31st May 2017

Ruth: Week 4 (Wednesday, May 31 2017)

 

Though only four chapters in length, the Book of Ruth has long been recognised - even by those who don’t believe the Bible - as a literary masterpiece. But for all its literary beauty and excellence, it is so much more than that. It is, for example, about a loving relationship between a young woman and her mother-in-law. It is also about a young maiden from Moab and the man who loved and redeemed her. It is about a romance that triumphs over racial and religious prejudices. We learn from example that the Book of Ruth is about real, genuine love. This series will also teach us that God has a special place in His Word for women, and for the unique, miraculous role they play in His plan. Perhaps nowhere else in God’s Word is a woman’s strength of character and purity of motive more evident than here. Most importantly, the Book of Ruth is a story of God’s purpose to redeem all those who will put their trust in Him, simply because He loves them.

 

Chapter 2

v14 When it was time for a meal, Boaz said to her, ‘Come with us. Take some of our bread. Put it in the vinegar.’ So she sat by the harvesters. Boaz gave her some of the barley, hot from the fire. She ate as much as she wanted. But some remained. v15 Then Ruth started to glean again. Boaz told his men, ‘Let her glean under the sheaves. Do not stop her. v16 You can also pull out some barley from the sheaves. Drop it where she can glean it. And do not tell her that she must not.’

Verses 14-16 Boaz continued to offer Ruth more than God’s law told him to do. He was happy for Ruth to share food with him. And he allowed her to take grain from the whole field, not just the edges. It was a huge gift without limits. God is a generous God who loves us. And so he gives to us in the same way.

v17 So, Ruth gleaned in the field until the evening. Then she threshed what she had gleaned. She had about 20 litres of barley grain. v18 She took the grain and she went to the town. Her husband’s mother saw how much Ruth had gleaned. Then she gave her husband’s mother the food that she had not eaten at the meal time. v19 Her husband’s mother asked her, ‘Where did you glean today? Where did you work? Good things should happen to the man who gave you help.’ So she told her husband’s mother what she had done. She said, ‘The name of the man that I worked with today is Boaz.’ v20 Then Naomi said to her son’s wife, ‘I pray that the LORD will do good things to him! He has not stopped showing his kind love to the living and to the dead.’ Naomi also said to her, ‘The man is a relative of ours. He might redeem us.’ v21 Then Ruth, the woman from Moab, said, ‘Boaz also told me, “Stay near my servants until the end of the harvest”.’ v22 Naomi said to Ruth, her son’s wife, ‘It is good if you stay with his young women. Do not go to another field where someone may hurt you.’ v23 So Ruth stayed near Boaz’s young women. She gleaned until the end of the barley harvest and of the wheat harvest. She continued to live with her husband’s mother.

Verses 17-20a Ruth had gathered about 20 litres of grain. She was able to take this to Naomi, as well as what remained from her meal. First Naomi blessed the good man who had been kind to Ruth. Then she praised God for the meeting of Ruth and Boaz. God had remembered those who were dead, Elimelech and his sons. And he had remembered the widows who were still living. His kindness continues for all time. By Boaz, God will provide for them.

Verses 20b-23 Boaz was a member of Elimelech’s family (see verse 1). He would protect Ruth as she continued to find food in his fields. After the barley harvest, it was the wheat harvest. All through the time of harvest, Ruth worked in the fields that belonged to Boaz.

 

Chapter 3

Introduction

The harvest was now over. Naomi made plans for the future. If a man from Israel died without children, his brother or another relative used to marry the widow. That was the custom. Then the first son that she had would carry on the dead man’s name. And he would own his land. (See Deuteronomy 25:5-6.)

There was another custom also. If someone had financial difficulties, a man from their family would buy their land. He would then look after the land, so that it still belonged to the same family. This also meant that the person with financial difficulties would not have to become somebody’s slave. People called a man who carried out these duties a ‘redeemer’. Naomi hopes that Boaz will accept the redeemer’s duties. So Naomi is not doing anything unusual.

v1 Naomi, Ruth’s husband’s mother, said to her, ‘My daughter, I am looking for a home where you can rest and be happy. v2 Now Boaz is a relative of ours. You have been with his young women. Tonight he will winnow barley at the threshing floor. v3 Now have a bath and make yourself smell nice. Then dress in your best clothes. Go down to the threshing floor. Remain hidden until he finishes eating and drinking. v4 Notice carefully the place where he lies down to sleep. Then go there and lift his skirt. And lie by his feet. He will tell you what to do.’

v5 ‘I will do everything that you have told me’, Ruth said to Naomi.

Verses 1-5 After the men finished harvesting, the farmer had to thresh the wheat and the barley. He stayed at his place of work all day and all night. He would be very tired and hungry. Ruth had to wait until Boaz had finished eating and drinking. She had to be very quiet and prepare herself like a bride in her best clothes. Boaz would understand why she had come to him. Ruth showed that she trusted Naomi. And she obeyed her.

v6 So Ruth went to the threshing floor. There she did everything that her husband’s mother had said. v7 Boaz ate and drank. He began to feel very happy. He went to sleep next to the heap of grain. Ruth came in secret. She lifted his skirt and lay down by his feet. v8 At midnight, something made the man feel afraid. He turned and discovered a woman lying by his feet. v9 ‘Who are you?’ he asked. ‘I am Ruth, your servant’, she replied. ‘Cover me with the edge of your skirt because you are a redeemer.’

Verses 6-9 Ruth had chosen Naomi’s God and Naomi’s country. Here, she obeys the customs of Naomi’s country. She showed courage and trust when she offered herself to Boaz. He was surprised. But he was also grateful that this young woman was willing to become his wife. She asked him to spread his clothes over her. This was to show that she wanted him to marry her. Here ‘redeemer’ means one of her husband’s family.


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