Friday April 20, 2018
Title: Ruth: 3:14-18 - exceeding generosity; Final chapter - opportunity and fulfillment.
Boaz puts himself under oath - “as the Lord lives.” A man like him could never break such a vow.
Boaz is a man of his word. Vows were needed in a place of liars though Boaz is not one of them.
RUT 3:8 And it happened in the middle of the night that the man was startled and bent forward; and behold, a woman was lying at his feet.
RUT 3:9 And he said, "Who are you?" And she answered, "I am Ruth your maid. So spread your covering over your maid, for you are a close relative."
Ruth identifies herself with her name first and then her status.
RUT 3:10 Then he said, "May you be blessed of the Lord, my daughter. You have shown your last kindness [chesed] to be better than the first by not going after young men, whether poor or rich.
RUT 3:11 And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you whatever you ask, for all my people in the city know that you are a woman of excellence.
RUT 3:12 And now it is true I am a close relative; however, there is a relative closer than I.
RUT 3:13 Remain this night, and when morning comes, if he will redeem you, good; let him redeem you. But if he does not wish to redeem you, then I will redeem you, as the Lord lives. Lie down until morning."
Boaz’s vow establishes his word according to the OT fashion. He comforts her. Her sleep would be sweet and secure.
There is one obstacle, and Boaz is not going to try and get around it. He is not going to act unbecomingly so that he can get to the finish more quickly. He will face the obstacle and will not take things into his own hands, rather, he will defer to God’s hands and he will openly offer the right of redemption to the closer kinsman.
He gets right to it in the morning. He doesn’t delay, whether he will receive good news of bad, He takes care of the situation as soon as possible.
RUT 3:14 So she lay at his feet until morning and rose before one could recognize another; and he said, "Let it not be known that the woman came to the threshing floor."
Though Boaz and Ruth did nothing wrong, they did not want others to imply that they did.
Sometimes the look of impropriety cannot be avoided, but more often than not it can. We are not to bait the unregenerate or the carnal to judge us. In love our hearts are to be for the good of those around us and not their evil.
Some get a sort of morbid kick out of being judged by others so then they can reveal that they have been judged wrongly and condemn the judger. God doesn’t need help and the guilty don’t need to be prodded into more guilt.
The law of love demands that we do not flaunt our freedom if it will hinder others who are weak.
Christians set free by the truth have been guilty of hindering the not so free through flaunting their freedom before those who can not understand.
Boaz makes sure that no one sees Ruth even though no sin or impropriety has been committed.
RUT 3:15 Again he said, "Give me the cloak that is on you and hold it." So she held it, and he measured six measures of barley and laid it on her. Then she went into the city.
Intended to be a gift for Naomi (vs. 17), the total weight of grain was anywhere between 58 and 95 pounds.
Boaz has done and is doing enough for both Ruth and Naomi, but that doesn’t stop him from being overly gracious. It would be wonderful enough for Ruth to return home with the good news of what Boaz had told her he would do, but to add to this an abundance of grain as a gift adds a sort of visible pledge.
Boaz doesn’t seem to tire of revealing his determination to take care of Ruth and Naomi, and he finds many ways to do so.
Imagine a world in which everyone did so. I guess it would be close to heaven, for only heaven in the heart of a man fills him with chesed every day, a man who does not tire in showing mercy to all who are around him, and in various ways.
Remember also that there was a long famine before this harvest. The first year of prosperity does not erase the remembrance of the past years of poverty. That memory would tempt a man to be stingy. This is why it is important for us to be gracious even when we are in poverty. Just because we don’t have much to give doesn’t mean that we cannot give graciously. The widow’s two copper coins is an obvious truth to that idea. If a person is not gracious in poverty and pledges to be gracious if abundance comes will break that pledge. Such a man will never think he has enough.
According to the rabbis, Boaz only gave Ruth six individual grains of barley that she could hold in the palm of her hand. They justify this paltry amount by imaging six things that they are symbols for. As usual, there is no evidence for such an interpretation. I would not venture into numerology unless it was obvious, and here it is not.
RUT 3:16 And when she came to her mother-in-law, she said, "How did it go, my daughter?" And she told her all that the man had done for her.
RUT 3:17 And she said, "These six measures of barley he gave to me, for he said, 'Do not go to your mother-in-law empty-handed.'"
RUT 3:18 Then she said, "Wait, my daughter, until you know how the matter turns out; for the man will not rest until he has settled it today."
The promise is given with the gift. Naomi returned to Bethlehem empty and now is made full. This is true of all who come to be born-again in Christ.
All of us are born into this world spiritual dead, spiritually blind, and with nothing. Yet Christ came so that we could be born again, not of the flesh but of the Spirit. At salvation we are given everything: Christ, eternal life, inheritance, election, predestination, and adoption. These and much more are given to us. We receive the promise and the gift.
2PE 1:4 For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them you might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.
We have the promises and the nature of which the promises are made. We have even the Giver of the promises.
This brings us to the final chapter. As chapter one centered on Naomi, so does chapter four. Ruth fades into the background and Boaz and Naomi take center stage.
Naomi’s prayer is fulfilled.
RUT 1:8 And Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, "Go, return each of you to her mother's house. May the Lord deal kindly with you as you have dealt with the dead and with me.
RUT 1:9 May the Lord grant that you may find rest, each in the house of her husband."
As chapter one centered on Naomi, so does chapter four. Ruth fades into the background and Boaz and Naomi take center stage.
Our stage opens at the city gate where legal transactions were concluded.
Rut 4:1 Now Boaz went up to the gate and sat down there, and behold, the close relative of whom Boaz spoke was passing by, so he said, "Turn aside, friend, sit down here." And he turned aside and sat down.
RUT 4:2 And he took ten men of the elders of the city and said, "Sit down here." So they sat down.
The elders in any city were to deal with criminal cases and family matters. They did so at the city gate.
RUT 4:3 Then he said to the closest relative, "Naomi, who has come back from the land of Moab, has to sell the piece of land which belonged to our brother Elimelech.
Naomi was poor and was unable to obtain any income from the land. There was no option but to sell it. This was likely decided before the incident on the threshing floor and up to this point no one had decided to buy it. Land for sale was normally offered to the closest kinsman before being offered to anyone else.
The point of this was keeping land in the family so that a family would not fade away into history. It is the Lord providing for every family.
The Levitical law of property redemption enabled a family to maintain land ownership despite poverty or slavery.
LEV 25:23'The land, moreover, shall not be sold permanently, for the land is Mine; for you are but aliens and sojourners with Me.
LEV 25:24 'Thus for every piece of your property, you are to provide for the redemption of the land.
LEV 25:25 'If a fellow countryman of yours becomes so poor he has to sell part of his property, then his nearest kinsman is to come and buy back what his relative has sold.
LEV 25:26 'Or in case a man has no kinsman, but so recovers his means as to find sufficient for its redemption,
LEV 25:27 then he shall calculate the years since its sale and refund the balance to the man to whom he sold it, and so return to his property.
LEV 25:28 'But if he has not found sufficient means to get it back for himself, then what he has sold shall remain in the hands of its purchaser until the year of jubilee; but at the jubilee it shall revert, that he may return to his property.
In the year of Jubilee, every 50th year, all land was returned to the family who first owned it. The overruling will of God provided for His people.
God will provide for every one of His children. Consider the lilies; you are much more valuable than they. We never have to fear for our provision. God is able to make all grace abound to you. He will freely give us all things that we need. We have received an unshakeable kingdom. Seek first His kingdom and all things will be added to you.
Providence in the NT:
ROM 8:31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?
ROM 8:32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?
HEB 12:26 And His voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised, saying, " Yet once more I will shake not only the earth, but also the heaven." (HAG 2:6)
The quote of HAG 2:6 brings us back to Sinai as the author did in vv. 18-21. At Sinai the earth shook, but in the future the entire heavens and earth will shake. This is a reference to the Great Tribulation, the destruction of all kingdoms just before the return of Christ. The writer has another shaking in mind also, which is coming soon after his epistle, and that is the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem by the Romans. What does this show us? The old order is shakable. But, the new order or the New Covenant is unshakable.
The earth, the old order, the temple and the Mosaic Law are all temporary. The unshakable covenant is like the second coming of Christ - eternal. You and I and all believers are a part of a kingdom that cannot be shaken. That means that we lack nothing and we can lose nothing of real value.
HEB 12:27 And this expression, "Yet once more," denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, in order that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.
HEB 12:28 Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe;
HEB 12:29 for our God is a consuming fire.
The acceptable service to God is one without fear of loss. We stand in awe and reverence of what He has done in Christ, the great cornerstone, upon which the unshakable kingdom is built. Every believer is a member and part of that kingdom. The consuming fire of God has and will consume the nations and also has consumed us with His love.
Since we can be confident in God’s continuous provision, we can be exceedingly gracious.
2CO 9:6 Now this I say, he who sows sparingly shall also reap sparingly; and he who sows bountifully shall also reap bountifully.
2CO 9:7 Let each one do just as he has purposed in his heart; not grudgingly or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver.
2CO 9:8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed;
Exceeding generosity and graciousness demands courage. It demands a soul that is not afraid. There has to be a real reason why fear would not live in a man’s soul. There are examples of this throughout the history if war, in which men in battle were able to lay aside their fear. The best examples are not from men who lusted for wealth and power through conquest, like Alexander of Macedon for example. The best examples are from citizen soldiers, men who were ordinary citizens of a free country who become convinced that an evil power needs to be eradicated. Such men become lethal armies, and unlike mercenaries, go home to their lives and never fight or kill again. Where do they find their courage? They believe they are morally superior and that their cause is just.
Epaminondas was a Theban general who did the unthinkable in 370 BC. He invaded Sparta and defeated a people that was thought to be invincible. His men were farmers and were outnumbered, but they believed in an ideal.
The reality for the Christian is far greater and real. A fighting man may lay aside his fear because he believes propaganda that is fed to him, even though it is false. Christ is not propaganda, neither are His cross or resurrection. What we are in Him and what power and wisdom we have is all very real, and from it fear will be removed from our hearts and the courage to lay down our lives for one another will thrive within us.
As we will see in our next major lesson from the Book of Ruth, don’t miss the opportunities to be the most gracious.
Php 3:8 More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ
LUK 14:25 Now great multitudes were going along with Him; and He turned and said to them,
LUK 14:26 "If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.
LUK 14:27 "Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.
LUK 14:28 "For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost, to see if he has enough to complete it?
LUK 14:29 "Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him,
LUK 14:30 saying,' This man began to build and was not able to finish.'
LUK 14:31 "Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and take counsel whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand?
LUK 14:32 "Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks terms of peace.
LUK 14:33 "So therefore, no one of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.
Jesus is not telling us to give everything away, although in some rare cases that may be necessary, as it was for the rich man in the gospels. Christ is telling us to be willing to give all when called upon by the Father. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. If anything, or anyone is as important in our hearts as the Lord or His kingdom then discipleship is not for us. And at the same time, all of us are called to be a disciple.