A Rude Awakening
August 25, 2013
TEXT: Turn to Ruth 3
Life is sometimes filled with “rude awakenings.”
Illus. – I remember a newspaper story of a man whose bedroom faced a curve in a road that went by his house. He had a rude awakening one night when a drunk drove through the railing, through his bedroom wall, and halfway into his bedroom. The car stopped about two feet from his bed. Now…that’s what I call a rude awakening!
Some awakenings are PLEASANT and some are NOT SO PLEASANT.
• Adam woke up and discovered that God had created a wife for him. – That was one of the pleasant ones.
• Jacob woke up and discovered that he was married to the WRONG wife! His father-in-law, Laban, had pulled a fast one on Jacob and sent Lea instead of Rachael to his tent on their wedding night. I’ve never quite figured that one out. It must have been REALLY dark in that tent that night!
• In today’s text, Boaz woke up to one of those rude awakenings.
Let’s read about Boaz’s big surprise in Ruth 3:7-18 – “And when Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of corn: and she came softly, and uncovered his feet, and laid her down. 8 And it came to pass at midnight, that the man was afraid, and turned himself: and, behold, a woman lay at his feet. 9 And he said, Who art thou? And she answered, I am Ruth thine handmaid: spread therefore thy skirt over thine handmaid; for thou art a near kinsman. 10 And he said, Blessed be thou of the LORD, my daughter: for thou hast shewed more kindness in the latter end than at the beginning, inasmuch as thou followedst not young men, whether poor or rich. 11 And now, my daughter, fear not; I will do to thee all that thou requirest: for all the city of my people doth know that thou art a virtuous woman. 12 And now it is true that I am thy near kinsman: howbeit there is a kinsman nearer than I. 13 Tarry this night, and it shall be in the morning, that if he will perform unto thee the part of a kinsman, well; let him do the kinsman's part: but if he will not do the part of a kinsman to thee, then will I do the part of a kinsman to thee, as the LORD liveth: lie down until the morning.
14 And she lay at his feet until the morning: and she rose up before one could know another. And he said, Let it not be known that a woman came into the floor. 15 Also he said, Bring the vail that thou hast upon thee, and hold it. And when she held it, he measured six measures of barley, and laid it on her: and she went into the city. 16 And when she came to her mother in law, she said, Who art thou, my daughter? And she told her all that the man had done to her. 17 And she said, These six measures of barley gave he me; for he said to me, Go not empty unto thy mother in law. 18 Then said she, Sit still, my daughter, until thou know how the matter will fall: for the man will not be in rest, until he have finished the thing this day.”
We saw last week how Naomi had given Ruth a plan to approach Boaz to see if he would be willing to perform the role of the kinsman-redeemer by buying back Elimelech’s property, marrying her and raising up their children in the name of her deceased husband, in accordance to stipulations in the Law of Moses.
So Ruth went to the winnowing floor where Boaz slept, presumably so that Boaz could turn down the plan he wanted to without the whole town knowing about it.
So here’s Ruth standing in the shadows, waiting for Boaz to go to sleep. And once he’s asleep, she tip-toes to the winnowing floor and lays down by his feet. It’s then that Boaz stirs in the middle of the night and has his “rude awakening”! Seeing someone in the dark at his feet, he says in alarm, “Who are you?” Following the plan, Ruth reveals herself and asks Boaz if he would consider being her kinsman-redeemer.
Remember that there is not a hint of anything wrong in what Ruth did. Her only indiscretion may have been in going to Boaz alone at night.
Now the key is to understand that Ruth acted out of FAITH—trusting in the grace of Boaz. And Boaz responded in grace.
As we’ve seen over and over again in Ruth, what Boaz did for Ruth in this book illustrates for us what the Lord does for us when we submit to Him by faith. Boaz is a picture of Jesus Christ.
Let’s see how Jesus responds to us in grace as we yield ourselves to Him, as Ruth did to Boaz:
I. FIRST, HE ACCEPTS YOU
Ruth, you will recall, was an outsider, an alien, a stranger. Before coming to Bethlehem-judah, Ruth had no claim to the promises that God had given to Israel. Moabites were not allowed to enter the congregation of Israel unless converted to Judaism under the strictest of conditions, and even then did not have all the rights of a natural born Jew.
The same applies to us before we are saved. Look with me at Ephesians 2:11-12 – “Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; 12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.”
Ruth is a picture of each of us before our salvation—an outsider, an alien, a stranger from the covenants of promise. Still, though, she trusted the God of Israel. She said in Ruth 1:16b – “…thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.” She came by faith to the God of Israel.
Now look back at Ruth 2:12 where Boaz was speaking to Ruth: “The LORD recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust.” The phrase “under whose wings thou are come to trust” is a beautiful picture of trusting in God’s protection. Boaz was saying, “Because of your trust in God and your good deeds for Naomi, may the Lord take care of you and reward you for the good you have done.”
Now return to chapter 3 and look at verse 9 again: “And he said, Who art thou? And she answered, I am Ruth thine handmaid: spread therefore thy skirt over thine handmaid; for thou art a near kinsman.” In the original Hebrew, the word translated “skirt” is the identical word “wings” in Ruth 2:12.
What Boaz understood her to say was, “spread therefore, your wings over me.” She was harking back to his earlier words and saying, “YOU are the means by which I can be rewarded for my trust in God and my deeds for Naomi. YOU are the answer to your own prayer of blessing for me.” In a roundabout way, she was saying, in effect, “Will you marry me?”
Now if Boaz put Ruth under his protective care and become her kinsman-redeemer, he would be saying, “I accept you.” When we put our faith in Jesus Christ, we are “under His wings,” and that implies that He accepts us. No matter how heinous or wicked the sins of your past life, God has accepted you through the blood of Jesus Christ.
Look with me at Ephesians 1:6 – “To the praise of the glory of his [God’s] grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.”
Think about it—no matter how wicked you may have been or the nature of your deepest, most vile sins, when you trusted Christ, He ACCEPTED you!
Note that Boaz not only accepted Ruth, but he also blessed her – verse 10 – “And he said, Blessed be thou of the LORD, my daughter: for thou hast shewed more kindness in the latter end than at the beginning,…” When we’re saved, God not only ACCEPTS us, but He BLESSES us as well.
Some people live in the shadow of their former lives before Christ. They find it hard to believe that Christ could really accept them because of the awfulness of their former lives; and they live in bondage to their past.
Illus. – I remember a lady in our church in Wiesbaden, Germany who was like that. She was always doing things for God—in fact, she did too much, neglecting her family and herself in the process. She kept doing works for God, but never seemed to enjoy it. If you’re serving out of joy, you are ENERGIZED when you serve the Lord; but she seemed like she hated every minute of it, yet seemed compelled to more and more labor in the Lord’s behalf.
In a visit one evening, it came out that every day of her life she felt an overwhelming sense of her guilt before God because she had transgressed all ten of the Ten Commandments. She had lived a selfish, immoral lifestyle before her salvation. And though she had returned to the Lord, she never felt fully accepted by God because of the load of guilt she carried.
What this lady had not come to realize is that God does not accept us on the basis of our own merit or our own works or our character—even after salvation. God accepts us on the basis of the BLOOD OF JESUS CHRIST. It’s good to serve God in gratitude for what He has done for you, but we don’t serve Him to gain His acceptance or out of a sense of guilt. God has already accepted you in Christ—so ACCEPT YOUR ACCEPTANCE!
Note in 3:9 – Ruth did not say, “I am Ruth, the Moabitess” as everyone else referred to her. She simply said, “I am Ruth…” She had put her past idolatrous life behind her. And God has put your past behind Him; now YOU should put your past behind you, because God ACCEPTS you.
II. NOTE SECOND THAT WHEN YOU YIELD YOURSELF TO THE LORD AND PUT YOURSELF AT JESUS’ FEET, AS RUTH DID TO BOAZ, HE ASSURES YOU
Look now at verse 11 – “And now, my daughter, fear not; I will do to thee all that thou requirest: for all the city of my people doth know that thou art a virtuous woman.”
Here we see that Boaz assured Ruth. Just as Boaz assured Ruth, so Christ assures us who are believers in Him.
Boaz assured Ruth in three ways:
• First, he assured her she need not fear – “And now my daughter, fear not.” (verse 11)
Over and over again, the Bible assures us that we need not be afraid. There are 62 “fear nots” in the Bible, 26 “be not afraids,” and 17 times we are told to “be of good courage.” That makes a total of at least 105 times that the Lord assures us in the Bible by telling us not to fear. 1 John 4:18 says “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.”
• Second, Boaz assured her that he would fulfill her requests – “I will do to thee all that thou requirest [or ‘all that you request’].” (verse 11)
She had a need; He was the answer to that need; so she asks him to be her kinsman-redeemer; and he assures her that He will indeed. Likewise, we have a need for a redeemer from our sins; Jesus is the answer to that need; so when we ask Him to save us and be our redeemer, we know He will fulfill our request and meet our need and save us.
• Thirdly, Boaz assured her by meeting her immediate needs.
Note two verses:
> Note verse 15 – “Also he said, Bring the vail that thou hast upon thee, and hold it. And when she held it, he measured six measures of barley, and laid it on her: and she went into the city.”
> Verse 17 – “And she said, These six measures of barley gave he me; for he said to me, Go not empty unto thy mother in law.”
Compare these two verses with two previous verses in Ruth: Ruth 1:20-21 – “And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me. 21 I went out full, and the LORD hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the LORD hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me?”
In chapter 1 Naomi said she was coming back EMPTY. In chapter 3 Boaz said, “Go not empty unto thy mother-in-law.”
You know what I think? I think Boaz said this on purpose. I think Boaz had heard what Naomi had said when she returned to Bethlehem-Judah. I believe he probably was being a little facetious here. He probably smiled a little when he said those words to Ruth, “Go not empty unto thy mother-in-law.”
You know, our full redemption of body, soul and spirit has not yet occurred, but in the meantime, the Lord doesn’t send us back into the world empty. – He gives us the Spirit and meets our needs until the day we are gathered into His presence in heaven.
III. LASTLY, NOTE THAT WHEN YOU YIELD YOURSELF TO THE LORD AND PUT YOURSELF AT JESUS’ FEET, AS RUTH DID TO BOAZ, HE ASSISTS YOU
In Ruth 2, Ruth was working for Boaz. Now the situation changes—BOAZ STARTED WORKING FOR RUTH!
OUR Boaz is also working on our behalf. He finished the work of redemption on the cross, and now He’s working for us in heaven.
What is He doing for us?
• First, He’s interceding for us – Romans 8:34 – “Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.”
• He’s preparing a home for us – John 14:1-2 – “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.”
• He’s working in us and changing us and conforming us to the image of Jesus Christ – Romans 8:29 – “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.”
Boaz faithfully kept his word to Ruth. Go with me to Ruth 4:1 – “Then went Boaz up to the gate, and sat him down there: and, behold, the kinsman of whom Boaz spake came by; unto whom he said, Ho, such a one! turn aside, sit down here. And he turned aside, and sat down.”
Boaz knew that though he wanted to take Ruth as his wife and redeem Elimelech’s property, there was a kinsman who was a closer relation to Elimelech. Boaz was a man of great integrity. Just as he would not take advantage of a poor Moabitess woman as he could have done by seducing Ruth on the winnowing floor that night, so too he would not usurp the place of another. As soon as it was daylight, he went to the city gate and waited for the other relative to arrive. Then he began the proceedings to redeem the property and arrange to marry Ruth.
In Ruth 1, Naomi was reaping what she and Elimelech had sown, and it brought trouble. Now Ruth and Naomi are reaping what BOAZ has sown and are experiencing great blessings.
Do you want to reap what YOU have sown in the flesh or what CHRIST has prepared for you? Don’t be afraid to put yourself at the feet of the Lord Jesus Christ. He’s the Lord of the Harvest. He’s the One who has all the resources necessary to put your life together. He ACCEPTS you, and He ASSURES you in His Word that you have nothing to fear because He will ASSIST you by meeting your deepest need for redemption, and indeed by meeting all of your true needs. The present and the future are under His control, so we can relax and trust in Him.