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The Book of Ruth

Feb 11, 2024 | John Talcott

The Book of Ruth (4) - Romance or Business

We are going to continue our study through the book of Ruth today, picking up where we left off last week. This is a story of an ordinary family of four that lived in Bethlehem, but there was a famine in Judah. And so, the father packed up his wife and their two sons and they go to Moab about 50 miles away. It’s a heartbreaking story because both the father and the two sons ended up dying in Moab.

Naomi is left alone caring for her sons’ wives who have now been widowed. She decides to return to Bethlehem and one of her daughters in law named Ruth decides to stay with Naomi and go back to Bethlehem with her. She makes the declaration of loyalty, turning away from the god of Moab, and started worshiping the God of Israel. And so, Naomi and Ruth returned to Bethlehem hoping to connect with Naomi’s family.

After arriving in Bethlehem Ruth went out to glean in the fields and it just so happened that she was working in a field belonging to a godly landowner named Boaz. It also just happened to be that he was of the family of Naomi’s deceased husband Elimelech, a man who could potentially be her kinsman redeemer. In fact, things went really well that first day of gleaning, they actually had a meal together, but after she went home Boaz ghosted her.

And so, there was not a follow-up call, no courtesy text, and several weeks go by. The harvest is almost over and Ruth is confused wondering if maybe she read something into their meeting that wasn’t there? You know, it seemed like they really connected, but she thought maybe she came on too strong, or maybe she should’ve taken a bath. And so, she’s wondering what she did wrong, but she’s about to let it go as an opportunity she missed.

However, her mother-in-law Naomi wasn’t so easily deterred, because she hadn’t traveled all the way from Moab to Bethlehem to remain in the same situation. And so, she proposes to Ruth that it’s time for a follow-up. You know, to follow up and find out, are we just friends or are we more than friends? And so, if you would like to follow along turn with me to Ruth chapter three and let’s look at how they navigate through this season.

We are going to begin reading in verse one, here’s how the story goes,

“One day Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, "My daughter, should I not try to find a home for you, where you will be well provided for” (Ruth 3:1).

In other words, Naomi who may be just a little bit opinionated, not always saying the wisest things, volunteered to be the matchmaker in her relationship with Boaz. Naomi says to Ruth, 

“Is not Boaz, with whose servant girls you have been, a kinsman of ours” (Ruth 3:2)?

Now, it turned out that the harvest had been gathered and they would bring it down to the threshing floor. That was where they separated the wheat from the chaff, what is edible from the husks that surrounded the seed. And so, Naomi said, tonight is the night, he will be winnowing barley on the threshing floor” (Ruth 3:2). In other words, he will be down at the threshing floor with his workers, everybody is going to get paid, and they’re going to have a big harvest party tonight.

And so, she begins to scheme how to hook up Ruth with Boaz, and if you’re trying to give a boost or a jumpstart to any of your relationships here is a free Valentine’s Day tip for you. She tells Ruth, and some of you may want to write this down. This is a great place to start, this is the word of the Lord, verse three says,

“Wash and perfume yourself, and put on your best clothes” (Ruth 3:3).

In other words, she is thinking that the last time Boaz saw a Ruth she had been working in the field all day. And so, she hadn’t showered, she was dirty, and her hair was a mess. Now she says, I want you to show up looking good, take a bath and put on some perfume.

“Then go down to the threshing floor, but don't let him know you are there until he has finished eating and drinking” (Ruth 3:3).

Now, this is coming from a woman who has had a husband and raised a couple boys. And so, she knows that men are much happier after they have finished eating. And so, you can see the strategy behind this, she says, “I want you to get freshened up, get all dolled up, and then wait until he has finished eating his chicken. After he has had a few drinks, here’s what I want you to do.

“When he lies down, note the place where he is lying" (Ruth 3:4).

Now, I know that sounds a little weird, but he had just harvested his barley, and so he’s going to lie down right there and watch it. In other words, he is guarding the harvest, because he doesn’t want anybody to steal it.

Naomi says, here is your strategy. She tells Ruth, “Watch where he lies down, and when he is asleep,

“Then go and uncover his feet and lie down. He will tell you what to do" (Ruth 3:4).

Now, my daughter can tell you, I have never ever given her this advice. I know this is the word of God, but I have never suggested that she go to a party, wait for this guy she met a few weeks ago to have a few drinks, and then when he lies down, snuggle up to him and whisper, “Tell me what you want me to do.” I have never ever given such advice, but nonetheless, Ruth listens to Naomi and says,

“I will do whatever you say” (Ruth 3:5).

Now, you would think that even Ruth being a foreigner would’ve thought that Naomi’s advice was a little bit strange. But what Naomi was telling Ruth to do was in accordance to Israelite customs and Law as she offered herself to her kinsman redeemer. And so, there was nothing suggestive or seductive or improper about this procedure. This wasn’t anything romantic, this was family, this was business, and this was their culture.

“So, she went down to the threshing floor and did everything her mother-in-law told her to do” (Ruth 3:6).

Now, most of us recognize that in a different situation that could have been very poor advice; but Ruth had already seen what kind of man Boaz was, because he had honored her, protected her, provided for her, and even prayed for her. And so, Ruth readily followed Naomi’s advice because she knew that she was kind, trustworthy, and everything she did was with integrity. And I believe that we would all do well to listen to the advice of a godly parent, an older friend or relative, who has always looked out for your best interests. Because the wisdom and experience of such a person can be invaluable and save you from great hardship in life.

“When Boaz had finished eating and drinking and was in good spirits, he went over to lie down at the far end of the grain pile. Ruth approached quietly, uncovered his feet and lay down” (Ruth 3:7).

And so, Ruth, smelling good and looking good, goes and lays down by his feet. She is waiting as he sleeps, and I want to be very clear that this is what happened, this is historical. In other words, this is not the Bible telling you that it’s okay to sleep together with the opposite sex.

In fact, one of the things that I really appreciate about the Bible is that it includes the whole story. It includes when people don’t get it right, when they do dumb things, because we can learn from others mistakes without having to repeat them ourselves. That is an amazing truth, and encouraging word, sound right here in the book of Ruth. Even when we don’t get it right, God can still make it right.

In fact, there are some of you who know what I’m talking about, because you didn’t do everything by the book, you didn’t get it right all the time, but God was still working. And there may be some of you here who are in relationships that are pushing the boundaries, that you know are wrong, but our God is a redemptive God. In other words, he is forgiving, he is gracious, he is good, and he is working in all things. And so, he can take our broken places and make them better than new, but that doesn’t give you permission to sin.

Continuing in verse eight, the Bible says,

“In the middle of the night something startled the man, and he turned and discovered a woman lying at his feet” (Ruth 3:8).

And so, he’s like, "Who are you?” (Ruth 3:9). She replies, "I am your servant Ruth" (Ruth 3:9).

In other words, this is the Ruth that Boaz noticed as she was gleaning in his field. He had recognized her to be a woman who was faithful to God, loyal to her family, and who was a hard worker. And so, he knows who this is when she says,

"Spread the corner of your garment over me, since you are a kinsman-redeemer" (Ruth 3:9).

Now, let me remind you, a kinsman redeemer is a close relative who had the responsibility and privilege to provide for a widow whose husband had died. This would typically be the brother of the deceased who was given that responsibility, but Boaz was a distant relative, not even a potential candidate, but that didn’t stop Ruth.

And so, Boaz wasn’t anywhere near the closest relative, he had no legal obligation to provide for her, when he is awakened in the middle of the night by this woman laying at his feet. She says to him, “Spread the corner of your garment over me,” which is basically saying would you be my spiritual covering, would you be my Redeemer? And though she is not proposing, she is being very forward in expressing her intentions and encouraging Boaz to propose.

I had to laugh as I was studying this, because believe it or not, my wife Dana’s grandmother actually did that to me. I was not thinking about marriage, wasn’t even really interested in getting married, when she very strongly encouraged me to propose. And so, I was working and Dana was in school and she was like you don’t have to wait until she graduates from college to get married. She said, do it now!

Boaz was startled by Ruth laying at his feet but he was flattered by her invitation and graciously responded,

"The Lord bless you, my daughter. This kindness is greater than that which you showed earlier: You have not run after the younger men, whether rich or poor” (Ruth 3:10).

I love this, because even in this unusual scenario, something that would’ve been so much less in our culture today, they honored God. In other words, let me say it this way, if you want to honor God in your relationships and remain pure, you are going to establish boundaries, you are going to create some margins, and you’re going to stay away from the point of no return. Just to be very clear what I mean, Solomon said it this way,

“Promise me, O women of Jerusalem, not to awaken love until the time is right” (Song of Solomon 8:4, NLT).

In other words, there is a right time and there is a wrong time. The right time would be in the context and the security of the covenant of marriage between one and one woman.

Now, I know that there’s going to be someone, somewhere who is going to say, “That’s old-fashioned, that’s out of touch,” but they are out of touch, because the Bible says, there is a time coming soon in the future when…

“The cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars — their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur" (Revelation 21:8).

And so, maybe faithfulness is old-fashioned, but it is an old-fashioned principal with a contemporary context, because the Holy Spirit said, all sexual relations outside of the covenant of marriage are sinful and rebellious.

And so, we have to understand that sex represents the union of two people who have become one flesh. In fact, Jesus said it just as clear as he could be,

“So, they are no longer two, but one. Therefore, what God has joined together, let man not separate” (Matthew 19:6).

In other words, they are not to be separated, because the marriage covenant is lifelong commitment that God creates when a man and woman are united.

And so, Boaz is looking for something different and he honored God. He discovers Ruth at his feet in the middle of the night, he treats her with respect, and he comforts her saying in verse eleven,

“Now, my daughter, don't be afraid. I will do for you all you ask. All my fellow townsmen know that you are a woman of noble character” (Ruth 3:11).

In other words, he agrees with the townsmen and he says, “Yes, I will be your kinsman redeemer, we are going to go about this in the right way.” Now, Ruth has been very straight forward, she has made it clear that she is available, and he is willing. And so, he’s ready to go, he’s like, “We are going to honor God together; we are going to do this right, but he recognizes that it’s not quite that simple. And so, he says to her in verse twelve,

“Although it is true that I am near of kin, there is a kinsman-redeemer nearer than I” (Ruth 3:12).

In other words, he says, “Technically, I am not your kinsman redeemer, there is someone else, someone who was closer.” And so, he tells her,

“Stay here for the night, and in the morning if he wants to redeem, good; let him redeem. But if he is not willing, as surely as the Lord lives, I will do it. Lie here until morning" (Ruth 3:13).

And so, this is a technicality, but Boaz has fallen for Ruth, he wants to be her kinsman redeemer, and even though he isn’t the nearest of kin, he is very shrewd and he determines to overcome this obstacle. Honestly, I think Boaz has fallen in love with her, because even though he wasn’t the nearest of kin, even though she was a Moabite, he chose to make a sacrifice for her.

And so, because of Boaz’s decision to commit to being her kinsman redeemer, the immigrant is now walking in her destiny. And together they chose to enter into a covenant of marriage that resulted in a son named Obed and from his descendants came our kinsman redeemer Jesus Christ. And just like Boaz, Jesus wasn’t obligated to do anything for you, certainly not to give his life for you, but because of his great love,

“He made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death — even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:7-8).

In other words, our kinsman redeemer chose to step down from his throne, leaving the glory of heaven, and the praise of angels. He humbled himself and put on flesh, he became the Lamb who was slain, shedding his blood for the forgiveness of your sins and for mine. And after he gave his life on that old rugged cross, he didn’t stay dead because God raised him from the dead. He did this so that everyone who believes and calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (Romans 10:13).

In other words, faith is the great equalizer. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you have done, your kinsman redeemer is for you, and he is inviting you to come to him right now. And so, like Naomi came to Ruth and Ruth came to Boaz, it is time for you to offer yourself to your kinsman redeemer.

In other words, who is Jesus to you, a historical figure that you have read about? A great teacher that you come to church to hear about? Or is he your kinsman redeemer, your Savior, your King of Kings and Lord of lords?

My greatest concern is that there are some of you that are just like I was when I was going to church as a young man. I don’t even like to admit it but Jesus was not my Lord, we were not in a relationship. In fact, if I was to stand in front of him in those days he would have said,

“I never knew you” (Matthew 7:23).

Because I never trusted him as my Savior, he was just some guy that we talked about, and so there was knowledge but no relationship.

My fear today is that some of you may be missing him, missing your kinsman redeemer, because you know about him in your head, but you don’t know him in your heart. In other words, you don’t…

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30).

You see, Jesus didn’t come to make you religious, he came to have a relationship with you, and the Bible says,

“If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth” (1 John 1:6).

But if we live in the spirit, walking in the spirit, we have fellowship and the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin.

That’s why Jesus came, he came to set the captives free, to purchase us from the slave market of sin. The Bible says it this way in Galatians chapter five,

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free” (Galatians 5:1).

He came not to remove the law, but to fulfill the law, so that we may have life and have it to the full, because he is our kinsman redeemer. His name is above every name. He is our God and King, our savior, redeemer, and the Lord. He is the Lamb of God, the lion of Judah, and he’s coming back one day soon to restore his kingdom. And so, right now, he wants to know you and he wants you to know him. If you are hearing me right now, those of you who have ears to hear, it is time to call upon your kinsman redeemer.

Graphics, notes, and commentary from LifeChurch, Ministry Pass, PC Study Bible, Preaching Library, and Sermon Central. Scripture from the New International Version unless otherwise noted.

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