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Series: Lessons from Ruth–chapter 3

Hello and God bless you BCU family!

As usual, please feel free to listen to the podcast (click  the icon below), read the notes or both. Enjoy and be challenged by the Word of God. 

Welcome to BlenCouragesU and our continuing study on the book of Ruth! If you missed the last segments, you can click here to start. If you are short on time, go back later for the details, and  keep listening as we  go through the highlight reel, background and then the study.

Elimelech, his wife Naomi and their two sons, Mahlon and Chilion moved from  Bethlehem to Moab due to a famine. After a space of time, Elimelech passes away, and his sons marry Moab natives, Orpah and Ruth. Then the sons pass away, leaving three widows to fend for themselves—-which was problematic in the ancient world. Naomi decides to go back to Bethlehem (the famine is over), and pleads with her daughters-in-law to stay in Moab to “find rest, each of you in the house of her husband” (Ruth 1:9), meaning get remarried and start your life over.   Orpah goes back to her home and gods,  but Ruth vows to take Naomi’s God (the only God) and Naomi.,  on as family, and accompanies her back to Bethlehem at harvest time. Our main takeaway: Love should not change in the hard times (I Corinthians 13).

In chapter 2, Ruth decides to go out and  glean (landing in Boaz’s field) to bring food in. The law specified that gleaners (poor, fatherless, strangers and widows) picked purposely unharveted produce, grain, etc., to help feed themselves as well as the  field owners being a blessing to someone else. Ruth’s reputation, demeanor and hard work was noticed—and rewarded, as Boaz made special provisions for her safety, mealtime and  ensured her gleaning was very productive. A couple of “ahas”: Waiting and evaluating relationships with the help of the Lord is important and that  your integrity was everything (See Proverbs 22:1 for the latter “aha”).

When we last left off, Naomi remembered Boaz was a kinsman or kinsman-redeemer. Chapter 3 opens where Naomi asks Ruth about “seeking rest for her, that it may be well with her”. In other words, let’s see if we can arrange a marriage as there is a “rest” in settling down.

Let’s be clear, this is not a get a man in 4 easy chapters class! We thank God if that happens–BUT that’s NOT why we are here! God wants us to “settle down” in Him! If we look at the book of Hebrews chapter 3, verses 8-11 it talks about faithfulness –and how how the children of Israel hardened their hearts in rebellion, faithlessness, disobedience and unbelief during their forty year trip, testing God to a point where he said “they shall not enter my rest” (verse 11). The Israelites who were in bondage over 400 years, escape and see many miracles (like the parting of the Red Sea in Exodus 14,  food provisions like manna and quail in Exodus 16), and they were supposed to enter the Promised Land,  (Exodus 3:7) flowing with milk and honey as a rest! A trip that was about 250 miles, would have taken anywhere from two weeks to a month,  took 40 years AND only two of the original crowd (Joshua and Caleb) made it along with those under the age of  19 (Numbers 14:29).   Who wants THAT testimony?!  Nooooooo!!!! We want that rest!!!!!!

Jesus said, “come all to me all the labour and are heavy-laden and I will give you REST!  Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you shall find REST for your souls”. (Matthew 11:28-29). We want a soul that’s at rest NOW and LATER. So, we can rest in His Word, His plans and His path here, so we can make it there!! (Heaven). If we don’t believe Him now, we can’t believe Him later!!!  Believe Him now FOR AND later!!!

Verse 12  of Hebrews 3, cautions us to beware, lest any of us have an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. Furthermore, we are to encourage one another while it is TODAY for NOW, so our hearts are not hardened though the deceitfulness of sin (verse 14), and Hebrews 4:1 remind us to be cautious lest we fall short of the promise of His rest.

Unbelief is a lack of faith, and a lack of faith is sin– without faith it’s IMPOSSIBLE to please Him (Hebrews 11:6).  We may struggle with it from time to time,  especially when things start going sideways–we don’t want to practice unbelief and distrust of God. When you think about that..We distrust the same God who spoke this earth into existence, knows us by name,  how many hairs are on our heads, knows our every thought, the beginning from the end, loves and cares about us more that ANYONE on Earth ever will.  Can we trust Him? As tough as it is, Yes, we can. Hebrews 4:1 reminds us to fear (be cautious) that we don’t come short of the rest that is promised to us. God keeps His Word, so we can rest.

Let’s now look as the function of the kinsman. Based from Deuteronomy 25:5-10. This is a close relative who acted as a protector or guarantor of the family rights and  could be called upon to perform a number of duties like buying back family property that had been sold, or to provide an heir for a deceased brother by marrying that brother’s  or relative’s wife and producing a child with her. If no one chose to step up, the widow would likely live in dire poverty since the laws at the time passed inheritances to the son or nearest male relative, rather than the wife, hence the gleaner laws. Recall, Naomi had no more sons, so Boaz was the nearest relative she knew of who could redeem Ruth. Redeemers had to be blood related, have the means to pay, be willing to redeem and be free to redeem. See any similarities to a Man we know and love? Yes Jesus!!

Scripture calls God the Redeemer or the ‘close relative’ of Israel, “you shall know that I, the Lord am your Savior and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob” (Is. 60:16), and Jesus the Redeemer of all believers. Christ came in the flesh (John 1:14), was willing and paid as the perfect sacrifice.  “Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things like silver or gold (loses its value) from your vain conversation received by the traditions of your fathers, BUT with the precious blood of Christ, as a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:18, 19). Who here has been redeemed from the hand of the enemy?! Let the redeemed of the Lord say so!! (Psalm 107:2).

So Naomi starts putting the kinsman plan in action– and obviously had some knowledge of what the end of harvests were like–feasting and celebrations on the threshing floor. This was a place where wheat stalks were crushed with by hand or oxen. In this crushing process, the inner kernels of precious grain were separated  from the useless outer husks or chaff . The floor, made of soil or rock was usually in an elevated location so the wind would blow away the chaff when the crushed wheat was thrown up in the air or winnowed. THAT process has significance–check it out in Matthew 3:12, where John the Baptist says, “whose fan is in His [Jesus”] hand, and He will throughly purge His floor and gather His wheat into the garner; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. We want to be the wheat, Family!

3:2–Boaz was likely sleeping near his harvest to prevent theft and wait for his chance to thresh his barley. Naomi advises Ruth to wash, anoint herself and get dressed. Historians have said Ruth may have been wearing her mourning clothes up until the point and by shedding those clothes, she was ready to receive what God had for her. Figuratively speaking, how many of us are still  in “mourning” about or for a broken relationship, a missed opportunity,  being mistreated, being scoffed at, a dissed or dismissed by thoughtless people who should “know better.” While your sadness may have been justified, it may be time to change your garment. GO to the Lord and tell Him all about how you feel– and allow the Lord to heal your brokenness, restore your joy and give you rest!

3:4-6–Naomi gave Ruth given specifc directions to follow, in turn Ruth promised she would do and verse 6 says she did just that. Stop. It’s important we follow the directions the way God gives them. In 2 Kings 5, Naaman, a leper who wanted to be healed, was given a message with directions by Elisha to go was in the Jordan river seven times in order to be healed. Naaman was upset because 1) the prophet Elisha did not come to directly to him and 2) the Jordan River was not the best river. Thankfully, Naaman’s servants urged him to follow the directions and he was healed. With God’s grace, we need to do what God says, when and how He says it.

3:7-9–Naomi finds Boaz, uncovers his feet and lays there—a sign of humility.  And at midnight (notice midnight is a popular time for things to happen—the bridegroom and the ten virgins Matthew 25; Paul and Silas sang songs and prayed unto God, an  earthquake came opening doors and loosing bands Acts 16–just something to think about). When a startled Boaz awakens and starts asking questions, Ruth, mentioning she is a servant or handmaiden asks him to spread his skirt (a cloak or outer robe used as cover) over her because he is a kinsman.  In Hebrew term translated “skirt” is typically understood to mean wing or protector.

God used this terminology in describing His taking of Israel as His wife: “Behold, thy time was the time of love; and I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness: yea, I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord God, and thou becamest mine” (Ezekiel 16:8). Clearly, Ruth’s intent was a proposal of marriage—that she come under the wing or cloak of a husband’s protection, namely Boaz’s. If we go back to the last chapter, he said, “the Lord recompense your work and a full reward given to you  “the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to trust” (Ruth 2:12).

Side note: This proposal was a custom and situation for this time and this place, singles ladies. Boaz had approached Ruth and Ruth responded. DO NOT try this at home. Or anyplace else. Applying this to our lives, Christ took interest in and approached us first–some of us many times and in many different ways. For those who are Spirit-filled, we responded and are covered with His feathers and trusting under His wings, with His truth and shield as our buckler (Psalms 91:4).

3:10-12–Boaz responded favorably, citing her kindness , the Hebrew word here, hesed, meaning “loyal love” or “covenant faithfulness.” Not only had she stuck by Naomi, but now she was seeking to fulfill the obligation of preserving the lineage and inheritance of her deceased husband, which would restore the family line of Elimelech and ensure that Naomi was well provided for. Boaz also mentioned both he and the city knew Ruth as a virtuous woman (see Proverbs 31 for more information), rather than one seeking out poor or rich men.  Finally, Boaz knew of another relative “closer at the front of the line”, but promised he would take care of everything. We talked about that before–promises, promises! We need to keep our word, with the help of the Lord.

3:14-18–Boaz continues looking out for Ruth by making sure she stayed,  (it was likely dangerous for her to go home after midnight–there was no foolishness), went home early morning (maybe to keep her reputation intact and his,too), and sent her home with more grain for Naomi. Once Naomi heard what happened, she assured Ruth Boaz would not rest until the matter was settled that day.

 

Whew! The Lord pulled some meat off the bones in here today! I trust this was a blessing and a challenge to you and now it’s time to ask God to help us apply what we have learned with His grace. Lord will, join us next week for the Ruth 3 takeaways and exciting conclusion of our study!

God bless you for stopping by—please share with a friend! And until next time or the Lord comes, #StayOnTheWall.

 

Love,

BCU

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