Ruth 3:4 – Can you imagine telling your daughter to go lie won at the feet of a man she has just met for the night?
I have to admit, I don’t understand the cultural goings on here in Ruth 3. She seems to demand of him that he care for her in Ruth 3:9, and he agrees, conditionally. She spends the night with Boaz, innocently at his feet, and sneaks off in the morning before first light. It would appear to the casual observer that sin is afoot, and even today we would assume that a woman who goes out to meet a man and doesn’t return until morning was up to no good. Yet both Boaz and Ruth praise her for her actions. Certainly they were noble, yet they have the appearance of impropriety.
I suppose she went out at some personal risk, but did so in faith that Boaz was the honorable man he seemed to be. He could have taken advantage of her or dismissed her as an unclean outsider, but he did not. instead, he praises her faith and promises to redeem her.
Isn’t this like how we approach Jesus? We come, unworthy, unclean and with nothing but the faith that he will redeem us. He has no obligation to do so, and we have nothing appealing to offer. We approach the perfect, holy God of all creation in our rags and sin, risking His rebuke in hope for that which we cannot get on our own – redemption. And we find in Jesus, like Ruth did in Boaz, our hope fulfilled.
Some thoughts on Ruth 2:
Ruth sets out to glean, but not until she asks permission from Naomi. She gleans behind the reapers, so after they have harvested what they want, she gathers what’s left behind. She’s determined to provide, but respectful of both Naomi and the land owners.
She sets out at some personal risk. Boaz’s and Naomi’s comments indicate that some of the men in the fields would not be so kind to a lone woman working in their midst. yet she still goes out.
Boaz, even before he knows who she is, has heard of her and is impressed with her loyalty and work for Naomi. Once he knows who she is, he guarantees her protection and makes sure that she has grain to glean.
She is surprised that Boaz would take notice of her.
Naomi calls Boaz one of their ‘redeemers’.
I see a parallel between Ruth / Boaz and Jesus’ parallel of the sheep and the goats. Boaz recognizes Ruth’s work when Ruth doesn’t seem to think it’s a big deal, much like Jesus’ recognizing the sheep for their work for the poor that they didn’t think was a big deal. Neither Ruth or the sheep did what they did out of duty. They did it because it was who they had become. The sheep had been adopted by the shepherd and had become like them, Ruth now adopted in to Naomi’s family, belonged to her and identified herself with Naomi. As we saw in Ruth 1, it wasn’t a matter of duty or obligation but of identity, and her work to care for the two of them was done in the same way. It wasn’t any thing extraordinary, it was simply who she was.
Then, much like shepherd rewards the sheep, Boaz rewards her for her work by protecting her and providing for her. Not as a payment any more than the shepherd was paying the sheep in Jesus’ parable, but because that is who Boaz was as well. He owed her nothing, yet gave her much because of who he was, exactly like Jesus does for us because of who He is. All that the good that we might do, as impressive as it may be even to the Lord, does nothing to earn us any blessings. We receive because of who he is instead.
Ruth 1:1 – I never noticed before that Naomi’s family was from Bethlehem.
Ruth 1:13-14 – Naomi’s grief is great, saying that “the hand of the Lord has gone out against me.” and she urges her daughter’s in law to go back home and start over. Her world has fallen apart, long from home and having lost her husband an sons. Her argument sounds fine – go back and start over, you are young and I have nothing left to give – and Orpah relents and returns home.
Ruth 1:15-18 – But Ruth isn’t having any of it. Though Naomi is likely right, the odds are more in her favor if she returns home, she refuses to abandon Naomi in her grief. I have to believe that although Naomi knew it was right to urge them to go, she is relieved to have Ruth stay and not be alone. What could motivate Ruth to stay with Naomi and return to Judah with her? There isn’t really anything of benefit for Ruth in going, the only reason i can see is that Ruth refused to abandon Naomi in her vulnerable state. She knew that Naomi needed her and she wouldn’t leave her alone.
Ruth 1:21 – After 10 years, she returns to Bethlehem and is recognized, yet she is not the same. Naomi means ‘pleasant’ and based on the loyalty of her daughters in law, she seems to have lived up to that name. But she may have left ‘pleasant’, but she’s returned ‘bitter’ and asks to be called such (Mara). She says that she has come back empty, but she forgets the blessing that is Ruth, who remained y her side.
Isn’t that how we act? trouble comes and we think all is lost, there is nothing left. Yet God is still with us, Jesus is still interceding and if we payed attention,we’d see many more blessings around us.
Another thing to consider is Ruth. She’s just made a long journey with a self described bitter woman. A bitter woman is no fun to be around, yet Ruth commits herself and remains true. Upon arriving, Naomi essentially dismisses Ruth’s loyalty saying that she has returned empty.
Yet Ruth remains.
It occurs to me that we are Naomi and Ruth is Jesus. We complain about our circumstances and lament our fate, ignoring Jesus’ faithfulness. Yet Jesus remains, supporting us, encouraging us,steadfast beside us, waiting for us to notice Him there.
Hebrews 13:2 – Back when I was in college, I spent an internship in NYC. Some brothers win the church affiliated with mine took me in and allowed me to stay with them for the 3 months I was there (that’s a story in itself). One of my roommates was named Angel. He told me about how months earlier a young man who had just been baptized came to him in service and thanked him for the talk they had and how it had been instrumental in his decision to follow Jesus. Angel was sure he had never met him before, it must have been someone else. But the man insisted that on a certain subway several nights before he had run into him and sat down and talked about his decision, talking through it. Angel had never been on that train before, in fact I think he had been working that night. The man was certain it was Angel, however, an not someone else.
They concluded that it must have been an actual Angel that had met him.
Hebrews 13:5-6 –
be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say,
“The Lord is my helper;
I will not fear;
what can man do to me?”
I think many disciples of Jesus get far too worked up about what man can do to them. They are fearful of their finances or their job security or who might get elected next more than they are aware of Him who has claimed them. Our lives and our speech should point to the everlasting security of the Lord in all things more than the things of the Earth that we believe may or may not bring security now.
Hebrews 13:10 – “We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat.” What a bold statement to make to an audience of Jews, and what a conclusion tucked into a simple sentence in the middle of these closing paragraphs. Those who cling to the old ways have no right to the blessings of Christ that we Christians enjoy.
Hebrews 13:14 – As I read earlier of those in the OT who looked ahead to the promised messiah but never saw what we have, I felt a bit of sadness for hem. Yet in this verse I see that we share in their view ahead of things promised but not yet seen. One day, both they and us will see in full.