Ramble through Ruth – Part 4

With thanks to Jonathan Durke for this guest blog.

 Read Ruth 4:1-6

So, Ruth has presented herself to Boaz at the wise and caring recommendation of Naomi. Boaz, in response, has shown concern for Ruth and even gone the extra mile. He sets out to find the relative closer to Naomi than he, so he can honourably give that relative the first opportunity to provide and protect for Naomi and Ruth. We now read of Boaz making his way to the city gate of Bethlehem to sit and wait for his relative to come along. Soon enough he walks by and is called to sit with Boaz along with ten city elders he has gathered, to discuss the matter.

In the ancient Near East, the city gates were where legal transactions would take place. Official business regarding property, law and economics etc. would be processed while the people involved, including the respected elders, would sit and negotiate. So, Boaz explains the entire situation and offers the relative the parcel of land that was Elimelech’s and which now Naomi is selling to make ends meet. The relative thinks this sounds good – he gets more land – but Boaz adds that he must also redeem Ruth. At this the relative rejects the offer. If he took it, it would have adverse effects on his own children and their inheritance. Marrying Ruth would mean producing more children which would take away from his own children’s inheritance.

  • How do you think this made Ruth feel?
  • How does God act differently to us compared with Boaz’s relative to Ruth?

 

INTEGRITY

 Read Ruth 4:7-12

The right and responsibility to now redeem Ruth has come to Boaz. Boaz proceeds to make this transaction with love and integrity. He does it properly and with transparency, making sure there are witnesses to the authentic and honest way he has dealt with this matter.

  • Are there any areas in your life (family, business, etc.) in which you think you could be more transparent?
  • Are there areas of your work or private life where there is pressure to NOT live with integrity?

We may never know how the outcomes of our actions will unfold. They could work out differently than we thought, take longer than we anticipated or fall short of our expectations. That can be especially frustrating when we have gone about them with integrity and in a way God is pleased with. However, regardless of the outcome, if we have done it with integrity, that pleases the Lord. He will work out what is best for us and most glorifies him.

 

NEW IDENTITY

Read Ruth 4:13-22

Ruth and Naomi have both received a kind of new identity in and through Boaz and the kindness he extended to them.

Remind you of anyone?

Jesus Christ has redeemed us, just as Boaz did for Ruth. Jesus is our “kinsman redeemer” because He became incarnate as a human being, so He relates and empathises with us.

Jesus, has also given us a new identity, through his life , death and resurrection. Martin Luther, a 16th century German Catholic monk turned Protestant reformer, called this transaction ‘the great exchange’. Christ exchanged His righteousness to us and He received our sin. As Boaz took on himself Ruth’s, poverty, hunger and shameful reputation, he gave her his righteous reputation, home security and bountiful provision.

All Jesus has He has now transferred to us.

The cross was a similar and greater declaration of payment. It was a divine transaction.  We have received new identities as righteous children of God through Jesus’ gracious kindness.

  • How will knowing we have a new identity inform and influence your lives?
  • What does the truth of ‘The Great Exchange’ conjure up in you?

 

FRUITFULNESS

Ruth is now married and bears a child. She is protected, provided for and blessed. Naomi is blessed too, as she nurses her grandchild and has her life restored to her again.

This child of Ruth’s, Obed, will become the father of Jesse, and Jesse will become the father of David. David’s descendants will lead to the birth of Christ and the salvation of the World. (Matthew ch1 lists Ruth as one of Jesus’ ancestors!)

God is always at work, unleashing His plans and purposes to accomplish His desires. We do not know the full fruit that will come from our ministry and decisions….

In conclusion, let’s do the following:

  • Wait in faith that his plans are GOOD!
  • Embrace our new identity, learning who we are ”in Christ” and that all he is, is ours.
  • Believe God for fruitfulness

 

 

 

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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!