Choosing to Rest in a Redeemer - Ruth 3:1-18
Sermon Series: Redeemed
Can you remember a time in the past when you had a difficult time making a choice? There are all kinds of reasons that people have for experiencing difficulty making a decision, but allow me to list just a few. Sometimes we have a hard time making a choice because of fear. For example, think about the time you were standing on the edge of the diving board with your back to the water really wanting to try a back flip but having a hard time attempting one because of the fear you were experiencing. Sometimes we have a hard time making a choice because what we are told is good for us doesn’t seem as appealing as something else. I know some people who will look in the refrigerator for a snack and pull out a cup of yogurt. But very rarely do I do that because I know there is also ice cream in the freezer and for me ice cream is WAY more appealing. And sometimes we have a hard time making a choice because choosing one thing will mean letting go of another thing. I think about men who have been single and then married without kids and who drive a cool sports car or motorcycle. Then they start having children and start growing their family. When that takes place their sports cars and motorcycles are no longer practical and they have to look into family sized sedans and yes – minivans. In those cases it’s hard to let go of the things that have been a part of who they are for so long for something very different (which might even communicate a change in their identity). And yet often times we have to make these difficult kinds of choices. Standing on the edge of a diving board with your back to the water isn’t the same as doing a back flip. If you want to do a back flip you have to jump and tuck. Always eating ice cream for a snack isn’t going to help you lose weight. Eventually you have to start grabbing the yogurt instead of the ice cream. And the last time I checked car seats weren’t legal on motorcycles. So if you want to be able to drive anywhere with your infant you are going to need to purchase something that has a back seat (and probably something that also has 4 doors).
I use these illustrations because this week in chapter 3 we are going to see that Ruth had to make a choice. In chapter 1 we saw that she needed redemption. Then in chapter 2 we met a man of noble character who was one of her kinsman redeemers and who was graciously providing food and a safe place for her to glean. But having knowledge of one who was able to serve as a kinsman redeemer and having the provisions of food and a safe place to glean were not the same as being redeemed. So in chapter 3 we are going to discover that Ruth had an important decision to make.
Whereas chapter 1 ended with little hope (the men in Naomi’s and Ruth’s lives had passed away leaving the women with no present means of financial income and no hope for future security), chapter 2 ended with strong reason to hope. In chapter 2 the author of the book of Ruth introduced the readers to a new character – a man by the name of Boaz. Boaz was a noble man of extraordinary character who initiated a relationship with Ruth out in his fields and invited her to remain in his fields gleaning until all of the harvest was done. In chapter 2 we saw Boaz showing great compassion to Ruth and giving graciously to meet her needs. Then at the end of chapter 2 we heard Naomi explain to Ruth that Boaz was one of their redeemers (2:20). This gave the reader great hope – perhaps God was going to use this man to provide physical redemption for Naomi and Ruth.
Chapter 3 began by moving this remarkable story of redemption even further along. At the end of chapter 2 it seemed that Naomi and Ruth were going to be well provided for during the harvest season. But this wasn’t a story about women in need of food – the story could not have ended there because these women needed more than just regular provision of food. This was a story of women who had a much greater need – a need for redemption. And fortunately this story of redemption had more to it.
“Then Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, ‘My daughter, should I not seek rest for you, that it may be well with you? Is not Boaz our relative, with whose young women you were? See, he is winnowing barley tonight at the threshing floor’” (verses 1-2).
Naomi also seemed to recognize that the provision of food was not enough for Ruth. She understood that Ruth needed ‘rest.’ The Hebrew word there literally means “place of rest,” and comes from a root word that also means security and tranquility. Naomi realized that the provision of food wasn’t going to be enough to provide Ruth with the security and tranquility that having a husband would have provided. So Naomi sought to provide Ruth with more.
We need to pause here for just a moment to also give some consideration to the context in which chapter 3 is going to take place. Naomi told Ruth that Boaz was “winnowing barley at the threshing floor.” This is what would have been done with the barley and the wheat at the end of the harvest season. Winnowing barley and wheat was typically done on threshing floors, which were usually some sort of rock outcrops on hilltops near the barley and wheat fields. These threshing floors were not in the fortified cities, but usually out in the open. It was at the threshing floors that the grains would be separated from the chaff. Part of the process involved using a fork to toss the barley into the air. The winds that would blow on these open hilltops would then help to separate the grain and the chaff. The heavier grain would fall to the rocky floor while the winds would carry off the chaff. Then, when the grain and chaff had been separated, the grain could be easily gathered.
The fact that these threshing floors were outside of the city also meant that the men who did this work were required to stay with the grain until it could all be collected and brought into the city. Piles of grain left out in the open on threshing floors would have been easily stolen by thieves or eaten by animals. So the men who did this work would spend the night out of the city and away from their wives, which also meant that this was a time when prostitutes would come out to the threshing floors to offer sexual acts. Given that the events of this story took place “in the days when the judges ruled” (1:1) and everyone was doing what was right in his own eyes, it is safe to assume that these kind of activities were probably taking place at the time that this story and the events of chapter 3 were taking place. But we also have to be careful, knowing the context, that we don’t read more into the text than the author intended (which has often happened with this particular chapter in the OT book of Ruth).
Naomi continued in her instructions to Ruth. “‘Wash therefore and anoint yourself, and put on your cloak and go down to the threshing floor, but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking. But when he lies down, observe the place where he lies. Then go and uncover his feet and lie down, and he will tell you what to do’” (verses 3-4).
Naomi’s instructions to Ruth are often terribly misunderstood. The reader hears Naomi say to Ruth: "wash, anoint yourself, and put on your cloak," and often interprets this as if Naomi was telling Ruth to prepare herself for a sexual encounter. Many readers have believed that Naomi was telling Ruth to get cleaned up, to put on some good smelling perfume, and then to put on a seductive outfit so that she could go to the threshing floor and seduce this noble man into a sexual encounter, whereby she could manipulate him into marriage. That was NOT what Naomi was instructing Ruth to do. But in order to understand her instructions we need some additional context. So let’s look at an example from King David’s life. Most of us remember that King David had an adulterous relationship with Bathsheba, who at the time was married to one of David’s soldiers, Uriah. As a result of that act, Bathsheba got pregnant. King David tried to manipulate Uriah into sleeping with his wife so that the illegitimate pregnancy might be hidden and covered up, but Uriah wouldn’t cooperate. So David’s plan ‘B’ was to have Uriah murdered by placing him on the front lines of the battle field and then having all the Israelite soldiers retreat, leaving Uriah to face the enemy on his own. God was so displeased by all of David’s actions that God chose to discipline David by not allowing the child he was having with Bathsheba to live (2 Samuel 12:14). The prophet Nathan made that known to David and when the child became sick David began to mourn and to fast and to plead with God to heal the sick child. But the baby died and when the news was made known to David the text says, “Then David arose from the earth and washed and anointed himself and changed his clothes” (2 Samuel 12:20). David had mourned his infant’s sickness and the news that the baby was going to die. But when the baby had passed away there was nothing more that David could do – it was time to end his mourning and to move on. So David demonstrated that this season of mourning was over and that he was moving on by washing himself, anointing himself, and changing his clothes.
2 Samuel 12:20 gives us a much better understanding of what Naomi was instructing Ruth to do. Ruth was a widow. She would have been recognized as such by the garments that she wore (Genesis 38:14, 19 inform us that widows wore clothes that identified them as widows). These garments would have also communicated that she was still mourning the loss of her deceased husband. So what Naomi was communicating to Ruth was that it was time to move on. She needed to put this season of mourning behind her and prepare herself for the next season of life. She also needed to communicate to the one who might be her redeemer that she had finished mourning her deceased husband and that she was ready to be pursued. So Naomi suggested that Ruth do this by washing herself, anointing herself, and then changing out of her widow garments and putting on other clothes.
After doing this Naomi instructed Ruth to go out to the threshing floor and to remain hidden until after Boaz had finished eating and drinking and had fallen asleep. After he had fallen asleep she was to go over to Boaz, pull back the blanket or the garment that was covering his feet, lie down near him, and then wait for his instructions. Again, many people wrongly interpret this as a sexual advancement. Some people believe that Naomi was instructing Ruth to not only uncover his feet, but that this was an instruction to uncover his genitals as well. They think that Naomi had instructed Ruth to wash herself, anoint herself, dress seductively, and then go to Boaz and uncover his genitals and wait next to him so that when he woke up and saw her he would be aware of her sexual advancement and give her instructions concerning what kind of sexual activity he desired from her. But to interpret the text like this is inconsistent with everything that has been revealed to the readers about these characters. The reader knows that Naomi is a woman who cares deeply for Ruth and longs to see her cared for – not despised and rejected (1:8; 3:1). The reader knows that Ruth is a woman of great character (2:11-12). And the reader knows that Boaz is a noble man who is godly in character (2:1, 13). To interpret these instructions as sexual advancements would be inconsistent with all that has been revealed to us about these characters up to this point. Still, this was a risky proposal – for in the same way that many readers have misunderstood the instructions given to Ruth, so might her actions have been misunderstood by Boaz. So when Ruth answered Naomi, “All that you say I will do” she was consenting to obedience that could be very costly. So what were Naomi’s instructions all about? What was the purpose? These are great questions to which we will discover the answers in the following verses.
“So she went down to the threshing floor and did just as her mother-in-law had commanded her. And when Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of grain. Then she came softly and uncovered his feet and lay down. At midnight the man was startled and turned over, and behold, a woman lay at his feet! He said, ‘Who are you?’ And she answered, ‘I am Ruth, your servant. Spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer’” (verses 6-10). Ruth followed Naomi’s instructions exactly. Then the text revealed that at midnight Boaz “was startled and turned over.” The Hebrew word for that is translated ‘startled’ also means 'to tremble,' which in this context may actually be the better understanding. With his feet uncovered and exposed to the cool night-time breezes there is a strong likelihood that Boaz had a chill that went through his body and which caused him 'to tremble' and wake up. Then noticing that the blanket or garment which had been covering his feet was no longer there he would have turned over to find the blanket or garment so that he might once again cover his feet with it. But in turning over to find the blanket/garment Boaz was surprised to discover something else – a woman! Not knowing who it was, Boaz asked. And Ruth answered his question by saying, “I am Ruth.” Then she continued, “Spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer.” Here is where the significance of removing the blanket/garment from Boaz’s feet lies! Removing the blanket/garment from Boaz’s feet served a very practical purpose – it served as a means by which to wake Boaz up (his feet were exposed to the cool air, he got a chill, and he woke up). But removing the blanket/garment from Boaz’s feet was also to serve a very symbolic purpose. With the blanket/garment off of his feet, Boaz would have to spread it back over his feet. But Ruth had lay on the ground next to his feet and made a special request. She asked Boaz to do more than just spread the blanket/garment out over his own feet again; she asked him to spread out the blanket/garment so that it went beyond covering his own feet and covered up her as well. Ruth was asking Boaz to take responsibility for her by marrying her and redeeming her. In having washed herself, anointed herself, and changed out of her widows garments she would have communicated that her time of mourning was over and it laying next to Boaz’s feet and asking him to spread his blanket/garment over her, she would have been asking him to carry out the work of a redeemer (something he would not have initiated while she was still mourning the loss of her husband and wearing widow’s garments).
The question that the reader has been worrying about is, “How will Boaz respond to this particular proposal?” Will he misunderstand the proposal as a sexual advancement and try to have sexual relations with her? Will he misunderstand the proposal as a sexual advancement and turn her away? Or will he understand the proposal for what it is and carry out his duty? The outcome that Naomi and Ruth (as well as the reader) were hoping for seemed to be the least likely to happen given the context. But by God’s providence Boaz understood the proposal as it was intended to be understood and responded positively. “And he said, ‘May you be blessed by the Lord, my daughter. You have made this last kindness greater than the first in that you have not gone after young men, whether poor or rich. And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you all that you ask, for all my fellow townsmen know that you are a worthy woman. And now it is true that I am a redeemer. Yet there is a redeemer nearer than I. Remain tonight, and in the morning, if he will redeem you, good; let him do it. But if he is not willing to redeem you, then, as the Lord lives, I will redeem you. Lie down until morning’” (verses 10-13). Ruth’s proposal made an incredible impression on Boaz. In his earlier dialogue with her, he expressed how her loving-kindness towards Naomi (demonstrated in her abandonment of her own father and mother and country to care for and look after Naomi) had made an incredible impression on him (see 2:11-12). But the loving-kindness she had demonstrated towards him in this proposal had made an even bigger impression. Ruth could have sought another individual out to marry – perhaps someone who was younger, or better looking, or even more wealthy than Boaz. But she had chosen not to – she had chosen to come to him. So Boaz instructed her not to fear, but rather to rest assured that he would do all that she had asked. While it was true that Ruth was a Moabite by birth, she had committed her life to following after Yahweh (Israel’s God) (see 1:16) and it was evident that she possessed a noble character like his own (i.e. “for all my fellow townsmen know that you are a worthy woman” - Ruth had been described the same way that Boaz had been in 2:1). There would be no shame for Boaz in redeeming Ruth, for her allegiance to God and her noble character far outweighed her birth heritage.
Boaz did reveal one significant set back to Ruth in these verses though. Boaz revealed to Ruth that while he was a redeemer, there was another relative who was a closer relative and redeemer. And according to Israelite law this closer relative should be given the first opportunity to redeem Naomi’s land and to take Ruth as a wife. So Boaz instructed Ruth to remain near to him for the night. It was too dangerous to send her back into the city in the middle of the night on her own. So she was to stay near to him, where he could serve as her protection, and then in the morning Boaz would make sure that Ruth was redeemed. Whether it was the closer redeemer, or himself, Ruth would not have to wait any longer – she would be redeemed by the morning.
Chapter 3 ends this way: “So she lay at his feet until the morning, but arose before one could recognize another. And he said, ‘Let it not be known that the woman came to the threshing floor.’ And he said, ‘Bring the garment you are wearing and hold it out.’ So she held it, and he measured out six measures of barley and put it on her. Then she went into the city. And when she came to her mother-in-law, she said, ‘How did you fare, my daughter?’ Then she told her all that the man had done for her, saying, ‘These six measures of barley he gave to me, for he said to me, ‘You must not go back empty-handed to your mother-in-law.’’ She replied, ‘Wait, my daughter, until you learn how the matter turns out, for the man will not rest but will settle the matter today’” (verses 14-18).
Boaz sent Ruth back just before dawn – just before the light began to break. What had taken place that night between the two of them could have easily been mistaken by others who would wrongly assume that they had been engaging in sexual activity. So to maintain both of their reputations Boaz sought to send Ruth back before anyone would have seen her. But Boaz did not send Ruth back empty-handed. The author told the reader that he measured out and gave to her six measures of barley. We can’t know for sure just how much that is, but the amount is not the significant part. We find out three sentences later that those six measures of barley were for Naomi. Why did Boaz send Naomi six measures of barley? That’s a great question. The best guess is that not only did Boaz want Ruth to rest assured in his promise to redeem her immediately, he wanted Naomi to rest assured in his promise as well. At this time in history it was customary for the groom-to-be to pay a “bride price” at the time of their betrothal. The ‘bride price’ wasn’t a “purchase price” (as if women could be bought and sold), but rather it was a promise and a pledge to prepare for the wedding and to continue to honor the bride-to-be until they were united in marriage. Boaz must not have brought any money out to the threshing floor with him, so he used what he had (i.e. grain) at the time (he didn’t have time to offer a monetary ‘bride price’ later, as his intention was to have Ruth redeemed within a few hours) to send a good-faith promise to Naomi (Ruth’s legal guardian), that he was going to see to it that Ruth was redeemed right away. This seemed to be how Naomi understood the gift of grain and so she told Ruth to sit tight. Boaz was a man on a mission and she was confident that redemption would come that very day.
In chapter 2 of Ruth we had reason for hope – we were introduced to a worthy man who was noble in character and who (because he was a relative of Elimelech) was a redeemer for Naomi and Ruth. We saw him act in amazing loving-kindness, compassion, and generosity towards Ruth, who was both a widow and a foreigner. But at the end of the chapter 2 – despite our introduction to this good redeemer – Ruth and Naomi were still in need of redemption. Yes, they had been supplied with food and yes, Ruth had been provided a safe place to continuously glean, but the major problem at the end of chapter 1 wasn’t a food or a gleaning problem – it was a redemption problem. So at the end of chapter 2, having been introduced to a good redeemer, the question that was still looming was, “Why hasn’t redemption taken place?” And what we begin to learn in chapter 3 is that redemption requires more than just a good redeemer – it requires the right response from the one in need of redemption. In chapter 1 the need was made known. In chapter 2 a capable redeemer was introduced. But chapter 3 began with some important instructions from Naomi: (1) Ruth had to remove all that was holding her back and (2) go request redemption from her redeemer. Ruth had to wash herself, anoint herself, and remove her widow’s garments, as those things were keeping her from being able to come to Boaz for redemption. Then she had to make the request – she had to ask her redeemer to spread his garment over her (in other words, she had to ask him to take her under his wing where her identity, her security, and her hope would be found in him). When Ruth did those things we saw that Boaz (her redeemer) (1) praised her for calling on him and then (2) assured her that she would not have to wait for redemption any longer. He would make sure that she had been redeemed by the end of the day!
So how do we look at chapter 3 in light of our own lives? Now that we’ve worked our way through the chapter and seen how it advanced the story, let’s go back and see how chapter 3 can speak to our own situation. Without a redeemer, Ruth had no real “rest” - she lacked any sense of security and hope that a redeemer would provide for her. That’s why we saw Naomi feeling such a strong responsibility to help Ruth find “rest” in verse 1. And like Ruth, without a redeemer in our lives we too will be left without real “rest” – we too are going to lack any sense of eternal security and hope. There are so many people today who are secretly wondering if they have done enough good deeds to out-weigh their bad deeds, or if they have kept the 10 commandments well enough for God to let them into heaven when they die. Others are constantly looking and searching for that which will satisfy their souls. They spend massive amounts of time, energy, and money hoping that some relationship, or some sport, or some beverage, or some video game will be able to really provide the soul satisfaction that they are looking for. And while at first those things might seem to produce a temporary satisfaction, the satisfaction eventually fades away and they are left searching again for that thing which will bring ultimate satisfaction. But listen to these words of Jesus from Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Jesus – the great Redeemer – says that you and I can have real, soul-satisfying, eternal rest. It is rest that only He can give. But don’t miss those first three words, for they have huge significance! Jesus said, “Come to me!” That’s what Ruth had to do and that’s what Naomi instructed her to do. Ruth had to recognize that Boaz was the redeemer that God had placed into her life and she had to go to him. Like Ruth, we have to recognize that Jesus is the redeemer that God has placed into our lives and we have to go to him!
Before Ruth could go to Boaz though she had to shed that which was keeping them apart. Her widow’s garments communicated to Boaz that she was not ready for redemption. She was still mourning her deceased husband and Boaz couldn’t redeem her until she was ready to put that behind her and identify herself with a new husband. We are like Ruth in this way too. Many of us are holding onto garbage that is communicating to Jesus that we are not ready for redemption. Some of us have had a bad experience at church that we are holding onto and which is keeping us from coming to Jesus; some of us have resentfulness towards parents who made us go to church when we were younger, even when we didn’t want to; and others of us are holding onto some sin that we love (maybe it’s pornography, maybe it’s an immoral relationship, maybe it’s self-centeredness, maybe it’s materialism, etc.). When we are holding onto those things it makes it impossible for us to come to our redeemer and genuinely make a request for redemption. The Bible teaches us that we have to repent. Repent means to turn from something. In light of the illustration we have in Ruth, it’s shedding those things that we are holding onto and laying them aside. It’s saying “I’m not going to let that bad experience keep me from real rest in a redeemer,” and taking that bad experience off so that we refuse to carry it around any longer. It’s taking that sin (the pornography, the immoral relationship, the materialism, and the self-centeredness) and saying, “These things aren’t providing real rest for my soul. While they seem to satisfy for a moment, they always leave me feeling empty later.” And then laying the faith that you had placed in those things aside so that you can find your rest in Jesus.
When we have repented of our sin and laid aside our faith in those things that cannot satisfy our souls then we can come to Jesus and ask Him to spread His wings over us. We do that by believing that His completed work of death, burial, and resurrection was completely sufficient for our salvation. We believe that He served as our substitute and that though He did not deserve to die, He died to pay the penalty for my sin. Then He took on death and the grave (the enemy that no one [with the exception of Jesus] has ever been able to conquer and destroy). And in rising to new life He proved that His death had been sufficient to pay for our sins and that He had been victorious over the great strength and might of the grave. When we come to Jesus asking for redemption we come saying, “I believe that You did all that needed to be done to secure my salvation. On my own there isn’t anything I can do to earn my salvation. So what I’m asking is that You would attribute your death, burial, and resurrection to me. I’m asking that you would simply extend the saving work that you have accomplished on Your own so that it covers me as well.” That’s what it means to come to Jesus for redemption.
Let me make two more observations and then we will be done. First, to come to Jesus for salvation and redemption isn’t always the most fashionable thing to do. The Old Testament prophet Isaiah said this about Jesus, “He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have turned astray; we have turned – every one – to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:3-6). Let’s be honest – most of us don’t like to hang out with those who are despised and rejected. If we are honest we would much rather be identified with the ‘cool’ crowd. So there are many who will look at Jesus and say to themselves, “Surely, there is a better option.” Jesus even told a story, Himself, in Matthew 21:33-44 about a master who planted a vineyard and put it under the care of some tenants until he returned. After the harvest the master sent some of his servants to gather some of the produce that belonged to the master. But surprisingly the tenants mistreated the servants, beating one, killing another, and stoning another. This happened a second time with a second group of servants. Then the master sent his son, believing that the tenants would respect the son. But the tenants took the son, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him also. Jesus used this story to show the Jews a picture of themselves and quoted Psalm 118:22, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.” Many throughout history and many today in our own community have rejected Jesus and looked to other prettier and flashier things for salvation. So when we do choose to come to Jesus for salvation, He is glorified in that decision and commends us for it – just as Boaz commended Ruth for coming to him for redemption when she could have sought out a younger, wealthier, better-looking husband for herself (vs. 10).
The last observation is that when you come to Jesus for redemption, there isn’t a try-out or a waiting period. Everything that needs to be done for our redemption has already been accomplished. Jesus pursues us and calls us to Himself. And when we decide to come in repentance and faith and follow Him we don’t have to wait for redemption – He takes us under His wing right away. Boaz didn’t say to Ruth, “Let me think about it.” Boaz said, “I will do for you all that you ask . . . and in the morning . . . I will redeem you.” The New Testament book of Acts records a story in which Paul and his friend Silas had been placed in jail in a city called Philippi. While they were in jail a major earthquake struck which shook open the doors of the jail and broke open all of the prisoners’ bonds. When the jailer in charge of securing the jail saw all of the doors open, he assumed that all the prisoners had escaped and was getting ready to kill himself (because he would have been executed by his superiors for letting all of the prisoners escape). But before he could impale himself with his sword Paul cried out and told him not to harm himself because the prisoners had not left. When the jailer came in and saw everyone still there he brought Paul and Silas out and asked them, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30). Paul's and Silas' response was, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). They didn’t say, “First – believe. Then there will be a 30 day waiting period while your paper work is processed. After that you will be saved.” No, they said, “Believe in Jesus and you will be saved.”
We already have a great Redeemer – one who has pursued us and done all that is necessary for our redemption. All we have to do is lay aside those things which are keeping us from coming to Him and then believe that His completed work of death, burial, and resurrection was sufficient to cover over us. When we do that, the Bible teaches that we are immediately redeemed. So have you made that decision? Have you chosen to shed that which is keeping you from Jesus? And have you chosen to find real rest in the great Redeemer that God has sent - Jesus?
Connection Point Questions for Discussion:
1. At the end of chapter 2 both Ruth and Naomi seemed to be well provided for with food and a safe place to glean. Why couldn't the author have ended the book of Ruth there? (What was the main problem that was identified in chapter 1? Had that main problem been resolved at the end of chapter 2.) Sometimes we see those who are not followers of Christ struggling for a season: sometimes with their finances, sometimes with their marriage relationship, sometimes with their children, etc. If our desire is to serve them well, do we only strive to help them resolve those specific problems (or do we also try to show them their need for redemption)? Suppose they are able to resolve their specific problem(s), do we back off from trying to be a source of influence in their lives or do we continue to strive to influence them? If we are to continue to strive to influence them after their specific problems are resolved, in what way are we to strive to influence them?
2. In the first three verses of chapter 3, Naomi had to encourage Ruth to take off that which had been preventing her from being redeemed (i.e. her widow's clothing). Do you know an individual who hasn't trusted in Jesus as Savior and Lord and who seems to be carrying around something that is hindering him/her from coming to Jesus as Savior and Lord? What is the thing that he/she is carrying around? How can you encourage him/her to lay that thing aside in order to go to Jesus?
3. In verse 10 Boaz commended Ruth for asking him to redeem her and suggested that she could have gone after a younger guy. The implication was that there were younger (probably better looking, and perhaps even wealthier) men in Bethlehem who might have appeared to have more to offer her, and yet she chose to ask Boaz for redemption. Today, are there other people/things that our culture would suggest are redeemers that have more to offer - redeemers that are better Jesus? If so, what are some of those things and why might they seem better than Jesus? On the other hand, what is it about Jesus that would cause Him to look like a lesser redeemer? Why should anyone choose Jesus over some of these other options?
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