Ramble through Ruth – Part 3

A further study/discussion blog written largely by Jonathan Durke. Thank you Jonathan.

Read Ruth 3:1-18

As we turn to chapter 3 of this love story we read of Ruth being back home with Naomi after her first encounter with Boaz. It seems safe to assume Ruth told Naomi everything. Naomi’s response? To “seek rest” for her daughter-in-law through a relationship which will provide all the protection and provision she requires.

Naomi arranges a cunning plan with Ruth to help her get noticed by Boaz even more. But this plan requires waiting for the right moment.

Waiting

  • Can you remember a time in your life when all you wanted to do was get on with something, but knew you had to wait for God’s timing?

The timing of God is important. As much as we may want to move at our own pace, and even attempt to speed the Lord along a little to help Him out, what matters is God’s schedule. We can make all the plans we want, covering every minute detail and making every contingency, but if we speed off without the Lord then we will end up going nowhere without Him. We must learn to wait. We must learn patience and even perseverance.

It is while we wait that our characters are formed. In the heat of frustration, we are shaped and moulded. At times God can even be more concerned for how we wait rather than what we are waiting for. He is interested in the process as well as the result. We must learn not to do what we want at any time but learn to be ready for the Lord at any time.

Learning to wait is not a waste of time. We can wait ON God as well as for Him. Joyce Meyer writes “I end up spending much more time in my life waiting than I do receiving. So I decided to learn to enjoy the waiting time, not just the receiving time. We need to learn to enjoy where we are while we are on the way to where we are going”

  • -Share what may have helped you to be patient and wait for God? – What might you have learnt from times when God’s asked you to be patient and wait for Him?

Working

Ruth was a hard worker. She applied herself and was diligent in her labour. From morning until evening Ruth would graft to provide for her relative and herself. For her and Naomi it was a matter of life or death. Work is a great privilege and opportunity to both serve and receive the fruits of our labour but also to serve and give to others. –

Being as honest as you can, how do you feel about your work? Similarly to what we observed above, there can be times in our careers when we have to wait on God. We feel  all we are doing is enduring our paperwork, juggling our children, persevering in being away from home for long trips. Yet, our work can be life or death to our souls. As difficult as a job might be, usually our attitude towards it can be what is making it more difficult. Work hard, apply yourself, be diligent, take responsibility and endeavour to labour to the best of your ability.

Change your mindset and renew your mind with the truth that God’s grace is there for you every morning. Knowing he is with you in the office, classroom or play area can transform your attitude. The old adage is true, do your best and let God do the rest.

  • How might relying on God’s presence and believing in His grace help change your attitude to work?

Ruth 3:6-18

Ruth goes out to the fields, as directed by Naomi, and after Boaz has eaten his meal and lain down to sleep, Ruth uncovers his feet and lies down beside them. The laying at his feet was a cultural symbol, thought to indicate servanthood, respect and dependency, although not entirely understood by anyone today. There is no hint of behaving inappropriately.

Asking.

Ruth was humbly submitting to Boaz and presenting herself in the hope of help. This is a beautiful illustration of how we should approach the Lord Jesus. With humility, respect, honour and hope for help. We should come to Lord with big requests as well as small because He cares for us.

  • Do you find it difficult to come before God with requests, expecting Him to answer? If not, why – let’s encourage each other…

Boaz wakes up at midnight startled and quickly questions Ruth. Ruth identifies herself and responds with pleading for help in her and Naomi’s desperate situation. Ruth actually asks that Boaz “spread his wings” over her. She is asking for his protection and provision. She is looking for his support and care.

Boaz responds by granting her request. – More often than we acknowledge openly, we can feel lonely and isolated. We can feel vulnerable and weak in many situations in life.

  • How might remembering that the Lord protects, provides, supports and cares for us help? Where can we turn to remind ourselves of his help?

It is good to be authentic with God. Be genuine in your relationship with Him. He wants to hear all about our situations, regardless of problems, emotions, mistakes, disappointments or sins.

Ruth stays the night at the feet of Boaz after he agrees to check that a closer relative will accept being her kinsmen redeemer. (A legal family guardian) – She then returns home where Naomi shrewdly advises they see how the matter unfolds…. The story continues… with a bit more waiting!

 

 

 

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Ramble through Ruth – Part 2

Thanks again to Jonathan Durke for this guest blog: part 2 of a study guide alongside a series on the book of Ruth.

Read Ruth 2:1-13

Naomi and Ruth have now returned to Bethlehem and have arrived at the time of the barley harvest. However, the two ladies have returned empty. They are empty of a home, empty of relatives and particularly empty of food. They were poor widows.

Yet, emptiness is healthy and helpful when it is God who does the emptying. As we shall see later in the story, it is God’s providence that has caused Naomi and Ruth to be emptied because He is about to do something remarkable in their lives.

  • Reflect on a time when the Lord has emptied you or has permitted a seemingly bad situation but, on reflection, was His sovereign working in your life.

When the Lord is emptying you do not resist Him but embrace His activity in your life.

God does not empty us for no reason. He empties us so He can place something else within us. God is about to fill their lives with good things .

The barley harvest was a significant time for the Israelites. It was the time just of the Passover Festival – where Israel remembered their exodus from Egypt, when the Lord passed over their firstborn to kill the firstborn Egyptians and rescue them from slavery.

  • Can someone remember and explain the key command God gave them for that night so He would pass over them?
  • Discuss how is this event is an image of the Gospel?

As the Israelites were provided a redeemer for their children, a lamb, so Ruth now meets her redeemer in the form of Naomi’s relative Boaz. He was a relative of Elimelech, Naomi’s now dead husband.

Read Ruth 2:14-23

Ruth asked her elderly mother in law Naomi if she could go to the field to glean (pick up) the ears of grain, which was a right for those who were poor. Ruth begins to glean and just so happens to be working in Boaz’s field. Then Boaz appears, greets his reapers and comes across Ruth. He engages her in conversation.

As Boaz and Ruth talk we can begin seeing her trust in the Lord blossoming.

  • Which verse might indicate Ruth growing faith in God and why?

Perhaps Ruth being in the fields of a foreign land, with alien people and conversing with a stranger was a difficult place to be in. Yet, in spite of all the change going on in her life and the hard circumstances, it was the right place. The best and safest place to be is where God wants you to be.

  • Share a time that appeared difficult but on reflection you knew to be where God wanted you. Share why God may have wanted you there.

Aside from the core relationship in this narrative between Ruth and Boaz, let us look briefly again at the other key relationship in this story, Ruth and Naomi. These two had a remarkable friendship. They cared for each other. When leaving Moab, Naomi gave Ruth the opportunity to go back to her family and be protected and provided for. In Bethlehem, Ruth took the initiative to go out and work hard to provide for and protect Naomi. Ruth resolved to be dedicated in every way to Naomi all the days of her life. They had a culture of honour and respect towards each other.

  • How might this kind of honour, respect and dedication be reflected to each other in our church family today?
  • What would it be like for a single, foreign woman to go into the harvest field?

There is another relationship we can glean from the book of Ruth that may go unnoticed to our modern eyes. It is the relationship between the Church and the poor. The activity Ruth was engaged in as she gleaned from the fields was an activity instituted by God in the Law.  Land owners were instructed to not glean the entirety of their property but to leave the edges alone. This was so that the foreign, poor and destitute might be able to glean, eat and not die in their poverty.

In New Testament times the early Christians, though not all Jewish, were instructed to continue with this principle. (See Galatians 2 v 10)

  • How can you in your church continue to remember the poor?

The account of Ruth includes statements such, ‘as it turned out’ and ‘as it happened.’ This symbolizes the fact that nothing which occurred was manipulated by Ruth or part of a grand and intricate strategy. Instead, God guides her as she takes steps. The truth is we really know very little of what the Lord is doing all the time around us. While we are walking the path, the Lord is directing our footsteps and clearing the way. (See Proverbs 3 v 5 – 6)

  • Are there areas where you are just having to trust God? … that he is, or will, work things out?

Ruth was prepared to work hard while God was working on her behalf. It is the comforting and inspiring revelation that God is sovereign and we are responsible.

Returning to Ruth and Boaz’s interaction, it is here that we see what Boaz is really like, or rather who Boaz is really like…Jesus Christ. Boaz foreshadowed what Jesus would do for us. Let us briefly observe from Scripture how Boaz reflects Jesus.

V.5 – Boaz noticed Ruth straight away. Jesus notices us all the time.

V.14 – Boaz provides for Ruth. Jesus provides all we need.

V.15 – Boaz protects Ruth. Jesus protects us by His mercy.

Boaz shows Ruth grace. v 10 “Why have I found such favour in your eyes?” Jesus showed us “favour” or “grace” – the undeserved kindness of God!

As true a reflection as all this was, all pictures fall short of the reality of Christ. Nothing is better than the real thing!

Boaz was what was called a “kinsmen or guardian redeemer”. (For more details on this law – see Leviticus 25:23-55)

Conclusion

  • Care, protect and love each other as Ruth did for Naomi, Boaz did for Ruth and Christ has for you.
  • Show respect to those who are older and those who have come from another culture.
  • Remember the poor
  • Trust Jesus as your redeemer who has knows us, provides, protects and shows grace to us.