Saturday, March 5, 2011
Ruth Chapter 3
- In Naomi's cold, bitter heart, hope has started to spring... She finally is starting to look past herself.
- Up until this point, Noami's concerns have been solely about Naomi. She has been so focused on all that she's lost that she has failed to see all that God has given her.
- Yes she lost her husband and her sons and all her property... but in the process, she has come back home to her family and friends, and she has been given a great asset in Ruth.
- I look at Naomi and I see this selfish, bitter woman... But for both girls to have wanted to go with Naomi... and for Ruth to have insisted on staying... there had to be something else to Naomi before all the bad stuff started happening... I mean the entire town was so excited when she got back to Bethlehem... so she probably wasn't always selfish and bitter... Since she was a pretty well-known woman in Bethlehem... I'm thinking she was one of the more wealthy women... had a husband of high standing... was probably very generous to the poor... overall probably a very loving and community centered woman.
- James 3:11-12
- Proverbs 14:10
- Ephesians 4:30-32
- Ruth went with Naomi. She's taking care of her. She volunteered to go out into the fields in a foreign land to try and get food for them. She is ready and willing to do anything Naomi asks... Does this not speak of a great love? Naomi HAD to be different when Ruth met her than when we first meet her in this story...
- But finally... all the anger and frustration is starting to melt away... She finally SEES Ruth. She finally looks beyond herself and realizes... that she has the ability to maybe make this girl's life a little better...
- Have you been there before? Have you felt your heart growing bitter through circumstances?
- Have you been blaming God for your circumstances? Have you found yourself screaming at the ceilings wondering why all this has to happen to you?
- Psalm 46 speaks of the earth shaking and the mountains crumbling into the sea... everything around you falling to pieces... and yet God is still our refuge and strength... “Be still, and know that I am God!” Stop worrying! Stop fretting! Stop trying to figure out what the plan is and just let GOD be GOD! Be still and watch God move...
- Job 1:21-22, 42:1-6
- Psalm 69, 143
- I Thessalonians 3:3-5
- Ecclesiastes 7:1-14
- Enter the match-making Naomi... haha.
- “My daughter, it's time that I found a permanent home for you, so that you will be provided for. Boaz is a close relative of ours, and he's been very kind by letting you gather grain with his young women.”
- Oh boy...
- Now this next part seems a little strange. Naomi tells Ruth to take a bath, put on perfume, and dress up. Then she's supposed to go to the threshing floor where Boaz is going to be having a celebration with his men after having finished the barley harvest. After dinner, they're all sleeping here... so Naomi tells Ruth to watch where he lies down and then go uncover his feet... and lie down at his feet...
- um... why in the world would she want to do that?
- footnote- “Naomi's advice seems strange, but she was not suggesting a seductive act. In reality, Naomi was telling Ruth to act in accordance with Israelite custom and law. It was common for a servant to lie at the feet of his master and even share a part of his covering. By observing this custom, Ruth would inform Boaz that he could be her family redeemer—that he could find someone to marry her or marry her himself. It was family business, nothing romantic. But the story later became beautifully romantic as Ruth and Boaz developed an unselfish love and deep respect for each other.”
- So after Ruth does all of the above... it's up to Boaz what kind of response to make. Depending on what kind of man he is, he can either turn her away, or he can choose to help her.
- Ever been asked to do something a little off the wall? Something that seemed a little crazy? Was God the one asking?
- Sometimes God moves us into places totally out of our comfort zone. Totally beyond where we feel like we can be effective... But there's always a purpose and plan...
- Are you willing to go wherever, do whatever... no matter what that is? Even if it seems a little dangerous, or a little crazy, or maybe even seems like something that's going to put you in a position that just looks strange?
- Isaiah 12 and 40
- Matthew 7:21-23, 26:36-39
- Hebrews 13:1-21
- I Peter 4:1-19
THE THRESHING FLOOR
- So Ruth, still being under Naomi... and maybe even looking at Boaz and seeing who he is and knowing that he's a man of honor and character... and thinking that maybe this could be a good idea... or at least that she can be sure of being treated fairly by him.
- So Boaz lay down to sleep near the grain... and after he was asleep, Ruth came and uncovered his feet and lay down just as Naomi had told her to do.
- About midnight, Boaz woke up and rolled over... and... there's a woman at his feet! What's going on around here!?
- “Who are you?”
- I love Boaz's response when Ruth tells him who she is... she asks him to spread the corner of his cover over her because he is her family's redeemer...
- And Boaz says “The Lord bless you, my daughter! You are showing even more family loyalty now than you did before, for you have not gone after a younger man, whether rich or poor.”
- So Boaz... was not a young man... I always saw Boaz as like... a guy in his 20's... at most 30's... but this speaks of a man maybe even older than that... Jewish tradition says that Boaz was 80 and Ruth was 40.
- Boaz however was struck yet again with Ruth. She's been so wonderful to Naomi. Her character has yet again been proven to be a special one.
- “Now don't worry about a thing, my daughter. I will do what is necessary, for everyone in town knows you are a virtuous woman.”
- Wow... what a compliment for Ruth...
- Not only has she remained faithful to her mother-in-law, but she has now taken on the task of keeping his name and memory alive through another marriage. She is willing to do whatever it takes...
- Are you willing to do whatever it takes to continue the growth of the Kingdom? Are you willing to risk your reputation to gain a harvest of souls?
- Do people see you and see a virtuous character? One that is to be respected and taken seriously? Does everybody in town know what kind of man or woman you are?
- Psalm 31, 18
- Proverbs 19:22, 3:1-12, 22:1
- So Boaz is one of the family redeemers... but there's another relative who is more closely related... so he technically has first dibs...
- However, regardless of outcome, Boaz promises Ruth that he will go talk to him in the morning... and if he won't redeem Ruth... then Boaz promises that he himself will.
- How precious must that moment have been to Ruth's heart.... Here she is, trying to do the right thing, trying to be faithful to her husband's family... but being a foreigner... not really sure of the kind of reception she will receive with this proposition... and here is Boaz... a man of influence and strength of character... a very kind and thoughtful man... and he's going to make sure that the family will be redeemed. Oh how her heart must have soared...
- So Ruth stayed at Boaz's feet until the next morning... probably mostly because it was pitch dark and it couldn't have been safe wandering through the city in the middle of the night...
- But she left right before dawn... “before it was light enough for people to recognize each other.” Because if it became known that a woman had been to the threshing floor... she'd have been seen as a prostitute and her reputation would have been ended...
- Boaz sent her back to Naomi with a cloak full of grain. I see this as kind of a sign of the promise he made... That he would be sure to carry out his promise of sustaining their lives and of redeeming their family...
- Naomi tells Ruth to be patient... “The man won't rest until he has settled things today.”
- footnote- “Naomi implied that Boaz would follow through with his promise at once. He obviously had a reputation for keeping his word and would not rest until his task was completed. Such reliable people stand out in any age and culture. Do others regard you as one who will do what you say? Keeping your word and following through on assignments should be high on anyone's priority list. Building a reputation for integrity, however, must be done one brick, one act, at a time.”
- The whole family redeemer concept brings me back to Christ. Christ is OUR redeemer...
- We are foreigners in a strange land. We have been left with nothing.
- In Matthew 15:21-28, we have a story of a gentile woman who came to Jesus begging for her daughter's healing... And Jesus said that He was only sent to the people of Israel... and she still persisted... “Lord, help me!”
- And Jesus said “It isn't right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.”
- And she replied “That's true, Lord, but even dogs are allowed to eat the scraps that fall beneath their masters' table.”
- And Jesus healed her daughter... because her faith was so great...
- We as gentiles were foreigners gleaning in the fields. Picking up the scraps... hoping to get enough to survive...
- And instead of just the scraps... Jesus, the owner of the field, He comes and He says, hey, I see your faith, and I see who you are... come work with my workers. Enter my workforce. Oh and by the way, come eat at my table. Come spend time with me... And when we look to Jesus for help... He says... don't worry about it... I'll take care of it... I'll redeem your family name... I'll take you under my wing and make you a child of my father. I'll take the risk for you. I'll go argue with Satan for your soul.
- “Oh and while I'm at it, here, let me give you what you need... let me fill your life with things you need... like joy, and peace, and My love...”
- “And you don't have to wait! Nope... I already did it! I already signed all the contracts! All you have to do is accept my hand in marriage!”
- Will you do it? Will you risk your reputation to become a member of the family? Or will you continue gleaning up the scraps as they happen to fall in your path? Hoping that you can get enough to survive on... hoping that you have done enough to make it to heaven in the end...?
- What will you do with your Redeemer?
- Psalm 103, 85, 34, 49, 130, 107
- Lamentations 3:22-26
- Isaiah 63:7-10, 35:8-10
- Hebrews 9 and 10
Sunday, February 27, 2011
Ruth Chapter 2
- Ruth and Naomi arrive in Bethlehem in the early summer just in time for the barley harvest.
- footnote- “When the wheat and barley were ready to be harvested, harvesters were hired to cut down the stalks and tie them into bundles. Israelite law demanded that the corners of the fields not be harvested. In addition, any grain that was dropped was to be left for poor people, who picked it up (this was called gleaning) and used it for food (Leviticus 19:9, 23:22; Deuteronomy 24:19). The purpose of this law was to feed the poor and to prevent the owners from hoarding. This law served as a type of welfare program in Israel. Because she was a widow with no means of providing for herself, Ruth went into the fields to glean the grain.”
- So Ruth goes out to glean in the fields... if anybody will let her... she is a foreigner after all...
- Enter Boaz. Boaz owns the field that Ruth has decided to glean in. He's a pretty influential man in Bethlehem... and by the sound of it, this wasn't the only field he owned... So Boaz comes to check on things in the field... and he sees Ruth. First thing he does is ask who she is. Maybe he knows everybody in Bethlehem and he knows she's new or realizes that she's a foreigner... or maybe she caught his eye... who knows... but something in Ruth stood out.
- The foreman had also taken notice of this woman... because she was a hard worker. Once given permission to glean in the field, she hadn't stopped work except for a few minutes' rest. She wasn't taking a break every few minutes. She was there with one purpose in mind and going at it with all her might.
- Proverbs 13:4
- Ecclesiastes 5:10-20
- Romans 12:11
- Galatians 6:4-5
- II Timothy 2:15-22
- When Boaz learns who she is, he goes over to talk to her. “Listen, my daughter. Stay right here with us when you gather grain; don't go to any other fields. Stay right behind the young women working in my field. See which part of the field they are harvesting, and then follow them. I have warned the young men not to treat you roughly. And when you are thirsty, help yourself to the water they have drawn from the well.”
- Wow. Either Ruth REALLY stood out, or Boaz was REALLY taken with her, or Boaz was just THAT nice of a guy...
- Ruth is blown away. “Why me? I'm a foreigner! Why should I deserve any kindness from someone like you?”
- “Because I have heard about everything you've done for your mother-in-law. How you left your family and country behind you. You came here to a country of strangers to take care of your mother-in-law...” Character. Boaz saw a woman of strength and character.
- “May the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge, reward you fully for what you have done.”
- I wonder if Boaz even had an inkling that he himself would be a very big part of bringing that reward to fruition.
- Jeremiah 29:11-14
- How surprised Ruth must have been. If she is as unassuming as I think she was... such praise probably came as a surprise. And yet, she was deserving of it.
- Proverbs 31 talks about the wife of noble character. I like to think that this chapter is also for men in regards to character... but it was written with a woman in mind... When we look at the characteristics of Ruth, or in Proverbs 31, we should see characteristics in our own lives.
- Proverbs 31 talks about a woman who brings good, not harm. She goes about her work to the best of her ability. She is capable. She is energetic and strong. She is a provider for her house. She extends her hand to the poor and needy. Her husband is looked up to. She respects him, and he respects her. She laughs without fear of the future. She speaks with wisdom and gives instruction with kindness.
- When people look at us, do they see a faithful worker? Do they see loyalty? Do they see strength of character and someone who is willing to stand up for a cause? Do they see wisdom? Faith? Hope? Love and genuine concern for others? Do they see in our relationships a respect for others? Do they see a life lived without fear of what the future may bring?
- Our walk with Christ should be reflected in our daily lives. As we get to know Christ and allow Him more and more to have influence in our hearts, His light should shine out of us.
- I Peter 1:13-25, 2:1-25
- Galatians 5:16-26
- Romans 13:8-14
- Ephesians 5:1-33, 6:1-18
- Boaz begins taking special consideration of Ruth. When the workers broke for lunch, he invited her over to eat with he and his workers.
- Then he tells his workers to be mindful of her as well. “Let her gather grain right among the sheaves without stopping her. And pull our some heads of barley from the bundles and drop them on purpose for her. Let her pick them up, and don't give her a hard time!”
- Now, I don't know if Ruth knew the ins and outs of all the gleaning laws... When she goes back to Naomi, I feel like Naomi is explaining things to her. Ruth tells her all that happened, and Noami tells her what to do next.
- So maybe Ruth didn't realize how special Boaz was making her... but I guarantee everybody else did... I wonder what the Boaz's harvesters thought about having to leave grain behind for this Moabite woman. Maybe they saw the same thing Boaz saw... or maybe they just saw an annoyance... but either way, they followed orders.
- Ruth gathered an entire basket full of grain... but not just the grain... the basket full was AFTER she had beat out the grain. Plus she had the leftover food that she couldn't eat at lunch time...
- Naomi was shocked to say the least. Things have been bleak for Naomi... and all of a sudden, here comes her daughter-in-law, not only with grain, but a lot of it... she has been shown special favor by the owner of the field... and that owner, just happens to be a close relative of Elimelech... close enough to be eligible to be a redeemer for the family. (but that's a story for next week... : )
- Boaz has offered to let Ruth continue to glean in his fields throughout the barley harvest. Noami agrees to this plan because who knows if Ruth will have the same good fortune in another field. No one else is going to treat her so well... if they would let a foreigner glean in the first place...
- So Ruth continues in Boaz's field... not only through the barley harvest, but through the wheat harvest as well.
- II Corinthians 9:8-15
- I Kings 17:8-24
- Psalm 111, 147
LOVER OF MY SOUL
- I love this picture. Consider that we are the foreigners. We are living in a land not our own. We are dependent upon circumstances, upon ourselves, upon whatever good will other people happen to have towards us...
- And one day we happen upon this man who says “hey! Here you can work over here! Come join my harvesters. Work side by side with them.” And whether we know it or not, He is constantly blessing us. Constantly giving us more than we could ever have hoped for.
- However, it's not because we deserve it. We are not perfect examples of anything worth saving... But God sees something in us. God sees something in us that maybe others don't see. Maybe even our fellow harvesters don't see what the boss sees in us... but nonetheless, He makes us special. He puts us in a place of honor.
- Ephesians 1 talks about God planning out beforehand how He would adopt us into His family. vs. 4-5 says “Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ. This is what He wanted to do, and it gave Him great pleasure.”
- Isaiah 55
- Colossians 1:11-14
- Romans 3:23-31
- Ephesians 2:1-22, 3:1-12