Title: Ruth: 2:12-17; Grace under God’s refuge.
RUT 2:12 May the Lord reward your work, and your wages be full from the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to seek refuge."
Last night we looked at the other places in the Bible where this imagery of being under the Lord’s wings is used and concluded with the lamentation of Jesus as He approached Jerusalem for the final time, in which He said, MAT 23:37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.”
However, Ruth was willing to be gathered as many individuals have been, and although the national of Israel must wait for her future kingdom in which she will be brought under the Lord’s wings, now, in this age, all who believe upon Christ as their Savior are brought in to that fold by the grace of God.
While it is true that many reject the grace of God, this does not change the fact that it would be offered to them.
And so Boaz blessed Ruth greatly and he instructed his staff to allow her to glean with great privilege and not oppose her in any way.
RUT 2:17 So she gleaned in the field until evening. Then she beat out what she had gleaned, and it was about an ephah of barley.
What has God blessed the church age believer with?
I decided not to do a list of blessings, but rather to come to a deeper understanding of the word used to describe God’s act of giving them to us: grace.
Grace - ca,rij[charis] = all that God has given to the believer in Christ.
This word was commonly used in pagan Greece and in connection with its philosophy, its athletics, its poetry and drama, its wonderful architecture and statuary, its blue skies and rugged mountains, its love of the beautiful.
Classical usage of charis: objects of beauty, thankfulness, and actions that went beyond expectation. NT retains these.
In pagan Greece charis referred first of all to that property in a thing which causes it to give joy to the hearers or beholders of it. Hence a thing would contain grace or beauty. The word evolved to mean the entirety of a thing rather than just its characteristics, as well as the thankfulness of a person whose favor it was to enjoy the thing. Charis evolved, and came to mean certain things and the thankfulness that goes along with them.
Ethically, charis implied a favor freely done without expectation of return.
In the NT, the classical meaning of charis was not changed. The object of charis was changed.
Charis came to be a wonderful word that described something good or even extraordinary. It was to be given with no thought of receiving anything back. And so a Greek sculptor would create a masterpiece, but would not desire anything for it other than to reveal it. Those who were blessed to see the work would offer the grace of thankfulness to the sculptor, but he wasn’t looking for this either. Much of this is in accordance with the Biblical view, but the biblical view changed the object.
[Charis] “lays the whole stress on this very point, that it is conferred freely, with no expectation of return, and finding its only motive in the bounty and free-heartedness of the giver.” [Aristotle]
Charis was also used to describe an act that was beyond the ordinary course of what might be expected, and was therefore commendable.
This word the inspired writers take over into the New Testament. In some instances it has its distinctively classical meaning, but in the other places where it is used, it takes an infinite step forward to a deeper, richer, more wonderful content of meaning.
In several places, charis is used in the NT in its purely classical meaning as thankfulness, as describing a gracious characteristic, and as an act that is beyond the ordinary course of what might be expected.
LUK 4:20 And He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed upon Him.
LUK 4:21 And He began to say to them, "Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."
LUK 4:22 And all were speaking well of Him, and wondering at the gracious words which were falling from His lips; and they were saying, "Is this not Joseph's son?"
LUK 6:32 "And if you love those who love you, what credit [charis] is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.
LUK 6:33 "And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.
LUK 6:34 "And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, in order to receive back the same amount.
“And if you greet your brothers only, what do you do more [extraordinary]? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
The extraordinary leap that the NT gave this word was to do so toward one’s enemies. The Greeks never used it this way.
But where the word took a giant leap in the NT was in the bestowal of gracious gifts to one’s enemies. The Greeks used grace towards their friends and loved ones, but never towards an enemy. To them that would be complete foolishness.
LUK 6:35 "But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.
Compare that to what He just said in vv. 32-34: "And if you love those who love you, … And if you do good to those who do good to you, … And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, … what credit [grace] is that to you? Sinners do the same.
“If you do the same as sinners do then what “charis - grace” is that to you? But love your enemies and your reward will be great.” Reward = charis of heaven.
What in fact did Christ give us? For so many, the thought of blessings, gifts, or rewards refer to earthly things, whether they are material, powerful, sexual, beautiful, etc. But Christ did not give us these. Christ gave us life and freedom.
What we thought was life, the earthly, biological, material, was not. What we thought was freedom, democracy, choices, was not. Man, being addicted to the old life and old freedom, are angry at Christ for what He did. They would have preferred Him to turn the stones into bread and thus solve world hunger. They would have preferred for Him to jump off the pinnacle of the temple in order to give them a show of wonder and awe. They would have preferred for Him to take over the kingdoms of the earth so that He could make paradises everywhere. But He refused all of it and rather chose over it the word of God.
It is not a coincidence that the devil wanted Him to do these things as well. Satan tempted Jesus to vastly improve man’s idea of life and freedom, but He rejected it, and instead gave to man His very own life and freedom, knowing that it would cost Him exactly that to accomplish it.
Christ gave us the burden of life and freedom, which He said, with Him, it would be easy and light. He rejected the devil’s offer, but it wasn’t long before much of His church decided to close with the devil’s offer.
Quite soon after the Lord’s death and resurrection His church accepted the devil’s offer, and in place of freedom provided wealth, the marvels of science, and an all powerful state like government - all to the betterment of the human condition on earth, but having nothing to do with the spiritual or the heavenly.