The Hope of Redemption
So far in our study of Ruth, we find she converted from the pagan religions of Moab to put her full trust in the God of Israel even to the extent of leaving Moab behind and going with Ruth to live in the land of Israel. She has been gleaning in the fields of Boaz, and he notices her not for her beauty, but for her character, primarily observed in the way she treats Naomi.
By this time, though, Ruth is about to experience a cultural and spiritual challenge. Though the language, customs, lifestyles of Israel all are all strange to her after having grown up in Moab, she is learning to trust God as she and Naomi settle into a new life in Bethlehem.
In chapter 3 of the Book of Ruth, Naomi introduces to Ruth the concept of a kinsman-redeemer – a relative who, according to Jewish law, can help them financially, socially, and, if he so chooses, by levirate marriage, whereby a brother or close relative to a deceased man can marry his widow in order to bear children to carry on the family name and heritage.
Ruth understands the concept, but she finds that if she wants to have the chance of this kind of redemption, she has to be willing to take some big risks.
As the story unfolds in chapter 2, we find that Ruth continues to catch the eye of Boaz, the owner of the field in which she is working. When she tells Naomi of these attentions, Naomi thinks the time may be right to take things to the next level.
Here’s what she asks Ruth to do: “Is not Boaz our relative, with whose young women you were? See, he is winnowing barley tonight at the threshing floor. Wash therefore and anoint yourself, and put on your cloak and go down to the threshing floor, but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking. But when he lies down, observe the place where he lies. Then go and uncover his feet and lie down, and he will tell you what to do” (Ruth 3:2-4).
If I were Ruth, I would be thinking something like this, “What? Go to the threshing floor at night? Alone? And then lie down at the feet of a sleeping man I barely know? Really?”
But Ruth, trusting Naomi, answers in verse 5, “All that you say I will do.” That’s a lot of trust! And a pretty big risk.
She does exactly as Naomi has said, and when Boaz realizes someone is there at his feet, he asks who it is, and she answers (in verse 9), “I am Ruth, your servant. Spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer.” This is an interesting phrase because Boaz had used it about Ruth when he was first getting to know her. He blessed her by saying, “The Lord repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!” (Ruth 2: 12). He correctly saw Ruth as taking refuge in God and now she turns to him for a similar kind of protection and care.
In short, she really is proposing marriage. Another risk for sure! Fortunately, though, Boaz is pleased with her proposal and pledges to clear the way to make it possible for the two of them to get married. I bet Ruth breathed a deep sigh of relief!
How are we doing when it comes to being willing to take risks in order to follow God’s plan for our lives? Pastor and author John Ortberg says, “The decision to grow always involves a choice between risk and comfort. This means that to be a follower of Jesus, you must renounce comfort as the ultimate value of your life.”
Are we open to letting God take us out of our comfort zones so he can change us?
Think about your life. What risk might God be asking you to take?
· It may involve making the first move in fixing a broken relationship.
· It may be sharing your faith with someone who doesn’t really understand what it means to relate to God.
· Maybe it’s giving up a hurt you’ve nursed for years now by forgiving someone who doesn’t deserve it.
· Maybe it’s letting go of a lie you’ve been telling yourself and yielding instead to God’s truth.
· It might mean changing jobs, or houses, or giving up a lifestyle you’ve become accustomed to.
· It might mean giving up habits that tear you down rather than build you up.
· Maybe it’s taking on a role in the Christian community, serving in ways you’ve never done before.
If God is leading, obeying him is really no risk at all! He knows the steps we must take to reap the rewards of a life well-lived – a life of purpose, fulfillment, and joy. We won’t get there by sitting still. Ruth chose to risk everything to follow God and we are going to find that she is greatly rewarded and blessed because of that decision. We don’t want to do less!
“I have learned that faith means trusting in advance what will make sense only in reverse.”
– Phillip Yancey