As we viewed the providence of God last week in chapter 2 of Ruth, we saw the beginning of hope, albeit it was small hope,a spark of hope arises in Naomi. At the end of chapter 1 of Ruth, Naomi proclaims upon her return to Bethlehem: “ Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara,( bitter). I went out full but the Lord has brought me back empty.” Naomi ‘s view of God’s providential involvement in her life is one of bitterness and hopelessness.
When one has no hope and is filled with bitterness, it often paralyzes the person into a state of inactivity. Naomi cannot dream, plan or look forward to anything. ( Without a vision, the people perish.) Naomi is so depressed she cannot dream of anything good happening. But upon hearing Ruth’s account of her first day in the fields of Boaz, Naomi proclaims hope has entered her life- “ He ( the Lord) has not stopped showing His kindness to the living and the dead!” Hope has returned in the life of Naomi and she now begins to plan for her dream to be fulfilled in the life of her daughter-in-law, Ruth. Just a little hope has transformed Naomi. Hope is a powerful emotion and Naomi begins to plan for the future in this third chapter of Ruth.
When these two widows returned to Bethlehem, their plan was for Ruth to take care of Naomi. In order to do this, Ruth would arise early each morning and put in a long day gleaning corn from the fields. On her first day, we saw the hand of God direct her to the field of Boaz, a potential kinsman redeemer and for the first time – Naomi and Ruth were excited and hopeful about the future.
Now as Ezekiel described the throne and government of God as this complex design of ‘ wheels within wheels’ we begin to see the story within the story within the story. This story is a picture of Christ’s relationship to those who trust Him and belong to Him. Here in this story we see the steps we must take as God’s people to enter into a deeper relationship with our Lord. Our Kinsman Redeemer does not want us to live on leftovers from gleaning, He wants us to have all that He has for us.
How do we claim what He has for us? By faith. Faith links us to the fulfillment of our hope. “ Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we cannot see. And in Hebrews 11: 6 we read this all important truth: “ Without faith it is impossible to please God and those who come to Him, must believe that He is, and is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Notice it is not the gifts we seek, but the Giver!
Listen carefully to what our Kinsman Redeemer tells us: “ Therefore do not be anxious, saying what shall we eat? or what shall we drink?- or what shall we wear? For the Gentiles seek after all these things and your Heavenly Father knows that you have need of them. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteouseness , and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do no worry about tomorrow,for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. “ ( Matthew 6) The Lord knows you also have to have hope and He has promised to supply all our needs in Christ Jesus. He is our Hope. Just give me Jesus- for that is all I need.
How does one enter into a deeper relationship where we take the Lord at His word and believe all our needs will be met? How do I enter into the Throne Room of heaven with confidence, even boldness, as Ruth demonstrates here, so that I might find grace to help in time of need?
We must prepare as Ruth prepared.
- We are to be cleansed of our sins as Ruth washed herself. “Cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” ( I Cor. 7:1) David pleaded with God to ‘ wash me’. ( Psalm 51) If we do this we are promised this: “ If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” ( I John 1: 9) We must put off those things that defile us. The priest made sure they were confessed of all their sins and cleansed before entering the Holy of Holies. Our Lord Jesus is still washing our dirty feet as He did for the disciples.
- We are to anoint ourselves with the Holy Spirit, as Ruth anointed herself with perfume. Nothing can be done apart from the Spirits’ anointing. We must ask the Spirit to help us pray, understand, obey, trust, and witness for if I do it in my own strength- it is nothing. We are guilty of doing what is right in our own eyes when we do it without the anointing of the Spirit.
- We must change our clothes as Ruth did. She adorned herself as a bride not as a widow. In Scripture clothing has meaning. From the very beginning, Adam and Eve attempted to clothe themselves to cover their sins. But only the Lord could clothe them properly with the forgiveness of their sins. And we saw for the first time the principle- without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins. Salvation is a picture of changing clothes. We take off our garments of self righteousness which in God’s sight are ‘ filthy rags’ and we are clothed in the spotless white garment of Jesus Christ’s righteousness.
- Ruth approached her kinsman redeemer, Boaz in the right way. There is only one way to approach God the Father. Jesus said: “ I am the way, the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father except by me.” (John 14) We must follow the principles given in the Scriptures. If we are to worship Him, we must worship Him in ‘ Spirit and in Truth.” We cannot do what is right in our own eyes, many believe they can get into heaven with good works and morality. But Jesus said you can only come one way. Narrow is the way and strait is the gate that leads to everlasting life. Jesus is the way.
- Ruth came with the attitude of humble obedience. When Naomi told her how to approach her kinsman redeemer, Boaz, Ruth replied: “ I will do whatever you say.”
Ruth has the kind of faith that gives rise to hope that produces courage to risk it all. Just as Esther did when she entered into the king’s presence without permission, knowing he could have her executed for such an act. She risked it all saying: “ If I perish, I perish.” Shadrach, Meshach and Abendengo risked it all when they would not bow down to the idol and risked death by fire in the furnace.
Ruth could have been rejected. Her act could have besmirched her reputation. Boaz could have taken advantage of this lovely young, woman. She risked it all. Is God asking you to do something- is there someone God wants you to share the Gospel with? Is God calling you to make a sacrificial gift? Is God asking you to wait on Him and trust Him to work out your situation which is causing you so much grief and concern?
Ruth is not asking for a small favor- she is not asking for gifts- she is asking for the giver, himself. She is asking Him to marry her- so they can be one.
Why settle for the gifts? The gleanings, the leftovers- when the Giver Himself is asking you to diligently seek Him?
“ Spread the corner of your garment over me, since you are my kinsmen redeemer.” The KJV states ‘ spread thy skirt over thy handmaiden.’ Skirt is translated- wing. Did not Boaz pray for Ruth to be rewarded by the Lord for her actions in taking care of Naomi? He did and said ‘ the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.’
Our Kinsman Redeemer has spread his garment of righteousness over us when we came to him. And even today He is seeking a closer relationship with us- and wants us to continue to draw near to Him.
Boaz response to her assures Ruth – I will do all that you ask. Why does he promise to all that she asks? Because she has come the right way- according to God’s laws and principles of the kinsman redeemer. Boaz is an honorable man and will do what is right. He tells her to lie there and wait until morning. He promises to take care of the matter. He gives her six measures of barley to take back to her mother-in-law, Naomi. Notice what Ruth tells Naomi when she gives her Boaz’s gift of barley. “ Don’t go back to your mother-in-law empty-handed.” Naomi had gone back empty from Moab, so the Lord could fill her life again.
Now they must wait. Naomi tells Ruth- now wait, be still until you find out what happens. They are waiting on Boaz- who they know will not rest until the matter is settled. Our Lord neither sleeps nor slumbers – He is always at work.
Wait on the Lord.
The Purposes of waiting:
- God is eliminating things in our lives. Naomi came back to Bethlehem empty.
- God is working in other people’s lives to prepare the way for His blessing.
- God is sifting our motives.
- God is protecting us from mistakes.
- God is waiting to make the greatest impact on our lives.
What must we do in this time of waiting?
Wait on the Lord and do good. James said faith without works is dead.
Be quiet, ‘ be still and know that I am the Lord. ‘
Trust and obey- for there is no other way. Be patient- patience has a very important role in perfecting, maturing your faith. Obey God and you will be blessed. Disobey God and you will be disciplined. It is that simple!
Lamentations 3: 21-26
Philippians 4: 4-7
These Promises are gifts from your Kinsman Redeemer.
They are yours for the asking. But why settle for just the gifts- when the Giver is yours for the asking.
Ruth did not want just the leftovers and the gifts- she wanted the giver, Boaz.
She had the promise of God’s Word, who cannot lie_ that it was hers for the asking.
Jesus said to the woman at the well- “if you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you could have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
May your know the gift of God this Christmas like never before- for the Gift of God is Himself!