Meeting Boaz at the Threshing Floor – Part 2

Picking up where we left the story of Boaz and Ruth, today we fast forward to the end of the harvest. One night as they are sitting in their home Naomi comes to Ruth with some very interesting advice. Naomi knows that the men will be partying that night because their work is done. They have received their wages, maybe even with a little bonus because of the good harvest and they will hold a celebration down at the threshing floor. So, Naomi tells Ruth to clean up, put on her best dress and don’t forget the perfume. Like any good Jewish mother, she is determined to leave nothing to chance! Then she sends Ruth out just as it is getting dark to the threshing floor and tells her to wait till after the men to finish eating and drinking and are finally lying down to sleep.

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Following her instructions exactly, Ruth, tiptoes in between the stacks of grain to the spot where she finds Boaz is sleeping. Now before you think she is about to do something sketchy; the Bible makes it clear that all she does is lie down at his feet. This was no indecent proposal which Ruth has in mind, instead, it was a custom, rooted in the culture of Ancient Israel> She has come to appeal to Boaz to redeem her. Now, he is eligible to do this, not just because he was a rich single guy, but because he was a family member to Naomi’s late-husband. From that culture’s point of view, Boaz’s right to redeem most importantly was about, buying the land and home of Naomi. Of course, we know from the story that Boaz cared a whole lot more about marrying Ruth than any fields! And just like Boaz, Jesus waits for us. Though He has loved us enough to have given His life to pay for our redemption, He will never stride down to our house and demand our allegiance. Instead, Christ waits to hear our proposal, though long ago He has determined what His answer will be. And when we come and lie at His feet, He gives us a promise that He will redeem and tells us it is our turn to rest until morning. Then just like Boaz, Jesus is on the move! He leaves us with His promise of redemption, and we can trust that He will not stop until finally and forever we are His!

Meeting Boaz at the Threshing Floor – Part 1

Remain tonight, and in the morning, if he will redeem you, good; let him do it. But if he is not willing to redeem you, then, as the Lord lives, I will redeem you. Lie down until the morning.” So, she lay at his feet until the morning but arose before one could recognize another. And he said, “Let it not be known that the woman came to the threshing floor.” Ruth 3:13-14 ESV

The book of Ruth is both one of the most romantic stories of the Bible as well as a beautiful picture of our relationship to Jesus Christ. It begins with a lovely, yet poor widow named Ruth. Ruth had chosen the difficult life of an immigrant, in order to care for her aging mother-in-law Naomi, and in the process had come to trust in Naomi’s God. Together they returned to the long-abandoned family home in the village of Bethlehem. With little savings, no promised help and no definite plans they face a desperate situation. So, on day one, Ruth goes to farm nearby where the men are harvesting barley. Being the accepted custom of the day to provide for the poor, Ruth quietly trails behind the workers gathering any heads of grain that had been missed. Suddenly onto the scene strides the wealthy (and single!) farmer named Boaz. Immediately, Boaz catches sight of Ruth and he not only likes what he sees, but he admires the loyalty and grit of this young lady of whom he has already heard. Of course, if this were a Hallmark movie there would be lots of drama, romantic mood music, and a bad guy or two lurking on the horizon. But the Bible paints a far simpler picture for us of Boaz’s growing love for Ruth, as he waits to see what God will do. Now me, if I were Boaz, I would have marched down to the cottage where Ruth and Naomi lived, knocked on the door and asked Ruth out for a date! But not Boaz, and not Jesus either. Yes, Jesus loves me, and the Bible tells me so. But Jesus also waits for us to come, just as Boaz waited…. So, stay tuned tomorrow to see how God mysteriously unfolds this amazing love story!

Happily Ever After!

Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all you do be done in love.
1 Corinthians 16: 13-14 ESV

The Hallmark channel is immensely popular because many of us love to watch stories about romantic love. Though the actors and actresses change, and the settings vary from the Canadian Rockies to the Texas Gulf coast, the plot lines all seem to end in “Happily ever after.” So, when we come to the New Testament’s concept of love, pictures flit through our mind of happy couples embracing and working out their differences over candle-lit dinners. But these kinds of scenes are as far from the mind of the Apostle Paul when he wrote today’s verse as the far side of the moon.

According to the Bible, true love is something commanded of all believers. Jesus said it like this, “This is my commandment, that you love one another” John 15:12. Notice, this is not a guideline, a suggestion or an inspirational idea. Jesus commands a love, that is humble enough to wash dirty feet and yet ferocious enough to stand the test of a cross. In today’s passage, Paul begins by describing this kind of love as being watchful. While people say that love is blind, or that it sees things through rose-colored glasses, Paul says that it stands guard and watches out for the enemy’s attacks. Though, we confidently love others, at the same time we are told to be on the lookout for trouble. No matter how much we love, there will be tests, severe enough to cripple relationships if we are not guarding against them. Then we are told that this watchfulness takes its stand on faith. Just being determined to preserve a friendship a marriage or a family isn’t enough to guarantee success. Lasting victory comes by a faith that stands firmly on the promises of God. It means keeping a solid grip on Jesus Christ, before trying to help others. We cannot save someone who is drowning, unless Jesus is holding on to us so that we won’t sink ourselves! Last of all Paul tells us to act like mature men and women. We mustn’t rely on Hallmark Channel miracles, to love others. When the background music isn’t gently playing and it feels like everything is caving in, it takes the fiercely obedient love of God in our hearts, to make it through. It takes a faith that stands firmly on the Bible, even when it means being cancelled on social media or demoted at work. That is the kind of love by which God loved the world enough to send His Son to die in our place. This love of God, is our strength for today, helps us stand in our battles and is our action plan for tomorrow. Only this is the kind of love that truly loves others and lives happily ever after!

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