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Relying on the Redeemer (Ruth 3)

Today’s Scripture would make great television. It has romance, comedy and drama. Naomi has come back home to Israel after losing her two sons and husband to death in the foreign land they went to when Israel had famine. But Ruth, one of her heathen daughters in law, has fallen in love with the LORD GOD of Israel through what she learned of Him through Naomi. So she gives up everything and goes to Israel with her. Since they arrived, Naomi is heartbroken. But when Ruth is led to the relative Boaz, whom the Law of GOD says can redeem Ruth by taking her dead husband’s place as her husband, Naomi realizes GOD is at work. And that realization makes all the difference.

Do you realize that GOD is working miracles in your life every day? The people you meet or don’t meet. The job you have or don’t get. The health you have or feel slipping away. GOD is using all of it to prepare you for eternity with Him and to improve the quality of life you will have there…not here and now…but in your real Home with Him. But realizing that makes all the difference.

So now the plot thickens as they say. Naomi may be dying soon but now she is resolute that she has a place in making sure Ruth is taken care of before then. GOD is inviting her to be part of a blessing for her adopted daughter of sorts, Ruth. And Naomi couldn’t be more willing. And though she doesn’t realize it, she’s alive again. The biggest blessing you will ever have, apart from knowing JESUS, is to be a blessing in His Name to someone else.

You may know that old joke “A woman lets a man chase her until she catches him”, and that is part of what happens now. Naomi realizes GOD wants her to help Ruth and Boaz get together. So she tells Ruth to make herself as becoming as she can and offer herself to Boaz. Not in a slutty way, but in a way that lets him know when he fulfills the Law as her redeemer he won’t be sorry. In fact, Jewish commentators say that Ruth is worried she’ll be mistaken for a whore if she wanders around all perfumed up so she brings her cosmetics and perfumes with her and only puts them on when she is where Boaz is sleeping.

Ladies, Scripture says not to be obsessed with outward appearance but to have an attractive character. But there is a balance. Men enjoy beauty. It needn’t be expensive or flashy but feminine and sweet never hurts. Men are often confused by a woman’s reasoning. But when they know they are the reason a woman has made the effort to be attractive, men understand and appreciate her for it very clearly. Don’t say it or show it until you mean it or a man will misunderstand.

Notice that Naomi is the one behind the matchmaking. If you are a Christian woman, especially an older, married woman, the greatest blessing you could be to single Christian men and women you know is to get them to know each other. Men are lousy matchmakers because we don’t see the heart as well as women do. And it’s the woman who is the heart of a family. But ladies, you know some single man or woman who loves the LORD yet cries themselves to sleep from loneliness. Be their Naomi. Don’t leave them to dating services, even so-called Christian dating services. Please do NOT recommend dating sites to single people. That is where desperation goes to die. The spot in a single’s heart, including mine, cannot be filled with trying to find “the one” through dating sites because our fallen nature sees “the one” at every opportunity. And on dating sites, that’s until the next email comes along. The computer is not the place to form relationships. Real life is. I probably will remain single because of disabilities but those who are physically able must have the courage to find their place in Christ first. Then, if it is part of their mission and ministry, He will lead them to the helpmate on their way…but not online. And a godly woman who knows the single Christian person or both a man and a woman is the best instrument GOD uses to bring His people together.

Ruth does as Naomi says. This is risky for both of them. Naomi has put her relationship with Ruth, the only loved one she has, on the line if Ruth is insulted or hurt, emotionally or physically. She has put her future on the line since Ruth and Boaz could forget about her and leave her with no one at all. Ruth is putting everything on the line. She knows that Naomi is asking her to trust her for her whole future. If Boaz rejects her, she could be shamed. If he isn’t the man she thinks he is, she could be raped. They are both putting all their trust in GOD and their kinsman redeemer, Boaz.

JESUS is our kinsman Redeemer. He took on flesh to be like us in our humanity and yet He rescues us with His own Blood rather than leave us without hope and to give us new Life as His Bride. But we must give ourselves to Him completely by putting everything on the line and not looking back.

Ruth finds Boaz asleep in the threshing floor on top of the barley. This is symbolic in many ways. He is a well off man with crops and servants yet he keeps his hand in the work himself and doesn’t ask others to do what he won’t. The crop being winnowed is barley and his time with Ruth as worker in his field is over. They will be parting ways soon. It’s the fulness of time. He is sleeping satisfied after working well, and being satisfied with what he has eaten and had to drink. And the barley is symbolic of the different from the wheat, the prior harvest when he met Ruth. All things are culminating by GOD into this important moment.

A comic moment comes when Boaz jumps up in the middle of the night realizing someone has snuck up on him and is at his feet! So Ruth takes control of the situation, explains who she is, why she is there, and that it is a “GOD” thing. She has given herself to him to claim as the merciful Law of GOD permits, to give the family of Elimilech her dead father in law a posterity and continue a family in Israel. Boaz shows his great character in keeping to the Law. Even groggy, even though we have a feeling he has always been attracted to her, even though he’s older and she’s young and apparently attractive enough to get any man she wanted, he keeps the Law and says there’s someone in line in front of him. Another relative has more right to marry her than he does.

And so the drama! We know though Ruth would have obeyed Naomi anyway, she seems to be attracted to Boaz herself but now may be given to another man! We know Boaz is attracted to Ruth (that’s why he blesses her and treats her respectfully, they both being careful of their own and each others reputations). But the same righteousness that makes them both great prospects binds them to following GOD’s way not their own!

The most deadly thing a Christian couple who believe they’re in love is to rush things. Being too physical too fast. Being too quick to say you’re in love. Rushing forward instead of waiting. Don’t ruin what GOD is growing by ripping open the bud before the flower is allowed to bloom.

There’s also what I think is a bit of ironic humor in this chapter (something Scripture is full of if you recognize it). Did you notice? At the beginning, Naomi says she won’t rest until she finds rest for Ruth. Boaz is resting until Ruth wakes him up. And the chapter ends with Naomi saying to Ruth, I think with a smile, that now they’ve told Boaz there’s a way to help Ruth, he won’t rest until he does.

Single men and women, you’ll know you have found a possible partner when that person is a fellow Christian. When they have a track record to prove it and solid Christian friends who seek their good. And when you both feel the same about each other, unable to rest while the other needs help.

Will the other man claim Ruth?! Will there be a happy ending?! Tune in for our next chapter and find out!

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