From the desk of Steve Shultz:
Ben Peters just returned from a trip to Israel and wrote up this Bethlehem love story. Great blessings came out of Bethlehem as you'll read below.
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The Boaz Blessing: A Bethlehem Love Story
The Blessed Women Trilogy
Recently, we shared prophetic teachings on two great women who received overflowing blessings as a direct result of their sacrificial actions when confronted with divine opportunities.
Rebekah was blessed with a transfer of wealth from Abraham's servant and then become the wife of an extremely wealthy young man and the literal mother of Israel (Jacob), because she disregarded the inconvenience and made the sacrifice of taking her pitcher down from her shoulder (her travel mode) to her hands (her servant mode) when the opportunity to bless a stranger occurred.
The Queen of Sheba was blessed with incredible wealth and anything she desired from Solomon, a king of kings, because she sought his presence and understood the Royal Generosity Factor, bringing him gifts befitting a great king, including an abundance of gold and precious stones and the greatest volume of spices ever received by King Solomon.
Ruth – The Compassionate Servant
In this third and very important prophetic teaching in the "Blessed Women Trilogy," we will explore and apply the Boaz Blessing. I believe you will quickly agree that the Boaz Blessing is a powerful faith-builder and a ready and versatile tool in your "encouragement tool box."
A Family Flees from Famine
The Boaz Blessing is found in the fascinating story of Ruth in the Old Testament book named after her. Naomi, the wife of Elimelech, journeyed with her husband and two sons from their home in Bethlehem to the country of Moab because of a famine in the land of Israel during the days of the judges. Sadly, for Naomi, she escaped the famine but was not able to escape the greater hardship of death in her family.
First of all, Elimelech died, leaving her a widow with two unmarried sons. After a time she was comforted when both her sons found wives in Moab, and Orpah and Ruth became a part of her family. But tragedy followed disaster when both her sons also died, making widows of both daughters-in-law, and leaving her and Elimelech without any descendants.
Back to Bethlehem
When Naomi decided to return to Bethlehem after ten years in Moab, both Orpah and Ruth decided to go with her. Naomi, concerned about their future, tried to talk them out of it, knowing it could be a lonely life for them in a foreign land. Orpah accepted her exhortation and tearfully said her goodbyes to Naomi and returned to her family. But Ruth refused to be talked out of her mission of compassion and she made this famous declaration:
Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from following after you; for wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there will I be buried. The Lord do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts you and me. Ruth 1:16,17 NKJV
This unusual proclamation would change the course of history. Ruth would become mentioned in the very lineage of Jesus as the great grandmother of David. The pathway to that honor led her to the gleaning fields of a man named Boaz in the city of Bethlehem.
In a recent December visit to Bethlehem, we viewed what was reported to be the Shepherd's Field where the angels appeared to the shepherds to announce Jesus' birth. Most people are not aware that right beside that field was the field believed to be the field of Boaz and Ruth. I shared with our group this same message of the Boaz Blessing from that very location which could have been Boaz and Ruth's home over three thousand years ago.
But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, we should ask the question, "What does this proclamation reveal to us about the character and personality of Ruth?" Because if we want to receive the blessing she received, we need to identify with the qualifications she demonstrated.
The Heart of Ruth
What motivated Ruth to make this proclamation contrary to her own best interests? First of all, she had just lost her own husband. She had no future or security with Naomi, as far as she knew. It would make sense to return to her own family and culture and find another husband while she was still young. I would think that most women would be so overwhelmed by their own grief that they would not be able to prioritize someone else's problems over their own when their own was so great.
However, Ruth had such a servant heart, it filled with compassion when she looked at Naomi. She realized that Naomi had not just lost her own husband, but she had lost two sons as well. Ruth longed to alleviate some of the intense pain in Naomi's broken mother's heart. Thus, when offered a way out of following her to Israel, Ruth rejected the opportunity and clung to Naomi, knowing she could be a friend and comfort to her.
Ruth Meets Boaz
When Ruth arrived with Naomi in Bethlehem, she immediately set out to alleviate the problem of poverty they were both facing. She was divinely led to the gleaning field of a wealthy man named Boaz, who happened to be a relative of Elimelech, her deceased father-in-law.
Ruth Declares Her Unworthiness
When Boaz showed her special favor, she fell on her face before him and asked him why he was being so kind to her.
"Why have I found favor in your eyes, that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?" Ruth 2:10b
She felt so unworthy of his favor, being a foreigner and a poor woman at that. She knew only why she shouldn't have favor, but Boaz was about to tell her why she should.
Boaz Declares Ruth's Worthiness
And Boaz answered and said to her, "It has been fully reported to me, all you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband, and how you have left your father and your mother and the land of your birth, and have come to a people whom you did not know before." Ruth 2:11
Ruth saw why she did NOT deserve favor, but Boaz, who represents the Lord in this story, saw why she DID deserve favor. Boaz said that he had gotten a full report about Ruth's sacrificial kindness to Naomi.
God Gets the Memo
God wants you to know that when you have made a sacrifice to help someone else, He gets the memo. He gets the whole story with every detail reported to Him. He knows what you left behind to serve Him and others. He knows the pain and the loneliness you endured so that someone else wouldn't have to. He knows all about the opportunities you have passed up because you put someone else before yourself.
Believe it and rejoice, for there is a great reward coming to you.
After acknowledging Ruth's sacrifice, Boaz went on to speak over Ruth what I call the Boaz Blessing.
The Boaz Blessing
The Lord repay your work, and a full reward be given you by the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge. Ruth 2:12
I believe God would be pleased if we would personally accept and embrace the Boaz Blessing. And I believe it would please Him even more if we would begin to speak it over others as the Holy Spirit prompts us. It would be a great idea to memorize it in your own words, or your favorite version. I believe that the more we understand and apply this blessing, the more positive results will be experienced.
Both Wages and Rewards
There are two separate aspects of the Boaz Blessing in this verse. The first aspect could be called wages. We receive wages according to an agreement with our employer. We work and the wage corresponds to the amount of work we do.
The second aspect of this blessing is the "full reward." A reward is more than wages. It has something to do with honor and recognition for a great performance or act of courage. It implies a generous blessing and show of appreciation for what has been done.
We are told in Revelation 22, the last chapter of the Bible, that we will be rewarded according to our works. We know, of course, that salvation is by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8), but rewards come according to our service.
I love this Boaz Blessing, because it requests from God a FULL REWARD, not just a little compensation. It speaks of great honor and recognition of every sacrificial act of service you have ever done. It also acknowledges that you have come as a foreigner to the Kingdom, but you have put your trust in the One who declares you are no longer a foreigner, but a joint heir with Jesus.
Ruth Requests More Favor
Then she said, "Let me find favor in your sight, my lord; for you have comforted me, and have spoken kindly to your maidservant, though I am not like one of your maidservants." Ruth 2:13
Still humbled by Boaz's kindness, Ruth boldly asks for more favor.
This is such an important example to follow. Just as Moses asked to see God's glory, when God had just accepted Moses' appeal and answered his request to go with them to the Promised Land, so Ruth took advantage of the grace offered by Boaz to ask for more favor. Every child knows that the best time to ask for something from a parent is when they are already in a good mood. Of course, God isn't moody like our parents may have been, but He loves it when we recognize that He is in a giving mood. I believe He is ALWAYS in a giving mood, when it comes to His kids, and He wants to give more favor to us.
Our problem is that we are so focused on our own unworthiness that we don't have courage or confidence to ask for favor, but He is focused on what has made us worthy of rewards.
More Favor is Granted
Boaz immediately responded to Ruth's request for favor and began to find additional ways to express his favor toward her. She was seated with him at his table and given the same food that he ate. Then he instructed his harvesters to leave extra grain behind to make Ruth's gleaning very easy and profitable. When Ruth returned to Naomi, she brought home enough grain to provide for their immediate needs and to fill the pantry as well.
This is a great picture of what Jesus does for us. A similar picture is created in Psalm 23. The Good Shepherd prepares a table for us, anoints our head with oil, fills our cup to overflowing, and makes us feel at home and secure in His house for eternity. In receiving the Boaz Blessing, Ruth placed herself on a path of great prosperity for her and Naomi, for whom she had laid down her own personal ambitions and security.
The Ultimate Favor is Granted
As the story continues to the third and fourth chapters of Ruth, we find Ruth continuing to be obedient to Naomi, who cares deeply about Ruth's future. She is asked to do something very bold and potentially embarrassing. But without hesitation, she obeys, with the final result that she becomes the wife of Boaz and gives birth to Obed, the father of Jesse, the father of David.
The ultimate favor for Ruth was the marital intimacy with Boaz, which produced a son in the lineage of Jesus. The greatest favor we can possibly be given by God is the privilege of becoming the intimate Bride of Jesus and producing sons and daughters in the Kingdom for the honor and glory of the King.
Activating the Boaz Blessing
After teaching on the Boaz Blessing, I spoke it over our tour group at the Bethlehem restaurant where we were eating dinner. It went something like this:
"Friends, God has gotten a full report of everything you have ever sacrificed to follow Him and to show love to the people He has put in your life. He did get the memo, and He is well pleased with you.
"And now may God repay you for what you have done for Him, and may He provide a full reward to honor and show His appreciation for all you have sacrificed for Him and others."
I encourage you to personalize your own version with relevant details concerning the person or persons to whom you are speaking and let the Holy Spirit prophesy through you to reach into their hearts with affirmation of their worth and value to God. Everyone in the Body of Christ can use a little more encouragement and love from Jesus, and you can be the vessel to bring it to them.
Let this Bethlehem love story remind you that Jesus came to bring peace on earth and good will toward men. Spread that peace and good will every chance you get by sharing this Boaz Blessing, which was spoken over Ruth in roughly the same location that the angels spoke to the shepherds of Bethlehem. First embrace it yourself, and then pass it on. You will encounter people every day that need to hear it from your lips. Be their Boaz and let them know what God thinks of them.
Kingdom Sending Center
Ben Peters is the co-founder of Open Heart Ministries and Kingdom Sending Center, along with his wife, Brenda. He has authored seventeen books to date, including Finding Your Place on Your Kingdom Mountain; Prophetic Ministry, Strategic Key to the Harvest; Go Ahead, Be So Emotional, and The Ultimate Convergence, an End Times Prophecy. Many of his books are now available on e-readers such as Kindle and Apple. He and Brenda have ministered in many nations with a passion for equipping and sending abandoned lovers of Jesus into the harvest fields of the world, including the seven mountains of society. The Peters live in northern Illinois.