This weekend we come to one of the most controversial chapters in Ruth’s story. It’s controversial because the circumstances we read about include a late night encounter, a risky proposal and perhaps a lot of trust that a man named Boaz will do the right thing.
But it is also probably the chapter that many of us can relate to the most because for all of us, coming to Christ, setting out to follow Him, requires that we do something with some of the messiest aspects of our lives, our past. Our past experiences, our past lifestyle or simply the way we deal with certain situations and opportunity can and will be changed when we align our life with number one.
For many of us, this is a very scary thought. Because the truth is, we feel defined by our past. In fact, that’s what we are taught from the moment we hit upper elementary school. “What you do today will define what your tomorrow looks like.” Here for Ruth in chapter 3, she will need to decide; will she be defined by her past, her culture, her experiences or will she break the chains and live in the redemption that is available.
Ruth 3:1 One day Ruth’s mother-in-law Naomi said to her, “My daughter, I must find a home for you, where you will be well provided for. 2 Now Boaz, with whose women you have worked, is a relative of ours. Tonight he will be winnowing barley on the threshing floor.
3 Wash, put on perfume, and get dressed in your best clothes. Then go down to the threshing floor, but don’t let him know you are there until he has finished eating and drinking. 4 When he lies down, note the place where he is lying. Then go and uncover his feet and lie down. He will tell you what to do.”
Now let’s pause right here for a second. The advice that Naomi has given Ruth may be sprinkled with some culture truth, but the danger and the opportunity for something to go wrong here is very high.
Especially considering the background of Ruth being from a culture that was ravaged by sexually immorality, the time in which Ruth approaches Boaz and the context of the events taking place.
But nevertheless Ruth being heavily influenced by her mother says
5 “I will do whatever you say,” Ruth answered.
Now believe it or not, we find ourselves in this situation very often. We surround ourselves in poor council and that opens us up for their advice. Now this advice is usually what we want to hear.
Because let's be real, in our hearts we desire what will benefit us, what will make us feel better, what will give us the attention that we need. Ephesians tells us that we seek to fulfill the desire of our flesh.
Ephesians 2:3 “3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts.”
This is certainly not new, it goes all the way back to the start of the world, with the very first two people. When Adam and Eve trusted more in the words of Satan than the truth of God’s Word.
Why, because the serpent told them what they wanted to hear.
4 “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.
The same is true here for Ruth. What she knows about relationships is broken from her past influences within the Moabite culture. Which again was a sexually impure culture, filled with brokenness caused by their sinful nature. So her words to Naomi make sense here in Chapter 3, “I will do whatever you want.”
I can imagine the small voice inside of her head saying, “Yes, this what you know, this will surely seal the deal, you know that you have nothing else to offer this man, your a incest Moabite, remember the time with your last husband was short so you better make the most of this one”
6 So she went down to the threshing floor and did everything her mother-in-law told her to do.
7 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. 8 In the middle of the night something startled the man; he turned—and there was a woman lying at his feet!
Now some of you may ask why is Ruth at his feet? This act that she is performing for Boaz is a sign of complete submission. Now again, not a safe situation, many things can go horribly wrong here but watch what happens next. Boaz will ask the question of a lifetime, a question that all of us need to answer.
9 “Who are you?” he asked.
Have you ever asked yourself that question? See the truth is, that we all have to answer that question and we answer it through our actions everyday.
We all have to choose what will define us. For Ruth it could be her past, it could be what she has always known; it could be the situation she is currently in. Perhaps she feels or we feel like we have come to far to turn back now. That we might as well just go with the flow, because there is no changing it. But here is the beauty of the Gospel.
We don’t have to be defined by our past but rather we can resolve to put the past behind us.
2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
Just as Ruth did here;
“I am your servant Ruth,” she said. “Spread the corner of your garment over me, since you are a guardian-redeemer of our family.”
This was a culturally relevant way to say, “I am a widow, take me as your wife.” In other words, Ruth recognizes her need is for more than just a one-night stand, more than just the bit of grain she has been picking up in the field. Her need is to be redeemed.
Which is exactly the place that we all need to come to understand.
“Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”
The gospel tells us that we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and we are in need of His redemption in our lives. But the first step in receiving this grace is to recognize our need for it. Join us this weekend, as we discover more about this truth together. 5:30P Saturday & 10:30A Sunday