Ruth takes a risk and makes her interest in Boaz known in this fourth sermon in the Redeeming Ruth series. Pastor Mark explains Boaz’s humble and loving response and how it reflects the character of our gracious God.
3:1 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? 2 Is not Boaz our relative, with whose young women you were? See, he is winnowing barley tonight at the threshing floor. 3 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. 4 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.” 5 And she replied, “All that you say I will do.”
6 So she went down to the threshing floor and did just as her mother-in-law had commanded her. 7 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. 8 At midnight the man was startled and turned over, and behold, a woman lay at his feet! 9 He said, “Who are you?” And she answered, “I am Ruth, your servant. Spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer.” 10 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. 11 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. 12 And now it is true that I am a redeemer. Yet there is a redeemer nearer than I. 13 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 the morning.”
14 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.” 15 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. 16 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, 17 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.’” 18 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.”
You’re listening to “Redeeming Ruth,” a sermon series following the events from the Book of Ruth, presented by Pastor Mark Driscoll. Follow this wonderfully written story of the redemption to be found in Jesus and his people, and learn how it applies to everyday people today. This is a presentation of Mars Hill Church in Seattle. For more information, go to marshillchurch.org.
“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. 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.’ And she replied, ‘All that you say, I will do.’
“So she went down 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. And 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.’ And he said, ‘May you 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 the morning.’
“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?’ And 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.’”
Good evening, Mars Hill. Good to see all of you. We are in part four of six weeks on the Book of Ruth. This week we look at Ruth gone wild, the most difficult text in all of Ruth. She goes tanning and everything. Pray for me; it’s a very complicated text.
My name is Mark. I’m one of the pastors here at the church. We’re gonna get right to work in a moment. If you’ve got a Bible, go to Ruth, chapter 3. So, I will go ahead and pray, and we will get right to work. How many of you’ve read ahead and know the very difficult text I’m in for tonight? So, it should be fun. There’s some funny stuff in here, too, I promise you. So we’ll get there in a moment. And it’s good to have you guys out on what I think is the biggest Sunday we’ve ever had. Things are going really well here at the church. So just pray for more seats, or this sermon could free some up. We’ll see how it goes. I’ll pray.
Father God, we love you. We thank you for scripture. We accept it as perfect and authoritative and true and helpful. And God, we’re here tonight to hear a word from you from scripture. I pray, God, you would enable me to do a good job instructing those who have gathered in your Word. God, I pray your Holy Spirit would enable us to hear and understand and apply what it is you would have for us. God, I pray that the men would learn from the example of Boaz; that the women would learn from the example of Naomi, and Ruth, and that through this, Lord God, when all is said and done, we would have a clearer understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ and how he is like Boaz, and how we are to come to him, like Ruth.
And so, God, we give our time to you and we pray that our time would be pleasing to you and that it would be profitable to us, as we ask this in Jesus’ good name. Amen.
Well, I’ll catch you up to speed. If you are new, I’ll go through the first two chapters of Ruth briefly to sort of catch you up in what is one of the greatest short stories in all of scripture. It takes place in the time of the Judges, we are told, which is a time of sin and rebellion and folly, that lasts over 100 years, and is roughly 1,000 years before the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. If you want to read more about that, you can just go to the Book of Judges, and that will give you, essentially, the historical backdrop for the same time period as the Book of Ruth.
And we’re told that in a town called Bethlehem, which means “house of bread,” there is, ironically enough, a famine, seemingly indicative that God has judged his people for ongoing sin of many sorts and kinds, including sexual sin, and he has refrained his blessing until they repent. What happens then is that the story shifts to a very normal, average family headed by a man named Elimelech, his name meaning, “my God is King.” He has a wife named Naomi, her name means “pleasant” or “sweetheart,” and they have two sons, Mahlon and Chilion, which are weird names ‘cause they mean “sick” and “dying”. Nonetheless, what happens is that the famine strikes the town, and Elimelech determines that it is best for he and his family to relocate.
And so he makes a very foolish and tragic choice of all the places that he could have chosen. He chooses the town of Moab, Moab being a place that God’s people are not supposed to go. The Moabites are descended from an incestuous relationship between Lot and one of his daughters in Genesis 19, that led to the birth of a son named Moab; through him come the Moabite people. They’re very godless; they’re very perverted; they have all kinds of sexual sin. Furthermore, they do not worship the God of the Bible. They, instead, worship a false god named Chemosh. Nonetheless, he moves his family there. And in this, he makes a tragic error, as many men do. He is only looking at the economic opportunity in Moab; he’s not asking questions like where will we go to church? With whom will we fellowship? Who will my sons marry? Who will my wife have for friends and accountability? What Bible study could we possibly attend? He overlooks all of the spiritual questions and simply pursues the financial opportunities and heads to Moab.
There, the boys grow up and they want to marry. There are not godly women there, so they marry two Moabite women, Ruth and Orpah. What happens is, tragically, Elimelech dies, Mahlon and Chilion, his two sons, also die. They went to Moab to avoid death and that’s the exact thing that occurred. They died. That left three widows: Naomi, the mother-in-law; Orpah and Ruth, the younger daughters-in-law. And it left them in a very destitute and precarious situation: no husbands, no children, no sons, no protection in that cultural condition, very vulnerable.
Naomi’s life is very hard and then she hears that back in Bethlehem, her hometown, God has ceased frowning and has begun smiling upon his people, and that he has lifted the famine, and that he has blessed them. And now there is a harvest, and she hopes and prays and trusts that as God has been good to his people, if she returns home, that God could indeed smile upon her and bless her as well. So she decides to return home to Bethlehem.
Well, accompanying her, initially, are Ruth and Orpah, who love their mother-in-law, and she also loves them very much. But along the way she realizes she really has nothing to offer these women. So she encourages them to return home to their families, and perhaps to remarry and start their life over. Orpah agrees to that and does return home; Ruth has a genuine conversion experience along the way to Bethlehem and says, “No, I want to worship God and I want to be with his people, so I need to get to Bethlehem.” This would be akin to a young woman meeting Jesus and saying, “I wanna go to Seattle because I want to be a member of Mars Hill. I need to get baptized; I want to get into a Bible study. I want to have Christian friends. I wanna grow in my relationship with God.” And that’s, essentially, what Ruth is saying. And so they move to Bethlehem.
Well, upon arriving, all of the old friends of Naomi and citizens of the town gather together and the women ask her, “How are you doing? It’s been over a decade.” She says, “I’m not doing well. Don’t call me Naomi,” which means sweet, “call me Mara which means bitter, because my life has become very hard. I left here with my hands full. I come back with my hands empty, and I’m bitter. I’m frustrated. I’m angry. I’m unhappy at how my life has turned out.” I believe in this, she’s declaring her situation and she is not in a good place, but she is declaring it to other women who love God in an effort to get accountability, prayer, support, help. She’s crying out to her church for some support.
The scene then shifts to where the two widows are essentially facing starvation. They’re very hungry. They have nothing to eat. They’re very poor and destitute. Ruth looks at her mother-in-law and asks permission to go glean in the fields, which is the equivalent of going to the Hebrew Food Bank or to the soup kitchen to get a bite to eat. It’s very dangerous to venture out into the city as a young woman, all by yourself, and then to head out into the country, and to work in a strange man’s field with a bunch of guys you don’t know. But she trusts the Lord to provide. She’s a woman of great faith.
Naomi grants her permission. She heads out to the field, and scripture says in chapter 2, “It just so happens, by God’s providence, she ends up in the field of a man named Boaz,” who just happens to love God, who just happens to be loaded, who just happens to be very much single, who happens to see her, who happens to initiate a conversation, blesses her, prays for her, feeds her, gives her a great job, gives her a very generous gift for her and her mother-in-law. He looks like the perfect husband. Here comes the guy on the white horse to save the day and get the princess.
She goes to her job, working for him every day for six or seven weeks, and they never have a second date. He doesn’t call. He doesn’t follow up. Nothing. She’s left hanging. What got off to this great, romantic, sparks flying, “Could this be the one?” All of a sudden, nothing. Like the average guy. He does not know how to close the deal. He does not follow through. And she is left to wonder, “Where are we? Are we friends? Are we more than friends? What are we? We need to have the ‘defining the relationship’ conversation.”
For six or seven weeks she goes to work, comes home, Naomi, “Did he show up?” “Yes.” “What did he say?” “Nothing. I think we’re friends, but I’m not sure.” And now time is running out. This is a temp job, right? Contract is up at six weeks. Harvest is over. They go their separate ways. We’re down to days, or hours, and no! Will there be love? Will there be romance? Will she get to wear white? Where are the babies? Will this happen? We need to know.
This is like every good novel and television show and movie where these people are friends, and they should fall in love, and they never quite get there. So now, Ruth and Naomi need to decide, “What can we do to bring this man Boaz to be married to this woman, Ruth?” And at this point, they’re only truly two options. One is the way of scripture, and if she had a godly daddy, this is where the godly daddy would get involved. And he would go meet with Boaz, “Boaz, you love the Lord. My daughter really likes you. It seems like you like her. Where are we going? What are we doing? I need to see your doctrinal statement, your 401k. We need to see if you’re the one.” And Daddy was to get involved.
And the way it works in scripture, it says that men seek or take a wife, and that daughters are given in marriage. That’s the language of scripture. Genesis says that a man will leave his father and mother; he is then to get a job, get a house, get a clue, get a theology, get a church, get his stuff together, and then he is to pursue a woman for marriage, and that her family is to be involved, making sure that she is not getting hooked up with the wrong guy. And so Dad is to run interference, and give his daughter in marriage. We show this by the father walking a daughter down the aisle and saying, “I give you, my daughter because I love her and I protected her and I believe that you are the man that God has for her.”
Now, some of you will say, “Oh, that’s very old and patriarchal and horrible.” Let me tell you from a daddy’s perspective. This is love and protection and safety of the daughter. I have two daughters. My daughter Alexie is three; my daughter Ashley is nine. She’s my oldest child. Let me tell you about me and Ashley. I love this girl with all my heart. I absolutely dig being a daddy to girls. It is the coolest thing in the world. I thoroughly enjoy – I am that Daddy where we go for walks, we snuggle, we read theology together, we pray together. She’s a brilliant theologian. She loves scripture. I mean, she makes me cry all the time. Every test that I can remember her ever taking in school on Bible, she always gets 100 percent, and she brings it home, hands it to me, and I cry like I just won a beauty pageant because my daughter deeply loves Jesus. She reads her Bible every day, prays, journals, and scores 100 percent on all her Bible quizzes because she just really likes her Bible and she likes Jesus. I mean, she just breaks my heart. I love her. I enjoy her. I love hanging with her. I think she’s just a cool gal. She’s not a totally spoiled princess. She has chores and I correct her when she’s wrong and stuff, but we have fun. I’m the Daddy where – I go to the nursery to look at plants. I go to the interior decorating store – ‘cause she wants to maybe do interior design. I go to the art store to get art supplies. I go shoe shopping. I go out for tea. I go out for dessert. I’m that Daddy. We go on all kinds of dates ‘cause I don’t want some junior high kid to be the first, right? So I’m sort of prepping her for what she’s supposed to be looking for.
And it’s so cool between Ashley and I ‘cause now she’s at the point, she writes me love letters all the time. I got here this morning, and my daughter left me a love letter on my desk. And she said – it’s a picture of her and me holding hands, smiling, going out for tea or a walk or some such thing, and “Daddy, I love you. I pray you preach a good sermon. Last week’s was good in Ruth and I hope they laugh at your jokes. Love, Ashley.” That’s what she writes.
And when I come home tonight, she’ll probably already be in bed, but usually there’s a love letter from my daughter on my pillow. I get love notes from my girl. I mean – I’ve got her heart – I love her. I know who she needs to marry, and who she does not need to marry. I’m very clear on that. I know her the best. I love her the most, and I’m not gonna just let some guy come and put his hands all over her. That’s not the way it’s gonna go.
And I was the first one that she wanted to marry, anyways. I’ll tell you the story. When she was three – this is one of my favorite Ashley stories – when she was three we were at Disney World in Florida, her and her mom and I, and her brother Zachy, who’s now seven, but he was only one at the time. I was down there at a speaking engagement, so I took the family with me and took her to Disney World. She was like three or four. It was late at night and we were in the hotel on the Disney property, Disney Resort. And she looks at me, she says, “Daddy, I want to go swimming in the Mickey Mouse pool!” I said, “Well, it’s bedtime.” She says, “But you love me, and we’re at Disney World!” I was like, “That’s a great argument.” So, we got her swimsuit on and we went and jumped in the Mickey Mouse pool, at bedtime, and we’re swimming and playing and I just had this really fun time with my daughter, swimming, throwing her up in the air, teaching her to swim. We came back to the room, and Grace had been there tucking Zachy in, and so I had her standing on the bed and I got a towel to dry her hair, ‘cause she was all wet. And so I had the white towel and I’m drying her hair, and she had it over her head, and she grabbed the ends and she said, “It’s like a veil. Daddy, will you marry me?” I lost it, man. I mean, I, I don’t think guys should cry a lot, but when it’s your daughter, you can cry all you want. That’s my general belief on the deal. I just started bawling. I was like, “She wants to marry me!”
So, and I looked at her, and I made her a vow, I said, “Honey, Daddy’s already married, and someday you’re gonna get married, but I give you this vow: I will make sure that the man who marries you loves Jesus and loves you and loves you as much as Daddy loves you.” I made that vow to my daughter. And I intend to keep that vow.
Now, when scripture talks about the Daddy being involved in the life of his daughter, that’s what it’s talking about. He knows her the best, he loves her the most, and he wants to make sure that the wrong guys don’t get such a precious, glorious daughter as the one that he loves and has raised.
Now, the problem for Ruth is she doesn’t have that kind of Dad, like many of you ladies. She doesn’t have that kind of Dad. Her dad is – we know nothing of her dad. We’ve heard not a word of her dad. She left Moab – if she had a dad, he’s not a believer. He’s a Moabite. And their race and their religion are essentially intertwined, one and the same. She moves to Bethlehem, she comes without even a dollar in her pocket, or a bite to eat. If she has a Daddy, he’s not loved her, protected her, provided for her. He’s not supported her, he’s not done anything. She is on her own. And now she’s got this possibility of a relationship with a man. But the clock is ticking as time is running out and she needs an answer as to where this relationship is going, but her Daddy is not there to do what Daddies are supposed to do.
Plan B for her could have been the Moabite way, also known as the Seattle-ite way. Now the Moabite way is we’re all freaky, dirty, weird people, and we live and sleep together and hope that we live happily ever after, which doesn’t often occur. And the Moabites were a sexually perverted, confused people. They were very Seattlesque in how they did things. We are three thousand years removed, amazingly enough. Three millennia removed from the story of Ruth, but the way that her people that she comes from conduct themselves in dating and marital situations is much like our own. If the first way that I told you, where Daddy and family are involved, that’s courting, this other is dating, and I’ll tell you a little bit about dating and I’ll explain this to you historically before we jump into the text, so you have some framework of her second option.
Dating was a word that was introduced into the American language in 1896 as lower class slang for prostitution. So, to say, “I’m going out on a date” means I’m picking up my prostitute. Okay? Now stick with me. It gets better. Hang in there. Now, in the early 1900s, women would enter into a relationship of courtship and engagement and marriage through what was known as calling, whereby the man would come to the woman’s house and spend time with the woman and her mother and her father, and his gun, and they would all get together and they would sip tea and visit, and the boy could only come if he had an appointment, and as soon as the appointment was over he would have to leave. And he was in the woman’s safe home environment with her family.
And a woman was very concerned about her reputation, so much so that she wouldn’t go out into public, even with a brother or an uncle or a cousin, alone if she was single, ‘cause she wouldn’t want to give the impression that she was out on a date, acting like a prostitute.
What happened then was that women’s magazines started to come out beginning with things like the Ladies Home Journal, which quickly sold a million copies, and now you’ve got voices competing with the mother and the father, telling the woman, “Here’s how you should dress, and here’s what guys like, and here’s how you can get one, and if you’re living or sleeping with one, here’s the tricks that he likes,” just like the junk that’s lining the grocery store check-out line shelves, as we speak. So now these young women are hearing, “Oh, well, there’s other options, other than what my mom and dad, who love me, have told me, or maybe what my church has instructed me in.”
What happens then is in the 1920s urbanization increases. There’s cities, and in cities now you start getting entertainment centers. You’ve got places to go for dances, and meals, and plays, and eventually there’s movie theaters. Well, then what happens is that the automobile becomes more prevalent, and now young men buy a car and they drive to the lady’s house, and rather than hanging out with her family, they pick her up and get her away from her parents, beginning in the 1930s.
And now the woman is taken out of the home and she’s out into the proverbial “Man’s world.” Well, by the 1940s the men realized, “We’re spending a lot of money here. We bought a car, we bought a suit, we picked her up, we took her out to dinner, and a dance. We should get some sexual favors.” This now becomes a commercial business view of a relationship, some of you women have felt this pressure. “He spent a lot of money, he expects me to perform some sort of sexual favor.” By definition, that is prostitution. It is the exchange of a sexual favor for money, or a good, that was paid for. So then there’s a pressure on women to produce sexually.
Well, then we see the sexual revolution of the 60s where this becomes far more prevalent. Then the birth control pill is invented so that promiscuous women don’t have to have the same fear of getting pregnant. And then, what we see also occurring is in the 1960s, Playboy comes out, and it is behind-the-counter, sort of hidden, but by the 1970s it and Penthouse are out on the shelf and all of a sudden we have a sexually liberated culture where that now is the ideal type of woman, and women are pressured to be like that, and men are encouraged to spend their money to get something like that.
What happens then is that by 1973, abortion is legalized, so that if a woman does become pregnant she can terminate the life of her own child. And by 1974 no-fault divorce is instituted so that even if she does marry a guy she’s lived or slept with and it doesn’t work out, she can get out for any or every reason.
The result is that you and I are born into a world that we think is normal because it’s all we know. But I’m assuring you of this. It’s very Moabite. It’s not very Christ-like. It’s not very Biblical.
Ruth had before her these two options. If you had a Daddy, he could go talk to Boaz and do the courtship thing. She doesn’t have a Daddy. Plan B is the Moabite way, maybe sleep with him, live with him, give favors for money. He’s a rich guy, and try and go after the rich guy by being the hot gal who crosses all the lines of propriety. She’s gonna come up with a third way. We’re gonna call it “Pulling a Ruth.” That’s what we’re gonna call it. It’s not dating or courtship. We’ll call it “dourting;” that’s kind of what it is. She’s dourting Boaz, and in so doing, she is taking the counsel of an older woman, Naomi. This is sort of echoing the concept of Titus 2: older woman gives counsel to younger.
Naomi prayed she’d beget a husband in Ruth 1:9. She was thinking it would be a Moabite. They’re gonna go after big bad brother Boaz, is what they’re gonna do. And her counsel is very risky. Naomi tells Ruth to do some things that are very risky, and before we begin, let me say that this is a descriptive, not necessarily a prescriptive text of scripture. What that means is it tells us what happens; it doesn’t necessarily tell us that we should do it. Likewise, Judas hung himself. You can say, “Oh, it’s in the Bible.” Yeah. We’re not supposed to go do that. It describes what happened. It doesn’t prescribe what we should do. You with me? Okay, I gotta make that point. Here we go. You say, “Why’s he – why’s he” – ‘cause he’s nervous. This is a difficult text. Okay, you ready? Here we go. Chapter 3, verse 1. Buckle up. All you fundamentalists, hope you brought your aspirin. It’s gonna be exciting.
Chapter 3, verse 1. That’s my introduction. “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?’” You still need a husband and a house. Hmmmm. Is not Boaz – aaaahhhhhh – how’s Boaz? Let’s go after Boaz. Clock is ticking, we’re down to days or hours before the temp job comes to an end. Barley season has come to a conclusion. What about Big Bad Brother Boaz? What do you think, Ruth? “Is not Boaz our relative with whose young women you were? See, he is winnowing barley tonight at the threshing floor.” I heard there’s a big party, heard Boaz is gonna be there. Here’s what I’m suggesting. “Wash” – ladies, it’s in the Bible – “wash, wash, therefore anoint yourself” – Get that Moabite Madness perfume. He loves that, put that on! Put your cloak on, get a nice little dress, get all dolled up. Here’s what she’s saying, “He’s only seen you totally funkified in the field! He doesn’t think of you in a romantic way because you’re always dirty with a ponytail. You’re always sweaty and pitted out. Go tanning. Get your hair foiled. Get your makeup done. Get your nails done. Get your teeth whitened. Get a new dress. Shave your pits, it looks like you got Don King in a headlock. Oh, come on, that was good.
You know it was good – that’s why you came, you were hoping for one of those! So here you go!
Now, get all dolled up. He’s not thinking of you in a romantic way ‘cause every time he sees you, you look your worst. Look your best. Get all dolled up. Go to the party.
Now ladies, what she’s gonna tell her is this, “Get in front of Boaz, and look nice. Smell nice. Act nice.” Now let me tell you, some of you ladies are like, “But I don’t want to chase a guy.” You shouldn’t chase a guy. But you should get in his way! Right? Single guy, “I need a wife, I need a wife.” Get in his way. If he’s in a Bible study, get in that Bible study. If he’s in a ministry, get in that ministry. If he’s in a circle of friends that are goin’ out after service to go out and hang out somewhere, go. Go. Tell him, “Oh, look, I was wondering where you guys were going.” Sure. “I need a ride.” Get in front of him. ‘Cause guys, we’re not brilliant. Right? We’re sort of thick, you know? It’s like, “I need a girl. There’s one.” I mean, you make it, you know. Make it easy. See what I’m saying? Good counsel.
Get in front of Boaz. Look your best. “But” – this is good – “do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking.” Yes. Now some of you women are single and you don’t understand men, and so you will ask other single women about a man and the truth is, they do not know anything about men. That’s why they don’t have one. If you want to understand a man, go ask a woman who has one. Ask a married woman. Say, “I don’t understand this man. You have one. Translate.”
Now, Naomi translates for Ruth. She says, “Now, when you go there, don’t walk up to him and say, ‘We need to talk. I don’t know where we’re at in our relationship.’” Let the man finish his chicken wings. Let the man hang out with his friends. Let the man watch the ultimate fight on the plasma TV. And then talk to him.
So, Naomi says, “I’ve been married for a long time. My husband’s dead, but I get men. I also raised two boys. Don’t just walk up and go emotional train-wreck, baggage and carry-on needy, desperate girl – chill. Just lay cool. Just wait. Patiently. Now what’s he gonna do? He’s gonna eat and drink. Now some of you from fundamentalistic, legalistic, moralistic backgrounds are going to be like, “What does that word ‘drink’ mean?” It means he had some drinks, right? Probably wine, I don’t know. Maybe a beer. You’re like, “Can he do that?” Mmm-hmm. Now, we’ll talk about that.
Before I have to fire myself – let me explain our position on alcohol. I didn’t start drinking ‘til I was 30. I have never been drunk. We believe you cannot violate the law, so if you’re under 21 you can’t, you can’t drink. You can’t drink and drive, you know? You know, you can’t. You can’t break the law. Also, you can’t get drunk and you can’t cause anyone else to stumble, and so you don’t want to cause anyone to stumble, but that doesn’t mean you can’t, if you’re obeying the laws of God and the laws of the state, in moderation, have a glass of wine. Have a beer.
But, he’s gonna have a drink. He’s a godly man. Now, I’ve heard people say, “Well, that’s a sin.” Well, Jesus made wine at a party. Jesus drank. Jesus didn’t get drunk. Jesus didn’t cause anyone to stumble. Jesus didn’t disobey the law. We say if you’re gonna drink, drink like Jesus. That’s what we would say.
And here the drinking is, it is a party. It’s a celebration. They’re all getting together. It’s been years of famine. People are starving to death. God’s blessed them. Now it’s payday. Let’s all get together. Let’s throw a big party. Let’s bring the band and let’s dance and let’s have a glass of wine, and let’s praise God. Let’s have a nice meal, and let’s have a barbeque, and that’s what’s going on.
And Naomi says, “Sweetheart, don’t run up with your emotional baggage and drop it on him. Let the guy enjoy his buddies. Let him enjoy the fruit of his labors. Let him enjoy a long, hard harvest season, and then here’s what you do.” This is unbelievable. “But when he lies down” – which is weird because dating really, courting relationships are supposed to be upright, right? You know what I’m talking about? Like, there’s usually not a lot of “and when he lays down,” like, you don’t, you know? Run. I mean, that’s usually what you say. “When he lays down, observe the place where he lies. Then go and uncover his feet and lie down and” what? “he will tell you what to do.”
I would not tell this to my daughters. I will just say that. This is a complicated text. How many of you think Naomi gave bad counsel, baaaaad counsel? How many think, “Well, she’s a woman of faith. She trusted the Lord, she trusted Boaz and Ruth.” There’s a big debate as to whether or not this is good or bad counsel. Some ask, “Is she telling Ruth to cross the line?” I don’t think so. She’s telling her to dance on it vigorously, that’s for sure. I mean, that’s for sure, right?
It doesn’t answer that question, so I won’t answer it. We’ll just keep going, and you could argue about it in your Bible studies this week. What I do love about this is that God’s people are gonna have a great party, and this is a foretaste of the Kingdom where in Isaiah we have the choicest of meats and the best of wines, and we’re supposed to worship God with glad hearts. I love the fact that God’s people know how to party righteously, like Boaz. He doesn’t have a lampshade on his head, you know, drinking beer out of a sack, singing Wham tunes on a, on a karaoke machine. It’s not that. This is redeemed, good, Godly, holy, heaven practicing fun.
But let’s just be honest and say that Naomi’s counsel is a little scary. Ruth says, “I’ll do what you say.” When is this happening? The days of the Judges, when there’s all kinds of sexual sin. Who is she sending to lay at the feet of a guy who’s had a few drinks – he’s not drunk, but he’s had a drink or two? Boaz. Who is she? A Moabite. How did her race begin? A young gal waited for a guy to have a couple drinks and climbed into bed with him. Happened to be her dad, gave birth to a son named Moab. This is how the whole funky family got it’s really crooked beginning. This is risky.
So, verse 6, she went down to the threshing floor, the hard packed floor. They bring in all the grain. They trample it with animals or with sledgehammers or with carts. They would break the husk. They would then get a fork, a pitchfork, or a shovel. They would throw the grain into the air. The wind would blow the chaff away. The heavier grain would fall to the ground. This was the center of the party. This is where everyone is celebrating. Everybody is thanking God and the band is playing and everybody’s dancing, and this is a big party that looks like the party of heaven, which is what heaven is. It’s a party without sin.
“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” – right? He finished his dinner, hung out with the boys, watched the ultimate fight on the plasma TV, had a glass of wine or a beer, “and his heart was merry” – right? This was payday, years of famine. He just hit the jackpot. It’s going well. He’s out with the boys, having a great time. “He went to lie down at the end of the heap of grain.” They would sleep near the grain so that robbers and thieves wouldn’t come and take the harvest and steal everything. Then “she came softly,” – like a ninja – I just made that up. “She came softly and uncovered his feet, and lay down.”
“At midnight” – late, dark – “the man was startled and turned over, and behold, a woman lay at his feet.” There’s a woman! “He said, ‘Who are you?’” Good question! Josiah 9:1 says that prostitutes would also come out to the threshing floor because guys would have a few drinks, not all of them were Godly. They had proverbial money in their pocket, it was payday. The prostitutes would come to the threshing floor. He’s probably worried. “I’m deacon Boaz! Who are you?” Who’s that woman down there? I smell the Moabite Madness. Smells like trouble. “She answered, ‘I am Ruth,” – you know, I can’t do the voice, but you get the idea – “I am Ruth, your servant.” Your servant. Whew. “Spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer.’” Whoa. Okay, now, here’s what she’s saying. In chapter 2, verse 12, Boaz prayed that God would take her under his proverbial wing. And here she is saying, “Boaz, why don’t you answer that prayer and be God’s wing. Love me, protect me, hold me close, look after me.”
Some of your translations will say, “Spread your blanket over me.” This word is used both ways in scripture. It can be translated either way. Putting your blanket over a woman was akin in our day to putting a ring on her finger. It was a proposal for marriage. It was a man, would come to a woman, and this was his public demonstration, saying, “I want you to be my wife. I want to love you and protect you. I want to take you home and have you sleep in my bed, under my covers, as my beloved. I want you to be my wife.” Here’s what she’s saying, “I want you to marry me.” Now, she’s not proposing, but she’s proposing that he propose. Okay? That’s what she’s asking.
The question here is, is she asking him to have sex with her? Is she asking for an intimate relationship? Some commentators – I won’t get in to all of the Hebrew – they say that the language here is not just feet, it’s something else. It is feet. I don’t believe that they had any sexual sin. I’ll explain why in a moment. But does she have a desire to be in bed with Boaz, yes or no, under his blanket? Yes. Yes, she does, as his wife. That’s the catch.
Some of you ladies have been wrongly taught that you should have no desires. You should. And you should channel them toward marriage, where they have a holy resolution. Right? That’s all. That’s what we believe at Mars Hill. So many of you have been told – because many of you are single – perhaps parents, or youth group, or pastors didn’t want you to be sexually active – which we don’t, either. It’s a sin to have sex outside of marriage. But they’ve told you something very conflicting. They will say, “Sex is dirty, nasty, vile, and wrong, so save it for the one you love.” It’s a very conflicting message. We say it’s glorious, beautiful, and good. God made us male and female, said it’s not good to be alone, wants us to be married, created marriage, wants us to be naked without shame to be one flesh, that the desires need to have a holy outlet. That holy outlet is the man loves Jesus, the woman loves Jesus, they love each other, they get married, and then they have all of their pleasure and enjoyment. They read Song of Solomon and they make it sing again. That’s our position.
Now, in this, she is saying, “I would love to be under your blanket as your wife.” Her desires are good, and her outlet for them is holy and sanctified. She wants to be his wife. She’s not asking to have anything inappropriate before the wedding, but she is giving him incentive to hustle up.
And she is crossing here a number of taboos. A woman asking a man, a Moabite asking a Hebrew, a younger person asking an older person, an employee asking an employer. She’s very bold. She takes a great risk. The question then begs to be answered, how will Boaz respond? How would you, gentlemen, respond? You guys? Many of you are single. Most of you are single in this service. Imagine a beautiful woman is at the foot of your bed. What do you say? Do you try and manipulate that towards sin? Do you say, “Well, let’s live together for a while.” You know, you don’t know if we’re compatible. Let’s sleep together. Say, “Well, I don’t know, you know? Why don’t you come in here, to bed with me, and we’ll see how it goes.” What will he do? Verse 10.
“And he said, ‘May you blessed by the Lord, my daughter.” He prays for her. If this was going the wrong direction, this hits the brakes, right? A woman, “Hi. Who are you?” “I’m Boaz. Anything I can pray for you about?” Boop. You know? I mean, it slows it down. Slows it way down. He’s talking about the Lord. “You have made this last kindness greater than the first in that you have not gone after young men, rich or poor.” He may not have pursued her, not ‘cause he wasn’t interested, but because she was a widow, maybe just coming out of her season of mourning. She’s an employee; he doesn’t want to pressure her. He’s a little older, she’s a little younger. But the ultimate issue is he thinks she is out of his league. Now, it doesn’t look like it. He’s rich, she’s poor. He’s been a believer for a long time, she’s a new convert. He probably comes from a good family; she comes from a bad family. He may be a virgin; she’s not. She’s been married, and maybe active before that, we don’t know.
And he looks at her, and what he says is this, “I can’t believe you’d want to be with me.” He’s very humble. He says, “You didn’t go after all the good looking guys? All the good looking guys would love to marry you.” What does this tell you? Boaz is not a great looking guy. He is more on the Homer Simpson end than the Brad Pitt end, you know what I’m saying? He doesn’t have a six-pack. He’s probably got a cooler. That’s Boaz, right? He’s not the best looking dude. But here’s what he has: a job, literacy. He’s a Christian. He loves God. He’s faithful. He’s good to people and he’s gonna be a faithful provider for his family. He’s gonna be a good husband, a good father, a good grandfather. But he looks at her and says, “You could have had any one of those really good looking guys. I’m not one of those good looking guys.”
Ladies, sometimes a man doesn’t pursue you not because he’s not interested, but because he doesn’t think that you would be interested in him. And he may be so self-effacing or humble that he may not think that you are looking for someone like him. You get in his way, all of sudden you will say, Boaz tells her, essentially, “You wanna be with me? Sold! Done! I’m in! That’s fine!”
It goes on, “And now, my daughter, do not fear.” Don’t be afraid. I’m not gonna manipulate you. I’m not gonna make you live with me, sleep with me. I’m not gonna break your heart. I’m not gonna play games. We’re not gonna have a seven year engagement. Right? I’m not gonna reject you. You can trust – there’s nothing to fear. I’ll take care of this. “I will do for you all that you ask, for all my fellow townsmen know that you are a worthy woman, and it is true that I am a redeemer.”
In calling her a worthy woman he is echoing what was said of him in chapter 2, verse 1, that he was a worthy man, worthy of respect and praise and emulation. He’s a good man, and now she is a woman of exceedingly good character. In Proverbs 31 the same word is used of the prototypical Proverbs 31 idyllic woman. And here it’s applied to the redeemed Moabite, Ruth. The Hebrews never saw that coming. This woman, just a year before, was an unbeliever, and was a Moabite, and probably worshipping Chemosh. And now she loves the Lord. And she’s had such a hard transformation that, like many of you gals, though she was a woman in sin and a woman who didn’t know God, and a woman who didn’t come from a good family, and a woman who didn’t get a great start, she becomes a woman who is Proverbs 31, worthy of respect, worthy of praise, worthy of love, worthy of the commitment of Boaz. She’s a woman of exceedingly good character.
And in this, the scripture is showing, in the words of Paul, that they are in fact equally yoked. Equally yoked. That means they both love the Lord the same. So they can hold hands and walk together, and one’s not dragging the other along. “Come on, let’s go to church, Bible study. Let’s obey the Lord. Let’s pray together. Come on, I’m dragging you.” No. You need to be able to walk together, same pace. That’s what it means to be equally yoked. They’re equal. They can keep stride by stride.
So what looks like a mismatch – rich, poor, Moabite, Hebrew, employer, employee – is in fact, in God’s eyes, an equal match because they both love him with all their heart, and they love each other. And they have outstanding character. And that’s why they’re a good fit. It looks good, doesn’t it? Yes. She’s declared her heart! Now they can get married!
No. Every good love story has a drama. Every good love story has an obstacle to the love being satisfied and fulfilled. Right? You guys gotta know this. If you wanna be with a woman, there’s always gonna be something difficult for you to overcome to prove your love to her and to demonstrate it to her family. She may be in college, she may have an ailment, she may have college debt, she may be a single mom – I’ll tell you about it next week. Whatever it is, there’s usually something in the way and you gotta get those things, or people, out of the way. You know what I’m talking about. So, we’ll deal with that next week.
But that’s where he speaks. He says, “Yet” – uh oh! Don’t! “There is a redeemer nearer than I.” What he’s saying is, “This is not my job. There’s another guy and it’s his job.” The land was tied to the ladies. Whoever got the ladies got the land. There’s another relative. He has a right to the land. He is legally obligated to take care of you. That’s not my job. Uh-oh. “I would love to marry you, but I’m not supposed to be the guy.”
This is very important. Every commentary that I’ve read, and almost every teaching of Ruth that I’ve heard butchers this. They say that this is the application of Deuteronomy 25: 5-10, called the Levirate Marriage, which it’s not. But the legalists, moralists, fundamentalists, those who don’t get the gospel of grace, those who don’t get the God of scripture, what they do is they butcher this. And what they say is, “Well, the reason Boaz tried to marry Ruth is to fulfill the marital obligations of Deuteronomy 25.” Not true. ‘Cause here is what Deuteronomy 25 prescribes. “If a man is married to a woman, and that man dies, his brother has the option of marrying and looking after the widow.” He can reject that – it’s a shameful thing, but he can reject that.
Question. Who was Ruth married to? I think it’s in chapter 4, verse 10, it reveals that it’s Mahlon was her husband. Is Boaz the brother of Mahlon, yes or no? No, not at all. He’s a distant relative through the family of Elimelech, Mahlon’s dad. Here’s what I’m saying: He has absolutely no legal obligation to Ruth whatsoever. He owes her nothing. The legalists, the moralists, they’ll say, “He is here fulfilling his obligations according to the law.” No, he’s not. He’s not marrying her to obey the law because the law speaks nothing of this situation, gives no commands to Boaz. So why does he marry her? He loves her. If you don’t get that, you butcher, you butcher the whole story. It’s about love.
And in this, Boaz is like Jesus, and Ruth is like the church, and Jesus loves us, not because he’s obligated to, but because he’s gracious and he’s kind, and he’s affectionate, and he’s dependable. And it’s all of grace, not of law, not of legality, not of obligation. Those who, at this point in the story, just turn it into a legal transaction, butcher the whole gospel of love and grace, which this is an illustration of.
What he tells her is this. “I’m not legally obligated to do anything. Some other man is legally obligated. But I love you, and he doesn’t love you. And I want to marry you, and he may just want the land. I’ll figure it out.”
“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. Lay down ‘til the morning.” What he says is this. “We’re not gonna break the law. We’re not gonna sleep together. God doesn’t bless sin. I want to marry you. I want to be with you. So, you sleep here,” – and this is not inappropriate. It’s miles into town where Naomi is and their home. It’s the dark of night. It’s harvest season, guys got a few drinks in ‘em still out lighting off fireworks, all the rednecks and stuff. It’s dangerous. There’s bottle rockets everywhere – dangerous, dangerous, dangerous.
So what he tells her is “don’t walk home in the dark all dolled up while the guys are out drinking at the other threshing floors. Stay here, lay at the end of my feet. This is not physical. It’s not inappropriate. And then you can go home when it’s safe, and I will get that guy out of the way and we’ll figure out how we can make this happen.” But Boaz is here obeying the law and also the scriptures, so that he can remain in a place that God blesses, knowing that God only blesses those who obey him. God doesn’t bless sin. If he sleeps with her or breaks the law, God’s not gonna bless that. He trusts the providential hand of God to work in spite of these very difficult circumstances, ‘cause he really does love her, and he really does want to marry her, and she came to him and said, “I really love you. Do you want to marry me?” and he said, “Yes, I desperately want to marry you. And I will figure it out.”
Now let me say this, ladies. Don’t be too easy to get. Some of you say, “But there’s a big obstacle to marry me.” If the man truly loves you, he will figure it out. We’ll see that next week. He will figure it out. And in so doing, he will prove that he is trustworthy, dependable. He is industrious. He is clever in the right way, and that he desperately wants to be with you. I always tell the guys there are two kinds of women. A woman you can live with, and a woman you can’t live without. Every man wants to marry the woman he can’t live without. By God’s grace I married the woman I can’t live without. I am just drawn to her in a way that I, I can’t help myself. Every woman wants that. Every woman deserves that.
Boaz is here not marrying some woman by legal obligation because he can live with her. He’s marrying her by grace because he can’t live without her. And the old euphemism is that every man must choose his love and then he must love his choice. And Boaz will do both.
“So she lay at his feet” – verse 14 – “until the morning, but arose before one could recognize another.” Before the sun came up, it was still a little dark. She got up, and he said, “Let it not be known that the woman came to the threshing floor.” Sweetheart, we didn’t do anything. But I don’t want anybody to think we did anything, so you walk home before anybody gets up. The sun’s coming up, you’ll be fine.
In this, gentlemen, it’s not just enough to preserve a woman’s chastity. You must also preserve her reputation. Paul says in the New Testament, “Among God’s people there shouldn’t even be a hint of sexual immorality.” That you want to protect not only the chastity of the woman, but also the reputation of the woman, especially if you love her. You don’t want her to have a bad reputation. You want to honor her so that she is a woman who is honored by others as well.
And he said, “Bring the garment you are wearing,” – maybe her shawl or her cloak – “‘hold it out,’ so she held it out and he measured out six measures of barley and put it on her. She went into the city.” We don’t know exactly how much this weighs, but this is a very generous gift. He gives her a gift, sends her home. He says, “Don’t worry. I’ll figure it out, today. I’ll make Johnny Clipboard figure out what to do with all the grain. I’m goin’ into the city and I’m gonna get us resolved legally. I love you. Trust me. I’ll figure it out. Almost done.
And when she came to her mother-in-law, she gets home – you know Naomi’s probably up all night freaking out, “Oh, she’s still not home. I wonder how this went.” Really good, or really bad, Naomi. That was interesting counsel, a little scary. She said, “How did you fare, my daughter? How did it go?”
“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.’” Who was the big, generous gift for? Naomi. I told you, gentlemen, last week, I’ll tell you again. Court the mother. Court the mother. Court the mother! You can say, “Well, I could get the girl without courting the mother.” But yeah, but you can’t live happily ever after, I’ll promise you that. You want Mom to like you, too, with grace and love and mercy and building a relationship with Mom. That’s good. By God’s grace I have a really good relationship with my mother-in-law, Linda. We get along, actually, really good. Hugs, kisses, if we were out and you saw us together, you’d just think she was my biological mom. I mean, I love her. We get along great. It’s really, honestly, a blessing. It makes life a lot simpler.
And that’s how it will be at my house. A guy comes, says, “Can I date Ashley or Alexie?” I’ll be like, “Date me first.” And, after you take me out and we get to know each other, then you come and meet my wife, and my three boys, and if you’re gonna bring flowers, you’d better bring flowers for all of us, so. It’s gonna be a while before you get to the daughter, and you better bring flowers for my wife, and chocolates, and you better show up with a bouquet in each hand. Otherwise, it’s, “next!” That’s how it’s gotta go.
And I would encourage you guys, don’t just think of how you can honor the woman. Also think of how you can honor her mother. How many of you ladies, that would mean a lot? If a guy not only honored you, honored your mom, brought her flowers, chocolates. Didn’t just say, “Hey, can I take her out to dinner?” Also called your mom and said, “Could I take you out to tea? I just don’t feel like we know each other and I just would like to get to know you.” How many of your moms would be like, “I like that boy.” I’m serious, guys. That’s million dollar advice.
She then says, verse 18, last verse we’ll look at today, “She replied” – Naomi does, to Ruth – “ ‘Wait, my daughter, until you learn how the matter turns out, for the man will not rest, but will settle the matter’” when? “‘today.’” Any guy who says, “I don’t know, I think we’re gonna need to date for a few years” – next! If a woman comes to you, gentlemen, and says, “I care for you. I am proposing that you propose to me,” you settle the matter today. Today. You move. You don’t say, “Ah, that’s a big decision. I don’t like commitment; it stresses me out. I’m feeling light headed. I feel like you’re pressuring me. Emotionally, this is just a lot.” No. Right? If a lady’s gonna show you her heart, you’d better be careful with it. You’d better, you’d better not manipulate it. You’d better not string her along. You better have an end-game in mind.
Boaz says, “We should get married. Today’s a good day.” No long engagement, right? He’s gonna act quickly. We’ll talk about that next week.
And what I love about Naomi is she is led by the Spirit. Initially she told Ruth, “Don’t wait. Time’s wasting.” Here she says, “Wait. If he really loves you, he’ll figure it out. If you want him to be your husband, you need to trust him with decisions and complexities and let him go prove himself. You’ve told him you love him. You’re a sweet gal. He’d be blessed to have you. He’s a man. Men are supposed to figure things out.” What she doesn’t tell Ruth is, “Get your laptop out. Let’s open Excel. Let’s put together a plan. Let’s email it to Boaz with step-by-step instructions.” And she says, “Just sit here like a Calvinist, and just trust in the sovereignty of God. Drink some herbal tea. Just, just, just relax. It’ll be all fine. And if he doesn’t figure it out, you don’t want to marry him anyways. You want to be married to a guy who can’t figure anything out?”
I just deliver the mail.
In conclusion, here’s what we see. The sovereignty of God is working through all of these people: through the counsel of Naomi, though it is risky, to be sure; through the faithfulness of Ruth; and through the trustworthiness of Mr. Boaz. And what we see is that the flip side of the providence of God, which is the theme of the Book of Ruth, is that sometime we have to take calculated risks. I want to be very careful with this. I’m not saying you make foolish decisions. That’s what Elimelech did and it ruined his family. But Ruth and Naomi here take a calculated risk, and I – I agree, it is a big risk. But sometimes, when you’ve done all you can, you have to take a calculated risk, trusting that God is sovereign and good, and he will figure it out.
I married Grace when I was 21 years of age before we finished college; I still had a year left. It was a risk. We started this church with no people, no money, I didn’t know what I was doing, I had no ministry experience, it was a big risk. There are occasions where it is risk, not foolishness. Not a life of just random, blind foolishness, but a life of faith, not folly, where risks must be taken. Those of you who are overly cautious, those of you who must have an answer to everything, those of you who must think through the contingency plan for every contingency plan before you act, you may lack a proper understanding of God as sovereign and good. I’m not saying planning is bad. I’m not saying preparing is bad. I’m not saying that contingency plans are bad. But I am saying at some point you must trust, and in faith you must proceed forward, and sometimes faith involves risk.
But here is the good news. Ruth risks, but ultimately she is trusting Boaz and God, who Boaz loves very much. And in this, let me submit to you, that this is perhaps the greatest love story in all of scripture, and that it transpires in the context of all of the Bible’s story, which is the greatest love story ever told. And it’s the story of God’s love for his people. Furthermore, in Ezekiel, I think it’s chapter 16, this exact same language of Ruth and Boaz is used between God and his people, the Lord Jesus Christ and his church, and the same language is used for this reason: this relationship is a picture of the gospel of Jesus Christ. That’s why I don’t like the legalists, who just keep trying to impose the legal obligation. They ruin the gospel message that is contained in this story.
Let me give it to you quickly. Ruth, like the church, which is the bride of Jesus, comes to Boaz as we come to Jesus, and what does she ask? “Will you redeem me?” And then who does all of the work? Boaz, who is a picture of Jesus, who is our glorious Boaz in the words of Charles Spurgeon, one of my favorite Christian preachers of all time. That as Boaz is like Jesus, so we are to be like Ruth, the church, the bride of Christ. And we come to the Lord Jesus and we ask him for redemption, and he redeems us at a great cost, more than just the money that Boaz spent, but Jesus gives his own blood. He lives, dies, rises, he gives us himself as a gift to redeem us, to enter into a relationship with us. You say, “Why would he do that? He’s not obligated. He doesn’t owe us anything.” That’s grace. That’s love. That’s mercy. Jesus treats us like Boaz treats Ruth.
And Ruth trusts Boaz and just sits there, in faith, that Boaz will redeem her in the same way that we do not participate in any way in our redemption. We simply acknowledge that it is the Lord Jesus, our glorious Boaz, who does all of the work – who has done all of the work of redemption. And we rest in that. We trust in that. And we live our lives under the security that the God, who is for us, is always for us and that enables us to live lives of humility, like Ruth, of boldness, like Ruth, and occasional risk, like Ruth, trusting him to work out the details, because we love him, and we’re not sinning, and we’re in the place that he can bless.
If you don’t know Jesus, you need to know Jesus. He is the God of Ruth and Boaz. Ultimately it is the Lord Jesus who is coming through this family line. It is Jesus who is like Boaz, and it is Jesus who asks us to come to him, like Ruth, simply asking to be redeemed, and then trusting his finished work of death, burial, resurrection, to redeem us. You need to become a Christian tonight, if you’re not. And you do it by confessing your sin to Jesus, and asking him to redeem you. If you already have, you’re welcome to participate in communion, where we remember the price that Jesus paid, his broken body, his shed blood. We’ll give of our tithes and offerings, so that the message of Jesus goes forth. You’re gonna want to raise your voices and sing.
What I love about this story, there was a great party, and occasionally God’s people need to party well to practice for the Kingdom. Party without sin; sing and dance and raise their hands, and clap, and laugh, and enjoy, because God is a good God and he has chosen to smile upon us in the person and the work of Jesus.
I love you guys. I hope you’re enjoying the book. Read ahead. We’ll be in chapter 4 next week. We’ve got a wedding. And then, there’s gonna be a baby.
Father, thanks for a chance to teach scripture. God, I thank you that I get to have a bit of fun when I do it. God, we do so not to be irreverent, but instead to acknowledge that you are a God who gives joy and freedom and life and love. And that God, you are preparing an eternal Kingdom party for us. May we now, as we transition into worship, remember that we are to come to you like Ruth came to Boaz, that you do all of the work, if we ask you to redeem us. God, may we now worship in a way that was kind of like the party on the threshing floor: People laughing, people singing, people dancing, people enjoying one another and you and your grace, not in a sinful way, but in a holy way, and a fun way, and a right way, in a redeemed way, as we practice for the wedding supper of the Lamb, where we shall sit down with the Lord Jesus, as Revelation teaches.
God, I love this church. I know you do, too. I pray you would make us a collective people, to be much like Ruth – faithful and bold, but also patient and humble, walking in wisdom led by the Spirit. We ask it in Jesus’ name. Amen.