Sermon on Ruth 3
Theme: Faithfulness persists in desperate times
Goal: to encourage believers to persist
1. The Plan of Redemption
2. The Carrying out of the steamy plan
3. Boaz fully gives himself righteously to the plan of redemption.
One of the greatest strengths of this story of Ruth is that it is earthy. Its about a lady that has been through an emotional hell. Quite literally, she feels like God has taken all the sweetness out of her life and made it bitter. The book is about the Mother-in-law Naomi who moved in a time of famine to a foreign land for a better life. When they settled there, her husband and two sons all died leaving her with two grieving daughters-in-law. Of these two daughters-in-law, Ruth swears that she will go with Naomi back Israel. Ruth is the only bit of sweetness left in Naomi’s bitter life.
When they returned to Israel, Ruth began the work of looking after herself and her mother in law. And by God’s design, she went to pickup the left over grain in the field of a man named boaz. According to Israelite law, since he was one of Naomi’s closest relatives he could be the kinsman-redeemer. He could be the one that brought Naomi and Ruth out from a sure life of poverty and slavery and danger. He could provide for them and give them a real life.
Boaz was overwhelmingly generous as the redeemer to Ruth and Naomi. To some degree he is pointing us ahead to look to Christ who is the redeemer of all humanity. By Christ’s blood he has given the most generous gift. Salvation. Grace. You can’t earn it. But you can receive it. The gift of Grace.
But the story continues and we hear how Ruth prepares herself to enter into what will be the most important relationship of her life. The most important preparations she makes are her preparations to meet her redeemer. And we can here it as well, when we come to the relationship with Christ our redeemer, our identity completely changes. We become different people when we give ourselves over to Jesus Christ.
Let’s listen to the story of Ruth’s encounter with her redeemer. Ruth 3.
Don’t do the easy thing. Do the right thing. There’s a battle that goes on inside of each one of us. Do we do the easy thing, or do we do the right thing.
I don’t think this is an isolated thing. I think its something that is true of all of us. It’s one of the things that really challenges us. All of us. When we come up to what we find out is one of the most difficult parts of life, we have to decide. Are we going to do the easy thing. Or, are we going to do the right thing.
When you know that someone is counting on you to get a very difficult job done, and it means pushing yourself a lot harder than you like to be pushed, what are you going to do? Will you do the easy thing? Or will you do the right thing.
The easy way is so convenient at the time, isn’t it? There’s the crazy story about a paperboy. He chose the easy thing instead of the right thing. He only had about 45 papers to deliever most days of the week. But one day of the week, the paper gave out a free smaller community paper to everyone in the neighbourhood. Not just to those that subscribed to the paper. It was tough for this 11 year old paper boy to make his way up to a bunch of strange doors and put the paper on the front step. Plus it made the route take nearly twice as long when there were important Playstation games to be played back at home. Well the paperboy on one particular day made the decision to take the easy way instead of the right way. Instead of delievering all of the papers he shoved made his way through the paper route. And seeing the evidence of the undelivered free paper in his paper bag, he decided to get rid of the evidence. With a quick tipping of the bag and hefty kick, he pushed all of the undelivered papers into the storm sewer.
Don’t ask how I know this story. I don’t think this paper boy has a unique story. The boss that cheats on the taxes. The teen that finds creative distractions while mom and dad think the homework is getting done.
Ah, its just way to easy to do the easy thing instead of the right thing.
That option must have crossed the mind of Ruth a few times. She could have taken the easy way instead of the difficult way. She could have returned to her parents when her husband died. She could have stayed in Moab instead of going with Naomi to Israel. She could have just ignored one of the important ways to honor a husband that had passed away, she could have just run off and gotten remarried without second thought of Naomi’s bitterness or the fact that here line would be completely cut off in Israel. Ruth could have just run off with the younger guys instead of searching out the lawful and right way God had designed in that day for a widow to carry on the name of her husband. Boaz alluded to it on the threshing floor. In verse 10 “The Lord bless you, my daughter,” he replied. “This kindness is greater than that which you showed earlier: You have not run after the younger men, whether rich or poor.  Boaz isn’t impressed that Ruth is being kind to him, but the Ruth is being kind to her dead husband and to the family line of Naomi even though she is a foreigner. That would have been the easy way. But it would not have been the right way.
Ruth epitomizes the choice that we have to be challenged to make. Do hard things! Chose to do right instead of easy. Do what is right when doing the easy is more attractive.
She plans to do the right thing with the help of Naomi. Naomi knows how important this encounter with Boaz is going to be. Its so important that Ruth comes prepared in body and mind to this encounter with her Redeemer on the threshing floor.
Naomi begins to take seriously the idea that God might just be turning her life from bitter to sweet again. She tells Ruth that her opportunity to have a close encounter with Boaz is when he is gone to the communities threshing floor where the farmers go to separate the grains of barley from the stalks and the chaff.
The first instruction she gives to Ruth is that she needs to shed the image of the grieving widow. She needs to shed the past of death and prepare herself for a new life through the redeemer. Verse 3 tells of the steps she goes through. Ruth 3:3 (NIV)
3 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.
Wash. The double meaning of this can’t be missed. Washing was not about hygine in that day, but about preparing for an important task. The Priests would have to wash before they could go into the temple. Faithful people would even ceremonially wash before they would eat a meal. The washing is a cleansing of body and soul in preparation for this encounter. Ruth is doing the righteous thing, not the easy thing.
She anoints herself with perfume.
She changes her clothes. This is important. Up to this point Ruth has been wearing the clothes of a widow. You couldn’t miss it. This lady is a widow. She has been wearing her dark clothes. The clothes that show the world “this lady is a widow.” But she is told to change into her finest clothes. These clothes are the special occasion clothes. They are the only clothes that will work for what Ruth is about to do. She has completely changed her identity so that she can propose marriage to Boaz.
Maybe we are ready to do some of these things in our own preparation for the greatest encounter of our lives. Ruth washes, perfumes, and changes out of her widow clothes. We have the greatest relationship we could imagine with the person who redeemed us from the burden of sin. Man, do we take the easy way out sometimes. This is not about making sure you look your snazziest when you come to the worship service on Sunday. This is about, how do you prepare to enter into a relatinonship with Christ. Christ will accept you as you are. But as you understand more and more deeply the value of the relationship with Christ, won’t it all the more make you want to change who you are so that you are more appealing to him.
We do this by listening to what it says in Colossians. Take off your old identity. It is crap. It is garbage. Put on the virtues of a new life. That is the new self. Those are the clothes you wear when you get engaged with Jesus Christ. You might be wearing cut off jeans or a corduroy pants. It doesn’t matter except that you put on the right life that glorifies God.
Its so easy to kick the papers into the storm sewer. Its so easy to just be a so so sort of person to Christ, but do you think Christ wants to accept you the way you were for years and years when he knows who you could be if you chose to do what was right.
But that is not all the righteousness in this passage. There is more, and in the rest of this section it gets a little bit steamy.
Even reading it in English sounds a little racy. A late night encounter. Make sure Boaz has had plenty to eat and drink. Uncover his feet. Lay by him. It sounds that way by itself. Then add on to this that many of the words used in this passage are double entandres, euphamisms. The word lay with for instance. You hear it over and over in the bible. Adam lay with eve and the had a restful night of sleep. No, it made a baby. Abraham with sarah. You can go right on down the list. Add to this the act of uncovering. And the word used there, the word uncover his feet. The word “feet” had something to do with other parts of a man’s anatomy. If you know what I am saying... you get it. This is a steamy affair here on the threshing floor.
But as steamy as it gets, and as easy as it would be for Boaz to take advantage of Ruth or for Ruth to entrap Boaz, both of them, instead of choosing the easy thing, they chose the right thing. Boaz says about Ruth “this kindness is greater than that which you showed earlier.” -Kindness as is chesed. Loving kindness in the deep relationship kind.
And Baoz accepts the marriage proposal. But, he too, instead of just going through with it, Boaz tells Ruth that there is another relative that is actually closer related and is rightfully allowed to choose first if he wants to be the Kinsman redeemer for Ruther and Naomi.
There are so many opportunities to do what is easy instead of what is right. Do the right thing.
Martin Luther, nailed the 95 theses to the door of the church in Wittenburg on Oct 31, 1517. He told the catholic church that he didn’t agree with the work they required people to do to be saved. He knew what it felt like to do good. As a monk, he fasted, he climbed stairs on his knees in penance. He did everything he could think to earn the grace of Jesus Christ. But he soon realized that Jesus kept on saying, build a right relationship with me. You don’t need to do that so that you c an be saved. Do hard things because Christ would want us to. Do hard things because its the right thing to do. But don’t do them to earn salvation. Grace through Jesus is completely free.
Have you accepted the call of God in your life. Have you given yourself completely that relationship Now’sthe time.
 The Holy Bible : New International Version. Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 1996, c1984, S. Ru 3:10-11
 The Holy Bible : New International Version. Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 1996, c1984