East Side Church
(Baptist - Disciples of Christ)
201 Spruce Ave.
Sharon, PA 16146
724-981-4223
office@eastsidechurchsharon.org
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December 15, 2013
"The Midnight Clear"
Ruth 3

Intro: Holidays aren't always happy! Where is God? Answer in Ruth! Naomi, Ruth: widows in Bethlehem. Because of Boaz's kindness, no danger of immediate starvation. But they need a long-term solution; in the ANE, a woman needed a man!

Naomi's Risky Plan! (Read Ruth 3:1-5.) Naomi wants to provide security for Ruth; she sees Boaz as the best candidate! (Interesting; Naomi is involved in answering her own prayer to God; see 1:8-9!) Pretty racy instructions to Ruth! (Changing clothes, no longer in mourning; available?) Some of it may apply to attracting a mate today, but some foolish, dangerous! ("Go at night, make yourself available to a man in a dark place! He'll tell you what to do!?") Foolish to try to draw direct application from Bible. Not clean cut! When you study the Bible, sometimes you get more than you bargained for!

Ruth's Selfless Request! (Read Ruth 3:6-9.) Imagine Ruth's fears as she walked out, by herself, to the threshing floor to meet Boaz: What if Ruth misunderstood Naomi's instructions? What if someone other than Boaz saw her? How would Boaz respond? Would he reject her? Would he misunderstand her? Would he take advantage of her? Ruth trusted Naomi, and she thought Boaz was trustworthy, but sometimes you get more than you bargained for!

Ruth sees Boaz lie down over by the grain. Two people alone in the darkness; ("man" and "woman.") "Uncovering the feet" is suggestive behavior. Not necessarily immoral, but clearly expresses desire to share a marriage relationship with another person. Should feel some sexual tension! What will happen?

Boaz, startled or shivering, wakes up to see a woman at his feet! Ruth identifies herself; including "Your servant!" Asks: "Spread the corner of your garment over me, since you're my goel." Parallel language to 2:12; "garment/wing!" Repeating Boaz's blessing back to him: "Will you be God's instrument of blessing to Naomi and me?" (If so, God is again answering Boaz's prayer by using Boaz himself!) Sometimes God answers our prayers by using us; He gives us more than we were expecting!

Boaz's Amazed Response! (Read Ruth 3:10-15.) Boaz is amazed by Ruth's hesed/covenant faithfulness/family loyalty! (Explain importance of hesed.) Why is Boaz seeing Ruth's actions as hesed? (Ruth's proposal to Boaz, the kinsman-redeemer, instead anyone else, especially a younger man, shows she wants to help Naomi, too!) Boaz believes that God will reward Ruth for her selfless devotion to Naomi! Boaz calls Ruth a "woman of integrity," (echoes narrator's description of Boaz's character in 2:1; a good match for each other.) Boaz assures Ruth of his interest, but informs her (and us) of a complication; (a nearer goel/kinsman-redeemer! Explain again!) Boaz promises to discuss the matter with the other kinsman-redeemer as soon as possible. Then he protects her integrity! "Stay the night"; (Hebrew verb means "sleep," not "sleep with!") Before daylight, Boaz loads Ruth down with grain (60 pounds or so in her shawl!); in this way, he provides Ruth with a cover story: she was working overtime to avoid starvation! Pause for a moment and think of what an honorable man Boaz is! Ruth took a huge risk, and it has paid off. One way or the other, Ruth will have a husband, but we're about to see that Naomi is also getting even more than she dared to hope for.

The Wait of Faith! (Read Ruth 3:16-18.) Ruth returns and reports to Naomi. Boaz's gift also sends a message to Naomi: "I'll do more than provide for Ruth; I'll provide for you, too, Naomi! You will no longer be empty!" (See 1:20-21!) Then, all Naomi and Ruth can do is wait! Agony! Do they dare to hope that everything will turn out all right? They've shared pain, sorrow, emptiness. Boaz has promised that they will see to it that they have fullness once again. Do they dare to trust Boaz? To trust God?

Application: Sometimes faith requires taking the initiative, like Naomi's plan for Ruth.

Sometimes faith requires taking a chance, like Ruth making her proposal to Boaz.

Sometimes faith requires the painful duty of waiting on God's timing. (Like Boaz and Ruth in the dark; like Ruth and Naomi...)

No matter who you are, no matter what your situation, faith (trusting God), always seems risky. But when you take that risk and trust God, He always gives you more than you bargained for!



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