Summary: Third in a four-part series from Ruth. Ruth in faith requests that Boaz take her as his wife. She models for us the sort of risks God will ask us to take if we press out in faith, knowing His character.
Trinity Baptist Church June 24, 2007
Ruth: God redeems
A bold request
Marriage proposals come in all shapes and varieties. From the stories I’ve heard, many proposals don’t happen soon enough for one or the other person in the relationship! I have to admit -- before Patty and I were engaged, a friend of ours had to give me a
not-so-gentle shove to get me off the dime to ask my beloved if it wasn’t time that we got married….I’ll leave the other embarrassing details for another time.
I heard a story of one guy who really put things off. He’d been going with a young woman for six years and still nothing by way of proposal. Isn’t it amazing how we can get so comfortable with the status quo in our lives?? Anyway, one evening, she decided she’d do something! They sat down at a favorite Chinese restaurant and got ready to order dinner. When the waiter asked the woman, “how do you want your rice?” she simply said “thrown!”
We’re in Act 3 of the drama in the OT book of Ruth. If you’ve done your homework, you’ve seen the masterful job the writer did of setting up the drama. Chapter 1 opened with tragic circumstances. Naomi and her husband ran off to Moab to find food during a famine. Instead of trusting God, they trusted their own instincts. That’s always a lethal plan. Husband Elimilech and both his sons died in that pagan country. The boys left behind two young widows. One stayed in Moab, and one returned with Naomi to her land and people -- and to the God of Israel, in Whom she now obviously believed.
We read how Naomi and Ruth returned to Bethlehem as poor beggars. But then, in chapter 2, suddenly, there arose the possibility of resolution in their circumstances. Ruth went out to glean in the barley fields and there met the God’s good and righteous man, Boaz. At the beginning of chapter 3, Boaz is mentioned immediately -- so it becomes apparent to the reader that God -- in His goodness and providence -- is about to do something great through this man.
Chapter 3 begins the love story which is a key component of this book. The love that begins between Ruth and Boaz reminds us of what the book is about. Ruth is a story of redemption. Redemption has to do with being rescued or delivered. We’ll talk more about that as we think about the concept of the kinsman-redeemer in this chapter.
So let’s look at chapter 3 chronologically. I want to spend some time on each of the characters in the account. First, we have Naomi’s role (3:1-4) When chapter 3 opens, Naomi is a concerned mother-in-law with a plan. And as you read the details of her plan, you might have some trouble with it.
Are her actions right or wrong? Is she just scheming -- just taking things into her own hands and acting in a very human way again? Or is this a good approach -- is it the way things ought to be done?
When examine the chapter, we can make a good case that Naomi has been changed since the end of chapter 1. She’s no longer stewing in her bitterness like she was doing when she made the trip back. And of course, there’s good reason for that. We saw it in chapter 2.
The hero of the book -- the Lord Who is King, proved Himself to Naomi. He’s shown that He is more than capable of providing for two widows.
So as chapter 3 opens -- Naomi has hope again.
Bitterness and hope are mutually exclusive. That’s because when we’re bitter, self is the focus of our attention. Biblical hope has a very different object -- the Psalm says it -- soul, hope in God! Hope’s object is always God.
There’s good evidence in Naomi’s words that her faith and hope in God have been revived.
She’s no longer just thinking of herself and her harsh experiences. She witnessed God in action, providing and protecting the two of them. So now she’s thinking of how God might work to provide for her daughter-in-law long-term. And when the chapter closes, we’ll see that God is pleased to take Naomi’s and Ruth’s faith and their risk -- and reward them.
3:1 -- My daughter, shall I not seek security for you, that it may be well with you? Now is not Boaz our kinsman, with whose maids you were? Behold, he winnows barley at the threshing floor tonight. (Ruth 3:1) She instructs Ruth to -- take a bath -- and put on her best dress -- use some perfume and go to that threshing floor; when you she arrives she should simply wait in the shadows until Boaz lies down and then approach him.