(Ruth 3) [on screen]
Rev. Matthew C. McCraw, EdD
Henderson’s First Baptist Church, Henderson, KY
July 23, 2017
Good morning everyone!
It’s good to be back with you all. I just got back from a week on vacation followed by week in Toronto. We had a wonderful time in Toronto. God is doing great things through LEAF Canada and Pastor Robin Wasti and his family.
If you haven’t gone on a mission trip with us, plan to do so in 2018. There are so many great opportunities to partner in the gospel all over the world.
Introduction to the message
We are continuing our series through the book of Ruth.
So far, Bro. Rich has shared from chapters 1 and 2.
Just a quick reminder of the three main themes of the book of Ruth: (1) It looks at the providence of God in the lives of His people, (2) it looks at God’s providence in His plan, and (3) it looks at the concept of love from the divine viewpoint of God.
Further, we see not only the story of Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz; but also we see the unfolding of God’s redemptive plan through the historical events in the book of Ruth.
If this is your first Sunday with us in Ruth, when you get home, go back and read Ruth 1 and 2. It won’t take you long to do so and chapter 3 will make more sense to you.
Now, we begin the second half of the book. The turning point of this great story is now upon us.
This morning we will be in Ruth 3.
In this sermon, we will see more of the plan for Ruth and Boaz as well as the unfolding of the plan of God in history. Additionally, we will examine how we can have a plan in our lives that brings glory to God.
Let’s stand now as we read the Word of God. I will read Ruth 3:1-5.
Read Ruth 3:1-5
1 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? 2 Now Boaz, whose young women you were with, is he not our relative? In fact, he is winnowing barley tonight at the threshing floor. 3 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. 4 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.” 5 And she said to her, “All that you say to me I will do.”
Let’s pray as we begin to dive into this passage.
You may be seated.
In the next 30 minutes or so we will see the plan, the path, the possibilities, and the patience from Ruth 3.
First of all, we see the plan that is developed by Naomi and given to Ruth. Verses 1-5 give us . . .
I. The Plan (1-5) [on screen]
From all that we know, it seems that Naomi and Ruth both had given up on the possibility of Ruth remarrying anyone from the family line.
Yet, we see here that there is hope. Boaz offers hope for Ruth and Naomi.
So, Naomi develops this plan.
She realizes that Boaz is a relative of the family. Boaz can marry Ruth to carry on the family name and genealogical line.
But, how will this happen? How will Ruth and Boaz be married? This is where Naomi comes in.
Naomi tells Ruth to prepare herself by washing and anointing herself to make herself more presentable to Boaz, who by the way has already noticed Ruth and shown favor to her.
Next, she tells her to wait until Boaz has had his fill of his meal and lays down to go to sleep.
Finally, Ruth is to go lay down at Boaz’s feet and wait for him to tell her what to do.
Before we get too far into the passage, I want to address this issue of Ruth being told to go lay down with Boaz.
Some have suggested that this was an inappropriate action for Ruth to do this.
We will see that this indeed could have turned out to be inappropriate, but it did not, which is part of the beauty of this story.
Naomi did choose to put Ruth and Boaz in a tempting situation. We’re not sure why, but we know that it turns out to be beautiful, not sinful.
So, it is shown that after hope is seemingly gone for Ruth; hope once again emerges.
And so, Naomi shares this plan of hope with Ruth. Let’s see how Ruth responds.
In verse 5, Ruth says, “All that you say to me I will do.”
So, Ruth sets out on this path of obedience; this path that is the working out of the plan.
That brings us to our second point . . .
II. The Path (6-9) [on screen]
Read Ruth 3:6-9
6 So she went down to the threshing floor and did according to all that her mother-in-law instructed her. 7 And after Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was cheerful, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of grain; and she came softly, uncovered his feet, and lay down. 8 Now it happened at midnight that the man was startled, and turned himself; and there, a woman was lying at his feet. 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.”
Ruth sets out on this path of obedience to her mother-in-law. She trusts Naomi and chooses to obey.
She goes to the threshing floor, waits until Boaz lies down, uncovers his feet and lies down at his feet, and after he awakes she asks him to take her under his wing.
Part of the path that Ruth is to follow involves Boaz falling asleep. We learn that he had eaten and drunk and his heart was cheerful. We don’t know that he was intoxicated at this point, but rather probably just really full and ready to go to sleep. He had his fill! So, he lies down for a good sleep.
So, she snuck over to his spot, like a ninja, and lies down at his feet.
Again, there is nothing inappropriate going on at this point. There is certainly opportunity for something inappropriate to happen, but it doesn’t turn out that way. Naomi and Ruth both apparently had complete confidence in the integrity of Boaz.
Finally, startled, Boaz awakes and finds a woman at his feet. It is Ruth!
Look at verse 9.
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.” (verse 9)
She says this phrase, “take your maidservant under your wing.”
I’m using the NKJV. Some different Bible translations use a different phrase here. Some say, “Spread the corner of your garment over me,” (NIV), “Spread the corner of your covering over me,” (NLT), and “Spread your covering over your maid,” (NASB).
Well, what is the verse talking about here?
We’ve heard language like this before. Go back to Ruth 2:11-12.
11 And Boaz answered and said to her, “It has been fully reported to me, all that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband, and how you have left your father and your mother and the land of your birth, and have come to a people whom you did not know before. 12 The Lord repay your work, and a full reward be given you by the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge.”
The Hebrew word for “wing” is similar to the word for “corner” referring to the corner of his garment.
So, Ruth could be referring back to Boaz’s statement about her seeking refuge under the covering, or wings, of God. She has sought refuge in God, now she is doing so also by seeking refuge in Boaz.
Ruth has now gone down the path of obedience to Naomi’s plan. She has made herself vulnerable to Boaz. She has laid it all out there, at his feet.
How does Boaz respond?
Let’s read verses 10-13.
10 Then he said, “Blessed are you of the Lord, my daughter! For you have shown more kindness at the end than at the beginning, in that you did not go after young men, whether poor or rich. 11 And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you all that you request, for all the people of my town know that you are a virtuous woman. 12 Now it is true that I am a close relative; however, there is a relative closer than I. 13 Stay this night, and in the morning it shall be that if he will perform the duty of a close relative for you—good; let him do it. But if he does not want to perform the duty for you, then I will perform the duty for you, as the Lord lives! Lie down until morning.”
Boaz makes clear the possibilities of this plan coming to fruition.
That takes us to our third point . . .
III. The Possibilities (10-13) [on screen]
Boaz responds favorably to Ruth’s request.
He is not only pleased, he is humbled that she chose him, an older man.
He speaks righteously and honorably towards her, calling her “my daughter.” This is to show respect. He does not view this encounter as illicit or inappropriate. He views it as loving and respectful.
He points out that she could have gone after younger men, but she didn’t. She came for him.
This must have been quite the moment for the two of them.
John Piper writes about this moment so wonderfully. He writes, “Imagine how fast her pulse was racing when Boaz awoke. In the all important words: ‘I am Ruth . . . spread your wings over your maidservant.’ There had to have been an immense silence for a moment while Boaz let himself believe that this magnificent woman had really understood—had so profoundly and sensitively understood. A middle-aged man in love with a young widow whom he discreetly calls ‘my daughter,’ uncertain whether her heart might be going after the younger men, communicating the best he can that he wants to be God’s wings for her. That’s powerful stuff! Anyone who thinks that a loose woman and a finagling mother-in-law are at work here are on another planet. All is subtle. All is righteous. All is strategic.”
What a beautiful and loving moment this is.
He says that he will do all that she requests, but there is just one remaining issue: there is someone in the family that is closer than Boaz in relation to Ruth’s deceased husband. He has the first right to marry Ruth, not Boaz.
Boaz says that he will check with the other relative first, but if he does not claim Ruth as his wife, Boaz will do it! He will be a refuge for Ruth! As the Lord lives, he will redeem her!
And so, this tension remains in the story. He loves her, she loves him, but they cannot be together; at least, not yet.
Side-note: There is much to be said about the temptation to sin here. Ruth was alone with this man, at night. He could have easily taken advantage of her. She could have easily seduced him. Yet, neither did anything inappropriate. They sought the will of God. They showed pure love and devotion to one another. That’s the kind of relationships we need. Pure love and devotion to one another and to God!
Back to the story of Ruth and Boaz . . . we have here these possibilities of what could be for Ruth and Boaz, but nothing final yet. They can’t yet sign on the dotted line.
And so, we notice that Ruth must have patience for the plan to be accomplished.
That brings us to our fourth and final point . . .
IV. The Patience (14-18) [on screen]
Let’s read verses 14-18.
14 So she lay at his feet until morning, and she arose before one could recognize another. Then he said, “Do not let it be known that the woman came to the threshing floor.” 15 Also he said, “Bring the shawl that is on you and hold it.” And when she held it, he measured six ephahs of barley, and laid it on her. Then she went into the city. 16 When she came to her mother-in-law, she said, “Is that you, my daughter?” Then she told her all that the man had done for her. 17 And she said, “These six ephahs of barley he gave me; for he said to me, ‘Do not go empty-handed to your mother-in-law.’” 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.”
And so we have the concluding verses of chapter 3.
Ruth stayed with Boaz throughout the night, probably due mostly to the fact that it would not have been safe for her to travel alone at night.
Boaz tells her to go at first light before anyone notices that she was there.
This is not due to the fact that the two of them had done anything inappropriate. This is due to the fact that they didn’t want anyone to think they had done anything inappropriate.
It’s noteworthy to point out here that we are not only to seek holiness in terms of reality, but also in terms of perception.
We should stay away from sin and from appearances of sin.
Boaz didn’t want there to be any reason for anyone to say anything accusatory towards the righteousness of Ruth. This action in and of itself is a demonstration of his protection of her.
Boaz further demonstrates his provision for Ruth by again providing her with more barley; probably as much as she could practically carry back to her home.
Naomi was surely waiting on Ruth’s return to see what had become of the encounter.
Ruth’s news was welcomed news to Naomi.
She wisely tells Ruth to wait; to be patient.
Naomi probably knows upon hearing the report that Ruth has won Boaz’s heart.
Naomi had experience with the hearts of men. She had her husband and watched her sons interact with their wives.
She knew that Ruth could wait patiently, and could wait with confidence and hope.
Indeed, Boaz had given a solemn vow that he would see that Ruth was redeemed, whether by him or the other kinsman redeemer.
Naomi says, “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.” (verse 18)
The plan was in place, Ruth went down the right path, the possibilities of redemption were there; now Ruth must show patience.
We must now draw our minds to some concluding thoughts regarding this passage.
First, we should point out that the book of Ruth is a narrative. It is not an allegory. That is, it is a straightforward story, not a story with a hidden meaning.
However, there are further implications from this book than merely the story of Ruth and Boaz. We will discuss most of that next week.
For this week I want us to focus on two main thoughts:
God has a plan for your life and God is carrying out His plan in the world.
God had a plan for Ruth and Boaz, which He orchestrated through the wisdom of Naomi. And, God was also working out His plan for redemptive history through this relationship. We will see so much more about that next week.
So then, the implications for you are that God has a plan for your life and God can work His plan through your life.
God’s ways are so far beyond our ways, yet they are not separate from our ways!
God’s plan is greater than our plans, yet He involves our plans to accomplish His plans!
He wants to work in your life!
Major Takeaway: Plan your path and patiently wait for the possibilities! [on screen]
Do so in submission to God’s will and His plan!
Here are some Applicational Questions to help you get there: [on screen]
“How do my plans match up with God’s plans?” [on screen]
Do you have any plans for your life? If so, how do they fit with what God is doing through His grand plan?
You might say, “I don’t know! I don’t know God’s plans, how can I know if my plans fit His?”
Well, we know some of God’s plans. The Bible reveals some of His plans to us. Do your plans fit the story of God that is revealed to us in the Bible?
“Am I on the path of obedience?” [on screen]
Maybe God has revealed His plans for you in a way that your understand. Are you submitting yourself to those plans? Are you running from those plans? Are you scared? Apathetic? Overwhelmed?
What will it take for you to obey?
If you don’t know God’s plans for your life, do you have a spirit of obedience so you can say to God, “Show me your path for me! I will obey! Here I am! Lead me!”
“What are the possibilities for my life?” [on screen]
What is possible in your life if you are in the will of God? Anything! Anything is possible with those who trust in God and turn to His ways!
Ephesians 3:20-21 says, “20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”
The possibilities are endless if you submit to God’s plan for your life!
“Am I patiently waiting?” [on screen]
Do you trust that God always work together all things for the good of those who are called in Christ Jesus?
Are you anxious, or do you submit yourself to God with prayer and supplications, and do you allow the peace of God to guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus?
Let’s see that major takeaway again:
Major Takeaway: Plan your path and patiently wait for the possibilities! [on screen]
I want to challenge those in this room that are Christians: God has a plan for your life that fits in His big plan.
God can and will do great things through you!
Do your plans match His plans?
Submit your ways to God and see what He will do!
I also want to speak to those in this room that are not followers of Jesus. I want to plead with you to turn to Jesus!
God has already planned out everything necessary for you to come to Him.
(present the gospel)
God has great plans for your life that far exceed anything that you could imagine. Don’t waste another minute without Jesus as the Lord of your life!
We’re about to sing a song of response to God. There is a Redeemer is the song that we will sing. Remember that as God was at work in the lives of Ruth, Naomi, and Boaz, He is also at work in our lives.
Stand and sing with me now.
Response song – There is a Redeemer
No evening service tonight: spend time
with families or in discipleship connections.
One thing: Church Work Day coming up on August 12—Come and help get our campus in tip top shape as we prepare for everyone to be back from their Summer trips and ready to plug back in this Fall.
Thanks for coming! God bless you all! Have a great day!
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