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Ruth #3 A Risky Proposal

Ruth #3 A Risky Proposal

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Published by Ron Lair
Ruth Chapter 3
Ruth Chapter 3

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Published by: Ron Lair on Dec 02, 2010
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12/02/2010

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Ruth
Chapter 3
 
 A Risky Proposal
"I am Ruth, your servant. Spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer."
Ruth 3:9b
Some guys are just too clever for their own good. Every now and then you hear about some guy who thinks hehas to produce some huge romantic gesture when a simple "Will you marry me?" would be the better part of valor. Know what I mean? Like the guy who had to rush his girlfriend to the ER because she swallowed theengagement ring hidden in her milk shake. (I'll bet she uses a straw from then on). Or the expensive ring thatfloated away inside the helium balloon.The ones that amaze me the most are those egocentric guys that think it would be so fantastic to declare their love in front of the whole world. I saw a video clip of one poor guy who decided it would be a great gesture tosurprise is girlfriend at half-time at center court at a Washington Wizard's game. Poor guy... he got down on oneknee, flashed the ring box and she turned around and ran off the court!Well, there are marriage proposals and there are marriage proposal. Today, we’re going to talk about another interesting one.
A Bold Plan
It's the end of the harvest season and there's really been no resolution in Naomi and Ruth's problem. Ruth has been able to do well in Boaz's fields. Starvation isn't an immediate concern, but the grain won't last forever.Soon, the wheat harvest will be over and it will be many months before Ruth is able to glean again. Look back at the final verse of chapter 2, "...
and she lived with her mother in law
." Here is another one of those little hintsthat the author throws in to lead us to where he wants us to go. Ruth is still with Naomi. She still has nohusband. Naomi, like any good Jewish mother, is ready to tackle the problem. She has a plan. She tells Ruth that she'sconcerned for her daughter in law's future. Ruth needs a husband and Boaz, being a man of worth and a relativeis the perfect candidate. So she says, "here's what you need to do..." Now, I've read more commentaries andlistened to more sermons than I can count in order to get others' take on this passage. It's a bit perplexing. Naomi's language can be understood in several different ways and virtually every source that I consulted had alittle different take on it.What's the problem? Well, let me ask you mothers who have raised a young woman (or are raising one) - inwhat universe would you give your daughter this advice for catching a husband: Get yourself all dolled up, takea bath, put on some good smelling perfume, and wear your best clothes. Sneak over to the threshing floor but
 
 
don't let him see you. Go hide in the bushes. He'll be in full party mode, celebrating the harvest so just wait tillhe's full of pizza and buffalo wings and he's had plenty of wine and just pay attention where he goes to sleep.When he's sound asleep, creep over to him and uncover his feet (possibly legs) and lay down. He'll take it fromthere. Mom, are you good with that?Let me put some things in context, as well. From everything that I've read, the threshing floor could be a bitraucous. My impression is that it would be like the cowboys in town at the end of the cattle drive. Young mencelebrating a year of hard work with money burning holes in their pockets. Plenty of celebrating, plenty of adult beverages and lots of pent up emotion. It was really no place for a respectable young lady. In fact, any womanfound there would likely be anything but respectable.The whole scenario seems just full of innuendo. Now, I have to say that not everyone sees it like that. Mostseemed to agree that Naomi's advice was risky business. But, several commentators say that it's nothing likethat. Naomi's instructions comply with ancient customs and would be understood at the time as nothing out of the ordinary - a straight forward marriage proposal. Maybe so. I'm open to that. I don't want to sensationalizesomething for the sake of drama. But, none of these commentators could point to a specific custom. For themost part, it was "it must be above board or Naomi wouldn't have suggested it." At the very least, Naomi's planexposed Ruth and Boaz to temptation. In the middle of the night, lying together while everyone else is sleeping- they certainly could succomb to a moment of weakness.But, Ruth agreed to follow Naomi's counsel and prepared herself for her date with destiny.So, let's talk about Naomi. I've already said that she perplexes me, somewhat. She usually says the right things;her heart seems to be in the right place. But, I have to wonder about her methods. I guess what I'm really sayingis: Naomi is a lot like most Christians that I know. Don't we all have a problem with consistency, now and then?How often do I look back on my life and have to say, "Why did I react that way?" or "My thinking wascompletely wrong there." And I'm sure there are plenty of times when I've been inconsistent and never realizedit at all. Naomi is a lot like us and I think that transparency makes her story all the more compelling. Naomi watched the interaction between Ruth and Boaz. She knew that both were virtuous people, trying toreflect God's character in their lives. She knew that not only was Boaz in a position to rescue Ruth from a life of  poverty, but she also perceived that he may also be willing. She no doubt sensed that this was the direction thatGod was leading. So, like any self-respecting Jewish mother would do, she decided it was time to take mattersinto her own hands and play matchmaker. Again, I'm not so sure that we're all that different. We see thingsunfold in front of us and our first thought is often what can I do to "help God out." Sometimes we do end uprunning ahead of God. Naomi's plan does have risks. First of all, Ruth will be risking physical harm. Naomi was concerned for Ruth'ssafety when she was gleaning in broad daylight. How much more dangerous is it to sneak around in the dark amid a bunch of roudy field hands?Of course, there’s the whole “sexual tension” thing. No matter what Naomi’s intention were, there is still thequestion as to how Boaz would read Ruth’s boldness. Would he assume the worst? Would the temptation provetoo much? Would he be offended and send Ruth packing?The tension build as the writer puts us on the edge of our seats, wondering how it will all turn out.
 
 
A Bold Proposal
 Ruth went down to the threshing floor and put Naomi's plan into action. When Boaz was sound asleep, she laiddown at his feet. At midnight, Boaz was startled out of his sleep, finding someone lying there. He says, "Who'sthere?" From here, do you see any deviation from Naomi's plan? Yes! Naomi said Ruth should follow hisinstructions. But, she didn't give him a chance to say anything. It was Ruth who told Boaz what she wanted himto do. That may have saved the risky plan. She didn’t give him the chance to wonder why she was there.She said, "
Spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer." 
or as the NIV has it
"the corner of  your garment." 
The Hebrew can be translated either way
.
That sounds rather cryptic, don't you think? Did Boazunderstand her request? He understood perfectly well. First of all, does the language sound familiar fromchapter two... when Boaz said to her "
a full reward be given you by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whosewings you have come to take refuge!" 
Ruth is a clever one; she's tossing those words right back at him. Boaz prayed for Ruth to be blessed and protected and Ruth is saying that Boaz has the opportunity to be the answer tohis own prayer.This is not the only time when that phrase was used to speak of marriage.
 Later I passed by, and when I looked at you and saw that you were old enough for love, I spread thecorner of my garment over you and covered your naked body. I gave you my solemn oath and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Sovereign LORD, and you became mine. Ezek. 16:8
 God is declaring His love and commitment to Israel, like a man to his bride.Did Boaz catch the meaning? You bet he did! He said that this kindness (that is showing interest in a man that ismuch older when she could have been chasing after the younger guys) surpassed the first. What was her firstkindness? It was that which everyone in town was talking about. She left everything for Naomi and the Lord.You might may recall that at the beginning of this study, we said that one of the themes of the book of Ruth was"Hesed" - loving kindness or faithful love. It was Ruth's expression of Hesed that Boaz found remarkable. He'ssaying Ruth was more than being nice to Naomi and to him. He saw a God kind of love. Ruth, a woman whoreflects God's love and a woman of worth (the same term used for the Proverbs 31 woman) - of course, she'smade an impression on Boaz.Boaz understood exactly what Ruth was asking and he was ready, willing, and able. But, there's just one problem. Here's another one of those "screech" moment in the story where the writer wants us to stop in our tracks and say "huh?" The problem is that Boaz isn't the only relative in town and in fact, there is one who is acloser relative who should have first chance to be Ruth's redeemer. This NOT where we want to see the storygo! Boaz and Ruth belong together. Now, everything is in jeopardy. Boaz knows this as well, but he is a man of integrity and is determined to go about this the right way. So, he says that he'll give the other relative firstchance. But, if he is unwilling, then Boaz will do all that Ruth asks.
A Kinsman Redeemer 
 So, what exactly is a kinsman redeemer? The Hebrew term is Ga-al which is translated in various ways asredeemer, near kinsman, blood avenger. In ancient times, family was preeminent. And family wasn’tdefined as it is today. We think of the nuclear family - Dad, Mom, and the kids. In those days, it was theextended family which included aunts, uncles, cousins, and beyond. Maintaining the family was of greatimportance. When a family member was in trouble, another relative was expected to help him out, evenwhen it required some sacrifice. When family was in danger of losing their land, a relative who was able to pay the debt was expected to show up. Likewise, if a family member had to sell himself into slavery to pay

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