We've been studying the Book of Ruth for two weeks now. This sermon today is number three of four in our series on the book of Ruth. We've studied Ruth in the land of Boaz, Ruth in the field of Boaz, And today, Ruth in the heart of Boaz. He's getting closer. I think these two books that are named after women (Ruth and Esther) in the Bible are some of the most precious books in the entire Bible.
Ruth and Boaz have a problem. They have a mutual problem. They're in love with each other. That's not the problem. What the problem is they're in love with each other, but they're both shy. They're timid. It looks like the harvest is going to be completed and they're going to go their separate ways, and they're never going to get together. That's a shame. Thankfully, Naomi enters the picture. Matchmaker Naomi! She comes into the picture. Look at Ruth 3:1. 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?" "I should do this, shouldn't I?" That's what she's saying. "We're going to find a home for Ruth." A home is a special place, a place of security, a place of rest, a place where your needs are provided for. Do you have a home like that? I hope you do. Never treat your home like a pit stop on the racetrack of life, because that's not what a home is. A home is a special place. Ruth needed a home. And by the way, so did Naomi, didn't she? Weren't they both widows? Why didn't Naomi go after Boaz? I mean, he's more her age. She's thinking of Ruth first. Naomi is unselfish. Aren't these lessons precious in here? Naomi was a widow. Ruth was a widow. If Ruth married, who would take care of older Naomi? And that's a problem, too. She's not going to have Ruth bringing that grain home every day. But, unselfish Naomi put Ruth first.
Parents should put their children first. God first and then your children. And they ought to help their children. And, you kids ought to listen to your parents because they're trying to help you. They know more than you do. You don't think they do, but they do. And so, listen to your parents. Experience has granted your parent's knowledge and judgment that you might need some day.
Naomi said in Ruth 3:2, "Is not Boaz, with whose servant girls you have been, a kinsman of ours?" You see, a widow had the right of help from her closest kin in managing her property and help in preserving the name of her dead husband. Widows need help. Churches should help widows. In the Bible, in the laws of the Bible, the land reverted back to the original owner every 50 years at the Jubilee (See Leviticus 25). The Law basically kept the farm in the family. But if the man is dead, does the land go to the widow and her family? You see, that would be moving it in another direction, wouldn't it. That would be against the Law. But Naomi is going to try to get it all back in the family. So, Naomi said (Ruth 3:2b), "Tonight he will be winnowing barley on the threshing floor. Now, how did she know that? I think Boaz was a man of regular habits. He knew what he had to do. He was industrious, a hard worker. Not some party animal. He was doing what he should be doing. He was as predictable as a clock. And she knew he would be there winnowing. And so she said, "Tonight, you go out there and he'll be working." He worked long hours! God sends sunshine and rain but if we don't work we don't eat - 2 Thessalonians 3:10. God honors hard work.
Now, Ruth and Boaz had seen each other almost every day for weeks and weeks during the harvest. They've talked, they've eaten together apparently at every lunch time. Now was the time. It was now or never. After sundown in Palestine a cool breeze usually comes along. And these threshing floors were built on a high ridge above the field where the wind would be blowing and you could catch the wind a little bit more. There the grain could be tossed into the air where the chaff would be blown away and the lovely grain would fall down on the floor. So that's how this works.
Now, here's the instructions in Ruth 3:3 and 4. "Wash and perfume yourself, and put on 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. 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."
Naomi had faith in Ruth's character to be able to tell her that, and in Boaz's integrity. This brave exercise would require stealth, correct timing, and bravery. Timid Ruth must leave Bethlehem, or Bread Town as it was known, and in the dark, find the threshing floor of Boaz. Then she has to hide and watch from the bushes and notice where Boaz lay down to sleep. Once he was sound asleep, she was to uncover his feet and noiselessly lie down.
Would you instruct your teenage daughter to do that today? Would you do that? Is this ever commanded in the Bible for a woman to do this to get a husband? I looked through the Bible and I can't see that it's commanded anywhere in the Bible. Naomi thought that up all herself. Now, you talk about risking your reputation! It was an all or nothing type venture. And, what does this amount to? Ruth is going to propose to Boaz! That's what this amounts to. The woman is going to propose to the man. Is it okay for a woman to propose to a man? She must have been nervous. I remember when I proposed to Cyndie. Ah! My heart was pounding, my palms were sweaty. I said, "Would you?" She said, "Yes," and she kissed me. Wow! I tingled all over. It was great!
One reason for their timid romance, and you must think about this, is the age difference. Naomi has a daughter-in-law who is young (about 35, married for ten years in Moab plus her age when she got married.) And a kinsman who is older. I would guess it would take a lot of gusto for an older man to muster up the courage to ask a young woman, "Would you marry me?" I mean, he might get slapped. She might say, "We've been good friends, but listen, you're old enough to be my dad." So, Boaz just couldn't seem to get things off dead center. He couldn't get everything going.
Now, Ruth 3:7 says that he was in good spirits that night. But some people said he was drunk. No, Boaz was not drunk. In fact, you need to understand these Palestinian harvests at that time. The harvest was good and he was happy. This was the happy time of the year. He had planted the seeds. He had prayed for rain, He prayed that the grasshoppers and the locusts to stay away. And now he has a beautiful and bountiful harvest of golden grain. This is a happy time. Often there were parties and singing psalms there under the twinkling stars. Harvest time ought to be a praise time. That's why we have Thanksgiving today. It's okay to rejoice in the God who daily loaded us with benefits! (See Psalm 68:19.)
That night he slept right on top of the grain pile. Now, After your hard work you have the right to a good night's rest. A robber would not come when the farmer was sleeping on top of the grain pile and acting as night watchman and policeman sleeping on his harvest. Typically his head would rest on the grain and his feet would be facing outward covered with a covering. What Ruth did after he was sound asleep, she finally got up her courage and went over there as noiselessly as possible, and there he was, and she took the cover and drew it back and uncovered his feet. And then the Bible says she lay down.
Look at Ruth 3:8 and 9. In the middle of the night something startled the man, and he turned and discovered a woman lying at his feet. Now, this had never happened before to Boaz. He woke up in the middle of the night and he sat up to discover what this soft warm thing was at his feet. "Who are you?" he asked." (It must have been dark) "I am your servant, Ruth," she said. "Spread the corner of your garment over me, since you are a kinsman-redeemer."
Now, God had spread His wings over Ruth. Now she says, "Spread your 'wings' over me. Take me in." You see, she's proposing to him. That's what's she's doing. She's proposing. That's one way to propose. Do it at midnight out near the barn. Do you do that? Actually, Ruth offered him a lot. She isn't just some poor beggar. She had a lot to offer. She was his lawful, rightful wife. She was true, hardworking, honest, beautiful, young and loving. You could mention a lot of great character traits about Ruth. So she proposed!
Now, did Boaz get cold feet? (Pun intended!) Let's read: Ruth 3:10, 11. "The Lord bless you, my daughter," he replied. "This kindness is greater than that which you showed earlier" (he knew it was a marriage proposal). "You have not run after the younger men, whether rich or poor. And 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." You know, she already had him before she popped the question. He was deeply in love with her. Ruth was exceedingly pretty and very capable and could have had almost any handsome younger man. She wanted Boaz.
Why did she want to marry Boaz? He was older. He had some grey hair. Maybe he was a little bit bald. Why would she want to marry him? She wanted Boaz. You know why? He was very nice and had great qualities, but she also wanted to honor her dead husband's name.
And, Boaz wanted Ruth. They both wanted each other. Notice how highly he thought of her. He calls her a woman of noble character. When you men are out shopping for a wife, don't look at the beauty first; look at character. Isn't this Biblical advice? Yes, it is. Look at her character. She was refreshingly different than all the other girls.
I've heard our young folk talk about being different and making their own decisions. "I want to be different. I want to make my own decisions." Have you heard them say that? I have, because I raised three teenagers. "I want to make my own decisions." But you know, when I look at them, most teenagers look alike: their hair, low rise jeans, high-rise shoes. They want to make their own decisions, but they're all doing it the same. They're not different. Most end up looking just like the crowd. Ruth was different. If you want to make your own decisions, then don't go and follow the crowd. Be different. And why not model your difference after Jesus and the Bible?
I admire a young person. We have a lot of them here in this church that are different, wonderfully different. Praise God for them.
Ruth was different. She was a capable woman, of high worth, whose reputation was respected at the town gate. Her integrity, her virtues, her ethics, work ethic, all qualified her to be the wife of a rich and respectable leader in the community. She was a great woman.
Ruth 3:12. Boaz says, "Although it is true that I am near of kin, there is a kinsman-redeemer nearer than I." I'll bet Boaz was sorely tempted to be quiet about this problem because he loved Ruth. Maybe Boaz was just a cousin. Maybe there was an uncle more qualified to redeem her. He loved Ruth. But he was as honest as the day is long. He fought off the temptation to be quiet about it. Boaz came out with this fact so quickly that I think he had thought it all through beforehand. Which proves He was definitely in love with her. Ruth 3:13. "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."
Why not go home right then? You know why? For her safety. Robbers flourish in hard times. Nighttime was very dangerous in those days. So she stayed the night. I doubt if they slept.
When the first hint of light came over the eastern sky she crept away. Before she left he gave her a gift. He filled her cloak with six measures of grain, as much as she could safely carry. If God has endowed you with wealth let Boaz be your example. God gives assets to the wealthy as a blessing and that they might bless His cause with their resources. We don't own our money, we are stewards. The only way we can give a monetary gift to Jesus is to give it to His work to help His people. Also, giving must be proportionate to the needs of His work and to the resources of the donor. Boaz gave liberally.
Ruth went back to Naomi with the generous gift. Ruth 3:18. Then Naomi said, "Wait, my daughter, until you find out what happens. For the man will not rest until the matter is settled today." "The bee was now in his bonnet. Do your best and then wait and have faith in God to work it out."
Solomon built a magnificent temple. He erected two mighty pillars before the temple. He called the name of the one on the right Jachin, and the name of that on the left Boaz. Thus Boaz was a pillar of strength. Boaz is a symbol of God.
I noticed a reoccurring word in this chapter: Redeem or Redeemer. Here we find a glimpse of Jesus. In the Old Testament it was Atonement that covered up sins. So why isn't Jesus our Atoner? Because as J. Vernon McGee says: "Redemption, friend, means to pay a price so that the one who is redeemed may go scot-free." All is restored. Nothing more is owed. Jesus also died to redeem the earth. The story of Boaz is the one and only example of a redeemer in the Old Testament. The only reason he redeemed Ruth is because he loved her. Salvation is all about love.
I discovered six steps to Salvation in Ruth 3:
Boaz never did propose to Ruth. Jesus is never going to propose to you. You have to propose to Him. You've got to do the coming. You must come to Him. It is all up to you. You must invite Him into your life. Jesus will always come. He is waiting to be your spiritual husband. If you propose He will always say, "I do."
Friend, you are a great sinner but Christ is a great Savior. Give your life to Him now.
Hymn of Praise: #223, Crown Him With Many Crowns Scripture: Ruth 3:1-4 Hymn of Response: #577, In the Heart of Jesus 031025 #543
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last updated 4/12/04 by Bob Beckett.