“Lasting Righteousness Not Temporary Pleasure” Ruth: Week 4 (Ruth 3:1-18)
Last week, ESPN.com reported about a shocking event by college football players. A store owner was reviewing camera footage to find out why some of her merchandise and money were missing. She expected to find footage of her employees wrongdoings, but instead saw athletes approach an unattended register, leave the payment for their items on the counter. Concerned that the store may have been unintentionally left open, the players went next door and helped secure the store. They did the right thing when nobody was looking. We see these same qualities on display in the lives of Ruth and Boaz. Ruth and Boaz lived for God’s Glory so follow their example and live a righteous life motivated by the Gospel not by personal pleasure.
Scene 1: Naomi’s Bold and Dangerous Plan
Scene 2: God Glorifying Righteousness
Scene 3: Ruth’s surprise Report
How to make God-Glorifying decisions:
1. Live Hesed
2. Show Integrity
3. Protect Purity
SERMON TRANSCRIPT BOX
If you have your bible this morning, let’s go right there to where Shannon read. Good job, Shannon, beautiful. Let’s go to Ruth 3. We’ll be looking at all 18 verses, as we look at lasting righteousness over and above temporary pleasure.
I was reading an article this week out of ESPN.com. If you spend some time there, you may have read this article. It was about these four college students that were in a, let’s call it a surprising situation. They were college football players. Now as soon as I say that surprising scenario, college football players, you’re like, oh here we go again. Right? Some hotheaded athlete doing something, taking something that he shouldn’t or that’s not hit. This is a little bit different. Just listen.
This manager of a department store in New Jersey got a phone call that her store had been broken into, from the CVS manager down the street. So she calls the cops and she makes her way to the department store, and when she gets in, the doors are open, the lights are on. Nothing seemed to be missing. It was interesting, so she went and started watching the video footage. What she saw, she was surprised by it. She turned on the videos and on the video screen, she had seen before lots of evil. She’d seen her own employees taking money out of the register and put it in their pocket. They didn’t know she was watching.
She watched her own employees steal food from where they were selling food, and sneak in the back and eat it and try to hide the trash. She’d seen customers take items that they had not yet bought and put it in a bag like they bought it and walked out. You can imagine this kind of thing goes on in a department store, but what she saw this time, she’d never seen before. These four college football players, these student athletes, they walk in. They were looking for some pretty simple things. Batteries and a video cable. They didn’t see nobody there, but they assumed the store was open, people were on break or something, and the lights were on, the doors were open, so they went in. They got their batteries, they got their video cable.
Let me let you into the mind of a college football player. They were probably playing Madden and their video controllers run out of batteries and they needed a video cord, so that’s what they’re getting. They get to the register, no one’s there. They look around, and then one of the players reaches into his pocket and pulls out a $5 bill, which was the price of the items. Then another player reached to his pocket and pulled out like 80 or 90 cents, to cover the tax. They walk out, go down the street and tell the CVS manager that they thought maybe this building was left open.
Here we have four student athletes, with all of the things that are said about college football players today, not breaking in, but having a breakout if you will of integrity. They were doing the right thing in a culture that you probably get used to hearing, young student athletes doing the wrong thing. What I want to tell you is they showed integrity when maybe other people would not have.
When we look at Ruth chapter 3, we’re going to see what I just want to be open with you, a very provocative scene, a very sexually dangerous scene. We see our characters Ruth and Boaz showing integrity, doing the right thing, when nobody else is watching. Doing the right thing when most of the culture that they were surrounded by, was doing everything that was right in their own eyes. They were doing the right thing and doing what God wanted to be done in his eyes.
They did it, and I believe you can as well, from these principles. I believe that you can live a life of God-glorified righteousness in a culture that is anti-God, if you’ll focus on the gospel and institute in your life some of these principles that we see in Ruth and we see especially in Boaz. This story has three scenes. It’s going to help you keep track of the flow of the story if you’ll just put these scenes in your mind.
Scene number one is between Ruth and Boaz in their home. It’s during the day. This is when Naomi launches her, what I call, bold and very dangerous plan for Ruth so that she can get married to Boaz. Then the scene changes to scene number two. It’s at the threshing floor. This is a gigantic, flat piece of land that was set out so that after the harvest season, they could come and process all the grain that they collected over the six or seven weeks that the harvest went on. This is when the midnight scene happens. This is when the plan, the dangerous plan of Naomi happens and is worked out.
Then scene 3 is when Ruth gets back home and tells Naomi how it went. This is a fantastic story. Before we get into walking through the scenes, and leaving you with some application you can put in your pocket today, let me tell you this. I was reminded of it this week. When we’re studying narrative, especially Old Testament narrative, just because you see something happening, does not mean that that’s the way the bible wants you to do it. Example, David and Bathsheba. He saw Bathsheba. She was naked, and he committed adultery with her. It happened. It doesn’t mean it’s a prescriptive for you to do the same. David had multiple wives, so did Solomon, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It doesn’t mean you can have multiple wives. You couldn’t handle it anyway, but you shouldn’t do it.
What the bible is doing through narrative is teaching you this lesson, a large lesson in a chapter or even in a whole book, through the vehicle of a story, the way it happened. What I love about the bible is it doesn’t pull punches. It just tells you the way they did it. You can learn lessons from it. Oh I could do it like that. Or you could learn lessons of how not to do it, but what you can’t miss is the big picture, and how do you look at that through the lens of Christ. Those are the important things, so don’t get caught up in how it happened. We’re going to talk about how it probably shouldn’t have happened, but let’s take away something from it either way.
So scene number one. Ruth, as far as you’re concerned in chapter 2, just left the field. She finished a day’s worth of gleaning, and she comes home with several weeks worth of barley. She’d spent a dinner with Boaz, worked with his servants. Her mother-in-law was encouraged that she brought grain home, number one, and I believe the hesed of God, the loving-kindness of God was starting to dawn on her as a reality, when she realized that there was a man named Boaz that could be their kinsman-redeemer. I believe the game started to change in that moment when Naomi heard those words.
When we come to chapter 3, some time had passed. The beginning of the barley harvest was when Ruth went out there to glean. Now we fast-forward about six, maybe even seven weeks, and it’s the end of the barley harvest, and in that time, Naomi … I don’t know why she came up with this plan. She devised this wonderful plan to get Ruth alone with Boaz to make a marriage proposal.
Now there’s a couple of ways to view Naomi throughout the story. One is a positive way here, that yeah, in chapter 1 and chapter 2, she struggled. We know she struggled. In her pain, she was blinded to the goodness of God. She was blinded to the hesed love of God, and it led her down a very bitter road, that went into her heart and it even made her have some bad character that we see. How about laziness? She walked from Moab all the … I’m not trying to be too hard on her, but it’s the reality. She already walked from Moab to Bethlehem. She couldn’t go out there and glean with Ruth, to earn some of her own food?
There’s some character struggles that you have with Naomi, but here, I see her starting to turn the corner if you will. She’d already seen God’s sovereignty, so I think a picture of God’s hesed as we leave chapter 2. Now I see her doing some things in this particular scene, that are for someone besides herself. That’s the positive view.
The negative view is that she’s the same Naomi, right? She was bitter in the beginning. She’s bitter now, and that she was corrupt in the beginning and thinking about only herself, and now she’s conniving. Now she’s manipulative, and when she says to Ruth in verse 1 here that I’m actually thinking about you and your care that she doesn’t really mean it. That she’s using it for her own good.
I lean towards the first objective. I’m taking Naomi at her word, here in chapter 3, verse 1. It doesn’t really matter, the motivation of Naomi. It may matter a little bit, but what really matters is how Ruth and how Boaz respond to this sexually intense scene that Naomi put them both in. So she’s coming up with this plan. She must have seen something in Ruth to let her know that Ruth was interested in Boaz. She must have heard the stories, as they probably shared many meals together. She was out in the field and having dinner with the servants, heard the stories about Boaz and got some kind of feeling that Boaz was willing to do something extra for Ruth. We’ve seen that already.
Here’s her plan. Junior high boys you need to listen to this first part. When you’re going to go see Boaz, she said take a bath. All right some of you go … Junior high, senior high boys, your mom and dad maybe escort you on your first day, and your mom’s probably going to tell you to take a bath. Just take a bath. It’s good, right? So she takes the bath, and then she puts on some perfume. The bible tells us that she puts on new garments. Now your translation may say best clothes.
Some people say this maybe is a wedding dress, but the Hebrew word here is simla, and it’s the word that just means ordinary garment. She’s not putting on a special dress for the festival, although it’s a festival time. She’s not putting on anything special. It’s a normal piece of clothing. So she washes herself. She puts on some perfume and puts on fresh clothes. Why is she doing this? Well I think we know that she’s trying to tell Boaz, or Naomi is trying to get Ruth to tell Boaz, I’m ready to take this relationship to the next level.
One of the questions you may be asking is how come Boaz didn’t get this thing going on his own a little earlier? Right? Six or seven weeks, isn’t that enough time to start seeing this woman in need and you know you’re attracted to her. How come he didn’t speed up this process? Why make Naomi come up with this crazy plan? Come on, man. Step up. You know what? We don’t know. I can tell you one thing. He wasn’t a widow. Life wasn’t that terrible for him. He had nothing really outside of desire to motivate him to do this any quicker.
In ancient Israel, when a woman had her husband die, she was considered a widow. Sometimes she was in a very long season of mourning. Ruth very likely could have been in this season of mourning, and she dressed like it and acted like it. This may be showing Boaz, listen. The season of mourning is over. The season of moving on with life, the normal things of life like marriage, that is here. Either way, we know that she is making, or Naomi’s helping her to make some kind of proposal to Boaz.
So she says clean yourself, bathe, put on some perfume, put on some clothes, and then go to him at the threshing floor after the celebration. See, this was the season of harvest. This is when the laborer got to sit back at the threshing floor at night and eat and drink and be merry, enjoying the fruit of his or her labor. Now there’s something to be said there for everybody. It’s kind of a little side note. If you put in the sweat equity to do something that’s hard and challenging and physical, if you do the work, let me tell you. The feeling when you look back on something that you’ve accomplished is good. It’s almost euphoric.
I’m afraid somebody in here needs to hear, you need to do the work before you get the euphoric feeling. I don’t want to meddle too much so we’ll back right out of that, but he’s working hard. He’s going to be married, and he’s already eaten his full. She said wait til he’s already eaten. Wait till he’s finished drinking, and yes, alcohol consumption could be a part of it, but I don’t want you to go as far as to think he was drunk.
You say, Pastor why not? Very normal in the day. Lots of things were very normal in the day, when everybody was doing what was right in his own eyes, but what’s different about Boaz? The bible’s already told you he’s a man of great honor. Noble character and righteousness. Don’t insert your over-drunkenness, American sexualized society into the story of the bible. He doesn’t have to be drunk. He doesn’t have to have negative things on his mind. All I know from what I’ve seen, he is a man of integrity, and so I’m going to assume the best of Boaz. He may be drinking a little bit of wine. He probably ate plenty, and he’s sitting back and he’s married, not because he’s drunk. He’s married and happy because he’s watching his profits stack up, as the grain piles go higher and higher.
She says wait til he’s relaxed, he’s in a good mood. Do you want him to be in a bad mood? When you’re about to make a marriage proposal out of no where? No. You want him in a good mood. So he’s in a good mood. Wait til he goes to sleep. Now check this out. Go to his feet, uncover them and then he’ll tell you what to do. Listen, you don’t have to be a biblical scholar to know that some crazy things could happen, right? That don’t sound on the up and up, even on its own. What in the world are you thinking, Naomi? I want to be honest with you. From linguistics and through historical understanding of what it means to uncover somebody’s feet, it could be a very innocent act, which I think is going on here.
Again, our characters are full of character. All the way to something that’s very sexually explicit. If you just do the study, you’ll see it, and it’s some kind of lewd sexual offer. I don’t think we have to wonder what’s going on here. I think we’ve seen the integrity of Ruth. I’ve seen the integrity of Boaz. I’ve read it. Nothing in the scriptures show me anything otherwise. When she gets here, she’s going to make a marriage proposal.
So she says, after you uncover his feet, he’ll tell you what to do. So she says, okay. I’ll do it. Everything that you said, Naomi, I’m going to do. This could be a very compromising situation, y’all. Can you kind of see the writing on the wall? This could go south quick. One wrong move, Boaz could wake up and accuse her of being an adulteress. He could take the grace that he’s already shown her away from her. It could have given him a bad name in the society and ruined her name, and her name is already good in the community. Boaz says that later.
Worst yet, he could have taken sexual advantage of her. Abso-tooting-lootly, that could have happened, but it doesn’t matter what could have happened. I think the narrator’s building this scene, using sexually implied language, building the scene at night, by themselves. He’s building it and building it, so that we can see the character of these two, and one day I hope in us, all the more clearly.
So she leaves scene one, goes into scene two, and this is when I see this God-glorifying righteousness come out of Boaz. Man, Ruth puts this scene exactly the way Naomi wanted her to, almost. We’re going to explain that. She waits til Boaz is eating, and once he’s done eating, waits till he’s drinking. He’s in a good mood. He goes off, he just happens to. God’s providence. Goes off to a grain pile by himself, relaxes, pulls his blanket up, in the cool of the evening, he dozes off to sleep. It’s been a pretty good day.
Then Ruth like a ninja sneaks up on him. Listen if you were doing what Naomi told you to do here too, I’m telling you, this is not normal. This is outside of the lines. You don’t see this six or seven times in scripture, ever. You don’t see it at all, okay. You wouldn’t want to be seen either. You’re going to be like a ninja as well. So she sneaks up. They’re off by themselves, and this is what she does. Simply uncovers his feet and lays down. Waits for the cool breeze of the night to come over his feet and to wake him up.
Guess what? It works. He wakes up. You know what the bible said? He was scared to death. He woke up in a startle. Well wouldn’t you? If you wake up with a man with this great integrity and character in the community, well-known by your employees, well-known by everybody, and find a woman at your feet who smells good, wearing different clothes than you’ve seen before? You know what you’re thinking. How much fun did I have the night before? How hard did I sleep? What’s going on?
I don’t know what’s running through his mind but I do know what he said. The bible tells me he said, “Who are you?” Probably very accusatory. What are you doing here. She says, “I am Ruth, your maidservant.” I believe that’s where Naomi’s plan ends and then Ruth’s plan begins. Notice in the beginning of the story, Naomi said go to Boaz. He’s a relative. Now the term relative there just means relative. She did not use the term kinsman-redeemer. I think she had marriage between Ruth and Boaz in mind. Sure she was going to get the benefit as the mother-in-law. He would probably take care of her too, but marriage was in her mind.
What Ruth does is she continues that. She takes it to a whole other level. She says, I am Ruth your maidservant, and not only does she say you’re our relative. She says you are our, your translation, NASB may say close relative, but this is the term kinsman-redeemer. You are our kinsman-redeemer and I want you to redeem us. Would you stretch out your wing and care for us?
It’s a whole other … The ballgame’s changed for Boaz. It’s no longer just a marriage proposal. She’s enacting kinsman-redeemer law. Sure, he was going to get marriage out of it, but he was going to get a whole lot more, and it’s not in a good way. A kinsman-redeemer would do three main things. Number one, he would redeem the land of the other family member, who had passed, Elimelech. How would he do that? Well someone else probably bought it.
It don’t seem as though it’s in Naomi’s name. The bible didn’t tell us that. Probably someone else inherited it. He had to go to them and buy it from them, at great cost to himself and his family. That’s a big deal. Number two, if anybody in that family had sold themselves into slavery for survival, the kinsman-redeemer would go and buy them off the slave blocks and set them free. That would cost him some more money, and now he’s got more responsibility. The third thing that he would do is he would seek justice for the person who died if they were murdered.
This is a lot of responsibility. Can you imagine the pause between, she brings it from marriage to kinsman-redeemer. He probably had to think about that for a second. But then he says yes. He responds not only in a positive affirmation, I will do everything you have asked me to do, but then he blesses her. He says your hesed, your kindness is greater now than it was before. How did she already show hesed, this loving-kindness, this loving commitment of God? Well her commitment to Ruth in chapter 2. She’s always thinking about Ruth.
He says that was good hesed as an example to me, but now it’s greater. Why? Because you could have chosen a younger man. He’s not only not taking sexual advantage of her. Not only is he not rejecting her, but he’s honored by her request. Notice the term. It says spread your garment over me. The translation is what we discussed a couple weeks ago, spread your wing and let it be a covering to me. Do you recognize that?
That’s the same thing when Boaz first interacted with Ruth in chapter 2, that he said to her, in verse 11. “You are finding the blessing of the Lord because you placed yourself, snuggled yourself up underneath his wing of protection, guidance and everything that’s good.” I mean, we talked about that. She was following in the shadow of his wing. Now, Ruth takes the terminology that she’s heard from Boaz and she says I want you to be that for me. I want you to be God’s agent of protection, God’s wing for me. I think it honors Boaz.
Yes, Ruth, I will do that. He acts with integrity. He makes a righteous decision here. He does not take advantage of the situation. This is scene two. It’s a God-glorifying, righteousness kind of seen. There’s good here. There’s nothing shady going on. He is the pinnacle example of the kinsman-redeemer fulfilled in Christ for us. So he tells her, another act of integrity. Lay back down. I know she’s not going to sleep. They, probably neither one of them are sleeping. But lay back down til the morning so nobody sees you. I don’t want anybody to see you. Then she wakes up but before she leaves, he gives her, let’s call it a hoopa grain. A whole bunch of grain. He said spread out your apron basically, and he just dumps grain in there, and she has to waddle back home with it. It’s so much.
It could have been like 40, 50 or even 60 pounds of grain. I don’t know how she carried it back. It’s a lot of grain. I believe he was showing Naomi, I hear you and I want to do what you’ve asked me to do. She takes the grain home, but before we leave this scene, it’s almost like there’s a kink in the love story. What does he say? Another integrity-filled decision. Oh, but wait a second, Ruth. I am your close relative. I am a kinsman who could be a redeemer but there’s one closer to the Elimelech family tree than me. Think about that.
That he was willing to give up this kinsman-redeemer opportunity to the guy who was closer. He said I’ll check on it, and if he’ll do it, let him redeem it. If he won’t, I will do it. Scene two ends with that, going home with the grain. When she gets home, she speaks to Naomi, and the bible tells us, she told Naomi everything that happened. Naomi’s probably tracking, oh you did what I said? Uncover his feet? Yeah, but then when I woke up, I didn’t just introduce myself. I asked him to be our kinsman-redeemer.
Naomi’s like what? You did what? That’s more than marriage honey. That’s a big responsibility. What did he say? He said he would do it, and then he called me … Listen to this. He called me a woman of excellence. That’s what he says in scene two. The whole community sees you and I see you as this woman as excellence. Just like wing was used already, this term woman of excellence has already been used except in chapter 2, verse 1, it was used by the narrator to describe Boaz. You remember when the narrator called him a man of noble character? Or the NASB translated it a man of great wealth? That same term is what Boaz uses to describe Ruth here. We know that she’s not a woman of wealth so it can’t mean that, but it means she was a rich woman in character, a high level of character.
She’s telling the story back to Naomi, and Naomi’s all taking it in, but then she tells her, but there is one that could be the redeemer outside of him and we’ve got to wait til he talks to the other one, til Boaz talks to this other guy, to see if he could do it for us. Now they’re on pins and needles. It’s like that feeling that they had. You can just feel the anticipation of what Boaz is going to do. Like your children have on Christmas Eve as they’re waiting to open the gifts, or like maybe you have as you go to that job interview and the job is a good paying job. It’s a job that you’ve always wanted and you feel like you crush the interview and now you have to wait for the phone call. When are they going to call back? Anybody call today? Any messages? All right.
That anticipation feeling, it’s what’s going on here. It’s the same kind of feeling I had in that moment when I was, almost 18 years ago now, dropped on my knee, looking up at the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen, with a box that has a ring in it and say, “Tammy will you marry me?” I don’t know how long the pause was. A lot shorter than their pause, but it felt like a long time. She finally said, yes I will do this.
They’re on pins and needles. They’re waiting for his response. I think Naomi can see that in Ruth. She says, don’t worry my daughter. You have to wait to see what’s going to happen. But don’t worry. Boaz is the kind of man who’s going to handle business today. Have you ever read a story quite like this in the scriptures? Are you not just flabbergasted by all the twists and turns and the craziness going on here? It’s like if it weren’t real, you wouldn’t believe it, but before we leave this text as just a cool story, I want to leave one overarching point that I think you can take away today, and then underneath that, three sub-points of application that I also think will help you.
The overall thing that I want you to walk away with today is that you can and should live a life of God-glorifying righteousness in a culture that’s not God-glorifying. Live acts of righteousness in a society that doesn’t care about acts of righteousness. How do you do that? Well I think we got some examples here. Number one, by living hesed. Number two, by showing integrity, and number three, by protecting purity. Let’s go into the first one.
To live hesed is going to enable you to follow through with these God-glorifying decisions in an ungodly culture. Hesed, if you haven’t been here, is God’s loyalty, his commitment that comes through self-sacrifice on his own to us. It can be translated kindness or loving-kindness. If you want a more comprehensive understanding of what God’s hesed love is to us, and what our hesed love is to the world, God back and listen to last week’s sermon. I’m not going to go back and rehash all that. Or go back to listen to the first week’s sermon. Hopefully you’ll get a better comprehensive picture of what hesed is.
But that’s what we see the character’s doing in this story. Not just understanding God’s loyalty or commitment to them, but actually living that out, so that we can see it. The first one that I start to see it in, maybe just a little bit, is surprising to me. I think I see it in verse 1, in Naomi. That’s shocking because of who she has revealed herself to be in chapter 1 and chapter 2, full of bitterness. She says call me Mara. Don’t call me pleasant. Don’t call me Naomi. I am bitter. God’s hand is against me.
She’s sending Ruth by herself. She’s not making great choices. She’s still not making a great choice here, but last week I think she started to understand through the kinsman-redeemer that there may be hope, that God’s hesed love is for her and has been with her. Now in verse 1, I see it as her turning the corner. I see it through her. What does she say to Ruth here? I have your best interests in mind. I want to see you cared for. I believe that’s why she’s trying to get Ruth married to Boaz. That’s not a huge scene. That’s not a big climactic moment of hesed through Naomi.
But even if it’s just a little bit, it’s good. Why? Because it’s good news for you and me. Because at some point in your life, you’re going to pull a Naomi. Let’s just assume the worst of her conniving, manipulative bitter character. Let’s just go to the worst scenario of it. If it’s true in chapter 3, she’s starting to see God’s hesed love, and in chapter 4, she’s holding her grandson Obed, something’s changing in her heart. If God does use her in the first part of chapter 3, that’s good news for you and for me because at some point, we’re going to blow it.
At some point you’re going to mess it up royally. Bitterness is going to grow in your heart. You’re going to be blinded to the hesed love and the goodness of God and to the goodness of the world that you live in because of the pain that is ripping your heart apart. In that moment, if you would seek Christ for forgiveness and Christ for restoration, and you could see God’s hesed love. Here it is, don’t miss it. God can use you again.
It doesn’t matter how bad it was and how off track you were. If you turn back to God, if you see his love for you, he will restore you and church, it’s good news. He can and will be using you again. So stop believing the lie of Satan that because you made some epic mistake that God never can use me again. That’s just not true. Satan wants you to believe that and the world may even tell you that. I see Naomi as possible good news for that. But we for sure see the hesed love through Ruth and through the kinsman-redeemer Boaz.
Ruth, even while she is seeking marriage for herself is thinking about somebody else. That’s hesed. Right? Even though things are going for you, you’re still sacrificing what you may want for the benefit of somebody else. She went to Boaz and the marriage proposal is not just will you marry me kind of thing. It’s will you redeem me and the family name of Elimelech? Now, this is a huge ask. This is Ruth taking a risk. I see God’s hesed love in her, and I obviously see it in Boaz.
You remember what I talked about earlier with the kinsman-redeemer, that he would redeem the land, and then he would buy back those who have sold themselves into slavery? And the kinsman-redeemer would also seek justice for those who have been murdered? Now think about that showing hesed but fulfilled in Christ? Let Jesus come into that scene. Jesus has redeemed you and me. You want to think about land, you want to think about some pretty cool land that he’s redeemed that’s waiting for you and me? Think about heaven. Think about the New Jerusalem. Think about Zion and these songs that we sing about, across the Jordan and being in the heavenly land for eternity.
That’s what’s been given you because he redeemed you in his blood. Think about slavery. How you and I in our sin, has sold ourselves into the slavery and the shackles of sin. That in his blood, he paid the ransom, looking at you on the slave blocks of sin, and he said price is paid. Redeem him. Redeem her and you’ve been set free from sin because of his blood redemption. Boaz is hinting toward that.
Then finally think about him seeking justice. Has Jesus Christ as your savior sought justice for you? Oh yeah, he has. One, justice for you in the blood payment that he paid on the cross, taking God’s wrath on your behalf. Then what about your enemy? I’m not talking about your friend or the person who’s hurt you. What about your enemy Satan? Yeah, at the end of Armageddon, he’s going to lock him up and throw away the key. This is what Christ your kinsman-redeemer has done for your and for me.
If you’ve yet to surrender to him, this picture that Boaz has given us, but it’s fulfilled in Christ. If you’ve yet to surrender to a relationship with Jesus Christ, do it today. What are you waiting for? Experience his hesed love and then guess what? I want you to experience God’s hesed love for you in Christ, so you know that he’s always there for you and will never stop loving you in the good times and the bad. But then the natural way for it to happen is for it to start flowing out of you, like we see in Ruth, like we see in Boaz.
God’s hesed love for you is thinking about somebody else first and putting yourself second. I know this is a rare thing in our society, but it was rare in their society as well. They were living in a basically pagan society. They did and so can you. So live hesed. Be like Ruth. Take a chance. Now I’m not telling you ladies … Let me be clear about this. I’m not telling you to approach your future husband like Ruth approached Boaz. That’s a bad idea. That’s not my prescription to you. Dad’s don’t let that happen.
Guys, don’t do that with a woman. That’s not good. Don’t put yourself in this sexually provocative situation. But I can tell you this. If God has called you to do something, and it seems a little risky, and you know he’s called you to do it. It’s been confirmed in his word and by his Spirit through prayer, take the chance. Anybody know who Dave Ramsey is? Raise your hand if you do. Okay, I don’t have to explain too much to you about him.
Dave Ramsey has found wealth and lost wealth more times than any of us probably will ever have, but this last journey he’s been on, and it’s a godly journey, in his wealth, he’s taught other people how to become debt-free. But there was a time in his life when he became very wealthy and then he lost all of his money. He says in that season, I learned something. That after I lost everything, it didn’t kill me. They did all this to me, but it didn’t kill me. It led him to be able to take risk again. He’s able to take a risk based on two life principles that he still has today, that I think will help you.
Number one, he says I have no fear of man. I don’t think he’s being arrogant or prideful. I think what he’s saying here, what I’ve heard him say in the podcast that I listened to this week, is that it doesn’t really matter to me all that much, what another man or woman on this world thinks of me or what I’m doing. I’ve got one that I’m concerned about. Now he’s not being casual there. He wants to make wise decisions.
But he’s not limiting his decisions based on what other people think about it. He’s able to do that first principle, not letting fear of any man dominate him because of the second principle he lives by. He says I find my provision not from my bank. I find my provision not from my friend, not from my family member, not from child, not from my church and not even my wife. I find my provision in God alone. God is your provider through Jesus Christ. He will alleviate your fear of man, and in doing that and knowing that, you can take a chance. You can take a risk for God.
Live hesed, but not only do we live hesed, if we want to have God-glorifying acts of righteousness in a ungodly society, but also show integrity. Questions you need to ask of this text is how could Naomi send Ruth into such a dangerous situation? That’s a good question. Or how could Ruth, knowing the danger of the situation, allow herself to say something like this to Naomi? Whatever you tell me to do, I’m going to do it. I’ll tell you how. Because both of those women knew Boaz.
They saw his integrity and they trusted it. I’m not saying it makes it a wise decision. I’m just saying, Boaz showed such integrity in the community, among his employees, and even with Ruth and their interactions over seven weeks, that she trusted him at this point. What did Boaz do? He showed the integrity with her. He didn’t take advantage of her. He treated her with chivalry and respect. He showed integrity.
Boaz knew what the right thing was to do and that’s what he did. That’s how I want to live my life. As a Christian, there’s only one way to do something. It’s not complicated is it? That’s the right way. If you have a question, seek help in the example of Christ in the gospel. If you have a question about whether it’s the right thing to do, seek the scriptures, but here’s the reality, if I could be honest with you this morning. Most of the time, you don’t need to refer to the gospel or the scriptures to know what the right thing to do is, do you?
No. In a situation, you know when you need to treat somebody with respect, when you’re hateful to them. You know you need to treat somebody else the way that you want to be treated. You know that you’re supposed to be honest. You should know that when you give your word, it’s your bond. You can put your name on the line of a contract, but if it wasn’t there, you wouldn’t need it. A simple handshake or here in chapter 4, the exchanging of a sandal will do for you.
Pay your bills. Follow through with your commitments. Walk with integrity. We know the right thing. For the glory of God, show integrity. This is going to help you to walk in God-glorifying righteousness in ungodly society. But not only do we show integrity. Maybe the most prudent point here is that we also should be protecting purity. We live hesed. We show integrity, and we protect purity.
Ruth and Boaz protected their purity when they could have woken up with a lot of heartache and regret. They woke up in righteousness that next morning. Why? Because they cared for and they protected their purity for the glory of God. Out of their purity, think about what happened? God opened the womb of this woman who had been barren her whole life. God gave Ruth a son. His name was Obed. A few generations later, God gave that line another son. His name was David. A few generations later, through their purity, this night, God gave them another son. His name was Jesus Christ.
The benefit of their purity is felt today by you and me. Listen, could it have happened a different way? Sure it could have, but it didn’t. I think it didn’t happen a different way for a reason. Protect purity or as John Piper says, “Let the morning dawn on your purity.” Yes, they were in a sexually charged situation. They had the cover of night. They had the protection of Boaz’ authority, but both of them chose purity. Why? For the glory of God.
I don’t believe they chose purity because they were worried about getting pregnant. I don’t believe they chose purity because they were worried about if somebody would catch them. I don’t believe they chose purity because they wondered what the society would say. I believe they chose purity for the glory of God, to protect the character of his name.
Church, if you’ll let it, that will help you today. I get it. We live in a society that doesn’t value purity. When I tell you to protect purity before marriage, some of you may laugh at me, that that’s archaic and stupid and you can’t do it like that anymore. I know that some of you may go so far as to say that you need to protect purity in your marriage, like ah, purity in marriage. What about when I tell you to protect purity after your marriage, after the divorce, after you’re a widower or a widow? Some of you may laugh at me, but I tell you who’s not laughing this morning. God’s not laughing.
God takes purity very seriously. Why? Because sexual interaction is meant to happen in the context of marriage, and marriage for God, is an image of the gospel, the most important message that’s ever been. Marriage is an image of the gospel to the world. How you’re pure before marriage and the protection of purity in your marriage, is perfectly displaying the purity of the gospel to the world. How you love each other shows how Jesus can love you and does love them. It’s important.
Some of you right now are getting a left hook of conviction. I can see it. That’s okay. Let me help you. You may have already failed big time in the purity category. I own no time machine. Anybody here own a time machine? No? No time machines. You can’t go back and change that, but what you can do is turn to the one who came from the bloodline of Ruth and Boaz, Jesus Christ and seek him for forgiveness today.
Don’t be prideful. Be humble. Seek God for forgiveness. Seek Jesus Christ for restoration and then when you leave here for the rest of your life, from today for the rest of your life, protect purity. Before your marriage, in your marriage, and after your marriage. Because sexual temptation’s out there. For some of you, it may be waiting for you in the quiet bedroom that you’ll be sleeping in tonight. For some of you, it may be waiting for you on a computer screen, this afternoon.
If it doesn’t come to you today, hear me, it’s going to come for you tomorrow. But think about what came out of the purity protection of Ruth and Boaz. Our savior, Jesus Christ. What will come out of the purity commitment that you make? I don’t know. I don’t have the answer to that, but I promise you this. God does. It will be good and it will blow your mind. So you could live this God-glorifying righteousness. I know you can, in a society that I know, that doesn’t give it. How? Just like we talked about today. Live hesed. Don’t just understand it. Accept it through Jesus Christ but once you understand it, live it, in all aspects of your life. Show integrity. Do the right thing because it’s the right thing. Would you make a commitment today to protect purity?
May 12, 2019
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