Sometimes Biblical stories just get a bad rap…young and old alike want to hit the snooze button just looking at the Word of God. Yet there are so many amazing stories, more thrilling than an action movie and more dramatic than the steamiest soap opera. All of these stories also happen to encompass amazing lessons and truths of God. This lesson covers insightful highlights included in the book of Ruth. This “Part two” side of things focuses on the significance of Ruth’s obedience to God and what it produced, in contrast with the consequences of sin in other parts of the Old Testament.
Lesson focus: God wants us to be loyal and faithful to our friends and family; even when things seem challenging, He will work things out for good.
Passage: Ruth 3-4
Series: This lesson continues a previous lesson – Bitterness, Loyalty, and Family Drama (Ruth 1-2)
Key Verse: Ruth 1:16-17 But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” –
Target Audience: Pre-k through sixth grade (adaptable)
Materials Needed: Magnet strips; bubble gum (or other sticky candy); verses and captions; colorful paper and decorative materials.
Lesson Opening: Whose Shoe’s Whose? Start with a scrambled up game…in this part of the story, one element has to do with taking off a sandal to seal a deal. Invite students to remove one shoe. Turn off the lights and have all students place their shoes around the room in somewhat discreet spots. When the lights come back on, have students look for a shoe that is not their own, and find the owner. When they locate the shoe owner, they are to discuss the question of what it means to be loyal or faithful. Also, brainstorm characteristics that make a good quality friend, and talk about their own best friends and what makes them special. These talking points can be adjusted based on age/interests.
Ruth 2-4 Bible Lesson
Use your best judgment as to the approach of this lesson. You may be able to read out the actual text (or a version of it). For especially young or wiggle-prone crowds, it may be better to summarize, story book, or even act out the action. This lesson will cover the latter two chapters of the book. It begins with Ruth approaching Boaz, and continues through their marriage and family. Have students help in re-capping and recalling the events of the first part of the book. Who was Ruth? Who was Naomi? What troubles did they encounter? Follow the story through the first couple of chapters, ending where Ruth meets Boaz, who is her “kinsman redeemer…”
One day Ruth’s mother-in-law Naomi said to her, “My daughter, I must find a home[a] for you, where you will be well provided for. 2 Now Boaz, with whose women you have worked, is a relative of ours. Tonight he will be winnowing barley on the threshing floor. 3 Wash, put on perfume, and get dressed in your best clothes. Then go down to the threshing floor, but don’t let him know you are there until he has finished eating and drinking. 4 When he lies down, note the place where he is lying. Then go and uncover his feet and lie down. He will tell you what to do.”
5 “I will do whatever you say,” Ruth answered. 6 So she went down to the threshing floor and did everything her mother-in-law told her to do. -Ruth 3:1-6
Now, this sounds just a bit scandalous…Basically, Naomi is instructing Ruth to put the moves on Boaz. Ruth cannot know or guess what his reaction will be. But she trusts Naomi and does as she suggests. Fortunately, his reaction is quite positive:
“The Lord bless you, my daughter,” he replied. “This kindness is greater than that which you showed earlier: You have not run after the younger men, whether rich or poor. 11 And now, my daughter, don’t be afraid. I will do for you all you ask. All the people of my town know that you are a woman of noble character. 12 Although it is true that I am a guardian-redeemer of our family, there is another who is more closely related than I. 13 Stay here for the night, and in the morning if he wants to do his duty as your guardian-redeemer, good; let him redeem you. But if he is not willing, as surely as the Lord lives I will do it. Lie here until morning.” -Ruth 3:7-13
So Boaz was quite pleased, and we can guess from his talk that he probably was not the youngest or best looking of the bunch, but liked Ruth. However, what he told her was that another closer relative was also in town, who technically had first “dibs” on her. Things in Bible times followed strict customs, and this was following one of them. So the two had to wait until the other potential “redeemer” had his say…Boaz went to meet this man and explained the situation…
Then Boaz said, “On the day you buy the land from Naomi, you also acquire Ruth the Moabite, the[c] dead man’s widow, in order to maintain the name of the dead with his property.”
6 At this, the guardian-redeemer said, “Then I cannot redeem it because I might endanger my own estate. You redeem it yourself. I cannot do it.”
7 (Now in earlier times in Israel, for the redemption and transfer of property to become final, one party took off his sandal and gave it to the other. This was the method of legalizing transactions in Israel.)
8 So the guardian-redeemer said to Boaz, “Buy it yourself.” And he removed his sandal. -Ruth 4:5-8
With the removal of the sandal marking the finality of the deal (sort of like a handshake), Boaz made sure that, in the sight of many people, he officially “claimed” Ruth and promised to redeem her. Now what does this “redemption” mean? Redeeming something has to do with making it new; taking something lost or broken and bringing it together again. It’s what God does with our lives. And since Ruth was broken and sad as a widow, her “guardian-redeemer” was giving her a second chance.
What is the best romance love story? Invite students to brainstorm some classics…in the book of Ruth, we have seen tragic heartbreak, sorrow, rivalry, risk, redemption…and now fulfillment. Boaz and Ruth were married, and she had a baby, a son. Naomi was overjoyed…
The women said to Naomi: “Praise be to the Lord, who this day has not left you without a guardian-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel! 15 He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth.”
16 Then Naomi took the child in her arms and cared for him. 17 The women living there said, “Naomi has a son!” And they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David. -Ruth 4:14-16
Ruth’s son was Obed, who was King David’s grandfather. And who do we know who is related to David?? Hmm…. “son of David…” “Line of David…” “House of David…”
Emphasize to students that Ruth was essentially the great-great-great-great…..grandmother of Jesus!!! And all because she was willing to trust and obey. In the Bible book of Judges, we see people perpetually punished for disobedience. But here, with faith and loyalty, Ruth gains great blessing and facilitates the arrival of a Messiah!
Craft: Magnetic “stick-to-it” reminders…make magnets to remember that we should stick close to God, to our family, and to our friends. Have students decorate colorful paper and attach the caption (“Stick to it faithfully! God is with you!”). Glue magnet strips to the back and encourage students to give them away or hang on their own refrigerators.
Close with prayer and gratitude for special people in our lives. Ask God for faithfulness and quality relationships with others. Provide students with bubble gum to remember to “stick to it” and be faithful to others and to God. ?