that the Bible does not record what his name was. It would likely be that Naomi would have known what his name was, perhaps even Boaz, but at any rate he does not call him by name. You may be wondering why he does not, and the answer will come out when we approach the study of the book of Ruth from the standpoint of soteriology.

He attracted the attention of the men and then in verse 2, you will notice:

Ruth 4

2And he took ten men of the elders of the city, and said, Sit ye down here. And they sat down.

You will notice that there were more than ten men who were elders, but ten is the number of testimony, and this was a sufficient number to verify what was going to be presented and recorded as a legal matter. Sanhedrins, because of this particular instance here, have developed a habit of having ten men before a Sanhedrin can meet officially. They may have more than ten, but ten is a quorum. Now in verse 3:

Ruth 4

3And he said unto the kinsman, Naomi, that is come again out of the country of Moab, selleth a parcel of land, which was our brother Elimelech's:

I think that we should recognize that the phrase, “selleth a parcel of land,” in the Hebrew text is in the perfect tense. Being in the perfect tense, it is difficult of translation because it could be translated in any of three ways. It could be translated with the idea that Naomi had already sold the parcel of land or perhaps Elimelech had already sold it. It could be that Naomi had the land on the market right then, or it could be that she was looking for one of the kinsman to redeem the land that had belonged to Elimelech. Various Bible scholars have various opinions about it. I am of the opinion that Elimelech had already sold the land when he went down to Moab because of the famine that arose, and the land being sold had to be redeemed so that no strangers could occupy the land of Israel as far as legal property rights were concerned.

The Offer to the Near Kinsman

Boaz advertised to this near kinsman, whoever he was, that Naomi had sold the piece of land. She was mentioned because she was the surviving head of the family. You will notice also that he referred to Elimelech as his brother. The word “brother” here must be interpreted in a very broad sense for it is a word that could refer to a brother such as you might have. It could refer to a cousin, to an uncle; it could refer to any blood relative regardless of what the status might be. Now notice verse 4:

Ruth 4

4And I thought to advertise thee, saying, Buy it before the inhabitants, and before the elders of my people. If thou wilt redeem it, redeem it: but if thou wilt not redeem it, then tell me, that I may know: for there is none to redeem it beside thee; and I am after thee. And he said, I will redeem it.

Now get the picture in your minds. Boaz said, “I called these men together, the elders,” and, of course, quite a crowd had gathered at that time, “to advertise to you just what I said because if you don't want to redeem this land, I do want to redeem it.” This word “advertise” is a very interesting word. It is hardly an appropriate word for the text, at least in our usage today. The word “advertise” is a very picturesque word. It describes an individual's slipping up close to a person, lifting up the turban that he had around his head and down over his ear, lifting up the turban just a little and whispering in his ear, “I've got something important that you need to know.” The whole idea of the word “advertise” is that Boaz felt obligated to let his man know what was going to happen.

We are going to see that Boaz was not so much interested in Mr. So-and-so as he was in himself, because Mr. So-and-so, as soon as he heard the news, said, “Well, I'll buy it. I will redeem the land.” He was interested in redeeming the land, not only because the law said that he should, but it would add to his possessions and it would increase his wealth. He thought, “Good buy. I'll take advantage of it right now.” But Boaz, clever man that he was, saved the telling blow until the last. Notice verse 5:

Ruth 4

5Then [that word ”then” is much more significant in the Hebrew than in the English] said Boaz, What day thou buyest the field of the hand of Naomi, thou must buy it also of Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of the dead, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance.

You will notice in this verse that the word “it” is in italics. That means that it is not in the original text. The word “buy” here could better be translated by the word “acquire,” so that the verse should read, “What day thou buyest the field of the hand of Naomi, thou must also acquire with it Ruth the Moabitess. She goes along with the land, and you know what you have to do with her. You have to raise up children by her so that the name of Elimelech will not be blotted out of the genealogy of Israel.”

Response of the Kinsman

Now this put a different light on it as far as Mr. So-and-so was concerned. Like many of us, he is willing to take advantage of blessings if there are no real obligations related to it. Notice in verse 6:

Ruth 4

6And the kinsman said, I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I mar mine own inheritance: redeem thou my right to thyself; for I cannot redeem it.

What Mr. So-and-so was saying to Boaz was, “Oh, that throws a different light on the whole thing. I am not interested in redeeming it because if I do, I will mar my own inheritance. I will jeopardize the property that I already have.” You see, the problem would have been when the children of Ruth were born, Ruth would have had claim upon Mr. So-and-so's property as well as Elimelech's property. Mr. So-and-so didn't think it was a very wise bargain at all. So he said to Boaz, “You feel free to go right ahead.” That is exactly what Boaz wanted. I may be a little too cynical, but I am wondering if he didn't approach the whole matter this way so he could be sure to get what he wanted because I think by this time you know, in reading the book of Ruth, that Boaz was in love with Ruth. He wasn't interested primarily in acquiring the property. He didn't really need it. He was a wealthy man, but he was interested in acquiring Ruth.

Formal Recognition of Boaz's Offer

According to the custom of the day, the matter had to be registered. Just as we purchase property today and the deeds have to be registered, the thing had to be formally recognized. In verse 7, you see the manner in which it was done.

Ruth 4

7Now this was the manner in former time in Israel concerning redeeming and concerning changing, for to confirm all things; a man plucked off his shoe, and gave it to his neighbour: and this was a testimony in Israel.

It was recognized in Israel as the command of God. You will recall that in our last lesson, we read to you a portion of the book of Deuteronomy, as well as from the book of Leviticus, in which the Levirate law was emphasized. Perhaps you will remember in that description not only was the shoe taken off, but the individual who refused to perform the rite of brother to the wife of the deceased was spit upon. The widow withdrew the shoe from off the man and spit in his face and from then on he was known as “Mr. Barefoot.” It was a title that indicated shame because he refused to do what God wanted him to do. Time changes all things, and this far down in the history of Israel they had stopped the practice of spitting. The widow didn't take off the shoe; the man himself did it.

Some folk suggest that since Mr. So-and-so did not actually refuse to fulfill his right–that is, he didn't neglect the widow– that it wasn't necessary to put him to all this shame. This we don't know, but we bring this to your attention because if you are a careful student of the Word of God, you will notice these things and they will appear to be contradictions; and if you have no reason for them, then you won't be able to understand why they occur as they do.

Ruth 4

9And Boaz said unto the elders, and unto all the people, Ye are witnesses this day, that I have bought all that was Elimelech's, and all that was Chilion's and Mahlon's, of the hand of Naomi.

Elimelech and their two sons, Chilion and Mahlon, you will recall, died in the land of Moab. Boaz wanted it distinctly understood that no one had any further claim on this legacy. He had purchased it in full. In verse 10, he said:

Ruth 4

10Moreover Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of Mahlon, have I purchased to be my wife, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance, that the name of the dead be not cut off from among his brethren, and from the gate of his place: ye are witnesses this day.

Notice the phrase, “from the gate of this place.” There will always be a descendent of Elimelech to come to the gate of the city to take part in whatever judicial matters were presented. In verse 11:

Ruth 4

11And all the people that were in the gate, and the elders, said, We are witnesses…

“We do see what you have said and we give our testimony to it.”

Benediction of the Witness

Then they uttered a benediction which was typical of the day.

Ruth 4

11…The LORD make the woman that is come into thine house like Rachel and like Leah, which two did build the house of Israel: and do thou worthily in Ephratah, and be famous in Bethlehem:

The benediction was that Ruth would be a fruitful woman and that Boaz would not be disappointed in his desires to have a child. You will keep in mind that I told you in our last lesson that at this particular time Boaz was something like eighty years of age, and the possibilities of his producing children were not as good as if he had been younger. They continued the benediction in verse 12:

Ruth 4

12And let thy house be like the house of Pharez, whom Tamar bare unto Judah, of the seed which the LORD shall give thee of this young woman.

We will have something more to say about Pharez later. He was a descendent of Judah through whom the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, was to come. Technically speaking, Pharez was the progenitor of the entire tribe of Judah. So they were saying, “We hope that Ruth will be a very fruitful woman.” Now, children in that day were thought to be, and they were very definitely, the blessing of the Lord, for each mother expected when she gave birth to a male child that that child would be the Messiah; even Eve expected that. So it was a disgrace not to have children and a special blessing to have them.

The Promised Descendent

These folk probably recognized the difficulty involved because you will notice in the last part of verse 12, they said, “…of the seed which the LORD shall give thee of this young woman.” In verse 13, we read:

Ruth 4

13So Boaz took Ruth, and she was his wife: and when he went in unto her, the LORD gave her conception, and she bare a son.

This is the second of two instances that are important in the history of Israel where God created a miracle in the womb of a woman in question. One of them is related to Sarah, and one of them here is related to Ruth. In verse 13, you will notice, “Ruth bare a son.” I want you to notice the difference to the approach to the subject. It would seem that everyone would rejoice with Ruth and would be praising her, but not so. You read in verse 14:

Ruth 4

14And the women said unto Naomi [Naomi, mind you, the grandmother] , Blessed be the LORD, which hath not left thee this day without a kinsman, that his name may be famous in Israel.

The kinsman referred to here is not Boaz. The kinsman referred to here is the little baby that was born. They were saying, “God is so good to give you a child whose name will be famous in Israel.” It is highly improbably at that time that they knew how famous this young man was going to be. In verse 15, they continued to speak what this child would mean to Naomi.

Ruth 4

15And he shall be unto thee a restorer of thy life, and a nourisher of thine old age: for thy daughter in law, which loveth thee, which is better to thee than seven sons, hath born him.
16And Naomi took the child, and laid it in her bosom, and became nurse unto it.
17And the women her neighbours gave it a name, saying, There is a son born to Naomi [you will notice not to Ruth, but to Naomi] ; and they called his name Obed [”Obed” means ”obedient one.” Notice the added statement.] : he is the father of Jesse, the father of David.

Genealogy Traced to David

In the remaining verses of the chapter, there is a genealogy. Some Bible scholars are of the opinion that it was added at a later date. I see no reason for having to believe that. There are some Bible scholars who feel that the reason the book of Ruth is written and recorded in the Bible is for the sake of this genealogy right here. I question that, but the genealogy is certainly important. Notice:

Ruth 4

18Now these are the generations of Pharez: Pharez begat Hezron,
19And Hezron begat Ram, and Ram begat Amminadab,
20And Amminadab begat Nahshon, and Nahshon begat Salmon,
21And Salmon begat Boaz, and Boaz begat Obed,
22And Obed begat Jesse, and Jesse begat David.

We will have something to say about that genealogy a little later on, but at the moment I think that having read the chapter, and I trust pointed out some of the difficulties in it in such a way that the information historically is clear to you, I would like for us to notice one or two analogies which come to mind as we read this chapter, keeping in mind what we have suggested to you already that the analogy is a spiritual blessing which is drawn from the historical event.

The Reward of Faith

The first one that I would like to call to your attention I am designating, “the reward of faith.” You would expect this, in the light of the outline that we gave you, because we said that chapter 4 tells the story of Ruth rewarded. But by way of spiritual application, and the blessing of analogy to be applied to our lives, we will call it, “the reward of faith” generally speaking.

Before we can look at and enjoy the reward of faith, I think what we are going to have to notice in this story is the development of faith. Before we are able to notice the development of faith in the book of Ruth, I think one of the things we have to know about faith, if we don't already realize it, is that faith is not perfect. It is not full-grown when we first believe or when we first begin our life with Christ. I wish somehow this message could be gotten by every believer, because I find people all the time discouraged because their faith has seemed to fail or they don't have as much faith as someone else has and they wonder if there isn't something wrong with them because their faith is not strong. I am unhappy to have to say this, but it is true: Many preachers leave people with this impression. When they pray for them, quite often they will tell them the reason that God is not answering the preacher or the Christian's prayer for the person who stands in need of prayer, is that the person who is standing in need of prayer lacks something as far as his faith is concerned. I do not believe that anyone would be disturbed by remarks such as that if they understood the development of faith as it is taught in God's Word.

The Development of Faith

I would like for us to have just a very brief survey of the fact that there is such a thing as the development of faith. I would suggest that you keep a marker in the book of Ruth and turn to the book of Romans and notice with me the first chapter of the book of Romans. While you are turning there, let me remind you that in this first chapter of the book of Romans, the apostle is speaking about the righteousness of Christ which is to be made available to all men. He himself felt that he was a debtor to all men to get this message across to them. In verse 16, he said:

Romans 1

16For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
17For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

Salvation is a matter of faith. We are told, for example, in Ephesians, chapter 2, verses 8 and 9, that the very faith with which we are able to believe is the gift of God. There are individuals sometimes who say, “Oh, I would love to be a Christian, but I just don't have faith enough to be a Christian.” An individual who speaks like that is speaking unintelligently in relation to God's Word. Your responsibility is to come: “Whosoever will may come and take of the water of life freely.”

There in Ephesians, chapter 2, verses 8 and 9, we are told that we are saved not by works, lest any man should boast, but by faith through grace and that faith itself is the gift of God. That is reason that Paul is saying here that the just shall live by faith and adding the statement that the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith. I wonder what he means by that?

I am going to suggest that we look at some other renderings of this particular phrase. For example, the Berkeley rendering presents it, “through faith leading to faith.” I like that. You are saved by faith. God gives you that faith, and that faith leads to other faith. You see, it is a progressive thing. It is a developing thing. That is the reason it is so important when you are witnessing to people not to try to get them to quit their meanness before they come to Christ.

I don't know how many times I have heard people say, perhaps to a person who is an alcoholic and unsaved, “Now if you just quit your drinking and come to Christ, you will be saved.” Or to a gambler, “If you just quit your gambling and come to Christ, you will be saved.” Beloved, a dead man can't do anything, and a dead man couldn't quit drinking or couldn't quit gambling any easier than could a man who is unsaved. The invitation should be, “Come to Christ.” If they ask you about the drinking or gambling, you can tell them that the Holy Spirit can take care of that. You see, it is through faith which leads to faith, and the individual who does not have the faith in an unsaved state will have the faith in a saved state.

Faith That Arouses More Faith

I was talking recently to a dear lady who is a chain smoker. I didn't say anything about it. She did, and she said, “Oh, how I have tried to stop this. I must not have enough faith.” There is a sense in which what she was saying is true. I pointed out to her that she had not been a believer long and she had not learned how to lay hold on the promises of God, that faith would increase. What is the big problem now will not be a big problem later on. Even as I make that statement, I am perfectly aware of the fact that when there are some undesirable habits which some of us have that we would like to get rid of, we ask the Lord and immediately He removes them. That isn't true of everyone. It is through faith leading to faith. The Amplified rendering puts it, “disclosed through faith that arouses more faith.” I like that. This righteousness, this salvation, is disclosed through faith, and that faith arouses more faith. You see, there is a development of faith; and if we would recognize that, we would not be so apt to be so discouraged and we might be a greater blessing in trying to help other believers. Williams' translation presents it, “The way of faith that leads to a greater faith.” That emphasizes everything that we have suggested to you–that faith is a matter of development.

Someone might say, “I wonder if this is just your idea or is this something that is verified further in the Word of God?” The Apostle Paul was greatly burdened about the faith of individuals. He knew that God gave faith for salvation, for he said that in his letter to the Ephesians. He knew that God gave the gift of faith, for he said that in the letter to the Corinthians. Of course, the gift of faith is the ability to do unusual things by faith that the person without the gift would not be able to do. He recognized as well that the faith with which we are speaking, the faith of the ordinary man, is not a perfect faith. He was greatly burdened by it.

Perfect That Which is Lacking

Turn, please, to I Thessalonians, chapter 3. There were two places that Paul wanted to visit long before he was able to visit them. He greatly desired to visit these places, and God's time schedule and his time schedule were not always the same. He wanted to visit Rome, and God did not permit him to visit Rome according to his schedule. He wanted to visit Thessalonica, and God did not permit him, according to Paul's schedule, to visit Thessalonica. Because he could not visit them, greatly concerned about them, he wrote the epistles to the Thessalonians, which the Holy Spirit has been pleased to record for us in the Word of God. Notice verse 8, please, in chapter 3, where Paul said:

I Thessalonians 3

8For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord.

What he was saying was, “It's our life to see you live for Christ.” Physical fathers and mothers have felt that way about their children. Oh, how thrilled they are to know that their children are living for Christ. These were Paul's spiritual children in the faith and he said, “I just live to know that you are living for the Lord.” In verse 9:

I Thessalonians 3

9For what thanks can we render to God again for you, for all the joy wherewith we joy for your sakes before our God;
10Night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith?

You see, he did not say that these Thessalonican believers did not have any faith. He said, “I know from certain things I have heard that there are some things lacking in your faith, and I long to be able to come to see you so that I can perfect that which is lacking.”

Here again, it might be helpful for us to notice some other renderings so we call your attention to Phillips' rendering where he said, “I long to come to see you that I might be able to complete whatever is imperfect in your faith.” Paul believed faith cometh by hearing and hearing the Word of God. He knew that if their faith was imperfect, it was because they did not understand God's Word as well as they should, so he wanted to instruct them in the way of righteousness more perfectly.

I like the way the Living Bible presents this with this very ordinary phrase, “Fill up any little cracks that are in your faith.” I like that. Paul said, “I want to come and see you and fill up any little cracks that are in your faith.” Is your faith cracked? Does it get cracked sometimes? You know sometimes the pressures can crack your faith and you need someone to help you. You need someone to help you fill up those cracks.

We have another reference in Thessalonians, chapter 1, verse 3. The reason we ask you to notice that is to tell you that Paul was not disappointed and to verify what we are saying to you that faith is a developing thing. It is a growing thing. In verse 3:

II Thessalonians 1

3We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth;

In his first letter, he wrote, “I want to come to you and perfect that which is lacking in your faith; I want to seal up the cracks.” Sometime later he wrote the second letter and said, “I just want to tell you how happy I am because of the good things that I am hearing. I am hearing that your faith is developing and it is developing at an exceeding rate of speed.” Paul had the same thought in mind when he said to the Corinthian believers, “I have got a number of things that I would like to talk to you about, but I can't talk to you about them because you are still babes. You haven't grown spiritually. Your faith hasn't grown.” In his letter to the Hebrews, he said, “Some of you are still feeding on milk when you ought to be feeding on meat, and not only feeding on meat, you ought to be teaching someone else.” You see, some folk don't develop the way they ought to, and one of the reasons that they don't develop is that their faith does not develop.

The Growth of Faith

Turn with me, please, to the Gospel according to Mark, because I want you to notice what I have termed, “A Parable of the Growth of Faith.” The Lord Jesus Christ was speaking about how faith grows. He said, “You know, it is just like a man who plants a seed and he goes to bed and he goes to sleep. The process of growth is carried on and he has absolutely nothing to do with it. It has to do what it does naturally, and if nothing interferes with it, it will do it. Unless it follows its natural suggestion of growth, it will never be the kind of faith that it needs to be.”

I think I have told you before about my children, when they were very young, planting a bean so they could watch its growth. They planted it in good black dirt in a little box, and we expected to see some results. Every now and then I would look and wouldn't see anything but the black dirt. I thought, “What could have happened?” It was being watered regularly. It should surely begin to put forth a shoot by and by. As we began to discuss it with the children, we found the reason it had not grown. The reason it was not going to grow was that they were so anxious to know about the progress that every day they dug up the bean to see if it was growing just a little bit.

That is exactly what people do with faith. They won't let it take its natural course. They berate themselves for not having the faith that someone else has, and they believe that they are failing God and that God is withholding His blessings because they don't have the kind of faith they ought to have.

Notice the paragraph which begins with verse 26:

Mark 4

26And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground;
27And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how.

Again and again I am asked what I can tell people to help their faith grow. Oh, I can tell them a few things that might encourage them, but I can't tell them how they can make their faith grow anymore than I can tell them how a seed grows in this parable of growth. Notice in verse 28:

Mark 4

28For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.
29But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come.

If you were listening closely, you will notice four steps in the development of faith. The seed has already been planted, you know. That is when you come to Christ. So we are not talking about the seed. We are talking about the growth from the seed. First there is the blade, then there is the ear, then there is the full-grown corn in the ear, and then there is the harvest. You see, Beloved, some folk want the harvest before the blade ever disappears, and it is an utter impossibility. Some folk, when they are in the blade stage, want to be enjoying the full-grown corn stage, and it is an utter impossibility.

I am not prepared to say how long it will take you to go from the blade to the harvest. I don't know, and I know of no Scripure that will tell us. I would be afraid to even suggest because people develop at different rates of speed, spiritually speaking. I would encourage you to remember that the only way that you are going to have the rest and peace that you need and to be able to lay hold on the promises of God is to recognize that faith is a developing process.

We have talked about the development of faith, and we haven't been able to say anything about the reward of faith, and I had several analogies that I wanted to bring to your attention, but we will have to reserve them for another time. We do want to take the few moments we have remaining and show you how in this story Ruth's faith developed.

Ruth's Faith In the First Stage

In chapter 1, you see Ruth's faith in the blade stage. The seed had already been planted, for Naomi had evidently told Ruth and Orpha the story, if we may be permitted to use New Testament terms with this Old Testament story. She had the opportunity of accepting or rejecting. In the paragraph which begins with verse 16, you will find Ruth in the blade stage. Ruth said:

Ruth 1

16And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God:
17Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.
18When she [Naomi] saw that she was stedfastly minded to go with her, then she left speaking unto her.

This is the stage of a new convert. All she knows is that she has trusted God. That same stage is described in chapter 2 when Boaz was speaking to her and said in verse 12:

Ruth 2

12The LORD recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust.

Just the blade, that's all. She had come to trust under the wings of Jehovah. Did you notice that even Boaz spoke of the reward of faith as yet a future event–a full reward, yet future?

Second Stage of Ruth's Growth

Notice the second stage, the growth of the ear. In chapter 2, verses 2 and 3:

Ruth 2

2And Ruth the Moabitess said unto Naomi, Let me now go to the field, and glean ears of corn after him in whose sight I shall find grace. And she said unto her, Go, my daughter.
3And she went, and came, and gleaned in the field after the reapers: and her hap was to light on a part of the field belonging unto Boaz, who was of the kindred of Elimelech.

I say that this is the second stage of faith, the ear, because she took her first step of faith. As we have already pointed out to you, the only way for widows and poor folk to exist in that day was to go glean in the fields. Here she was a Moabitess. She might have said, “But I am not an Israelite, and I have really no right to be gleaning anywhere, but I am going to go.” This was a step of faith. Did you notice what she said? “All I expect is grace. I am going to glean in whose field I shall find grace.”

Did you notice how God encouraged her faith, the faith that arouses faith? She had come to trust God. She had faith enough to go out and glean in the fields. You read here that it was her hap to light on a part of the field belonging unto Boaz. We have already pointed out to you and shown you from Scripture that this was not an accident. It was the providential dealing of God. Beloved, are you saved? Take one little step of faith, and you will be amazed at what God will begin to do for you. I have always said, not from Scripture but from the standpoint of experience, that you take one step toward God and He will take two steps toward you. Remember it wasn't the prodigal who did the running when he started home; it was the father. The prodigal started home, and the father ran to meet him. That is the way God always responds to our faith. Notice, in Moab, just the blade; in Bethlehem, the ear, and in chapter 3 you will notice the full-grown corn. You will see that full-grown corn illustrated in verse 18 of chapter 3.

The Harvest of Faith

You will recall how we learned that Naomi made certain suggestions as to the custom of the day in relation to securing Boaz for a husband and Ruth obeyed without question. That is another sign of her faith. It worked out just like Naomi said it would work out, and she went back home with evidence that it worked. Then in verse 18, Naomi said:

Ruth 3

18Then said she, Sit still, my daughter, until thou know how the matter will fall: for the man will not be in rest, until he have finished the thing this day.

Beloved, this is the full-grown corn. I don't know at what stage your faith may be right at this moment, but I want to tell you that when you are able to sit still and wait, sit still and wait and see what the Lord will do, your faith has developed into the full-grown corn; and then, and only then, will you be able to reap the harvest.

The harvest, or the reward of faith for Ruth, is described here in chapter 4, verses which we will examine in detail a little bit later. The harvest of faith–my, what a harvest there was. In all of those phrases: “kinsman,” “restorer of life,” “nourisher of thine old age,” “better than seven sons,” “famous in all of Israel.” I daresay that if anyone had said to Ruth down there in the land of Moab, “Ruth, I want you to believe that you are going to bear a son who will become a famous man in all of Israel. Ruth, I want you to believe that you are going to be the ancestress of the Son of God when He comes to this earth.”, I think she would have said, “I can't believe.” But by the time her faith had reached the full-grown stage, she didn't have any trouble believing. Did you notice in chapter 4 there is not one word of Ruth's reluctance in relation to what went on? She didn't even say, “How can this eighty year old man cause me to produce a child?” She took the attitude that many of us ought to take about many things–I don't know how, but it will be.

Conclusion

If in relation to our faith we take the attitude that is mentioned in the parable of the growth of faith in Mark, chapter 4, and go to sleep, and get up the next day, and go about our business, and go to sleep the next night, and get up the next day, and go about our business, we would find ourselves, not through struggle, but through the very working of the Spirit of God, in that sphere of growth that would accomplish a great thing. Let your faith grow, but don't dig up the bean too much. It can't grow if you are doubting it all of the time.

Prayer

Grant, our Father, the ministry of the Holy Spirit for the words we tried to present. Grant that the Word will not return unto Thee void. For we pray in Jesus' name. Amen.


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