Ruth 3:1-18 [part 2]
Sleepless in Bethlehem!!!
So Far … the story should now be familiar! Maybe someone from the congregation should tell it!!
… this is a story about a family that ran into major difficulties. Chapter 1 tells us that a man, Elimelech, and his wife, Naomi left Israel during a famine to make a new life in a foreign land. They had two sons – in Moab the two sons married local women and then one after another Elimelech and this two sons died leaving three widows. They returned to Bethlehem – Naomi and one faithful daughter-in-law, Ruth.
Back in Bethlehem we have these two widows – one old and one young – one a native Israelite and one an alien – both poor – both with faith in God in spite of Naomi’s feelings of bitterness she still believed
BUT because God is concerned for the poor, the widows, the orphans and the foreigners he gave instructions to treat the poor with equality and generosity.
Naomi & Ruth know they can glean in the harvest fields because farmers were ordered by God to leave the edges of the field & the dropped grain for the poor.
Ruth happens to come to a field that is owned by a man named Boaz. (NIV)
Boaz also happens to be a relative – “That man is our close relative; he is one of our kinsman-redeemers.” – of Ruth’s late father-in-law. The Family tie means that he has a responsibility to Naomi and Ruth. We will see later in the story that there was a closer relative who is not esp. inclined to fulfil his responsibility.
Israelite laws to protect family heritage and inheritance
1. Advising [v.1-5]
Naomi advises Ruth to go and lay at Boaz’s feet at night on the threshing floor. A way of asking Boaz to act as kinsman-redeemer. I.e. asking him to marry her.
Ruth heeds Naomi’s advice and Boaz responses favourably – but there is an obstacle. The obligation for levirate marriage falls first on another, closer kinsman, before it falls on Boaz. How will Boaz deal with the situation?
3. Accepting [v.10-15]
Ruth 3:10-13 10 “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 my fellow townsmen know that you are a woman of noble character. 12 Although it is true that I am near of kin, there is a kinsman-redeemer nearer than I. 13 Stay here for the night, and in the morning if he wants to redeem, good; let him redeem. But if he is not willing, as surely as the LORD lives I will do it. Lie here until morning.” (NIV)
Boaz is not obliged to do anything for Ruth – He could have said “Go away and don’t bother me – your problems are none of my concern!” Boaz didn’t own Ruth anything.
The relationship between Boaz and Ruth is a picture of the relationship between God and us.
God owes us nothing. If we base our relationship with God purely on the Law we discover that we are cut off from any relationship with God other than punishment. When Adam and Eve rejected God’s instructions in the Garden of Eden and did their own thing they were removed from the Garden [the presence of God]. God was under no obligation to restore that relationship with them. But God never acts out of legalistic coldness and indifference BUT out of covenant love.
Law and Love.
The ‘levir’ and ‘goel’ was expected not just to act out of legalistic duty but out of a compassion for the oppressed and the poor and the needy. The kinsman redeemer was to show faithful covenant love, a reflection of God’s love, – the kinsman needed the resources to meet the needs and also the willingness. The greater the redeemer’s resources the more he could do; but the greater his covenant love the more he wanted to do!!
Ruth could expect nothing from Boaz by right but she [and Naomi] believed that she could trust his loving mercy and compassionate generosity.
Boaz motivated by covenant love wants to redeem Ruth and enter into a loving relationship with her – but because there is a closer kinsman he must first fulfil the legal expectations. BUT he declares to Ruth in advance his desire and commitment to her!
In the Minds of some Christians there is a polarity between the Law of God in the OT and the Love of God in the NT. The Idea is that people in the OT came to God through keeping the Law of God but the NT people come through grace – God’s free gift of love.
However this is not what we find in Scripture!! The grace of God always precedes the Law.
— These happened before the Law was given to Moses. The 10 Commandments and others laws God gave his people were not so that they could become his people BUT rather were given to instruct those who were already his people how to live in close relationship with him. God’s Law is guidance on how to live in a loving relationship with a Loving God.
ILLUS. Consider marriage – there is little fulfilment and comfort in being legally married if there is no loving relationship. BUT following basic principles of faithfulness and commitment, unselfishness and trust are the “rules” which enhance and grow a marriage.
And so too with being a Christian we do not follow a set of Laws to come to Christ on the contrary we can only come by faith in Christ. However in coming into a relationship with Christ we need to follow his teaching. We need to be careful because it is very easy to be caught up in the teaching of Christianity / to be involved in Christian activity / to be serving in the Church.
BUT the most important thing that we need to remember is that Jesus loves us and has invited us in to relationship with – NT talks about us being “in Christ”
– It is a relationship. So the question is “Are you in love with Jesus?”
Oh you say “I believe in the gospel / I accept the teaching of the Bible / I enjoy coming to church and singing and being involved!”
FINE!! But do you love Jesus! Like with marriage – you fall in love and live by certain principles to develop and deepen the relationship but these are not chores but a delight – When you are in love the things you do / sacrifice for your beloved are not a drag but a pleasure.
This is why Jesus sums up the OT Law – quoting from the OT – with these words – Matthew 22:37-39 37 Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ (NIV)
Jesus spells out what the story of Boaz and Ruth illustrates – love is never less than the Law requires but always more. Love always goes beyond the law for the sake of the Loved Ones. Jesus goes beyond the legal code to the heart of the purposes of the law – viz. a right relationship!
Jesus told the people that they must be more righteous than the Pharisees and religious leaders who kept the legal code to the letter and even invented more laws of their own –
Matthew 5:20 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. (NIV)
The people didn’t understand that Jesus was talking a right relationship with him which far surpassed a keeping of legal codes.
The Law is there to give guidance on how to live in loving obedience with God.
To concentrate on ‘love’ alone can be used to cover all kinds of behaviour that “seems good” and “feels good”. There is no guard against selfish- sinful behaviour or plain stupidity!
To concentrate on ‘Law’ alone apart from God grace expressed through the love of Jesus soon makes God’s laws in to legalism – morality becomes moralism – and the freedom of faith that we have in Christ becomes a burdensome struggle to kept a set of rules – which is exactly the bondage from which Christ came to set us free!!
When Boaz Says to Ruth “I will be your kinsman redeemer!” he is not just agreeing to fulfil a legalistic duty. It is deepest desire to have an intimate relationship with Ruth so that everything he is and has becomes hers.
ILLUS. Part of the marriage service captures this … “With my body I honour you, all that I am I give to you, all that I have I share with you, within the love of God, Father, Son and holy Spirit.”
Boaz gives Ruth a pledge that he will redeem her and make her his bride!
With that picture in mind listen to the NT about Christ and the Church – Romans 8:16-17 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs — heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. (NIV) –all that I have I share with you–
Ephesians 1:11-14 11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance [engagement ring – pledge] until the redemption of those who are God’s possession — to the praise of his glory.
Ephesians 5:25-27 25 ….. Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. (NIV) — With my body I honour you, all that I am I give to you,
6 Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:
“Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
7 Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
and his bride has made herself ready. (NIV)
Revelation 21:2 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem [people of God – Church], coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. (NIV)
4. Awaiting [v. 16-18]
16 When Ruth came to her mother-in-law, Naomi asked, “How did it go, my daughter?”
Then she told her everything Boaz had done for her 17 and added, “He gave me these six measures of barley, saying, ‘Don’t go back to your mother-in-law empty-handed.’ ”
18 Then Naomi said, “Wait, my daughter, until you find out what happens. For the man will not rest until the matter is settled today.” (NIV)
Boaz sends Ruth home in the morning with a gift of barley – probably as much as she could carry! This was a token of what was to come. Boaz had given his pledge – he had given a practical demonstration of his generosity and love and Ruth had to now WAIT and trust him to fulfil his promise –
Often in scripture we are told to wait / our human nature wants to be active, to be doing BUT there are times when God says “Wait on me!” Ruth had to wait patiently while Boaz work things out. There are times when we must work and take action as Ruth had done BUT now she had to wait. Jesus is at work in heaven interceeding on our behalf / The Holy Spirit is at work in the world and in us – there are times when we must wait patiently for the Lord’s time. He is working out his purposes in conformity to his perfect will [Phil.2v12-13; Heb.13v20-21]
Ruth had to wait– in the meantime she enjoyed Boaz’s provision.
In the OT God declared his love for mankind and promised to redeem – when Jesus came that promise was fulfilled and continues to be fulfilled in those who respond to his offer of a fulfilling relationship with Christ. It is Christ that God has set forth his purposes for the world. Ephesians 1:9-10 9 And he [God] made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfilment — to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ. (NIV)
It is in Christ that we come to realise that God is the Father of all mercies / the God of all comfort -–the one through whom our deepest needs are met! The one through whom -19 … God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. (NIV) Philippians 4:19
As Boaz was Ruth’s kinsman-redeemer who would provide all her needs – so in a much greater way Christ is the real kinsman-redeemer who has entered / and still enters with us into the pains of our suffering / who brings us forgiveness / who desires a close, intimate, marriage-like relationship with us. He is the one who encourages us to trust our heavenly father for our daily bread and to AWAIT the time when we will be welcome as the bride into heaven to the marriage with the Lamb – the Lord Jesus Christ!
If Boaz promised to provide Ruth with food and shelter only – it would have be a cold and remote relationship. His promise was to take her as a wife to love, cherish in the intimacy of marriage.
In Christ this is what Christian can enjoy now – but will one day enjoy in a full and glorious way that we cannot now imagine!
So I end again with the question “Do you love Jesus?” – He loves you “Do you love him?” NOT “Do you love the religious activities and trapping of Christianity BUT DO YOU LOVE JESUS?”
Sleepless in Bethlehem!!!
1. Advising [v.1-5]
3. Accepting [v.10-15]
4. Awaiting [v. 16-18]
“Do you love Jesus?”