STUDY OF RUTH
Chapter 1 – Are you a Ruth or Orpah?
1. What was the situation that Naomi and her family faced in verses 1-7?
- Famine in Judah and they traveled to Moab to find food
- They had two sons and Elimelech (Naomi’s husband) died
- The sons married Moabite women – Orpah and Ruth
- After about 10 years, Kilion and Mahlon (sons) died with no children.
- When Naomi heard that food was once again available in Judah, she set out with her two daughter-in-laws for home.
2. Why did Naomi encourage the daughter-in-laws to return to their homeland (verses 8-13)?
- They could find another husband for each other because Naomi had no husband to produce sons plus it would take a very long time for those news sons to be ready to marry and have children.
- The girls were young and could find other husbands much easier than Naomi.
3. Why would Ruth respond the way she did to Naomi for she was not an Israelite nor was there any guarantee she would remarry (verses 14-18)?
- Ruth was committed and loyal to her mother-in-law, to take care of her. She had taken on the identity of Naomi’s family and believed she now belonged to that family.
- Prompting from God, Ruth saw the faith of the family, the godliness of Naomi and that became her cornerstone
4. What was the significance of taking on the identity of Naomi’s people and to choose to worship the God of Israel (verse 16 – Your people will be my people and your God will be my God)? Have you experienced a time in your life where you had the choice of totally surrendering your will, your dreams and desires for life to God/Jesus (a defining moment in your life)? Did you have any guarantees that your life would go well? Did it mean a greater level of suffering or in what ways did you receive blessings?
- Ruth was putting her faith in the Almighty God, trusting and worshipping the true God. There was true repentance in her heart. Israel was now Ruth’s people and this put her in position to be in the line of David (lineage of the Savior).
- Her decision to identify herself with the Israelites and God, was for time and eternity. This was not at all an easy decision. Ruth had no guarantees but decided to trust God no matter the outcome. In order to be a growing, spiritual leader, you have to surrender what you want in life and place yourself under the direction and control of God (the Holy Spirit). You cannot serve both God and yourself in order to be an effective spiritual leader. Ruth totally committed herself to Naomi and God as she made a vow, essentially saying, “May a severe judgment come on me if I am not faithful to the vow I have made”.
- This decision defined Ruth’s life, which she was and certainly what she would become. Orpah on the other hand, decided to go back and we do not hear of her again. She went back to idolatry to worshipping Chemosh, the god of the Moabites.
- As we grow in our spiritual lives and when we are given the opportunities to serve as spiritual leaders, we will face situations where we either tell God we are totally committed to Him, nothing will hold you back from serving Him or we just cannot surrender everything to Him. It is at these moments that our journey, walk with God/Jesus will grow to new levels or that journey is stymied. If we say no to God, we lose those blessings we could have had.
5. How humble of an attitude did Ruth have to make these statements, knowing how deep your culture and heritage is ingrained in you? Could you personally change your identity to another tribe or country?
- Ruth was very humble. She essentially emptied all of who she was and knew to take on the identity of an Israelite and a worshipper of God. To lay aside the practices and cultural norms you have grown up with is very difficult. It takes a reeducation of your thinking processes just as Romans 12:2 talks about renewing your mind. To change your thinking process is a slow, sometimes difficult under taking. Ruth was doing what Christians are encouraged to do in Philippians 2:3-5, to put the needs of others ahead of oneself and to have the mind of Christ. She was being totally transformed because of her personal relationship with Jehovah.
6. What was Naomi teaching Ruth as Naomi wrestled through the difficult experiences in her life (verses 19-22) as Naomi was a spiritual mentor to Ruth? Why is it important to allow someone you are mentoring to see the good and bad times in your life?
- Initially, how to be a wife and what it meant to be a godly wife and mother.
- Be faithful to God no matter the circumstances that you go through.
- That you will not always be happy, but that God is with you no matter what.
- God never promised that life would be easy or happy. Often when we go through difficult times in life, the hand and grace of God can be seen more clearly in our lives. Being a believer does not exempt you from tragedy and difficult times. These times are a part of life here on earth and younger Christians need to see how we wrestle with life when these times come into our lives. Christians need to know it is
period of time, because that is who we are in the way God has created us. He created us with emotions and feelings.
7. As a spiritual mentor, what do you share with your mentee? Who is a spiritual mentor for you? Who can you share your life with as a mentor?
- You share what is happening in your life, the good and bad, the exciting times and the disappointments.
- You share how God has worked in your life and what you are learning in your relationship with Him.
- Share how to be a good spouse and parent, a friend, a good employee.
- Share your life and how God is weaved into who you are.
- Share experiences of life.
- Spend time in the Word of God and living life together.
8. Why do people not mentor when it is clear in scripture that it is a Biblical principle? How can you mentor a younger believer?
- We do not mentor people because we are busy, lazy spiritually, not interested in others, selfish, do not want to be accountable to others or think we have nothing to offer. If you have experienced anything with God, you can start sharing that. Being a mentor pushes your walk with God. You realize that you are accountable to another Christian, often a younger believer, who will take your examples of the Christian life and replicate them in their lives. We become responsible to other Christians and that can scare you, because of the implications.
Chapter 2 – Boaz’s Graciousness to Ruth
1. How do we see the providence (how God works without us knowing that He is working) of God with Ruth (verses 1-7)?
- Naomi had a relative named Boaz who was a kinsman. A kinsman is a mighty man of wealth. Boaz was from the same clan as Elimelech, Naomi’s husband.
- Ruth knew the Mosaic (Moses’) law that allowed the poor to gather grain that had fallen or was left behind from the reapers.
- Also Ruth “happened or by accident” to go to Boaz’ field because Naomi had not instructed her to go to a particular field.
- Boaz also noticed her as she worked in the field probably because her appearance and dress was different from the others in the field.
2. Can you share of an experience when God was either working in your life or your surroundings and you did not know what He was doing at the time?
3. How would the Israelites have viewed Ruth or looked upon her?
- Some could have had a derogatory view of Ruth as she was a foreigner and was different plus these heathens did not worship the God of Israel.
- Others looked at Ruth as someone who was very selfless, for it took a very humble person to do what Ruth did with Naomi, to essentially empty herself of who she was and take on the identity of a worshipper of God and of an Israelite.
- The Israelites did see that Ruth was a very hard worker and had a submissive attitude as she had asked permission from Boaz’ foreman to glean from the fields.
4. To be an effective spiritual leader, you have to allow God to develop you in your character. How was God developing Ruth? How is He developing you now?
- God had placed Ruth in a very humbling situation first with her husband dying and she was childless.
- Secondly, she returned with Naomi to a foreign land and was subject to prejudice, scrutiny and derogatory comments. Ruth was in a situation where she totally emptied herself of who she was and took on a new identity as a believer of Jehovah God.
- She lived in poor conditions and was very dependent on others for sustenance of life.
5. From verses 8-16, how did Boaz show grace and hospitality to Ruth?
- He spoke gently to her using the title, “my daughter”.
- Ruth was told to glean from his field and work alongside Boaz’ servant girls.
- Boaz’ men were instructed not to touch her.
- When she was thirsty, she was invited to get a drink from the water Boaz’ men brought. Plus at mealtime, Ruth was invited to eat with Boaz’ group, given a place of honor, enjoying the food that had been prepared and eating to her fill.
- Finally Boaz instructed his men to pull out some stalks of grain and leave them for Ruth, which meant Ruth would be an abundance of grain to gather for Naomi and her.
6. Why was Boaz showing Ruth, a foreigner, so much favor and grace?
- Ruth humbly asked Boaz why he was being to kind and gracious to her. He replied that he had heard how selfless Ruth had been with the death of her own husband and Naomi’s husband, how she left her homeland and came to live with a people who she did not know. That was a great act of grace, humbleness and faithfulness on her part. Her reputation had reached many people and people were seeing the character of Ruth revealed.
- Boaz prayed that Ruth would be abundantly rewarded by God because Boaz nor any other human could repay her for her faithfulness. Ruth was seeking the Lord’s safety as a hen places her wing over her chicks.
7. How was Ruth developing as a spiritual leader at this point in her life?
- Ruth’s attitude was preparing her to be a great spiritual leader. She had a heart of selflessness, being faithful and willing to serve God under difficult situations. She understood her place, as a foreigner and God was being very gracious to her. She actually felt unworthy of Boaz’ acts of kindness.
If we as Christians never develop or lose the attitude of humility, our effectiveness as spiritual leaders diminish. We may have human “results” like we want to see but with God, we will not be successful. It is like the story of Moses in Numbers 20, where God told him to speak to the rock to have water come out but because of his anger toward the Israelites (and the fact that God had instructed him to strike the rock the first time Israel needed water), Moses struck the rock. Water came out and the Israelites were satisfied but God was displeased because Moses was disobedient to Him. This sin resulted in Moses not being able to enter the Promised Land. Therefore, if we do desire to be effective spiritual leaders, may we aggressively pursue an attitude of humility.
8. How was God preparing for the eventual marital union between Boaz and Ruth in verses 17-23?
- First God led Ruth to Boaz’ field.
- Secondly Boaz was being very generous to Ruth and providing for a relative’s (Elimelech) family. He told Ruth to return each day to his harvest fields until all was finished. This statement by Boaz gave Ruth protection from workers at other owners’ fields.
Often we do not see God working in all His ways. There will be times that we have no idea what He is doing, yet He is working unseen for our good. When God gives you a passion to accomplish something for the Kingdom, He just does not give you the task, He also is working. Be encouraged that God is active in harvesting in His kingdom and we as laborers, have Him working right there with us, going ahead of us to prepare our opportunities in the work.
Chapter 3 – The Kinsman-Redeemer
1. What was Ruth’s attitude toward her mother-in-law especially regarding the instructions given in verses 1-6?
- Ruth humbly accepted the advice being given to her by Naomi. Naomi felt that Ruth should not remain a poor, unwed gleaner for the rest of her life. Plus Boaz was a relative, though not the closest relative of Elimelech, so he had the possibility of being able to “redeem” Ruth by marrying her.
For a number of years, Ruth was following her mother-in-law. Ruth was the loyal, submissive servant of Naomi, learning from Naomi in whatever way she could. She followed Naomi’s instructions, not questioning Naomi’s motives as Ruth knew Naomi had her best interests in mind at all times. Here is a long term mentoring situation. Naomi was grooming her daughter-in-law to be a better wife and a growing, maturing believer. Unknown to both women, Ruth would become part of the lineage of Christ, yet Naomi played a key role in that preparation process. As mature believers, we have an obligation to help encourage, equip and empower the next generation of Christians. If we are concerned that if you help develop a younger Christian mature, that he or she will then take your job away or will get more recognition than you for the tasks they perform, partly due to the preparation you give them in mentoring, then you and I have an attitude problem and are very selfish.
One of the greatest compliments that can be given to you is to have someone whom you mentored, surpass you. Mentoring someone is to build that person up, helping that person to grow and mature in Christ. Some of the greatest rewards that can be given out in heaven will go to those Christians who were never recognized for their obedience here on earth by other Christians because we have a great tendency to applaud and build up those Christians whose deeds we see.
It may not be culturally acceptable or encouraged to have a younger person age wise or a Christian who is younger than you for the number of years the two of you have been Christians, surpass you. Nor may it be culturally acceptable to applaud or encourage a servant or someone who is not doing visible activity. Yet biblically, we are to encourage people being servants and build up the Body of Christ, regardless of age. This is where we must choose to follow the biblical route.
2. Often when God is leading someone to be involved in an aspect of His Sovereign plan, He is working unbeknownst to that person. Where do you see God having gone before Ruth, in her preparation to become part of Christ’s lineage (verses 7-14)?
- Boaz very quickly affirmed the desire to be Ruth’s kinsman-redeemer. First you needed to be related to the person who needed to be redeemed or someone to buy back the property that belonged to her former husband Mahlon because Naomi and she were poverty-stricken and she also had no children. Boaz was a nephew of Elimelech. In the Mosaic Law, a widow could claim immediately a brother or nearest kinsman thus a law to protect womanhood.
- Boaz is not the closest relative but was very anxiously willing to meet with the nearest of kin and have that kin decide whether he would redeem Ruth. If not, Boaz was ready. Boaz also had the financial resources to redeem Ruth. He was an older man and knew that from a male standpoint, there were many younger men who would have gladly married Ruth, but Ruth claimed Boaz and put this aspect of the Mosaic Law into motion.
- God wants to use us in His sovereign will and plans. He invites us to become a part of what He is doing in the world. As we learn the way God has gifted and made us, we are able to then get involved in different ministry opportunities that brings joy and fulfillment to our lives.
- Yet God encourages us to put both feet into the river (step out in faith), just as the priests had to do when Israel was to cross the Jordan River to claim the Promised Land. When they completely stepped in, then at that point, God stopped the flow of the river so the people could cross (Joshua 3). The blessings or the rewards of our faith do not come to us until we step out in faith.
- Boaz was concerned both for Ruth’s safety and reputation as he had her stay at the threshing floor during the night and just before sunrise, had her leave to protect her reputation so that no one would think that she had come to get involved sexually with Boaz.
3. How did Boaz continue to meet the needs of Ruth and Naomi (verses 15-18)?
- Before leaving the threshing floor, Boaz supplied Ruth with a generous amount of barley, not wanting Ruth to leave empty handed and also making sure that the two ladies had enough to eat.
4. How did Naomi know that Boaz would not rest until the Kinsman-Redeemer issue was settled?
- She saw how quickly Boaz left to head into the town to talk with the closest relative plus Boaz was a man who made good, though-through decisions. He had not become a successful businessman by accident.
- Naomi also had a pretty good idea that Boaz was extremely willing and desirous to marry Ruth.
Chapter 4 – Boaz Marries Ruth
1. What was the cultural norm or procedure of protecting a family name and property? How did God use that procedure to involve Ruth in the lineage of Christ (verses 1-12)?
- It was the responsibility of the community to follow through on the kinsman-redeemer law. In order for a family to be preserved from extinction, the closest relative of a dead male, was essentially obligated to purchase the land from the widow who had no sons in order to keep the land in the family name as the redeemer was also then to marry the widow, in order to produce a son who then would inherit the land in question. This land would never belong to the kinsman-redeemer, but was in holding for the future son.
- Even though Ruth was not an Israelite, God brought in Gentile blood in the lineage of Christ (that He was and is the Savior of all the world). God took an aspect of the Mosaic Law to graft in a Gentile for this purpose. Ruth loved the family of her husband Mahlon so much that she gave up her identity and faithfully served her mother-in-law for quite some time.
2. How obedient was Ruth to Naomi? How does God use obedience to spiritual authorities for fulfilling His sovereign plans?
- Ruth was obedient to Naomi by going out to gather food and God directed her to Boaz’ field, the one person who eventually was willing to redeem her. She was also obedient to Naomi as she followed Naomi’s instructions to go to Boaz’ threshing floor, thus willing to claim Boaz as her kinsman-redeemer, even though he was much older than Ruth. There had to have been plenty of younger, better looking single men who would have certainly taken Ruth as their wife. Once again, Ruth gave up her rights, putting herself under the obedience of Naomi (and God), in essence submitting herself to whatever Naomi was directing her.
3. How does God use obedience to spiritual authorities for fulfilling His sovereign plans?
- It is very easy not to put yourself under the authority of a spiritual leader in your life. Your pride questions why you would need to submit to someone like that. You are a growing, maturing Christian and what would the role of submitting to a spiritual leader do for your development.
- Perhaps the most difficult step in the maturing process of a developing leader is to be a follower. It is no accident that you want to go out and do things for God. You have a burning desire to blaze new pathways for God because God has placed in you those desires.
- Yet God places people in your life to have you place yourself under their authority to mature and mold you even more deeply, perhaps preparing you for future opportunities. If you do not humbly place yourself under that spiritual authority, you may be losing out on the learning experience you need for that future opportunity or God will pass you by and give a certain opportunity to another person because you were not willing to be obedient in this situation.
- This is a difficult concept for younger people to grasp yet being obedient to those truths could make the difference between a joyous life time of ministry service and one where you had good ministry but it could have been much better and joyous. Refer to Luke 19:11-27 with the parable of the Ten Minas. Contrast the commendations of the servants (verses 16-19). One was rewarded more than the other. (See in WILD’s Spiritual Leadership Training material, Chapter 10 for a deeper discussion on this passage.)
- Biblical examples of followership would include Elisha and Elijah, Joshua and Moses, Paul and Barnabas, the Apostles and Jesus, Titus and Paul, Timothy and Paul.
4. What is the responsibility of a spiritual leader when someone places themselves under that spiritual leader’s authority?
- To treat that mentee with complete respect and to do whatever the leader is capable of doing to develop the mentee in the best way the leader knows how. It also involves humbling yourself as the leader as often the mentee is younger both age wise and spiritually and allowing the mentee to succeed under your guidance. This can result in the mentee receiving praise and criticism as the mentee performs duties or ministry opportunities. It is very easy to allow the mentee to receive the criticism but we do not like to give the praise to the one to whom it is deserved. As a leader it is very easy to keep the praise to ourselves or make it look like we were the ones to make something succeed.
- Being the leader we can easily squelch spiritual growth in a mentee for many reasons. Saul was tormented when greater accolades were given to David instead of him. It is hard to build up the mentee and have him or her do better than you. Yet that is a responsibility of the mentor, the spiritual leader.
- There are many cultures that do not encourage the building up of a younger mentee. “Their time will come!”, or “They are not old enough and worked hard enough to deserve this praise!”, are statement that we use to rationalize our actions. Also for many cultures building up women by men is not the cultural norm. Here is where we must wrestle between what does the Bible teach versus what the culture teaches. As spiritual leaders we must follow the Bible before culture.
5. How did God bless Ruth’s faithfulness (verses 13-22)? Did this mean that if God had not blessed Ruth with a husband and son, that Ruth was not obediently following God and there was sin in her life?
- With a wonderful marriage and a son named Obed who became the father of Jesse, who bore the son David. Also the way the people of Bethlehem looked upon Ruth was very special, “For your daughter-in-law who love you (Naomi), and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him (Obed) birth”. Having seven sons would be an indication of the blessing of God for in Hebrew tradition, children were looked upon as a sacred trust from God. Here Ruth is being hailed as a greater blessing than having many male children in the home. That was a high honor.
- We know that just being faithful to the leading of God and the Holy Spirit, does not guarantee earthly blessings. If God blesses us with earthly blessings, it is a special gift from God but does not mean we are more spiritual than someone who is faithful to God’s leading and does not receive earthly blessings (Check out Moses in Numbers 20). Again refer to Chapter 10 of the Spiritual Leadership Material for a biblical discussion on rewards that will result when we are in heaven. Not receiving earthly blessings is not an indication that you necessarily have sin in your life.
6. What motivated Ruth to be faithful to Naomi and ultimately God during the years when there was no husband available for Ruth and it looked like that she would die a poor, childless widow with the stigma that no children meant that God was not blessing her (when in fact, she was being totally faithful, obediently following her mother-in-law? What does this say to the role of being a spiritual mentor?
- Ruth submitted herself to Naomi’s leadership and her love for Naomi grew to the point where both Naomi’s family and God was the most important identity to her. Ruth felt the love and sincere passion Naomi had for her. Naomi sincerely desired and pursued the best in everything for Ruth. The most important person in Ruth’s life was Naomi and for Naomi, it was Ruth. Through her husband Mahlon and his family, Ruth saw what a daily, on-going relationship with the true God was like. That continued when it was just Naomi and Ruth, despite the pain and hurt (bitterness), Naomi had to work through.
Ruth developed that relationship with God and obediently listened to His leading, which often came through the direction and guidance of Naomi. It is of utmost significance that a spiritual leader and mentor have a growing, intimate relationship with Jesus because of the great potential influence that person has over others. Spiritual leaders have a heavy responsibility to those they have influence over, of which we will give an account for before God someday in heaven. This is not to be taken lightly. God does look and focuses on the heart of a person, not on the outward appearances like Christians so often do.
- The blessings that came to Ruth, were also blessings given to Naomi because without Naomi, Ruth would not have gotten to the position of wife of Boaz and mother of Obed. Women should never consider that their gender will keep them from being mightily used by God for His glory. God used women as spiritual leaders in the Bible and He uses women as spiritual leaders today.
7. What or where does God want you to be faithful in your spiritual journey today? Who is the person you need to mentor? Who can mentor you to help you develop in your walk with Christ? God wants to use you for His glory and building of the Kingdom. Are you willing to be obedient?