Last time we looked at chapter 2 of the Book of Ruth, we saw Boaz being introduced as the Kinsman Redeemer – the one who is both willing and able to save Ruth. This week we will look at chapter 3. As we read chapter 3:1-4 , listen for the keyword for our time together today. That word is ‘reliable.’
“Then Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, “My daughter, shall I not seek security for you, that it may be well with you? Now Boaz, whose young women you were with, is he not our relative? In fact, he is winnowing barley tonight at the threshing floor. Therefore wash yourself and anoint yourself, put on your best garment and go down to the threshing floor; but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking. Then it shall be, when he lies down, that you shall notice the place where he lies; and you shall go in, uncover his feet, and lie down; and he will tell you what you should do.”
In this series on Ruth, we are making it a habit to pause at the beginning of each chapter. So we will do the same with chapter 3. Chapter 3 and verse 1 baffles me the most. It reads “My daughter, shall I not seek security for you, that it may be well with you?”
We shouldn’t lose the emphasis. We read here that Naomi is taking it upon herself to sort things out for Ruth. She is fixing, if you may, a “date” with Boaz. It almost feels that the actions in chapter 3, are a repeat of chapter 1, that is, taking things into our own hands to sort out – “Doing things that are wise in our own eyes.”
We read that Naomi has a plan for Ruth. Ruth is asked to take a shower and get ready; and after Boaz has gone to sleep to move in quietly in the dark and to lie down at his feet. Well, before we continue, and almost tongue in cheek, it is important to emphasize one thing – this is not an example of Biblical practice for finding husbands. We must remember that the Bible condemns the idea of “ends justifying means.”
In this particular incident, sometimes a question may be asked, “Was the marriage of Boaz and Ruth a result of Naomi’s work or God’s plan?” The Spirit of God does not answer that question directly. All we can say for sure is that this is a perfect example of God at work. God’s work is completed, in spite of “human planning” that wants to take credit for it. God is Sovereign and He will bring His purposes to pass. It is therefore important for us to remember not to be working at cross purposes with God’s plan. It never pays to be on the other team with God.
Coming back to Ruth, there are some lessons we learn on how Naomi tells Ruth to prepare herself, as she goes to meet her Redeemer, Boaz:
First in verse 3: “Wash yourself”. It talks to us about being cleansed. As we apply this lesson to ourselves, we read in Psalm 24:3-5.
“Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.”
Then again we read in Psalms 119:9
“How can a young man cleanse his way? (the answer is) By taking heed according to Your word.” We are cleansed by the reading, meditating and following of God’s Word.
Also in verse 3: “Anoint yourself”. Naomi tells Ruth that she must be nice to be near. It talks to us about being consecrated. We have a verse in Song of Songs 1:12: “While the king is at his table, My spikenard sends forth its fragrance.” Anointing has the implication of readying and separating ourselves to that one person. For us it implies that we separate ourselves exclusively to our Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ. We are to be separate in our walk, in our talk, and in our whole being. May our anointing be a sweet smelling savour to Him alone.
Still in verse 3, “put on your best garment”. It talks to us about being clothed. We are to be appropriately dressed. This is not a reference to our Sunday best clothing that we wear to Church. Putting on the raiment among other things includes:
Taking off my mourning clothes. Meeting my redeemer is a time of rejoicing and my behaviour should reflect that. We read in Psalms 30 and verse 11:
Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness;
As we take off our mourning clothes we are asked to put on the garments of praise. We read in Isaiah 61:3.
“To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.”
In verse 4, “…and you shall go in, uncover his feet, and lie down;” This talks to us about commitment. There is a sense of vulnerability and submission as you place yourself at your Redeemer’s feet. We read in the gospels that it was Mary’s favorite place.
“And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word”. Luke 10:39
That was Mary’s favourite spot and we must to learn to make it our favourite place too.
And in verse 5, “… and he will tell you what you should do.” This talks to us about compliance. Having done all- that be ready to obey. There is no point in preparing and not doing what we prepared for. There is no point getting to the start line and not running. Faithful compliance is the mark of a good disciple of Jesus Christ. Do not just be a hearer but a doer of His word. For no amount of preparation or readying will compare to actually doing what we have been asked to do.
The question we need to ask ourselves is how do we prepare ourselves, as we come to meet our Great Redeemer? Do we come in the way He has asked us to; or do we come in our own way? That is an important question to answer. When we come to worship in our own stubborn way, we come like Cain and not like Abel. Cain brought sacrifices; but he brought what he wanted to bring, in spite of knowing what God would have him bring. The end result was bitterness, stubbornness, coldness and death.
When we meet the Redeemer; we must meet Him on His terms, not ours. Let’s look at the rest of the chapter to see what happens picking up at Ruth 3:9.
“And he said, “Who are you?” So she answered, “I am Ruth, your maidservant. Take your maidservant under your wing, for you are a close relative.”
Let me clarify one thing. Boaz is not an Angel — he did not have wings. The Hebrew word for “wings” is “kanaph” which can mean wing, edge, and border; and is the same word used in Psalm 91:4. “He shall cover you with His feathers, And under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler.” The imagery in this Psalm is that of the protection we have when we come under the shelter of our Almighty LORD. Ruth is similarly seeking from Boaz his cover of protection.
As we get to the end of chapter three we hear Naomi ask Ruth in verse 16, “So tell me what happened?” And what does Ruth have to say? We read “Then she told her all that the man had done for her”. Her entire conversation was about all that the man, who showed her grace, had done.
May this be an example and our experience. If we have experienced Christ – if we had an encounter with God we cannot but speak about Him. May this joy of knowing Christ as our redeemer never fade. May our mouths never cease to sing His praise. I am not sure if you are one of those who does not know Jesus Christ as the wonderful redeemer. As the one who saves you not just from worries; or heals you from diseases; but as the one who has given you the assurance that you are His and His alone. The wonderful hope that you will be with Him forever and ever. That is my confidence which Jesus gives me today and I pray it will be yours too.
Ruth 3:18, “Then she said, “Sit still, my daughter, until you know how the matter will turn out; for the man will not rest until he has concluded the matter this day.” Isn’t that a beautiful picture of confidence. Just as Naomi had that confidence in Boaz we can have that same confidence, if not better, in Jesus Christ. On the cross Lord Jesus cried “It is finished” thus completing all that was needed to redeem us from our sins. We hear a second shout in Rev 21:6, “It is done”. This is when the work that was done on the Cross is fully visible for all in the world to see and not just for those who believe on Him today. That is the time when we will be gathered together to be with our Eternal Redeemer forever. And that time is not too far away. Just like the end of chapter 3 where Ruth is waiting for Boaz to come and take her home to himself, we wait for our Lord Jesus Christ.
Boaz is a picture of Jesus Christ. As we read what Boaz does for Ruth we get a glimpse of what Jesus is doing for us. So just like Ruth, we wait for our Redeemer. The work is complete and now we wait for him to come and take us home. And while we wait patiently for Him to come, it is best to hear this advice: “Then she said, “Sit still, my daughter, until you know how the matter will turn out; for the man will not rest until he has concluded the matter this day.”
In the context of what Boaz is about to do it is interesting to learn the meaning of his name. There are two understandings of his name. First, “in him is strength” and the second, is an Arabic root for the word “Swiftness”. When we think about Jesus Christ, our Redeemer, we are reminded that He is both swift to redeem, and strong to fulfill. He is one who we can rely upon, for He is the ‘reliable One.’ What a precious thought.
As we looked at the story of Ruth, we saw how much like her we are. However, it is also important to remember that in many other ways we are different from her, often in worse ways.
There are at least two ways I can think of how we are different from Ruth. First, in Ruth 3:11 Boaz calls Ruth a ‘woman of virtue.’ Everyone knew that her character was good. Now that is something we cannot claim when we stand before a righteous God. For Romans 3:23 says “we have all sinned and come short of the glory of God,” we have no virtue of our own.
Second, in Ruth 3:12 we read that Ruth had another ‘unnamed’ redeemer. In our case, we have no Redeemer. It is only grace that Lord Jesus would condescend to redeem us. Ephesians 2:12 says “that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.” That was us, “having no hope and without God – aliens and strangers.” In its application, we may think of that “unnamed” redeemer to be a picture of the Law. Ruth realized that that close relative neither had the ability nor the willingness to save; and the same applies to us in relation to the Law. The Law only condemned us and showed us how far we have fallen from God’s standard. The Law only brought the awareness of sin.
I want to end today’s study with a story. The story is told of a gentleman visiting a slave market. There he sees a slave-girl who seemed too frail to be sold as a slave and he was moved with compassion. Fearing that she would be sold into the hands of a terrible master, the gentleman pays the full price and buys her out. He then hands her the documents of release and tells her that she was free to go home.
The slave-girl was beside herself with joy but soon realized that the best and the safest place for her, was to have this gentleman as her master. Falling at her redeemer’s feet she cried, “You redeemed me. Now will you be my Master?”
In the world that she lived, there was no guarantee of a free tomorrow. Her redeemer was also the best Master, giving her a place where she’d be safe. Isn’t that true for us too? I hope you understand that this Saviour – Redeemer, must also be your Sovereign Lord.
We will never be fully free or truly safe, unless we are under His protection and Lordship. Today’s word was “reliable.” The Lord Jesus Christ is the only one we can rely upon to save us from our sins. He was named Jesus which means, “He will save His people from their sins.” He is the one who keeps His promise. He is the one who fulfills and completes the work of redemption. He is the only one we can hope and trust.